Friday, 29 August 2014

Heir of Fire, Sarah J Maas

Pages: 576
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: 11th September 2014
Edition: NetGalley proof, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for he did. And hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in the same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena leanrs of her true identity, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

This third novel in the Throne of Glass sequence, from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J Maas, is packed with more heart-stopping action, devastating drama and swoonsome romance, and introduces some fierce new heroines to love and hate.

I feel like this review is a rambly mess, but...onwards...

Heir of Fire I had a lot to live up to with the pure awesome of Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight and the huge cliffhanger we left Celaena on.

This was easily the most emotional book in the series so far. Celaena’s departure from Adarlan happened in grief and turmoil and that was a state of mind that she continued with for a long time. She was a walking disaster. The emotional arc of Celaena over the course of the novel was astounding and underpinned the entire novel. She had to reconcile herself to Nehemia’s death, the end of her life in the Rifthold palace, come to terms with her secret and mourn the end of her relationship with Chaol – the girl had a lot going on.

The growth in her power and the development of her magic was astounding. I loved seeing how she learned to wield her power and use it, as well as how it changed Celaena and helped to heal her. She is an exceptional heroine and I love her. She sank to the bottom of despair and clawed her way back up to strength and surety, but it took time and effort and a new friend.

Rowan was a great addition to the cast of characters. I could tell he would be good for Celaena from the get-go – he didn’t take any of her crap and pushed her on and up. I was refreshing to have a hot, interesting and mysterious male character in the hot seat that wasn’t there to provide a romantic entanglement. The development of their friendship felt genuine and reliable and I hope we see more of it as the series continues. Their connection didn’t lessen what Chaol and Celaena had in any way and it was so clear that they still loved each other, even thousands of miles apart and knowing that they weren’t quite in the right emotional place to be together at that moment. Another refreshing element from Sarah J Maas!

One of the most unexpected elements of the novel were the chapters focusing on Manon Blackbeak. I usually want to skim the chapters that take me away from the central action but I loved the change of scene, pace and the general distance from what was happening in Wendlyn and Rifthold. The dirty tactics the witches employed to one up each other in the contests to rule the covens, the surprising attachments that they formed and the stirrings in Manon’s twisted, blackened and shrivelled heart. I think those witches are going to be very important very soon.

In Heir of Fire, Celaena went from an assassin to a queen, Dorian evolved from a prince into a king and Chaol went from a warrior to a man. An amazing third instalment of an incredible series – Sarah J Maas is a genius with characters and emotions.

Thanks to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for the review copy.


Thursday, 28 August 2014

What I Read on Holiday

I just got back from spending a week on the utterly gorgeous island of Thassos in northern Greece. It’s a quiet, non-touristy island filled with gorgeous beaches and not very built up so I got to spend the entire week chilling out by the pool with a book. And I read 7. I also read a novella and DNFed an eight book. Here they are!

The Lemon Grove, Helen Walsh
My review for this tense and sultry adult novel was posted on Tuesday. It’s received some high praise and some serous criticism, but I loved it. It had surprising emotional depth, a stunning setting and an unusual relationship.

Isla and the Happily Ever After, Stephanie Perkins
The long-awaited final book in Perkins’ companion trilogy was perfect. Sweet, romantic and emotional, Isla and the Happily Ever After was more than worth the wait. I reviewed it on Wednesday.

Belzhar, Meg Wolitzer
Knew virtually nothing about this novel other than that Wolitzer received lots of praise for her previous novel, The Interestings. Belzhar is strange, clever, and thoroughly surprising. I hope this gets lots of attention once it’s published in October.

Heir of Fire, Sarah J Maas
The third book in the epic Throne of Glass trilogy picked up just after Celaena left Adarlan to pursue answers to save her people and work out how to deal with the shock revelations of Crown of Midnight. Fast-paced, shocking and addictive – I love this series.

Calm as a Stupid Feather, Keris Stainton
I laughed more in the half an hour I spent reading Keris’s second collection of ridiculous things her boys have said than I have collectively in months. Absolutely brilliant, but just don’t read it in public...

Virgin, Radhika Sanghani
I hadn’t heard of this until I spotted a review over on Wondrous Reads. And Jenny loved it so I immediately requested it on NetGalley. I read it in a matter of hours and it was brilliant. Feminism, coming-of-age and what I think NA should actually be.

Black Ice, Becca Fitzpatrick
Even though I only managed the first two books in Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series, I thought this sounded cool and decided to give it a go. I DNFed it after 10%. Britt, the MC, is a spoilt, entitled ass and I just couldn’t bring myself to care so I gave up!

Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld
I am a huge Scott Westerfeld fan so I was super excited to read this, especially when I heard that it was about an 18 year old publishing her first novel. It’s clever, different and completely compelling – I don’t think many authors other than Westerfeld could pull this off. Huge thumbs up!

