Sabriel by Garth Nix – Spoiler Free Book Review

2568817Rating: 4/5 stars

First published: 1995

Genre: YA fantasy

Author: Garth Nix

Synopsis: Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Abhorson, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life and comes face-to-face with her own hidden destiny

Book Depository | Goodreads


This was a pretty unique book. It was published quite a while ago (it’s older than I am!), when YA wasn’t quite the big thing that it is now. I really enjoyed this book, for the most part. The story was really cool, it has to do with necromancers and traveling between life and death. I got an Underworld/ Dante’s Inferno vibe from it, which was really cool and not something that’s explored that often in YA.

I really enjoyed the magic system. It’s very rigorous and strict. Usually, you see magic as a sort of free, raw power that just manifests itself. But here, it’s very strict. It’s strictly tied to music, which I thought was really cool, and also to these symbols and runes and to magical objects as well. I found that really interesting to read about and I really look forward to exploring more of it.

I did enjoy the characters. I didn’t connect to them as much as I would have liked, but they were good characters. I love Mogget. Mogget is my favourite, he’s the only one that I actually connected with.

The world was pretty interesting. There’s this wall that separates the magical Old Kingdom from a version of the real world. I don’t think it takes place in our world, per se, but one side of the wall is like our world. They have cars and electricity and the same sort of societal structure that we do. I loved Abhorsen’s house in the Old Kingdom and I really hope we get to see more of it in future books. I also loved Death, which reminds me of the Underworld in Greek Mythology, but also of hell as depicted in Dante’s Inferno, with the nine circles. It’s really cool and interesting and I really enjoyed that aspect.

The one thing I didn’t really like was the writing. It’s not bad writing, it’s just not to my taste. I had a hard time connecting to it. It didn’t involve me enough in the story, or with the characters and as a result, I cared a lot less about them than I would have otherwise. Still I will be continuing with the series.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

17370618Rating: 4.5/5

Genre: YA, paranormal, fantasy

First published: 2013

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

***SPOILER ALERT*** Second book in the series. There may be spoilers for the first book from here on. Review of the first book here

Synopsis: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

Book Depository | Goodreads


I’m so glad I decided to continue with this series. I mean, I enjoyed The Raven Boys. But it was so confusing and vague and… it didn’t really blow my mind. I liked the characters and I thought the mythology was cool, but I just found it confusing and it was really not what I expected. But going into the second one, I knew what to expect. I knew that it was going to be vague and confusing and almost nonsensical at times and that allowed me to integrate the peculiarity as part of the story instead of trying to logic it and somehow, that made it better.

There was a lot of character development going on in this one. I think my main problem with the first book was that it was too complex and not well explained enough. But a lot of the loose threads in the first one were tugged on, if not tied up, so it clarified a lot of the confusion and there weren’t that many completely new elements added. Rather, the old elements were expanded on. And that was really satisfying. Which is an odd word to use, but that’s the best way I can describe it.

The writing, in my opinion, was so much better than in the first book. I really enjoyed the writing, whereas I don’t remember enjoying it as much in the first book. It’s amazing how much Maggie has grown as an author between the two. And actually, I recently read about two thirds of Shiver and that book is horrible. I don’t know whether it’s her debut, but there was almost nothing I enjoyed about that book. The writing, was bad, the story was bad, the characters were bad… just, no. And it’s fantastic to see how much she has developed as a writer. I love seeing these things, it’s great to watch an author grow and develop their skill.

Going back to the characters. I really love all the characters. They’re all quirky and unique and so themselves and I love to see that in books. Which once again shows how much Maggie’s skill has grown, because in Shiver, I could not distinguish the characters from one another. I couldn’t even distinguish the POV characters. Sometimes, I would forget whose POV I was reading. So, yeah I loved the characters. I loved them in the first book as well, but even more in this one. Ronan… I love Ronan. And we got to learn so much about him in this book and it was awesome. Some of the plot-twists, particularly regarding Ronan really took me by surprise. I really did not see them coming.

