book reviews

Queen of Air and Darkness

40696414Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

Rating: XXXX

Published December 4th 2018 Simon & Schuster Ltd

“Every choice has a long afterlife of consequences. No one can know the eventual outcome of any decision. All you can do is make the best choice you can make in the moment.” 

What if damnation is the price of true love?

Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks. Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love.

So let me get started by saying I love the Shadowhunters books, it took me longer to come around to reading them than I would have liked but once I did I was hooked, Jace is my ultimate book boyfriend and I love so many of the characters with a fierce passion. I fell in love with The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices broke my heart and now I’ve finally finished the concluding book in the third series of shadowhunter books, The Dark Artifices and…I don’t really know how that makes me feel.

I have to say, actually, that, among other things, I do feel a little relieved, I started reading Queen of Air and Darkness on the day it released in December and I only finished it maybe a week ago. Six months. This book took me six months to read. Don’t get me wrong it’s an absolute tome so I didn’t expect it to be a quick read but this third book in the series just really didn’t grab me like any of the others across the whole of the range of shadowhunter books have, it was easy to put down and forget about. Because of its size, I also found it incredibly uncomfortable to read so decided to purchase the audiobook petty early on which I did for Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows as well. James Masters is a brilliant narrator for it and definitely made it a lot easier to get through, I’m sure it would have taken much longer without.

Despite it taking me six months to read I’ve still given Queen of Air and Darkness an XXXX rating because although it certainly had problems, especially with pacing etc there were just so many parts I liked about it as well I think there was just too much crammed in for one book and that maybe some cuts should have been made or the book split into two, I feel like this could have been done fairly easy as it did feel like two halves of a story put together and I do wonder if maybe the Dark Artifices was meant to be another longer shadow hunter series like The Mortal Instruments but trilogies are popular and it was decided everything needed to be shoved into this last book?

There are a lot of moments in QoAaD that feel a little like fan service but I suppose when you have so many characters all existing in one world and close timelines it makes sense that they interact with each other but it did make this instalment feel like another book in the Mortal Instruments series as much as it’s own trilogy. I can’t deny that some of these moments, however, were some of my favourite parts, partially for the nostalgia and in part because some of the older characters feel almost like dear friends after eleven or so books.

A large part of QoAaD is the romance, mainly the relationship and swirl of emotions between Jules and Emma but honestly I still couldn’t summon up much of any kind of emotion past mild irritation for their relationship which felt like a shame as I love Emma but Julian has just really gotten on my nerves for all three books. I did like the other relationships throughout this book and this trilogy in general, especially the polyamorous relationship between Kieran, Mark and Christina which was a huge highlight for me, it felt like it was done exceptionally well and it was lovely to see a lovely, healthy polyam relationship in YA. We, of course, had Alec and Magnus too and I honestly fell back in love with the two of them in this book which is perfectly timed for me as The Red Scrolls of Magic is likely to be my next Shadowhunter read.

Even with the horrid pacing, I do have to say that balancing SO many characters is no mean feat especially with so many of them having pretty good arcs, I actually liked Alec’s entire arc in the Dark Artifices more than I did throughout most of TMI. We have at least eight main characters and over thirty other characters that I would say are still relatively important and I feel like we get some pretty good content for all of them. Overall I loved the story we got but as I’ve said I would have much preferred it had perhaps been spread over two smaller and better-paced books.

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I want to talk a lot more about this book but there are just many spoilers that I would need to go into so I’m considering making a spoiler-filled book talk video like I’ve done in the past for Lord of Shadows.

Have you read any of the Shadowhunter books? If so do you have a favourite? I’m not sure I could pick one!!

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#SixforSunday

S4S – Characters I’d love to go on a date with

Good morning (or relevant greeting depending when you’re reading), It’s Six for Sunday time and this week we’re talking “Characters I’d love to go on a date with” and was another one I found difficult because although I tend to fall in love with fictional characters on a semi-regular basis they aren’t characters I imagine going on dates with, especially because I read a lot of YA so the characters themselves are a fair bit younger than myself so in the case they are mentioned below it’s usually because I imagine them to be closer to me in age or myself younger if that makes sense? Either way, I found thinking about this quite fun and realising I probably have a type – well two types.

