Saturday, 10 April 2021

Blog Tour - What Beauty There Is

Title: What Beauty There Is (Goodreads)
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Mystery, Coming of age, Contemporary  
Author: Cory Anderson
Age Group: YA
Source: Paperback ARC & Netgalley

I would truly like to thank TheWriteReads for asking me to be a part of this book tour. I am also very grateful to Penguin for providing me with an ARC and Netgalley link to this book. Lastly and most importantly the biggest thank you goes to Cory Anderson for writing such an incredible book!
People will tell you the devil's a liar. They say he was from the start. The father of lies and all that stuff. But I don’t believe it. No. He tells the truth. You wouldn’t think you would be fooled with the truth. But you can.

Living with the devil.

It is not an easy thing to do.

Review

This book kept me gripped from beginning till end. I could not put it down and consumed the pages within days of starting to read What Beauty There Is. Cory Anderson is not afraid to delve into the darker side of life and though there are tough themes and issues it is without a doubt important that they exist in books as they do in real life.

One of the main themes that stood out for me was the importance of family and in particular the power of a siblings love and protection. Jack Dahl will do anything to keep him and his brother together, he will not allow anyone to separate them and take his little brother into social care. The lengths that loved ones will go to stay together and protect one another is such a strong survival instinct in Jack that I and hopefully no one else could resist or fault him for going to the lengths that he does for his little brother Matty.

There is a pervading darkness to What Beauty There Is but shot through with moments of love and of course beauty, of hope! Some lives are full of real struggles and it seems those that live with very little happiness or hope but I think what Jack and Ava show us is that there are rare moments that shine through and you have to grab onto them with both hands and live for those small and transient moments to get through the pain and struggles.

If there is one book that you read this year I urge you to make it What Beauty There Is because for wherever there is pain and struggle there is also someone who possesses a fierce amount of love and protection that saves you from drowning. Someone who makes life worth living and choses to overcome the struggles for the people that matter the most, for the relationships that truly matter and gives you a reason to keep living.

All things you choose to hold in your heart,” he says, “ have the capacity for pain.” He looks at her, looks hard. “Be careful what you choose.”

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Winter. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.

Jack Morton has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he'd do anything for. Even die for. Now with their mother gone, and their funds quickly dwindling, Jack needs to make a choice: lose his brother to foster care, or find the drug money that sent his father to prison. He chooses the money.

Ava Bardem lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one. Trust no one. Now Victor Bardem is stalking the same money as Jack. When he picks up Jack's trail, Ava must make her own wrenching choice: remain silent or help the brothers survive.

Choices. They come at a price.

Key Quotes

"Look at me. We aren’t going to die if I give you two dollars." Matty looked at him. Those eyes gripped him. "Okay." "Do you believe me?" "Yes" "We're alright." Matty looked at Jack's hands and looked away. There is no description of stupid,  Jack thought, that you don’t fit. He said again, "We're alright." "Okay"

He whispered, “You don’t trust anyone. Do you? I don’t either. You see people. They’re smiling. Going to classes or to the movies. Doing homework at the library or out at the store with friends.” He tried to gather the right words. “You think, maybe you can be like that. One day. Maybe it can be like that.” 

Similar Reads

Shuggie Bain

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Review - A Court of Frost and Starlight

A Court of Thorns and Roses series with Faecrate print

Title: A Court of Frost and Starlight 
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses (Goodreads)
Publisher: Bloomsbury 
Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Author: Sarah J Maas
Age Group: YA
Source: Amazon (purchased)

Review

This is an absolutely fantastic little novella if you are a fan of ACOTAR. It truly resolves Feyre and Rhysand’s story that was brought to us in the worlds opening trilogy. However, what excited me most was that this novella begins to set up the future books and what we might expect for the other members of the Inner Circle and Archeron Sisters. After all we have seen Feyre begin her healing process but have yet to see Elain and Nesta face their traumas. But A Court of Frost and Starlight definitely establishes this for the future books (notably, A Court of Silver Flames is Nesta’s individual book). ACOTAR may have begun as Feyre and Rhys’s love story but this world is about truly more than that!

