Friday, 19 October 2018

Throne of Glass re-read: Empire of Storms

Publication date: September 6th 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Length: 693 pages

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don't.
With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
In this breath-taking fifth instalment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what—and who—to sacrifice if she's to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.

I can't even with this book. Just. What. Even. This series keeps on improving, it's like Maas sees each excellent instalment as a challenge - "Oh I broke your heart with that book? LET ME HAVE YOUR SOUL WITH THIS ONE."
I adore "Queen of Shadows" like you wouldn't believe, but I'd not fully allowed myself to remember just how insanely brilliant "Empire of Storms" is. Whilst the fourth book takes its time to build to an earth shattering final quarter, the fifth kicks off hard and fast and brutal and doesn't let up.

All the threads that Maas has gently woven over the course of the series are pulled together and it is a sight to behold. Suddenly there are pairings you never knew you wanted, character interactions which are brilliant in so many ways, and the whole thing feels like one giant reward for all the plotting that has come before. This is a book that rewards you for your dedication and attention as everything starts to be revealed and set up for a truly amazing finale.

The confrontation in Skulls Bay at the halfway point is incredible. I love it when a plan comes together, and there is nothing quite like a team of characters working with each other. Lysandra vs. the sea wyverns honest to god gives me chills as everyone else rallies around to support her. It's just so intense and you're left completely dizzy and breathless by the end. Which all goes to show just how damn extraordinary the writing is.

Then the brief lull - although by no means boring - whilst the pieces are all moved into place for the final heart-breaking showdown, and oh boy did I cry. Even though I was expecting it this time, I still tore through the pages desperate to see how it plays out. I still had goose-bumps as everything falls into place and everyone comes together in one glorious moment. I still was in tears at the gut wrenching heartbreak and emotional sucker punch of the end.

It's incredible. The writing, the characters, the plotting, the layering that slowly unwraps and offers this stunning instalment and sets up what is sure to be an unbelievable final instalment. I adored this book, but I am so glad that I'd put off re-reading it until only a few days before the release of "Kingdom of Ash"!

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Publication Date: September 26th 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 300 pages

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.
Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.
Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

This was one of my most anticipated reads, as it took far too long to make its way from the US over to the UK, and the positive reviews were already pouring in by that point. I went into it with high expectations, and felt... a bit ambivalent.

Don't get me wrong, it's a beautifully written book, with some curious world building and a host of intriguing characters. It's been compared to Sarah J Maas and Holly Black's writing, and there have been so many people who really loved it. But I just felt a bit flat. I wanted to be swept away in the story, I wanted to fall for these characters and be left wanting more. Instead I was perfectly entertained for a couple of hours and then left feeling a little non-plussed at the end.

I am endlessly frustrated by intelligent young women in fiction who are painted as smart and strong and then go all googly and air headed once they're intrigued by a man. Yes I want romance, but I felt like Isobel became a bit too flat and swoony for a male that I mostly felt irritated by. 
And I don't really understand why. This book should have ticked all of my boxes and it didn't.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Review: Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Publication Date: November 7th 2017
Publisher: Hutchinson
Pages: 288 pages

Should you ever go back?
It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.
But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town's most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.
Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.
With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?

After binge watching the first season of "Jessica Jones", and moving swiftly onto watching "Don't trust the B---- in Apartment 23" I appear to be on something of a Krysten Ritter bender, so reading her debut novel was the next logical step.
I went in with barely any idea of what I was letting myself in for (I didn't read the blurb or seek out any information) knowing just that it was a thriller (not my usual read), and it was her first novel. In some ways I think that did the experience some favours, because I had no expectations of pre-conceived notions of what I was getting into, I just got to enjoy the ride. And what a ride it was.

This book sinks its claws into you and doesn't let go. I found myself completely gripped and unable to put it down once I'd started it. I'm always a little wary of books written by actors, because there's always that fear that they've been published not because they're good, but because they're going to sell. This is not the case here. The writing is excellent, startling prose that sometimes made me catch my breath, and really immerses you into Barrens - the claustrophobia of the town.

It's excellently paced, and peopled with curious characters. I felt like I was there, experiencing all of this with Abby. The fear, the claustrophobia, the isolation. That feeling of going back to the place you grew up and it all being too close and real and overlaid with memories, whilst you don't feel like you fit. That feeling of not being able to get a place and the memories off your skin. And Ritter deftly interweaves the mystery into all of this, until you're not sure who to trust, who's telling the truth, and even whether you can trust Abby the narrator.

