RECENT READS|#1-5

recent reads 2019 1

Heyyy so I know I said I’d be posting more frequently, but it turns out that I talk a lot of shit, so here we are. I’ve done a few recent reads in the past as a way of me doing shorter reviews of books, and I think that this is something that I’m going to do a lot more of over the next year as I find longer, more in-depth reviews to be more intimidating having not long recovered from the worst reading slump of my whole life.

This is basically a January wrap up, but since it’s February and I’ve barely managed to finish another book, we’re making it a recent reads post instead! As always, the covers of the books will take you to their respective Goodreads pages.


STRANGE THE DREAMER BY LAINI TAYLOR

29748925Laini Taylor’s writing is so unique and wonderful and somehow I manage to forget just how much I love it until I read one of her books again. Strange the Dreamer is hard to summarise because it takes you on such a journey and the main character, Lazlo, develops so much over the course of the book. Lazlo has easily made his way onto my list of favourite protagonists, primarily because he’s an absolute sweetheart and I’m convinced that it’s literally impossible not to love him. I adored all of the characters in this book, and all the complicated ways they interact with each other. Strange the Dreamer, much like Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, deals with gods and monsters, and I love this about her work. My one criticism is that I wasn’t really invested in the romance that develops in this book, as it does manifest incredibly quickly. Much of this book and its sequel depend on your investment in the relationship between these two characters, so the books suffered for me a little because of this. I didn’t dislike the romance, and as I’ve said I loved all the characters individually, it’s just that I personally prefer a slow burn.

RATING: ★★★★

 

MUSE OF NIGHTMARES BY LAINI TAYLOR

38525180Obviously I can’t really mention much about this book without completely spoiling the first one, but suffice to say that this is one of the best sequels I’ve read. Strange the Dreamer could have worked completely fine as a standalone book, which puts the pressure on Muse of Nightmares to be just as good, if not better. Which, really, it was. This developed the world and the characters brilliantly, and it wove in the story of two new characters — Kora and Nova — perfectly. It  never felt rushed or underdeveloped, and I was more than happy to spend more time in this world. This is a sadder, more serious book when compared to the wonder of the first, but it ends in a way that I hope brings us more stories from this world, even if it’s not in novel format.

RATING: ★★★★

 

YOU BY CAROLINE KEPNES

22073005How late am I for this hype train? Late enough that it took my friend watching and gushing over the Netflix adaptation for me to actually read it. By now, I think, we all know the premise: the book is told entirely in second person narration from the perspective of a stalker as he begins a relationship with the woman he’s stalking. This book was dark, and it definitely left me feeling uncomfortable more than once. Every character in this book was just a different kind of awful person, which made it really interesting to read, as it’s not often that you read a book where every single character is deeply and obviously flawed. I read it over the course of a day, and it’s definitely hard to put down. I do, however, think I went in with my expectations a little too high as I’d only ever heard positive things about it, but it’s by no means a bad book, and one that I’d definitely recommend. Even after reading this, I’m still going to check out the adaptation, as from what I’ve heard it’s even better than the book!

RATING: ★★★

 

FIRE & HEIST BY SARAH BETH DURST

43305952One of the things I’ve noticed after not reading for so long is that my standards are much, much higher than they used to be. I’m still too stubborn to actually give up on a book I’m not enjoying (which is probably a habit I should break) but I’m a little less forgiving when a book isn’t meeting my expectations. The premise of this book was so cool. I received it in a Fairy Loot box, but with the promise of weredragons, I was likely going to be drawn to this book anyway. However, I wasn’t expecting this book to be an urban fantasy, which threw me off immediately, as dragons usually go hand-in-hand with high fantasy. The book being urban fantasy isn’t a problem by any means, however the more exciting elements of the story, i.e. the dragons and the heist, fell to the wayside in favour of high school drama that would have felt more at home in a YA contemporary. The book just felt underdeveloped to me, the worldbuilding wasn’t great, and I wasn’t invested in the characters as much as I should have been. It’s not a  bad book by any means, it was just underwhelming given the premise.

RATING: ★★

 

ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE BY ROBIN HOBB.

21956219If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you’ll know that I’ve been promising myself that I’m going to read this book since TIME IMMEMORIAL. And it FINALLY happened! I did it! I read a Robin Hobb book! And it was okay!

The thing about this book and this series is that all I ever seem to read about it is that you have to “get through it” to get to Hobb’s better works featuring these characters. Which, you know, isn’t exactly a glowing recommendation. But it did hold up. I do love Fitz, and there were elements of this book that I really loved and would like to see more of. I did find myself getting a little lost at times, and I’m not entirely sure I fully understand the magic system. There were a lot of characters in this book, and it did get a little confusing at times. But then, I did read the majority of this book on a train back from Nottingham with a slight hangover, so that might not be the book’s fault.

RATING: ★★★


So those are the five books I’ve read so far this year! I said in my 2019 reading goals post that I was going to set myself a monthly TBR, but so far I haven’t done this. I’m a little behind in terms of my Goodreads goal, but I’m making a marked improvement on my reading compared to last year.

