A Court of Frost and Starlight Review

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve.

Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

  • Characters: 10/10

Exploring the characters in more depth seems to be the whole point of this book, really. All your favourites are back and trying to come to terms with what happened in ACOWAR. Yes, there’s plenty of Feyre and Rhysand, but I particularly liked how this book allowed us to gain a better understanding of the other characters. It was nice to have some Cassian POV chapters and as a result I think I ended up with a much bigger appreciation for his character. The biggest biggest surprise for me was when the reader was shown Nesta’s POV. I’ve never really liked her (and I still don’t really) but after this book I really think I understand her so much more than I did before. Basically, this book was fab in terms of character development – for pretty much everyone!

  • Plot: 3/10

Alas, there really is little/ no plot to this book. The few points it gets are for how it sets up the plot for the next book. There were definitely a few moments when I thought “oh, that’ll be interesting” only to realise it would be developed no further within the novel. This book is essentially pure character development, with the only action consisting of Feyre going shopping and doing paperwork – how exciting…

Honestly, it’s not too bad if you love the characters as much as I do (I could read 1000 pages of just Rhys trying to put together an IKEA bookshelf and I’d be engrossed) but I’m afraid, if I’m being honest, I have to score it pretty low for plot.

  • Writing: 9/10

The writing is beautiful as always. The description is on point and I love how Maas writes the dialogue throughout the book. There’s plenty of banter and witty comments, yet it all feels natural. I really like it when Maas writes action scenes – it’s one of my favourite parts of her writing. Unfortunately, due to the plot, there wasn’t really any action so I missed reading this side of her writing.

  • Enjoyment: 5/10

It certainly wasn’t the most thrilling book I’ve ever read but, you know what, I kinda enjoyed it. It was quite relaxing to read and I loved reading about all my favourite characters again. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling throughout that I was reading a random ACOWAR fan-fiction, instead of the actual next book. Also, unfortunately, the lack of action really reduced my enjoyment.

  • Overall: 6.75/10

ACOFAS is like the smaller, younger, sweeter sister of ACOWAR, who’s obsessed with shopping and cries at the sight of blood. Yes, it’s a bit bland but you get to read about all your favourite characters and delve deeper into some that haven’t been as heavily featured before. So it’s not bad, per se.

The Winner’s Curse Review

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love… 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

  • Characters: 9/10

For the first few pages, I really wasn’t sure how I felt about Kestrel. She seemed girly, aloof and materialistic. However, it quickly became apparent that she is, in fact, a complex, highly intelligent character. She’s bad-ass, but not in the ‘I can beat you up easily’ way, more in the ‘I can outsmart you and you’ll never see it coming’ way. Arin is also a character with hidden depths. I don’t particularly like him, if I’m honest, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s well-written and believable. You can really appreciate the emotional turmoil both Arin and Kestrel feel throughout. My only problem is that I felt that a few of the more minor characters were underdeveloped – Irex, for instance. He is of some significance to the story so it might have been nice to further understand his feelings and motivations.

  • Plot: 8/10

Yes, it’s another rebellion YA story. But, it manages to hold its own and separate itself from the pack. The thing I think that really helps sell the rather generic plot is the intense setting and world-building which the reader is rather immediately introduced to. It has a lot of elements of ancient Rome/ Greece, whilst remaining different. I actually really enjoyed the political/ action side of the plot (I don’t always love political stuff). It was clever, fast-paced and there were plenty of twists. I personally wasn’t really a fan of the romance side. However, bear in mind that I’m not a fan of romance in novels in general. My main problem with the roman in this novel is that it just felt forced – a bit too convenient for the plot.

  • Writing: 9/10

The writing is good. I particularly liked the way that Kestrel’s thoughts were presented. We could see the cogs in her head turning as she made amazing deductions and concocted ingenious plans. However, I would have loved some additional light-hearted banter, especially between Kestrel and Arin. There was some of this earlier on between Kestrel and Ronan, but it wasn’t really enough for me.