We also see Gansey and blue growing together, which wasn’t a surprise, given the first book. But it promises a lot of angst in the following books and I’m a sucker for some good angst. We also get to meet a new character, whom I really enjoyed. I didn’t think that I would enjoy him quite as much, but I really did.

I would say that this book was mainly focused on character development and sort of just clarifying the first book. It’s not that nothing happened in it, it’s just that most of the things that happened were less significant to moving the story forward than they were to character development. It was like a sort of preparation of the characters for  what’s to come. And I find that’s often the case with second books in series. And that can either make the second book the worst in the series, or really good (maybe even the best), depending on how it’s done. And I think this one has been done very well. I definitely enjoyed it a lot more than the first book.

I hear the Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the best book in the series, so I’m really looking forward to that. Hopefully, I will get to it soon. I’m really excited for it now and I wish I had bought it so I could read it straight away. I definitely recommend picking this one up if you read The Raven Boys and were kind of on the fence about whether you want to continue with the series. Just give this one a try before making your mind up.

Even MORE Series I will probably not finish (Part 4)

Well, I was bound to have another one of these sooner or later. You can check out parts one, two and three if you like.


1. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

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I didn’t particularly like this book. It was too wishy-washy and insta-lovey for me. It had a pretty cool world concept, but it just wasn’t enough  to hold my interest. You can read my full review of it here if you are interested, but yeah… not likely to ever pick up the other ones.

Goodreads | Book Depository

2. Legend by Marie Lu

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It’s not that I didn’t like this. I enjoyed it. It’s just that my focus has sort of shifted away from dystopian in the past year and I really don’t read dystopia anymore unless it’s some mindblowingly amazing one. And Legend was good, but it wasn’t by any means mindblowing. So I just don’t think I will ever get around to reading the other two books. I’m still holding out for The Young Elites though. It was so much better than Legend and it’s a fantasy dystopia and I don’t know why I haven’t read the rest of it yet, but I hope it won’t end up on my next “will not finish” post, because it would be a shame.

Goodreads | Book Depository

3. Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

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UGH! I do not know how to tell you how much I hated this book. I actually haven’t even finished it because it’s so boring and annoying and Snow is so whiny and insufferable and stupid. *deep breath* Yeah, no. Not going to happen.

Goodreads | Book Depository

4. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

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I really enjoyed this book. But I read it quite a while ago and I haven’t picked up the other ones and I just don’t really see myself doing that anytime soon. I still might get around to reading it eventually. Though realistically, I probably won’t because you know… so many books, so little time. It’s like Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken. “Oh, I kept the first for another day, But knowing how way leads on way,/I doubted if I should ever come back.” I really like that poem.

Goodreads | Book Depository


There are a few other candidates for this list, but I’ll hold out on them a little longer. Still, I reckon it won’t be too long before I have another one of these posts.

1984 by George Orwell – Book Review

5470Rating: 4.5/5

Genre: Negative utopia/dystopia, sci-fi

First published: 1949

Author: George Orwell

Goodreads synopsis: The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia” -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

Book Depository | Goodreads


This book was a journey. It’s difficult to summarise, because it doesn’t have much in the way of things happening to the characters. It’s more about things happening within the characters. It toes the line between novel and essay and I think it does better as an essay than as a novel. It’s like the story and the characters are just an anecdote the author uses to explain his point. But I did enjoy it. It was thought provoking and even though it took me quite a long time to finish, I really liked it.

It is quite disturbing, particularly towards the end, with some of the ideas it brings forth about human nature, about reality and how we understand and relate to it. About what reality really is. One of the ideas that permeates the whole book is that of how history is whatever is written down, whatever is chronicled. And so long as the documents pertaining to the past are alterable, the past itself is alterable. Which seems like a stupid thing to say, because what happened, happened. But did it really? If there’s no one to remember it and nothing to document it, who’s to say one thing happened and not another? It’s a pretty head-ache inducing thought to follow, but I found it interesting to explore.

Another pervading theme was that of human nature and what it really is. Orwell takes quite a dark and pessimistic view of it in this book, essentially saying that hatred and selfishness always win. While I don’t entirely agree with it, he does make some valid points.

