Book review: The Bone Season – By Samantha Shannon

boneTitle: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publishing Date: 24th April 2014 – Bloomsbury
Pages: 496
Genre: Fantasy, YA

Links to purchase: Amazon UK, Waterstones

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut. (Goodreads)

Initial Thoughts

Centred around a detailed and complex world where being a clairvoyant is a crime, The Bone Season is filled with intriguing characters, unique settings and terrifying villains!

Plot

As I said before, this is a very detailed world and it’s clear that Shannon knows it inside and out, however it did take a little time to get to grips with everything. I think once Paige arrived at Oxford, things were much clearer and I was hooked. The categories of clairvoyants were another element that took a while to understand, but fortunately there’s a key at the beginning of the novel that was a big help.

Despite the initial confusion, this novel really surprised me as it didn’t go the way I thought it would. The protagonist, Paige, spends the majority of the novel as a captive to the a race of creatures called the Rephaim in the hidden city of Oxford, forced to complete a series of tests and fight off another strange race of creatures called Buzzers. I think Paige’s frustrations were portrayed really well; this new world is a complete mystery to her and the lack of answers or explanations from her captors is infuriating. I also liked the irony of Paige’s situation, since she has always believed that she was free in the Seven Seals (a clairvoyant gang), despite it being clear to the reader that she was trapped within that gang too.

The entire system of Oxford; the colour-coded clothes and the training and the history of Oxford and the Bone Seasons were all fantastically written, and I particularly enjoyed the villains – the Rephaim. Their leader, Nashira, was especially cruel, which only made me root for Paige more as she faced more trials and tribulations. That being said, I was glad that not all the Rephaim were evil, which made the relationship between Paige and Warden particularly interesting as they learned to trust each other.

Characters

As a protagonist, Paige isn’t perfect; she’s stubborn, untrusting and can be a poor judge of character (I’m talking about Jaxon here) but that’s what makes her such an interesting character. Her relationship with Warden was fun to watch, though I did suspect how it would develop. Paige’s relationships with other characters, such as the Seven Seals, Nick, Liss and Julian brought out different sides of Paige that made her a well-rounded character for me.

Warden: brooding, mysterious and loyal to a fault. I trusted him way before Paige did, and was eager for them to just get along. I’d love to learn more about Warden, especially after reading about his tumultuous relationship with Nashira. After the way things ended in The Bone Season, it’s going to be very interesting to see where his character goes.

I did not like Jaxon, not one bit. I actually disliked him more than Nashira for the simple fact that he managed to manipulate Paige in a way I think Nashira couldn’t. He was a father figure for Paige, though in reality he was only interested in her ability. By the end of the novel, Paige seemed to see him for who he truly was, and that dynamic will be very interesting going forwards…

Overall

This novel surprised me more than once and after getting to grips with the world, this was really enjoyable. I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series!

My rating:

four of five

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Book review: The Upside of Unrequited – By Becky Albertalli

upsideTitle: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publishing Date: 11th April 2018 – Balzer and Bray
Pages: 336
Genre: YA, Contemporary

Links to purchase: Amazon UK, Waterstones

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s co-worker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right? (Goodreads)

Initial Thoughts

Heartfelt. Funny. Relatable. These were the first words that came to mind once I’d finished The Upside of Unrequited, hardly a surprise after how much I enjoyed Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. And once again, Becky Albertalli has told a story full of grounded characters that will have you reliving your own adolescence.

Plot

Like Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, this novel is a great exploration of character and relationships. Did I have an idea of how the novel was going to end? Sure. But the joy came from following Molly’s journey and her transformation. She starts off the novel having 26 crushes – none of which she’s done anything about – but suddenly, she finds herself with two potential love interests as well as a shift in the dynamic with her twin Cassie, as she gets her first serious girlfriend.

Molly’s story is a relatable one; her insecurity about her weight makes her cautious around people she’s attracted to. Even when she thinks there is a chance with someone, she’ll deny it out of fear of being judged. It’s sad to read, but something I’m sure everyone has dealt with, which made it great to watch as Molly tried more and more to put herself out there. This does lead to a kind-of-but-not-really love triangle situation, but I think it was handled very well and wasn’t as over-dramatic as I feared it might be. Even though there were times when characters wouldn’t communicate properly and I just wanted to shake them, it felt natural to the characters, and to experiences I’ve had myself in my teenage years.