Jude from The Folk of Air and fire Trilogy by Holly Black
I love the raw strength and cunning Jude portrays in The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King. Although I have a strange thing for Cardan he is absolutely NOT dating material. Jude is probably not looking for someone to get emotionally involved with but I’d like to think we could have a fun time and she could have a break from all the hell raining down around her. We could have a picnic and she could show me how to fight after?

Mitch from Vicious and Vengeful by V.E Schwab
Mitch is an absolute sweetheart who I couldn’t help but fall in love with reading Vicious and Vengeful. I would take him to some fun but slightly gimmicky burger restaurant where we could eat and chat and order us the hugest chocolate milkshakes.

Katherine from The Last Beginning books by Lauren James,
I think I’ve spoken of my love for Katherine before but in case you hadn’t heard I LOVE HER. She’s smart, sassy, funny and confident. I feel like for our date she would probably pick some totally random physical activity that she saw an ad for somewhere online and chose at the spur of the moment like rock climbing, paintball or a giant zip wire! Although I’m pretty sure at some point during our date we would meet the cute but nerdy safety instructor called Matt and that’s when I would realise we just weren’t meant to be.

Scott Lang from Captain Marvel: Liberation Run by Tess Stone.
I’m currently reading this book so things could change later on but as seems to be one of my types I love that he’s smart, funny and quick-witted, not to mention with that criminal past (mostly), he’s a great example of a “bad boy” gone good and I’m so here for that. Chuck in the fact that I imagine him to look like Scott Lang from the Marvel films (Paul Rudd), the amount of great and often quite feminist novels he’s read and enjoyed as well as the beautiful relationship he has with his daughter Cassie and I would be powerless to resist. Not sure what our date would be like but I imagine doing the stereotypical going to a restaurant lark but actually really enjoying it and having a good time.

River Song from The Legends of River Song by Jenny T Colgan, Jacqueline Rayner and Steve Lyons.
This is a great collection of short stories about River who is my favourite character in the Doctor who Universe in which we really get to see her shine on her own a little more. At the risk of repeating myself, I love that she’s smart, funny, sassy and flirty with a big heart she keeps hidden away and it doesn’t hurt that she’s pretty gorgeous (that hair <3). I would probably have heard stories from her about this “Doctor” person and put two and two together from the way she talks about him but that wouldn’t stop us from going on a seemingly normal date and then it ends in complete and utter chaos after we have to solve some (probably intergalactic or alien) mystery, or stealing something. I’m sure we’d probably share one incredible kiss and then I would never see her again but it would have been totally worth it.

Jace from The Shadowhunter books by Cassie Clare.
Jace was one of my first proper “book boyfriends” / literary crushes (as long as you don’t count some confused feelings for Rhys in The Two Princess of Barremare or the morbid fascination I had with Damon Salvatore). Jace is a nice mix of my two types I think in that he’s sarcastic and sassy but a great fighter and just a little bit broken and angsty (…okay a lot) and I fell for him hard when I first read City of Bones, lines like “If you wanted me to take my clothes off you should have just asked” and “Alas, my one true love remains myself” and LOADS more just endeared him to me all the more. Our date would be awkward as hell though, I have no idea how to actually go on dates anymore and when I was younger wasn’t really the dating type, while he probably hasn’t really been on many dates either. I can just hope that some Shadowhunter stuff goes down and it turns out I’m actually a really good fighter, we fall madly in love, I become a Shadow Hunter etc etc etc.

I feel like I may have probably put more thought into that then needed so you’re welcome I guess?? It was fun to realise that I like my partners/love interests to be smart, funny, sassy, sarcastic and probably able to fight pretty well? Not to mention the slightly angsty, morally grey in places traits but thinking back on a lot of my fictional crushes this actually seems to have hit the nail on the head so that was interesting to realise! I hope you enjoyed reading and I can’t wait to hear all about which fictional character YOU would like to date too!

Events

YALC Day Two Recap

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Day Two of my YALC recap is here (yes two weeks later I’m aware). The Saturday of YALC was a great one but easily the most grueling. I had a lot of signings I wanted to get to, three of which were straight after a panel and with very popular authors but I’ll go into more detail about that later.

My first stop of the morning was to the Hot Key Books stand where I signed up for a Siren makeover and grabbed a copy of To Kill a Kingdom to get signed by author Alexandra Christi, I had a digital ARC of the book and loved it so knew I had to get a hard copy. The lovely ladies at the stall also made an easy extra two book sales by informing me that M.A Bennett would be around to sign books later too so I grabbed a copy of The Island and then also telling me that their books were 3 for £10 and I nabbed a copy of Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray after loving her work on Star Wars: Bloodline and Leia, plus I was in a very spacey kind of mood.

