Monday, 12 April 2021

Review: The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

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📌 Publication date: 13/04/2021

It took me a while to finish The Prison Healer. The story is quite slow paced and  repetitive at times. The elemental trails Kiva had to face should have been thrilling, but ultimately they were a let down. Although the tasks were terrible, they felt rushed and there was no real sense of danger. This is because after the first one it was obvious, at least to me, what the outcome was going to be for the rest. 

While the story dragged at some points I still found it interesting enough to continue on. Kiva was a very easy main character to like. Throughout her ten years as a prisoner she endured many hardships at the hands of both the guards and prisoners alike. Yet she still held on to her selfless drive to care for and look after everyone. The Prison Healer deals with a lot of dark themes, so I would advise looking up content warnings. In terms of secondary characters, I loved Tipp, a young boy who helps Kiva with her healing duties. Their relationship was that of siblings and it was beautiful and heart breaking. 

I didn't care for the budding romance between Jaren and Kiva. The reason being that I found Jaren to be a cardboard cut out of a typical YA love interest. No personality expect the kindness he showed Kiva. There is, however, room for character development in the sequel when we see more of the world. 

I admit I was torn about whether I would be reading the sequel until the plot twist at the end. I honestly didn't see it coming and was shocked. That being said, it didn't really make sense to me. I can't say more without spoilers, but given that we were in Kiva's head the whole time it felt like she became a bit of an unreliable narrator. 

Overall, The Prison Healer was a decent read and I'm curious about the sequel given the plot twist at the end. 

Rating:

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Review: The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all. 

📌 Publication date: 08/06/2021
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The Wolf and the Woodsman is a stunning standalone adult fantasy novel. The writing is haunting and beautiful in a way that is not flowery. However, be warned that it is not for the faint of heart, a list of content warnings can be found on the author's website here. If you're a fan of action packed stories then this might not be for you. Having said that although the first half of the book is spent travelling, it's not slow paced or boring. The enemies to lovers, slow burn romance between Evike and Gaspar is expertly crafted. Even when they arrive at their destination there's not a ton of action, yet it's still thoroughly engaging. The core of the book is about understanding the different nuances of culture, finding yourself, and rising up against oppression.    

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Friday, 20 November 2020

Review: The Masking Falling by Samantha Shannon

Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire.

The mysterious Domino Programme has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim – her former enemy – at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. Her risks promise high reward: the Parisian underworld could yield the means to escalate her rebellion to outright war.

As Scion widens its bounds and the free world trembles in its shadow, Paige must fight her own memories after her ordeal at the hands of Scion. Meanwhile, she strives to understand her bond with Arcturus, which grows stronger by the day. But there are those who know the revolution began with them – and could end with them.

📌 Publication date: 26/01/2021

After nearly 4 years, The Mask Falling, book four, in The Bone Season series is due to be released in 2 months. It's definitely been worth the wait! 

Recuperating in a safe house in Paris, Warden and Paige spend some time together as she recovers from the horrors she endured at the mercy of the Rephaim. I loved the first quarter of the book where Warden and Paige play house, with Warden attending to Paige's needs, bringing her heat pads, hot drinks and generally taking care of her. Their relationship further develops and grows. I've been rooting for Paige since The Bone Season, she has suffered a lot but still continues to fight for what she believes in. 

In terms of plot the stakes are even higher in The Mask Falling. We see Paige as she attempts to ally The Mime Order with the French syndicate in order to take down Scion. She also has the mysterious Domino Programme to deal with. I enjoyed the Parisian setting and exploring a different Scion controlled country. The picture Shannon painted made me want to visit Paris, something I've only done when I was younger but feel would appreciate more now that I'm older. I remember being skeptical when I first heard that it was going to be a seven book series, unsure if that many books were needed as I tend to prefer trilogies. The reason being because I find that the story drags and I lose interest. However, I see now why they are needed, the world Shannon has created is extensive and begs to be further explored.  

Overall , The Mask Falling is another great addition to the series. I can't wait for my signed pre-order to arrive, so I can add it to my bookshelf.

Rating:

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Review: The Burning Kingdoms by Sally Green

In this conclusion to the epic Smoke Thieves trilogy, the world has erupted into all-out war. King Aloysius is mining powerful demon smoke and using it to fuel an unstoppable army of children. March, now banished for treason, has joined up with this boy army. Forbidden from ever seeing Edyon again, and overwhelmed by his own betrayal, March no longer cares if he lives or dies.Catherine--now queen of Pitoria--must find a way to defeat the boy army, while also grappling with her own troubles: her secret demon smoke addiction, and unresolved tension with her former lover, Ambrose. Catherine seeks military support from Calidor by reaching out to her illegitimate cousin Edyon, who has been proclaimed heir to the Calidorian throne. But Edyon has almost no power as he's entangled in the unfamiliar machinations and manipulations of the royal court,finding that being the claimed son of a prince may be no easier than being a bastard.With Catherine, his love, now married off and moving on, and his brother and sister tortured and executed before him, Ambrose doesn't know what his role in this world is any more. He leads an expedition into the demon world, hoping to destroy the boy army's stores of demon smoke. In this underground world, he runs into Tash, whom everyone had believed dead. She has survived in this new world using magical abilities that, prior to now, only demons had. Aloysius will send his demon smoke-powered boy army to kill them all, if he can. But what nobody knows is that there is more to the smoke than meets the eye...

