Bursts of Fire – Susan Forest (Book thoughts in 300 words and 3 gifs)

Three and half ‘Magiel’ stars 🐼🐼🐼🐼

‘Bursts of Fire’ is the first novel of Susan Forest’s series ‘Addicted to Heaven’ where she sets out to explore the complex world of addictions. Using a vast fantasy world as the backdrop, it makes for an interesting read with a unique premise.

The world is built beautifully, with descriptions scattered about the chapters, allowing the reader to put the jigsaw of that massive land of many kingdoms. The world was well-formed in the author’s head before she put it down on the page but I felt like some of the information is a bit too much for a first book – at times it was hard to keep up.

The plot is built well and fits with the overarching theme of addiction marvellously (retrospectively, as I didn’t realise it did until the very last page – in the author blurb). The unique take on the Heavens as a normal destination was refreshing and the whole idea with death tokens and magic being time, and the payment being jumping in your own timeline was simply delicious. So creative! Kudos, Ms Forest.

The pacing was strange – the jumps in time connected to the narrative, were executed poorly, leaving me thinking ‘Wait, what? When did this happen? Oh, it’s been three months.’ It was at times a very confusing read.

The characters are not this novel’s strongest point. There is good selection of different narrators, presenting plenty of different points of view but I couldn’t connect emotionally to any of them but Eamon – and the poor lad wasn’t even a POV character! I struggled with hearing their unique voices and had to frequently figure out who was speaking.

Despite that, it is a good tale of sisterhood. It was beautiful to see the three sisters survive together, grow apart and then find each other in a world that had robbed them of adulthood at their own pace.

Rennika is slightly unrealistic to me because she was such a mature, reasonable character – do 11-13-year-olds behave so well? Maybe. I am not convinced.

The writing style is good. But good means things could be better. There were spelling and punctuation mistakes and dubious grammar. Not too many but enough to make me want to mention them. I liked the extensive vocabulary of the author and her ability to tie it to complement a character’s inner world. Overall, well done.

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Kingdom of Ash – Sarah J Maas (Book thoughts in 300 words and 3 gifs)

Three and a half ‘Forged’ stars 🐼🐼🐼🐼

‘Kingdom of Ash’ is the epic conclusion to the seven-piece fantasy series ‘Throne of Glass’ by Sarah J Maas. It follows the journey of Aelin and her impressive amount of allies. Can’t say much more without spoiling the story.

The world of Erilea is well-developed and the readers have a good idea of what the stakes are for each character; and how their story fits within this massive universe, which is no small feat considering how many POV characters there are.

The plot is nothing new – the end goal, as with many fantasy series, is to save the world. There is magic and war. What I found interesting is how the Gods were depicted – far from being angelic, their presence reminds the reader that not all that is supposed to be good and fair actually is. And with how our own world is, this point hits home.

I liked the pacing, which is one of Ms Maas’s strong points as a writer – there is good mix of action, romance and reflection time, all of which flow nicely from one to the next, making the story coherent and incredibly easy to read.

The characters are definitely my favourite thing about this book and the series as a whole. I had so many favourite ships I could build a whole armada. Elide and Lorcan – yes, please. Aedion and Lysandra? Please just be together already. Dorian and Manon? HOT. Despite the relationships following a rather repetitive cycle of ‘like-get together for a bit-fight-dislike-like again-be super happy-have a baby’, I still found them enjoyable to read.

Aelin herself is an interesting character, who was both strong and refreshingly weak and anxious at times, showing readers that even super powerful queens with a thousand titles can have a bad day and need a warm bath to make it a bit better.

The only issue I have with this book, and the others in the series, is the writing. It is repetitive (how many times can one cringe??) and too overdramatic sometimes. There is lots of purple prose in the descriptions and while I enjoyed some of them, I found myself scanning paragraphs and skipping ahead, which is never good. The language is conversational and easy to read. YA readers would have no problem with this book. Their parents, however, might not approve of some of the graphic sex scenes inside.

