Review: Take Back The Skies by Lucy Saxon

18963158

Take Back The Skies by Lucy Saxon
Genre: Steampunk, Sci-Fi
Published by: Bloomsbury
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★.5
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

I will start by saying that the cover is absolutely beautiful, however I’m glad that I borrowed this novel from my library rather than buying it myself. Take Back The Skies is centred around Catherine, who runs away from home and becomes Cat, when she joins the ‘Stormdancer’ airship. Cat disguises herself as a boy to remain on the ship and throughout her adventure she learns some shocking things about her family.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of the characters and the plot, I thought I should  say that I really loved the first 80 pages or so. I was completely engrossed in the story and the world building. I liked all of the character’s personalities to begins with and the writing style was engaging and new. Unfortunately, my enjoyment wasn’t sustained throughout the whole novel, and after the crew of the ‘Stormdancer’ discovered Cat’s identity I felt that the story went, perhaps not downhill, but sideways. This is an opinion that I read countless times in the reviews listed on GoodReads, and I have to say, I agree.

Let’s start with Cat: I liked her. She was a gutsy feminist who wasn’t going to put up with her father’s misogyny, or any one else’s for that matter. Until the end where she forgot how much she fought to be treated the same as Fox had when she kept her ‘gender bend’ identity. The ending disappointed me incredibly. Although Saxon has clarified that all Cat wanted to do was help her country, I still felt it wasn’t what she deserved. She was able to convince people that she had the right ideas on how to save the world, even though she was only 14 – the weight of the world on a 14 year old’s shoulders doesn’t sound too good to me, but luckily she was able to convince all of the characters that her knowledge of government buildings would suffice. Although I liked her, I also found her incredibly frustrating.

Fox is the love interest and I found him intriguing to begin with, but when the relationship element of the novel started, I became disinterested. Because suddenly he was just this ‘prince’ who could save Cat,  even though she’d tried so hard to make him realise that she was ‘who she was’ and no one could change that. Suddenly Saxon is perpetuating the idea of the girl being the Brains and the guy being the Brawn. The introduction of the love triangle was incredibly unnecessary. I thought that for once I’d get through a YA novel without there being two love interests, but no. Half way through and another contender to the title of ‘Cat’s prince’ is thrown at us. I didn’t connect to this second boy one bit, and as soon as he was introduced 18 year old Fox’s behaviour regressed into that of a 6 year old. They were petty and jealous, fighting over Cat like she was a possession. I particularly didn’t like the fact that Boy Number Two decided it would be okay to pursue Cat’s affections even though she had told him a firm ‘no’ multiple times. No means no.

The world building was paced well, even though it was only concentrated to one/two of the islands that made up the world. I would have liked to learn more about the other countries, and their histories, but for a first instalment I thought it was quite successful. Then the reveals about the governing body emerge and I’m starting to question whether the world building was successful or not, because I’m confused about who has the most power and who are the really important government officials.

I enjoyed the plot twists that kept the book going in between incredibly slow sections, where the only thing that happens is relationship development between the characters on the air ship. Whilst we’re on the topic of the airship, I’d like to say that I was rather surprised by the size of the crew. I was expecting something more along the lines of the pirate ship in Stardust or Treasure Planet the Disney movie.

WARNING: SPOILERS START HERE.

Because I disliked the ending so completely I though I would take a moment to reflect on it. So, Fox dies. I’ll admit that at one of the slow paced sections I flicked to the ending because all I could think was ‘what could possibly happen next?’ After reading the epilogue I came to my own conclusions that Fox had to die for the sake of plot. If he didn’t die it would’ve gone nowhere. Yeah, okay, so Cat lost her parents – she didn’t care about her father, but that’s another matter entirely – and there were lots of government conspiracies revealed about robotic/mechanic/cyborg children-hybrids, but these things were resolved within fifty pages of their reveal. So what was going to happen? Well, we’ve had the action and adventure side of the story, which leaves the romance. *sigh*

The relationship Cat had with her father is the last thing I wanted to mention in this review before it becomes a essay. In the beginning I thought he was a relatively unassuming character, and then it turns out that he physically abused Cat. For more than two thirds of the book Cat’s sole purpose for running away from home was because she didn’t want to be married off to a random stranger that she disgusted – oh the irony – and then she points out scars on her torso with elusive comments along the lines of, “she’d been punished for it. Hard.” It seemed clumsy, like the author had decided that she needed some character intricacies to drive the plot forward, therefore she thought she’d slip this bit of information in. But it’s not a little bit of informations, it’s HUGE, and should have been reinforced much sooner.