Because of the abstract ideas that is puts forward, the book is quite… trippy. Particularly towards the end, I wasn’t sure what to believe. What was real. It’s difficult to explain, but it sort of made me want to question everything. It made me a little bit paranoid, which was kind of disturbing because it sort of proved some of the points that were being made.

I feel like I could write my own essay dissecting the book and the ideas in it, but it’s an interesting read. I recommend it for people who like abstract thought and if you are one of those people, I encourage you to read it and see what your take on the ideas presented is. If you have read it, let me know in the comments what you thought about it. I’m really curious to know.

 

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – Book Review

23174274Rating: 1/5

Genre: YA, dystopian

First Published: 2016

Author: Victoria Aveyard

***SPOILER ALERT*** This is book two in the series and therefore the synopsis and this review might contain spoilers for the first book. If you have read the first book, or don’t mind some spoilers, proceed.

Synopsis: The world is divided by blood. The common folk, with red blood and the nobility, with Silver blood that affords them special abilities. 

After escaping from Maven and his mother, Mare, Cal and the Scarlet Guard set out to find the other people like Mare: Red and Silver at once. 

Book Depository | Goodreads


This is probably the biggest gap in rating I have ever had with two books in the same series. I enjoyed Red Queen. I’m not sure whether it was because I was relatively new to the world of YA literature when I read it and I have now grown as a consumer of this genre and I am more critical of it, or because this one was just worse than the first one. I suspect it’s a bit of both.

I did not like this book at all. It was a chore to read. The only positive thing I have to say about it is that it has a really beautiful cover. As you can tell by my synopsis, not much happens in it. It doesn’t have a plot-line to speak of and it’s just a long, boring and very annoying introduction to the next book.

However, this lack of plot is not even the reason I disliked it as much as I did. The reason for my dislike was mare. The most insufferable, entitled, self-pitying, spoiled, selfish brat of a character I ever did come across. I don’t remember her being such a bitch in the first book. Mare Barrow has de-throned America Singer from The Selection series as the most obnoxious character ever.

It’s funny, because in my video review of Red Queen, I called it “The Selection done right”. Well, not anymore. After reading Glass Sword, I prefer The Selection. At least that was just… silly. And it was actually entertaining to read.

Everything in this book was about Mare. Like she was the most important person in the whole universe. She fancies herself to be such a badass, such a leader, such an important, special snowflake. Just thinking about her makes me want to punch her. I honestly just wanted Maven to win. Just straight out. The ending, the last 3 phrases were the most satisfying of this entire book. And that is all I will say.

None of the other characters had any real substance and the few times they said or did something resembling a personality (usually about Mare), our special snowflake threw a temper tantrum. There is this one scene where Mare gets angry with this one girl and she thinks something along the lines of “all I could think about was educating this brat”. I nearly threw the book across the room at that point. It just made me so angry because Mare was the biggest brat there and also the other girl (one of the first to show any hint of personality) was actually right.

I could go on and on about how much I hate Mare Barrow. But I don’t want this review to turn into more of a rant than it already is. I usually try to express my opinions as professionally as I can in my reviews, but this book and this character has made me so angry that I just felt like I needed to say it. I would not have hated the book as much if it weren’t for this character. It was meh when it came to the plot, but Mare just made me angry. I cannot get behind her attitude and her entitlement.

Surviving the Angel of Death by Eva Mozes Kor – Book Review

6648391Rating: 5/5 stars

Genre: Historical, memoir

First published: 2009

Author: Eva Mozes Kor

Synopsis: Eva and her twin sister, Miriam, were 10 years old when they were ripped away from their family and thrown into Auschwitz. There, they became part of the medical experiments conducted by Josef Mengele, also known as The Angel of Death. Mengele was obsessed with twins and conducted many horrendous experiments on them. This is the story of how two children found the strength and endurance to survive true evil. 