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On the way to get my Siren make up done I also paid a quick visit to the Ink Road Stall after having a lovely chat with the ladies there the day before. I figured I’d pop over and say hi, see how they were doing etc and I also wanted to pick up a sampler for Summer Bird Blue when I spot Akemi Dawn Bowman just sitting behind the stand  – which is fine she’s an actual human being who is allowed to sit etc but I just hadn’t expected it as she wasn’t signing until Sunday. I mumbled about how much I loved Starfish and then got super nervous and kind of ran away. I’m an idiot but plucked up the courage after a quick sit down and a drink to head back and say hi properly. She was SO lovely and signed my sampler for me as I wouldn’t have my copy of Starfish with me until the next day and we took a picture together, it was lovely and was a super awesome start to the day. Apart from the running away bit obviously.

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Next up were the signings for the Floored authors! For some reason I assumed that all of the authors would perhaps be at a table together and we’d all queue in one line then when we got to the front we would work our way across each of the authors and DONE. Alas it was not to be! I think I got this idea from the fact that all of the authors were represented on the timetable by a picture of the Floored book cover whereas when they’d been shown on other days they had different pictures, i.e Non’s was Giant days (and I’m an idiot and didn’t take Floored for her to sign with me when I met her then!). The way it was shown said to me that it was a special signing session for Floored but I was horrified to discover when I got to the signing area that we actually had to queue individually for almost every one of the authors and they were NOT small queues by any stretch of the imagination. I managed to only miss Melinda Sailsbury and Non Pratt in the end telling myself I was likely to see them at more events and possibly YALC next year thankfully as I absolutely had to sit down for a but and have something to drink etc. I’d brought a big bottle of juice squash I’d left in the freezer over night and it was an absolute live saver each day so I’ll definitely be doing that again next year.

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As you can see I managed to bump into Melinda Sailsbury later on and she was more than happy to sign my copy of Floored for me as she was a bit miffed that the Showmasters staff cut her queue off and didn’t tell her when she was more than happy to keep on signing. As much as I liked the extra space we have on the YALC floor I wonder if it’s time for a bit more of a move around so we have more space for signing queues or a better application of the virtual queue ticketing which I think is a great idea when used right.

Before heading off to the “Among the Stars” panel I met up with a load of the girls from the SundayYA group and got a few group pictures taken (one of which is the header for this post). Again it was lovely seeing everyone and OH MY GOSH Layla’s Kaz cosplay was STUNNING.

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I was SO excited for the Among the Stars panel that I can’t even explain. I literally wore a spacey outfit for the occasion. The panel featured Becky Chambers, Lauren James, Lindsay Cummings, Sasha Alsberg and was chaired by Samantha Shannon. The panel was to discuss space and creating worlds that none of us have had the chance to go to except in our authors wonderful books and it did NOT disappoint. I was lucky enough to even be able to ask a question (who would you chose to take to space with you?). Not to mention at the end of the talk Lauren James revealed the cover for her new book “The Quiet at the End of the World which I am SO SO ready for already. Also look at this cover it’s gorgeous!!

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Next were the dreaded signings. I had been anxious all day about getting to all three authors in their two-hour signing slots because they’re so very popular. I joined the Sasha Alsberg queue first and was super pleased to have managed to get in quite near the front. We (me and Mel) were in fact in the first thirty which meant we won a Geeky Clean Zenith Bath Bomb (which I had inadvertently helped design while wicking candles for a super secret NPC thing). Meeting Sasha was AMAZING. I could talk and talk about Zenith and my copy is FULL of tabs as it was my very first ARC/review copy I had ever had and I’d read it twice so I mean it when I say it is FULL of these little tabs. Sasha loved going through asking me what each colour meant and I was a little embarrassed as a few were frustrated or annoyed bits but she told me it means so much to see a copy of her book like that and I thought I was going to cry which is totally lame. Sasha’s channel was the very first booktube chanel I ever watched and she got me hooked on Shadowhunters so I’m so glad I got to meet someone who had already had such an impact on me. It was also so lovely that she had brought bookplates signed by Lindsay along with her too as Lindsay couldn’t make it as she’s getting ready to have her baby soon and it was such a nice little touch. P.S Don’t ask about the picture we had taken together because I made a face at Steph and that was the picture I got so I’ll include one of us talking while she went though my tabs instead!