Even though the ACOTAR trilogy was mainly Feyre and Rhys’s story it was always about more than just them. It brought into focus some very important issues such as family conflicts, various traumas and healing from those difficult traumas. In particular sexual harassment was a key trauma suffered by both women and men, as well as the issue of family abuse. All of these issues was what made readers value the trilogy and Maas’ frankness to raise such issues in books targeted towards young adult readers. That’s why the following quote for me sums up one of the key themes raised throughout the trilogy, the power of family offering support and healing through facing and coming to terms with trauma. If you have read the series than you will be aware of the details of Cassian’s particular past, if not, then without giving away spoilers the key thing to know is that Cassian and his mother suffered abuse from their families village. Part of the healing process for Cassian was meeting Rhys and finding not only a friendship but choosing to claim each other as family, as brothers.
My mother always had gifts for Azriel and Cassian. For the latter, the initial Solstice we’d shared here had been the first time he’d received any sort of gift, Solstice or not. I could still see the tears Cassian had tried to hide as he’d opened his presents, and the tears in my mother’s eyes as she watched him.’
Now, even though there are difficult issues and themes there are still many positive and happy moments found throughout the ACOTAR trilogy and A Court of Frost and Starlight. At many times through reading this series overall I have found myself smiling and laughing time and again throughout reading about the love and friendship found between the many characters. Moments between The Inner Circle when things are peaceful and happy have always been my most favourite and ACOFAS did not disappoint as there were many of these happy occasions. The overarching story is the winter Solstice celebration, a time similar to our own Christmas, when families come together and enjoy the festivities and remind themselves of those that matter most to them (and of course who can forget the presents! cheeky Emoji). One scene that especially had me laughing and smiling is when Feyre and Cassian get drunk together and attempt to decorate the house for solstice. Of course getting drunk doesn’t lead to very good decorating and Azriel tries to fix it and whilst doing so is coaxed into joining Cass and Feyre for a drink:

Poor Az,” I said, pouring myself another glass. “Wine will make you feel better.” He glared at me, then the bottle, then Cassian … and finally stormed across the room, took the bottle from my hand, and chugged the rest. Cassian grinned with delight. Mostly because Rhys drawled from the doorway, “Well, at least now I know who’s drinking all my good wine. Want another one, Az?” Azriel nearly spewed the wine into the fire, but made himself swallow and turn, red-faced, to Rhys. “I would like to explain—” Rhys laughed, the rich sound bouncing off the carved oak moldings of the room. “Five centuries, and you think I don’t know that if my wine’s gone, Cassian’s usually behind it?” Cassian raised his glass in a salute.’

Synopsis (Goodreads)

ON THE DARKEST NIGHT, THE STARS STILL SHINE. 

Feyre's first Winter Solstice as High Lady is drawing near. With it will come a hard-earned rest from the work she, Rhys and their friends have done to rebuild the Night Court and the vastly changed the world beyond. Yet the festive atmosphere can't keep shadows from looming. Even as her own heart heals, she finds that those dearest to her have wounds that go deeper than she knew. 

AND THE SCARS OF THE PAST WILL TOUCH HER COURT IN TIMES TO COME.

Key Quotes

Elain met me halfway to the kitchen, bearing a tray of jam tarts toward the table in the dining room. Where an assortment of baked goods had already begun to take form, tiered cakes and iced cookies. Sugar-frosted buns and caramel-drizzled fruit pies. “Those look pretty,” I told her by way of greeting, nodding toward the heart-shaped cookies on her tray.
Hot cocoa or wine?” Cassian curved a wing around me, turning us toward the cellar door. “How many good bottles does little Rhysie have left?”
‘I cupped Rhys’s cheek, and he leaned into the touch as I quietly asked, “Do you think it’s stupid to wonder if painting might help others, too? Not my painting, I mean. But teaching others to paint. Letting them paint. People who might struggle the same way I do.” His eyes softened. “I don’t think that’s stupid at all.” I traced my thumb over his cheekbone, savoring every inch of contact. “It makes me feel better—perhaps it would do the same for others.”
The females bring their jewelry. I bring my weapons.” “I know a few females in this house who might take offense to that.” Cassian offered me a wicked grin in response.’