What’s more,  is that this is a really diverse story; Molly is an IVF baby with two mothers (one of whom is black), and the story features gay, straight and pansexual characters. Not to mention that Molly herself is Jewish. Having such diversity featured in a novel without it being a big deal is great to see, and Becky Albertalli does it really well.

Characters

I’ve said it several times already, but despite not ever being a teenage girl, I found Molly to be a very relatable character. Over the course of the novel, she gets jealous when she sees other people in relationships; she ignores people she has crushes on; and she’s scared of being judged for the people she likes. All these qualities made her a fully realised character that was enjoyable to follow.

Cassie I identified with less, although, for a character that initially seemed to be confident and outgoing, I’m glad that she was revealed to have her own insecurities. Sometimes she could be a little mean to Molly, but at the end of the day, the sisters were very supportive of each other. Her and Mina were also pretty cute.

As Molly’s first love interest, I feared that Will would be a cliché shallow popular guy, but again, Albertalli surprised me by making him quite likeable. It was predictable how things would turn out between him and Molly, but seeing their relationship play out was still interesting.

I loved Reid, Molly’s second love interest. Again, I knew how his and Molly’s relationship would progress, but watching it develop was still enjoyable. I loved the texts between these two and thought their chemistry was great. His social awkwardness was particularly endearing, and I loved all the ‘nerd’ references.

I also think the family dynamic was refreshing since a lot of YA tends to ignore parents and extended family within the story.

Overall

I really enjoyed this (perhaps not as much as Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda) but I love how grounded the characters were and thought this was a really light-hearted novel that I’d happily read again.

My rating:

four of five

 

Book review: Iron Gold – By Pierce Brown

29217027Title: Iron Gold
Author: Pierce Brown
Publishing Date: 16th January 2018 – Hodder and Stoughton
Pages: 601
Genre: YA, Science-Fiction

Links to purchase: Amazon UK, Waterstones

They call him father, liberator, warlord, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the pale blue planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-second of his life.

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown. (Goodreads)

Initial Thoughts

Iron Gold develops the characters we loved from the Red Rising series, as well as introducing us to new and exciting characters in a story that explores the consequences of revolution and how difficult it truly is.

Plot

Iron Gold follows on ten years after the events of Morning Star, where we learn about the revolution through four different perspectives. This was interesting in itself, since most novels don’t really explore what happens after a corrupt government has been overthrown. In the case of Iron Gold, overthrowing the Golds was just the beginning.

I was really excited to read this book, but since it’s been a while since I read the Red Rising series, it was hard to get into the story and remember all the characters and relationships – especially since there are so many!

Someone I remembered immediately however, was our protagonist, Darrow. Despite being married and having a child, Darrow is still fighting  to make the world a better place, but at this rate, it seems he’s fighting a losing battle. It was so disheartening to see that the world hadn’t really improved – especially when we learnt that the Reds’ conditions were still horrendous, and characters such as Ephraim were bitter about the outcome of the revolution (that still hasn’t really ended). As a result, the entire universe is in chaos.  Even those who claim to be on the ‘good’ side make silly decisions, others are morally grey, and some characters want to return the universe to its ‘former glory’. From start to finish, Iron Gold is filled with battles, betrayals and nail-biting moments.

Pierce Brown’s choice to write in four narratives does allow us to gain different insights into the revolution and Darrow as a character, which I think was great, but I did enjoy some of the perspectives less than others, which meant at times I did find myself struggling to get through the novel. I think all the perspectives became really interesting at the climax of the novel as certain characters’ stories begin to merge, and as a whole, I am excited to see where the story goes, even as frustrating as it was to see another war begin in this series.

Characters

While Darrow’s chapters were interesting to read, he was so frustrating as a character! He kept making impulsive decisions that impacted his family and friends, which left me nervous through the entire novel, especially with the trials and tribulations Mustang (who I wish we’d gotten more of) and his son Pax faced. It was good to see how his and Sevro’s relationship had developed (Sevro is my favourite!) although even that became strained in the end. By the climax of the novel. Darrow is in a pretty dark place and I have no idea what he’ll do next.

