book reviews

Chasing the Shadow by Maria V. Snyder

Book Review
48345515Chasing the Shadows 
by Maria V. Snyder

Rating: XXXXX

Published November 18th 2019 by Maria V. Snyder

QUOTE

SPOILER ALERT: Although this review will be spoiler-free for this book, this review and even the following synopsis are full of HUGE spoilers for the first book so if you’ve yet to read the first book and intend to do so without being spoiled for big plot points turn back here, I’ll see you back here when you’re ready to start the second. 

Year 2522. Lyra Daniels is dead.

Okay, so I only died for sixty-six seconds. But when I came back to life, I got a brand new name and a snazzy new uniform. Go me! Seriously, though, it’s very important that Lyra Daniels stays dead, at least as far as the murdering looters, know.

While dying is the scariest thing that’s happened to me, it morphed my worming skills. I can manipulate the Q-net like never before. But the looters have blocked us from communicating with the rest of the galaxy and now they believe we’ve gone silent, like Planet Xinji (where silent really means dead).

A Protector Class spaceship is coming to our rescue, but we still have to survive almost two years until they arrive – if they arrive at all. Until then, we have to figure out how to stop an unstoppable alien threat. And it’s only a matter of time before the looters learn I’m not dead and returns to finish what they started.

There’s no way I’m going to let the looters win. Instead, I’ll do whatever it takes to save the people I love. But even I’m running out of ideas…

After rereading/listening to the first book of the Sentinels of the Galaxy books by Maria V. Snyder in preparation for the release of its sequel, Chasing the Shadows Maria reached out to some bloggers to receive early copies of said sequel in exchange for an honest review in the two weeks surrounding its release. Not only was I lucky enough to receive an ecopy early but my paperback copy arrived early too and I absolutely devoured the whole thing in about a week which is a quick read for me nowadays.

I enjoyed Navigating the Stars (you can check out my spoiler-free review here) but Chasing the Shadows is a whole other ball game, I adored this book. It took all the best parts of the first and just improved on them and gave us more. I think a mix of Lyra having to mature after the events of the last book and perhaps getting used to her inner voice meant that the side of her that could be a little annoying at times was much less present this time around. She made a lot of rash choices don’t get me wrong but I could always see where she was coming from and why she made those decisions. I actually found I was really proud of her in this book, she’s come a long way and she’s learned so much physically and emotionally. Watching her actively take other peoples advice and at least consider her own safety at the behest of those who care for her was really refreshing and a great way of showing how much she’s grown.

book reviews, Older books, spoiler free

Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder

Book Review

42756706._SY475_Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder

Audiobook narrated by Gabra Zackman

Rating: XXXX

Published December 1st 2018 by Maria V. Snyder

“There’s this girl, she’s like a comet – makes the rest of the galaxy seem dull in comparison.”

Terra Cotta Warriors have been discovered on other planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. And Lyra Daniels’ parents are the archaeological Experts (yes with a capital E) on the Warriors and have dragged her to the various planets to study them despite the time dilation causing havoc with her social life.

When one of the many Warrior planets goes silent, and looters attack her research base, Lyra becomes involved in discovering why the Warriors were placed on these planets. And, more importantly, by who. 

I first read the first book in Maria’s new Sentinels of the Galaxy series, Navigating the Stars last year. Maria has been one of my favourite authors for a very long time and this month, to celebrate the release of of the second book in the Sentinels of the Galaxy, Chasing the Shadows coming out in under two weeks I decided I would reread the first book, Navigating the Stars via audiobook.

Maria has written in this particular genre before but this time feels very different, we get a lot more tech, world-building and space travel in Navigating the Stars then we did with the Outside/Inside series, I believe Lyra is a little older than Trella and their priorities and dynamics are very different. The blending of futuristic technology on faraway planets with archaeology feels right and I could honestly have read even more about the whole process and I couldn’t get enough of the mystery and wonder surrounding these Terra Cotta Warriors and their unexplained presence throughout the galaxy.