The mystery itself is excellently done. Clues dropped in piecemeal to lead you down various roads, and then breathlessly brought to its conclusion in the final act. I was left guessing instead of feeling like I'd already solved it, which always makes me happy.

All in all, I loved it. It was satisfying, but didn't feel like everything was tied up with a neat bow. It was engrossing and dark without being too twisted. It was excellently written and fascinating to read. Once I'd started I found it really difficult to put it down, and stayed up late for "just one more chapter"...

If you're after a quick, well written thriller, this is definitely a must, it will linger long after you've finished.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Review: Queens of Fennbirn by Kendare Blake

Publication date: May 3rd 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 232 pages

Uncover the sisters’ origins, dive deep into the catastrophic reign of the Oracle Queen, and reveal layers of Fennbirn’s past, hidden until now.
The Young Queens
Get a glimpse of triplet queens Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katharine during a short period of time when they protected and loved one another. From birth until their claiming ceremonies, this is the story of the three sisters’ lives…before they were at stake.
The Oracle Queen
Everyone knows the legend of Elsabet, the Oracle Queen. The one who went mad. The one who orchestrated a senseless, horrific slaying of three entire houses. But what really happened? Discover the true story behind the queen who could foresee the future…just not her own downfall.

This series is one of my favourites, and one of those rare yet wonderful experiences of wandering into a bookstore and picking up a book knowing nothing about it, but ultimately loving it. 

This companion with two novellas that are both prequels to the series is a curious book. On the one hand I loved having the chance to experience more of this strange and wonderful world Blake has created. I loved seeing more of the three Queens and finding out a little bit more of the history of the world. 
On the other hand, it just didn't capture me in the same way as the full novels have.

It was a great idea, and a way for Blake to offer a few additional snippets about the world and the characters that don't really fit into the overall narrative of the books, but I'm frequently left feeling a little unsatisfied with novellas. Ultimately, I just want more.

This is definitely worth a read. If you're a fan of the books this will give you the kind of little titbits and backstory that you need to keep you hungry for the next book. However I wouldn't recommend starting with this, even though *technically* they are prequel novellas. Start with the first book in the series, and become thoroughly enmeshed and enthralled, then come back to this one when you need an additional fix waiting for the latest.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Throne of Glass re-read: Queen of Shadows

Publication date: 1st September 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 645 pages

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .
She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.
Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

You know, after re-reading this one, I think this might be my favourite book of the series. It's a tough call, but oh my word this book is truly EPIC. I get chills every time I read the last quarter, as everything kicks into an insanely high gear and the world goes to hell and it's all AMAZING.

Whilst "Heir of Fire" is the point where you realise that this series is about so much more than you originally thought, "Queen of Shadows" is the point where everything kicks off and you end up flinging yourself head first into the story whilst everything goes horribly wrong and horribly right and you realise that this, THIS, is what you've been waiting for and building to.

There's something about being back in Rifthold again, getting all of the major players together, unfolding these relationships that have been building both on and off the page for several books, that makes this book fly. I adore how centred Aelin is in this book, I love seeing more of how her mind works and her plans unfold. I love the number of OH DAMN moments where I stop breathing as I desperately read to find out what will happen next. I love the relationship that builds between her and Lysandra because dammit the world needs more female friendships, and whilst I loved Nehemia, there's something really wonderful and equal about the relationship between Lysandra and Aelin.

I love that no-one is entirely good or bad, I love the shades of grey that creep into every character. I love that we get to see more of these character's fleshed out. We get more of Chaol's complete break down in preparation for him to be built back up even greater than before in "Tower of Dawn", I love Aedion and the history between them and the new facets that show with Aelin as a result of their interactions. And I love Rowan. I've always loved Rowan, but I think I'm appreciating him even more this time around.

Basically this is one big love fest. I knew I was going to enjoy this re-read, I'd been carefully holding off going back to the series in preparation for exactly this splurge just before the final book, but I'd never really appreciated how much I would enjoy it. It's been such a joy to re-experience these books, in some cases for the first time since my first read of them. To get to really savour the characters and know a vague idea of where the story is going, that only serves to highlight just how good the writing and storytelling is.