Lyria was my favourite character and a great addition to the series. She’s understandably jaded about the war, as Darrow has not met his promises in improving the Reds’ quality of life. She offered an interesting perspective in how Darrow and Mustang have become the thing they wanted to stop. Her interactions with characters like Mustang were some of my favourite moments, as she doesn’t have a filter and often gives characters reality checks. I want more Lyria!

I had a lot of sympathy for Ephraim, as someone who has lost a loved one to the war. He, like Lyria, was very jaded and used drugs to suppress his emotions, which sometimes made it hard to sympathise with him, and I did find that his chapters became more interesting towards the end.

Lysander’s chapters were my least favourite. While seeing an older and wiser Cassius was definitely a fascinating read, I found myself disliking Lysander for his recklessness and views of the world – and Darrow specifically. His and Cassius’ relationship was a strange mix of love/hate, which was great, but I’m unsure where the character will go next.

Overall

I’m glad Pierce Brown decided to continue this series, and for the most part, I really enjoyed it. Writing in multiple perspectives is always risky, but I think he managed to make the characters different enough that each character’s voice was distinct. The rise of another war is frustrating, but I imagine that is what the reader is supposed to feel, and therefore I can’t wait to see how this is resolved in the follow-up novels.

My rating:

four of five

 

Top 5 Tuesdays: M/M Couples

I know  I’m super late to the party as this tag was done a few weeks ago, but I’d still like to do a list of my favourite gay male couples in books! So, without further ado…

5. Mateo & Rufus

they both dieHaving read this book fairly recently, this couple remains fresh in my mind. Despite only knowing each other for a day, Mateo and Rufus form a really strong bond and really bring out the best in each other! This could have been an instalove relationship, but given that both characters are supposed to die by the end of the novel, it made sense that they’d want to make the most of their time.

4. Simon & Blue

19547856The best part about Simon and Blue’s relationship is the emails between them. It was a fun way of the characters learning about each other, since it’s all personality based, and I really enjoyed the mystery of who Blue was.

3. Rhy & Alucard

22055262Rhy and Alucard are both extremely outgoing characters, but when they’re together, their vulnerabilities really come through, highlighting how good they are together. I’d love to see have seen more of their relationship since they were apart for so long, but the moments they did share were beautiful. Plus, I loved how much Alucard irritated Kell!

2. Jesper & Wylan

six of crowsI cannot say it enough, but this is an amazing book with fantastic characters! I actually enjoyed all the relationships in Six of Crows, but every scene with Jesper and Wylan had me gushing with excitement. This was more of a slow burner, but seeing Wylan grow in confidence and Jesper confronting his emotions was a lovely thing to read. Like Rhy and Alucard, I just want more!

1. Alec & Magnus

256683

Alec and Magnus were the first gay couple I read in a YA fantasy novel, so they’ll always hold a special place in my heart. From their first meeting, to Alec’s epic coming out, to starting a family together, Alec and Magnus’s relationship has continued to grow from strength to strength, and it’s one of my all time favourite ships, let alone m/m ships.

What are some of your favourite m/m couples in books? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Book review: Shadow and Bone – By Leigh Bardugo

shadow boneTitle: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Date: 31st July 2014 – Indigo
Pages: 308
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Links to purchase: Amazon UKWaterstones

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to 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? (Goodreads)

Initial Thoughts

I definitely enjoyed this – but is it better than the Six of Crows duology? Read on to find out…

Plot

Something I enjoyed about the opening of the novel is that it moves quite quickly – we meet Alina Starkov and her childhood best friend, Mal. We understand her regiment and their goal to cross the Shadow Fold, and we discover Alina has a power beyond her understanding. This meant we could move straight on to the most enjoyable part of the story, where Alina leaves her world behind to train at the capital. We get to meet Genya, who was one my favourites, as well as deal with the snobbery of some of the Grisha. The entire dynamic of the royal court and the capital was really great.

