Lady Midnight – Cassandra Clare

Righty ho, before we get started with this mammoth review (trust me it’s going to be a long one!) I just want to disclaim that the first half of this section will be SPOILER FREE, but after a big warning, the second half will be a SPOILER review because I can’t not talk about what happened, but there will be ample warning so if you haven’t yet read Lady Midnight and don’t want to be spoiled, leave at that point.

OH MY GOODNESS! I am actually so excited to write this review also emotions are still very high so if this review isn’t very coherent I do apologise! So, this Shadowhunter book is set approximately 5 years after the last Mortal Instruments books left off, it follows the lives of Julian Blackthorn and his family and Emma Carstairs in the Los Angeles Institute. This book is an absolute Shadowhunter classic with action, adventure, love and loss, but it’s also a bit of a murder mystery with Emma trying to find out who killed her parents, as we found out in the last Mortal Instruments book.

I was SO excited for this book it’s unreal, anyone who has followed our blog for a while knows that I (Eleanor) adore the Shadowhunter novels, it’s one of my favourite worlds to live in! However, this did mean that I had incredibly high expectations going into this book, which is usually a bad thing for any book. Although this book absolutely did not disappoint, it was everything I was hoping for AND MORE! The characters in this book were so strong, I cared for them so much and felt their pain with them. The characters that I’m going to talk about in this half of the review are going to be Julian and Emma, because I’m so scared of spoiling it for you guys and they are the main characters… Anyway, lets start with Emma, I loved Emma so so much, her character was really quirky and she had some amazing one liners, she kind of reminded me of Jace. She is also an amazing Shadowhunter, she’s an amazing fighter and is so determined, anything she sets her mind to will get done, she’s just a great character! Now onto Julian, oh Juilian, he is another amazing character, he kind of reminded me of a combination of Will and Jem, he’s very thoughtful but he also feels emotions very deeply and you can’t help but feel pain for him! All the characters in this book though are so incredibly written and the emotions you feel for them are so powerful, you just have to appreciate Cassandra Clare’s talent, she is awe inspiring!

Another thing I really love about this book is that it touches on so many real issues in life, things like young carers, body image, learning difficulties like Autism and mental health issues. The book in no way focused on these issues but they were always in the background and were hinted at, because of this, it never felt like they were being thrown in your face. They were subtly obvious, which I thought was incredibly clever, it must have been hard to obtain that balance.

Finally, for this section at least, I want to talk about the pace of this book, because this isn’t the first or even the second shadowhunter book, it wasn’t necessary for there to be so much description about the world. The story jumped straight into the plot, why they where there and what they were doing. This made the book feel a lot faster paced without having to stop for extra description and the pages just kept turning!!

Well that’s it for the non spoiler section of the review, I truly, truly LOVED this book, so please if you’re a fan of this world I implore you to read this, it is incredible! For that reason I’m going to award it a massive 5/5 stars! If you have read the book and wish to read on then please do, I will be talking about some of the events in the book and my thoughts on them. If you don’t want to be spoiled then please click off now, I really don’t want the responsibility of you being spoiled because that is literally a crime!

 

 

!!**SPOILERS AHEAD** **SPOILERS AHEAD**!!

 

 

HOLY SMOKES! Okay, in this section, I’m just going to give a run down on what I thought were the best/most shocking/ most emotional moments of the book, I will also give my opinions on them and what I was thinking when I was reading them!

First of all let’s talk about the forbidden love story between Emma and Julian. I honestly don’t think I have ever shipped a couple so hard, but it was also so painful because at the back of my mind I knew they could never be together because of their Parabatai bond, but you know what, that didn’t stop my feelings and all I want is for them to be happily in love with no limits! What was also interesting is that they didn’t really declare their love for each other until about 400 pages in, so all this time we’re building up to them eventually being together which just builds the emotion even more, and made me ship them even more, well played Cassandra Clare! But lets talk about that beach scene! HOT DAMN! At first I didn’t think they actually went all the way, because in The Mortal Instruments, it took like 5 books for Jace and Clary to finally have sex. It only really dawned on me that Emma and Julian had sex when Julian was talking about contraceptive runes and stuff and I was like “OH, OH! THEY DID IT!” and it just made me so happy! Although, I’m not gunna lie, the last couple pages when Emma was trying to ‘break Julian’s heart’ because of the repercussions of Parabatai falling in love LITERALLY KILLED ME. I know it was necessary because I don’t want Julian and Emma to get all power hungry and destroy their family, but jeeeze, those pages were so hard to read!

