Saturday, 29 December 2018

BOOKS ¦ End-Of-Year Update: Series I Want To Finish

I realised recently that I seem to have a habit of starting series and not finishing them, even when I want to! Because of that, I decided to make a post about all the book series I've started to read and want to complete, and I'm hoping I'll be motivated to actually do so!

The Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart. 

- Summary of Shadow and Bone on Goodreads

Apart from a couple of issues with the romance, I really enjoyed Shadow and Bone, the first book in The Grisha Trilogy, and I'd really like to read the next two, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising. Once I've finished those, I'd also love to read the other books set in the same universe, the Six of Crows duology, and King of Scars. You can read my review of Shadow and Bone here.

The Simon Snow Series by Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen.
That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right.
Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.

- Summary of Carry On on Goodreads

Carry On was such a fun and brilliant book, and the sequel, Wayward Son, is coming out this year so I'm very excited to read it and see what happens next with the characters! You can read my review of Carry On here.

The Rivers of London/Peter Grant Series by Ben Aaronovitch

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.
- Summary of Rivers of London on Goodreads

So far I have read the first two books in this series, Rivers of London and Moon Over Soho, and have really enjoyed both. If the rest of the books are just as good as the first, then I think it will definitely become one of my favourite series of all time! You can read my review of Rivers of London here.

The Shades of Magic and Monsters of Verity Series by V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. 
Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

- Summary of A Darker Shade of Magic on Goodreads

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
- Summary of This Savage Song on Goodreads

I've read the first books of each of these series, A Darker Shade of Magic, and This Savage Song, and both intrigued and fascinated me, so I'm really eager to find out how both conclude! You can read my review of A Darker Shade of Magic here, and my review of This Savage Song here.

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

- Summary of The Raven Boys on Goodreads

I really liked the first book in The Raven Cycle, The Raven Boys, it felt so unique and I was really pulled into the story, so I'd really like to find out what happens in the rest of the books. You can find my review of The Raven Boys here.

The Passenger Duology by Alexandra Bracken

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.
Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.

- Summary of Passenger on Goodreads

Passenger was another book that felt really unique to me, it was a very well-written book and ever since I read the incredible cliff hanger the first book ended on, I've been wanting to find out what happens in the follow up book, Wayfarer. You can find my review of Passenger here.

The Sin Eater's Daughter Series by Melinda Salisbury

Sixteen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she's engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn't a member of the court. She's the executioner. As the goddess-embodied, Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week, she's taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins? Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her.
But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he's able to look past Twylla's executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess. Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla's problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies-a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

- Summary of The Sin Eater's Daughter on Goodreads

I remember The Sin Eater's Daughter was a book that I read through very quickly and enjoyed it all greatly, and I hope that when I eventually get to read them I'll enjoy the other books in the series just as much! You can read my review of The Sin Eater's Daughter here.

The Strange the Dreamer Series by Laini Taylor

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
Welcome to Weep.

- Summary of Strange the Dreamer on Goodreads

The moment I started to read Strange the Dreamer I knew it was going to become one of my favourite books of all time, it has everything I love, myths and gods and libraries and magic. Now that I have a copy of Muse of Nightmares, the follow up to the first book, I'm so excited, and nervous, to find out what happens next! You can read my review of Strange the Dreamer here.

The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan

"We should expect this young woman to be more powerful than our average novice, possibly even more powerful than the average magician."
This year, like every other, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables. Cloaked in the protection of their sorcery, they move with no fear of the vagrants and miscreants who despise them and their work-—until one enraged girl, barely more than a child, hurls a stone at the hated invaders...and effortlessly penetrates their magical shield.
What the Magicians' Guild has long dreaded has finally come to pass. There is someone outside their ranks who possesses a raw power beyond imagining, an untrained mage who must be found and schooled before she destroys herself and her city with a force she cannot yet control.

- Summary of The Magician's Guild on Goodreads

I've read The Magician's Guild at least twice now, and I enjoyed it just as much the second time. It's a really brilliant story, and I've been curious about what happens in the other books for quite a while now, so hopefully soon I'll get around to reading the rest of the series. You can read my review of The Magician's Guild here.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

BOOKS ¦ Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Name: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Date Published: 2016
Rating: 4/5

Slight spoiler warning for this review!

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the world of the kingdom's magical elite - the Grisha. Could she be the key setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a man of seductive charm and terrifying power. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.
But what of Mal, Alina's childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can't she ever quite forget him?

What I really enjoyed about Shadow and Bone was the incredible world building it included. It was inspired by culture and folklore I don't often see used often, and was made unique into its own world. This was supported by wonderful descriptive writing that really immersed you in the world and made it easy to picture.
The characters were intriguing and Alina was a likeable main character who I rooted for. Even though she sometimes made choices I wouldn't personally have made, I could see why she made them. I enjoyed her interactions with minor characters, like Genya, who were all well-thought out and realistic even if they were only background characters.
The Darkling was a brilliant, captivating character. He was a perfectly fascinating villain, probable the best I've read since Tom Riddle in Harry Potter. He had a balance of being, dark, seductive and intense but with human moments  and reasons for his beliefs that made you understand why people followed him and believed in him, even while feeling anger at his violence and horrific actions.
The only character I didn't really enjoy reading was Mal. He wasn't truly bad, and I don't think I would have minded him so much if he wasn't supposed to be a romantic interest for Alina. I just found I didn't really feel the chemistry between them, especially not as strongly as I felt it between Alina and the Darkling. I understood why she couldn't be with the Darkling in the end, even though their interactions were compelling, but I don't think that meant Alina should be with Mal, especially after he dismissed her so much when they were in the army together, and after he got angry with her for going with the Grisha even though it was not her fault. I think I would have preferred if they became friends again, because the romance just didn't feel realistic between them.
Overall, it was a really creative story that kept me captivated and intrigued and I will definitely be reading the other two books in the series, and then possibly the other books set in the same universe, it's just a shame I felt a little let down by the romance.

UNBOXING | FairyLoot: A Different Kind of Magic - June 2020

I was very excited when I saw the description for FairyLoot 's June box, the theme of A Different Kind of Magic , along with the hints a...