Monday, 27 February 2017

The Dying of the Light by Derek Landy


 Series: Skulduggery Pleasant
Author: Derek Landy
Page Count: 605
Published: August 28th, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
  5 Stars ★★★★★ 

Darquesse is on the loose and is planning to end the world. Skulduggery is working to find her and stop her before it's too late. With his friends and colleagues, he searches for Darquesse with hopes to save Valkyrie as well, and to separate her from the evil that has taken over her. 

Will they find Darquesse in time? Will Skulduggery be able to save Valkyrie along with the world? Or will the world end, everybody dying with it?

I can't really talk about my feelings about this book, the ninth book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, without talking about what I think about the series itself as a whole, and all of the other books within it. Every book moves the greater story-line a bit further along, with unique and exciting situations arising within each one. I think this combination of having different issues within each book along with a progression towards the concluding events of the series itself really makes this book special. 

What else makes this book, and series, special? Everything. Literally everything. The characters are amazing! Everything from their names to their backgrounds to their powers makes for an extremely entertaining read. This is the only series where I've found characters with epic names such as Valkyrie Cain, Ghastly Bespoke, Anton Shudder, and of course, Skulduggery Pleasant. There are evil characters, good characters, and lots of characters who fall somewhere in between. Some are serious, some are silly, and some find the perfect balance between humorous and solemn. I have liked every single character within this series, including every villain, because they are all just so interesting and entertaining!

Of course there are the personal relationships that form between these characters as well. There are business or work relationships, such as Valkyrie and Skulduggery's arrangement with the Sanctuary. Then there are friendships, such as the one that forms between Valkyrie and Skulduggery, Tanith and Valkyrie, and existing friendships such as that between Ghastly and Skulduggery. This series focuses a lot more on friendship than on romance, and as a reader I got to care about the characters in the same way that they cared about each other. This made me shed tears at times, for example times when Valkyrie thought she lost Skulduggery forever, or when various other characters found themselves in unfortunate circumstances. 

Considering this book in specific, I had put off reading it because until recently, everybody thought that it was the last book in this series. As a serious, long-time fan of this series, I really didn't want it to end. Then, Derek Landy announced that he'd be writing another book, and possibly more after that, so I finally picked this one up and read it. 

As usual with the other novels in the series, I was completely blown away. I cannot wait for the tenth book, and I really hope the author writes even more novels featuring Skulduggery and Valkyrie when he is finished that one. 

I think that everyone who loves stories about magic should read this book! If you like books with elements of horror and humor, including some emotional elements and amazing characters, this series is definitely for you. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

50/50 Friday - World Building

This meme is hosted at The Butterfly Reader and Blue Eye Books

This week's topic is most / least intricately built world.

Most Intricately Built World

 Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant, #1)

As if there were any competition for me on this one. The world of Skulduggery Pleasant is so well built, that if I traveled to Ireland and ran into the skeleton detective himself, my surprise would be minimal. The author makes it seem perfectly plausible that there's some secret world of sorcerers, and that's just one of the many things that I adore about this book.

Least Intricately Built World

 Halo (Halo, #1)

This was a tough one. Most of the worlds that I've read about in books have been built fairly well, from contemporary small towns to boarding schools for paranormal creatures. While Halo wasn't a bad book (I actually rated it 5 stars) the world-building in the first book wasn't the most amazing thing ever. In the second book it got a lot better, but as for book one, I remember preferring the characters themselves over the actual world.

What did you think about the worlds in these books?
Has my constant praise of Skulduggery Pleasant caused you to add it to your to-read list yet?

Monday, 20 February 2017

She Loves You, She Loves You Not... by Julie Anne Peters

She Loves You, She Loves You Not...

Series: N/A
Author: Julie Anne Peters
Page Count: 288
Published: June 1st, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  3 Stars ★★★

Alyssa's father doesn't react well when she comes out to him as a lesbian. She ends up disowned, broken up with her girlfriend, and taken in by Carly, her birth mother, a woman she barely knows at all. Adjusting to her new life proves to be tough, as she must deal with the pain of rejection, the heartbreak from her failed relationship, and her mother's own secret past. Along the way she meets Finn, a new friend in this new town, a friend who might just turn into something more. 

I have a few things to say about this book. First, I really liked the portrayal of an LGBTQ person struggling with bigotry from within the family. I feel Alyssa's situation was incredibly well written, and that the author did a great job of expressing Alyssa's feelings on the matter and how it impacted her in her day to day life, both before and after coming out.

