Book Review: The Goodnight Kiss by Jennifer L. Hart

Synopsis

A teenage serial killer with a mysterious past.
The deadly hunter sworn to protect her.
Secrets, lies and a shot at redemption.
It all begins with a kiss.

When 16-year-old Nic Rutherford heads out for a night on the town, she brings a full arsenal. Her best weapon? A deadly kiss that can take down the biggest game around—humans. Two-legged predators don’t stand a chance once she makes lip to skin contact. But her blessing is also a curse, one that Nic fears will inadvertently harm anyone who gets too close—her aunts, her best friend, or the mysterious new boy who possesses strange abilities of his own. 

Aiden Jager has the one thing Nic can’t resist—information. With his help Nic begins to unearth answers about her own murky past along with the key to a hidden world where magic thrives and the impossible becomes reality if one is willing to pay the ultimate price. Beware, for once the door is opened, there is no turning back.

My thoughts..

This story is a dark urban fantasy about a girl called Nic who can kill people by kissing them. Nic has appointed herself judge, jury and executioner over the local murderers, rapists etc for reasons unknown and with the help of her two aunts she kills them. Nic’s life is a mystery, she was adopted by two women who clearly aren’t what they pretend to be. There are a thousand different questions that this book raises and just when one question is answered you find you have more. I think that is what kept me reading until the end. I wanted to know who Nic was and what the hell was going on.

The main thing I struggled with in this book was the rather unusual blend of Norse and Greek Mythology mixed together with folktales and faeries. This is very confused by the fact the book is set in the real world, so you have an old Norse god running around after a teenage girl/faerie queen who kills people by kissing them. This teenage girl is looked after by her “Aunties” who are two of the three fates, but also vets in their spare time. All these aspects together just didn’t blend as seamlessly into one story as I would have liked.

Whilst this mix of Nordic mythology and folklore isn’t my cup of tea particularly, I think this book is perfect for people who loved the darker sides of those stories. This book has all the gritty realism of domestic violence and back-alley rapists but with a land of Giants and fae magic. What I loved most about this book was all the faerie aspects, The Seelie and UnSeelie Courts and The Wild Hunt.

This story is a strange and winding journey through familiar mythological and folklore territory that makes it unique. This book twists and turns a lot and while it is unfortunately mainly fuelled by every character being deliberately vague and unhelpful, is still is an entertaining and interesting read. I really liked the developing relationship between Aiden and Nic and the past histories that are being explored and explained between the characters. I’m looking forward to the next book and seeing more of the fae world that I love.

**I was given an eArc of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own**

Rating: 3/5 stars

 

 

Book Review: The Cruel Prince By Holly Black

Synopsis

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

My thoughts..

This book was so hyped that I ended up buying the hardback just to find out why. I never buy hardbacks ESPECIALLY for a series but I was so eager to read this book I didn’t care. The Cruel Prince promised an enchanting dark fantasy with faeries and magic providing the mystical backdrop for a violent struggle for power. I had never read Holly Black’s books before The Cruel Prince but I now understand the term “Queen of the Faeries”. The world that Holly Black has created is as beautiful as it is brutal. She has built a world that is complex and diverse and has the depth of any good high fantasy.  The lore and the different rules and the class system were so well thought out and the main reason I enjoyed the book as much as I did.

In terms of plot this book waxed and waned for me, it wasn’t that I was bored, it was just that the events that occurred became more and more absurd. My main issue with this book was Jude, or rather what Jude gets up to. Jude begins the story as a mortal girl in Faerieland, a girl who lives on the fringes of faerie society, never fitting in, never respected, never treated like an equal. How faeries view mortals in this book is one of the reasons Jude’s character arc is unbelievable, mortals are supposed to be lesser, only worthy as servants but that didn’t stop Jude even when it should.

This girl is 17 and it’s only by the protection of her parent’s murderer/father figure that she isn’t treated any worse than she already is (which is saying something when you read what Jude has to go through). Yet she manages to outsmart pretty much everyone through sheer luck, circumstance or their unbelievable stupidity. Jude is just not believable as a vicious and clever tactician capable of outsmarting people who are stupid enough to underestimate her. She gets away with things not because of her own talents but because the people around her let her. Cardan barely put up a fight and don’t even get me started on her managing to out-manoeuvre a General – who you know taught her everything she knows about strategy and killing.