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Tower of Dawn – Sarah J Maas (Book thoughts in 300 words and 3 gifs)

Four ‘Healing’ stars 🐼🐼🐼🐼

‘Tower of Dawn’ is the sixth book in the seven-piece fantasy series ‘Throne of Glass’ by Sarah J Maas. It follows the journey of Chaol and Nesryn as they set off to heal Chaol’s injury and obtain an army to follow them home.

The Southern Continent is a good addition to the world of Erilea and provides an interesting focus on diversity which was strongly lacking in the previous books.

The plot is weaved with care, placing the characters’ journey to each other in the centre. I could see the twist coming from pages away but it did not ruin my experience because as with all other books of Ms Maas’, you’re in it for the banter and the ships blossoming left, right and centre.

I liked the pacing, which is one of Ms Maas’s strong points as a writer – there is good mix of action, romance and reflection time, all of which flow nicely from one to the next, making the story coherent and incredibly easy to read.

‘Tower of Dawn’ does not follow any other of the main characters from books 1-5 which I thought would be a minus but was actually a surprisingly nice change of scenery. Having fallen out of love with Chaol, and never liking Nesryn, I actually adored them both towards the end of this book. It happens rarely with me, so well done, Ms Maas.

The whole plot line about Chaol’s healing process is magnificently written – it is a great description of dealing with trauma and the ending to that storyline is painfully realistic. I will not spoil more but as someone battling with mental health on the daily, I appreciated the care in the depiction of something which could have been easily glossed over for a hearty HEA.

The only issue I have with this book, and the others in the series, is the writing. It is repetitive and too overdramatic sometimes. There is lots of purple prose in the descriptions and while I enjoyed some of them, I found myself scanning paragraphs and skipping ahead, which is never good. The language is conversational and easy to read. YA readers would have no problem with this book. Their parents, however, might not approve of some of the graphic sex scenes inside.

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The Assassin’s Blade – Sarah J Maas (Book thoughts in 300 words and 3 gifs)

Three and a half ‘Assassin’ stars 🐼🐼🐼🐼

‘The Assassin’s Blade’ is the collection of five prequel novellas to the seven-piece fantasy series ‘Throne of Glass’ by Sarah J Maas. It follows the journey of Celeana before the events of any of the other books unfold and gives insight into some of her personality and reasoning, together with expanding on and introducing some other relevant side characters.

The world of Erilea is well-developed if you look at the series as a whole but if you read the prequels first, it appears scattered and disjointed. These are definitely not standalone novellas. A good addition to the series nonetheless.

The plot and pacing of each novella are well-developed. Those are some tight stories; and compared to the novels are much better in how they were built as a piece of writing. Each having a specific purpose to explain a certain thing, they work really well without wasting too many words on unnecessary descriptions or world-building.

The characters are well-written and well-placed to provide Celaena with a bouquet of life experiences that made her the fearless warrior queen that she is. When reading the series, I did think there were times Calaena behaved oddly, without any good reason backing her actions. This book provides that additional insight into who this character really is.

The side characters are really strong. My favourites were Yrene and Sam – well done, Ms Maas. In contrast to the more explicit love scenes in the other books, the innocent love between Sam and Caleana was refreshing – both beautiful and sad, as the readers know the outcome. I felt genuinely heartbroken every time they would talk about the future.

The writing is good. It made me turn the pages without thinking too much about sentences and word choice despite some repetitions. The language is conversational and easy to read. YA readers would have no problem with this book.

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Bright Ruin – Vic James (Book thoughts in 300 words and 3 gifs)

Four ‘Skilled’ stars 🐼🐼🐼🐼

‘Bright Ruin’ is the last novel of Vic James’s debut series about an alternative United Kingdom which has plenty of magic, political and sociological issues, emotionally and physically tortured people and lots and lots of intrigue.

The world is as beautiful as before but seems to sit at a standstill. With too many character arcs to consider and finish off, there is little room for expansion of the world. Second book made me think we would see more of the international world but this was not the case unfortunately.