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While I was in the queue for Sasha I started to feel a bit dismayed about getting through the other queues as they were building fast. Thankfully the lovely Jenn and her boyfriend were next to us in the Becky Chambers queue and her boyfriend offered to take mine to get it signed which I am super grateful for as I don’t think I would have been able to make it through all of them. I do wonder whether YALC need to consider the types of authors they’re all having signing at the same time and weather or not these are authors people are going to want to meet all of and perhaps stagger them a bit more?

Thankfully I did manage to make it through the queue to meet Lauren James! I absolutely LOVED her book that released early at YALC last year “The Loneliest Girl In The Universe” and was that weekend actually reading her debut book “The Next Together” (which I reviewed on Tuesday if you want to check it out) so it was even more fantastic than normal to meet her. Being one of my top favourite authors and an instabuy for me I was so happy to get this chance to talk to her and get excited about her new book etc.

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The day was coming to an end fast and I had one more signing to get to and that was for Laura Steven, the author of The Exact Opposite of Okay which is another book that really resonated with me and my teenage years. It was lovely to have a nice chat with her and let her know how grateful I am for this fantastic, funny and important book she’s written as well as telling her much I couldn’t wait to get hold of the sequel coming next year!

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It was a long old day and my only real problem were the way some of the signings were done to be honest. The overground wasn’t running that weekend so I had to get the district line back to Liverpool Street, I ended up on a wrong tube but it all worked out pretty good in the end. Mainly because I met a super adorable Dog who wanted to sit with me have strokes and share my fan. Win/win situation. I’ll be back tomorrow for my Day Three recap and my all round sum up!

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I couldn’t not post the picture of this good boy!

booktube, Tags

Harry Potter Spell Tag – Video

I finally managed to find the time to get this tag video edited! I recorded it maybe a month or so ago so my answers are a tiny bit out of date, watching it back there are definitely some I would probably change now but these were my answers when I was tagged.

Feel free to do this tag yourself but if you do I’d be grateful if you could link back to this video and to the original itself. I hope you enjoy me attempting to pronounce spell names and a lot of useless wand waving!

Rachels Rambling reviews can be found here
Kimberley Faye Reads (The Original) can be found here.

book reviews, spoiler free

Star Wars: Phasma – Review

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Star Wars: Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson
Narrated by: January LaVoy

Rating: XXXX

Published: September 1st 2017 by Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group. (Also available in hardback and paperback, this review however is for the audio book but most points will also apply to the written text as well.)

“That’s the problem with following all the rules—somebody else is eventually going to get ahead by breaking them, and then where will you be?”

One of the most cunning and merciless officers of the First Order, Captain Phasma commands the favor of her superiors, the respect of her peers, and the terror of her enemies. But for all her renown, Phasma remains as virtually unknown as the impassive expression on her gleaming chrome helmet. Now, an adversary is bent on unearthing her mysterious origins—and exposing a secret she guards as zealously and ruthlessly as she serves her masters.

Deep inside the Battlecruiser Absolution, a captured Resistance spy endures brutal interrogation at the hands of a crimson-armoured stormtrooper—Cardinal. But the information he desires has nothing to do with the Resistance or its covert operations against the First Order.

What the mysterious stormtrooper wants is Phasma’s past—and with it whatever long-buried scandal, treachery, or private demons he can wield against the hated rival who threatens his own power and privilege in the ranks of the First Order. His prisoner has what Cardinal so desperately seeks, but she won’t surrender it easily. As she wages a painstaking war of wills with her captor, bargaining for her life in exchange for every precious revelation, the spellbinding chronicle of the inscrutable Phasma unfolds. But this knowledge may prove more than just dangerous once Cardinal possesses it—and once his adversary unleashes the full measure of her fury.

I wish I had found this book sooner. This was my first real foray into the world of Star Wars books and I wasn’t sure what to expect. For years and years I’d seen all the different books and comics mounting up about one of my favourite film franchises and I did read a good few of the comics when I was much younger but there seemed to be so many books I had no idea where to start. In April 2014 the expanded universe became non cannon and gave way to a new set of novels and comics which I kept meaning to get back to and last year while waiting impatiently for “The Last Jedi” to release I had a spare audible credit and after seeing it crop up on social media and in my local bookstore I decided to spend it on Phasma. I was not disappointed.