I also enjoyed the mystery of the Darkling, a Shadow Summoner whose intentions are unclear for the most-part of the novel. Trying to work his character out was interesting, though I wasn’t a massive fan of him and Alina as a couple.

Now, while I liked the pacing of the beginning of the novel, the ending was a little slow for me. I found myself growing a little bored as there was a large section of Alina being on the run that I didn’t find particularly interesting. I also wasn’t convinced with the relationships formed between Alina and the Darkling, and Alina and Mal. I accepted the Darkling more as a love interest because of his intrigue, but I saw no redeeming qualities in Mal, especially as he has a part to play in Alina’s powers being blocked. He also does a complete one-eighty at the end in terms of his feelings for her, which felt a little like instalove.

Characters

I think I spoiled myself by reading Six of Crows first because I think the characters were much stronger in that series. For me, Alina was pretty bland; I didn’t dislike her, but I didn’t like her either.

As for Mal, I couldn’t stand him. I didn’t like the way he treated Alina for the majority of the novel (you’d never believe they were best friends) and then at the end he does a complete one-eighty.

The Darkling was the most intriguing character because we knew so little about him and he was shrouded in mystery. At times, it was hard to tell if he was a good character or not (which does get answered by the end of the novel). While I wasn’t a massive fan of his relationship with Alina, I am curious to see where his character goes next.

Genya was my absolute favourite. I really sympathised with her situation and how poorly the other Grisha treated her. She added a lot of comedy to the story, although I’m not sure where we stand with the character by the end. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to see more of her, though…

Overall

I will admit that I didn’t enjoy this as much as Six of Crows, and that’s largely to do with the characters, however, I did enjoy the story enough to want to continue this series.

My rating:

three of five

Yay or Nay: Pairing Off All the Characters

A while back, I read The Lunar Chronicles, a series that I absolutely loved and enjoyed, but something I couldn’t help noticing, was how each of the main female protagonists were paired-up with the male protagonists. This isn’t specific to this series either. In Throne of Glass, all the main characters get together – and don’t even get me started with The Mortal Instruments.

After noticing this trend, and seeing as it’s almost Valentine’s Day, I decided I wanted to explore whether I actually enjoyed this trope in YA by highlighting the pros and cons. So without further ado…

Pros

  • Give Me All the Ships! – When all the leading characters get paired-up, you get the opportunity to obsess over a bunch of new ships in the story. Personally, I enjoyed all the couples in The Lunar Chronicles, for different reasons.
  • And They All Lived Happily Ever After – When you reach the end of a novel and find that all the characters have actually survived the mayhem, it can be heart-warming to see all them all happily together, plus, it adds a sense of closure to the story.
  • Diversity – Having multiple couples in a novel offers the chance to see a variety of relationships in one book. A great example of this is Six Of Crows; we get to see a relationship with a same-sex couple, a relationship of mixed ethnicities, and relationships with different body types. This helps to normalise diversity within couples.
  • Drama! – Let’s be honest; when your protagonists are dating each other, that brings a lot of tension and drama to the story, which can be really fun if it’s done right. Without the drama, we wouldn’t have had amazing ships like Malec!

Cons

  • Convenient, Much? – It can feel a little too convenient when all the leading characters develop feelings for each other and pair up.
  • Too Much Drama? – I know I said I love the drama of pairing up characters in romantic relationships, but if this overshadows the main plot, this can become very infuriating. I don’t want to feel like I’m reading a romance novel if I’m reading something else.
  • Unnecessary – There’s no need for all the characters to get together. In real life, many social groups are a mixture of couples and singles. Characters in books can be the same.
  • Mismatched – If the characters put together are not a match, this can be very annoying to read. I know there’s a lot of divided opinions in Throne of Glass with regards to certain pairings, and I have to admit that when two characters are put together that I don’t like, it can make me enjoy the book less.

My Final Verdict: YAY!

I don’t mind a little romance in novels, even if it is a little convenient when all the characters get together. As long as it’s done right, it can enhance the story, and allows you to become invested in the characters even more.