If you've struggled to get into this series, I cannot recommend enough pushing through and getting to this point, because the pay off is glorious. I adore this series, there is so much depth to it, so many layers to unpack, and I am clearly going to end up crying like a small child when I finish "Kingdom of Ash". But for now, I'm on to "Empire of Storms" where I will be happy and joyful crushed anew by the emotional turmoil experienced within those pages...

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Review: The Adventure Zone - Here there be Gerblins by The McElroy Family

Publication Date: July 17th 2018
Publisher: First Second
Pages: 256 pages

Welcome to the Adventure Zone!
SEE! The illustrated exploits of three lovable dummies set loose in a classic fantasy adventure!
READ! Their journey from small-time bodyguards to world-class artifact hunters!
MARVEL! At the sheer metafictional chutzpah of a graphic novel based on a story created in a podcast where three dudes and their dad play a tabletop role playing game in real time!
Join Taako the elf wizard, Merle the dwarf cleric, and Magnus the human warrior for an adventure they are poorly equipped to handle AT BEST, guided ("guided") by their snarky DM, in a graphic novel that, like the smash-hit podcast it's based on, will tickle your funny bone, tug your heartstrings, and probably pants you if you give it half a chance.
With endearingly off-kilter storytelling from master goofballs Clint McElroy and the McElroy brothers, and vivid, adorable art by Carey Pietsch, The Adventure Zone: Here There be Gerblins is the comics equivalent of role-playing in your friend's basement at 2am, eating Cheetos and laughing your ass off as she rolls critical failure after critical failure.

Several months ago my husband started mentioning this podcast that I absolutely had to listen to called "The Adventure Zone". I would frequently hear him sniggering whilst listening to it, and given that we were about to start our own D&D group (I think that is entirely down to the sheer brilliance of the podcast that this occurred) I figured (after a lot of bullying) that I probably should give it a go. I warned him (frequently) that I wasn't a fan of podcasts, and I might try the first episode and find it was not my cup of tea. But finally, finally, I stuck the first episode on, and I could not stop laughing.

This podcast should come with a health warning, and some sort of disclaimer that you probably shouldn't listen to it in public because you'll get a lot of very weird looks from people as you start laughing at the sheer brilliant idiocy.

Even if you have no idea about the rules of D&D, or anything beyond "it's a nerdy game" you'll love this podcast. Three brothers and their Dad, the chemistry and familiarity as the four bounce off each other is pure magic. Griffin as DM creates a truly incredible story, and then watches as Clint, Justin, and Travis wreak havoc with it, with hilarious results.

With all that build up, my expectations were pretty darn high going into this comic, but it more than lives up to them. Sure, nothing will ever completely capture the ludicrous magic of the show, but this comic does a damn good job, and I found myself laughing out loud as I revisited the excellent first adventure in the series "Here There be Gerblins" and saw my three favourite incompetents heroes start their adventuring.

It's funny, it's brilliant, and I love it.
This comic is everything you ever wanted, plus a few things you never knew you wanted. It's glorious.
And given that the next arc of their adventure is possibly one of my all time favourites, I need the next issue of this immediately.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: The 10 longest books i've ever read

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by the fabulous Jana at The Artsy Reader Girl. You can join in with future topics here!

Some people find long books off putting, other people adore them - I love them but I have to be in the right mood. If I try a long book when I'm not feeling it then it takes me an age to get through it. However if I'm itching for a long book to sink into and enjoy then I fly through them. Here are ten of the longest books I've ever curled up with!

A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin
Page count: 807 pages

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.
Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

I adore the show and I love the books. They're epic and incredible and unlike anything I've ever read, and their length only adds to them. Sure they take me a crazy long time to get through them, and I definitely draw them out and savour them over a very long time, but they are totally worth it.

A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin
Page count: 1,010 pages

A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who hold sway over an age of enforced peace are dead, victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. 
It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

Case in point on the whole 'it takes me a crazy long time to get through them' thing. I've only read the first two, but I loved them, and I'm enjoying savouring this epic saga and all the extra details the books provide that the show glosses over.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Page count: 850 pages

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives. 

Words cannot express how much I love this series and the tv show they've made of it. If you haven't read this yet, do so. If you've been put off by the size, never fear! Once you get stuck into the story you won't put the book down and you'll fly through the 850 pages.