SPOILERS END HERE.

Overall, I would give Take Back The Skies 2.5 stars, because the beginning was so gripping, but the ending left something to be desired.

 

Review: Pawn by Aimee Carter

10838787Pawn by Aimee Carter
Genre: Dystopia, Romance
Published by: Bloomsbury
Pages: 347
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

Pawn is your classic dystopian world, where people are separated by their intellect and one girl gets to transcend the levels to defeat ‘the government.’ On the plus side, I managed to get though Pawn extremely quickly, on the down side, I wasn’t surprised by anything.

With the sudden surge of dystopian YA, after the success of The Hunger Games, you can guarantee that if there is an interesting and dynamic plot point, which adds to the dystopian world, then it’s been done before. Pawn was a culmination of everyone’s favourite plot points, but unfortunately I didn’t think it was executed as well as it could have been as a result.

I found myself getting really confused by the sheer amount of conspiracy plots in the Hart family. I couldn’t wrap my head around who was good and who was bad, and I certainly couldn’t tell you whose side I was on! Despite all of this drama I wasn’t particularly surprised by the ‘big’ reveals, because they were so ludicrous and it would have been better had they not been introduced. Without giving away any spoilers, if you’re planning on reading Pawn, don’t trust anyone.

The government system wasn’t well explained, and I wasn’t entirely sure what purpose the Hart’s played in the Feudal system. If no one liked them – not even the members of the Hart family liked one another – then why did it take 70 years for there to be a rebellion. The rebellion didn’t even really start in Pawn, it was more of just a 300-ish page prologue to the real action which I assume takes place in Captive.

I didn’t have a problem with Kitty as a main character, because she ‘fought back,’ even though she was pretty up for doing whatever as long as her boyfriend Benjy wasn’t in danger. Nice to see the gender roles being mixed up a bit, stick it to the patriarchy. Benjy was probably my favourite character, because I felt that he was the only one with an identifiable personality compared to Kitty who was going through a bit of an identity crisis.

Reading Pawn is like reading The Selection by Kiera Cass, but all the characters have had personality transplants. Pawn shared a lot of themes and the relationship dynamics between the ‘princess who’s not a princess,’ the ‘guard’ and the ‘prince.’ Therefore, if you enjoyed the love triangle in The Selection then you’d probably enjoy this book more than I did. Overall, I’m probably going to give Pawn two stars, because I didn’t enjoy the plot particularly and felt that the author relied on line breaks and chapter divisions to create tension rather than the plot actually being suspenseful. However, I did enjoy a few elements of the story and liked to have the inside look at the dystopian government, as it’s so often the case that we’re with the rebels on the outside rather than on the inside.

Review: Half Lies by Sally Green

23361016Half Lies by Sally Green
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Published by: Penguin
Pages: 61
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★.5
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

I reviewed Half Bad a little while ago, and decided that it probably wasn’t going to be a series I would complete unless it was available at my library. However, I was totally ready for being in the same witchy world, but with different characters! I liked the last portion of Half Bad and Half Lies definitely explained some things!

It’s written in a diary format from the P.o.V of Michele, the sister of Gabriel who was probably my favourite character in the book. You can see just how lovely and protective Gabriel is, he’s such a considerate cutie! I think I connected with these characters more than I did with Nathan, so I hope there are more novellas like this in the future.

What I liked most was probably the length – only 61 pages! I thought that Half Bad was too slow for my liking, so to have the same sort of content e.g. witches finding their power, romance, and backstory explanations.

It’s exactly the kind of novel that I enjoy! If you like the Half Bad series, or heck, even if you weren’t the biggest fan of the first novel, then I definitely recommend reading Half Lies, because if anything, it’s made me a little more excited for the second book in the series.

