Lord of Shadows – Cassandra Clare

Lord_of_Shadows_book_cover

(Published by Margaret K. McElderry – 2017)

Synopsis:

Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.

 

Review:

*Disclaimer – this was written last year after I had read the book but previously has not been published*

Oh my Lord (of Shadows) I had to wait to write down my thoughts on this one, it was intense!

Following on from Lady Midnight and leading on to Queen of Air & Darkness which will complete The Dark Artifices Trilogy, Lord of Shadows is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill middle novel; oh no. Lord of Shadows is fast-paced and filled with the adventure, sword fights and relationship woes that we have come to expect from Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter novels. You almost forget how big it is. Almost.

I’ve read on another review that it would be handy to have read The Infernal Devices trilogy which I have not yet done (I read the first one and didn’t get the buzz so I did not continue that particular branch of the Shadowhunter tree) before reading The Dark Artifices however I haven’t had any issues, some references have probably just passed me by. I am now prepared for The Infernal Devices and will be giving them another go, I promise J

So, before I move on too much I am aware I haven’t reviewed Lady Midnight so in brief: I loved it. It’s a huge book but it has such endearing characters and a fast plot that I read it pretty quickly for me even though I couldn’t carry the great tome around in my bag for fear of causing long-lasting back issues. The same happened with Lord of Shadows, once I started I wanted to devour the whole thing in one go and drool my way to the library to pick up Queen of Air & Darkness (which isn’t in stock yet so I have to wait *sigh*).

Lord of Shadows is a seamless transition from book one to book two and I was definitely still in the zone when I got around to reading it. The narrative moves quickly and although you might not be into the teenage love story drama undertones there is plenty more to keep you going in my opinion. The severe detail in this world astounds me, Cassandra Clare must live, sleep and breathe these plotlines she has thought of everything and she’s releasing multiple books this year too, what a machine!

Reading Lord of Shadows was definitely an immersive experience to say the least, nothing is glossed over; every character is developed with fears and agendas of their own. While there are several ‘main’ characters the plot revolves around Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn who I do enjoy reading about and I am looking forward to seeing where their story goes but I definitely prefer the chapters surrounding Mark, Christina and Kit. Just personal preference I think – luckily they get a decent amount of page time and hopefully their stories will be completed in the last novel as I am filled with intrigue about them and their connections in the Shadowhunter World.

In terms of plot development, Lord of Shadows moves the story on nicely without making a pointless new storyline to keep us going as you often find with trilogies. The characters are continually developed and overall it is a genuinely enjoyable read. I will say however that the end of this book felt slightly rushed, as if Clare was so excited to give you her big finish that she just couldn’t hold it in any longer and you instinctively read faster as you reach that crescendo. Luckily, I haven’t had long to wait for the release of the third novel but I imagine for those that did, it was quite a painful struggle to be patient.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Blog Tour – The Sky is Mine by Amy Beashel

Published by Rock The Boat Publications (UK – February 2020)

Ahh Good Morning Lovelies!
Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for The Sky is Mine by Amy Beashel! This is my first time doing one of these events so be kind and I hope I give this book the justice it deserves.
I was sent this ridiculously bright book by Rock the Boat Publications as part of this blog tour and to be honest, I loved this book from the moment I took it out of the envelope! The yellow is so bright and optimistic, it kept drawing my gaze before I picked it up as if it was determined not to be ignored, which considering its content, is (and I quote) fucking perfect.
For each stop on this blog tour, Amy has chosen a song to accompany our reviews and the song for today is Ordinary People by John Legend. This is such a beautiful song, I’m really pleased to listen to it and share Amy’s thoughts on it:

I love a love song, how they can so perfectly capture the blind-sided euphoria of the beginnings of something. The flutterings of instant attraction. The will-they-won’t-they of unrequited lust. And then there’s the break-up ballads of the I’ll-never-love-again. The heart-broken, barely breathing devastation of loss. Like many love stories, love songs are usually at one end of the relationship or the other. And yet Ordinary People is extraordinary for its depiction of middling love, which can be fraught with the passions and frustrations of both the beginning and the end, weirdly existing alongside the mundanity of day-to-day coupledom. And that’s why I’d have it on the island. Because while separation can allow us to glorify romantic love, Ordinary People would be a reminder of its hardships, of its need for effort and compromise over its need for fast-beating hearts and thrills. It’s love with longevity. It’s real. ~ Amy Beashel.

If you would like to listen to the songs on Amy’s playlist, you can find the playlist on Spotify here.

From the Back Cover:
Izzy feels invisible. Trapped under the weight of expectation and censored by shame.