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Page count: 743 pages

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland's majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones, about a love that transcends the boundaries of time, and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his...
Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire's spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart, in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising, and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves...

The first two books in this series hold particularly special places in my heart. And that is in part due to being in Edinburgh whilst reading this second book. It added a whole new dimension to the experience to be able to go and walk the streets and buildings that Claire and Jamie visit in the second part of their adventure.

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
Page count: 870 pages
Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her... and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her, the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland, and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite or forever doom her timeless love.
The reason that only the first three books appear on this list (because really I could have done most of a list based entirely on this series) is because I like to read the corresponding book just before the series comes out. That way I still experience book before show, but I don't have so long to wait and it draws the whole enjoyment of the series out that much more.

The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien
Page count: 1,137 pages

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.
From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.
When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.

Who hasn't read this epic father of all fantasy books!? No? Ok well given Tom Bombadill and the Council of Elrond I don't blame you. However once you're through those two points the story gets going at a much better pace and is a really good adventure. This book and the films got me through a lot of my teenage years, and will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix
Page count: 766 pages

Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected...

The longest of the Potter's, and up there as one of my favourites (because hormones and angst Harry is always super fun, plus JK starts taking the heart break to WHOLE NEW LEVELS) I adore this Potter behemoth.

The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

Page count: 819 pages

It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. 
Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds. The Order - the mysterious group her mother was once part of - is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence's burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.

Confession: it has been a ridiculously long time since I've read this series. And to be honest, I don't remember a huge amount about it. I just remember loving it, and it's one that I really want to revisit soon, because that feeling of magic and being swept away in an incredible dark and twisty story was amazing, and I really want to see if I experience that again on the re-read.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Page count: 635 pages

Days before his release from prison, Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.

A bit of a marmite book, it took me a while to really get into it, but I ended up really engrossed in this fascinating and curious story. It was unlike anything else, and absolutely incredible. I know the size may put off a few people, and the slightly off kilter feel to the story, but it is well worth pushing through any reservations, because the end pay off is glorious.

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas
Page count: 992 pages

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…
With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.
And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.
As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

Yes I know, this one *technically* shouldn't count because it's not out yet and I haven't read it. BUT, it's a behemoth of awesome that is only a couple of weeks away, and I'm totally going to dive straight in as soon as it hits the shelves. And the Throne of Glass series has been such an incredible journey, it seemed wrong to not include this final (NEARLY A THOUSAND PAGES) instalment.

So those are ten of my favourite long books, do you agree with the love for these? Tell me some of yours in the comments!

Monday, 8 October 2018

Review: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Publication date: 10th July 2012
Publisher: Viking Adult
Pages: 584 pages

Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.

Given how much I enjoyed "A Discovery of Witches" I was really excited to get into the second book in the trilogy, but within a few pages I found that excitement dissipating.

This book was a slog to get through, that ended up taking me several months. There were odd patches that raced along at a better pace and swept me back into the story, but on the whole this was hard work and took me far too long to read for a book of this size.

Ultimately it felt as though Harkness had realised she actually wanted to write a historical novel and wanted to shoehorn that into her urban fantasy series. Sure it had lots of interesting titbits regarding day to day Elizabethan life, but they ended up bogging down the story and stifling any momentum the plot managed to generate.

There wasn't any real movement to the story, and nothing of any real lasting consequence for the story. There were a couple of odd dips into the present to catch us up with the characters from the first book, but they were stilted, strangely done, and skipped over important information that I'm sure we'll get filled in in book three, but just served the irritating purpose of making me flip back through the book going "WHAT IS HAPPENING?!" We met some people, there was some soul searching, there was some character development, but it didn't need to be dragged out over nearly 600 pages. I was left feeling frustrated, bored, and wanting to go back to the first book and pretend this one had never happened.

Yes I will carry on and finish the series, mostly because I struggle to leave a series incomplete. And also in the desperate hope that the third book will recapture what I loved about the first book instead of wading through a quagmire of irrelevant trifles.

This is not the sequel the first book deserved, and it pained me how little I enjoyed it. If I gave half stars it would be two and a half, but I'm feeling generous so I'm rounding up.
If you enjoyed the first book don't expect the same from this one, be prepared for a frustrating read.