Review: Half a King (Shattered Sea #1) – Joe Abercrombie

half a king“I swore an oath to be avenged on the killers of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath”

Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself. And he must do it all with only one good hand.

The deceived will become the deceiver

Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.

The betrayed will become the betrayer

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.

Will the usurped become the usurper?

But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, and traps and tragedy…

Rating: 4/5

Well deserving of all the praise. I’m so glad I picked this up – mainly because of all the great reviews I saw for the second book, which came out recently.

What I liked:

– An MC who had no desire for power, and found his own potential path which would bring him satisfaction, only to be forced to assume the mantle of king and all that it entailed. And along the way struggling to maintain a balance between survival, manipulation, power games, and doing the right thing.

– I absolutely adored the camaraderie and loyalty that developed between the six, as I shall refer to them, and I was sitting there going “AUTHOR DO NOT HURT MY PEOPLE” but I knew it was going to happen anyway and IT DID and I was EXTREMELY UPSET.

– The ideas of redemption, the unsavoury things we do for survival and the choices we make under duress were well explored in the novel. The way we treat people, and the way it can come back to haunt, help or harm us. Letting go of our past experiences and misdeeds, in order to start again. Small kindnesses in the midst of hell. Bad things done for good reasons.

-Indeed, the whole survival aspect was incredibly thought-provoking – when you think things can’t get any worse, and they do, but you survive that too. Human beings can be damn resilient sometimes.

-Well drawn, interesting female characters. A crazy pirate who’s mad, bad and dangerous to know. A queen who essentially runs the treasury and the country. A navigator who survives the odds and pulls her own weight.


All in all – fast-paced and intriguing, with a complex MC, and a compelling plot.

Review: The Infinite (Gates of Thread and Stone #2) – Lori M Lee

the infiniteThe walls of Ninurta keep its citizens safe.

Kai always believed the only danger to the city came from within. Now, with a rebel force threatening the fragile government, the walls have become more of a prison than ever.

To make matters worse, as Avan explores his new identity as an Infinite, Kai struggles to remind him what it means to be human. And she fears her brother, Reev, is involved with the rebels. With the two people she cares about most on opposite sides of a brewing war, Kai will do whatever it takes to bring peace. But she’s lost her power to manipulate the threads of time, and she learns that a civil war might be the beginning of something far worse that will crumble not only Ninurta’s walls but also the entire city.

In this thrilling sequel to Gates of Thread and Stone, Kai must decide how much of her humanity she’s willing to lose to protect the only family she’s ever known.

Rating: 2/5

Unfortunately the magic seems to have disappeared for me, much as it’s done for our protagonist Kai.

In brief:

1) I totally understand that this is a magical/fantasy world, but some things still need to be plausible. Making a 17-year-old advisor to the ruler of the city based on her past antics, which were really more impulsive than strategic, is pretty stupid to me.

2) The love triangle makes its appearance. Although it is put to bed pretty swiftly.

3) The writing in this one seemed overly-descriptive and a little clunky to me? Some of the words are also super colloquial (this appears to be a recurring pet peeve of mine), which don’t really fit in with the swords and horses setting.

4) The betrayal at the end and the swift 180 degrees two pages later seemed incredibly abrupt. Again, implausible. *They* spend the whole book plotting and planning, and then whoops, suddenly they realise the power of their feelings? Nuh-uh. I’m not buying it.

I’d still like to read the third book and see how things are resolved, but for me The Infinite really suffered from second-book syndrome.

ARC received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Greta and the Glass Kingdom – Chloe Jacobs

greta and the glass kingdomGreta the human bounty hunter never quite fit into the shadowed, icy world of Mylena. Yet she’s managed to defeat the demon Agramon and win the love of the darkly intense Goblin King, Isaac. Now Isaac wants her to rule by his side—a human queen. And the very announcement is enough to incite rebellion…

To make matters worse, defeating Agramon left Greta tainted with a dark magick. Its unclean power threatens to destroy her and everything she loves. With the Goblin King’s life and the very peace of Mylena at stake, Greta must find a cure and fast.

Her only hope lies with the strange, elusive faeries in the Glass Kingdom…if she can get there before the evil within her destroys everything.