What are your thoughts on pairing off all the main characters? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Book review: They Both Die At the End – By Adam Silvera

they both dieTitle: They Both Die At the End
Author: Adam Silvera
Publishing Date: 7th September 2017 – Simon and Schuster
Pages: 368
Genre: YA, Contemporary

Links to purchase: Waterstones, Amazon UK

When Mateo receives the dreaded call from Death-Cast, informing him that today will be his last, he doesn’t know where to begin. Quiet and shy, Mateo is devastated at the thought of leaving behind his hospitalised father, and his best friend and her baby girl. But he knows that he has to make the most of this day, it’s his last chance to get out there and make an impression.

Rufus is busy beating up his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend when he gets the call. Having lost his entire family, Rufus is no stranger to Death-Cast. Not that it makes it any easier. With bridges to mend, the police searching for him and the angry new boyfriend on his tail, it’s time to run.

Isolated and scared, the boys reach out to each other, and what follows is a day of living life to the full. Though neither of them had expected that this would involve falling in love…

Another beautiful, heart-breaking and life-affirming book from the brilliant Adam Silvera, author of More Happy Than Not and History Is All You Left Me. (Goodreads)

Initial Thoughts

Oh boy, was this emotional! Yet again, Adam Silvera has told a beautiful story with an imaginative concept.

Plot

The whole idea of Death Cast is really intriguing – I’m not sure if I’d want to live in a world where I’d be informed of the day I’m going to die, but it was still fascinating to read. The fact that we got chapters that focused on characters other than Mateo and Rufus who may or may not be receiving the Death Cast also helped to expand the world, and highlighted how different people would react to the news. My personal favourite was Delilah Grey and her complete denial of her Death Cast call.

For the majority of the novel, we follow Mateo and Rufus as they come to terms with the fact that they’re going to die. These two very different characters learn so much from each other as the story progresses. Mateo learns to take more risks and live life to the fullest (ironically), while Rufus learns to deal with his emotions, particularly with the loss of his parents. Both of these were played out really well without feeling clichéd or happening too fast, which made it very easy to fall in love with these characters and their relationship.

Of course, my biggest anxiety was finding out how and when the characters were going to die, which I guess, puts us in the exact same position as them. As I got more and more invested in both characters, my dread grew for their deaths – especially as there were several incidences when it was a close call – and by the time I reached the end of the novel, I was truly devastated, despite the inevitability of it all.

Characters

I don’t think this story would have worked if it weren’t for the characters. Mateo was very relatable for me since I can be over-cautious at times. The backstory with his father added to his likeability, but also made you sympathise with him. It’s especially tragic when you read about how his death affects his best friend, Lidia, who’s already dealt with losing someone.

Rufus on the other hand was full of life and energy and made a great counterpart to Mateo. I loved the relationship he had with his friends (other than Annabelle, who I couldn’t stand), and like Mateo, this relationship increased his likeability. Despite losing his biological family, he forged a new one. His loss made him more of a guarded character, but as that guard dropped, I found myself warming to him more and more.

P.S. How annoying was Peck?

Overall

A great concept, wonderful characters, a beautiful relationship, and an emotional ending; I absolutely loved this book.

My rating:

five of five

 

Book review: Northern Lights – By Philip Pullman

northern lightsTitle: Northern Lights
Author:
Philip Pullman
Publication Date:
5th March 2015 – Scholastic (Anniversary Edition)
Pages:
397
Genre:
Children’s, Fantasy

Links to Purchase: Amazon UK, Waterstones

“Without this child, we shall all die.”

Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences far beyond her own world… (Goodreads)

Initial Thoughts

A lot of people have told me that it is blasphemous for me not to have read this book as a fantasy fan, so my expectations were pretty high. I can definitely say that this is an enjoyable read that thirteen-year-old me would have been obsessed with!

Plot

I will admit that the pacing was initially slow for me, but the introduction of Lyra, and the concept of having a daemon as a lifelong companion, was an intriguing set-up that pushed me to want to learn more.  As we learnt more about Lyra, and as more children started to vanish, my intrigue for the novel kicked up a gear, and I was hooked.