Her mum Steph and best friend Grace have always been there to save her. But with one under the control of her stepfather and the other caught in the throes of new love, Izzy is falling between the cracks.

As threats to her safety grow, Izzy wants to scream. But first she must find her voice.

And if the sky is the limit, then the sky is hers.

Review:

This book comes with some wonderful endorsements on the cover and I have to agree with all of them. As a debut novel, Amy tackles a really sensitive subject which has a lot of relevance in today’s society and I think she does it with a great deal of poise and realism.

Izzy is our protagonist, she’s a teenager who finds herself in a difficult and hurtful situation. I’m not going to go into details and I think the book itself doesn’t discuss the situation in a lot of depth instead briefly touching on the events enough for you to invest in the characters situations and understand their actions. The trigger warning on the email from the publisher says The Sky is Mine contains material some readers may find distressing, including discussions of rape, coercive behaviour, domestic violence and abuse. We are grateful to sexual health and wellbeing charity Brook for undertaking a sensitivity read. So I did have some pre-warning.

Izzy lives with her mum, Steph and her (evil) stepfather Daniel. I’m not kidding about the evil bit either. Daniel is a manipulative bully and reading about his actions and the things he said made me physically angry while I was reading the book. His constant comments about weight and their bodies really got to me. I was emotionally invested not only in Izzy, but in Steph too as they both battle through really damaging situations. Izzy not only feels the distance between her and Steph but also between her and Grace, her best friend who is besotted with her new girlfriend which I’m sure a lot of readers can relate to.

There are a lot of relationships explored in The Sky is Mine and I found them refreshing. I didn’t once think any of the interactions were overdone or clichéd. Nothing was made more complicated than it needed to be and I didn’t think anything was dragged out or made into a spectacle which was fantastic. The narrative explores itself through Izzy’s love of music and how music speaks to everyone differently but triggers empathy in its listeners on a personal level. Ultimately, the music speaks to people and gets it’s voice heard which is what Izzy needs to accomplish to free herself and i think is why she adores it so much.
The coercion and manipulative culture displayed in the novel made me feel sick, not only the words but the feeling behind it. In today’s society you see displays of this behaviour in public and online nearly on a daily basis. Online bullying, through photos is a very real problem and I can only hope that this novel being in the world will aid anyone who has experienced these things and maybe bring a change into accepted attitudes and behaviours.

I think all young people should read this book. Beashel has found a voice for so many sufferers of emotional, physical and sexual abuse because ultimately at the heart of this novel is the voice of not just Izzy and Steph but of Grace and of Harry too. Everyone has a voice and everyone deserves to be heard and feel comfortable saying no in a society that encourages people to say yes to every opportunity and experience as much as possible as soon as possible. Please read this novel and pass it to your friends to read so that it can spread it’s message as far as possible because we will not be silenced.

20200206_222752.jpg

Thanks for reading,

Cat x

A Throne of Swans by Katharine & Elizabeth Corr

image_processing20191125-38-3np0uh

Published 9th January by Hot Key Books

 

Synopsis:

In a world where the flightless are ruled by those who can fly…

When her father dies just before her birthday, seventeen-year-old Aderyn inherits the role of Protector of Atratys, a dominion in a kingdom where nobles are able to transform at will into the bird that represents their family bloodline. Aderyn’s ancestral bird is a swan. But she has not transformed for years, not since witnessing the death of her mother – ripped apart by hawks that have supposedly been extinct since the long-ago War of the Raptors. 

With the benevolent shelter of her mother and her father now lost, Aderyn is at the mercy of her brutal uncle, the King, and his royal court. Driven by revenge and love, she must venture into the malevolent heart of the Citadel in order to seek the truth about the attack that so nearly destroyed her, to fight for the only home she has ever known and for the land she has vowed to protect.

 

Review:

This book was just what I needed to finish the year off! I loved it! I was sent my early copy of the novel by Readers First and Hot Key Books – Thank you so much!

I loved the setting, the characters and the premise – all of it! It’s a beautifully easy read and is loosely inspired by Swan Lake which just reminds me of The Swan Princess so I had all the nostalgia feels while I was reading this 🙂

In the novel the world is split into a class system of those who can transform – the nobles; and those who cannot – the flightless ‘normal’ people. The world is governed by rules which state that the flightless cannot rule or have a position of power. The families that can transform take the form of a specific bird (Swans, Owls, Ravens) and they even keep some of their characteristics in human form for example the colours in their hair 🙂 this is a detail I loved to read about – it really made the novel for me!