I liked most of the characters but didn’t feel a huge attachment to loads of them. Lyra is seventeen but sometimes feels a little younger but I understand that because although I’m thirty honestly I sound a bit like Lyra at times. She’s a bit snarky, very sarcastic and has a knack for getting into trouble, there are a few moments where she effectively breaks the fourth wall and sort of addresses the reader which it took a little while to get used to but honestly I kind of liked it after a while and made it feel like me and Lyra were friends. She certainly made some questionable choices but they always make sense for her character. Gabra Zackman was a perfect choice for the audiobook narration, she really captures Lyra’s snark and in my reread thanks to her I ended up spitting half of a glass of orange juice across my lounge.

I love the world-building for this book, the idea of effectively crinkling space to travel across large distances was explained really well with two different ways of measuring someone’s age as a result which was an interesting concept. I love the Q-net and the way users, especially wormers (like hackers) are able to navigate it, one of my favourite parts being the star roads within the Q-net. Then we get a whole other set of lore surrounding the warrior pits themselves and the things that lurk within but I won’t give anything away!

Navigating the Stars is already out now and it’s sequel Chasing the Shadows officially launches November 18th (my review is coming next Tuesday on the 19th!). You can pre-order the Kindle edition on Amazon now buuuuuut if you want the paperback Maria sneakily made them available to order RIGHT NOW!

 

Blog Tours, book reviews, spoiler free

Angel Mage by Garth Nix

Book Review

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Angel Mage
 by Garth Nix

Rating: XXX

Published October 17th by Gollancz

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . . 

First of all, I want to say a huge thank you to Stevie and the wonderful people at Gollancz for sending me an advanced copy of this book and for having me on this book tour. I vaguely remembered reading Sabriel (also my Garth Nix) when I was younger and enjoyed it even if I started going to music concerts and sitting in the park with my friends instead of reading not long after and didn’t end up reading any more of the series. Still, as a result, when I heard Mr Nix was releasing a young adult book with an interesting magic system I was instantly interested.

The magic system is indeed really fascinating and described fairly well and in an easy to understand way while still being interesting and leaving room for loopholes here and there. The idea that icons with depictions of different levels of angels allowed mages to summon them for aid with varying costs in the currency of said mages own lifeforce feels quite unique but familiar and I enjoyed each piece of information we were given about them and the tolls and aspects of different angels.

The world-building too was done brilliantly and was my favourite aspect of the book. The world felt very easy to visualise as did the different governing bodies, military forces and general existence as a whole. I liked that with the cardinal essentially in power by way of having the ear of the Queen alongside her force of musketeers (led by a female Dartaghtan) it had a real Three Muskateers feel to parts of it even if the resulting story was very different.

Unfortunately, the plot and pacing felt terribly clunky for the most part. A plot doesn’t always have to be fast-paced obviously but usually, when that’s the case it’s because the book is very character-driven and I don’t know if it was because we had four main characters AND the “big bad” as POV parts but it didn’t feel like especially character-driven either. There are some interesting moments for sure and I did like the characters, Doretea especially but I would have liked more character building with them and maybe less insta-friendship although I do understand the circumstances behind it.

One last thing that I noticed and absolutely wanted to praise and shout about was the fact that a lot of prominent characters who when named or mentioned I would often assume were male were female which was very refreshing. The Cardinal and the Queen who hold the highest power were both female, there was a good amount of gender-neutral language throughout and no-one batting an eyelid at anyone’s differing sexual preferences. Not to mention that all of this just felt organic which was honestly just *chefs kiss* and a standard I would love to see in more books instead of having female, queer and/or POC characters slotted in for the sake of it.

Overall it was still an enjoyable read despite its faults, I don’t think it helps that I’m having trouble getting through longer books at the moment either and this is not a particularly short book. Angel Mage by Garth Nix is out now and definitely worth a read if it sounds like it might be your kind of thing.

 

spoiler free, WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday October 23rd 2019

www wednesday

Another fortnight has been and gone and I’ve not made huge progress reading these past two weeks. I’m actually behind my reading goal on Goodreads now too. I think I’m finding that I don’t have the patience for many bigger books at the moment or they have to REALLY take my fancy perhaps. Good news is some of my reads coming up are books I’m stupidly excited for so fingers crossed! Not to mention there are a few books etc I’m reading alongside my main reads too…

If you want to join in with WWW don’t forget to send over a big thank you to Sam at Taking on a World of Words for keeping WWW alive and kicking.

