Review

Review: Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

18966806.jpg

5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I’d like to blame my lateness for this review on how long it has taken me to gather my thoughts on this book – which was an absolutely EPIC thrill ride of a conclusion to what has quickly proved to be one of my favourite science fiction series.

However, whilst the latter is true, I really have no excuse for how long it has taken me to write this other than I have not been particularly active in the blogosphere for the past few months (my list of currently waiting reviews is rather daunting). So I’d like to apologise to Hodder, who sent me an ARC of Morning Star, and were very careful about who they sent them to. When I received this in the post, I’m pretty sure I screamed, had a little celebratory dance and then immediately settled down to read it, because Golden Son left me with so many questions that HAD to be answered as soon as possible. So I actually finished this in February and planned my review around the release date – and never got round to it. So here we are.

Like Golden Son, Morning Star began a few months later than the previous book, and was completely brutal and action-packed from the very beginning. Pierce Brown excels at serious dramatic moments and action scenes, as well as humorous ones – basically he is one truly talented author. He writes characters so fantastically; the character development throughout this trilogy has been astounding, especially for Sevro. The friendships and complicated relationships shine through, and despite the fact that this is a book sent in space, far into the future, everyone feels so real. It truly makes you wonder whether Darrow would have made it this far without these friendships – I highly doubt it.

Expect more shocks, deaths and devastation from Morning Star than the first two books combined – all the more painful because the reader has now had the time to get to know these characters, has grown attached to them. Brown is unafraid to kill off major players, from both sides, and most of these are completely unexpected and utterly heartbreaking. However, this is war, and that’s what happens. The reader must learn to move on with the story and with Darrow, because death is just a part of war. Watching Darrow push on through all of the heartbreak and pain made for an amazing read that simultaneously made me want to cry, and cheer them all on even more.

The events of the story are made even more horrific by the fact that Darrow’s enemies were once friends and acquaintances. Friends who are now tearing each other apart in order to achieve their goals, some of whom do not care how many people they hurt or kill along the way. With so many twists and turns (in my notebook I just have written ‘THAT TWIST’, but I don’t want to add anything else for fear of spoilers!), Morning Star is sure to leave your heart racing, your hands shaking and your head pounding – for all its brutality and violence, it truly has heart. It provides a perfect, beautiful ending to a fantastic series that I have loved the whole way through, and am going to miss. I may have to do a re-read of all three books back to back…

Advertisements
Review

Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers

24956528.jpg

5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

Do you ever have the feeling after finishing a book that it was written especially for you?

Because that’s exactly how I felt after reading The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

It was perfect, perfect, PERFECT. Everything I wanted in a sci-fi novel. It felt like a bit of a mash up of two of my favourite things: Firefly and Mass Effect. Firefly (which I feel I have compared a LOT of books, but this is the ultimate) because of the setting and the crazy crew, Mass Effect because of the alien races and the world-building. Here are just some of the things that were truly, wonderfully amazing about this book:

  • The crew of the Wayfarer. They felt so alive, each character was fantastically crafted and felt so alive. I WANTED TO BE FRIENDS WITH THEM ALL SO BAD. Even grumpy-face Corbin.
  • The story. Although actually not a lot happened in terms of plot, I really loved that. Most of the book was scenes between various members of the crew, a study into their relationships and lives.
  • A wide range of alien species. And not just humanoid aliens, but bug-like aliens, crab-like aliens… and you know what? The female aliens were not sexualised. They did not have obviously ‘female’ features. You would not believe how notable this is…
  • The fact that these aliens had their own languages, and some of them weren’t verbal but based on hand signals, facial expressions or even the colouring of their faces. It was so refreshing to read about all these alien cultures that were so DIFFERENT from our own, rather than a re-hashed human race.
  • The use of the pronouns ‘xe’ and ‘xyr’ in some cases, which is the first time I’ve encountered that in a book. I just felt like the fact that Becky Chambers included these shows that she put a lot of thought into sexuality and gender within this future alien society, delving deep into the world building.