I could have also bought Jude as a brutal killer who isn’t taking crap anymore if she wasn’t so prone to juvenile behaviour. For instance the fighting with her sister Taryn – first of all it was obvious a mile off who Taryn’s lover was but that whole situation was weird. Taryn just watching on as Jude is waltzing around with her secret lover didn’t make sense. It was ridiculous that this weird arrangement caused such a rift between the twin sisters. Taryn did a lot of bad stuff in the book but secretly hooking up with someone who is kissing her sister wasn’t one of them, it was just odd and kind of desperate.

Jude somehow gets involved in something that she has absolutely NO BUSINESS being a part of. She finds herself in the ridiculous situation of being a major player in a game that has nothing to do with her. I understand she has always envied the faerie and always wanted to be equal and part of their society. She has always felt powerless and craves the power over herself and her own life that she never had. I can just about understand her reasoning but what she manages to achieve still felt ludicrous and ultimately pointless. What does Jude get from staying in a place no one wants her?

Despite all this ranting I am struggling to rate this book because my feelings were so mixed. Just by my strong reaction to it I know it was a good book, a bland and boring story isn’t worth talking about this much. Jude is an interesting and sometimes relatable character, I loved that she started to fight back, stand her ground and let the faerie world know she wasn’t just a mere mortal. Cardan has that whole dark and damaged thing going on and The Bomb and Co are shaping up to be decent sidekicks. I think with the same world but a different plot and this book would have definitely been a five star read for me.

Ultimately I think that plot twist ending saved it for me. The ending offered me hope and this book definitely has enough potential for me to continue reading.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

 

 

Book Review: The Queen of the Night By Alexander Chee

Synopsis

From a writer praised by Junot Díaz as ‘the fire, in my opinion, and the light’, a mesmerizing novel that follows one woman’s rise from circus rider to courtesan to world-renowned star Paris, 1882. Lilliet Berne is a sensation, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her still, one wants only to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all. As Lilliet mines her memories for clues, she recalls her life as an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept up into the glitzy, gritty world of Second Empire Paris. In order to survive, she transformed herself from circus rider to courtesan, from empress’s maid to stage ingénue,all the while weaving a web of passion and intrigue. Will the truth secure Lillet’s fate – or destroy her with the secrets it reveals? Fifteen years in the writing, The Queen of the Night is a literary tour de force that is also ferociously readable. A blazing tale of lust, ambition, betrayal and revenge, it will captivate readers right up to its final electrifying denouement. 

Publication Date: 22nd February 2018

My thoughts..

The Queen of the Night is an epic tale of death, betrayal, fortune and lust that was as engrossing as it was overwhelming. The mysterious life and rise of Lilliet Berne is intriguing, dangerous and at times tragic but most of all fascinating.

Lilliet’s life is made up of a series of fortunate and unfortunate events that makes it seem like she is not in control of her own destiny. I found this approach not only refreshing but also realistic for the time period. She deals with what life throws her way the best she can and while she is often manipulated by more powerful individuals I don’t think it detracted from her character. Lilliet has a more quiet strength and resilience about her which I found made her very likeable.

The level of detail in this book meant that I was a given a thoroughly in-depth insight into a world I knew nothing about, but it also made this book a lot denser than I found strictly necessary. For example the page long list of furs the Empress owned I just skipped right over and I got lost in the sometimes too detailed explanations of opera performances. I can however appreciate what the author was trying to do and some of the aspects of the book I struggled with I know a classical music lover would love.

I did find that I was at all times reading with a kind of remote detachment. I think this is because partly Lilliet Berne as a narrator is seemingly fairly emotionally detached from events herself. I think this was partly in a way to protect herself from the tragic events from her past but as the story is told through her eyes I found myself adopting the same stance. This book had high drama and tragedy and intrigue and betrayal but it felt like someone had turned the volume down. The story felt muffled, it was as if I was wearing a blanket and didn’t know how cold it was outside.