Similar Reads

Throne of Glass, From Blood and Ash, The Cruel Prince, Serpent & Dove, Kingdom of the Wicked

Afterthoughts

Sometimes it's the family we choose, our friends, that help us the most and we should cherish the family we go to choose.

Healing from trauma takes time and it isn't a quick process but a lifetimes worth of healing.

Have you read A Court of Frost and Starlight, what did you think?

What books would you recommend for readers that love Fae inspired stories?

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Review - Blood & Honey

Blood & Honey with Coco print

Title: Blood & Honey
Series: Serpent & Dove (Goodreads)
Publisher: HarperTeen 
Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Author: Shelby Mahurin
Age Group: YA
Source: Waterstones (purchased)

Review

I absolutely love reading trilogies and series but I hate the wait of a long awaited sequel. Thankfully, I managed to wait long enough for Blood & Honey without too much torture because I just adore this motley crew and antagonistic romance! Shelby Mahurin did not disappoint with the sequel to Serpent & Dove which unfortunately can occur to any great writer. Instead Mahurin pushed the boundaries and gave us even more darkness and romance but of course all comes at a price when you love a witch.

I could talk for hours about how much I love the relationship between Lou and Reid but instead what stood out as a strength for me in this book was the development of the secondary characters. This was a concern that I had after I finished Serpent & Dove because it was heavily focused on Lou and Reid with very little balance for developing Coco, Beau, Ansel and even Madame Labelle. Thank goodness I was not disappointed when I read Blood & Honey as my hopes to see these supporting characters developed was given to me and many readers.

At the moment there is a real focus on the writing and portrayal of black and ethnic minority characters. For many years, these individuals and communities have gone underrepresented in literature, they have existed to be sure, but they were not the protagonist nor were they developed beyond a one dimensional representation. Now, even though Coco is not the protagonist and remains a supporting character there is still a need to create a two dimensional individual and not a flat character. Mahurin succeeds exceptionally with Coco’s personal development in Blood & Honey! Other readers of the trilogy and this sequel may not agree that this is the case and I respect that feeling, though for me personally, I felt that Coco became more of an individual with her own struggles and personality rather than just a supporting side character to help be Lou’s friend and conscious moral guide. For this reason I leave you with this extract that occurs between Coco, Ansel, and Lou, which personally to me exhibits the individual strength and development of Coco as a person in her own right in Blood & Honey, than just as a secondary character who exists to move the action onwards for the main protagonists Lou and Reid.

“Coco, no. None of this is your fault. Your people—they would never blame you for what happened here.” “That’s exactly the point, isn’t it?” She wiped her eyes furiously. “They should. I abandoned them. Twice. They’re freezing and starving and so afraid, yet their own princesse couldn’t be bothered to care. I should’ve been here, Lou. I should’ve—I don’t know—” “Controlled the weather?” My hands joined hers, wiping at her tears. Though they burned my skin, I didn’t pull away, blinking rapidly against the moisture in my own eyes. […] She wrenched the crown from her head, glaring at the glittering rubies. “How can I lead them? How can I even look at them? I knew their suffering, and I fled anyway, while their conditions only worsened.” She tossed the crown into the snow. “I am no princesse.” To my surprise—perhaps because I’d forgotten he still stood with us—Ansel bent to retrieve it. With impossibly gentle hands, he placed it back on her head. “You’re here now. That’s what matters.”

Synopsis (Goodreads)


After narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven.