Half-Blood, Jennifer L Armentrout
After an unexpected love/hate addiction to the Lux series, I was eager to give this a go. I read the entire thing on the flight home, but I don’t think I liked it that much. It felt like a rip-off of a favourite series of mine and it still held the things about Lux that I disliked. Full review to come soon!

So there you have it! I had a pretty damn good reading week. If I could repeat that for, oh, six months, I might be able to clear my TBR pile...

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Any you can’t wait to dig in to?


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After, Stephanie Perkins

Pages: 384
Publisher: Dutton/Usborne
Release Date: 14th August 2014
Edition: US hardcover/Kindle edition, purchased

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on brooding artist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And, after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer break, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to face uncertainty about their futures, and the very real possibility of being apart. Set against the stunning backdrops of New York, Paris and Barcelona, this is a gorgeous, heart-wrenching and irresistible story of true love, and the perfect conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’ beloved series.

After falling in love with Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Year I waited over two years for this book and my expectations were high. Isla and the Happily Ever After was incredible and so worth the wait.

Isla is an adorable heroine. I have to admit that I didn’t remember her from Anna but I loved how shy she is and how genuinely that’s put across. I often hear protagonists being described as shy and then they go on to launch themselves into big social situations, sass complete strangers (usually hot boys) and have a razor comeback for everything, but Isla isn’t like that at all. She forgets to speak and when she does it’s often not what she wanted to say and when she manages to say something witty, she internally congratulates herself! It’s only when she gets to know the people she’s with that she becomes comfortable and confident. Serious props to Stephanie Perkins for accurately portraying shyness.

The realness of Isla just continues. I thought that the way she kept calling Josh her boyfriend in her internal monologue was just adorable. It was almost as if she couldn’t quite believe it – it was the result of a three-year crush, after all – and had to reinforce the idea for it to be real! Isla and the Happily Ever After is such a vibrant and true portrayal of falling in love and how dizzying, but confusing and painful it is. It made my heart ache in all possible ways. I loved that Isla and Josh had their issues. They got scared and did silly things, there were confusions and miscommunications and, finally, a squee inducing happily ever after.

I adore this companion trilogy and though I’m sad it’s over, I can’t wait to see what Stephanie Perkins brings to the table next. I’m pretty sure I’ll love it though.


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

TBR Tuesday: The Lemon Grove, Helen Walsh

PAGES: 225
RELEASE DATE: 27th February 2014
PUBLISHER: Tinder Press
EDITION: Kindle edition
SHELF LIFE: about five months

Brass, Once Upon a Time in England, Go to Sleep

Each summer, Jenn and her husband Greg return to Daia, on Mallorca’s dramatic west coast. This year the arrival of Emma, Jenn’s stepdaughter, and her new boyfriend Nathan threatens to upset their equilibrium. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn. As she is increasingly seduced by Nathan’s youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession begin to blur, what follows is a highly-charged liaison that puts lives and relationships in jeopardy. For Jenn, after this summer, nothing can ever be the same.

I went into The Lemon Grove having heard very mixed things and knowing only the basic outline of the plot and that it is sexy.

The emotional depth of the novel was a surprise to me. I loved the tension between Jenn and her stepdaughter, Emma. Their relationship was immediately set up with a touch of sadness and apprehension as Jenn anticipated the arrival of Emma and Nathan a week into their holiday in Deia. Emma is rude, patronising and manipulative and I disliked her immediately. It was clear that Emma had once been a daughter to Jenn and now at fifteen, she had rejected that and used the fact that Jenn wasn’t her biological mother as a tool. I felt so bad for Jenn. And yet their relationship felt genuine; it was a true mother-daughter relationship in all its affections and arguments, trials and tribulations.

Then Nathan strolls in and everything is heightened. Even though Jenn can see the way that Nathan manipulates Emma and his situation, she can’t help but become viscerally attracted to him. I really liked that the connection between Jenn and Nathan was based on lust and sex rather than love; I haven’t read it that way before. At first Jenn still genuinely loves Greg and it takes a fair while (in such a short novel) for her to succumb to Nathan’s charms and when she does start to see Greg in a different light. Her disdain grew steadily and she hated every time it crossed her mind.

Jenn and Nathan’s relationship was uncomfortable and aggressively sexy. There was no affection or real relationship between them, it was just sex. And there was quite a bit of it. I was slightly embarrassed to be reading it on the pane in case the person next to me could see over my shoulder! It was graphic. Even with this, it was still difficult for Jenn to figure out what would happen. And then came the incredibly cruel end where we thought Jenn had gotten away with it, but suddenly, everything could unravel... Very clever and impactful ending.

The Lemon Grove is a tense and sultry novel that makes literary fiction feel accessible and effortless. Highly recommended.

Definitely not. I really enjoyed reading a popular adult book that had been all over the place for ages, and actually loving it! A sultry, addictive and quick summer read perfect for banishing the quickly approaching Autumn.