*I received a digital review copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own*

4/5 stars

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic By V.E Schwab

Synopsis

Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There is Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There is Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London..

My thoughts..

I DNF this book at 50%

Normally I wouldn’t review a book I hadn’t finished but then normally I don’t abandon a book halfway through. This book had SO MUCH promise, there was magic and alternate universes with different Londons and a whole lot of mystery. I wanted to know what Kell was forced to forget, I wanted to know what became of Black London, I wanted to know where the hell this story was going.

So why then was I unable to finish this book? Honestly it LITERALLY bored me to sleep. I fell asleep reading this book about three times. That is not usual for me. Every book I have ever read I attempt to read in one sitting, I’ve finished books at 2am knowing I needed to get up at 7am, I’ve read books for ten hours straight and never been bored. I’ve never in my entire life been put to sleep by a book.

Somehow this book took all the elements of a great fantasy and made them duller and blander. The way the story was written for me wasn’t entertaining and riveting. I didn’t care about the main characters let alone the side pieces. It just fell flat, I was curious but not interested enough to find out more.

I know I am mostly alone in this opinion. This book seems to be very popular so you may well enjoy this book immensely. I felt like this book does not live up to the hype at all and my TBR is far too long to force myself into finish reading this book.

Rating: 2/5 stars

Book Review – Ten Thousand Skies Above You By Claudia Gray

Synopsis

“Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents’ invention, to cross through to alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurt the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked, and his consciousness is scattered across multiple dimensions.

The hunt for each splinter of Paul’s soul sends Marguerite racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris, where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each dimension brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with every trial she faces, she begins to question the one constant she’s found between the worlds: their love for each other”

Book Review

This book was better than the first one for me as Marguerite and Co are finally beginning to think about the ethical implications of what they are doing with the Firebird technology. The far-reaching and wider implications of their actions which I felt weren’t addressed in the first book were finally discussed. Although I still think these amazing scientists should have considered what was glaringly obvious before, I’m glad they are finally realising that what they are doing is pretty messed up.

I would have enjoyed this book more if the plot hadn’t still tried to cling to a non-existent love triangle that has clearly already been resolved. As Paul is pretty absence throughout most of the book it is Theo that Marguerite is spending her time with, cue declarations of unrequited love and weird scenes of them entering an alternative dimension where their alternate selves had just had sex. On the plus side I was getting a bit sick of Marguerite thinking in every universe everywhere her and Paul would always end up together so I think she needed a little dose of reality.

One thing I did love about this book is that Marguerite spends a lot of her time judging other people for the actions of their alternate selves. I thought this is massively hypocritical considering what she got up to in the first book and also pretty dumb to think every version of you is gonna be a decent person. It was nice when she finally learned that with an infinite number of universes and infinite possibilities there are worlds where she herself isn’t such a good person.

I think this book did a nice job of bring a little dose of reality to a young adult fantasy romance. It was an entertaining read and there was a few good twists and turns along the way to that cliffhanger ending.

Book Review – The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Synopsis 

” Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.”

Book Review

If you want a young adult fantasy that is light and fluffy with lots of beautiful descriptions of food and clothes and 19th century Russia then look no further. The Crown’s Game has royalty and magic and masked balls and beautiful dresses and love triangles. Which would be perfect except it completely lacks any of the tension, drama and intrigue that the synopsis promises.

Any slight mystery or intrigue or question the reader would wonder about or ask was resolved within a few paragraphs of the issue being raised. I always knew what was happening next – nothing was left to be resolved later. This made the book at times boring and much of the drama was forced unnecessarily. There was NO REASON at all for Sergei to do what he did. Nikolai even after having it CLEARLY explained to him that one of them will die at the end of the game, no matter what happens, still takes it upon himself to try and murder his opponent from the beginning. Pasha’s only reason for existing seem to be so he can see Vika ONE TIME, fall in love and create the not even remotely needed love triangle. The love at first sight thing to me is tired, but The Crown’s Game takes it to extremes to force a love triangle that has no reason to exist. Who would choose Pasha over Nikolai anyway?! It’s not even a difficult choice and like everything in The Crown’s Game this issue is neatly resolved.