Review: The Sound by Sarah Alderson

15740944The Sound by Sarah Alderson
Genre: Mystery, Contemporary, Romance
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 310
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

I am so glad I picked this book up, because I’d heard absolutely nothing about it and just happened to spot it in the library. However, it’s also the kind of book that my conscience said ‘you shouldn’t be enjoying this as much as you are.’ I had some definite problems, but this book had everything, which almost made up for them.

Ren is an English girl who dreams of becoming a music journalist, she decides to take a summer out to nanny for a family in Nantucket, where she falls into a group of a preppy teenagers that warn her against Jesse Miller. So what does she do? She ignores them. I liked Ren as a character by the end of the novel, because she stuck up for her true friends and was ready to fight for justice, but she also lacked some common sense. As for her relationship with Jesse, it was very reminiscent of a Becca Fitzpatrick novel – actually extremely similar to the relationship in Black IceIf you like Fitzpatrick’s writing, or the novels by Katy McGarry (very similar to Pushing The Limits as well!) I would definitely recommend The Sound!

If you’ve read my reviews on the books mentioned you will know that I really didn’t like Black Ice, and essentially The Sound is Black Ice, but it’s so much more engaging! The murder mystery and the truth about Jesse’s past isn’t really revealed until the last portion of the novel, and I was completely blown away by how thrilling the tense scenes were. The slow build up to the mystery really helped to make this book much more enjoyable. In the beginning I forgot that there was even supposed to be a murder mystery, I wouldn’t have known at all from the first 200 pages if I hadn’t read the blurb, but it was so well laid out that I didn’t see any of the plot twists coming.

As much as enjoyed the majority of this novel, I still had some issues. Here’s a list!

Problem Number 1: Girl on girl hate. Why? The word ‘slut’ and ‘skank’ appears every other page. It might be used jovially at times, but derogatory terms should not be used in jest, in any situation. As we all know, “If you call each other sluts and whores, it makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.’ There was also a lot of insensitive comments on body types and whether or not those girls deserved their relationships. No, no, don’t like that either. I probably would’ve increased the star rating had this not been completely distracting to the storyline.

Problem Number 2: The book justifies its ‘girl falls for ‘bad boy” plot line with other bad ‘girl falls for ‘bad boy” books. Twilight is referenced a bunch of times, and the characters are self-aware of their ridiculousness so justify their actions with something along the lines of ‘well, at least this isn’t Twilight.

Problem Number 3: Lack of common sense. There are literal murderers on an island who seem to only be targeting foreign nannies and Ren does’t immediately book the first flight back to England. What?

Problem Number 4: Kissing. All of the ‘preppy boys’ would kiss Ren on the cheek, and although it does foreshadow the reveal later on, it seemed so silly at the time. Almost every time Jeremy saw her he’d go straight for a kiss on the cheek. When you don’t know someone you don’t just kiss them on the second chance encounter, surely?

In conclusion, although I’m only giving The Sound three stars it’s also made it to my favourites shelf. It was fun and lighthearted whilst also being incredibly serious and tense. I’d recommend it to anyone who is willing to look over the problems list – but still acknowledge that there are obvious faults – and just wants to read something where they can get totally carried away with the story.

Review: Rite of Rejection by Sarah Negovetich

Blog Tour BannerWe were given an ARC copy of ‘Rite of Rejection’ by Sarah Negovetich, curtesy of the author, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for the opportunity to read this book and we hope it does well!

Rite of RejectionRite Of Rejection by Sarah Negovetich
Genre: Dystopian, Romance
Published by: Self Published
Pages: 320
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

‘Rite of Rejection’ sounded to me like a mixture of ‘Matched’ by Ally Condie (and I’ve only read about 40 pages of that, so perhaps I’m not qualified to make that comparison) and ‘Branded’ by Abi Ketner and Missi Kalicicki. Nothing can describe it better than the blurb:

“Before you stands the future.”
Straight-laced, sixteen-year-old Rebecca can’t wait for her Acceptance. A fancy ball, eligible bachelors, and her debut as an official member of society. Instead, the Machine rejects Rebecca. Labeled as a future criminal, she’s shipped off to a life sentence in a lawless penal colony.
A life behind barbed-wire fences with the world’s most dangerous people terrifies Rebecca. She reluctantly joins a band of misfit teens in a risky escape plan, complete with an accidental fiancé she’s almost certain she can learn to love.
But freedom comes with a price. To escape a doomed future and prove her innocence, Rebecca must embrace the criminal within.