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I’m super excited to say that I’ve just started reading (literally this morning) Chasing the Shadows by Maria V. Snyder!! It’s not out until November 18th but the lovely Maria has gifted me with an early copy in advance in exchange for an honest review the week of release. I loved the first book in the sentinels series ‘Navigating the Stars’ and I’m absolutely hyped to be able to read this early!!

(I’m also reading How to Train your Dragon by Cressida Cowell at bedtimes with Nate at the moment and it’s such a fun read with some actually really great messages)

(annnnd I’m reading the weekly instalments of An Unauthorised Fan Treatise by Lauren James! You can check it out at ‘Gottie’s blog’ here every Monday or like me you can pledge to Lauren’s Paetron for early access a week ahead and maybe a cameo in the comments. Look closely at the comments for Chapter one for a Fantastic surprise! )

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished Angel Mage by Garth Nix for my blog tour post next week and I’m giving my self a few days to mull it over before I write my review because my initial thoughts were…underwhelming. The pacing just felt totally off making the ending really jarring for me. It also took me forever to read and I think I’m going to try and steer clear of big books for a while.

What do you think you’re read next?

The plan is to read CTRL S by Andy Briggs for a blog tour I’m taking part in come early December. This planned read has another reason though which is that it sounds like it has some really similar themes to my project for NaNoWriMo and I find it really helpful to read or casually watch something in the same vein or with the same feel as what I’m writing to help keep me in that mindset so this was just timed perfectly.

Although my review list is pretty full at the moment and so I’ve not been accepting many requests I couldn’t resist the new Maria Snyder book as she’s been one of my favourite authors for more years than I can remember and the timing etc for CTRL S was just spot on. I do also have a NetGalley copy of The Sky Weaver by Kristin Cicerelli AS WELL in addition to NPC Tea volume seven coming out at the end of the month and the fact I now have access to six months advance worth of Finding Home by Hari Conner (You can check out my spoiler-free reviews for Volume One here and Volume Two here). AND DID I MENTION I’M DOING NANOWRIMO IN NOVEMBER?! It’s going to be a damn busy month let me tell you. See you here tomorrow when it’s NaNoWriMo tag time!

#SixforSunday, spoiler free

S4S – Books you think should be studied in school

Six for Sunday

Yikes! Steph from A Little but A Lot who comes up with these prompts picked a hard one for this week! I have no idea what would be beneficial to children today, I’m so out of touch! I will, however, list six books that I would have liked to have studied in school or that I think would be interesting to discuss.

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman
I feel like this would potentially be a difficult one because it is so filled with grief and some behaviour that could be construed as negative (but realistic). I’m a little out of touch with how teenagers or those who had lost someone very close to them would feel about reading or studying this so not sure this would actually be the best of choices as it could be a sensitive subject but I think it’s something that I would have valued at a younger age personally.

The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
This is an incredibly important book. It showcases so many relevant topics, although this would probably be a 16+ book.

His Hideous Heart by various authors, edited by Dahlia Adler
I think this anthology of retellings of the works of Edgar Allen Poe would be a brilliant book to study, especially as it also includes the original poems in the back of the book too. Perhaps when studying this, students could pick a poem and write a story about that in the same way?

The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James
This book is a great read but it also has some important messages about how we treat the world itself and what it means to be human, I feel like this could lead to some important and educational discussions and ideas.

Floored by Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Sailsbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood
I feel like this book is so good at showcasing a group of very different young people and how despite their differences and disagreements they can still care about each other and still get along with dealing with some pretty hard times in their life and topics that may be difficult to broach otherwise.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Okay so this is probably boring for a lot of people but I studied Macbeth multiple times in school and I LOVED it. I was so glad we weren’t stuck studying Of Mice and Men or Romeo and Juliet but Macbeth had battles and witches and Lady Macbeth telling her husband to sort himself out and murder the king already, also regicide is always fun, let alone the characters and then going mad with guilt. Also, I won’t spoil it but that loophole in the prophecy hey? LOVE it. I think studying Shakespeare is cool but we defintley need to look at some of the more awesome plays instead of repeatedly studying the same things. (I would have loved 12th night or Hamlet in addition to Macbeth instead of doing Macbeth twice despite how much I loved it).