Also side note but was still annoying. The book focuses on magic and says that the enchanters are able to draw on only Russian magic. Each country has it’s own “well” let’s say, so you can’t steal it from other countries cos it wouldn’t answer to you. There’s a limited amount of magic in the “well” and so there can’t be two enchanters using it up, hence why the The Crown’s Game exists. Okay makes sense. However throughout the book they mention that the magic only exists when people believe it does. So when the game commences why does NO ONE believe in magic? Everything that is done throughout the Game the general public are confused by and dismiss as trickery etc. How can magic even exist in Russia if no-one believes in it? I know its a minor detail but the public’s reactions to the game is mentioned a lot, so its one of those plot holes you are reminded of over and over.

That said I did like the twist at the end, I did like the beautiful descriptions of the city and the magic and lord I would sit on them benches all damn day. I think this book however is too light and fluffy and lacking in the conflict, tension and threat of death that was promised.

 

 

Book Review – Broken Moon by Sarah Beth Moore

Synopsis

“What if you discovered human souls are real, but about to become extinct … and you were the only one who could stop it?

Living a thousand feet above the ground in metal slums piled upon the detritus of decades, Naiya Barrigan makes a decent living culling through the wreckage of 21st century humanity and selling what she finds to the highest bidder.

But that doesn’t mean life is perfect: demonic guards stalk the streets, mothers owe their firstborn children to the authoritarian Party, and Naiya’s pregnant sister has just turned up bone-thin, childless and dead.

This disturbing incident kicks off other revelations, such as Naiya’s membership in the ancient family line that oversees the link between the mortal world and Terminus, where souls await rebirth between lives. Unfortunately, the Party has discovered this too, and soon Naiya is on the run.

For help she has only a numbers-obsessed, slightly autistic brainiac, a hulking spy from the outside and an adopted brother toward whom she feels anything but sisterly. In a city fast becoming a death trap, she must figure out how to use the newfound magic she doesn’t even want and escape the place she’s always called home.

Elements of horror, urban fantasy and theology intertwine in this fast-paced adventure, culminating in a revelation that will haunt Naiya for the rest of her life … though her journey is far from over”

Book Review

Disclaimer: I was sent an eARC by the author in exchange for an honest review.

I went into reading this book without having an idea what to expect having not read the synopsis or any other reviews before I started reading. I think this was a good thing as when you start reading it becomes clear the author has no intention of explaining anything immediately. The resulting effect for me was feeling like I was thrown into a world that the character was at home in but that I didn’t understand that well. However I do think this approach works well for a dystopian fantasy like Broken Moon. There was a lot Naiya doesn’t understand or know and so the reader has to learn with her. 

I think Naiya is a strong female lead but I think the other characters are less developed. Enoch is only mainly interesting because of how Naiya feels about him, he doesn’t really do much else. Her younger brother Pip was developed a bit more and I thought his interesting background would be included in the story, but it seems to have been just left for the time being. While I appreciate not being spoon-fed all the information I did find at time this book to be annoyingly vague. There was a lot of times when I felt information could have easily been given by characters, particularly Naiya’s adoptive father, that just wasn’t. The reasoning to me was flimsy and I don’t think it helped the plot to know so little.

As the story progressed I felt the book was dealing with a lot of different themes and I think at times this book felt disjointed. It was jarring for me to be reading about a post apocalyptic city with such a strong theological/metaphysical underpinning. There was also fantasy/magical elements with Naiya and her powers, the young adult/romance stuff between Naiya and Enoch. I would say this book was definitely unique, there was a little bit of everything, but it felt at times erratic. 

The ending for me made me was very abrupt. I thought I was going to get my questions answered but I felt like this book was building towards something and then stopped short. It was clear to me at this point the book was setting up for a sequel so leaves a lot of things unanswered. This book feels like a beginning, the author does a substantial amount of world building, but I have a feeling Broken Moon has only just scratched the surface of the story she intends to tell.