Banished by Liz De Jager

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Original Title: Banished

Year Published: 2014

Published by:  Tor UK

Number of Pages: 400

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Plot:

Sworn to protect, honour and slay. Because chaos won’t banish itself…

Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s encountered her unorthodox cousins and their strange lives. And her home-schooling now includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons. But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies. As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.

My thoughts:

This book started off slow for me. It took me a chapter or two before I really got into it. It did also have some bits that weren’t keeping the same quality as the rest of the book which lowered the overall reading experience a bit. It is still a great book to read and I definitely enjoyed it.

Kit is a pretty cool character. She has some typical whiny teenage moments but overall she is an interesting and fun character to read about.

I would have loved to learn more about the Blackhart family and their history. It felt like there was so much left hanging, things that could have easily been fixed or addressed within the book.

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.

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The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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Original Title: The Queen of the Tearling

Year Published: 2014

Published by:  Harper

Number of Pages: 448

First Sentence: Kelsey Glynn sat very still, watching the troop approach her homestead. 

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Plot:

Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend . . . if she can survive.

My thoughts:

This was a  good book and enjoyed it very much. It felt pretty original and it was easy to read. It had plotlines that were absolutely unexpected and that had you on the edge of your seat. It was gritty at times though and went pretty dark in places. However, it was never too much and nothing too worrying.

I loved how Kelsey wasn’t immediately put on a pedestal by the people around her. Instead, the opposite happened and she had to fight tooth and nail to get people to listen to her. I did want to hit some of the people she was surrounded by though because they had just decided that she was worthless and didn’t even want to give her a chance to prove them wrong.

I did ruin the trilogy for myself though as I scrolled through the reviews of the other two books. I did not like what I read (especially about the ending of the third and final book) and will therefore not bother reading the rest of the books.

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (Ember Quartet #2)

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Original Title: A Torch Against the Night

Year Published: 2016

Published by:  Razorbill

Number of Pages: 452

Goodreads Rating: 5/5

Plot: 

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

My thoughts:

This was a fantastic sequel to An Ember in the Ashes. I absolutely adored the first book and this was just as good, if not better. Sequels can be pretty bad but this definitely lived up to the hype.

Laia is amazing and I love the fact that she doesn´t magically become a superhero like some other heroines have a tendency to do. Instead, she tries her best and she is scared at times but the wish to help the people around her and her family give her the motivation to keep on fighting when the going gets though.

I never thought that I would care for Helene, but I was totally wrong. She is much more complex than you might think and she absolutely won me over in this book. I can´t wait to read more about her in the third book (which arrived just yesterday!).

Elias is one of my favourite male characters of all time and he did not disappoint in this one. Just like both Laia and Helene, he is a complex character with both good and bad sides. Seeing him interact with both these ladies was fun and it was nice to get to know him better as well.

The plot you might ask? Well, it was pretty awesome. Road trip medieval style, Prison Break, magic, a tournament, side-characters that will break your heart and a cliffhanger that has you tearing your hair out in desperation. Yeah, it´s pretty awesome.

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I really do.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine (The Great Library #1)

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Original Title: Ink and Bone

Year Published: 2015

Published by:  Allison & Busby

Number of Pages: 410

First Sentence: ‘Hold still and stop fighting me’, his father said, and slapped him hard enough to leave a mark. 

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Plot:

Knowledge is power. Power corrupts.

In a world where the ancient Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, knowledge now rules the world: freely available, but strictly controlled. Owning private books is a crime.

Jess Brightwell is the son of a black market book smuggler, sent to the Library to compete for a position as a scholar . . . but even as he forms friendships and finds his true gifts, he begins to unearth the dark secrets of the greatest, most revered institution in the world.

Those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn. . . .

My thoughts:

This was a really good book. I was pleasantly surprised that the main character was male for once. Don’t get me wrong, I love that YA gives us so many different strong female characters, but sometimes you want good male main characters as well. So this book was a welcome break.

Jess was a brilliant character and I absolutely loved him. He was clever without being a know-it-all, and an overall good guy. He does have some extra powers but it doesn’t make him a badass superhero all of a sudden (like it does in some books). Instead, he struggles with it and actually fails with it sometimes and he totally doesn’t understand it.

We are also given a group of lovely supportive characters that both add depth to the book, but also gives us hell of a lot of representation. They are from different parts of the world and therefore we have different ethnic groups, a fact which was absolutely lovely.

The plot was both clever and entertaining. I think Caine has done a brilliant job of imagining what the world might have looked like if the library of Alexandria hadn’t burnt, and what the power struggles might have been. There are some parts of the story that isn’t as interesting as others, but overall it is an entertaining and fun book to read.

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.

 

Want to buy it? Consider buying it using my affiliate page. All profits, if any, go to improving this blog!

Arc Review: Highlander Redeemed by Laurin Wittig (Guardians of the Targe #3)

24202300.jpgOriginal Title: Highlander Redeemed

Year Published: 2015

Published by: Montlake Romance (an arc was kindly provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)

Number of Pages: 272

First Sentence: Scotia MacAlpin pushed her dark hair out of her face with the back of her water-wrinkled hand, then looked up from the huge pot she was scouring as she had every morning and every evening for what seemed her entire lifetime, though it had only been a fortnight or a little more. 

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Plot:

Scotia MacAlpin may be only eighteen years old, but she’s no stranger to trouble. Her latest incident—which resulted in a death and forced her clan into battle—has made her an outcast among her exiled people. Scotia is tired of being ignored and overshadowed by her sister, a gifted Guardian of the Targe, and she’s become hell-bent on destroying the army out to capture the ancient Highland relic for their English king.

