Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

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Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

or: BOOM LETS GO MOTHER FUDGER

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Synopsis: In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught. Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

People have been recommending me this book for ages, but for some reason, I’ve only just recently picked this series up. I know, I know, I’m insane right? I’m afraid I’ve only just recently seen the error of my ways.

This book is a brilliant debut novel;- I read Maas’ Court of Thorns and Roses earlier in the year so I was familiar with her work. But wow. What a kicker of a debut. You can tell Maas’ spent a lot of time working on this book. It’s been polished so much it shines.

The tournament is excellent. All the tests are placed perfectly through the middle of the book in a believable time frame. I honestly have no idea how Maas came up with all those creative tests. Either she has some weird dreams or she watches/reads some messed up stuff. Nothing felt repetitive, and it was refreshing watching Celaena really struggle with some tests but succeed in others.

This is what made Celeana an enjoyable character. She could have been one of those unbelievable heroines that was good at absolutely everything. I’m so glad she wasn’t. She made mistakes, and learned from them. She was stubborn without being annoying, and the slight psychopathic overtures you see in her logic and workings is fascinating.

And the elvish mythology subtly woven in? Almost got a nosebleed from how good that was. I’m really interested to see where she takes the whole forgotten queen story line. Especially the messed up stuff the baddies are getting messed up in. That’s creepy but interesting as heck.

My only quip with this book? The forced romance. WE DON’T NEED ROMANCE. IT’S NOT A NECESSARY REQUIREMENT FOR A NOVEL BELIEVE IT OR NOT. Augh, I hate it when an author chokes a book with romance when it’s not needed. Celaena doesn’t give a rats ass about that romance, she’s just forced into it. She’s an assassin. A good one. A man shouldn’t define her.

Sorry, had to get that frustration out.

By all means, create tension in your work. It just doesn’t have to be romantic all the time. Maas does end up improving on this in the second book; with hindsight and after reading the second book, I much prefer her approach in the second book to a romance between Celaena and another character. But that’s because its warranted, believable for her character at the time, and isn’t soppy in the slightest. But that’s for the next review. Lets go back to this book.

The dark shadow creatures scared the absolute bejesus out of me. Expertly crafted, Maas develops something of true night horror quality. But ultimately, the scariest villain in this series? Human. That’s what makes him so scary. But to avoid spoilers, that’s all I will reveal about the main villain. While slightly predictable, it’s still a good plot reveal and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.

As mentioned, I have read the second book in the series already- I raced my big white butt straight to Kmart and snatched it and devoured it soon after finishing this book. Watch this space for the review.

Overall? Liked it. Now sucked into this series.

Highly Recommended.

Read: Australian/English mass-market paperback edition

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Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Or: Why the heck didn’t I start this series years ago?

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Synopsis: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy? This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

I’ll admit it, I’m pretty slow to jump on the Mortal Instruments Bandwagon. I’ve literally missed the entire fandom. People stopped reading this series years ago.  And I’m really pissed at myself for not reading these books earlier because I would have been obsessed with these books when I was a teenager.

I really enjoyed this book. Was it a little young for me? Yeah. Did it bother me much? No not really.

This is one of those series that I’ve been hearing about forever but have only recently gotten into. Massive hype like this always tends to throw me off and make me avoid a book like the plague, and I have ignored this book for the better part of 5 years. I’d liked the movie when it came out (I now realise the error of my ways.Forgive me) and was apparently satisfied I knew enough of the story to forget about it. Oh how wrong was I. I beg forgiveness book gods because I have sinned.

This book, as first in series go, was gripping enough to tempt you to read the rest, but was well paced enough to explain the shadowhunter world enough so you know what’s going on. It was easy to become attached to the characters and while Clary tended to annoy me a bit (15 year olds annoy me in general it’s not Clary’s fault.) I became very attached to Simon. I love Simon, I love his sense of humor, his “averageness” and his strength of character. Simon’s the type of guy I’m drawn to in real life, the easy going, quick minded sort with a good sense of humor. Of course when put up against Jace, most people would choose Jace. I think that’s skewed, and people should focus more on Simon. But that’s another blog post in itself. I’m sure I’ll argue more for Simon as the books go on.

Clare’s done a rare thing; she’s created a world so different and unseen that it’s enough to grab your interest. These days, it feels like everything’s been done in YA a million times over and its hard to find books that have premises that bore you from the outset. Clare’s didn’t, and while her writing in this book tends to swing more to juvenile than sophisticated, I have been promised by others that she gets better as the series progresses.