You could argue that the novel is kind of repetitive; Lyra finds herself in a dangerous situation, she uses her intelligence to get out of it, before stumbling into a new dangerous situation, but I appreciated that there was never an easy way out. I was always invested in how Lyra would get out of a predicament, whether that was escaping Mrs Coulter, or getting to the north, or learning how to use the alethiometer, and was never predictable. And as things crank up a gear – from hot air balloon attacks to witch battles to bear fights – I couldn’t predict how the novel would end. Though, I will say there is a very weird ending that I wasn’t so sure about.

Something else that surprised me was how dark the novel was!  A lot of horrible things happened to the kids in this novel – including death – so it certainly raised the stakes. And this leads to the biggest thing I took from this book. Adults suck. Ok, that’s not really what I took from this, but seriously, the adults in this book were so manipulative and cruel, that it just made me root for Lyra even more.

Characters

I liked Lyra because she wasn’t a damsel in distress who needed to be saved, she found ways to get out of situations by outsmarting the adults. She was a very compassionate character, and I liked the dynamic she had with her daemon, Pantalaimon.

Throughout the novel, Lyra makes a number of friends, but the one who stood out the most was Iorek – and not just because he was a giant bear – but because of his loyalty to Lyra and his fierceness. He started off as a drunk without much to his name, but eventually rose to become a powerful character.

I haven’t seen the Golden Compass, but I can totally picture Nicole Kidman as Mrs Coulter. What makes her such a dangerous villain is how she manages to mesmerise her opponents with her beauty, before using them for her gain. I was always nervous when she was in a scene, which I think makes her a formidable villain. My one negative is that her motives became unclear for me towards the end, especially with her and Lord Asriel’s confrontation, which was very weird.

We don’t get a lot of Lord Asriel, but when we do, he is one of the main reasons why I didn’t like most of the adults in this story. Even in moments when I thought he’d redeemed himself, he’d do something that completely negated that. I’d be interested to see where his character goes next, as his motives also became blurred towards the end.

Overall

I didn’t enjoy this as much as thirteen-year-old me would have, but this was still a lot of fun. A lot of people hate the film adaptation, so I’m curious to see how it would compare, but in terms of the book, I do understand the hype!

My rating:

four of five

 

 

Top Ten Tuesdays: Books I Really Liked But Can’t Remember Anything About

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently hosted on That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week’s topic is ‘Books I liked But Can’t Remember Anything About’. For most of the books on my list, this is probably just because it’s been so long since I’ve read them, not because the books weren’t good, and this won’t be in any particular order. So, without further ado…

10. The Chronicles of Narnia

narniaI think everyone’s heard of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I was a massive fan of this book as I child… I just don’t have a clue what happened in any of the other books. I do remember that my interest in the series faded as the series went on, so that might have something to do with it.

9. Inkheart

inkheartI remember loving this book as a child. What I don’t remember, is the plot. Not one single thing.

8. I Am Number Four

i am number fourThis is another book where I started to lose interest as the series went on, but I really enjoyed the premise overall. I know this book has something to do with aliens, but apart from that, I’m unsure what happens in this book.

7. Beautiful Creatures

beautifulBecause of the film, I remember the basic plot of the first book, but I can’t remember any of the events of the rest of the series. I would re-read this series, but I remember being heavily disappointed with the finale, so perhaps I’ll give it a miss.

6. The Darkest Minds

darkest mindsWhy don’t I remember this book??? It’s sitting on my shelf right now, and I know I’ve read it, but I can’t remember anything apart from the fact that it features teenagers with powers. Once I get through the monster that is my TBR pile, I’m definitely giving this a re-read!

5. Chaos Walking Trilogy

I’ve made it very clear on my blog how much I love Patrick Ness, and in particular this series, but most of my memories of the series comes from the first two books. With regards to Monsters of Men, I don’t remember anything except for the very ending. Since the anniversary of the series is coming up, I am definitely going to give this a re-read.

4. A Dance With Dragons

10664113Have you ever watched a film or TV adaptation that has completely wiped your memory of the book it’s based on? Because that’s the case for me and Game of Thrones. As both the show and the books have progressed, they’ve gone further apart in terms of plot, making it more difficult to separate both in my mind. Since I’ve watched the show more recently, the events of the show are more ingrained in my mind than the books.