It’s safe to say that we both really enjoyed this book. As a reader, you were thrown straight into the world, and I really liked it that we were just submerged, without any convenient history lessons about the dystopian society. It meant that I could focus on the characters and their emotions, rather than trying to get the facts straight. This novel is very character driven – Rebecca is strong as protagonists go with a good moral code and a persistent dedication to her friends. Unfortunately, she’s also a hazard to society.

She is thrown in the PIT by the evil overlord of the realm, the Cardinal (which was a surprisingly religious title, but I guess that ‘Governor’, ‘President’ and ‘General’ have been done a thousand times before.) However, Rebecca adjusts fairly quickly, finding friends and a home in a matter of days.

The one thing I noticed when reading this whole novel was how difficult it was to pinpoint how long it had been since the last action scene. Rebecca and co. seem to spend the majority of the first half of the book eating or walking around outside. The monotony of the scenes reflected the life of the PIT Rejects, but also disorientated me when they were trying to escape.

Everything happened so fast. There was so much going on. As soon as one master plan was ‘complete’, another was devised.

The relationship between the characters were interesting. There are a few plot twists relating to these characters, which we won’t spoil, but it really added depth to the novel. I didn’t quite understand where the love triangle came from, but it all became clear as the plot progressed.

The ending was abrupt. I didn’t know what was going to happen, and apparently, I won’t get to know. Perhaps there will be a sequel that explained what happened after ‘The End’, because I need to know!

Overall, I’d give this book around 3.5 stars. Because I got a little confused towards the end, I deducted a star, and the ending left me feeling unfulfilled. Where’s the closure? I repeat: I need it! However, this did not hinder my enjoyment of this novel. It was a brilliant debut, and I look forward to seeing what Sarah writes next!

Enter to Win! A #RiteOfRejection Giveaway!

AGiveawayPrize description:
Chapter 17 tissues (because that’s when you’ll need them), a jumbo sized chocolate bar (a hot commodity inside the PIT), an orange scented candle (courtesy of Rebecca’s fondest memory from home, a dandelion pen (as featured on the cover), handcrafted Molly bag (named after the character responsible for sewing them in the book, these are the bags used extensively by the main characters), and a $10 Amazon gift card

Link to Giveaway, hosted on Rafflecopter: 
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/NDJiNzM3Y2E1YzRlMDgzY2E2ZDg0Y2E3YWFjOTM4OjI=/

Author Information:

Sarah NegovetichSarah Negovetich knows you don’t know how to pronounce her name and she’s okay with that.
Her first love is Young Adult novels, because at seventeen the world is your oyster. Only oysters are slimy and more than a little salty; it’s accurate if not exactly motivational. We should come up with a better cliché.
Sarah divides her time between writing YA books that her husband won’t read and working with amazing authors as an agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency. Her life’s goal is to be only a mildly embarrassing mom when her kids hit their teens.
You can learn more about Sarah and her books at www.SarahNegovetich.com.


Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

13564634The Selection by Kiera Cass
Genre: Romance, Dystopian
Published by: HarperTeen
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★
Series: The Elite (#2) | The One (#3)
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

I’ve heard a lot of people say that the main character, America, is annoying, therefore I went into The Selection with extremely low expectations and ended up really loving it. The Selection is basically a mix between The Hunger Games and the TV show, Take Me Out. Instead of fighting for your life, you’re fighting to become the next potential Queen, boyfriend is included, but dresses each sold separately.

Maxon was not what I was expecting at all, for a guy in a love triangle containing 35 people. Of course, he’s also in a love triangle with America and her ex-boyfriend Aspen, but that’ll probably be a bigger theme in the next book. Maxon is kind and gentle and has the makings of a great king, which means he isn’t exactly a fan of having to pick a girlfriend from 35 girls, as it means he has to break 34 hearts – although some of them could probably do with a knock to their ego. I’m not the biggest fan of the concept, because the love matches were basically selected because of their beauty over anything else, and America can be quick to judge with her backhanded compliments to some of the other girls, but overlooking that, it was a fun read!