On to the next thing, Mark. I was SO HAPPY that Mark was in this book, he added another dimension to the whole story. He was such a good character as well, he was so childlike because he had essentially been indoctrinated into faerie. He also turned out to be incredibly loyal to his family and eventually, we saw a cheeky side to him, especially in the last line of the whole book when he said ‘Why lie’. I took this as Mark wanting to ‘do stuff’ with Emma, so they didn’t have to lie to Julian and the rest of the family. This was so cheeky, I was a little dumbfounded by this as first as I didn’t really see Mark as that kind of character, but once it sunk in I thought it was funny and quirky and just showed how Mark had developed throughout the book.

Okay, now let’s talk about the main plot and plot twist of this book. I loved the whole murder mystery element to this book. I was totally involved in the plot, and I’ll be honest I had no clue who The Guardian was, I had a sneaky feeling that maybe it was Dianna but I wasn’t 100% sure. So when we found out it was Malcolm was completely knocked for six! Initially I really liked Malcolm, he was funny and intelligent, and I was like YES ANOTHER MAGNUS! But noooooo no no no! The little git, I felt genuine fear when he took Tavvy, holy moley! But I was glad Emma finally had closure on who killed her parents all those years ago and no one I cared about died, I was so pleased and thankful that Cassandra Clare didn’t kill anyone!

Some of the new characters were amazing, I loved Christina, Perfect Diego and the whole Blackthorn family, I also had so much respect for Julian and all he’s done for his siblings, effectively becoming a single parent at 12 years old! But most importantly I was so intrigued by Kit, I couldn’t get my head around who this boy was, especially as as he effectively starts off the whole series! I knew he was important but I just couldn’t figure out why, so when we found out he was a Herondale I was like “WHOA WHOA WHOA! WHAT THE F*CK!” Cassandra Clare is so clever because even though I thought the main plots were out of the way, something else comes flying out of the woodwork!

I am SO excited about the next book, even though it’s going to be so painful to read with the whole forbidden love thing! But this series has completely sucked me in and I just can’t wait! If you’ve stuck with me through this whole review, well done because insanely long (1500 words!) but also thank you, and I hope you enjoyed this book as much as I did, and also please be considerate in the comments for people who haven’t read the book and keep the spoilers to a minimum! Thank You!

 

Divergent – Veronica Roth

With the releases of the second instalment to the Divergent Series ‘Insurgent’ due to be released in cinemas later this month, I thought I should re-read the series and post my reviews on both the book and the film. I am a massive fan of dystopian young adults novels and when I was introduced to this series i was so excited as the plot sounded original and adventurous.

The story takes place in an undermined future where the world is divided into factions, including Candor (honest), Abnegation (selflessness), Dauntless (daring), Erudite (knowledgeable), and Amity (peaceful). Tris, our main character, has reached the age of sixteen where she is tested and placed in a faction that complements her intuition and character. As the story progresses and she chooses her path, it’s suddenly clear that she doesn’t quite fit in just one faction and that proves threatening for those controlling this perfect society because as a Divergent, she can’t easily be manipulated. What comes next is a continuous reveal of hidden agendas and power plays.

Tris is one of my favourite characters and i thought her character development was really good and something you don’t always see in female characters. From the beginning we begin to see hints of her courage and intuition but throughout the book it became clearer and for me it was the ending when she really shone; she can really kick some ass!!
Four again is another character I loved. The mystery behind him as a character was really intriguing and always left me wanting to learn more about him.
For me i really connected with the characters which i really enjoyed as i felt their pain, happiness and sadness which made me love this book even more!

The storyline i thought was really actioned packed and for me there was never a dull moment. As per usual the ending was great it left you on a cliff-hanger desperately wanting to know what happens next; i know i was!! The idea of the factions was clever and unique and i thought brought a different flare to the book.