Key Quotes 

‘Her voice was small, however, as she continued. “I am sorry, Reid. You’ve led a tumultuous life, and the blame in part is mine. I know this. I understand my role in your suffering.” Catching my hand, she rose to her feet. I told myself to pull away. I didn’t. “Now you must understand that, if given the choice, I never would’ve left you. I would’ve forsaken everything—my home, my sisters, my life—to keep you, but I cannot change the past. I cannot protect you from its pain. I can protect you here and now, however, if you let me.” If you let me. The words were living things in my ears. Though I tried to bury them, they took root, suffocating my anger.'
Perhaps it’d be peaceful, to drown. I’d never given it thought. When I’d imagined my own death, it’d been at the end of a sword. Perhaps twisted and broken by a witch’s hand. Violent, painful endings. Drowning would be better. Easier.’
‘Beau paused in rummaging through Coco’s rucksack. “Side effects?” “Death, mostly. Nothing to fret about.” Madame Labelle shrugged, unamused, and sarcasm dripped from her words.’
I wiped a tear from my eye before it could fall, before he could see. Never once in my eighteen years had I allowed myself to feel small, to feel ashamed, and I refused to start now.'

Similar Reads

From Blood and Ash, Kingdom of the Wicked, The Shadows Between Us, A ​Court of Silver Flames

Afterthoughts 

There were so many moments when I found myself hysterically laughing at the antics of so many of the characters, these characters just have so much life to them and these moments of joy helped balance against the darker themes.

Have you read Blood & Honey, what did you think? Would you recommend this trilogy to others?

How far would you go if you had magic to protect the ones you love?

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Blog Tour - The Unadjusteds

The Unadjusteds book tour
Title: The Unadjusteds (Goodreads)
Publisher: Write Plan
Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopia, Fantasy 
Author: Marisa Noelle
Age Group: YA
Source: Pdf provided by TheWriteReads

I would like to say a big thank you to Dave from TheWriteReads for providing me with the Pdf from the publishers. This was one of my favourite reads so far of the year! I hope you enjoy my review and give this book a read.

‘It would be so much easier to just not care. Take a pill. Be like everyone else. But I can’t do that. I promised Diana.’

Review

I was instantly consumed by the action of this book. From the first few opening pages I already loved the strength of Silver, the main character, and was intrigued by the mutations brought to us in the book and quickly wanted to read on to find out how they came into existence. The author, Marisa Noelle, has such a strong and exciting way of writing. She manages to find that perfect balance between action and character narration which allows the story’s premise and world building to evolve naturally.

I haven’t yet managed to finish this book but I know that I will because I’m deeply obsessed  and intrigued by what will happen to Silver, her friends and family as well as how the adjusteds came into existence. So far, what already stands out to me in The Unadjusteds is the elements of sci-fi, dystopia and fantasy which all blend really nicely to create an exciting story and great characters. There is at the moment very little active romance in this book, but I really don’t mind that. There is a potential romance present between Silver and one of her long-term friends, one not too subtly hinted at, but I’m not concerned either way. I personally just hope that it doesn’t take away from the sci-fi intrigue and independence of Silver. I actually prefer less romance in heavily focused sci-fi books as I think that for me is more exciting!

I am personally a reader that struggles with reading eBooks and so I was very surprised and impressed that this book managed to keep me reading. The fact that I couldn’t put this book down even though it wasn’t given to me in my preferred format speaks volumes of success for the book itself. I know straight away once I start reading a book that I cannot put down that I have found one that meets my personal expectations and The Unadjusteds certainly does that. So, like me if you love strong female characters, sci-fi focused action and strong family values than this is a must read for you! Also, if you loved The Hunger Games then this book possesses similar vibes. Another personal similar read I felt it met the strengths of was This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada and would totally recommend you check out if you give The Unadjusteds a read.

‘I refuse to live in a world where genetically enhanced abilities are valued more than kindness and compassion. I’m determined to find a place away from it all. If I can figure out how to take the damn ankle collar off.’