America wasn’t as annoying as people said she was, but perhaps those comments relate to the next book. I actually thought she was quite a strong character in places, she really seemed in control of what was happening to her, even if she don’t enjoy it in the beginning. I didn’t really get into the story until America did, the beginning section where the majority of the narrative is world building was, although interesting, a little dull. The action really started when we got to the Palace and were introduced to the other girls.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly didn’t feel any remorse for any of the girls that left the selection, because I didn’t know them! Sometimes there would be an announcement that three girls has left and I’d never seen their names before! The only one that really had an impact was the first girl to leave, because it was quite the surprise. It’ll only get harder in The Elite, I assume, as we’ll actually know the girls who are leaving next time.

The development of the romance was nice, not too fast not too slow, but I didn’t like the idea of Maxon dating about fifteen girls in one go. There were mildly suspenseful sections, like the attacks from the Rebels, who we still haven’t seen yet. Their threat seemed a bit exaggerated, but I’m sure when we meet them later on in the series – which I presume we do – it’ll seem a lot more intense. I was intrigued by the Queen and her family, and would like to know more about her selection process, I think there is a novella from her PoV and I would definitely be interested in reeading it!

As for my favourite character, it was probably Maxon, and then America, and then the maids, because they were so adorable, and precious. The ‘surprise’ about Aspen was something I had guessed would happen as soon as the drafting was mentioned in the world building, but somehow the predictability of this book make it even more enjoyable. America was friendly to everyone, but her naivety about Aspen will definitely grind on my bones later on in the series, I can tell. For some reason, Aspen’s reintroduction has given America an element of choice, even though she likes Maxon and Aspen was a total douche canoe, oh my goodness, why.    Rant over. Other than that, I really enjoyed The Selection. Good world building, good characters, unfeasible but still okay concept and a gorgeous cover. Perfect.

I’m still not entirely sure how Kiera Cass has managed to make it so that one process splits up into three books, and I’ve only heard the worst of things about The Elite, the second book in the series. What confuses me even more is the fact that the title gives away the plot of the whole book! Well…basically. The concept of the ‘elite’ is introduced quite early on, when America explains how the process works, and it means the stage in the competition where there are only ten girls left. The One is obviously about the winner, and why the heck would an author write from the perspective of one of the girls that gets knocked out in the first round? Kiera Cass obviously doesn’t do this, so if we put two and two together we somehow end up with America as the one. Well, that’s my satisfaction with the series all wrapped up! I’m not sure if I’m going to bother with The Elite or The One, as I’m 99% sure my predictions are correct, and if The Heir is anything to go by, then just call me the Oracle of Endings. Maybe I’ll pick the series back up with The Heir, or at least wait for The Elite to be super cheap on Kindle. Four stars to The Selection, even though it was pretty predictable.

Sneak Peek Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E.Schwab

A Darker Shade final for Irene

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy, ARC
Published by: Tor Books
Pages: 150
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★.5
Where to Find: Goodreads

I have heard nothing but good things about Victoria Schwab’s writing, and although I enjoyed the excerpt of A Darker Shade of Magic, I’m unsure on whether or not I would continue reading.

The concept is imaginative and original, if a little hard to keep up with. The majority of the sample that I read – which I think is the first 150 pages – is mostly world building. There are four different ‘worlds’ including White London, Red London, Grey London and the mysterious Black London, all of which the main male character Kell can transport himself too. Did I mention they were all different parallel universes?

There are two main characters, Kell and Lila, and I have to admit that I had to find the blurb of Godreads to actually understand what was happening, and who they were. Kell’s story was a lot easier to determine, but because Lila was dressed a guy, I’m still not entirely sure what her relevance is.

The ending was a definite cliff-hanger, and as a novel excerpt they definitely had a good cut point. Because there was so much world building, it was hard to really connect with any of the characters, so from that perspective I would be interested in the rest of the story, because I feel we’ve only scratched the surface of their personalities. Yet, for a 150  page excerpt I was expecting a lot more to happen, it feels like this was almost a pre-novel novella so that all the explanation is out of the way, and now the real story can begin.