Overall, I give this book 4.5/5 stars – a great read filled with action, great characters and a unique storyline. I really recommend this series to everyone and I hope you fall in love with these books just as much as i did! Keep your eyes peeled as I will be posting my Insurgent book and films reviews in the upcoming weeks!!!

Film

As for the film i thought it was a brilliant book to film adaptation especially for the first book in a series! I thought all the actors and actresses who portrayed the characters were perfect and i really enjoyed all their performances! Shailene and  Theo for me were the perfect Tris and Four and worked really well together. The pacing was fab and i was constantly on the edge of my seat even though i knew what was going to happen. But for me it was the soundtrack which topped it off; it was perfect and i recommend you check it out! I’m so excited for Insurgent and all the trailers look amazing!

What’s your opinion? And are you excited for Insurgent? If so what scene?

Graceling – Kristin Cashore

As usual, I’m late to the party. I wish i had heard about this book sooner however I have ‘Booktube’ and the lady in Waterstones (again!) to thank for recommending me this book; it was amazing! It had everything a YA novel needed; strong protagonists, unique storyline and a action-packed adventure.

Graceling takes place in a fantasy world where certain people are gifted with extreme skills called Graces. Our protagonist, Katsa is graced with killing however this makes life hard for her as for many years she has been forced to become her uncle, King Randa’s personal thug. Throughout the book we follow Katsa as she uncovers the mystery behind the kidnapping of Po’s Grandfather and the mystery behind King Leck… I wont give too much away but this book never leaves a dull moment!

Right from the fist page of the book we are thrown into the action and adventure seen throughout the book. I thoughts the idea of the ‘Graces’ was brilliant and different to what I’ve seen before. The storyline was also brilliant and kept me on the edge of my seat through the whole thing! Cashore’s world building is immense and she has drawn a vivid picture of the seven kingdom Graceling resides in which you can really emerge yourself in.

Character wise, i thought Katsa was perfect. A strong, kick-ass female protagonist who we really see develop in the book from a slightly naive young girl in to a strong minded woman; I loved it! Po was also a great character as not only did he bring humour to the story he also helps our protagonist develop. The romance in the book was more mature and very unexpected which I really enjoyed as Po helped Katsa believe in herself and overcome her fears. Their relationship is so lovely as both Katsa and Po understand each other and fall in love, without needing to end up at the altar and live happily ever after.

However my only criticism character wise was the antagonists; King Leck. I wont give too much away but he was really creepy and I wished he played a larger role in the book or at least learn more about him as we were only given a snippet! For me he was the perfect villain and needed a bigger role!

Overall i thought this book was fabulous and a must read if you liked the ‘Throne Of Glass Series’. I am happy to award it with 4.6/5 stars; a great read with adventure behind every page!

Fire and Flood – Victoria Scott

I picked up this book after hearing many people rave about and also from its storyline. Yes, it is very similar to ‘The Hunger Games’ however ‘Fire and Flood’ has many unique and different ideas which makes it at the same time very different. Apart from that I really enjoyed this book and I am desperate to get my hands on ‘Salt and Stone’ which is coming out in February!

The novel follows young adult Tella, who’s brother is slowly dying of cancer and there’s nothing she can do. Until she receives an invitation to participate in ‘The Brimstone Bleed’; a competition which is set across four different ecosystems and the prize is a cure for any illness. Risking her life for her brother, we follow Tella as she fights for survival across two of the four ecosystems; Jungle and Dessert. This book has action, romance, mystery, adventure, and so much more.

The main reason which makes this book different from ‘The Hunger Games’ is that each contestant is given a ‘Pandora’ which will help them survive throughout the race. I loved this idea and now I constantly wished I had a ‘Pandora’ of my own. Mine would have to be either a Cheetah or a Hawk, similar to Harper and Jaxon’s. What would yours be?

Tella’s pandora Madox was lovely and I quickly grew very attached to him; he is so cute. As for Tella, I didn’t connect with her as much as I wanted too however throughout the book I kept finding myself rooting for her to win! Guy, is another character that I love. His mysterious personality is driving me insane as I want to find out more about him! There are some charters that I wish we had seen more of, such as Harper, the female badass; and Levi and Ransom, the twins as I wanted to know more about their backstory. But from what we know, I thought they were great characters each one of them bringing humor and action to the storyline.