After being kept away from court after her mother is brutally murdered and herself left so disfigured she is unable to transform into a swan – Aderyn is thrust into a position of power when her father dies, leaving her in the position of Protector of Atratys. To protect her home she must visit her uncle, the King and learn all she can without giving away her inability to transform.

Leaving Atratys with just her advisor Lucien and her friend Letya, Aderyn finds herself in a world of people she cannot trust and in the middle of secrets which just keep coming and coming, I was shocked at every revelation and it only made me more determined to finish the story, the connections were cleverly done and the plot unravelled nicely throughout. This novel drew me in quickly with its clear narrative, I was genuinely sad to finish it and leave the world behind. Aderyn is headstrong but sensitive of her position since she cannot fly and she finds herself drawn to discover who murdered her mother. Her intentions are honourable and her lack of living knowledge of the land she lives in and the connections of other characters at court worked well as the reader learns at the same pace Aderyn does and empathises with her from the beginning.

I am actually devastated the next novel isn’t released until 2021 but I have procured myself copies of the other books written by these fabulous sisters! I’d love to know their writing processes!

Goodreads Rating: 5/5

Chasing the Shadows by Maria V Snyder

 

(Left) Aus Cover – Published by Harlequin – November 18th 2019

(Right) UK Cover – Self Published – November 18th 2019

Synopsis:

Not going to put this in here – it contains spoilers!

Review:

Firstly, I was sent this book directly by Maria in return for an honest review.

Chasing the Shadows is out now! Again, there are different covers which is annoying, those Aussie covers are beautiful and I’m stuck with the UK one for now!

The story started in Navigating the Stars continues in Chasing the Shadows. I’ll keep this review relatively spoiler free in case you haven’t read the first one but you should really pause here and go read the first one, duh!

I loved Navigating the Stars and thought it was a fabulous start to the Sentinels of the Galaxy series (I’m really hoping it’s not just a trilogy, I need to know everything – there’s a whole galaxy to discover!). If it does turn out to be a trilogy, Chasing the Shadows isn’t the usual middle book that just fills out a story, it holds its own story-arc as well as moving the narrative along at a nice pace ready for the next book.

Again, as with Navigating the Stars this novel was brilliantly written and the characters have continued to develop throughout. Maria has really outdone herself, her other novels (that I have read) are Fantasy based but this series is firmly Sci-Fi with some Fantasy elements and it works so well! I find with all of Maria’s novels, you just slide right on in to the stories without feeling confused or lost and it holds you in its thread until it finishes. The dynamic characters work really well to support each other throughout the novel, the bad guy is especially creepy and the team Lyra works with continue to bring a diverse mix of opinions and characteristics into the mix.

Chasing the Shadows continues the mystery of the terracotta warriors which have been found on other planets and frankly I just want to know what is going on now please, okay, thanks. This novel keeps you guessing (in a good way); I’m still trying to figure out where the story could be going to be honest. Why are those warriors on other planets? What are the shadow-blobs? Who? What? Where? Why? When? The warriors though are almost a side story as Lyra’s development is the key to everything. The way she progresses through the novel, personalyl and as a security officer is a story arc of itself. The sass continues, the sarcasm works for Lyra as a 17 year old (nearly 18 though) girl wanting to figure everything out for all the right reasons and the romance is pretty low-key which is great. I don’t think I’ve ever related to a character as strongly as this; Lyra is punchy and smart and she reacts exactly how I would expect someone to in the situations she faces.

I will say this – Maria is a fan of her end of chapter cliff-hangers, I really struggle to put her books down, they really are ‘just one more chapter’ books because you always need to find out what comes next so be prepared for some late nights/early mornings! I know this is a good thing but it also means you read the book quicker – Chasing the Shadows finishes on a cliff-hanger too which is very frustrating, a whole year to wait until the next one too and I have a lot of questions.

I would love to write all my actual questions down in this review but that would be totally spoilerific and I really don’t want to ruin anything for anyone because I really want you to read it for yourself!

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

Navigating the Stars by Maria V Snyder

(Left) UK Cover – Self Published – 1st December 2018

(Right) AUS Cover – Published by Harlequin Australia – 19th November 2018

Synopsis:

Terra Cotta Warriors have been discovered on other planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. And Lyra Daniels’ parents are the archaeological Experts (yes with a capital E) on the Warriors and have dragged her to the various planets to study them despite the time dilation causing havoc with her social life.

When one of the many Warrior planets goes silent, and looters attack her research base, Lyra becomes involved in discovering why the Warriors were placed on these planets. And, more importantly, by who.