📌 Publication date: 27/08/2020 
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Like the previous two books in the trilogy, The Burning Kingdoms, was easy to get through with action throughout. 

Catherine has been my favourite right from the start. I like how although she can't fight physically she is intelligent and has a fighting spirit. She uses her intelligence and wits to command respect. In a world where woman are treated like second class citizens she shows their true worth. 

The love triangle between Catherine/Ambrose/Tzsayn was quickly resolved, but the romance between Catherine and spoiler was very lacklustre and dull, with the phrase "kissed his hand" constantly being repeated. Edyon and March's romance on the other hand was more enjoyable to read, the yearning was well crafted. 

Tzsayn, I thought was an intriguing character in book one, and hoped to see more of him in book two. That didn't happen, which was disappointing, he was barely present in book two and three. This meant that we hardly got to know him. Yes, we hear about how good and kind he is, but we never actually see this except maybe in the way he acts towards Catherine. 

I really felt for Ambrose, he was in pain, dealing with the loss of his family. I was rooting for him, and I admired his loyalty and determination. 

Overall, a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. 

Rating:

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Review: Mahimata by Rati Mehrotra

A young female assassin must confront the man who slaughtered her family, risk her heart, and come to terms with her identity as a warrior and as a woman in this thrilling fantasy from the author of Markswoman.

Kyra has returned to the caves of Kali, but her homecoming is bittersweet. Her beloved teacher is dead and her best friend Nineth is missing. And gone, too, is Rustan, the Marksman who helped her train for the duel with Tamsyn--and became far more than a teacher and friend.

Shaken by his feelings for Kyra and the truth about his parentage, Rustan has set off on a quest for answers. His odyssey leads him to the descendants of an ancient sect tied to the alien Ones--and the realization that the answers he seeks come with a price.

Yet fate has plans to bring Kyra and Rustan together again. Kai Tau, the man who slaughtered Kyra’s family, wages war on the Orders of Asiana. Hungering for justice, Kyra readies herself for battle, aided by her new companions: the wyr-wolves, who are so much more than what they seem. And determined to keep the woman he loves safe, Rustan joins the fight to ride by her side.

But will this final confrontation ultimately cost them their love...and their lives?

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Mahimata is the sequel to Markswoman, my review of book one can be found here. I feel like the Asiana duology is a under-rated gem of a series that needs more attention. The world building was explored more in Mahimata and we are given an extensive look at Asiana. The plot was action packed and the relationship between Kyra and Rustan was brilliantly done. I'm going to be honest and say that the ending was slightly confusing, but satisfying never the less. Overall, I would recommend this duology to adult and YA high fantasy lovers alike.

Rating:

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Review: Evermore by Sara Holland

Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one.

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Unfortunately, the conclusion to the Everless duology was disappointing. 

I think my main issue with Evermore was that it was missing the element that made book one so interesting, i.e., the time is currency aspect. 

Evermore is basically focused on Jules running away from Caro, while at the same time trying to find a way to destroy her. There were a lot of flashbacks to their shared past together, and these flashbacks were used as a way to reveal answers which I thought was a bit of a cop out. The plot felt dragged out and the constant repetition didn't help matters. I never really felt any sense of excitement when I came back to the book after putting it down, I just wanted it to end, which is never a good sign.

The romance was kind of just there for me, it was nothing to write home about. I feel like there was potential, but it was lacking chemistry. 

The ending wrapped things up, however, Holland left it so that there could potentially be room for another book. Suffice to say I won't be reading it if there is, as at this point I'm no longer interested. 

Rating:

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Review: Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

High in a snowy mountain range, a monastery that holds more than just faith clings to the side of a cliff. Below, thwarted by a lake, a bloodthirsty horde of raiders await the coming of winter and the frozen path to destroy the sanctuary and its secrets.

The Bloodwitch Aeduan has teamed up with the Threadwitch Iseult and the magical girl Owl to stop the destruction. But to do so, he must confront his own father, and his past.


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Publication date: 12/02/2019

The Witchlands series is probably one of my favourite on-going series'. I've been impatiently waiting for the release of book three, and the fact that it's Aeduan's story had me even more excited.

As with the previous books, Bloodwitch, switches perspectives, with Aeduan's being the central point of view. I have shipped Aeduan and Iseult since the first time they crossed paths in Truthwitch. So, it's no surprise then that my favourite parts of Bloodwitch where when they were together. I tried to slow down and savour those moments when I got to them, yet at the same time  I couldn't read fast enough. Dennard has done such a good job with creating tension between these two, they are the definition of slow burn.

If you're looking for a YA fantasy which features complex and multi-layered female characters this is the one. I love how Dennard has created female characters that are strong, but in different ways. She shows that the term "strong female character" doesn't just mean being able to fight and not liking feminine things - which I really appreciated as this is something that frustrates me.

A character who I absolutely fell in love with in Bloodwitch was Leopold. I really enjoyed his interactions with Iseult, but he's still a bit of a mystery, so I'm hoping we get to learn more about him in the next book.

The overall plot was amazing, and I liked all the interconnecting story-lines. All in all, Bloodwitch was a fantastic addition to the Witchlands series!

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