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Sixteen-year-old Silver Melody lives in a world where 80% of the population has modified their DNA. Known as the altereds, those people now possess enhancements like wings, tails, and increased strength or intelligence. Although Silver’s parents created the nanite pill used to deliver these genetic modifications, Silver is proud of her unadjusted state.

However, when the president declares all unadjusteds must take a nanite, Silver has no choice but to flee the city with her father and some friends to prevent the extinction of the unadjusteds.

With Silver’s mother in prison for treason, Silver’s father is the unadjusteds’ only hope at finding a cure. But time is running out as Silver’s father is captured by the president’s almost immortal army. Vicious hellhounds are on Silver’s trail, and her only chance to recover her father involves teaming up with a new group of unlikely friends before all humanity is lost.

Key Quotes

'Gripping his shoulders, I force him to look at me. “You’re not alone,” I say, placing my hands either side of his face. “Please fight. Try. Hold on. The ambulance is coming.” Don’t be another Diana. I shudder against the memories. The foam and the bulging veins. It’s happening all over again. Blood trickles from the boy’s nose, dripping onto his fresh, white Tshirt. He drops sideways, falling from my grip. His head smacks against the cement.'

'So many things in this forest can kill me. A hellhound could end me in a few bloody seconds. Gritting my teeth, I clamp down on the building fear. I can’t let it win. “Let’s move.”

'Joe stands alone in a circle of dead wolves, blood glistening on his arms and face.'

Similar Reads

Slated, This Mortal Coil, The Hunger Games

Saturday, 5 December 2020

Review - The Shadows Between Us

The Shadows Between Us
Title: The Shadows Between Us (Goodreads)
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends 
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Age Group: YA
Source: Book Depository (purchased)

Review 

I haven’t read a really gripping standalone in a long time and I am so glad that The Shadows Between Us did not disappoint me. The opening chapter pulled me in straight away with its dark intrigue ‘They’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart. And they never will. I buried Hektor Galanis in a hole so deep, even the devils of the earth couldn’t reach him’ and an already promising strong main female protagonist. However, I did feel that once I’d finished the book what had promised dark intrigue with Slytherin vibes ultimately fell short of this premise. This didn’t lead to disappointment and I still thoroughly enjoyed the book, but I felt that the premise and promotion of the book was oversold and misleading which in a sales sense was disappointing. As with many YA books its tricky for most authors to avoid predictability and in some ways this is what makes books enjoyable for some readers. The Shadows Between Us also fell into the trap of predictability at times but did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. In fact, there was one twist that I’m glad to say I did not predict. I was so glad I didn’t see it coming because it gave me that final thrill when reading a book and its nearing its closure but there’s still so much to wrap up with a satisfying resolution and thankfully The Shadows Between Us achieved that.

What usually draws my attention to a book worth reading is a strong female protagonist and character development. Alessandra Stathos definitely deserves to be a part of this group among other strongly developed female characters. At first I wasn’t too keen on Alessandra and her selfish and shallow personality and was concerned about her lack of potential for development, especially considering her motivations, to kill the king and become the sole ruler of the kingdom. This example in particular exhibits Alessandra’s earlier shallowness and why I feared her lack of developmental potential. This extract shows a scene where a robber has recently been stealing from the kingdoms nobles and Alessandra’s reaction to it:

Who in the world would steal and then not keep the riches for themselves? That’s just bad business. Someone that stupid must surely be caught soon. [...] The nobles who were robbed will be paying taxes to me in the future. If Kallias doesn’t solve this problem, it will become mine.’

On a financial level the nobles weren’t unfortunate but on a human level of concern no one deserves the trauma of being held captive until they hand over their possessions. Alessandra herself is not an impoverished woman and her greed for more money didn’t sit well to begin with and her lack of moral concern for others traumas either. However, as The Shadows Between Us progressed so did Alessandra’s development and she ultimately redeemed my personal favour in her. She eventually became less shallow and more considerate of other people’s emotions and I loved that someone who began with so little appeal proved me wrong and actually won my adoration!

