A strong plot driven third instalment in Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been working my way slowly through this series, I am determined to get there by the end of 2017 and so although I was a little hesitant I decided to press on and read Cress, the third instalment of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.

This fairytale telling series has been hugely popular since its release but I have struggled a little with the first two books. Although containing elements of the different fairytales upon which they are based, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and in the case of Cress – Rapunzel, the setting has really stretched the boundaries in this series with it being set in a futuristic world where humans are battling against a deadly plague and the ongoing threat from a race known as Lunar’s who live on another planet.

The series continues in book 3 with our ongoing heroine Cinder still on the run from the authorities, along the way she has gathered a band of misfits who are helping her to come to terms with the fact she is, in fact, Lunar and to help her to stop the evil Queen Levana from carrying out her plan to marry the emperor Prince Kai and then have him killed. This time around she meets Cress, a prisoner on board a satellite floating through space. With no contact with anyone, her job is to monitor the activities of the rulers on earth and to feed their actions back to the Lunar Queen.

Cress, fulfilling the Rapunzel role, is an interesting addition to the cast of Lunar Chronicles characters. Naive and a little immature at the outset of the book she grows throughout this novel as her story loosely follows the Rapunzel tale. She is likeable and the burgeoning romance between her and Captain Thorne is really wonderful, this brash and cocky captain is not always subtle or romantic but he is so very kind to Cress and her adoration of him is sweet to read about.

This instalment of the series is the longest so far, coming in at over 500 pages Meyer is really packing in a lot of plot to this book. I think with Scarlett that had been one of my reservations, that the story didn’t seem to move forward as far as I’d hoped. This time around the plot is more developed. We see more of life on Lunar and learn more about the Royal family there which sets us up for the next book in the series.

I enjoyed this book more than I anticipated I would. Sometimes I find all the spaceships and cyborgs and tech a little bit of a distraction to the parts of the book I enjoy, the real fairy tale retelling parts and at times this has caused me frustration but this time around I managed to put that aside a little more and enjoy the story behind the setting. I am glad I’m persevering with the series but am now keen to read the final instalment and conclude everyone’s stories as it now feels about time all the threads started to come together towards its natural conclusion.

A strong start to a new fantasy series by author Elly Blake

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1) by Elly Blake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fantasy is quickly becoming my favourite genre to read and I’ve had the opportunity to read some really amazing books this year in this genre. As soon as I saw the cover for Frostblood I was intrigued, the UK cover of the frozen rose is beautiful and drew me in immediately.

This book kicks off with an emotional chapter where we meet Ruby, a fireblood. Ruby can control heat and fire, she can make and manipulate fire. Ruby, however, lives in a world where she is an outlaw, in the kingdom where she resides Frostbloods rule and the most dangerous of all sits on the throne. In this opening chapter, Ruby’s village is ambushed by the king’s soldiers who are searching for her and her mother is killed by them whilst trying to protect her daughter. Ruby is captured and taken to prison where she is taunted and abused by the guards.

Ruby is helped to break out of prison by an unusual monk called Brother Thistle and a mysterious man named Arcus, who agree to help her in return for her help in killing the Frost King and destroying his throne. Ruby, who is still seeking revenge for the death of her mother agrees to help them and so begins her journey to learn more about how to use her Fireblood powers in preparation for her task to kill the king. Along the way she makes friends and finds a place she can feel safe and call home.

This book was all about the characters for me, I really liked Ruby but the people she meets along the way were brilliant. Brother Thistle and Brother Gamut and Sister Pastel were amazing. The way they cared for Ruby and helped her to find peace after the death of her mother was great. Arcus was wonderfully mysterious throughout the book and although my suspicions were proven correct in the big reveal later in the book he was strong and supportive to Ruby and a wonderful hero.

The book is split into two sections, the first is based fully on Ruby’s preparation for her task to kill the Frost King whereas the second takes place in the court of the King where she must fight to the death to gain the respect and admiration of the ruler in order to get close enough to him to carry out her task to destroy his ice throne and remove the darkness which hangs over the kingdom.

I have heard some criticisms of this series that is offers nothing new in contrast to other books in this genre, however, this wasn’t something I had an issue with. I liked the premise of the frostblood versus firebloods, it had a little reminiscence of Frozen with the Frostbloods having similar skills to Elsa. The really outstanding thing for me about this book is the warmth of the characters and the interactions of them together.

