Thursday, 25 October 2018

Review: Heart of Thorns - Bree Barton

Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton, published by HarperCollins Children's Books on 31st July 2018

Goodreads synopsis:
In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood.

Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch.

But when Mia's father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic—the very magic she has sworn to destroy.

'Heart of Thorns' is the first book in what I assume is a planned trilogy. The story centres around Mia Rose who wants to avenge the death of her mother at the hands of a Gwyrach. Within the kingdom, Gwyrach are hunted down and killed for being half god, half human and capable of manipulating the flesh, bone, breath and blood of their victims - sometimes leading to them inflicting death on others. While Mia only has revenge in mind, her father has a different fate for her in store. He wants her to marry Prince Quin and in the process protect her younger sister Angelyne. As Mia prepares for her wedding, she discovers that she is also a Gwyrach and this revelation turns her whole world upside down and makes her question everything she thought she knew.

I really liked the character of Mia. She's feisty and independent and carves her own path, even when she's being forced into certain situations by those around her. She also never backs away from danger and instead confronts it head on. She's a heroine who I could definitely get on-board with. I loved the inter-play between her and Quin, particularly when they are outside of the Palace walls and I enjoyed the slow burn of feelings between them.

I initially found some of the world building a bit confusing and I'll admit that I felt slightly lost at the beginning but things picked up when the action moved beyond the Palace. It was intriguing finding out more about the Gwyrach and their history.

The book is an intriguing blend of fantasy, romance and adventure. It doesn't fit neatly into one genre but that's a quality that I really liked about it. It kept me on my toes. It kept me guessing. It kept me wanting to know more. There's a huge jaw-dropping twist near the end of the story that I did not see coming and that's made me doubly excited for the next book in the series, 'Tears of Frost'.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Review: It All Falls Down - Sheena Kamal

It All Falls Down by Sheena Kamal, published by Bonnier Zaffre on 28th June 2018

Goodreads synopsis:
When Nora Watts is approached by a man claiming to know her late father, she is thrown into turmoil. Struggling with the imminent death, from cancer, of her friend and mentor Sebastian Crow, she is unprepared for the memories that this encounter brings back. What happened to her father that made him kill himself and abandon Nora and her sister?

Heading to Detroit to try and find some answers about his life there, Nora expects to discover a reason behind his suicide. Instead, she finds more questions than answers.

But trouble always follows Nora, and it's found her in Detroit, a city that is as broken as she is.

Firstly, my fault I know, but I had no idea that this was the second book in a series. Yes, it can be read as a standalone but I think it would have made a lot more sense if read in the right order. Previous events were often referred to which I found confusing.

I was also under the impression that this was going to be a tense, exhilarating and fast paced thriller. Possibly in the same vein as a Simon Kernick book - unputdownable. Unfortunately I found it incredibly slow, very un-thriller-like and extremely forgettable. It seemed so drawn out that by the end I wasn't sure I even cared about the eventual outcome.

The series is based around a female character called Nora Watts who is trying to find out the truth about her father's suicide which happened 30 years ago, as well as her mother's disappearance. The main plot is interspersed with a side story about an investigator called Brazuca who is tracking a trail of drugs. I didn't connect with Nora at all and I suppose that didn't help in terms of my interest in the story.

Overall, I thought it was extremely slow and the story didn't seem to really go anywhere at times. This is a series that I definitely won't be continuing with.

Friday, 19 October 2018

When We Caught Fire - Anna Godbersen

When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen, published by HarperCollins Children's Books on 2nd October 2018

Goodreads synopsis:
It’s 1871 and Emmeline Carter is poised to take Chicago’s high society by storm. Between her father’s sudden rise to wealth, and her recent engagement to Chicago’s most eligible bachelor, Emmeline has it all. But she can’t stop thinking about the life she left behind, including her childhood sweetheart, Anders Magnuson. Fiona Byrne, Emmeline’s childhood best friend, is delighted by her friend’s sudden rise to prominence, especially since it means Fiona is free to pursue Anders herself. But when Emmeline risks everything for one final fling with Anders, Fiona feels completely betrayed.

