REVIEW: Savages (Chronicles of Warshard #2) by Katherine Bogle

Savages by Katherine Bogle
Series: Chronicles of Warshard #2
Published by Patchwork Press on 11th April 2017
Pages: 300
Source: *Received from Publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Daughter of Chief Ruin, Breen is one of the most fearsome warriors in the Southern Delica Tribe, but nothing can stop the Emperor from reaping the Savage Lands for soldiers. 

When her village is attacked, Breen is taken from her home and her family to the Seaburn Academy, where southern savages are broken and chained into a life of service to the Empire. Through the beatings and torture, Drakkone, one of the few Seaburn-born soldiers, brings solace to her days and gives her hope for the future.

Once freed of the Academy dungeons, Breen is sentenced to daily training between her plots for escape. But one night of unexpected passion turns into a problem bigger than either of them could have imagined. 

Breen and Drakkone must risk capture and flee the city or death might be a blessing compared to eternal imprisonment.
Going into this sequel, I did not realise until two thirds of the way through that this happened before the first novel, and this really threw me off. I was really enjoying this, but I started to get rather bored half-way through, and with a huge time jump added to the mix, the flow of the novel just seemed to disappear, and so the timescale within this novel was just lost as weeks, months and even years kept being skipped throughout.

I do not want to give too much of a summary of this as it will spoil the first book. This is about different characters to the first novel, but I want to strongly emphasise that this novel is set before the first novel, and in all honesty, I wish I had read this one first, and then the first book. It is about Breen whom is captured by the Seaburn army, and her journey and struggle as they try to turn her into another of their soldiers.

Our main protagonist Breen was brilliant. Breen was strong, fierce and protective, whilst being intelligent and inspiring as a teacher. Breen trained hard and was great however, I really struggled to connect with her. In full, Breen had all the qualities a reader wants to witness, but instead of progressing and growing as a character, Breen did the opposite, and became too reliant on those around her, no longer the strong, independent woman we first met. It was so disappointing. And although she had all these qualities, I found it really hard to connect with her.

Then there are the relationships formed in this novel. Everything felt far too convenient and 'insta'. There was a bad case of insta-love between Breen and Drakkone, alongside insta-friendships! In this novel it felt like there was no time for anything, so it was just all made to happen in the hope it seemed natural. Whilst the huge jumps in time throughout the novel made it very hard to witness the forming, and further the progression, of these friendships

As I have mentioned numerously throughout this review, the pace of this novel felt rather off. It went way too fast, so much so that I keep getting disorientated in how much time had passed. I think having read the first book did help in terms of the world-building as I did have a better understanding going into this of what was going on in this world. But everything just felt far too convenient, as mentioned earlier.

Like I said in the beginning of this review, only until I had read two thirds did I realise that this book is actually set before the first book, and it really threw me off. Mainly because I then had to go back to the first novel in order to reconnect with who these characters had become or where they had been originally, but that also left me feeling disappointed, because I knew exactly where this plot was going to lead and it would no longer be the surprising, dramatic and emotional ending it was suppose to be; as the reader, I was just waiting for what I knew was going to happen, and it just caused me to skip over sections in order to be done because I already knew what was happening, and so it completely left me wondering why I was bothering to read on knowing what was going to happen anyway. Although one thing one cannot dispute, is that Bogle is brilliant at writing action scenes, mainly the sword fighting scenes, as I was constantly able to envisage everything as they really put me on the edge of my seat.

Therefore I feel disappointed with this companion novel, and would much rather have read this first, and then read Haven.


REVIEW: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on 2nd June 2015
Pages: 246

Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions. 

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Thriller and mystery novels are two of my most favourite genres, I like to be made to think and be given a challenge by the author and so admittedly, having read a lot of thrillers and mysteries, I am hard to please; this is just because I want the novel to give me something that I didn't expect, yet for it also to make sense. This novel had so much potential, but I had some really big issues with it. It was predictable and questionable, and I am bitterly disappointed. The one thing I do like about this book though is the cover, it is so intriguing and mysterious!

When Cadie meets two cousins, she thinks she has finally found her time to have some fun, where she can be relieved of the pressures from her family and job. When they begin their road-trip all is like she has dreamed, however soon things start to not add up and their innocent road trip soon becomes a dangerous game. Soon Cadie realises one is not whom he claims to be...