 

Even if you’re not a huge science fiction fan, this book could definitely work for you – it is so much more than just that. It is less about the setting and more about the characters, their relationships and the dynamic on the ship. I am just so, SO happy that I finally picked this up. It worked perfectly for me, and has quickly made its way into my favourites. My only regret here is that I didn’t read the book sooner – although that does mean I have slightly less time to wait for the next one… Additionally, it’s also given me an urge to re-watch Firefly and replay the Mass Effect series – perhaps that will sate my appetite whilst I wait!

space gif

Review

#ReadGoldenSon: Review of Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown

18966819.jpg

5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

When I mark a book as ‘read’ on Goodreads and I’m planning on eventually posting a review, I often like to leave a reaction GIF as a placeholder. This was said GIF for Golden Son:

shocked gif

Thank you, Emma Stone, for so accurately portraying my feelings at the end of this book. That GIF will remain alongside my review, because as they say, a picture (or GIF, in this case) paints a thousand words.

Golden Son was pretty much everything I wanted and expected from Pierce Brown, after the absolute wonder that was Red Rising. However, it was so, so much more brutal than the first book, but that’s what it needed. As the stakes rose, as Darrow’s task grew more and more dangerous and he grew more determined, there needed to be an element to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Brown pulls it off for sure, with this violent and shocking addition to the series that kept me reading and gasping at each twist and turn.

Occasionally, I felt a little bit lost by the (seemingly) endless names, so thank goodness for the character list at the beginning of the book! Whilst I would have enjoyed a bit more about Darrow’s time at the Academy – the book skips a year or so, to move things forward, and I would have liked that element of development, there is really not much else I can fault about Golden Son. The events suddenly felt so much more ‘real’; Darrow was no longer in the confines of his education and training, but out in the ‘real world’. This time, it felt personal.

With a lot more politics this time round, Golden Son had less of the action than Red Rising, but it certainly wasn’t lacking in it. There were so many reveals and surprises, so much going on. And that cliffhanger. Oh… help. I mean, I’m frustrated about having to wait the couple of months between reading Golden Son and the release of the next book, Morning Star, so I feel very sorry for the people who read Golden Son as soon as it came out, and have had that horrendous wait in between (not long to go now!).

Whatever happens in Morning Star, I feel it is going to be even more brutal, even more heartbreaking, and even more astounding than the events of Golden Son. And that is definitely something I do not want to miss.

 

This review is part of the #ReadGoldenSon readalong hosted by Hodder, in preparation for the release of Morning Star.

Golden Son

Review

Review: Those Above (The Empty Throne #1) by Daniel Polansky

21017636.jpg

3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

You know the feeling of excitement when you get a brand, shiny new book – the cover is gorgeous, the plot sounds perfect, and you can’t WAIT to read it. Then you have to wait a little while to fit it into your reading schedule, but you know it will be worth the wait. And then you finally, finally get to read it.

And it breaks your heart just a little bit, because it is utterly disappointing.

Leslie Knope gif

That is what Those Above was to me. I fell in love with the cover (hello Roman inspired fantasy!) and the premise. I eyed that book up a lot, sat on my shelf, waiting patiently to be read whilst I battled with university work. And then I could finally read it, so settled down for a few hours of cosy reading – and found I couldn’t even concentrate on it for one.

Why, Those Above, why?? In the simplest terms, you just weren’t as exciting as I’d expected. By two thirds into the book, I was still waiting for something to actually happen. Yes, it’s the first in a series so there’s lots of world-building to do and lore to set out, but it’s got to draw me in if it wants me to carry on reading the series. I felt no attachment to any character, and not just because of the fact that they were pretty despicable in their own ways (here’s looking at you, cast of A Song of Ice and Fire), but because they felt rather flat. I honestly did not care what would happen to any of them.

I appreciated the Roman and Greek influences and it didn’t even bother me that they were mixed. But the world in which Those Above is set did not feel particularly original. So, you’ve got your warring nations, your shanty-towns, your aristocrats and nobility, even if that nobility is a strange alien (I think?) race. The issue with ‘Those Above’ as rulers is that they weren’t scary. There was maybe one or two scenes that demonstrated their strength, but I never completely got a clear impression of why the people of this world let themselves be enslaved, or how it happened.