What always stood out for me in The Shadows Between Us was its positive approach to female sexuality and the men’s respect for a woman’s decision and their compliance with equal consent. For me, that was ultimately the strength of this book. So, I will leave you with this rather fitting scene that exemplifies one of the few ways an author can empower a young woman’s developing exploration and understanding of their sexuality:

“What of you and Lord Paulos?” I ask. “Have you two…?” “No,” she says simply. “I asked him if we could wait until after the wedding.” “Has he pressured you?” I ask, suddenly growing protective of my friend. “Oh, no. He’s been wonderful about it. You might think I’m silly, but I just want to wait until I’m his wife.” I take her hand in mine. “There is nothing silly about waiting until you want to. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. It is your body to do with as you will.” She smiles at me then, and I worry that I might be the first person to tell her that. Waiting. Not waiting. One lover. A hundred lovers. There should be no judgment either way. A woman is not defined by what she does or doesn’t do in the bedroom.’

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

Key Quotes

I barely remembered grabbing the knife Father had given to me for my fifteenth birthday, three months previous, with its jeweled handle and silver sheen, but I do remember that Hektor’s blood matched the inlaid rubies. [...] Alessandra. His last word was my name. His last thought was of me. I won.

'No one is allowed to touch the king. To do so is punishable by death. Oh, he is a delightful mystery that I can’t wait to solve.’

'I jabbed the heels into the earth and used them to crawl my way out. My muscles spasmed within my body, and my dress was damp with mud, my nostrils full of dirt. But I would not allow myself to die in the grave I’d dug.’

“Aren’t we all drawn to our friends in the beginning by trifling things? True bonds develop afterward, when character is revealed.”

Similar Reads

From Blood and Ash, Serpent & Dove, And I Darken

Afterthoughts

Have you read The Shadows Between Us. did you enjoy it let me know!

I loved the positivity and empowerment of female sexuality. 

What books would you recommend to those who enjoyed this book?

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Blog Tour - Second Cousin Once Removed

Title: Second Cousin Once Removed (Goodreads)
Publisher: Brown Books
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Author: Kenneth L. Toppell
Age Group: Adult
Source: Pdf provided by TheWriteReads

I would like to say a big thank you to Dave from TheWriteReads for providing me with the Pdf from the publishers. This was my first ever blog tour so I was excited to give it a go and so glad I did. I hope you enjoy my review! And thank you to everyone who supports my book blog 🥰

Review

This is a great read if you love a quick short story murder mystery filled with intrigue. I always believe there is a book for everyone and this would definitely be one to read if you like quick exciting crime fictions. However, this book just wasn’t for me unfortunately. I hardly ever dnf a book but in this instance I had to, even though it's short I just couldn’t force myself to finish it. Reading is never pleasurable if your forcing yourself to finish. Also, I just didn’t feel intrigued by the mystery of the murderous and mysterious cousin. For me, this was because it was overshadowed by the relationship between Henry and Carolyn.

Second Cousin is written in multiple perspectives which is great if you want to get a glimpse into each characters thoughts and feelings. It’s not that any of these perspectives were poorly written I just didn’t like the characters, for me they lacked depth and likability. I personally just prefer books with characters with complex depths. What also stood out for me that didn’t add favour to me personally as a reader was that Carolyn was only really there for sexual validation of the main narrator Henry. Very early on what starts out with a great premise, a mysterious murderous cousin, that actually had me interested in the story was quickly forgotten and overshadowed by the sexual will they won’t they interaction between Henry and Carolyn. This was a shame because like I said the initial premise of  the story was actually really exciting.

Even though this book wasn’t for me like I said at the beginning of my review there will always be someone who does. So, no matter what you should always give a book its own chance. If you chose to ignore books because someone else didn’t like it you might miss out on one you yourself will love and treasure.

