Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Thursday, 9 February 2017


 Wintersong | S. Jae-Jones | Published February 7th.
Source: I received a copy from the publisher.
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Wintersong is essentially a retelling of the film Labyrinth but it does deviate from the original plot. There are familiar characters and scenes, and the Goblin King is a major character, but I think it's probably best not to go into this with an expectation of it being the same as the film as it does take a turn to make it a more original story.

I really enjoyed the writing, especially in the first half. Liesl used to spend her childhood playing with the Goblin King but has forgotten him as she has gotten older. She has lost that carefree spirit she had as a child and spends her time looking after her family. The Goblin King soon returns, steals Liesl’s sister and makes it so that only Liesl remembers she exists. And so begins the journey into the mysterious and magical Underworld.

The pace in this first half where we are introduced to the family and enter the Underworld was so strong. I loved the magic of it all and the mysteriousness of the Goblin King. The writing is also gorgeous. I have seen the writing compared to The Star-Touched Queen a lot but I personally wasn't a fan of that book and found Wintersong much more readable.

The second half is weaker in my opinion. There is a lot more focus on the romance and I don't know what it was exactly but something felt a bit lacking there for me. It's kind of sexy and romantic but I think I maybe needed more chemistry. However, I do think the romance aspect improved by the end and I was feeling it more. I also would have liked more involvement with Liesl’s brother Josef as there is a lot going on there that has only just been touched on.

I really liked this book. The writing is so engaging but being unable to completely connect with the romance means I didn't love it as much as I thought I would.

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Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Monday, 30 January 2017

Heartless | Marissa Meyer | Published February 9th, 2017 (UK)
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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“A heart, once stolen, can never be taken back.”

This is the first of Marissa Meyer’s books I have read and I'll be back for more!

Do you have a sweet tooth? This book is bound to make you hungry if you do! Catherine loves to bake and her dream is to open a bakery with her maid and friend, Mary Ann. She bakes the best tarts, pastries and other sweets in Hearts and you'll be craving them all by the end. Her parents, however, have different plans for their eligible daughter and want her to marry the king. The attitudes towards women in this society will infuriate you as Catherine is repeatedly told she is to marry and no other options are available to her.

The King of Hearts is quick to fall for her baking and decides he wants Catherine for his wife. They begin courting, much to her parent’s delight, but what they don't know is that Catherine has fallen for Jest; the King’s Joker who just oozes sexiness.

The king is a ridiculous bumbling fool who can't handle anything remotely negative or unpleasant. Jest is the complete opposite and the chemistry between he and Catherine is electric. You can't help but root for their forbidden love and hope that they can find a happy ending in a society that is so against them.

In this retelling of Alice and Wonderland, you'll find a lot of familiar characters and touches (including Cheshire who is a delight) but with a new spin on them. You don't need to be overly familiar with the original to appreciate the story Meyer has crafted. Full of imagination and a perfect balance of humour and action, Heartless will leave you heartbroken and with a craving for another piece.

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Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Bear and the Nightingale | Katherine Arden | Published January 12th, 2017
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Goodreads | Book Depository

The Bear and the Nightingale incorporates Russian folklore and history to create a beautiful, mesmerising and immersive fantasy.

In a time where women are very much expected to be in the kitchen and their main purpose to marry and bear children, Vasya is more at home outdoors with nature and in the stables. She has been gifted with the sight which means she can see the spirits who protect their house and the surrounding forest. When her stepmother arrives who also has the sight but deems the spirits as demons and is terrified, and the arrival of a priest who uses this to make the village abandon the spirits in favour of god, Vasya is quickly cast as a witch but is determined to use her powers to protect her family.

It's not a fast read but instead slowly and steadily unravels so as not to give away all its secrets at once. This does mean that the pace and plot dip at times but there's always something waiting just around the corner to lift things back up. I admit I'm not usually a fan of such a gradual unraveling and prefer a faster pace, but I think it works wonderfully in The Bear and the Nightingale. I enjoyed the development of the characters over time and think the slow progress is fitting to the often harsh and slow winters experienced by the characters.

I have no experience of Russian folklore but I think it is obvious that a lot of thought and research has been put into the story and I really appreciate all the small details. My only real complaint is that the Frost-Demon isn't in the story much until the end (and not even much then) and that some plot details aren't quite thoroughly explained (such as the necklace). With more books in the series planned, though, I'm hopeful that this is still to come.

A truly magical and intriguing read.

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Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Frostblood | Elly Blake | Published January 12th, 2017
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Goodreads | Book Depository

Frostblood is a fast-paced fantasy that plays on a lot of common themes we see throughout YA fantasy but is still thoroughly engaging and a lot of fun.

I thought the world-building in Frostblood was really strong. The story has been likened to Red Queen, and can probably be compared to other YA fantasies with similar components too, but the world in Frostblood still feels brand new. I was captivated from the beginning with the contrasts between hot and cold and loved how descriptive Blake is in her writing. For a story that plays on a lot of the typical YA fantasy tropes, it would have been easy for this world to feel “samey” or like we’ve been there before but I don't think it suffers from that problem.

Our main character Ruby is a Fireblood in a world that is dominated by Frostblood and she has to hide her powers. When soldiers infiltrate her small village to capture her, killing her mother in the process, she is imprisoned and left to await execution. She is rescued by two Frostbloods and taken to a monastery where she is trained by the dark and mysterious Arcus to control and develop her powers for one goal: take revenge on the Frost King and destroy the throne.

I enjoyed the characterisation of both Ruby and Arcus. Ruby is fiery and impatient whilst Arcus comes across as cold and distant. I liked that these qualities suited their Frostblood or Fireblood heritage respectively. The mystery with Arcus slowly unfolds as the book progresses, and there does come a point where you can guess, but I did enjoy the revelation. The romance is also very much a slow-burn and there is an element of love/hate going on which I'm a sucker for. The romance propelled me through the pages a lot quicker than I might have done otherwise.

Overall, I really enjoyed the pace and world-building of Frostblood as well as Blake’s take on some of the common tropes we find in YA fantasy.

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Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Monday, 21 November 2016

Caraval | Stephanie Garber | Published January 31st, 2017
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Goodreads | Book Depository

Caraval is one of those books that grabbed my attention from page one and just wouldn't leave my mind. It took me by surprise in the best possible way with vivid world-building, an intriguing set of characters and a plot full of twists.

Scarlett and Tella live with their over-protective and abusive father, constantly in fear of what the next punishment will be. Their father has arranged a marriage for Scarlett which she hopes will be the beginning of freedom for her and her sister but then an invitation to the legendary Caraval arrives and is impossible to ignore.

The relationship between Scarlett and Tella is one that I really liked. Whilst there is a small romance, it didn't get in the way of the sisterly relationship and the drama going on there. They both know what their goals are and their love for each other comes before the boy they've just met.

One of the central points running throughout the book is that Caraval is just a game - nothing that happens is real. Things start to get darker and weirder as we get further into the “game” though and Scarlett, as well as the reader, just can't be sure. If you see something happen with your own eyes, right in front of you, then you can be sure that it's real, right? The mystery of what is actually going on, and who Legend is, is so well done. I had some theories early on, was convinced I had it figured out, and then the plot twists in a completely different way. I love that. There's nothing better than a story that keeps you guessing all the way through and presents you with a revelation that you just didn't see coming.

Full of action, intrigue and alluring prose, I was completely swept away into the bewitching world of Caraval. I can't wait to experience the further twists that the sequel is sure to present.

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