I really enjoyed Frostblood, the first part of a trilogy it has set up the storyline for the second book nicely and has left us characters we want to spend more time with. I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

A promising start to the Three Dark Crowns series and a new author for me to try


Three Dark Crowns
 (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With the recent release of the second book in this series I decided that I really needed to get myself organised and delve into Three Dark Crowns before I started hearing too many spoilers about the series online. I haven’t read any books by Kendare Blake before but reviews about Three Dark Crowns seem to be generally good and the plot sounded really intriguing so I was happy to give it a go.

This is a dark, fairytale in atmosphere story about 3 sisters, triplets, who are born Queens then separated and fostered to different homes based on their special talent. When they turn 16 they will each have the chance to fight for the throne, whoever wins will reign until their own triplets are born. The two losers will be killed at the hand of the victor.

The first chapters of the book are quite lengthy as we are introduced to each of the triplets in turn. Firstly we meet Queen Katherine, a poisoner, who is able to withstand any venom and can create deadly potions of her own. We meet the people raising her after 3 generations of poisoner Queens they have grown powerful and will do anything to put a 4th poisoner Queen on the throne. Katherine is not as strong as she looks though and is struggling to survive the demands placed upon her.

We then meet naturalist Queen Arisone, wild and carefree she has grown up surrounded by friends who have protected her and now she turns 16 she needs to face up to the fact that her gifts have not arrived as yet, she should be able to make flowers grow and fields bloom and animals do her bidding but she cannot and soon everyone will learn the truth.

Finally, we meet Queen Mirabella, the Elementalist who can command the elements, the wind, fire, water and the earth. Mirabella is strong and word has spread of her strength. The priestesses of the temples have led her tuition and they will stop at nothing to oust the poisoners from the throne and see the true Queen ascend to her rightful place, even if they need to rig the outcome.

This book was wonderful, it is full of really great characters in the lives of each of the Queens who we come to love. Particularly wonderful is the world of Arisone and her best friend Jules, the strongest naturalist in the community who will do anything to protect her friend and help her to become the new Queen. The characters in the story are really well crafted and it is so easy to become invested in them all and they are all quite distinct so although there are lots of them across each of the three queens courts you don’t get confused.

I really enjoyed the atmosphere in the book, the question of whether the sisters will come to fulfil the prophecy and kill each other or who is the rightful queen. The book asks you to question which one is your favourite but as the book goes on you find each girl has her own attributes that would make her a good Queen but if I had to say which one I was rooting for secretly I’d have to say Arisone but then the cliff-hanger at the end of this book was wonderful and left me quite shocked and desperate to see how this will progress as we move into book 2. It helped to make sense of some of the story in Three Dark Crowns but sets up wonderfully for us to continue the story.

I loved my first experience of Kendare Blake’s writing, I really enjoyed the style in which the book was written. The narrative was exicting and the plot moved along nicely with plenty of action without skimping on the relationships within. I would highly recommend this book and I know I won’t be able to hold off long before picking up the sequel, One Dark Throne.

Crown of Midnight raises the bar in the Throne of Glass series to a new high

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now I’ve hit my good reads target for 2017 I needed to have another focus to drive my reading till the end of the year and so I’m now trying to get through as many books in series I’ve started before the end of the year to try and increase my completed sets of series before the year is out. Having just started Throne of Glass a few weeks ago I decided now was the ideal time to delve back in and read Crown of Midnight, the second book in the series, before I forgot too much about it.

I enjoyed Throne of Glass and the story of Celeana Sardothien, the girl assassin who won the competition to become the King’s Champion and his trained killer. Picking up immediately after the end of Throne of Glass we follow Celeana as she begins her new job and the demands the king makes upon her to dispatch his ‘enemies’ on his behalf. All is not as it seems though as Celeana is struggling with the job as she begins to find that those she is sent to kill are not bad people but simply those who are trying their best to stop the power hungry King of Adarlan’s ongoing monopoly of their lands and the death and destruction his power brings.

Struggling with her conscience we follow Celeana as she continues to build her friendships back in the Glass Castle. She is growing closer to the Head of the King’s Guard, Chaol, and their feelings are moving towards something more than just friendship. Her best friend, Princess Nehemia, is helping her to understand the terror’s that face her people now the King of Adarlan has taken over their lands and finally she is trying to stay away from the Crown Prince Dorian who she doesn’t want to lead into danger through a close relationship with her.