Synopsis (Goodreads)


Henry Attkinson's life as an attorney is slow, predictable, and lonely, given his divorce and his ex-wife's custody of the kids. He recently took up geneology as a hobby to fill the time, but it doesn't do much to spice up his mundane routine. Until the day he prods at a dead end of one of the branches of his family tree. Who is this cousin Shelley, whom he's never met or even heard of in years? Ignoring a warning to leave well enough alone, Henry still doesn't find much in his deeper delve into the mystery--just a concerning criminal record for the man that finally convinces him to drop the matter. But Shelley is a man who doesn't want to be found or even looked for. And now he knows someone has been looking. Faster than he knows what's hit him, Henry is propelled into sudden mayhem, receiving ominous threats, meeting mysterious strangers, and running for his life. Second Cousin Once Removed is a fast-paced, sweaty-palm thriller that will keep you hooked until the last page.

Key Quotes

'Shelley Garçon kills people. I want you to know this about him because he’s still out there.'

“Henry. It’s me, Shelley. You’ve been looking for me. Why?” That’s all he said. Ten words that scared the hell out of me. He had found me. It couldn’t be through Facebook. Damn! What can of worms had I opened?’

'If I had to disappear, I needed to do it with cash.'

Monday, 19 October 2020

Review - Queen of Shadows

Throne of Glass stack + Aelin print designed by JemlinC

Title: Queen of Shadows
Series: Throne of Glass (Goodreads)
Publisher: Bloomsbury 
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Author: Sarah J. Maas   
Age Group: YA
Source: Waterstones (purchased)

Review

So much happened in this book and my love for this series only gets stronger and more intense as the Throne of Glass series progresses! Something that I have noticed so far about all the books is that the beginnings are usually a bit slow to develop and it can take a few chapters before the action begins to take place. This doesn’t spoil the books in any way, at least not for me, but I mention this so that readers are aware and advise them to stick with the books because once the action picks up you do not want to miss it. As the series goes on and I continue to review them I’m finding it harder and harder to keep my reviews as free from spoilers as possible because so much has changed for Celaena since A Throne of Glass so I will advise to read with caution as there will be minor spoilers.

The one constant strength for me throughout all the books, and especially in Queen of Shadows, is Celaena’s personal development. If you are a long time fan or a new fan of the series then you will be aware of the burdens Celaena has had to carry. These burdens have only increased and become heavier since the previous book, Heir of Fire, when Celaena’s true identity was revealed (Aelin of Terrasen). To go from being an assassin to a young queen with a kingdom to save is a heavy burden for anyone, and Celaena does struggle with it, but importantly with the support and love from her close friends they help her too overcome her struggles and burdens.

She could forgive the girl who had needed a captain of the guard to offer stability after a year in hell; forgive the girl who had needed a captain to be her champion. But she was her own champion now. And she would not add another name of her beloved dead to her flesh.

That leads me to the best element of this book and for me that was the multiple relationships that were developed. Though more importantly, it was the individual developments of particular characters too. The strongest and most beautiful individual developments for me were Manon, Lysandra and Rowan. Whilst the relationships that stood out for me were Celaena and Lysandra’s, Celaena and Rowan’s as well as Manon and Elide’s. I desperately want to discuss so many of these characters and their story arcs but then I’d honestly end up writing a uni length essay and nobody really wants that. So I’m going to focus on Manon’s development as well as the relationship between Celaena and Rowan.