Rating: 2/5

Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t a winner for me. I think with the three year gap between when I read the first book and when I read this one, my tastes changed rather substantially. I really did enjoy Greta and the Goblin King upon its release, but the series has lost its magic for me.

Things that irked me in the previous book were exacerbated in this one, namely:

1. The very colloquial/slangy language in a high fantasy setting. While it makes sense in that Greta is from the human/modern world, it’s a personal dislike of mine. I found it quite jarring.

2. Greta is impulsive and makes reckless decisions based on her emotions at the time. She goes from hating people to loving them and back in the space of a few minutes, which make her a rather overlyemotional and (for me at least) an unlikeable narrator.

3. The plot in this one was quite convoluted, with everything turning upside down in the last two chapters. But it felt messy, instead of clever and twisty.

4. Greta’s “oh I’m not beautiful I have scars and I’m a bounty hunter” shtick got old, fast. It’s a cliche in YA literature where the heroine always needs other people to tell her she’s attractive.

5. Finally, some of the writing felt a little clunky to me. Many words where used to describe something when fewer would suffice.

All in all, I really wanted to like this one, but sadly didn’t work for me.

ARC received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Perfectly Good White Boy – Carrie Mesrobian

perfectly good white boySean Norwhalt can read between the lines.

“You never know where we’ll end up. There’s so much possibility in life, you know?” Hallie said.

He knows she just dumped him. He was a perfectly good summer boyfriend, but now she’s off to college, and he’s still got another year to go. Her pep talk about futures and “possibilities” isn’t exactly comforting. Sean’s pretty sure he’s seen his future and its “possibilities” and they all look disposable.

Like the crappy rental his family moved into when his dad left.

Like all the unwanted filthy old clothes he stuffs into the rag baler at his thrift store job.

Like everything good he’s ever known.

The only hopeful possibilities in Sean’s life are the Marine Corps, where no one expected he’d go, and Neecie Albertson, whom he never expected to care about.

Rating: 4/5

Let me preface this by saying that I have not, nor will I ever be, a teenage boy. However I think Mesrobian really depicts an authentic teenage boy’s voice – yes, there’s a lot of reference to boobs and sex and his penis, which he has named ‘The Horn’ (facepalm), but those aren’t the only things our narrator Sean cares about.

He wants to get out of his dead-end small town and make a life for himself outside of a world that presents very few opportunities. He’s not the stereotype of a tail-chasing dude – yes, he can be kind of pervy and obnoxious, but he also has strong romantic feelings. Sean’s the first one to say “ I love you” in the relationship with Hallie, and is incredibly hurt when they break up when she leaves for college.

When getting physical, he checks to see if his partner is still okay with what they’re doing, and in his internal monologue during one scene, he mentions not carrying on if he hears ‘stop’ or ‘no’. CONSENT, YO. IT’S IMPORTANT. And I’m glad to see it depicted, especially from a boy’s perspective.

This isn’t to say Sean’s an angel – he still has many flaws. But he’s human, and I found him loveable despite this. He cries when he’s emotionally hurt (in secret, in his room). He adores his doggie. He’s also kind of funny – take this description of his swearing in to the Marines:

Though it felt like a wedding. A wedding with dudes. A dude wedding with no party afterwards. 

I loved watching the relationship develop between himself and Neecie.

I didn’t care what she thought about me, because clearly she didn’t care about what I thought of her and that was nice, because normally, when I liked a girl, I was so tense around her I could barely speak. So this was all nice, because I thought she was cool, in all these different ways, like her hearing thing that made me have to think about what I said, whether I meant it, whether I wanted her to really know it. 

It’s abrasive, but real, and as the second novel that I’ve read from this author, I can definitely confirm that I love her writing style, although it’s not for everyone.

“I get kind of blank when I think about the future,” she said. “There are so many things, you know? How do I know what to pick, when I haven’t seen any of the things out there?” 


Review: The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2) – Samantha Shannon

the mime orderPaige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London…

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

Rating: 4/5

I read the entire book in one sitting (albeit with necessary bathroom and food breaks), and stayed up till 3am to finish it. I think that really says all you need to know about the book.