3. The Infernal Devices

Yes, yes, I know. I’ve been very vocal on my blog about how much I love The Infernal Devices, which is true, but, again, a lot of memories are from the first two books in the series. Out of all the series on this list, I remember these the most, but another re-read of this series is definitely in order.

2. Throne of Glass

13519397So, Tower of Dawn was released a few months ago, but I couldn’t read it, because I forgot a lot of what happened in the previous books. This tends to happen with me a lot, especially with a longer series, so I’m going to wait till the final book in the series is released, then read the whole thing.

1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

order of phoenix

This is probably the most surprising for me! This goes back to the Game of Thrones problem where the film is more ingrained in my brain than the book. I know there are a lot more details in the books than there are in the films, and Harry Potter is at the top of my list of books/series I need to re-read.

I’m curious to know what others would put on their lists, so leave your thoughts in the comments!

Book review: The Call – By Peadar O’Guilin

the callTitle: The Call
Author: Peadar O’Guilin
Publishing Date: September 2016 – David Fickling Books
Pages: 312
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, YA

Links to purchase: Amazon UK, Waterstones

3 minutes and 4 seconds. The length of time every teenager is ‘Called’, from the moment they vanish to the moment they reappear. 9 out of 10 children return dead. Even the survivors are changed. The nation must survive. Nessa, Megan and Anto are at a training school – to give them some chance to fight back. Their enemy is brutal and unforgiving. But Nessa is determined to come back alive. Determined to prove that her polio-twisted legs won’t get her killed. But her enemies don’t just live in the Grey Land. There are people closer to home who will go to any length to see her, and the nation, fail… (Goodreads)

Initial Thoughts

Holy crap. You could not pay me to live in this universe! From page one, you’re scared for every single character in this book, and the tension doesn’t stop until the very end.

Plot

The premise of the book is established very quickly – a teenager will disappear, returning three minutes later in our time, however, in their time, they’ll have spent twenty-four hours in the Grey Land, trying to remain hidden from a race of creatures hell-bent on torturing them.

I was very surprised by how violent this book was! O’Guilin doesn’t hold back as you  witness children go through all sorts of agonies – whether they’re characters we’ve been rooting for throughout the novel, or characters we can’t stand. Although the novel mostly follows Nessa and her experience at the training school, we do get to see various characters go through ‘The Call’ and these were the most intense parts of the novel for me. Even when I didn’t like certain characters, I still rooted for them to survive, which I think O’Guilin did well. This did also build my excitement for whenever Nessa was Called, as I was curious to see how she’d survive.

It’s a very bleak story, as you see child after child die – but Nessa provides some hope, as a character that strives to survive, despite having a disability. She’s an underdog – and everybody loves an underdog!

There is a twist concerning the Sidhe (Irish fairies) and their plans for the teens, and I did enjoy how everything came together at the end. They were definitely a force to be reckoned with, and I was genuinely concerned with how our heroes would defeat them.

Characters

If I knew that at some point in my teen life, I’d be transported to another world, where terrifying creatures were trying to torture and/or kill me, I’d be a nervous wreck. That’s not the case for our protagonist, Nessa. Obviously, Nessa is anxious about being Called, but she is determined throughout to survive, despite having crutches (a result of having polio). She isn’t someone to be pitied (despite almost everyone in the novel doing so) and in the end, she becomes vital in stopping the Sidhe’s plans.

While I loved Nessa, Megan was my absolute favourite. She has a no-nonsense attitude throughout, and I’ve always had a soft spot for the snarky characters. Her relationship with Nessa was great to read since they’re so supportive towards each other, despite their ups and downs.

Another relationship I really enjoyed was between Nessa and Anto. Anto is probably the most sweetest and innocent character in the book, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to face the same tribulations as everyone else. And being such a sweet character, it’s almost more horrifying when bad things do happen to him.

As for Connor…oh boy. I really thought that his character would be redeemed at some point, but he is evil through and through. He’s a very easy character to despise, especially towards the climax of the novel when he makes some very sneaky decisions…

Overall

This was a dark tale with a great concept that worked really well. I can’t wait to read the next one!

My rating:

five of five