The ending was great as it left you at a cliffhanger which in some cases is really irritating but brilliant. I am so pleased that the race has been separated into two books as it means more can happen and we can spend more time in each specific stage of the race. I can’t wait to find out what happens next…

Overall I rate this book 4/5 stars and I would certainly recommend it to those who are fans of ‘The Hunger Games’ or who love a good action packed book!!

The One – Kiera Cass

I have no words to express how much I loved these books and their storyline! ‘The One’ had everything from fantastic characters to a cliffhanger ending – I don’t want this series to finish, they’re just too good!

The competition is coming to an end and soon Prince Maxon must choose his wife whilst trying to save his county and battle his relationship with his father. With only four girls left each one of them must battle it out to win the hand of the prince (writing that it sounds like its The Hunger Games!!). America is still in the competition but by just a hair and must try her best to sort things out.

Everything happens in this book, I won’t give it away but a lot of the time I never saw it coming. Poor America, a lot of the time she was affected by what happened but it helps makes her a stronger and more loved character. We also see America express herself more (even though she is standing on thin ice) and show her passion for getting rid of the castes. This book is once again darker and has more involvement with the rebels making it more action packed and in my case more addicting! But the series also never got deep enough for me to take the political stuff seriously. Everything was all on the surface, even when rebels were introduced as a real threat. It happened in a rush.

Now let’s talk about the ending. WHAT! I have to admit I didn’t expect that, it all happened all at once and I was on the edge of my seat for the whole chapter! But I am pleased with the outcome and I don’t think that I can wait until May 2015 when the final book is released. I hope I the last book we see more about the rebel attacks and the efforts of making Illea a better place.

Update: I’ve recently discovered that the next installment is called ‘The Heir’ and is set about 20 years after the events of this book. I need more of America and Maxon so fingers crossed that we get to see more of their relationship as they grow old together.

Overall I love this series and especially this book – it’s the best in the series – and I would definitely rate it 5/5 stars. I wish everyone read this series as in my opinion they are fab!! If you are interested in reading this series check out our spoiler-free review on ‘The Selection’ and the ‘The Elite’.

The Kill Order – James Dashner

Firstly I should say that this is a prequel to the Maze Runner series so I would suggest reading them first, there are reviews for them and I shall link them here (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure)

I suppose I had mixed feelings going into this book. I wanted to read it because I loved The Maze Runner trilogy and everyone seemed to be talking about this prequel. However I’m always weary about reading prequels, I don’t know why but I just think they’re a little weird and have the ability to completely ruin the original series. I guess you could say I procrastinated, I always meant to read it but I never really got round to it and I didn’t even own a copy. However, quite spontaneously, I picked up a cheap copy in HMV (by the way HMV is fab for cheap books but there isn’t usually a big range…). When I finally opened the first page I was surprised, I have to admit I didn’t think it would be that good, but the new characters are really likable and courageous (I do love that in a book). Also the story line held its own in a way that it links to the maze runner (as a prequel should) but it didn’t fell as though this book was relying on the success of the original trilogy (if that makes sense).

Okay… to the actual story. Like I have said previously it is a prequel to the Maze Runner series so the story revolves around the start of the sun flares and the origin of the Flare virus and I would just like to add that this start really did shock me, I really wasn’t expecting it! The main protagonist is a young teenager named Mark. He is struggling to live in this new infected world and has to do his best to save the people he loves. What I really like about this book is that it really entwines with the story of the Maze Runner, I don’t want to spoil it but in the very beginning and at the very end we see some familiar faces *wink wink*.

Some of the elements of this book really took me by surprise (which I should have been expecting, I mean come on, this is a James Dashner book…). However thanks to a lovely chat with one of the Waterstones staff I did predict the end of the book (or at least I’m pretty sure I predicted it, it wasn’t really finalised, wow that doesn’t make sense but it will if you read it…). Anyway I feel as though most people wouldn’t have guessed it, I keep telling myself that so I feel clever… that was my only criticism to be honest, and it was a bit picky of me… oh well… this book was intense, engaging and really exciting so I would definitely recommend this to anyone who has read The Maze Runner series and loved it as much as I did! I’m going to award this book a 4 out of 5 stars, I would have given it a 5 but I predicted the ending soo it’s a 4 I’m afraid, but it was still bloody good!

but I predicted the ending soo it’s a 4 I’m afraid, but it was still bloody good!

