Review: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

a-torch-against-the-light This may be one of the strongest sequels I have read in a long time.  There was no drag or filler.  It was non-stop from the very beginning.  The characters are smartly written and interesting to read.  You feel for all of them but for different reasons.  All of their decisions are explainable even if you don’t agree with them.  It is a very good book.  At the end of An Ember in the Ashes, Laia and Elias are escaping Blackcliff and Serra and Helena is now sworn to be the Blood Shrike to the new Empire, Marcus who won the trials.  We begin A Torch Against the Night begins right where it’s predecessor left off.  Laia and Elias on the run with Helena and her men right behind them.  After a run in with Elias’ Mom, the Commandant they finally escape but not without some causalities.  Eventually, they met by Keenan making it an awkward march to save Laia’s brother, Darin.  Who is locked up in the infamous prison named Kauf.  Meanwhile, Helena feels betrayed that Elias didn’t complete the trials forcing her to work for Marcus.  Marcus is cruel and knows exactly what will hurt Helena the most.  Have her track down Elias and bring him back to be executed.  No one knows Elias like Helena does but she is torn between her loyalty to the Empire and her love for Elias.  In the previous book the point of view switched back and forth between Laia and Elias. In this one we also get Helena’s and it’s a welcome view.  We know how Laia and Elias feel but Helena is still loyal and believes in the Empire.  She can see it’s not perfect but she understands how it is structured to keep them safe.  Slowly, she starts to see a little bit of of what they see about they have been saying all along.  Her view gives us a more rounded view of the Empire.  Now it wouldn’t be a YA novel without a romantic intrigue.  The love triangle was already introduced in the last book between Laia, Elias and Keenan.  To me it was pretty obvious who was Laia’s choice but I guess there had to be some mystery.  Elias was always talking Laia up and Keenan was always talking her down but the reveal at the end was a little bit of a surprise.  I figured there had to be something up with one of her suitors but not exactly how I thought it would be.  But enough about romance.  Laia is truly lovely.  She is one determined, brave young lady.  She has been through so much in the last two books but her wanting to save her brother has never wavered.  She’s not the strongest or the fastest but that never stops her from joining the fight or trying to figure out how to help.  Even when her confidence is low, she still fights for what she wants.  She is heroine to be looked up too.  If you haven’t read An Ember in the Ashes what are waiting for?  I suggest you do that now so you can read this book too.  You will not regret it.

Quick Review: The Darkest Magic by Morgan Rhodes

darkest magic The series The Book of Spirit of Thieves is both a prequel and a sequel to Morgan Rhodes other series Falling Kingdoms.  With it’s dueling narratives that take place centuries before and after and in the same realm as the action of her previous books and also in our own world in present time.  In some ways, it fills the origin holes of some the mysteries and prophecies but stands on it own.  The switching POV of Maddox, Becca, Crystal and Farrell are kind of a mix bag.  I like Maddox as his is different from the others. It’s the prequel part of the story and takes place in Mytica.  Becca, Crystal and Farrell are all in present day Toronto.  The sisters Becca and Crystal are fine.  There is a genuine love between them but a little bit of distance.  Since the events of the last book, they both have learned a lot about themselves and each other and they are not sure what to do about this new knowledge.  Farrell, I could do without, sort of.  I understand why he is a POV but I just don’t really care that much about him as I do the others. He’s a privilege rich white boy who drinks and acts out because he didn’t get the love at home.  He uses people to make him feel better and people keep giving his boorish behavior a pass because he’s just a good kid inside.  He’s just hasn’t gotten over the loss of his brother.  He’s being controlled by an ancient cult leader.  Ok those are both true but still.  I’ve over it.  This series is fine and okay.  I think Falling Kingdoms is a far more interesting series with more compelling characters and more twists and turns.  That being said, it’s still kinda fun to read and it does fill in some wholes of the other series so it’s worth checking out if you’ve read the other series.