Duncan of Dunlairig has looked out for Scotia since she started to walk. She was as restless and reckless then as she is now—only the stakes have become higher and more perilous. While the rest of Clan MacAlpin ostracizes her, Duncan secretly helps Scotia become the warrior she yearns to be. But the real test of her skills may come when he needs her help—and her long-forgotten heart—in this thrilling and romantic Guardians of the Targe tale.

My thoughts:

I had no idea that this book was the third in a series so I was really worried that this book would be unreadable without having read the first two books. However, I had no problem grasping the story or enjoying this as a sort of stand-alone. There are some things that you miss out on of course, but it was still quite enjoyable.

At first, I found Scotia to be a little spoilt brat, but the more I read I realized that she was honestly being blamed for things she wasn’t even guilty of. It wasn’t just because of her being the main p.o.v, it became obvious even from Duncan’s p.o.v. The other people had decided that she was useless and only brought trouble and couldn’t see that she was a different person from what they thought.

Duncan was an absolute sweetheart but sadly enough he also thought that Scotia deliberately tried to cause trouble for the clan. However, he did listen to her and did try to help her when he realised that she was just misunderstood.

The plot was fairly interesting. Since I had not read the first two books some things did go over my head. But overall it was interesting and quite fun to read. The girl was actually the one to save the day, the boy did not need to come in and save her. This was quite lovely.

Do I recommend it?

Yes, I do, but I would suggest that you read the first two books first.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes #1)

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Original Title: An Ember in the Ashes

Year Published: 2015

Published by:  Harper Voyager

Number of Pages: 450

First Sentence: My big brother reaches home in the dark hours before dawn, when even ghosts take their rest.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5

Plot:

What if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution?

For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice.

For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.

When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.

But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

In the ashes of a broken world, one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.

My thoughts:

This was such a brilliant book. When books are hyped up by the bookish world I get a little apprehensive, because just because a book is hyped doesn’t mean it’s actually any good. And I’m almost terrified of disliking books that pretty much everybody else seems to love. So I was really glad when I read this and loved it from the first page. The story was absolutely riveting and I loved every second of it.

Laia was a spectacular character and I absolutely adored her. She is scared and lost at the beginning of the book and still scared and lost at the end of the book. She doesn’t randomly turn into a badass soldier halfway through, instead she is the same girl we meet during the first chapter. But she shows that you can be frightened and still get things done. Don’t let fear come in your way.

Elias was awesome. I love how Tahir didn’t make him into a ruthless killer, and instead turned him into a soldier with morales. Everyone wanted him to be ruthless but he still had a good heart and questioned what he was asked to do. If he had been a ruthless killer who never thought of the people he hurt until he met Laia, he would have been a horrible person (something that a lot of male characters in ya-books are if you think about it). He has a heart and cares about the people around him despite having been trained since a kid not to. Absolutely adored him.

Thinking about it in hindsight there aren’t much happening in the book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliant read and I absolutely loved it, but it is more of a setup for what is to come. That doesn’t mean that nothing happens, it’s just that there’s more character and world building in this book than in the second one (which I, of course, read immediately after this book). It sounds like I’ve lost my mind, but it is honestly a brilliant book.

Do I recommend it? 

Yes, I do.

 

Want to buy it? Consider buying it using my affiliate page. All profits, if any, go to improving this blog!

Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall

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Original Title: Been Here All Along

Year Published: 2016

Published by:  Swoon Reads

Number of Pages: 214

First Sentence: Like a hundred years ago my mom asked me to watch my five-year-old brother Gideon while he played in the backyard.

Goodreads Rating: 3/3

Plot:

“Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee and having his choice of colleges. They do not include falling head over heels for his best friend and next-door neighbour, Kyle. It’s a distraction. It’s pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn’t know what to do . . .

Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can’t quite figure out what he did wrong . . .”

My thoughts:

I had such high hopes for this book and it didn’t manage to fully live up to them. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a bad book per se. It just isn’t a great book either. It was overall enjoyable but there are definitely better books out there. I was expecting some sort of fantastic love story and coming of age book and instead, it felt like a watered down version of a fanfic where the characters are placed in an alternate universe where they live next door to each other.

The characters were quite nice though. Gideon was the dorky, unpopular and super smart gangly boy who of course also happens to be gay. I could relate to some of Gideon’s dorkiness, like the frustration that your best friend hasn’t read Lord of the Rings and therefore cannot properly fangirl (or boy) over it.

Kyle was the jock but instead of becoming a total asshole, he was sweet and kind. If he hadn’t been a basketball star he probably would have been the typical bullied character due to his build and personality. I really did like him though, he was just really likeable.

I felt that the relationship between Gideon and Kyle felt a little forced at times. Sure, they were best friends and pretty much co-dependent, but if Gideon hadn’t realised he had a crush on Kyle they might never have gotten together (at least not in my eyes). I think that was due to parts of their friendship that was a bit antagonistic. Some of the things Gideon thought about Kyle were cruel and I kept thinking that if that was how he saw him then why did he insist that he loved Kyle? I know that we see flaws in the people we love but we love those flaws too. With Gideon, it felt like he wanted Kyle’s flaws to completely disappear.

The plot was pretty predictable but still quite fun to read. In typical teenage fashion, some of the characters mess up in ways that only overdramatic teenagers can. Miscommunication and misunderstandings created a lot more drama then there had to be, but it was still a relatively good and enjoyable story.

Yes, I realise my review make it sound like the book was pretty crap, but it was actually quite fun and I wouldn’t have been so negative if I had read it as a fanfic instead of a published book. I think that was my main issue with it, that it felt like a fanfic more than a published book.

Do I recommend it? 

If you are looking for a simple and easygoing mm romance book, then sure this book will do you well.

 

Want to buy it? Consider buying it using my affiliate page. All profits, if any, go to improving this blog!