Review of Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

I received an eARC of this novel in return for an honest review! 🙂 Here’s the blurb below it comes out 1st October! ( I can also not believe I got this so early.)

43611226IN THE KINGDOM OF AXARIA, a darkness rises.

Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes.
Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm.
Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down.

Not one has ever returned.

When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields—though has yet to fully understand—Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed.

To kill it.

But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her friends begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known.

That is… if the demon doesn’t get to them first.

 

Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

3.5/ 5 Stars

 

I was super excited to get an eARc of this book as the blurb made it sound right up my alley. Warrior princess must fight a demon to save her country with the help of her friends? Consider me intrigued. Also the cover is beautiful.

Asterin was needless to say, awesome. She learnt how to swordfight, she’s a powerful mage and she doesn’t give a damn about the rules.

Luna, Asterin’s friend and basically magicless was strong in her own way. She was soft where Asterin wasn’t and had a relationship with the Elite’s captain. I loved reading about this girl’s soft strength.

Rose is just an utter badass.

Orion was sweet but I wish we got to see more of his relationship develop with Harry. It just sort of happened and I’d rather have liked to see it rather than it be kept secret from the reader as well as his friends for part of the time – and they all worked it out pretty fast anyway.

I didn’t really love the other characters so much. There were a lot of them introduced to us in the beginning and I feel this really affected the pacing of the novel. It felt slow in the beginning, as Asterin didn’t receive her ‘call to arms’ until about a fifth in to the book. It made the plot meander in the beginning and while I enjoyed learning about the characters I was just wondering where this was going if it wasn’t for the blurb. Then in the middle again the story seemed to really dragon on as they searched for the demon.

I wanted to root for Quinlan and Asterin, but they were very hot and cold towards each other. It was fun at times to read and others, I just couldn’t work out why Asterin was suddenly fuming at him. Also Quin’s level of cheesy made me embarrassed for him at times.

Overall I liked the story but the pacing was what really got to me. If you perhaps don’t mind a bit of a slower read then you’ll probably love this book. The magic system in this book was a real gem to read about and I liked how fleshed out the world’s history was too.

 

 

To Read Or Not To Read: Ink by Alice Broadway

Here it comes…

 

To Read or Not To Read: … not to read.

(Gosh, that felt bad to write. But we can’t always find books we love all the time I suppose!)

Image result for ink by alice broadwayInk by Alice Broadway

2 / 5 Stars

This book just wasn’t for me and to be fair I didn’t really look in to it much at the shop to see if I would like it. The reason? THE COVER IS BEAUTIFUL The orange is shiny by the way and I would say instead BUY IT FOR YOUR SHELF. It’s a beautiful looking book and that is exactly why I bought it. I’d give it 5 stars on how pretty it is for sure.

Maybe I just wasn’t in the right place to read it. Now I Rise was staring at me while I tried to read this. I DNF’d it at about half-way.

Read it if you like close first person narratives, MC’s discovering the terrible truth about the world.

Why I didn’t like it:

  • It read too much like other stories before, (like Matched by Allie Condie).
  • We’re are perhaps a bit too close to the characters thoughts, or perhaps she was a bit too much of a worrier for my tastes.
  • She’s discovering that the society she loves perhaps isn’t what she thought and this trope hadn’t been spun in an original enough way for me to appreciate it.
  • I wasn’t really a fan of their origin story as to why they have tattoos.
  • The concept of the skin book creeps me the hell out – but maybe I’m just weird.

 

Positives:

  • I liked the idea that the characters all got tattoos for important stages in their life so it was like a story on their body.
  • The idea that blank people terrify them then seems pretty logical.
  • I like how the political structures in the book are shaped around those two ways of thought.

 

Now that I’ve written this review I do actually kind of want to go back and finish it. I did spoil it for myself in the hope I’d hear there’s some super chocolatey plot twist – but there wasn’t anything that I wasn’t already expecting. However, I’ve moved to uni so that book is a little far away from me now! So perhaps I’ll do a re-cap review another time 🙂

What did you guys think if you’ve read Ink?

The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix

I wrote a review on the first book Sabriel a few months ago but after reading the rest I really want to go back on my five star recommendation… Maybe 4? I would give Lirael and Abhorsen 3.5 each.

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The Old Kingdom Trilogy by Garth Nix

3.5  / 5 stars

The thing is I loved the beginning of all of these books and the end. But the middles…are just too long. It’s all Lord of the Ring’s journey-esque and I feel it could really have skipped or glossed over some things.

But the endings are truly a good climax to the books, there is action, it’s well described. I love it, in fact I’d rather the endings were longer. There’s never a page or two of oh now they’re doing this. Instead it’s all oh hey they survived THE END. And I mean sometimes open endings are great but I’ve followed this character walking through chapters upon chapters of forest, can’t I have something?

But the series’ world is amazing, I love how the Charter that sorts all magic is organised and how all the magic that is not Charter works around this. We get to see how it affects the people. The shrouded mysterious history of the world is interesting. And I loved Sabriel and Lirael as main characters. I think I loved Lirael far more. But the middles of the books really are a slog and that’s why I would harshly give it 3.5. Shame on me!