I am seriously impressed with the scope of the author’s imagination. Samantha Shannon has created an intricate world, and as readers we get the sense that she’s only showing us the tip of the iceberg. I love the details of all the different clairvoyants, the different factions within factions involved in power plays, and hints of the world outside Scion London.

The Mime Order picks up where The Bone Season left off, with Paige & co on a train committing their great escape. The book essentially deals with Paige’s status as underdesirable number one in Scion London, the ramifications thereof, uneasy alliances with unlikely figures, and most of all, the dealings of the various cohorts in London and Jaxon Hall’s Seven Seals gang.

It’s especially great to see the development of Paige’s character throughout this book – while she does spend quite a lot of time contemplating and debating and generally trying to figure things out, in the end she makes some pretty groundbreaking decisions. And may I just say – holy cliffhanger?

Sidenote: If you’re read Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass series, Jaxon Hall really reminds me of Arobynn Hamel. Running their own criminal organisations, manipulative, never letting their underlings forget just how they owe their leaders for saving them from a worse fate.

While the book is not without its flaws – some slow paced sections, and the fact that Paige Mahoney, number one wanted criminal, seems to gallivant around London quite a lot and not get caught for all the extra security measures put in place – I am still incredibly invested in the series.

I think the worldbuilding is carefully cultivated, with favourite characters that I’m hoping will reappear later on in the series, clues that I think will also make sense later on, and let’s not forget a slow-burn, forbidden romance. With five more books to go, there’s so much that the author can do with this series and I’m excited to see where she takes us.

Review: The Body Electric – Beth Ravis

the body electricElla Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

Rating: 3/5

This book and I just didn’t have the chemistry I was hoping for. I found there was far too much telling, and not enough showing in the first quarter of the book. Furthermore, I think it could have been edited down quite a lot.

But nevertheless, the book does deal with a rather twisty and interesting concept: altering people’s memories. What happens if something’s been erased, but you’re not sure what? And consider the multiple possibilities, for both healing and nefarious purposes.

I’d find myself stopping at some parts, and wondering whether what our narrator was experiencing was real, or just inside her head, or something she wasn’t even recalling correctly. Certainly kept me on my toes.

Ultimately though, this book just wasn’t as good as I was hoping for. I’ll be interested to see how other people review it.

Review: Things We Know By Heart – Jessi Kirby

things we know by heartWhen Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.

After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all. 

Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn’t want to give in to it— especially since he has no idea how they’re connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake.

Rating: 3/5

Organ donation is a cause close to my heart – my aunt is the longest surviving double-liver and kidney transplant patient in South Africa. She was pretty much a guinea pig at the time- in the early 90s she went into liver failure and had her first transplant – when she started rejecting that one a year or so later, they gave her experimental medication from the US that ended up poisoning her kidneys as well so that in the end she needed new kidneys and a new liver, which she was lucky enough to receive.

So this is my PSA for today: register as an organ donor! Our own mortality is not something we particularly like to think about, but once you’re brain dead you have no need for your organs, and they can save so very many lives.

Onto the book. I would have given this four stars, but I’m just exceedingly uncomfortable with the idea of our MC Quinn tracking down the recipient of her boyfriend’s heart, who has made it quite clear that he doesn’t want to be found, and then eventually striking up a relationship with him without telling him the truth? She does admit that she’s in the wrong, and keeps trying to work up the nerve to tell him, but it just didn’t sit right with me.

The author does, however, have a gift for depicting raw emotions – you can feel the weight of Quinn’s grief, even a year after her boyfriend’s death. While sadness isn’t exactly fun to read about, I liked that Kirby depicted the grieving process – Quinn doesn’t just bounce back like a month after he dies and move on – as I’ve seen in too many novels. It takes her a very long time to do more than just go through the motions of life.

I also liked the depiction of Quinn’s supportive family – from sassy!gran to the worried parents and an older sister who isn’t afraid to call Quinn out on her crap. They gave Quinn her space to grieve while still encouraging her to get out there and do small things, like going for a run or an outing. Supportive families for the win.

Finally, I loved the quotes about hearts that preceded each chapter – everything from the psychological beliefs about the heart, to the medical care of heart transplant patients.

All in all, a thoughtful read about the grieving process, moving on with life, and making the most of the days you have.

ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.