Before I think about reading the rest of this novel, I think I should start with something like The Archived, just so that I have a better understanding on the author’s writing style. As I wasn’t overly invested in the plot or the characters, and because it was only a sneak peek, I’d only give this excerpt about three-ish stars.

Sidenote: the cover gets five stars.

Review: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Dark9943270 Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Published by: Houghton Mifflin
Pages: 385
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★★★
Series: Grave Mercy (#1)
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

Dark Triumph is significantly shorter than Grave Mercy, exactly what I wanted! AND we got a new character perspective! I liked Dark Triumph a lot more than the first book in the series. I was so much more engaged in the story, and enjoyed the romance immensely, it didn’t seem forced or coincidental.

The pattern of the story was very similar to that of Grave Mercy, the only real difference being that in Sybella’s story her backstory is a slow reveal, which I loved. Much like Ismae’s story we’re thrown right into the action and there is little to no set up, but we know we’re with Sybella and that’s pretty much it. Sybella was briefly mentioned in Grave Mercy, but she certainly wasn’t a main character, and, of course, it took a little while to settle into her voice. She was in a similar court position as Ismae was in, but luckily Sybella’s personality was distinguishably different. Whereas I thought Ismae lacked a strong personality, Sybella had an engaging voice, that was only enhanced by the intriguing and haunting allusions to her past. Although Ismae and Dival did play a small part in the story, and it was nice to revisit them, Dark Triumph is very much about Sybella and Beast.

The beginning of the novel was relatively slow paced, but it build up Sybella’s lifestyle and her situation, which aided my understanding, as I still hadn’t quite gotten over the fact that we were just leaving the Duchess in Ismae’s hands, capable they may be, but I’ve learnt not to trust any one in the Breton nobility. After we were made to feel so strongly for the Duchess it did seem rather strange to suddenly be transported somewhere else, but what do you know! We were given two more sisters, one of them ill, to worry about! Yay! for His Fair Assassin tropes!

There was a lot more emphasis on the relationship side of things this time round, which compensated for the otherwise slow plot development. By far by favourite parts of the novel were Beast and Sybella’s exchanges, particularly when they visited the grave of Beast’s sister. Their relationship was bittersweet and, much like the plot, it was slow building. However, after reading plenty of instant romances this was a fresh perspective and I felt both deserved their happy ending – or was it happy? Was it even an ending, on that note? What was going on there? Am I the only one confused? Let’s hope things are explained in Mortal Heart, which I can’t wait to get my hands on!

Everything in this story was so well crafted, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so intrigued and repulsed at the same time! I never saw any of the plot twists coming, and was shocked by every single one of them – but that’s what I loved about this book, it had you guessing, it kept you on tender hooks. If I’d been looking hard enough, and thinking about it more than perhaps I was, then maybe I could have come to my own conclusions, but it was so lovely to be completely swept away by the story, as opposed to being too focused on conspiracy theories.

Overall, I would give Dark Triumph four stars – partly because I’m hoping to give that elusive five star to the final book in the series, just to prove that it gets better and better. I enjoyed the characters and the plot and cannot wait to see what happens next now that I have no idea who our villain could be!

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

9565548Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Published by: Houghton Mifflin
Pages: 549
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★★
Series: Dark Triumph (#2)
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

Grave Mercy is set in 1485 Brittany, and luckily – thanks to my A-Level qualification in Tudor History – I knew the context of this time. However, even if you don’t know anything about Tudor History, or what was happening in Europe at the time, then Robin LaFevers explains everything as you go! In her acknowledgements at the end of the novel she also gives you a more detailed backstory on what was happening, and I was really surprised that the majority of the characters were based off of real-life figures! Now, my forte is Henry VII, and I knew that Brittany was going to be absorbed by France eventually, you need only look at a modern map to find Brittany isn’t it’s own country anymore – is it a spoiler if it’s a historical fact? – which did sort of take something away as I knew that even though Duchess Anne’s nobility worked hard to ensure he political independence, it doesn’t work out in the long run.