I think it’s worth a read if you have patience – or like a good old novel about taking a freaking long time to get somewhere! Because of this I’m not an avid Lord of the Rings fan, yep shame on me.

But I love Lirael as a character, we first meet her in Lirael duh! And we follow her life for a few years as a girl who doesn’t fit in with the rest of her people. But the story was done really well and she didn’t feel all that whiney. I was really rooting for her. Anyway, the characters and the world is what kept me ploughing through the middle of these books.

Have you read the series? Tell me your thoughts! (Also how is Across the Wall? Is it worth picking up?)

The Internet is Dark and Full of Spoilers, so it wasn’t much of a surprise – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I read this three weeks ago as this is one of the few books in the English section in probably the only bookstore in Shenzhen that sells English books that looked interesting. Wow, what a mouthful.

Anyway, I’ve avoided this book mainly because it looked like a horror story and I’ve never really been a fan of those. Just look at it.

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But I saw the movie trailer online and it looked far closer to fantasy. And with the very few choices I had in the shop I put my fears aside.

For those like my former self who still haven’t read it. It does have horror elements to it – like the entire first 100 pages is build up. But unfortunately because the internet is dark and full of spoilers I knew these children were real and so I was just waiting.

The story for me did not feel like it picked up until the last half or so and while I did like the descriptions of the places and whatnot it did just feel very slow.

I personally read this after work so there were moments where I was genuinely a little spooked. I’ll leave it at that though as I do think horrors should not be spoiled much. The suspense and build up make a horror. So I will not contribute to  the many spoils that float around the internet.

What’s great about it:

  • The enemies / monsters.
  • I liked the peculiar children.
  • The protagonist had a brain.
  • The last 100 pages was a whirlwind of awesome.

What’s not:

  • For some reason I thought it was a stand-alone. It isn’t.
  • The first 100 pages. Look you’re not crazy, protag. Sort your life out please.
  • The pictures. I felt like it made the descriptions of the characters irrelevant. I would imagine something a little different and turn the page – oh, theres a picture. Who needs an imagination?

But hey this is my own opinion. So I would say…

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

by Ransom Riggs

3.5 / 5 stars

It’s an interesting read if you have the patience to get to the good stuff. I’m unsure if I will pick up the next book though. I want to see how much the movie differs from the book.

Review / Booktalk of The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis 

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I DNFed this book along with Glass Sword at Christmas but as I said I hate doing that and so I finished them.

I would also like to state now that I hate giving bad reviews because if I was the author I would hate to see them. Like I always make sure to find something positive to say, after all no book can be completely bad, right? But this book is averaging 4.1 stars on Goodreads and I cannot fathom why. Like I wish I could love it of course, no wants to pick up a book that is just hard to read. I’ll add a synopsis to this one because I don’t think this book is particularly well known.

THE STORYTELLER by Antonia Michaelis

1 / 5 stars

Anna is fascinated by Abel, the moody school drug dealer with the military haircut and the deep blue eyes. One day she discovers a secret: Abel is caring for his six year old sister, Micha alone. Despite friends’ warnings, Anna is drawn to Abel and Micha, and falls under the spell of the fairy tale he tells his sister about a little orphan queen who is pursued by hunters for the treasure she carries; her diamond heart.

It’s a story with parallels to reality. Social services and Micha’s abusive father would take her from Abel if they discover the truth about their situation.

But when people Abel has woven into his story turn up dead, it’s Anna whose heart is in danger. Is she in love with a killer?

The synopsis drew me to this story but I found myself disappointed with the production of it all.

Anna sees Abel, the Polish Peddler as he is otherwise known as at school and finds him interesting because she is bored with her very nice life. He fits that typical bad boy with a heart of gold stereotype because he is dealing drugs to look after his little sister, Micha.

So to get to know Abel Anna specifically puts herself in situations where she would meet him. She stalks him. It was a bit uncomfortable to read and honestly I struggled to find her motivation other than the fact she was bored of her very easy life.

Moving along, her friends at school also belittle her. Gita is Anna’s best friend and constantly refers to her as little lamb, now I know this book is translated from German so perhaps the meaning was better in its original language. However this just read as gratingly patronising to me and I really wished Anna would have stuck up for herself and told Gita to stop. I’ll get back to Gita later in the spoiler section of this review.

The story Abel tells Micha wasn’t very interesting. That is probably just my own opinion but I struggled to read as it really did seem like it was meant for a child like Micha to enjoy and therefore not me. This story about the little cliff queen ties most of the story together and is partly what motivates Anna to continue stalking Abel, which is why I DNFed it.

Also Abel incorporates himself in to the story as a wolf and since Anna is constantly referred to as little lamb I found the metaphor really Twilightish. The lion fell in love with the lamb whole sort of thing.

I would have really loved to say a good word about this story, but the second half of this book really stopped me from doing that. AND SO THIS IS THE END OF THE NON-SPOILERY SECTION. So if you continue on prepare to be spoiled. I’m sorry for the long review but I really felt this book warranted it and I feel like I need to explain why I had such issues with it and perhaps if anyone reads far enough they can share their opinions too.