  • Enjoyment: 9/10

I certainly enjoyed reading this book and I will definitely be buying the next books in the series. It didn’t labour too much over small details (specifics of politics etc.) as some books of the genre tend to, which I appreciated. This also meant that it stayed quick-paced and exciting. I found that I really liked Kestrel as a character which really helped my enjoyment when reading it.

  • Overall: 8.75/10

An enjoyable book with a cunning heroine and a decent chunk of rebellion. It’s well-written, interesting and enjoyable. I would say it’s definitely worth a read.

Fireblood Review

Fireblood by Elly Blake

Ice and fire are still at war.

Ruby has defeated the tyrannous Frost King, and Arcus, the exiled warrior who captured her heart, has taken his rightful place as ruler of the Frostblood kingdom.

But Ruby is the only Fireblood in a castle of frost and ice, and the courtiers will not accept her. Even worse, the dark threat released from the Frost King’s melted throne is stalking the land, bent on destruction – and as the one who set it free, only Ruby can stop it.

To find the knowledge she needs, she must leave Arcus and journey south to the land of the Firebloods. But the homeland Ruby’s never seen is treacherous, and friend and enemy wear the same face.

If she’s to save both kingdoms, Ruby must figure out who she can trust – and unleash a fire powerful enough to do battle with darkness . . .

  • Characters: 9.5/10

Ruby is a sassy, funny and actually quite relatable character (for someone who can conjure up fire whenever they feel like it). I was really invested in her. She might be feisty but she’s also quite sensible and intelligent. There’s nothing I hate more when reading than finding myself shouting at the main character because they’re being an idiot – that wasn’t the case with Ruby.  I’ve got to admit, although I don’t mind Arcus, I can’t help finding him a bit dull at times so the introduction of Kai (who is witty and energetic), was greatly appreciated.

  • Plot: 9/10

Although by no means completely original in terms of premise, it was clever and captivating. I mean, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Am I right? There were a few twists that I didn’t see coming and I honestly couldn’t read fast enough at the end because the finale was so dramatic. My only criticism is that it maybe took a little long to get to the meatier bits of the story-line.

  •  Writing: 10/10

I can’t complain. It reads very well and I found myself fully immersed in the novel (no stumbling over sentences or grimacing at cheesy clichés). I particularly liked the dialogue and thought that the banter between Ruby and Kai was extremely well written.

  • Enjoyment: 9/10

I really enjoyed Fireblood and I will 100% be buying the next book in the series because I need to know what happens next! It took me a few chapters to really get into it but after that it was smooth sailing and I couldn’t stop!

  • Overall: 9.375/10

A feisty, magical delight that transports you to a world balanced on a political knife-edge, where supernatural forces threaten any hope of peace. It’s bad-ass and I love it!

A Darker Shade of Magic Review

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

  • Characters: 10/10

First off, let me just say, I’m in love with Kell. He’s so badass, but caring and cool, whilst being kinda awkward in his own way. Honestly, he’s a fab main character. And then you have Lila: theif extraordinaire. From her penchant for knives to her wicked sarcasm, Delilah Bard is my favourite type of female protagonist. She’s sure of herself, devilishly cunning and totally believable. However, let us not forget Rhy, the badly-behaved Prince Charming, and Barren, the ultimate bartender, and Astrid Dane, the perfect ice queen. The development and writing of these characters is honestly sublime and I wish I could meet them in real life (okay, maybe not the Danes or Holland, but any of the others would be fab!)

  • Plot: 10/10

The whole idea and settings of the four different Londons is honestly fantastic and I loved it. Red London seemed so amazing that I would definitely take up residence there if I could. The plot itself was fab too. The way in which everything linked together was perfect and the abundance of action and magic kept me fixated throughout. I loved how there were sort of multiple bad guys and multiple good guys – it all balanced out so well, but without me always thinking it would go in the good guys favour. And finally, there were some great twists and unexpected moments which I loved.