I suppose one will start with the first aspect that frustrated me, and that was the plot's believability. Obviously when I first read the summary I knew it was about a girl who goes travelling with two strangers, but usually authors integrate these strangers rather well, making them not seem like strangers. This was sadly not the case with this novel. I don't know about you, but I would never just go off with two random guys across the country. You don't know who they are, or anything about them. And the thing that was uncomfortable when reading this was that out main character Arcadia didn't even really question whether this was actually a good idea or not, she just did it. And as a character, I felt this novel could have really made her shine, and really do something good with her character, but instead she came across very naive and just did whatever she was told to do; she didn't seem to think for herself.

The plot was predictable. From the get-go I had already worked out which of the two it was. But the thing that really frustrated me was that, when (highlight for spoiler: Lindsey left, let alone when they were told she was missing,) none of them worried or thought to themselves they needed to go back, they just carried on, and paid only one line of thought. Their total disregard for her really shocked me and left a sour taste in my mouth. Everything in this novel was just thrown together far too quickly; the relationships, conclusions, plans. None of it felt realistic or engaging. At times the plot goes from one extreme to the other, it was too fast-paced then too slow-paced; it just did not flow together and continuously felt disjointed. And as for the  plot again, it was predictable and questionable. The characters were one-dimensional, they did not feel like they were really explored and just felt like they were there just in order to write the novel, not to play their roles.

(Highlight between here: Additionally, the conclusion of this novel in terms of Matt's motivation, was all because of a car. I mean, really?! A car?! That was the best motivation behind the guy's murders, a car?! That was the final straw for me, I had had enough at that point and it really topped it off for me. and here for the spoiler 😊)

Overall The Devil You Know was incredibly disappointing, and this is a good case of don't judge a book by its cover.


REVIEW: Under Different Stars (Kricket #1) by Amy A. Bartol

Under Different Stars by Amy A. Bartol
Series: Kricket #1
Published by 47North on 9th December 2014
Pages: 296

Kricket Hollowell never wished upon stars. She was too busy hiding in plain sight, eluding Chicago’s foster care system. As her eighteenth birthday approaches, she now eagerly anticipates the day she’ll stop running and finally find her place in the world.

That day comes when she meets a young Etharian soldier named Trey Allairis, who has been charged with coming to Earth to find Kricket and transport her to her true home. As danger draws close, he must protect her until she can wield the powers she cannot use on Earth…and he soon realizes that counting a galaxy of stars would be easier than losing this extraordinary girl.

Kyon Ensin knows the powerful depths of Kricket’s gifts—gifts he’ll control when he takes her for his tribe and leads the forces that will claim Ethar and destroy his enemies, starting with Trey Allairis. Now, Kricket faces the most difficult choice of her life: whether to wage a battle for survival, or a fight for love.
This was addictive. And exactly the sort of novel I needed to get me out of my long reading slump. I love this cover! It is just beautiful! And you should see the whole series cover's below, just, wow. Although, if I had not had read the synopsis, I would have been expecting a different genre and storyline to what it was.

 

Kricket has been in hiding from Chicago's foster care system for a while, desperately waiting for her eighteenth birthday when she will finally be free and can stop running away. But Kricket is soon captured by Etharian soldiers, and taken from Earth to her real home; where Kricket finds out things about herself and her biological family that she never knew.

I found the whole relationship in this novel uncomfortable. I feel like Bartol tried to make it as though Kricket had become friends with her captors, but it just did not feel right. The relationship between Kricket and Trey did not feel natural, it happened too fast and under strained circumstances. However, I loved Kricket as a character. She was strong, independent, and stood up for herself. She had a bit of sarcasm and sass, but she spoke truth. Kricket said what she needed to say, and did not rely on those around her; she fought for her voice to be heard. It was just the relationship that I found rather uncomfortable.

I really liked the secondary characters. One of my favourite things when reading is when authors really explore their secondary characters. Jax and Wayra were brilliant and hilarious, they brought humour and fun to the novel, and truly I do not feel it would have been the same without them.

The world Bartol created was unique and intriguing. The plot was so addictive and fast-paced, it was really refreshing and intriguing to read. The imagination that had gone into this was brilliant, I was able to truly visualise everything, I was also rather surprised as some of the scenes were quite violent, but it did added to the suspense of the novel. The only thing I did struggle with was the different words and names. Sometimes there were far too many introduced at once, and so it was very difficult to remember who was who. Similarly with places, objects and animals, I feel like the reader needed a key at the start of the book so one could go back and forth, as it really did become rather confusing at times.

Overall, Under Different Stars was fast-paced and addictive; it is highly likely I will try the sequel Sea of Stars.