The Death Cure – James Dashner

I always worry about the final book in a series. And as always it was bittersweet. I LOVED this series of books, I really did and I have to be honest the ending was… satisfactory. So this book is the final instalment of The Maze Runner series, I’m sure lots of you have heard of The Maze Runner, it was a massive book to movie adaptation that has recently blasted the Hollywood box office. Anyway there are three books in the whole series (plus a prequel but for that review my friends you will have to sit tight, it will be coming soon) and The Death Cure is the final book *cries*. If you want to check out some reviews for the first two books in the series I shall link them here (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials).

So this book follows more of the exciting tails of Thomas and his friends after the maze and also their survival of the scorch trials.  By this stage they’re desperate to escape from WCKD (which I’ve been pronouncing ‘Wicked’ so I hope that’s right…) and this book really extenuates their trials and tribulations with doing this. I really don’t want to spoil anything so I will just say that there are some MASSIVE plot twists throughout the book, which I have becoming to expect from Dashner’s writing. Also there were some tragic secrets that were kept by WCKD that now get uncovered, just a disclaimer, it made me sob… a lot…

It was a really good story and I felt it continued well from the second book however there were some elements that I thought were a little unnecessary, this is my personal opinion and so you guys may completely disagree with me (and feel free) but I did feel as though there were bits that were just rather pointless. One of those bit’s I’m afraid to say was the ending. Errrg it really irritated me. This is just my personal opinion but it was just too simple. I wouldn’t say it was predictable because predictable implies that you knew what the ending was before you finish it (derrr) but it was so simple that I wasn’t expecting it from this story and especially not from Dashner’s writing. If I wasn’t already familiar with Dashner’s writing (as most are when reading the third and final book in a series) then I probably could have predicted it…I really hope that made sense and wasn’t as though my brain was sick all over the page, because that’s what it’s feeling like at the moment… so sorry if it was.

That was my main grievance of the book. I promise you that the rest of the book is fantastic! So if you’ve read the first two books, please to read the last one because it honestly ties a whole lot of loose ends and is rather essential in the entire story. I’m going to award this book a 4 out of 5 stars, I really did enjoy it (except the ending). Also if your new to the whole trilogy please, please have a look at the reviews of The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials, they’re linked right there and also at the top of this review. They’re all fantastic books.

The Finisher – David Baldacci

I have to admit the only reason I picked up this book was because it was only a pound and I needed a book to take on holiday with me!

From looking at the cover you see a young female heroine dressed in battle armour with raging battle in the background – this is my kind of story! But I was disappointed as it didn’t turn out as I planned, learning my lesson from the old phrase “never judge a book by its cover”. Apart from that I thought it was a good book and perfect for a holiday read!

The story bases itself around a young girl called Vega Jane, who lives in a town cut off from the outside world. But when a young man adventures into the unknown, it begins to make Vega wonder what’s on the other side of the wall surrounding her! From there she discovers secrets of her past and future whilst trying to survive…

The book is about 500 pages so you would expect a lot to happen but that wasn’t the case. The story built the reader up for an adventure which sounded really exciting which sadly only began at the end of the book! This made it in my opinion a terrible ending and I desperately hope he writes a sequel or otherwise I will hunt the author down and demand answers – just like Hazel Grace! But apart from that I felt there was quite a lot of enjoyable bits with a lot of action! As well as all of this David managed to add a mystery in making it addictive!

The character of Vega Jane I thought was a really enjoyable character who I personally would love to have as a friend – she’s determined, adventurous and sassy! I love her. As for her best friend Delph you really see him develop from a shy quiet character to a supportive, adventurous friend!

Overall I would give this book a 3/5 stars, it was still a good read but nothing I would get excited about as I think it lacked real adventure. However I thought the storyline was still great and I would recommend it to those who have no clue what to read next and just want something different!