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne

cursed child***Spoilers***

Whatever you feel about the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows there was a sense that it was a beginning of a story and not an end like we thought.  The play in two parts, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the continuation of Harry’s story starting right at the epilogue. Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione are taking their children to the Hogwarts Express at the start of a new school year.  Albus Severus Potter, Harry and Ginny’s middle child is full of anxiety over many things but most of all of being the son of Harry Potter.  How can he possible live up to the legend of Harry Potter, who with his friends saved the wizarding world? On the Hogwarts Express, Albus meets another new student who also has to deal with shadow of his parent, Scorpius Malfoy.  Without giving away more spoilers less just say that Albus has Harry stubbornness and his penchant to dive right in without thinking of the consequences.  He and Scorpius travel back and time but they truly didn’t think about all the possible outcomes and well drama unfolds.  We see everyone struggle, from trying to find their place in the world to how to relate to their children.  I was able to understand Albus frustrations but I didn’t like him as I did with Harry. Honestly, the best character in the play of Scorpius.  He was funny, optimistic  and kind. Pretty much the opposite of Draco from the books.  He had Ron’s heart and Hermione’s brain.  He was the perfect friend for Albus.  Harry is older but not necessarily wiser.  Hermione was great as always and Ron was great too.  While it was great to revisit the Wizarding World and Harry I think I’m ready to let go of them.  It was a beautiful story and the ending was heartbreaking.  I really want to see it performed because there are many things that happen that I’m not sure how they do on stage.  Like when a couple of characters take polyjuice potion and change into other characters on stage.  That’s just one example.  I really hope this comes to Broadway or it’s get filmed because I don’t think I’ll be making it to London anytime soon.

Reviews: The Last Star by Rick Yancey and The Countdown by Kimberly Derting

the last star***Spoilers Ahead***

The Last Star and The Countdown and the final books in trilogies about aliens coming to Earth but that’s really where the similarities end.  The Last Star is the finale to The 5th Wave, which follows a few teenage survivors after first four waves of an Alien invasion.  Billions have people have already died, leaving Cassie, Zombie, Sam, Ringer and Evan as humanities last stand. Meanwhile, The Taking Trilogy, explores alien abductions and the possibility that those responsible are on their way.  The 5th Wave is far more epic in scale and more ambitious but not necessarily as entertaining.  The first book I thought was fantastic but was underwhelm by the follow The Infinite Sea.  The Taking was okay but as the series went on it got better.  Not the best series I’ve read but entertaining.  Reading both series so close together gave me a chance to read different views on Aliens.  Are they hostile? Do they come in peace?  How do they go around getting a foothold into Earth.  They both have a very different approach to those questions as the The 5th Wave also piggybacks on the latest trend of YA Dystopia as well as sci-fi.  The Taking is really more of your standard YA fare with aliens in the background.  It still explores the trials of youth and romance and of course a love triangle.

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Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

court mist fury**Spoilers**

I think I know what I really didn’t like about the last half of A Court of Thorns and Roses. The first half I liked but I felt that that second half was like a whole other book that just dragged. After reading A Court of Mist and Fury I think what I really bothered me was that deep down, I knew Tamlin wasn’t worth Feyre going through all the trials and tortures.  He may have loved her but not truly and that was only more evident as he allowed her to fade away while he tried to rebuild his court.  I get wanting to let things settle but she was clearly unhappy.  Unable to sleep through the night and he did nothing but promise once things settle down things will be better.  And worst of all trapped her in his home after she was trapped Under the Mountain.  When you compare Tamlin to Rhys, you can see how truly unworthy Tamlin is.  Rhys is not just in love with Feyre.  He understands her.  He is her equal. Rhys would have been a worthy person for Feyre to go through the trials and torture.

I’ve talked about how YA novels have treats PTSD or getting over traumatic experiences.   It’s infuriating how often they ignore it or have or other characters don’t acknowledge that the hero or heroine is suffering by making them feel worst for not getting over it fast enough.  Here we have two different reactions to Feyre’s ordeal Under the Mountain.  Tamlin seems so consumed with his own pain of what happened to him that he doesn’t see Feyre is wasting away right in front of him.  He’s too afraid of losing her again that he keeps her locked up and it’s stifling her to a point that she can’t recover.from her own trauma.  Rhys gives Feyre time to heal.  He gives her space and pushes her only when he needs too.  He encourages her to learn to read and to test out her new powers.  He does have the benefit of being connected to her through their bargain but he also has the power to read people’s minds.  He introduces her to his friends and lets her in on his plans and decision making. It’s exactly what Feyre needs.  It gives her not only time to recover from what happened to her but understand that the relationship with Tamlin was flawed and in the end unhealthy.  Of course, it also gives her time to realize that she is not only well suited for Rhys but is in love with him.  So to go back to my original point.  Tamlin wasn’t worth the torture that Feyre went through but it was for her to get to know Rhys though.  I’m glad I decided to read this book after only being so-so with the last one.