It might seem like a ridiculous thing to want, but I really would’ve liked a bit more information on Henry VII and the HRE, because they were mentioned, but only briefly and their relationships with Britanny I wanted to have been cleared. but anyway, enough about history, let’s talk about the characters.

I loved the first section of Grave Mercy, where were given Ismae’s backstory. It made it easier to slip into the fifteenth century mindset, because even the writing style and the language used seems historically accurate. Ismae was a strong character, and I loved her moral journey of who to trust. I loved being in the convent for that short period of time in the beginning of the novel, and I don’t think I ever got used to being with the nobles. I think this was mostly because I was promised assassin nuns, but what I really got was one assassin nun mingling with a bunch of people with a political agenda. I love a good boarding school type book, so I hope in the sequels that there is more of a focus on the convent itself, rather than just the girls.

Dival is our love interest, and I felt that their relationship developed relatively slowly for my liking, until the end when it was like ‘ohmygosh this romance seems to have come out of no-where.’ I really didn’t want Ismae to fall in love with anyone, I wanted pure assassin awesomeness, for once it would have been nice for our protagonist not to get distracted by love – perhaps Dark Triumph will deliver on that?

One of my only qualms with Grave Mercy was its length. I felt like it dragged on incessantly in the middle, and got rather repetitive. Realistically I don’t think it needed to be over 400 pages at best, so I was delighted to find out that the sequel is significantly shorter. I suppose we can mark the length up to the fact that she needed to pack so much backstory into a short space of time (or long space of time, as it transpired).

I have to say that I didn’t see the plot twist/big reveal coming, so that’s good! The mystery certainly kept me reading in the slower sections, I just wish that their could have been even more action that there was, as the whole assassin thing really was downplayed at times, although we were always reminded that Ismae could kill someone.

Overall, I enjoyed the plot, even thought it was slightly dragged out, and the historical fiction element was definitely a fun one! Reading Grave Mercy made me realise just how much I enjoy historical fiction, and it’s probably my favourite historical fiction book I’ve read. I’d give Grave Mercy 3.5 stars.

Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of B916WD5AWqbL._SL1500_lood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Genre: Fantasy
Published by: Little Brown Books
Pages: 513
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

This book has been sitting on my shelf for the longest time, even though I absolutely loved the first book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I’d put it on my Autumn TBR, however, so it needed to be read this month – which meant I had to read a 500+ page book after reading as many under 250 page novels as I could!

There was just as much mystery and plot twists in the sequel as the first book, which I was surprised abut, because I didn’t think there could be any more surprises. I’d say that Days of Blood and Starlight definitely isn’t your typical sequel, it was just as thought-out and just as gripping, and I only have high hopes for the final instalment. I’d say that although there were slow sections, they would seemlessly link into the faster paced action-scenes that mean I literally could not put the book down, even though it took some considerable deliberation to actually pick up the book in the first place.

Laini Taylor has a way of transporting the reader into an entiely different world. There are fantastical elements, but nothing is hard to believe and I absolutely love how different the world of the chimera is to anything I’ve ever read before. The world building is incredible, and the characters are beautifully written, so much so that it’s hard to say anything bad about it!

Karou is one of my favourite characters, and her relationship is Akiva is so complex. My heart was ripped in two in Days of Blood and Starlight, thanks to where the relationship cut off in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I was left wanting a lot more, but I think considering the circumstances that the ‘yes-no-maybe’ attitudes that Karou had were appropriate and understandable. For once I actually enjoyed the deliberation. What I loved most is that, whereas Karou is questioning, Akiva is not. He is completely resolute in his feelings, and it was refreshing to read such a devoted point of view.

I loved how well the third person work with the storyline. Reading Days of Blood and Strarlight is like being transported into a different world, and the third person perspective means that we can jump between the different viewpoints. At first I was sad that it wasn’t just Akiva and Karou, but I really loved the Zuzanna and Mik POVs as I definitely did not want to lose them. Also the minor characters’ perspectives were relevant, although at first it seemed like we were with them for no reason.

Overall, I can not wait until the final book in the series to come out in paperback, and I can’t believe I have to wait until March! Karou’s story is definitely one that I would recommend to any one.  Even if you’re not the biggest fantasy fan, you absolutely have to read the series for the amazing writing!