In addition, I suppose this book came at a bad time. I’m getting quite bored of fantasy books where the women are second class. Is this historically accurate? No, it’s fantasy. So why are the women always down-trodden and less important in society than the men? Also due to the story pretty much taking place in one city, or certain parts of one city, I got no impression of the rest of the world and as a result it felt very small. I had no idea what sort of influence ‘Those Above’ had on people outside of this city, because I never saw them.

So regrettably, I only want to award this book three stars – a ‘you disappointed me and it makes me sad’ sort of three stars. I have another book of Daniel Polansky’s, and this won’t put me off reading that – but I’m not sure I will continue with this particular series.

Review

Review: Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

17899663.jpg

3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

From the blurb alone, you wouldn’t necessarily know this was a book featuring werewolves. You may be able to guess from the title, but it’s not immediately obvious. And the reason that I say a book featuring werewolves, rather than a werewolf book, is because there is so much more to the story than the fact that werewolves exist in this world. It’s less about the paranormal elements, and more of a commentary on the state of the world, how judgmental people can be when they find out someone is a little ‘different’, even if they treated that person with kindness and respect before.

To begin with, the reader is made aware that lycans are common knowledge. Everyone knows they exist, and in a Big Brother style move, the government decrees that they must all be listed on a register, for anyone to look up. Registered lycans must also undergo regular blood tests to make sure they are taking ‘Volpexx’, the drug that controls the change. So whilst at first it may seem that it’s not all that bad – many people are tolerant if not accepting – it soon becomes clear that lycans are second-rate citizens, not considered human despite the fact that they could be your friends, parents, siblings, grand-parents, anyone you know.

Only a few pages in, I had already come to the conclusion that I really loved Benjamin Percy’s writing style. It flows so smoothly and is wonderfully descriptive – but unfortunately, the story really slowed down about halfway through and almost seemed to drag in places. This is where the descriptive writing became more of a hindrance; I just wanted things to progress. However, in some places the slow pace worked really well where it was interspersed with sudden shocking moments and jumps, but I was never really scared. From a lot of the quotes on the inside cover, I expected the book to be pretty terrifying and was fully prepared to have to sleep with the lights on. However, but for a few eerie moments, it just didn’t do it for me in terms of a good scare.

There are three main characters within the story, although the book does skip around and follow a couple more, and I think it was the sudden changes as well as the fact that even the main characters didn’t feel massively fleshed out that meant I didn’t particularly care for them. Claire probably had the most interesting story, although I don’t think she developed much as a character.

Despite the fact that the conclusion was rather unsatisfying, I did enjoy this book – just not as much as I expected. Whilst it’s beautifully written and clever, it was just far too slow for my liking. And not at all scary – surprising, considering that Stephen King found it terrifying!

Review

Review: Smiler’s Fair (The Hollow Gods #1) by Rebecca Levene

21421126.jpg

5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Smiler’s Fair is definitely not a book for the faint of heart. Opening with a rather gory and graphic birth scene, the gruesome detail continues without, showing the reader that this world is not an easy one to live in. Whilst ‘Smiler’s Fair’ may sound like a pleasant place, this is but a front for the grim reality. Prostitution, gambling, brawls and duels, all the seedy parts of life gather at the Fair. This is most definitely an adult fantasy novel, and all the more fun for it.

We meet each main character in their own introductory chapter – all start at Smiler’s Fair, and all begin this new page of their lives because of it. There is Marven, a man who loves killing a little too much; Nethmi, a young woman who is about to be married off to a minor lord; Krish, a goatherd who feels his parents are hiding something from him; Eric, a male prostitute who is tiring of his current lifestyle and wants something more permanent; and Dae Hyo, hellbent on revenge for the slaughter of his people. With such a variety of characters, the reader is bound to find someone they feel for. However, with the characters changing as they went on their own personal journeys, I found my own allegiances changing, and my feelings towards two characters radically reversing. It was well done and completely drew me in, one minute I was hoping for a success and the next I couldn’t believe I’d liked that character at all.