Okay so most of these probably aren’t great or realistic choices but I tried? Was there a particular book at school that you studied and really liked? I was particularly fond of The Crucible and that always stuck with me.

 

 

#SixforSunday, spoiler free

S4S – Yellow Books

Six for Sunday

Its Six for Sunday time and this week the prompt from Steph at A Little but A Lot is “Yellow Books” which I wasn’t sure I would be able to do but it actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, I’ve even read some would you believe?

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

Hotly contested as to its status as “canon” but I actually really enjoyed the Cursed Child screenplay, even more so when I actually saw the show itself which blew my mind. Scorpius is precious and must be protected at all costs.

Mirror Mirror by Cara Delevingne

A book I haven’t read yet but I’m excited to get around to, this was gifted to me by the lovely Charlotte for our bookish exchange last year.

Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles

I read this early and although it’s not my normal kind of read I honestly loved it, it was hilarious and I can’t wait to read the sequel Life’s a Beach soon too.

Belles Library with a foreword by Linda Woolverton

I brought this book literally just because it was pretty and I liked its aesthetics but it’s also actually a really lovely little book filled with quotes from different books with little comments from ‘Belle’.

A Change is Gonna Come by Various authors

Another yellow book I was gifted by a friend that I have yet to get around to! This book is a collection of short stories and poems about change and features writers such as: Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Musa Okwonga and Nikesh Shukla.

Floored by Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne , Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood.

Another contemporary that I really enjoyed! This was interesting and had so many points of view, with each one being written by a different author and then also a separate narrator, I’ve never read anything quite like it.

spoiler free, Tags

A-Z Tag

tag Thursday

I’ve seen this book tag floating around for such a long time now but have never had the chance to do it myself! I found it while checking out Lois’s blog, Lois Reads here. I love a good book tag and this has been one of my favourites so far! I hope you enjoy the A-Z book tag!

An author you’ve Read the Most Books From

Probably Cassandra Clare because of the sheer amount of Shadowhunters books and I still haven’t gotten around to the Red Scrolls of Magic yet! A close second would probably be Maria V. Snyder.


Best Sequel Ever

I sound like a broken record but Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, I didn’t think anything would be able to live up to Illumiane but Gemina did a damned good job. I also want to give an honourable mention to Vengeful by V. Schwab because it was absolutely perfect. Vengeful is probably the best sequel but Gemina is my favourite.

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Currently Reading

I had planned to read something different but this morning I decided to read The Girl the Water Gave Back by Adrienne Young.


Drink of Choice Whilst Reading

I tend not to drink too much while I’m reading as I tend to do little and often usually but if I’m settling in for a long read I usually have a cold glass of squash but as it gets colder I’ll be breaking out the hot chocolate for sure.


E-Reader or Physical Book

I jump between both but tend to lean towards physical books, mainly because there’s just something about looking up at my bookshelves full of all my favourite books and the memories they hold. I do like that that if I finish a book at 3am I can just download it’s sequel on my kindle – I do not recommend this if you plan to sleep ever.


Fictional Character You Probably would have Actually Dated in High School

I feel like there would be many unrequited crushes on my part, Ari from Once and Future, Mia from Nevernight, Finn from Aurora Rising, Jace from City of Bones, Stormer from Jem and the Holograms and Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. I feel like Simon Lewis from the Shadowhunter Chronicles would probably be the only one I might have actually dated with our similar nerdy interests.


Glad You Gave this Book a Chance

Gah! There have been SO many books I’ve read on a whim and absolutely loved so I refuse to pick one, The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman, Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, A Good Girls Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, Adrift by Rob Boffard and Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy.


Hidden Gem Book

Sanctuary by V.V James, it’s not really that hidden anymore, especially after it was the book in the Illumicrate box last month but when I read it months ago I was so happy to have found it when I wasn’t looking for it.

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Important Moment in your Reading Life

When I read The Two Princesses of Barremare when I was (a lot) younger, for the first time and I fell head over heels in love with the characters, I felt so immersed in their world and they felt like real people to me when I was younger and I really think that Addie facing her fears helped me in some ways to become who I am today.