Valentine is an interesting Villain, one we didn’t get to spend as much time with as I would like in this book. He seems, from this book, a Hitler-type personality, just rotten to the core but close enough to the rest of society that it provokes a lot of thought on human morality and fear. Clare is clever enough to reveal enough about Valentine’s Evil Plan 2.0 that the reader thinks they know enough to know whats going on, but clearly there are greater things at work and parts of Evil Plan 2.0 that are yet to be revealed. This is a rather clever strategy of Clare’s and I’ll give her this; she definitely knows how to build tension and create mystery.

I’m going to admit something- I didn’t read this book, I listened to an audiobook. I was trying to come up with a way to fill in my 1 hr a day commute too and from the city (not Sydney, an Industrial city that shall remain nameless) and came up with the idea of listening to an audiobook. It was a brilliant idea and while it took me a couple of weeks to finish it, it definitely got me through those sleepy mornings and long afternoons. So will the experience of reading the series differ from listening to it? That is the million dollar question, that I guess I’ll find the answer to in book 2.

Stay tuned.

Read: Listened to the audio book thanks to Audible.

Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

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Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

or: AHHH ITS SO CUTE AND BAD ASS AND AWESOME

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Synopsis:The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it “a deadpan epic.” Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones. Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are. But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

So… I’ve decided…. When I grow up, I want to be an Evil Villain. NO MUM THIS IS NOT A PHASE! THIS IS WHO I REALLY AM.

*clears throat* sorry about that… got a bit carried away.

In my recent quest to try graphic novels and comic books, I finally purchased Nimona, a story that I had been eyeing off for quite some time. The whole premise of the story really interested me, plus by buying it, I would be investing in Stevenson who had started the story as a web comic series. I love when people from the internet can break out and do their own thing. I try and support them where possible because they deserve all the luck  in the world.

Nimona had a lot of hype surrounding it, and for a good reason. This graphic novel is excellent. Coming from someone who had never bought into the graphic novel world before, this is extremely high praise. I prefer stories based on words, as that is more in tune to how my mind works. I adored this book though. I loved Stevenson’s style of story telling. I loved the story and characters. I ADORED the artwork.

Stevenson presents an amazing story with Nimona, and the story is as beautiful as it is interesting. Centering around a villain and his unusual sidekick Nimona, the story goes in directions you’ll never expect and it’s nice to empathize with a classic villain archetype without removing his villainy at all. We are given the reasons behind Blackheart’s vendetta and his hatred of the “hero” without the story or his character becoming cheap and down played. Stevenson’s skill in presenting all her characters is admirable, but her shinning lights in this series are Blackheart and of course, the titular character Nimona.

Nimona is one of those beautiful ambiguous characters that you rarely find in stories. From the beginning you know she’s strange and keeping secrets, but you can’t help but become attached to her. We never solve the mystery of Nimona in this novel, something that only adds to the complexity and the beauty of the story. This may bug some people, but I love the fact that we never really know Nimona. I like Nimona’s salty humor and her innocent bumbling. Nimona is truly a reflective character of the modern age, with the reader able to see part of themselves in Nimona, enough to truly unsettle them.

I honestly recommend this story to everyone. It’s a chunky book but a super quick read (I read it- stopped and started- within 2 1/2 hours). Even if you don’t often read books of this style, I still really recommend this book. It’s an absolute blast to read and there’s something in this story for absolutely everyone. It’s one of those rare books that caters to an extremely wide audience; everyone can read and enjoy this no matter their age, sex, religion or orientation.

I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on Stevenson, and will follow whatever she does next faithfully. Her work truly won my heart.

Read: Paperback 

Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

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More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

or: Someone please pass me the tissues

Goodreads ||  The Book Depository

Synopsis: In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely. When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is. Why does happiness have to be so hard?

This isn’t a book I would have picked out for myself. This book was a part of OwlCrate’s Diversity box, and was recieved in my first month under their subscription service. The theme of the box was Diversity and I was keen to try whatever book they had picked out for us. After reading the blurb, I was worried I wouldn’t like it as I’m not really a contemporary book fan. I tend to stay away from the genre. But I was determined to read this book.

Wow. Silvera’s writing is incredible.

This story was as unpredictable as it was beautiful and I think it’s best that people go into reading this book without much knowledge of what to expect so that they can get the full effect of this book. This book has stunning levels of prose and so skillfully weaves suspense and takes the reader on a journey through the plot blindly, asking for the reader’s trust.

Silvera’s main character Aaron is both flawed and incredibly interesting; a POC character who grew up and lives in a tiny housing department issued flat in Brooklyn, NY. Aaron’s strength as a main character lies in his presence as an ‘every man’ ; Aaron’s the type of guy you find in your class who sits at the back and mucks around with his mates, the guy who works with you at your part time job that you say hi to every now and then. Aaron is real, so real that his story and what happens to him is all the more gut wrenching.