SPOILERS – Literally for the whole book.

(Possibly triggering? I just feel like I should add this as I see many people do this on tumblr.)

For a small part of the book I began to like it. Abel and Anna were falling love and Anna was really getting to know them. I didn’t like how Anna threw away her old life for Abel but there was a message that was beginning to be made in the book. You can’t help who you love.

So then we get to the boatyard scene. Anna really wants to have sex with Abel and he tells her that it can’t be how she wants it to be. Anna doesn’t realise why and pushes him a bit too far. Then it is like some switch flips in Abel that went from somewhat sane to rapist. I have no better way to explain it, he just suddenly stopped being this loving guy and raped Anna. She asked him to stop but he forced her.

I didn’t expect this turn from the book at all. Anna is devastated after it happens and tells no one, avoids Abel for days. He sends her apology letters through the post. And then Anna realises she still loves him because she can’t help who she loves. I do not understand how a person’s mind works through trauma obviously but I couldn’t fathom how Anna could be okay with this.

She says nothing will be the same between them again but she is still with him and she lets him kiss her and hug her. She begins to wonder if Abel is the murderer and how much of the truth he is telling her.

Skipping forward a bit we find out through one of Anna’s supposed friends what Abel has also been doing. Bertil has been in love with Anna throughout the book and Anna has ignored him through most of it. The way he stalks Anna is also unsettling. But Bertil basically confronts Abel and manages to record their conversation and then put it though the school announcements for everyone to hear.

It turns out Abel sells his body in order to make more money as well as selling drugs. Why? Because he feels like he doesn’t matter anymore since Micha’s father had molested him when he was younger. He feels like now its happened he can just sell his body in order to pay for Micha through school. Like this whole turn of events from Abel was surprising, I felt like I needed some more foreshadowing or something. But this whole revelation came out of the blue.

Anna also finds the gun Abel has been using to kill the people who get too close to Micha, a social worker and Micha’s father who molested Abel. NOW once again I’m not saying I understand how people through trauma cope at all but Anna decides that Abel raped her because of his past and how he has sex now. I don’t like that she just blamed it all on that, as if that made it okay. He’s seventeen and as he said he’s had sex since then and knows that it would be different. So I still can’t see the need for it. Anna’s rape honestly seemed like a road block in this book, I don’t feel it was ever properly talked about and did nothing for story progression. It just happened.

So after all these realisations Anna has sex with Abel, normal sex. And that also made everything more weird, as the theme of you can’t choose who you love gets more twisted and dragged out.

BUT before I end I feel like I need to throw in that Gita knew about Abel selling himself. She never told Anna who was supposedly her best friend and just acted somewhat smug all the time. Like how was Anna not spitting with fury about that and what kind of person would let their best friend probably sleep with some who may have contracted an STD? Gita and Anna’s friendship just doesn’t make sense. This book just didn’t make sense period.

I won’t tell you the end, end but that is pretty much all of it already. I just really felt the need to talk about how strange most of the events in this novel were, from all the stalking in all characters’ parts, the characters who seemed to hold back vital information just because and the trauma characters’ wen through that was just brushed under the rug at convenient times.

Honestly I feel like I must have picked up a completely different book from everyone else on Goodreads. Rant / review over!  Tell me your thoughts if you have ever come across this book.

Mare Barrow’s Harrowing Adventures: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

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GLASS SWORD by Victoria Aveyard

2 / 5 stars

I want to start this off by saying I enjoyed Red Queen, I liked the iconic red vs silver blood thing and the powers. The love triangle between Cal, Maven and Mare wasn’t painful to read like most love triangles are and I enjoyed it. But Glass Sword…it suffers from second book syndrome. SBS BEWARE, it’s a serious problem. They want to set up for the amazing finale but the second book is just that…build up.

I originally DNFed this book but I hate doing that and so I’ve picked it up about ten times or so over the last six months ago. So its not like I didn’t try.

I’m going to start with the good points:

  • Cal and Mare are struggling to cope with the knowledge of what they did to escape from the last book.
  • Naturally, after Maven’s betrayal Mare has trust issues. I like how she has evolved as a character. I feel like a lot of YA fantasy novels don’t let their main characters come to grips or sometimes acknowledge those harrowing experiences.

So why didn’t I like it?

Mare has problems. TOO MANY PROBLEMS. It was like a double edged sword, while I liked the fact she was believable, she just wouldn’t stop questioning everyone. It felt a little repetitive. Because she was so alone she was constantly thinking things and I felt very trapped in her head. In Glass Sword, Mare’s head is not a place you want to be.

And since I couldn’t stay invested while reading about Mare Barrow’s harrowing adventures, I just couldn’t bring myself to be invested in the characters.

But after saying this, I am probably going to pick up the next book because of the ending and I am invested in their world. Although I don’t think Mare Barrows harrowing mindset is going to change any time soon so I’m also a bit on the fence about the whole thing…

Also the ending came around oddly fast and now that I’ve finished the book and let it simmer in my mind for a couple of days I don’t understand how it all came about.

Tell me your thoughts! =)