Review:

Ahh first of all I am a little biased because I have a soft spot for Maria’s work in general but I actually loved reading this book! It was a great start for a new series and is definitely in the Young Adult Sci-Fi genre. This was such an easy read and while it isn’t heavy in the scientific and physics information about space travel, you can tell Maria has done her research into it to make sure it’s accurate.

The plot revolves around Lyra (looove the name) and her parents/friends etc. Lyra’s parents are archaeologists, and are working on the discovery of terracotta warriors (yes, those ones) that have been discovered on different planets (uh, amazing!). The whole thing is told from Lyra’s perspective and you really feel as though you are in her brain, she is so snarky and quick-witted, her dialogue rolls out sharp and funny throughout so it is super easy to follow making this novel a pretty quick read (I’ve heard good things about the audiobook too).

While I know some readers will automatically discount this book due to its setting in space I very much urge you to just give it a go. Maria does not lay it on thick, the tech is not dumbed down but it isn’t ‘oh my god you need a degree in astrophysics’ to understand (although I personally just took Maria’s word for it) so I wouldn’t let the setting of this novel put you off. At its heart it is still a coming of age story about a 17 year old girl, living in a reality where her parents rule sternly and she is determined to live outside of the rules. Lyra, as a character is refreshing. She is honest and self-aware of her situation and that of others. While she gets herself into trouble, she does so with the best of intentions, knowing she is going to be grounded and I love her for it. She isn’t blinded by self-righteousness and she definitely doesn’t martyr herself. She does what she needs to do to get the job done and she needs her friends, her parents, her ship mates to do it. The camaraderie is perfect in my opinion, no conversation feels forced between any of the characters and I loved seeing them all develop together in a thoroughly enjoyable read.

I absolutely cannot wait to continue Lyra’s story.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Harrow_Ten-Thousand-Doors-of-January_HC-1

Published by Orbit September 2019 (UK)

Synopsis

EVERY STORY OPENS A DOOR

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored and utterly out of place.

But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page reveals more impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

 

Review

I was sent a copy of the novel by Orbit and Netgalley in return for a review.

I really really wanted to love this book, mainly because it has the most stunning cover I’ve seen this year! From the synopsis it sounds like a beautiful novel that I honestly couldn’t wait to try. I spent a week trying, and failing to be interested in the characters and I really struggled with the ‘book in a book’ format.

So unfortunately I didn’t finish this one. I got to halfway or should I say I pushed to halfway as I’d read a couple of comments about this being a slow start but I didn’t feel that it had picked up by this point.

This is nothing against the writing, I think Harrow is a lover of words and that really shows in her descriptive text but sometimes beautiful language doesn’t make up for a whimsy storyline.

I will say that I might go back to this one. Maybe my mind isn’t in the right place so I’ll have a break, read some fantasy magical books and come back to it at a later date.

Goodreads Rating: 2/5

The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh

image_processing20190530-38-actci

Publication – August 2019 (UK) Pan Macmillan

Synopsis

Imagine you meet a man, spend seven glorious days together, and fall in love. And it’s mutual: you’ve never been so certain of anything.

So when he leaves for a long-booked holiday and promises to call from the airport, you have no cause to doubt him.

But he doesn’t call.

Your friends tell you to forget him, but you know they’re wrong: something must have happened; there must be a reason for his silence.

What do you do when you finally discover you’re right? That there is a reason – and that reason is the one thing you didn’t share with each other?

The truth.

Review

After spending a week with the man of her dreams, Sarah is ghosted leaving her hurt and confused but also convinced something sinister has happened to him. While her friends try to get her to move on, not quite believing how good this week was, she insists on reaching out on messages, to friends and even turns up at his football ground looking for him. Something isn’t right and Sarah is desperate to find out what happened after she parted ways with her perfect man, Eddie.
The concept of ghosting certainly isn’t a new one in today’s society but Rosie Walsh really puts her soul into the narrative. I found it a slow start where I tried to figure everything out myself but as the story developed I wasn’t so sure and I was desperate to uncover all of the secrets keeping me hooked until the end. This novel was so well written, I was utterly convinced my theory was right all along only to be laughed at upon conclusion.
I expected a light-hearted romance novel and I got a gripping mystery thriller of a read instead. I really enjoyed this novel – it completely threw me off – I didn’t see the outcome coming at all which was a nice experience. Reading a lot of novels often makes certain tropes and narratives seem a bit tired but Rosie Walsh really pulled this one out of the bag. I’ve already recommended this to a lot of people! The characters are realistic and well developed to drive the narrative to its conclusion.

Goodreads Rating – 4/5