This book was absolutely non-stop action. From the very first chapters it had me gripped. I liked Throne of Glass but Crown of Midnight really raised the bar on this series for me. I hadn’t grasped what the hype around this series was really all about till I read this second instalment. Whereas book one spent quite a bit of time world building and had lots of characters who came in and then left again as part of the competition to find the King’s Champion in Crown of Midnight we have a more tight knit cast, most of whom we have met before and we are all about expanding their stories and knitting them all together more.

This book was a reasonable read, at about 440 something pages but I read it in just over a day, sitting up to the small hours of the morning finishing it because I literally could not put it down. Every time I thought I’d caught my breath and it was calming down it would be off again in another direction full speed ahead. It has magic and mystery from the first book and we continue to explore the mysterious Wyrdmarks and how they link to the world of the past and present. We have a kick-ass heroine who is amazing to read about because you almost never quite know what she is going to do, you just know that it will be awesome. There is backstabbing and intrigue in the court of Adarlan, questions over who can be trusted and who cannot and that is one of my favourite aspects of the books. Finally there is a wonderful romantic element with the ongoing relationships Celeana has with both Chaol and Dorian.

The book ends with a really stunning revelation which sets up book 3 wonderfully and raises the excitement levels for what will happen next. It gives us a glimpse that the next instalment will expand the world even further and introduce even more aspects and characters than we’ve had before, including some Fae!

This book was really good, I liked it so much more than book 1, it hit all the points I needed it to and reassured me that this series does have the potential to live up to A Court of Thorns & Roses. It is a thoroughly deserved 5 out of 5 stars for this one.

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I loved this book so much more than I expected…even if I did know what was going to happen next


A Game of Thrones
 (A Song of Ice & Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been doing really well with my good reads challenge this year, having read 49 of the 52 books I hoped to achieve over the course of 2017 and so I decided to invest some time and read one of those really big books that I’ve been putting off for a while and one that I’ve always thought of as somewhat of a challenge, Game of Thrones, the first of George R. R. Martins’ A Song of Ice And Fire series.

I have been a viewer of the HBO show for the past few years and so I wasn’t coming to the story fresh, I had a full and open awareness of exactly the story I’d be reading and so I was waiting for all the big plot points throughout and there were no surprises in store. The only surprise I found was that whilst I’d expected quite a wordy and highly overwritten book I found instead one that was much more accessible than I’d expected and written in a style that would lend itself to a variety of readers and not just those who enjoy high fantasy tales alone.

I had anticipated that I might struggle to find the characters I’d loved within the pages, lost among long and complex descriptions of their houses allegiances and lots of background that the show had chosen to discard and instead I found that this book had some serious pace. The chapters were long but really very engaging and the action moved along at a pace that surprised me. Each chapter is written from a different character’s perspective and so we hear the voices of the characters we love in turn from Eddard, Tyrion, Jon, Daenerys and Arya along with others we hold such affection for. Often when authors attempt to write from multiple points of view we sometimes lose the essence of the characters but Martin does a wonderful job and each holds their own voice and individuality and make it an exciting and gripping book to read.

There is no secret that Game of Thrones has become one of the most read books of all time since the release of HBO’s groundbreaking series and often we will find that huge fans of the show, such as myself, will never choose to delve into the written version preferring instead to follow the action on screen but it would seem that millions of fans have found joy in the written versions too and it is with that in mind that I decided to explore the books. I sought to find more than I had in the screen version, to expand my understanding of the world and background of the Seven Kingdoms and the families therein. It didn’t let me down, I loved every second of reading this book. It is a hefty book at nearly 800 pages and yet it didn’t once feel like a chore to get through. I flew through it, when I wasn’t reading it I wanted to be, not because I needed to know what happened next but just for the sheer joy of the character’s narration and the world Martin has built that I longed to be back in.

It seemed strange to be back at the start of the story again, many of the characters within have been on so many journeys since then that you almost forget where they started out. You have differing opinions about so many of them now and some have been long departed due to gruesome ends and it’s been nice to go back and relive their stories again. I for one had forgotten how much I adored Lord Eddard Stark, what a magnificent character he is and how important a part he played in starting the Game of Thrones. All the clues for what will follow are there, especially regards the huge plot reveal that was made at the end of Season 7 of the show regards Jon Snow. It makes you view him somewhat with more respect and sympathy when you understand the secret he held of his sisters.

I am quite sorry to have finished this book, thrilled to know I have so many more to go in the series and keen now to go back and review the first season of the show again. It’s been a wonderful read and this may very well be one of my favourite reads this year.