The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch – Spoiler Free Book Review

127455Rating: 5/5 stars

Genre: Adult, fantasy

First published: 2006

Author: Scott Lynch

Synopsis: The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a friend to the poor, a ghost that walks through walls. 

Slightly built and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. And while Locke does steal from the rich (who else would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny. All of Locke’s gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves: The Gentemen Bastards.

The capricious, colourful underworld of the ancient city of Camorr is the only home they’ve ever known. But now a clandestine war is threatening to tear it apart. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends are suddenly struggling just to stay alive…

Book Depository | Goodreads

This book was so good. I put it off for ages thinking I wouldn’t like it and I was wrong. I was very wrong, because I loved it. It’s got thieves and criminals and a daredevil heist and the characters are the best ever. I love their friendship, it makes me happy.

I love heist stories and this one was such a good one. And the story was also so intricate, it had so many layers and things going on, despite it not being a huge book. I mean, it’s by no means a small book, but I wouldn’t say it’s massive. Then again… I tend to read a lot of epic fantasy, so 500 pages is pretty much the norm for me. Anyway, the point is the story is great and it’s very well balanced with the world-building, which can often be a problem in fantasy. We get just the right amount of information.

The world itself is quite fascinating. All major cities are built on the remains of some strange ancient civilisation that nobody knows anything about. And while that’s tertiary to the story (though it may be more important later on), it’s interesting and the fact that it’s in there despite the fact that it’s not particularly relevant to the story, just makes it feel a lot more authentic. There is magic in this world, but it’s not very prominent. It is featured a little bit, but it’s not a main focus, at least in this book.  Possibly it will be in later books.

The characters themselves are awesome, I love them so much. Locke is a conniving, scheming, thieving, mostly amoral bastard and I love him for it. There are still so many questions I have about his past and I can’t wait to unravel the web of all his lies and deceptions (the book is called The Lies of Locke Lamora for a reason) and why exactly he started weaving it in the first place. I love the relationships among the Gentlemen Bastards, it just warms my heart to read about such friendship and loyalty.

Another thing I really enjoyed and actually the main reason that drove me to finally pick this up is that there is no romance in it. It’s not that I don’t like romance in books, because I do, but sometimes it’s nice to have a break from that and it was something that I was really craving at the time I read it.

I thought the writing was good as well. I wouldn’t say it particularly stands out in style, it didn’t particularly stick in my mind. But that’s alright, some authors have really unique or memorable writing styles, but that isn’t a necessity for good writing. This was good writing, even though it was not particularly memorable. I will say that there is a lot of swearing.

All in all, I wholeheartedly recommend this book if you’re looking for some adventure, some outrageous thievery and great friendships, you will most likely love this book.



Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff – Spoiler Free Book Review

godsgraveRating: 5/5

Genre:  YA, fantasy

First published: 2017

Author: Jay Kristoff

***SPOILER ALERT*** This is the second book in the series and therefore the following synopsis and review may contain spoilers for the first book. Read my spoiler free review of Nevernight here.

Synopsis: Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church hierarchy think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending the men who destroyed her familia; in fact, she’s told directly that Consul Scaeva is off limits. But after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia suspicions about the Red Church’s true motives begin to grow. 

Book Depository | Goodreads

I loved the first one and I loved this one just as much. I can’t get enough of this series. I can’t get enough Jay Kristoff. His snarky writing just gives me life. I need to read more of his books.

Anyway, where to begin… this one is very different from the first one, but that’s not to say it’s in any way worse. This’s one’s got less of the “Harry Potter-y” magical school vibe to it and more of a gladiator vibe. With a bit of Hunger Games going. I thought that was pretty cool and kept looking forward to the next great battle. They were never boring.

We get to see a lot more of the world, which is always a treat. And we get to discover some juicy morsels about the Red Church and about Mia’s parents. There’s action, there’s mystery, there’s humour and there’s heartbreak, all tied up in one hell of a book.

The characters are still a joy. We see some new characters and are re-acquainted with some old ones. Mr. Kindly and Eclipse bicker like an old married couple, which is highly entertaining. Mia is as delightfully sarcastic and profane as ever, but I think she grows a lot as a character in this one as she slowly faces the things that have happened in her past, both distant and more recent.

The one thing that we don’t really learn much about is darkins. What exactly they are and how they came to be, but there are some exciting hints which will probably get explored in the following book (do I really have to wait until next year?).

Of course, I have to mention the footnotes. As I mentioned in my review of the first one, the footnotes were one of my favourite things about the story. I’m really curious who the narrator it. I personally always thought it was Mr. Kindly for some reason.

The ending was just… like I said, do I really have to wait until next year? The next installment promises to be epic and I can’t wait for it!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Spoiler Free Book Review

ready player oneRating: 5/5

Genre: Sci-fi, YA

First published: 2011?

Author: Ernest Cline

Synopsis: In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

Book Depository | Goodreads

This book was so much fun. I kept putting off for some reason. I felt like I wouldn’t enjoy it if I didn’t get all the references or that I simply wouldn’t enjoy it at all. I don’t know why, but I was so wrong. I torpedoed through this book. I think it took me 2 days to read even though I spent most of those two days travelling.