Some people try and call this book Sci-fi but I don’t know if I would put it under that label as it doesn’t really fit. This book is definitely a contemporary book that includes one tiny sci-fi esque element. This element- the Leteo Institute- doesn’t have a strong enough presence in this book to deem it sci-fi. Yes what the institute does is technically sci-fi, but it isn’t an integral part of the story. The Leteo Institute is merely a catalyst for a self realization and used as a metaphor.

I totally did not see the ending coming. It was swift, brutal and made me sob like a baby. I don’t know why I expected a happy ending- Silvera never guarantees one and he certainly alludes the whole way through that this isn’t that sort of story. Even though I cried and was shocked by the ending, in retrospect, this is literally the most perfect way for the story to end. A happy ending wouldn’t have had the impact the real ending did and would have cheapened the story.

I love when books ask you to think. More Happy Than Not certainly does. This book is the perfect book for this current time, as it reflects a growing social issue that needs to be corrected. This book is about an average guy struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. This may offend some, but this book doesn’t aim to please the bigots. This book preaches tolerance and asks a lot of poignant questions about how society reacts to and treats gay people. For a lot of people out there, this book will have a lot of meaning. This book shows a) how hard it is to be a gay person in a poor minority strong neighborhood, but also b) teaches us how important it is to find happiness within ourselves. Silvera points out that yes, it is extremely hard to accept yourself and find peace with who you are, but that it’s so vitally important to do so. His message is much needed in light of the large social movements currently moving throughout the world, and it is a message that will probably be needed for many years to come.

That being said, as much as I would like to ask everyone I know to read this book, I know a lot of people won’t and won’t ever feel the need to. Silvera’s message may fall on deaf ears, but for a large majority of readers, it’s a message taken with relish. This book belongs in this world and needed to be written.

I’m not the only person singing this book’s praises. This book has a 4.23 star rating on good reads; one of the highest I’ve seen on the site. To impress the citizens of goodreads, you need to be extremely good, and Silvera definitely is. For Silvera’s debut novel, this is a phenomenal piece of writing and If this is him just beginning, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

Read: Hardback US. Edition

Review: Ms Marvel vol. 1 No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

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Ms Mavel Vol. 1 No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

or: HELL.YES

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Synopsis: 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 LOVED this comic.

As someone who has been very hesitant to begin reading comics, I decided to make this comic my first and it truly was, I think, the best decision.

It however, has started a new trend that may not be good for my wallet.

For a while I’ve been trying to conciously look into more diverse books, whether its reading books by diverse authors to reading books with diverse main characters to the whole range. I was initally drawn to this comic for the main character; a mulism teenage superhero? Awesome! I’d heard about it through a book blogger who was singing it’s praises and decided, why the hell not.

This comic not only has a strong female as its main character, but also has a strong ethnic leader as its main character. We need more comics like this one. Hell, can someone make this a movie/tv show already? The world needs more heroes like Kamala!

Kamala is adorable, and so realistic it’s hard not to imagine bumping into her as you walk down the street. Kamala deserves world wide attention, but seems not to be getting all that much attention from the comic book community beside the fact that it’s new work by Wilson and Alphona. Which is a shame. This book should be in comic stores everywhere (it’s not in my local store which gives me the poos).

Comicbooks, once a dying art, have recently experienced a resurgence of popularity as many new stories and editions were put out to ride the wave of Marvel hype brought about by the new Marvel superhero movies. As an avid Marvel movie goer, I was keen to invest in the company, as are a lot of new fans these movies have brought. A lot of older marvel fans are getting cranky with the influx of new, previously not interested, groups of fans, which if anything, goes directly against what superhero stories are supposed to stand for.

This new series and new adaption of Ms Marvel, is clearly an attempt to break down old barriers in the comic community and appeal to a very new and diverse audience. For a lot of young girls, Kamala is a shining beacon of hope; hello, please give it up for one of the only good representations of young Muslim girls in the fictional community?!  Kamala may not be what this cruel world deserves, but she is desperately what the world needs. I hope that there are girls out there who now suddenly feel strong and included, because even the idea of Kamala is bound to make a large difference.

Not only is the character of Kamala excellent, but also the story is as well. Wilson and Alphona have created a marvelous (ha- get it?) and believable story line that holds promise of great things to come. Vol. 1 is literally the perfect  origin story; it’s got the right amount of heart, a love-able and good character, the tantalising introduction of an evil force working in the background, and a interesting explanation of how an ExtraOrdinary got their powers. None of the story feels forced, and the story is as complex as Kamala is.

Its hard to judge what direction that Wilson and Alphona will take this story in, but the promise for ground work they have laid is amazing.

I’m excited as heck to read the next edition into this series. I bet it packs a lot of punch (Heh. Sorry I had to).

Read: Paperback Vol. 1 Bindup