If you’ve ever heard a Star Wars Audio Book before you’ll know how immersive they can be, they feature sound affects and music along with the narration and I was shocked at how much difference those details really make. As soon as I listened to a sample of this and heard ships firing, doors opening and closing, droids beeping and the background noise aboard “The Absolution” I knew this Audio book experience would be a completely new one for me and I couldn’t get enough. I’ve since brought other Star Wars audio books, much preferring to listen to them because of these extra details, each month I get a new audible credit means I get a new Star Wars books at the moment.

The plot in Phasma is two fold, we have the present plot of Vi Mordai, the captured rebellion spy being interrogated and the story she tells of Phasma’s past. I was worried switching between these two plots would be annoying but somehow it works and the interrogation frames Phasma’s story well as they weave together quite organically,  although I’m not sure either story could completely hold it’s own (Phasma’s story comes fairly close) they support each other and makes the plot feel whole as the plots merge together in a way that is only partially satisfying. I wasn’t sure how I wanted this to end but it was only partially the way it did, something felt missing but as it was a precursor novel to “The Last Jedi” I feel I should have expected that. (Don’t get me started on Phasma’s story in TLJ though…) On the whole though I enjoyed both plot lines and the separate feels each had to them.

Before this book was released the way the story would be told was a cause for debate, would this just be a current story about Phasma or would we really get inside that Chrome helmet at last and see her inner workings. What we ended up with was a mixed result but that kind of works. I was expecting to get a back story from her point of view and we’d find out that she was misunderstood or there was a part of her to feel for but neither parts of this book are told from Phasma’s point of view and that just makes her feel more formidable and somehow even more of a mystery despite learning how she got to be where she is today. I’m surprisingly okay with this as it is kind of refreshing to find a villainous character today who is pretty much completely villainous. We do however find some possible redemption of a First Order character here with Cardinal, the high ranking storm trooper interrogating Vi and the trainer and mentor of the young children set to become storm troopers themselves.

The setting of Phasma’s story is her planet of origin, Parnassos and I feel like the planet was almost a character all of it’s own with a threatening presence to match Phasma herself and so many stories to tell about it’s past shown to us by the different trials our characters go through along the way giving the whole planet a very dangerous feel. As for our more humanoid characters I enjoyed meeting our current General (Armitage) Hux’s father Brendol and I’m honestly not sure if he’s better or worse than his son because they’re both such weasels. Other’s from Phasma’s clan join her journey across this deadly planet and a few of them are slightly memorable, Siv being the most developed as the story is from her point of view. Siv is a very likeable character, she does what she needs to do for her people and is brave and compassionate if not the most original character.

I think if I had just read this book I might have only given it XXX as it is an enjoyable book but nothing completely blew me away and I have a hard time imagining liking it as much without the added atmospheric sound effects etc. Nether the less I’m glad I read it and it’s certainly opened me up to reading (and listening to) more of the Star Wars books which can only be a good thing.

You can buy Star Wars: Phasma in print here with free shipping, or here on audible.co.uk, (you can listen to a sample too!) If you’ve never signed up before your first audio book is free! You can also add it to your goodreads here. 

Don’t forget I’ll be posting Star Wars content all week! Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Bloodline by Claudia Gray.

Uncategorized

A long time ago in a blog far far away – Star Wars Week announcement!

28536196_10155068996071581_111309964_nIf there’s one thing I love, it’s books. If there are two things I love, it’s books and Star Wars. The only thing better is a combination of the two! The novelisation of The Last Jedi is released here in the UK on March 8th and I’ve been excited to read this book since I left the cinema after seeing the film the first time, having to wait this long when the novelisation usually comes out the same day has been almost painful but I’ve found more Star Wars books and comics to fill the void and get me through and now the release day is almost here!

So, all going to plan starting March 5th, I’m going to spend an entire week posting about Star Wars. I have spoiler free reviews of Bloodline, Phasma, Inferno Squad, The Poe Dameron comics and hopefully an extra two reviews AND MORE if time (and my todder) are kind! I’m super excited about this week and if YOU have reviewed any of the Star Wars books I want to read them and I want to help you promote them! Link me in the comments or on Twitter and I’ll make sure to retweet and will promote those reviews in my posts throughout the week. Are you excited about the release as well? If so let me know too or tell what your favourite Star Wars book or film is! I can’t wait to share my excitement with you and I hope you guys will share yours with me too!