REVIEW: Haven (Chronicles of Warshard #1) by Katherine Bogle

Haven by Katherine Bogle
Series: Chronicles of Warshard #1
Published by Patchwork Press on 10th March 2017
Pages: 208
Source: *Received from Patchwork Press through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Princess Haven was never meant to be Queen. 

Her immortality has saved her time and time again, but when the last of her royal family dies at her feet, she is next in line to rule a nation on the brink of war. With no formal training on how to be Queen, Haven must rise to the occasion with the help of her best friends, and personal guard, or risk losing everyone she has ever loved. 

With war to the west, and no escape to the east, the evil tyrant Kadia sets her sights on the six kingdoms. Haven's neighbors are quick to fall under the swords of Kadia's shadow soldiers, leaving a sea of bodies and a clear path to Haven's only home. Haven must make a choice; take her people and flee to the foreign Republic across the sea or lead a last stand against a powerful dictator.
Wow. Haven really was not what I was expecting. It was raw, dark and emotional; and I really enjoyed it. This is definitely a case of don't judge a book by its cover, I was expecting this novel to be a lot lighter than it actually was.

Princess Haven has now been made Queen, it was unexpected, but after Kadia murders her whole family, the immortal Princess Haven is left to protect her people and kingdom. But as Kadia moves ever closer, Haven must begin training to protect her people and the other kingdoms, before she is the only one left with Kadia.

Our main protagonist Haven is a brilliantly likeable protagonist; Haven was strong and powerful, yet kind and compassionate. What Haven had to go through was shocking and awful, but she uses those experiences to help others and drive her to save them. Haven also used her immortality to help save and spare the lives of her people, she showed bravery and strength, and is a character that will be admired by the reader. Our antagonist, Kadia, made a big impact. Usually with villains, you remember them when reading, but afterwards you forget them. But I am still thinking about Kadia now. She was such a disturbing and vile character, who subjected people to horrendous things, including when she wanted to test the lengths of Haven's immortality. It was so disturbing and dark, yet you wanted to carry on reading to ensure you saw Haven save her people. These characters really made the novel come alive, helping the reader to become immersed in the world.

The plot of Haven truly shocked me. It was very dark and disturbing at times, and one felt like the visualisation really brought this novel to life, you couldn't help but imagine the scenes occurring, many of which made you go all cold. There is certainly a very serious side to this novel, but there is a lot of action including sword fighting and magical beasts. There was also a great focus on female empowerment, which will truly appeal to the reader, and it was explored brilliantly, especially because of the environment they were in. The plot was fast-paced and engaging, and one cannot wait to see how the plot progresses in the sequel!

Overall, Haven was a pleasant surprise, and I cannot wait to read the sequel Savages and the prequel Fyre.

REVIEW: The Dark Light by Sara Walsh

The Dark Light by Sara Walsh
Published by Simon Pulse on 28th August 2012
Pages: 483

Mia is torn between two guys—and two worlds—in this epic, romantic fantasy.

Mysterious lights have flickered above Crownsville for as long as Mia can remember. And as far as she’s concerned, that’s about the only interesting thing to happen in her small town. 
That is, until Sol arrives. Mia’s not one to fall for just any guy, but she can’t get Sol—or the brilliant tattoo on his back—out of her mind.

Then Mia’s brother goes missing, and Mia’s convinced that Sol knows more than he’s sharing. But getting closer to Sol means reevaluating everything Mia once believed to be true. Because Sol’s not who Mia thought he was—and neither is she.
This novel has taken me quite a while to read, I must say partly due to my studies having taken over a bit, but also the fact that I just found this novel really rather slow. I do like this cover though, yet I was certainly expecting more of a mystery than what I got.

Crownsville is a small town in the middle of no-where, nothing happens in Crownsville, but over the past year, young boys have been disappearing. The only information they have is that they disappear into a bright light, that flickers randomly around the town. When Mia's brother goes missing, she goes after him, but the truth is far from what she was first expecting.

The characters in this novel were great. I did not love them, but Walsh explored their personalities just enough for the reader to be able to connect with them. I liked our main protagonist's fire and determination, she was courageous and kind, certainly a character whom you will root for. Sol is a bit of a quirky character, I liked him, he too was kind and caring, which I find in young adult novels they sometimes seem to lack, either because the author is trying to make them too courageous or too powerful.

However, it was the whole relationship that was going on. Going into this, the summary does give the away the fact that there is a love triangle, so I was fully prepared for it... yet I am happy to report that it really was not much of a love triangle! Thank goodness! Mia got over the over guy only a few chapters in, in favour for Sol. But this is where I did get a bit frustrated. They spent three quarters of the book denying their attraction towards one another, then BAM! "Oh I love you, I have always loved you!" Whoa, where in the world did that even come from?! It just felt far too forced, and just seemed to be there in order to please the reader, which was such a shame.