The story was so fun and action packed and engaging. It was really immersive as well, I loved it. I felt like I was actually in OASIS as I was reading it and wishing OASIS was real when I wasn’t. And I loved all the references, I didn’t get all of them to be fair, but that didn’t get in the way of enjoying the story, instead I just learnt more things about 80s pop culture. I loved the scavenger hunt/puzzle solving element to it, I really love puzzles and figuring things out and there aren’t that many books that feature riddles and puzzles, so I had so much fun.

The characters were great. Wade’s perspective was so fun to read because he was such a teenage boy. And I’ve never been a teenage boy, so it was a bit bemusing but really interesting and fun to read the thought processes behind the typical teenage boy behaviour. I also loved the friendship between Wade and Aech, which is an uncommon one for reasons I can’t say due to spoilers. And of course, I loved Wade and Art3mis, they’re so cute afglhskjfa.

Okay, I’m okay. Yeah, this book is awesome. I wish I could erase it from my brain and re-read it for the first time. Read it people, you will not be disappointed. It will sing to the geek in you and make you happy.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge – Book Review

the lie treeRating: 4/5 stars

Genre: Historical, mystery, fantasy, YA

First published: 2015

Author: Frances Hardinge

Synopsis: Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy – a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered.

In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father’s possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree bears fruit only when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder – or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself.

Book Depository | Goodreads

This was a strange and interesting book. It had a very Agatha Christie-y vibe to it, but at the same time, it had this very dark element of fantasy to it. I did enjoy  it quite a bit though.

My main complaint about it is that it was quite slow to start. It took a good 100 pages for things to really start happening. I feel like if the setting isn’t a complex fantasy world, there is no justification for such a long exposition. Even with a fantasy world 100 pages of exposition might be pushing it, especially if your book isn’t very long. Like, I get that we needed a sort of background of how the characters got to where they were at, but it could have been done better. It could have started off with the death of Faith’s father, which is in the synopsis, and then give some background info in flashbacks or something.

Another objection, a much more minor one though, is that the whole thing with the tree was very confusing. Even after reading the whole book, I’m not sure I quite understand what the tree was and how it worked. But on the other hand, that could have just been done intentionally to increase the air of mystery, especially since I don’t think that Faith really understood the tree either, so I guess it could get away with it. Though personally, because the tree was such a pivotal element of Faith’s investigation, and therefore of the entire plot, I think it should have been explained better.

Something that I think was done very well was the setting and the atmosphere. The book takes place in Victorian England. Though technically, it mostly takes place on one of the small British isles. I forget which one. Anyway, it felt really authentic and the author managed to create a very dark and mysterious atmosphere that really made me want to keep reading.

I also enjoyed Faith as a character. She reminded me of myself a little, with her curiosity and love for science. And while the general attitude of everyone else that women (let alone girls) shouldn’t and don’t have the ability to be clever, was really, really frustrating, it did reflect the general thinking of the time and it gave Faith a subversive air that worked really well.

It’s very hard to find things to say about it without giving anything away, so I’ll finish off by saying that I did enjoy the book and I’m curious to try some of Hardinge’s other novels.

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare – Spoiler Free Book Review

lord of shadowsRating: 5/5

Genre: Urban fantasy, YA

First published: 2017

Author: Cassandra Clare

***SPOILER ALERT*** This is the second book in the series and therefore the following synopsis and review may contain spoilers for the first book. 

Synopsis: Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Book Depository | Goodreads

I keep forgetting how much I enjoy Cassie’s books. Every time a new one comes out, I always wait months before reading it, because I just feel like I won’t really enjoy it for some reason, despite having to date, read like… 15 Shadowhunter books and having loved each and every one of them. I don’t know why I have this mental barrier. But I’m always surprised, as a result, by how much I absolutely love her books and how she just keeps getting better and better with each one.

Like the first book, this one has a noir mystery vibe to it, which is really cool and I really enjoyed. Lady Midnight had Anabelle by Edgar Allan Poe as a sort of… starting point or… I don’t quite know what to call it. But basically, the poem was very relevant to the story and even somewhat part of the story. This one’s based on another Poe poem, Dreamland. And I think the poem parallels very nicely to the Unseelie Court which is quite prominent in this book. I find that aspect to be really cool, I think it adds so much to the story, to the vibe and atmosphere of the story.

As always, there is a mad, complicated and heart-wrenching love story that just seems impossible. I can’t envision any happy ending for these poor souls. But ore than that, it features, as always, such beautiful and powerful friendships and family relationships and it just made my heart ache to read about them. It’s just so lovely how much they love each other and Cassie does such a wonderful job of highlighting the importance of friendship and family relationships which are so often overlooked in YA in favour of romantic relationships.

The ending of this book left me in shock. Honestly. I did not see it coming and my blood quite literally drained from my face as I was reading it. I’m still in denial. I’m halfway convinced that we’ll get to the third book and we’ll find out that the last like… 3 chapters were actually just someone’s nightmare and didn’t actually happen. And that’s all I’m going to say because spoilers. I might do a discussion post as well, where I’ll talk more about it.