I think you would find it very difficult to argue with any hardcore fan of this series that Maas is in no doubt a fantastic writer of strong, fierce, and independent women! Manon is certainly no exception to this strongly worded statement. When we first met Manon in Heir of Fire she was a blindly loyal and unquestioning follower of her Grandmothers. However, following events in the previous book this is no longer the case. From early on in Queen of Shadows Manon is suddenly lost and beginning to doubt her unquestioning loyalty and this is what makes her development in this series so interesting. There is a fantastic couple of scenes which I think really highlight Manon’s beginning developments. If what has started in Queen of Shadows continues to get stronger in the next few books than her individual story arc is for me is one to watch closely. I think something that’s very important about personal development for characters is that it cannot happen without the right people present in their lives to challenge them and for Manon the two most important and willing challengers in Queen of Shadows are Asterin and Elide. In one particular scene Manon states that Elide cannot understand her struggles because she has not lived them. However, Elide very quickly responds that actually she can relate because she too has faced the same struggles and so openly challenges Manon exemplifying for me the strengths of their developing friendship and Manon’s personal journey too:

Is your broken kingdom worth it?” Elide dared to ask. […] “I do not expect a human to understand what it is like to be an immortal with no homeland. To be cursed with eternal exile.” Cold, distant words. Elide said, “My kingdom was conquered by the King of Adarlan, and everyone I loved was executed. My father’s lands and my title were stolen from me by my uncle, and my best chance of safety now lies in sailing to the other end of the world. I understand what it is like to wish—to hope.” “It is not hope. It is survival.” Elide gently rolled a bandage around the witch’s forearm. “It is hope for your homeland that guides you, that makes you obey.”

Finally Celaena and Rowan’s relationship has already come so far since the previous book, Heir of Fire, and I am totally in love with how much they mean to each other and the support they have and give to one another. What’s fantastic about the multiple perspectives given to us in this book is that we are finally able to see what goes on inside both their minds and honestly reading from Rowan’s perspective had my heart melting. There were so many moments that had me laughing, almost in tears of laughter a lot of times, and others that had me weak at the knees because of their emotional vulnerability. Celaena can absolutely look after herself but that doesn’t mean she’s immune to weak moments, because no one is, and to have Rowan look out for her is absolutely fantastic especially when she willingly asks for his help. Sometimes a persons strength comes from being able to ask for help. Rowan truly cares for Celaena and this example that I’m going to share and leave you with proves that:

Rowan had thought he knew fear. He had thought he could face any danger with a clear head and ice in his veins. Until Lorcan appeared from the shadows, so fast that Rowan hadn’t even scented him, and put that knife against Aelin’s throat.’

Synopsis (Goodreads)


NO MASTERS.
NO LIMITS.
NO REGRETS.

Celaena Sardothien is cloaked in her assassin's hood once more. She is back in Rifthold, but this time she is no one's slave. She must delve into her most painful memories and fight for her survival, while resisting a smouldering passion that might very well consume her heart. And she will face her former master, the King of Assassins, again - to wreak revenge for a decade of pain...

Key Quotes

There were two men in this city responsible for destroying her life and the people she’d loved. She would not leave Rifthold until she’d buried them both.'

‘[she] reminded herself that she’d been trained to kill with her bare hands long before she’d ever learned to melt bones with her fire. She did not need the extra strength, speed, and agility of her Fae form to bring down her enemies.

There were many, many debts to be paid before she left Rifthold and took back her throne. Starting now. Fortunate that she was in a killing sort of mood.’

Everything—everything was for Dorian, for his friend. For himself, he had nothing left to lose. He was nothing more than a nameless oath-breaker, a liar, a traitor.’

“I hear hell is particularly nice at this time of year.

Similar Reads


The Cruel Prince, From Blood and Ash, Serpent & Dove, Shadow and Bone, Six of Crows, The Shadows Between Us, Red Queen 

Afterthoughts


Who's your favourite character or relationship?

Have you read Queen of Shadows, let me know your thoughts!

What books would you recommend for fantasy readers?

I wasn't too keen on the direction of Celaena and Chaol's relationship at the beginning but by the end something seriously changed my mind and Chaol redeemed my appreciation for his character.

Chaol's consistent friendship and loyalty to Dorian has always been a strength of his character. One of the enjoyable aspects of the series is their bromance!