Just Finished

I finished Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff last night and I am…wrecked.


Kind of Books you Won’t Read

I don’t like super heavy adult books and I’m not comfortable reading anything that features miscarriage.


Longest Book you’ve Read

I’m fairly certain this is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at 734 pages but with A Discovery of Witches coming a close second at 688 pages. I don’t really read a lot of long books.

Scrap this, I just double-checked and actually, Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassie Clare was the longest book I’ve read at 912 pages. Ouch.

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Major Book Hangover because of

The only one I can really think of was after I read Lord of Shadows by Cassie Clare. The ending wrecked me and I think I was just a little burnt out after reading a couple of huge books in a row, I didn’t read for almost three months.


Number of Bookcases you Own

There are two small bookcases in our hallway filled mostly with Manga and I have another four in our bedroom, one of which is only half-sized and mostly contains video games.

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One Book You’ve Read Multiple Times

I haven’t reread a lot of books lately, I used to reread The Hobbit every year but it’s been a little while now and I just haven’t found the time to get back to it, that and I have so many great new books to read that I don’t feel like I could justify it. I do however listen to audiobooks before bed quite often and I always pick ones I’ve read/heard before so that I can actually get to sleep. The most popular is either Illuminae, Gemina or Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them because I adore Eddie Redmayne reading it.


Preferred Place to Read

I love to read on my comfy sofa in our bedroom! I’ve made my own little reading nook which is also where I film my YouTube videos on our old sofa that we were going to get rid of because it had a rip in it but it was too comfy and I couldn’t part with it so I just have a blanket covering it and it’s all good! I do also tend to read in/on my bed quite a lot too.


Quote that Inspires You

It’s probably a strange one and there are a lot of great quotes out there that I also love but this one has always stuck with me from Warm Bodies by Issac Marrion. It reminds me to speak up, whether for others or myself I don’t want to be silent either in my words or my actions and I will keep on going.

“I long for exclamation marks, but I’m drowning in ellipses.”


Reading Regret

I wish I hadn’t stopped reading. It was really only a few years but I can’t help at despair at all the books I could have read in that time and all the great books I missed. Still, I came back and that’s what matters.


Series You Started but Need to Finish

Six of Crows I guess? I got about halfway through the first book and had to get another book read for a blog tour but haven’t got back to it yet.


Three of Your All-Time Favourite Books

  • The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
  • Illuminae by Jay Kristoff
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Unapologetic Fangirl for

Lauren James, she’s an absolute instabuy author for me and I have yet to read one of her books that I haven’t adored.

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Very Excited for this Release More than Others

Darkdawn. I am both excited and terrified to be honest. I NEED ANSWERS.

Also Queen of Nothing. I hate to be so predictable but eh.


Worst Habit

Requesting or accepting books to review when I already have a ton to read. I’ll go to check a release date or something on Netgalley and end up requesting books because I’m a narcissistic idiot. It’s the same when I receive emails from publishers, I see a book I just KNOW I would love and would kick myself for not requesting and then it sits on my shelves forever. I’m trying to get through my backlog now.


X Marks the Spot – the 27th Book on Your Shelf

This is Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I loved this book so much, it was the first Laini Taylor book I’d ever read and her prose is absolutely poetic. This was my second book from Fairy Loot too so it has the blue-stained edges and is signed and personalised to me after I met Laini a couple of years back at YALC.

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Your Latest Book Purchase

Technically it was the Goldsborough edition of Darkdawn I guess? It won’t arrive until mid-September but I ordered it yesterday when a few extras went up for sale. Before that, I brought books at YALC and can’t remember which one I brought last.


Zzzz Snatcher

I stayed up until 4am reading The Quiet at The End of The World after hitting a plot twist at around 2:30am. It was worth it but I do not recommend it if you have a dependent child waking you up at 6am.

I hope you enjoyed the A-Z book tag! This has given me an idea for a simialr book tag myself but with a twist so keep your eyes peeled for that coming soon! I won’t tag anyone in particualr but you’d like to take part feel free and make sure to let me know so I can check out your answers!