The plot of this novel was certainly unique, and refreshing. I have not read a novel in a long time about alternate worlds and so it really was brilliant and addictive. Walsh did a brilliant job in the imagery throughout this novel, at times I could close my eyes and just imagine the scenes happening! I was also pleased to see quite a few fast-paced action scenes, as it really brought the novel to life. I think the main issue I had though with the plot was that it could be very slow, and certainly sometimes it felt rather repetitive; the inner monologues felt repetitive and certain scenes just seemed to go on and on doing the same thing.

It was the ending. I mean really?! Really?! I just could not comprehend how they could just let them, without any thought... I just don't know, and obviously I do not want to give spoilers, so I will stop here.

Overall, I did enjoy The Dark Light and am pleased it is a stand alone, as I have started far too many series. The world building was amazing and the characters were great, but it certainly had areas that really slowed down the novel and made one sit back and question what they had just read.


REVIEW: No Normal (Ms. Marvel Vol. 1) by Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

No Normal by Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
Series: Ms Marvel Vol. 1
Published by Marvel on 30th October 2014
Pages: 120

Marvel Comics presents the new Ms. Marvel, the groundbreaking heroine that has become an international sensation! 

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she's suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she's comin' for you, Jersey!
I have not read many graphic novels, but with my reading having slowed down dramatically over the past six months, it was certainly nice to be able to read and actually finish a book in a couple of hours. I did enjoy this graphic novel, however I felt like the storyline was lacking a little, although the artwork is absolutely phenomenal! I mean, just look at the cover!

Kamala lives in Jersey City. She is great in school and has great friendships, yet she feels too 'normal'. That is, until she wishes to be someone else. But Kamala soon realises, once her wish is granted and she develops extraordinary gifts, she holds a great responsibility to help the people of Jersey city, and that being someone else just isn't who she is.

The artwork in this graphic novel is absolutely amazing! So vibrant and detailed, I love just looking at all the art, as there is always something else going on in the background. However, the one thing I struggled with is the storyline. The story line was okay, however it moved too quickly meaning one struggled to to really get invested in the story, consequently meaning one certainly struggled to connect with the characters. I was really looking forward to the humour aspect of the graphic novel as well that I had heard so many speak about, but I just could not see it. One would certainly say this novel is for a much younger audience, as it certainly is a brilliant diverse book with a great message, but it just did not capture my attention like I had hoped.

To be honest, I really do not think I will carry on with this series as I do feel rather disappointed as I did have high expectations due to the quantity of the high ratings.


REVIEW: Unearthly (Unearthly #1) by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly #1
Published by HarperTeen on 4th January 2011
Pages: 435

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees...
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.
*Please note: there are a few spoilers*

Oh how I really, really wanted to love this!! So disappointing, especially as so many people seem to love this trilogy!  It was okay. But that's it. I think I enjoyed to some extent because it has been a long time since I read an easy, paranormal romance. But otherwise, it was just that, okay. But these covers 😍 They are so beautiful!!!

I realised what really stopped me from feeling immersed in the novel and that made dislike this novel the most,  was our protagonist Clara. I still cannot quite put my finger on what it is I really did not like about her. I found her rather selfish and immature. And she was obsessed with appearance; you were either pretty or not; she didn't believe in everyone being beautiful in their own way. There was this quote that made me think, what? I'm sorry, but your at high school, pretty sure nearly everyone wears a t-shirt and jeans, what did she expect, everyone to be in smart dresses and suits!? Thats how I constantly felt throughout this novel, nothing was ever good enough for her, she had an expectation that everyone wanted to know her, and be her friend. She expected everyone to think she was pretty and amazing. It was like she was in her own fantasy world.

Then the romance. The love-triangle, I knew about this going in, but had heard positive things about it. But what a sadly boring love triangle. She wanted Christian, who she just stared at all the time and felt they were 'meant-to-be' even though they hadn't even spoken to one another. And she would obsess over him then suddenly she is declaring her love for Tucker, then went back to Christian! I much preferred Tucker. Tucker all the way!

The plot was okay. It was addictive, I will give it that. I just felt as though it dragged on too much, there was too much there that did not need to be. Though it was certainly fast-paced and I liked the ease of it, it was easy to understand, nothing complicated and made for an interesting plot. But I would not say: "WOW". There was nothing there for me to think that.

Overall I am rather disappointed in this first novel to the trilogy, and sadly one I imagine I will not be continuing.