 

Quick Review: The Crown by Kiera Cass

the crown So this is the final book in the series.  I think. I thought the same thing about the The One but I think this is really it.  I am grateful that this was only a duology and not a trilogy because while it was entertaining I feel it also ran it’s course.  I liked that it flipped the original plot on it’s head by having the Princess being the one to choose instead of being one of the choices.  Eadlyn, the Princess of Iliea is faced with many challenges for one being unliked by her people.  She is thought of as being cold and standoffish and inexperienced and she is a little bit of all of that but what stuck me is that this is the same criticism that many women in power have faced.  What I didn’t like about this book is that despite all of the self affirming moments in this book.  She finds that she is stronger then she thought.  She gains new perspective on not just her life but that of her peoples but in the end, it’s about who she is going to marry.  That is the whole point of the Selection.  To find the Princess a husband. In the first book, the selection was supposed to be a distraction and by the King more time to figure out how to handle the unrest but as the selection went on, it became more about making her more likable and then how to secure her crown when an outside threat emerges.  Sort of Spoilerish but not really, I think we all knew she was going to find her true love but  I really wished that by end she would realize that she didn’t have to actually get engaged.  That she could find her soul mate and say this is man I am going to marry some day but right now, I’m still a teenager and I want to live a little before I settle down.  That would have been a kick ass ending but this is a sort of fairy tale so you know.  I don’t want you all to think I didn’t enjoy this book or the series as a whole because I did but I think it could have been so much more.  And for what’s it’s worth, the guy she picked was my pick too so there is that.  I’ll be interested to read what Kiera Cass does to follow this one up.

Quick Review: Soldier by Julie Kagawa

soldierI think this was the best book of the series so far.  The world and the characters are now well established so we can get on with the conflict of the story.  When we last left off, Garret left after hoping that Ember would tell him to stay.  Ember was too raw from the fight with her brother and her dragon side feelings for Riley to say what she truly felt and let him go.  They both understood that they are two different species so it probably wouldn’t work out.  That’s how they justified it at least.   Garret has gone to London where St. George is headquarters to get answers to if the order knows that their are good dragons, while Ember and Riley try to track down who is leaking information on his safe houses.  Garret soon finds information that St. George and Talon have been working together and have set a trap for Ember and Riley so off he goes to rescue her.  Meanwhile, Ember’s twin brother Dante gets promoted to a secret project that we won’t know it’s true purpose until the next book but it’s definitely not good.  Even though he is all in with Talon, he is having some reservations about what he is doing but not enough to stop him from doing what he is told at all cost.  So the stakes are much higher.  Both Talon and St. George are after them and only if they can work together to break up the alliance.  Ember is starting to come into her potential about how powerful she can be but in doing so she finds that what she has to do to survive is not always easy to live with.  Killing is never easy.  Garret knows that St. George is corrupt but it doesn’t make going against his former order and brothers any easier.  Also Riley has been shut down for so long that it’s hard for him to open up to Ember.  This book was far more action packed then previous book with a pretty big cliffhanger.  One can only hope that everyone gets out alive or at least get a Jon Snow treatment.

Observations on Blue Lily Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

blue lilyAll the feels!  Re-reading this book just reaffirms how painful The Raven King is going to be.

  • What’s the deal with Henry Cheng?  I mean seriously?  Maggie has already said he is going to play a bigger part in the next book but what?  What was he doing out that late at night when Gansey and Blue run into him?
  • Speaking of, is there ever been a more romantic non-kiss.  It almost puts some actually literary kisses to shame!
  • I want to know more about Persephone’s backstory.  Actually I want a spin-off series that is just about Persephone, Maura and Calla.  Hey Maggie, can you make that happen?
  • Adam learned a very important lesson.  That it is okay to ask for help and even if you don’t ask, if a friend offers it’s not out of pity but out friendship.
  • Piper Greenmantle is not someone I would want to meet in a dark alley.  That woman is truly scary.
  • What is Gansey doing in the faculty lounge?  Does he already know he’s going to die and this is him making plans?
  • Why haven’t any written the Murder Squash song?
  • I love how all-in Ronan is to being Supernatural.  He’s owning is Greywareness!
  • Also how touching was his revelation about Matthew?  How he’s working on saving him.  With what happened in the cave, do you think he’s figured it out.
  • I like Blue and Ronan’s relationship. For all his guff, Ronan can’t help but care.  He saved her from falling twice, once in the beginning of the book and in the end and then stayed behind in the dark to make sure she got to the other side.  He’s a class act when he wants to be.
  • What kind of man buries their daughter, face down in a grave for robbers to find? Maybe Glendower isn’t worth it after all.
  • Jesse Dittley wasn’t kidding when he said his cave was cursed.  May he Rest In Peace
  • Never Scrying by yourself kids.