  • Writing: 10/10

The writing in this book is excellent and I never found it lacking in style or substance. It flows well and is easy and comfortable to read. The descriptions of the different Londons were beautiful and the banter, especially between Delilah and Kell, and Kell and Rhy, was hilarious and thoroughly entertaining. Extremely well written.

  • Enjoyment: 10/10

If you can’t already tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. So much so, in fact, that I went straight out and bought the next two books in the series as I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. It was just so exciting and thrilling. There were moments where I was on the edge of my seat – I may have even shed a tear at one point.

  • Overall: 10/10

This book is action-packed, filled to the brim with magic and heartfelt. It has sassy characters that delight and captivate, and you won’t be able to put it down. If you haven’t already read it, then what on Earth are you waiting for?

The Toymakers Review

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

  • Characters: 10/10

All of the characters in this book are exceedingly well written. I understood their motivations, hopes, desires and greatest fears. They felt real to me. Not just someone who could exist only in a book but real, tangible people. I loved the interplay between the characters as well. The book perfectly encapsulates the natural changes in relationships with time, but not in such a way that overly focuses on it. I think it shows a beautiful example of love and loss through life. Cathy is a fantastic main character. She’s clever and independent and I felt I could really empathise with her throughout. Kaspar was fantastic too. His progression throughout the book really shows the effect that things like war can have on a person. Emil was just as fantastically developed – at first reminding me somewhat of my younger brother. And although I may not have agreed with all of his actions throughout the book, I felt as though I understood them. The rest of the characters were all fantastic as well – All in all, an outstanding cast!

  • Plot: 8.5/10

It’s difficult to define the plot of this book, even by genre. Is it a book about family, finding love in an unexpected place? Is it about war and the damage it causes? Is it about magic, true magic that defies imagination? Is it about philosophy, what is right and wrong? Honestly, the answer is that this book is about all these things and probably more. It’s a medley of genres; a bunch of different stories connected in the overarching tale of one girl’s life. It’s an interesting read and you’re never sure what’s going to happen next. However, I did feel that it perhaps laboured too long in certain parts. For instance, I felt it took too long to get into the real magic of the toy shop. A long while was spent on the more menial day to day tasks of Cathy. It also wasn’t super exciting. There were a lot of interesting features but not many parts that really got my heart racing – which is something I generally expect once or twice from a plot (though really this is just personal preference).

  • Writing: 9/10

I would describe the writing in this book as ‘modern-Dickens’ as for the most part it feels very Dickensian in style. However, it follows a more modern style of dialogue which I definitely appreciated, as although I think using an older style of writing can create a nice effect for descriptive sections, it can often make speech seem stilted or unnatural. However, in this case this was tactfully avoided whilst retaining some of the Dickens-like, antiquated charm. The one thing that let it down for me was the lack of humour anywhere in the writing; it was always very serious. I understand it’s not the sort of story you’d expect much humour in, but I would have preferred a bit more levity once in a while.

  • Enjoyment: 9/10

I really liked this book and I enjoyed reading it. It made me think about things, use my imagination and generally engage my brain a bit more. It’s not a hard read, just an interesting one. I would definitely recommend this book, especially to read around the Christmas period as I think it would put you nicely in the Christmas spirit.

  • Overall: 9.125/10

An extremely interesting read that will take you on a unique journey. The characters are amazing and the setting is magical. It’s different to anything I’ve read before and I would definitely recommend it.

~I received a copy of The Toymakers from Netgalley in return for an honest review~

Caraval Review

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

  • Characters: 6.5/10

My favourite character was definitely Julian. He was cool, calm and collected (for the most part) and I loved his sass and banter with Scarlett. As main characters go, Scarlett was a bit… meh. I neither loved or hated her, she was just sort of okay. Because I didn’t really feel like I particularly cared about her as a character, it meant that I ended up not really feeling any excitement or terror no matter what situation she was thrust into. The same could be said for Tella. She’s the driving force behind a lot of the plot but we barely get to know her at at all and we’re expected to care about her. I actually felt more connection/ emotion towards the supporting characters.