As the summer turns to fall, the city is at a tipping point: friendships are tested, hearts are broken, and the tiniest spark might set everything ablaze.

I've only read a few of Anna Godbersen's previous books but this one caught my eye when I discovered that the story was an imagining of events leading up to the Great Fire of Chicago. Although I don't read a huge amount of historical fiction now, this used to be one of my favourite genres so I thought I would give it a try. I read it in one sitting but finished with mixed feelings about it.
Godbersen has crafted a love triangle which takes centre stage in the book. Emmeline, Fiona and Anders are childhood friends whose paths have taken them in different directions. Emmeline is now engaged and has risen through the ranks of Chicago high society, while Fiona is employed as her maid and Anders has been left behind in the old neighbourhood. It was always a given that Anders and Emmeline would one day be wed but that all seems behind them now. That is until Emmeline decided that she must see Anders one more time and a terrible sequence of events is set in motion.
I'm not a big fan of love triangles so that was a mark against the story from the start. It's well written but I felt like it wasn't hugely original and has been done so many times before. I really liked Fiona who at times seemed like the only sensible character in the book but I wasn't keen on Emmeline at all and the way that she only ever thought about herself and what she wanted. She didn't seem to care that in the process she was ruining other peoples' lives. She was also rather shallow and flighty and constantly changed her mind which grated on me.
The best part of the book was the last third. Although it was almost a given what was going to happen, there were still some surprises in store and instead of meandering along, as it had done for the start of the story, the pace of the plot picked up and there was a lot more action to enjoy.
A bit of a mixed bag for me unfortunately, although I liked the original concept.   



Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Review: No Angel - Samantha Summers

No Angel by Samantha Summers, published September 2018

Goodreads synopsis:
When a group of teenage assassins waged a war against the clandestine government branch that created them, their freedom came at a price. Not all of them made it. One never wanted to. This is the story of Gabriel, a boy whose angelic good looks hide a monster within. It’s the story of how he came to be there on the fateful night he sacrificed everything to save his unit. It’s the story of a moment in time, when he saw there was more to life than the death that had followed him his entire existence.

'No Angel' is a Project Five Fifteen novella. I was lucky enough to receive a copy from the author and I'm thrilled to say that I absolutely loved it! Project Five Fifteen is one of my favourite series and I'm so glad that Samantha Summers has taken another step into that world because I have been desperately wanting to see more of the characters.

The focus this time around is on Gabriel and Zach, who originally featured in the series containing 'First Light', 'As You Were' and 'Becoming'. The story shows them trying to survive on their own (prior to their later reunion). Zach wants to find a small beach town and finally settle down to a real life but Gabriel is struggling to adjust to normal life and finds oblivion in bar fights and one night stands. Anything where he can forget, if even for a short time, the things they were forced to do. Their lives are made up of this pattern, until Gabriel meets Lo. The first girl to see beyond the mask he always wears.

Gabriel was a really interesting character. He thinks he's incapable of feeling love but he protects Zach and would give his life for him. Although he has his faults, he cares about the people that matter to him and he's more selfless than he realises. I enjoyed getting to find out more about him and Zach and how they operate as a team. Survival is their number one concern but Gabriel's feelings for Lo certainly shake things up. The growing romantic relationship between Gabriel and Lo was one that I enjoyed seeing unfold over the course of the book. On the surface, they may have initially seemed like an unlikely couple but they provide some much needed balance for each other and a level of mutual trust and support that I don't think either of them has ever really had before.

The character perspective alternates between Gabriel and Zach, as we see the latter secretly meeting with a therapist. Zach is such a sweetie and is always trying to keep Gabriel on the right track. I definitely thought that he deserved the normal life he craved in the book, although he has his own demons to confront.

After reading 'No Angel', I got all nostalgic and dug my copies of the original trilogy off my shelves, ready for a re-read sometime soon. I'm a massive Samantha Summers fan and would beg you to read her books if you haven't discovered them yet. This was a fabulous addition to the series and I'm hoping (with all my body parts crossed!) that there might be more to come in the future.
Related Posts with Thumbnails