I don’t think there’s any point in me talking about the writing, because if you’re reading this, then you’ve probably read some Shadowhunter book at some point and you know the writing style. All I will say is that Cassie’s skill for words and storytelling just grown and grows with each book. It just gets better.

The characters are mostly the same as the ones in Lady Midnight, so you’ll already be acquainted with them. But we do get to see a lot of Kit Herondale (and I just can’t resist a Herondale). He’s quickly become one of my favourites. We also get to see a lot more of the twins, which I really loved as well. Especially learning more about Ty and his autism and how he thinks and interacts with the world. I think Cassie did a very good job of portraying that.

I can’t believe I have to wait two years for the final one. It’s going to drive me crazy. Although I am really looking forward to The Last Hours and seeing some more of Will and Tessa and their children. I’m also really curious how it will weave together with The Dark Artifices, because we all know that she’s going to somehow weave them together. So, exciting times ahead!

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb – Book Review

assassin's apprenticeRating: 3.5/5

Genre: Adult, fantasy

First published: 1995

Author: Robin Hobb

Synopsis: Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated like an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill–and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

Book Depository | Goodreads

It’s been a couple months since I’ve read this book (I’m very behind with my reviews), so I’m having a bit of a hard time gathering my thoughts about it. I did enjoy the book, particularly the second half of it. My main issue was that it was quite slow to begin with. The first half or so was just exposition. Not much happened. And it did give an indea of the characters and the world and so on, but I felt that information could have been more spread out and mixed with some action.

Because it was so slow to begin with, it felt a bit like reading half a book. Even though there were things going on, they weren’t very exciting things.  They were somewhat mundane. And in a way, it makes it feel somehow more authentic because life is not a constant whirlwind, and it sets things up, but I just got a bit bored in the beginning.

However, the story was very interesting and I’m intrigued by it. I’m really curious to see what happens next and I look forward to learning more about our main character and about the magic and about what exactly is going on. The book is written by the main character as a sort of autobiography and the little we glimpse of his current condition has me really curious to know more about his life.

While I did like the characters, I didn’t feel any particular connection to any of them and I think that also contributed to me being a bit bored. I was also a bit disappointed in the limited assassin page time. I love assassins, but it took a good quarter of the book, maybe even more, before anything about any assassin was even mentioned. And I was expecting more assassin training.

I did find the magic (or at least the little we know of it) to be really cool. Fitz’s ability with animals in particular. It’s so cool, I wish I could do that! But I have a lot of questions about the magic. There were some strange things that happened that I’m really curious about.

The plot is very political and if you enjoy that sort of thing, you’ll probably like the book because I thought it was well done. I personally found it a bit heavy on the political side. I do enjoy political plots, but it gets to a point where they’re too much for me. Especially if the main character isn’t actually trying to subvert the system. What can I say, I’m a rebel at heart.

Finally, the writing… I think the writing also contributed a bit to my boredom. It’s a bit dawdling. Sometimes uses too many words to say very little. Hobb’s style is not my favourite. It’s not bad writing though, it’s just a matter of personal taste. I can recognise the merit of her writing and i don’t hate it, but I don’t particularly like it either.

All in all, it was a good book and I do intend to continue with the series and perhaps even read some of her other series.

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani – Book Review

good and evilRating: 4/5

Genre: middle grade, fantasy

First published: 2013

Author: Soman Chainani

Synopsis: The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains.

Book Depository | Goodreads

Finally getting to review this, 100 years after I read it. I am so behind with reviews. I’m behind with life, really. I need a nap.

Anyway, this was a really cute book. But I don’t feel like I have a lot to say about it other than that. I mean, I enjoyed it. Just not as much as I thought I would. And I’m not sure why. I liked the characters. The story was fun. I didn’t have a problem with the writing… I don’t know why I didn’t like it as much. It may have something to do with the fact that i read it while travelling, so I wasn’t as immersed in the story. Or maybe just the state of mind that I was in at the time was incongruous with the book. I don’t know.

What I can tell you is that it has a fun plot and fun characters. Although both the story and the characters are very cliche, it’s an exaggerated cliche, which gave me the impression that it was done purposely to make a point about cliches. Like, Sophie was the cliche of a princes: beautiful, golden haired blah blah blah, and yet she turned out to be the ‘evil’ one. Which in itself is a cliche. So yeah, that was fun. Playing with cliches like that.

I couldn’t really connect to the story or the characters though, and again I’m not sure whether that’s because I was travelling, or just read the book at the wrong moment. But I am interested in seeing where the story goes, though I think I will have to wait for a time when I’m in a different mood, because my current mood just doesn’t seem to fit with this story.

I liked the theme of friendship that was at the heart of this story and that’s one of the things I love about middle grade. YA is often so focused on romantic relationships, it overlooks the even more powerful and important bonds of friendship, and that was well explored in this book. I felt like it was even a little tongue in cheek towards that particular trend in YA.

All in all, I liked this book, I thought it was cute and I am interested in continuing with it at some point in the future.