Book Depository | Goodreads


I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I finished reading it in about an hour and I cannot tell you how I felt upon finishing. I don’t know how much I will be able to gather my thoughts for this review. Every time I read or watch a film about what happened then, no matter how many times I do so, it brings me so much sorrow to know that human beings are not only capable of such cruelty and hatred, but worse, they remain silent when faced with such atrocities.

Eva was a Romanian-born Jew. She was born in Transylvania, which is where I was born as well. So, from the beginning, this resonated with me on a profound level. Especially that I recognised some of the events that were mentioned, because they coincided with what my grandparents remember about those times.

Before I get too much into how this book made me feel, I will tell you a little bit about the writing itself. The book is written in a way that is easily accessible to a younger audience. But it is full of emotion, full of pain, but also full of healing and of forgiveness. In addition to the writing, there are pictures depicting Eva and her family, the emaciated forms of some of the Auschwitz children, as well as the twins at various stages in their lives.

As a woman of science, the fact that such atrocities were committed in the name of science makes me sick. I will not list here the things that were done to those twins and to the rest of the people that Mengele experimented on. Some of them, you will find in this book, some you can read about from other sources. And I urge you to do so, because I truly believe we owe it to these people, to ourselves and to the word to know these things, to know the suffering our cruelty and hatred as a species has brought and to make sure it never happens again.

What shocked me almost as much as the experiments, was how easily hatred was awoken in the common people. How ordinary people could turn against their neighbour because of propaganda. It scares me how susceptible we are to blind, unadulterated hatred.

This book, despite its content, has taught me not that humans are capable of atrocities, but that we are capable of enduring, of forgiveness; that we can survive  and that we can heal. I apologise that this review is not more collected and coherent, it’s difficult for me to gather my thoughts. But please, read this book and read any books like this that you come across. These are stories that must be heard. We owe it to hear them.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

the-raven-boys-maggie-stiefvaterRating: 4/5

Genre: Paranormal, YA

First published: 2012

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Synopsis: Every year, Blue accompanies her psychic mother to the “corpse road”, a line where one night a year, the spirits of the soon-to-be dead walk by. She is used to hearing her mother ask the names of people only she can see, but what she doesn’t expect is to see one of them herself. 

His name is Gansey, one of the rich students of Aglionby Accademy, also known as Raven Boys. Blue has a strict policy of staying away from Raven Boys, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Gansey and his friends. 

Blue has always been told that if she kisses her true love he will die. It never really concerned her before, but as she is drawn into the boys’ strange quest, she begins to wonder if she hasn’t been wrong.

Book Depository | Goodreads 


This was a strange book. The synopsis was quite misleading, it was really not what I expected. I expected it to be high fantasy for some reason. I tried to summarize it as best I could, but I haven’t done a particularly good job either. It’s a hard book to summarize because there is a LOT going on in it.

It had a pretty slow start and it was very confusing for the most part. It was very vague. Everything was vague. I don’t really know how to explain the vagueness of it. When something was explained, it didn’t really clear anything up. Sort of like talking to a psychic. I don’t know whether that was intentional or not but it seemed to fit the story well. Still, it was a bit frustrating.

Paranormal is not really my favourite genre when it comes to books, but this is hands down the best paranormal I’ve ever read. Despite the vagueness and the confusion, it made me very curious and I remained engaged with the story throughout. I think its main fault was that there was so much introduced at once, so many threads that were left hanging. Something would be hinted at, but then dropped. I’m sure those things are addressed in the following books, but they made this book much more difficult to read and enjoy.

I liked the characters a lot. They were all quirky in their own way and sometimes they were absurd and ridiculous which added a lot of humour to the book. And I liked that they were all unique and had very individual personalities. Sometimes, it feels like you’re reading about the same character only with different names and descriptions, but this wasn’t a problem in this book. You could clearly tell who was talking without being told, just by the way they said it and they behaved.

I liked the mythology of it. It was really cool. Usually, I get bored with the mythology in paranormal,  but this was cool and interesting and unlike what I’ve encountered before. I look forward to reading the other ones, because if nothing else, this book managed to make me really curious.