Grasshopper Jungle- Andrew Smith

This is one of those books that I really wanted to like, I’d heard such good things and was going in with high expectations which is always the kiss of death with, well, anything really. However I just couldn’t get myself to like it very much, I do actually have reasons for my dislike and on the other hand I do have praise for it but in the grand scheme of things I just wasn’t a fan so please don’t judge me or hold me to anything, this is just my opinion…

For people who don’t know this book follows the story of two sixteen year olds that accidentally unleash an unstoppable army of giant grasshoppers. This is what really made me want to read this book, just to find out how this crazy plot line can come into being and how they were going to solve or maintain this rather large and serious problem, I have to admit I couldn’t have predicted it… it’s rather strange and if I say so myself, rather inventive…

Let’s start on the positives, I really liked the characters. I thought it was a really refreshing idea to have a protagonist who is sexually confused because I personally haven’t seen that in YA fiction and it was really eye opening to see their trials and tribulations though their teenage life. However some of the things that were said and divulged to the audience was, for my liking, too detailed, I think I said “I did not need to know that” about 50 times during this book, I know it’s all part of the story and I know that’s what makes up the character, but it did make me feel awkward at times (by the way if this is how boys think I’m intrigued yet totally disgusted at the same time)

On a lighter note I thought the ending couldn’t have been better (for the circumstances they were in), I don’t want to give too much away because of spoilers but the ending really summed up the story nicely. It did also pick up towards the end as well. It became more fast pace and more exciting as new intelligence is uncovered in the story, although up until then it was quite slow and the story just kind of plodded along, and this, if i’m honest was the first 3/4 of the book so it did take me a while to get through. However I was pleasantly surprised with the ending.

Another little nit pick I have against this book was that it was quite confusing. It would jump to what other people are doing with no breaks or gaps so I did find it quite hard to figure out what was really going on… this may just be me being stupid though. In contrast an aspect I respected was that everything was from one characters point of view and you were literally inside his head almost listening to his thoughts which I thought was a rather clever idea…

Overall I wasn’t really a big fan, which i’m annoyed about because I really wanted to be as it was a good story and a good idea, but I just couldn’t warm to it. Feel free to read this and completely disagree with everything I’ve just said as everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if you do want to read this book make sure it’s OK with your parents if you’re under 16, there is explicit content.  I’m going to award this book two and a half out of five stars, it pains me to give such a low rating for a book that so many people love, so if you’re one of those people I’m sorry but I have to be honest.

The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey

Aliens, Aliens and more Aliens! I really enjoyed this book, the concept was really interesting as well as the way it was written! I love this book so much and I’m really excited to hear it’s been turned into a movie with Chloe Grace Mortez as the lead! Eeeeek!

This book if you haven’t guessed is all about aliens! It mainly follows a young girl called Cassie fighting for survival during the invasion as well as trying to save her younger brother. A long the way she faces many different challenges and begins to uncover the mystery of what is the invasion which has been split into 5 different waves each destroying the human population. Now the time has come for Cassie and the 5th wave is drawing closer…

I love the style of writing in this book and how it starts off as a diary entry as we look back on Cassies life and discover what has happens! But not only do we see Cassies point of view we also see points of views from other characters who too play an important role in the storyline and help the reader uncover the mystery of the alien invasion! I thought this was really clever and enjoyed how each person’s storyline linked together.

I thought Cassie, the main protagonist was a brilliant character! You really saw her develop from a young care free teenager to some badass survivor making her so brilliant! It’s not just Cassie you see develop almost all the characters do making the reader feel as if they too have been caught in the invasion and begin to understand how bad the situation is!  This being a young adult novel there of course has to be a love triangle and we being to see it develop at the end of the book. But this isn’t any love triangle it is one with a twist…

Personally I really do recommend this book, even if your not a fan of aliens just give this book a try; I think you might like it! It is jam packed with adventure and action never leaving a dull moment as well as having awesome characters! I would give this book 4.5/5 stars and if I were you I would start reading now as the second book is coming out in September 2014 and you will definitely want to carry on the story; I know I did!