If you’ve read any of these books, let me know in the comments! I’d also love to hear if you’ve read and can recommend any more of Robin Hobb’s work 🙂

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BOOK REVIEW | A Court of Mist and Fury — Sarah J. Maas

17927395Read: June 2016

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/New Adult Fantasy, Romance

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Synopsis:

 Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

After I read A Court of Thorns and Roses last year, I couldn’t wait for this book to come out. At the time, I was really enamoured by Sarah J. Maas’ writing, and was totally blown away by how much it had improved even from Heir of Fire. While I loved ACOTAR to begin with, I began to have some issues with it later on, particularly regarding certain interactions between Feyre and Tamlin, but I was still eagerly anticipating the sequel. After Queen of Shadows, however, I began to get worried. I really didn’t enjoy it, and thought there was a massive dip in both the writing style and the way Maas was handling her plots. I started to worry that perhaps A Court of Mist and Fury wasn’t going to live up to my expectations. Indeed, rather than reassuring me, the inundation of glowing reviews actually made me even more worried, because I’d seen the same thing happen with Queen of Shadows. When people who hated the first book said that they loved this one, it got my hopes up, and I got excited about reading it again.

I’m saying this because I’m really sitting on the fence with this book. There were parts I really liked, and parts I really didn’t. Really, I think it comes down to the fact that I’ve found that there are just things I don’t like about Maas’ writing more generally.  Because of that I know that I run the risk of sounding a little unfair in this review, and honestly, some of the things I didn’t like about this book are probably entirely petty on my part. But an honest review’s an honest review. I can completely see why people love this book, and there were a lot of things that I really liked about it. It’s just that unfortunately, the things I didn’t like distracted me from them. I’m going to start with the negatives, so we can end this review positively. There might be vague spoilers. I’ll try to flag them as necessary, but it’s worth bearing this in mind if you’ve yet to read the book and don’t want to be spoiled.

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BOOK REVIEW | The Winner’s Kiss — Marie Rutkoski

28587801Read: May 2016

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis:

Following the intrigue and danger of The Winner’s Curse and the revolution and romance of The Winner’s Crime, Kestrel finds herself in the tundra’s mines and Arin has sailed home. The empire seems unstoppable.

Lies will come undone, and Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them in this third and final installment in the heart-stopping Winner’s trilogy.

This book was easily one of my most anticipated books of the year. I read The Winner’s Curse and enjoyed it for what it was: a YA fantasy that was fairly heavy on the romance, light on the action. The series completely changed for me with The Winner’s Crime, which kept me up until the small hours with its constant twists. I had no idea where this series was headed, so I was actually incredibly nervous about picking it up.

Really, I was right to be nervous; this book was incredibly tense, and almost relentless in its pace. It wasted no time in preamble, picking up almost exactly where the last book left off.  It was incredibly hard to find a lull in the action during which I could actually out the book down. There are two kinds of tension in the book: that of the war, and that between Kestrel and Arin. For me, the balance between the two was struck almost perfectly. I enjoyed that the book was heavy on strategy, though the action was handled brilliantly too. Fighting wars is a lot more than a bloody skirmish, and I loved seeing these characters planning how they were going to outmaneuver the Valorian army. Nothing and nobody felt safe in this book either; life-threatening situations for these characters actually felt life-threatening. At no point did I feel that I could comfort myself in thinking that someone was going to be okay because they were a main character.

Ultimately, however, I think your enjoyment of the book—and the series more generally—comes down to how much you enjoy Kestrel and Arin’s relationship. Theirs is probably one of the only relationships that I’ve actively cared about in a long time. Usually I don’t really care who ends up with who at the end of the series, but I really, really cared about Kestrel and Arin. Because of that, it should be no surprise that I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. Given everything that’s happened to these two, it was nice to see them finally being honest with each other, and it’s refreshing to see a couple actually go through trials together, and to see their relationship develop and change over the course of the series. Not only are Kestrel and Arin more honest with each other, they’re more honest within themselves too. I liked that their character development came more in the form of making themselves more vulnerable, often I think we see “character development” as someone making themselves “stronger” in an almost entirely physical sense. I liked that this series moves away from that, and shows that there’s a kind of strength in vulnerability, too.

However, there were characters I expected to see more of, such as the Dacran Queen, Prince Verex, and Risha, but I think the book benefitted from the focus on Kestrel and Arin. It’s possible that shifting the focus too much would have killed some of the tension, and weakened the book overall.  I was surprised by how present Roshar was in the book, though  I’m not in the least bit surprised that I loved him, he’s exactly my kind of character. I’m incredibly glad that he featured so heavily, and I loved his friendship with Arin, and his tentative friendship with Kestrel. While Roshar figures as comedic relief at times, he is a very well-written and developed character. Really, most of the secondary characters in this series are pretty well-developed.

Overall, I was very pleased with this ending.  The actual ending itself was very open, which is actually something I prefer. Often I think when an author attempts to perfectly tie up every loose end, or provide a satisfying ending for every character, it can come across as messy, so I liked that this didn’t have a definitive conclusion. If anything, it felt more like a new beginning, as cliché as that sounds. Realistically, dealing with the aftermath of a war is an entirely different story, and would probably need an entire series dedicated to it in and of itself, so I’m glad that this book ended as it did, instead of rushing to a “neat” conclusion.

The rest of this post will contain spoilersSo tread carefully if you’re planning to read this any time soon.

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BOOK REVIEW | Carry On — Rainbow Rowell

carryon

I’ve been excited for this book ever since Rainbow Rowell first announced it. Amidst all the anxiety and stress of my final year of university (and, frankly, all the anxiety and stress of everything that comes after that) this book was a constant source of excitement. It did not disappoint. It did, in fact, exceed every admittedly high expectation I had of it. I absolutely loved this book.

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