So, we are now two weeks away from the release of The Raven King and the anticipation is just killing me.  Will they find Glendower?  Will Blue and Gansey finally kiss and will it kill him?  Will Ronan and Adam kiss? Who is the third sleeper? Is it a huge spider because I am not okay with that! What has Neeve been doing all this time?  I have so many questions that I hope to get answered soon.  Dear readers, what are your questions for The Raven King?

Observations on The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

dream thieves This is my favorite book in The Raven Cycle (so far). Gansey in his Ganseyness. Adam in his Adamness and Blue in her Blueness but most importantly Ronan in his Ronaness. I love him.

  • If you could dream anything and bring it back with you when you awoke, what would it be?
  • What really turned Declan and Ronan into enemies?  Is it just that Declan is a liar and that he upheld Niall’s will without a fight?
  • How long has Declan known about Ronan and Niall?
  • Oh Poor Adam.  It’s almost painful to read about his abuse and almost harder to read him think that he deserved it.
  • I know Adam had to accept his bargain but maybe when he started to see strange things, maybe that’s the time to go to the women who deal with strange things?
  • I don’t think I’ll understand the internet stanning for Kavinsky?  He’s a terrible human being to put it mildly.
  • I’m quite charmed by the courtship of Maura and the Gray Man. To quote Hamilton “So this is what it’s like to match wits”
  • Calla is amazing.  Her interactions with Ronan are always a delight.  They should have more scenes together.
  • I wish I knew more about the Gray Man and his brother.  I get his brother is a sociopath but I feel like there is more there.
  • champagne mistake.  the champagne atrocity.  I just loved how the Gray man described his rental car.
  • Let’s talk about Ronan’s sexuality or how little it’s talked about.  I think that’s it’s great that he never out right says his gay. He doesn’t have too. It’s pretty clear that he is.  Just as it’s pretty clear that Gansey is straight.
  • I wonder if there is more to the break in to Calla’s office at Aglionby.
  • Kate pointed this out but I do love how Maggie writes her female characters.  They stand up for themselves.  They never play the damsel in distress.  When Adam loses his cool when arguing with Adam, Blue doesn’t apologize for making him angry or stands and takes it.  She just tell Adam that she would be outside and he can join her if he calms down.  Take note ladies.

I think I had a few more thoughts but now I can’t remember.  Oh well.  Onto Blue Lily Lily Blue.

Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

lady midnight** Spoilers Ahead**

The Clave are dicks.  I mean seriously.  In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, the Clave is the who rules the Shadowhunters, with the Council that makes the decisions.  They are not the most understanding of people. They are definitely judgemental.  For those who read City of Heavenly Fire know that outcome of the Dark War lead to the Shadowhunters basically cutting ties with Fairies because of their roles in Sebastian Morgenstern’s rebellion.  This meant that the two older Blackthorn siblings, Helen and Mark who are half fairy.  Mark was taken by the Wild Hunt at the beginning of the City of Heavenly Fire and Helen was banished to Siberia by the end.  They both had nothing to do with Sebastian and the fairies who fought with him but since they had fairy blood, the Clave was afraid they were side with them so they banished one and abandoned another.  So basically because of the actions of a few, everyone like them are punished.  (Does that sound familiar to anyone?)  Emma’s parents were found dead with strange markings, blamed on  Sebastian’s rebellion even though their deaths resemble nothing that he or his followers did before or after.  Emma is convinced that their death is not related and their killers are still out there but the Clave have shut the door on in.  That leads five years later when Lady Midnight begins.
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