I also enjoyed reading about all of the different characters, from Carly (Alyssa's biological mother) to Arlo (the manager of a store who lives his life in a wheelchair). However, there was one issue with the characters: I didn't really like the main character! I was able to empathize with Alyssa considering her issues coming out and being rejected, but as a person, I didn't find her very likeable. She was a bit too judgemental for my taste, she wasn't the kind of person I'd like to be friends with in real life. 

I also feel like the pacing was a bit too slow for me. While I read this book fairly quickly, there wasn't truly much going on. I understand that contemporary fiction can sometimes be a bit slower than fantasy fiction, for example, but there has to be some excitement. While there certainly were exciting pieces, such as Carly's past and the mystery surrounding it, much of the excitement was jammed into the last thirty percent of the book, which made the rest of the book seem so slow, and the ending way too fast! 

There really isn't much else to say about this book. It was short, and while it portrayed a situation that unfortunately is all too common in the real world, the main character wasn't really likeable and the pacing was too slow for my taste. 

I recommend this book to those looking for YA contemporary featuring LGBTQ characters. If you want to read a book about someone dealing with rejection due to their sexuality, this novel provides a look into the thoughts, hopes, and worries of a teenager struggling with that situation exactly.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Beautiful Cover of the Day

I have not posted about the lovely covers I come across on Goodreads for a long time, and I recently came across one that I think is amazing and I'm super hyped for the book to be released, so I thought I'd post about it! I hope you don't mind my inconsistency on here for the last while, there's been so much schoolwork!

Anyways, today's beautiful cover belongs to Mask of Shadows

Mask of Shadows (Untitled, #1)

From Goodreads

Perfect for fantasy fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, the first book in this new duology features a compelling gender fluid main character, impressive worldbuilding, and fast-paced action.

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class―and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand―the Queen's personal assassins, named after the rings she wears―Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

Just look at that cover. It's freakin' awesome! It's gorgeous! 

And the main character is genderfluid! Finally more genderfluid people, I am so excited. This sounds so awesome, I can't wait. 
What do you think of the cover? 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Fjord Blue by Nina Rossing

Fjord Blue

 Series: N/A
Author: Nina Rossing
Page Count: 256
Published: March 10th, 2016
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
  3 Stars ★★★

Benjamin arrives in Norway after crashing his father's car, expected to work on his grandparents' farm for the summer. After acting out because he has discovered that he is gay, he spends his days getting up early and working with the other employees on the farm, including Even. 

Benjamin soon develops feelings for Even, feelings that only become more distracting when they move into the same bedroom. What starts as a friendship might turn into something more, if Benjamin is willing to take a risk. Benjamin isn't the only one dealing with his own problems, and he'll soon learn that love can come from the most unexpected of places. 

Most young adult books that I read take place mostly in North America, so reading about rural Norway provided a pleasant change from the usual American setting. This was one of my favourite things about this book, reading about the way of life for those living in rural Norway, the descriptions of the landscape, it all seemed so different, and at times beautiful. 

Benjamin, the main character, seemed to clash with the beautiful scenery described in the novel. Rebellious, angry, and uncertain of the future, his mind is filled with worries and fears. While I connected with his struggle concerning his sexual orientation and I really understood that part of his story, that was where my positive feelings for him ended. As a character, he wasn't truly likeable. I don't expect all main characters in books to be likeable, but sometimes, it affects the way that I perceive a book overall, and for Fjord Blue, that was definitely the case. Benjamin was, to me, quite immature for a seventeen year old, and his first person narration gave me insight into some of his thoughts, often riddled with sexism and judgement. I found myself cringing at some of the things that he said and thought, and while I wished him well, I really wanted him to evolve as a person. He did evolve a bit, but not as much as I'd have liked. To be perfectly honest, his thought processes reminded me of those of fifteen year old boys trying to be edgy upon entering high school. 

Even, his roommate and crush, was much more mature and likeable. He had his own struggles, some of them similar to Benjamin's, and reading about them broke my heart. His family situation reflected real life far too vividly, but I really appreciated the discussion of bigotry and judgement from one's family that was present in this book. As for Benjamin's parents and grandparents, I can't say that I truly liked them, but I didn't really hate them, either. Some of their actions made them seem like positive role models for Benjamin, but others had me shaking my head. Either way, the cast of characters, whether I liked them or not, provided a decent way for the author to convey Benjamin's journey of self-discovery and change. 

As I mentioned, I loved reading the pieces where the author describes the landscape and scenery in rural Norway, however, other parts of the writing style didn't quite reach my expectations. Mainly, I had an issue with the way that Benjamin's narration would trail off and go on and on about the different experiences he'd had and the things that he had dealt with. I feel like these aspects of Benjamin's life could have been added into the story in much more effective ways, honestly I felt like I was reading somebody's diary at times and it threw me off. I'd forget what was actually going on in the present, and when I finally emerged from the paragraphs of Benjamin's personal thoughts, I'd have to go back a bit to remind myself of what the current situation had been. 