  • Plot: 8/10

It was good – a very interesting idea. I just wasn’t the biggest fan. At the end, when ‘all was revealed’, I quite liked how the seemingly random plot kinda all made sense. But, the problem for me was that it didn’t make a lot of sense the rest of the time. I spent a lot of time wondering what the hell was going on and where the plot was trying to get to. It kinda felt like the plot had no destination whilst I was reading it, however that was cleared up later on so I don’t feel I can mark it down too much based on that. It wasn’t bad, I just personally didn’t love it.

  • Writing: 9/10

The writing was good – I have no complaints really. It just lacked that extra something that would have got it 10/10. But again, it’s worth bearing in mind that my favourite type of writing is stuff like Terry Pratchett; elaborate, humorous, yet easy and enjoyable to read. So, the writing in Caraval was good – just not Terry Pratchett good.

  • Enjoyment: 6/10

I just wasn’t really that into it. I like the idea of it, it was just executed in a way that failed to fully grasp my attention. It all felt a bit tangled and lacking in energy. Even when something exciting or dangerous was happening, I just didn’t feel that the appropriate feelings for those situations were properly conveyed to me as the reader. However, I didn’t not enjoy it either. I’m in no rush to read it again though I might at some point. I might also read the second book… maybe.

  • Overall: 7.375/10

An okay book with plenty of potential. However, I felt the plot was a bit tangled and uninspiring in places. A unique idea however with some interesting characters and intense moments. I’m just not sure it was quite the adventure it promised to be.

A Torch Against the Night Review

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

  • Characters: 5/10

Although I liked Laia in the first book, she just turned into a bit of a whiner/ damsel-in-distress for most of this book. She was constantly second-guessing herself and beating herself up over stupid things. I like my main characters strong and decisive so it was a bit of a disappointment for me. I feel that the same was sort of true for Helene. She went from veritable bad-ass to just another boring side character that didn’t do much other than overthink her feelings. Final, negative point, I hated Keenan as a character. I didn’t feel he was really developed much at all in the first book (more just plonked into the story) and yet he became such a main part of this book. His whole presence felt forced and unnatural to me. However, there were a few redeeming factors, I liked the introduction of Harper. He was a interesting, fairly complex character. Mamie Rila was pretty awesome too. I’d have much rather read a book with her as the main character. Finally, Elias was the best part of this book. His characters followed perfectly from the first book. Just as believable and well-presented. For me, he really carried the story.

  • Plot: 6/10

This plot was okay I suppose. It took quite a while to get going and I was pretty bored and uninterested for a large part of the book. However, I must admit that the ending was quite spectacular and a bit unexpected. I’m not sure if the bit of action at the end of the book really makes up for the lack of it throughout the rest, but the ending was decent enough that it does get a few extra points than it would have done otherwise for plot. I think that a lot of the problems I had with the plot in this book stemmed from the political-centric nature of the novel. I’ve never been a big fan of books that focus purely on politics. I don’t mid some mixed in with the other stuff but this book had a lot.

  • Writing: 9/10

I don’t really have any real issues with the writing in this book. It’s well written. The descriptions paint beautiful pictures of the setting and the people and the writing generally flows well as you read it. If I was being picky, I would say that some of the dialogue felt a bit forced or wooden at times. Whether this was down to the writing or generally underdeveloped characters, I’m not sure.

  • Enjoyment: 5/10

I gotta admit, I didn’t really enjoy reading A Torch Against the Night. I mean, I finished it so it wasn’t that bad, but I don’t think I’d chose to reread it. I quite enjoyed the first book so this was a bit of a let-down. It had moments I enjoyed though, and the ending was pretty good.

  • Overall: 6.25/10

I feel that there was a lot of wasted potential with this book. The story and characters were generally lacking any real complexity and left me feeling unsatisfied. However, the ending was pretty interesting which redeemed it somewhat.