Each of the characters are united by both Smiler’s Fair, and death. Whether it be an outright murder, a revenge killing or a desperate attempt to free themselves, there is something they all have in common. And like some of the authors of current popular fantasy series, Rebecca Levene is unafraid to kill off characters, whether they be minor or major. For example, one character I really liked was fine and dandy one moment, and the next he was gone, just like that. When an author can shock you like that, and leave you feeling genuinely sad or upset, you know they’re doing something right. She also has a talent for creating a wide cast of characters, each with their own personalities and aims, and with their own clear tones of voice.

Some authors have a writing style that just flows off the page, allowing the reader to read quickly without missing a thing. Rebecca Levene is definitely one of those authors. Although the world building was not as rich in detail as some other fantasy series and I never got an all encompassing feel of the world, it was still enough to flesh out the lands and their inhabitants. Whilst the first half is a little slow, taking its time to weave together various storylines and paths, the second half really picks up in terms of action and pace – and the ending opens up for book two very nicely.

A fantastic beginning to a new, highly original fantasy series, and highly recommended for fans of authors such as Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch or Robert Jordan. I have a theory about a link between the various different pantheons and characters, and I’d like to see if the next book will confirm it in any way…

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: July 2014

monthlyru16

Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

July 2014

Last month I read a total of twelve books: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen, Ironskin (Ironskin #1) by Tina Connolly, New X-Men: Childhood’s End by Craig Kyle, Uncanny X-Men Vol 5: She Lies With Angels by Chuck Austen, Earth Girl (Earth Girl #1) by Janet Edwards, Camelot Burning (Metal & Lace #1) by Kathryn Rose, Ultimate X-Men Vol 14: Phoenix? by Robert Kirkman, Uncanny X-Men: Wolverine, Wanted Dead or Alive by Chris Claremont, Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman, Smiler’s Fair (The Hollow Gods #1) by Rebecca Levene, The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #4) by Dan Simmons and Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins..

I carried on reading more Marvel comics, although this will probably be the last month I’m able to for a while. Alias Hook was a great start to the month – a five star book as my first read of July! I also absolutely loved Marvel 1602, I mean you can’t really go wrong with Marvel and Neil Gaiman, right? Towards the end of the month I read Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene, which was kindly sent to me by Hodderscape. It’s a new epic fantasy series and WOW. Not only is the writing fantastic, but it also has a truly gorgeous cover. I also managed to fit in a re-read of Mockingjay, which I desperately wanted to do after seeing the new trailer for the film.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read six books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge. I managed to recruit Cyclops and Nightcrawler, as well as successfully defeat Dr. Doom, securing extra points for my team. August’s villain is the hungriest creature in the world, Galactus!
  • I have currently read ninety-seven books towards my Goodreads goal. I may increase it to 125 for the whole year.

 

Currently reading:

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Off the blog:

I went to London Film and Comic Con/Young Adult Literature Convention on 12th July, but more on that later! I also spent three days in London with my mum and sister, which was lovely. We visited the Natural History Museum, Borough Market, London Zoo, saw lots of the sights such as Westminster, Big Ben, the Globe Theatre – and we saw Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Savoy. IT WAS SO GOOD. SOOOO GOOD. My whole family absolutely love the film (can’t remember how many times I’ve watched it), and it worked so well as a musical. One word of advice – don’t buy drinks in the Savoy Theatre. £22 for three drinks? Nah.

I also saw Guardians of the Galaxy, which I’ve been wanting to watch since January or so – and IT WAS SO WORTH THE WAIT. Funniest Marvel film yet, so crazy and fun but still full of wonderfully built characters and emotions! Go watch it now.

They were also giving out postcards for Beaumont-sur-Mer with this view on it!
They were also giving out postcards for Beaumont-sur-Mer with this view on it!

How was July for you?