Overall, this story offered some great insight on the struggles that LGBTQ youth may experience, but the main character wasn't very likeable. I loved that this book took place in Norway, but Benjamin's thoughts often trailed off and interrupted the flow of events. 

I recommend this book to readers looking for LGBTQ books that take place outside of America. If you're interested in young adult books about gay teenagers and family problems, you may enjoy this book. 

Friday, 10 February 2017

The Friday 56

Happy Friday, everybody! I've decided to participate in the Friday 56 this week, hosted at Freda's Voice.

Grab a book
Turn to page 56 or 56% if it's an eBook
Find a sentence or a few, and post them!
(Full rules with original phrasing found on the blog linked above) 
 I am currently reading Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
 Symptoms of Being Human
Page 56:

"That can't be right; when I wrote my first post yesterday, I had precisely one follower. How could that jump to almost sixty overnight?"

What are you reading?

Monday, 6 February 2017

The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver

The Demon Trapper's Daughter (The Demon Trappers, #1)

Series: The Demon Trappers
Author: Jana Oliver
Page Count: 355
Published: February 1st, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  4 Stars ★★★★ 

Riley Blackthorne is training to become a professional demon trapper, just like her father. The job can be dangerous, and it soon becomes even more dangerous when the demons start to take an interest in her over the other demon trappers. She doesn't know why, and neither does anyone else, but she knows that she has her father to count on. That is, until tragedy strikes. 

Now Riley has to make ends meet her own way, taking dangerous risks, both possibly costing her her life or her heart. As discoveries come to light, she doesn't know who she can trust. 

First, I have to mention that I love the demons that the author included in this world. I was expecting sexy monsters and a paranormal love triangle, but that wasn't what I got at all. Instead, I got scary demons with seriously evil plans, along with a few smaller, harmless ones. I could only imagine the fear that Riley felt living in this world, where demons could wreak havoc in libraries, malls, schools, and in addition, having to be the one to trap them. 

Aside from the great take on the demonic side, the romantic aspects were also well done. There were hints of a love triangle, but nothing concrete, although I do suspect that this will change in the next book. Simon, Riley's eventual boyfriend, was extremely sweet and I could understand why she would want to be with him. Besides the romantic aspects, her relationship with her friends, Beck and Peter got complicated at times, which was also interesting. She seems to have a love-hate relationship with Beck, one moment they were arguing, the next she was thankful to have him in her life. As for Peter, he was a loyal friend who cared a lot about her, and worried about her too. I thought that they were great characters to have within the book, and although they weren't main characters in the sense that Riley was, I think they were definitely fleshed out enough to seem as real as she did.

I've read many books where those in paranormal situations are rich or at least well off. When things get tough for Riley, she has to support herself in a horrible economy and a world plagued by demons, which is completely opposite what I'm used to. I liked this because it merges real life issues, like young people dealing with stress and low income, with fictional ones, such as demon trapping. I love when books do this because it gives me more to focus on, more problems that the characters have to face, and it makes the whole situation all the more believable. Jana Oliver succeeded in this book!

My only issue with this was the explanation, or lack thereof, of the world that Riley lived in. It seems like some kind of alternative world where people are just used to having demons around....there wasn't much explanation as to how the demon issue became so bad, or even came to be in the first place. If this world had been dealing with demons forever, the author still could have added a mention of some sort to convey this to the reader, but I feel like this wasn't effectively explained and I still find myself unsure as to whether there was some kind of event concerning the demons or if it is just a natural part of this world. 

Overall this was a very enjoyable novel with an interesting take on demons and great characters. While the world-building had something missing, mixing up real life problems with paranormal problems made Riley's situation seem all the more believable. 

I recommend this book to YA readers interesting in books about trapping or hunting paranormal creatures. If you want a book with great writing, interesting characters, and demons, this book is for you.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Shelf Control: Throne of Glass

Shelves final

Shelf Control is hosted at Bookshelf Fantasies

What books do you own that you haven't read yet? This feature is all about the unread books on your bookshelf! 

Today I am featuring Throne of Glass !

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

From Goodreads:

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

How I got it:

  I ordered it from Chapters

When I got it:

A few weeks ago! I only recently received it.

Why I want to read it:

I've seen so much praise for this author, everyone is talking about this series, and it sounds really interesting! 

Have you read Throne of Glass?

 (Also, sorry that my blogging schedule is a bit all over the place.....lots of school and events!)