The plot flows nicely from the last book. It is all about tying loose ends for all the scattered characters and making opportunities for them to end up at the same place in the end. A completely new storyline is introduced (The King) which was interesting but also seemed rushed and unfinished. Its only purpose seemed to be to set up the end for Silyen and Luke; and I can’t say that was too successful either.

The characters are still this novel’s strongest point. There is not much development in this book, it feels like Ms James was rushing to make sure everyone gets a coherent ending. The whole thing with Luke and Silyen was just odd and while I thoroughly enjoyed one particular scene (wink, wink) it was a lot less than I was hoping for.

Romances were developed only to have parts of them ripped apart by death, so it was very bittersweet – no one was safe and a few plot twists made me really unhappy as I was invested in the characters. What was the point of getting into so much detail if they were just destined to die soon after being introduced as a character/couple?

The writing style is still as beautiful. Very polished. Ms James writes eloquently and commands language very well to provide the reader with an easy way to distinguish which character’s POV they are currently observing the story from.

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Plus half a 🐼 for the ending. It was a realistic, open ending. Things were heavily implied so as far as I’m concerned there were no cliffhangers. But spin-off please?

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Good Omens – Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman (Book thoughts in 300 words and 3 gifs)

Three and a half ‘Nice and Accurate’ stars 🐼🐼🐼🐼

Good Omens is basically a classic of the comedy genre. In the edition I read, the authors even acknowledge it themselves. And now that Amazon Prime Now and BBC 2 have picked up the people’s favourite apocalypse story for a series, the book is once again in the spotlight.

Before I get into the specifics, I want to say I massively enjoyed this book. On other occasions I had tried to read Pratchett’s work and Gaiman’s work but couldn’t find it in myself to enjoy them. Something was missing for me. And somehow, this collaboration filled those missing bits and created a book I could not only finish, but also enjoy immensely along the way. To that, I say ‘Bravo!’

The plot is a quirky retelling of the popular doomsday idea, all mixed with the Antichrist, angels and devils, the Four Horsemen and humans being weird and wonderful. In itself it’s nothing new but the way the characters interact with the whole concept is outstandingly done.

Pacing for me was a bit off, the first half of the book was a bit of a drag and I persevered only because the jokes were good. In that sense, it seemed very much like a normal Pratchett novel. But as the Apocalypse started happening, and the action picked up, it was as if Gaiman took the reins and brought these characters together into what seemed to be a perfect finale. I know that’s not how the writing happened but it sure felt like it.

The characters are the best part of this book. They are diverse, likeable and thought-through. The banter between Crowley and Aziraphale was to die for. (See what I did there?) My favourite character was Anathema Device, not only because she was both funny and inspiringly dedicated, but also because the prophecies of her ancestors were a very innovative way of storytelling which provided both plot progression and world building.

The writing style was impeccable, which is nothing to be unexpected from two brilliant authors. The sentences were beautiful and some of the amazing comparisons seemed to be so creative, I would stop to read them twice and mull over how someone could come up with them.

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Tarnished City – Vic James (Book thoughts in 300 words and 3 gifs)

Three and a half ‘Skilled’ stars 🐼🐼🐼🐼

‘Tarnished city’ is the second novel of Vic James’s debut series about an alternative United Kingdom which has plenty of magic, political and sociological issues, emotionally and physically tortured people and lots and lots of intrigue.

The world expands before the reader in this book, introducing not only international aspects but also a different dimension – the world made of Skill. Some questions are answered (How is the UK allowed such atrocities, what about phones and social media?) while other are raised continuously to attract the reader’s attention (Where does Skill come from? What is it exactly?)

The plot thickens following events from the first book. The pace is improving. There is more of the characters interacting and less about them casually mentioning the history of things. The story is definitely a lot more compelling and had me turning pages like crazy. Magnificent endings to chapters made me crave just one page more and unexpected plot twists sparing no one’s fate kept me at the edge of my seat. I’m definitely hooked at this point.

The characters are still this novel’s strongest point. Silyen! Gavar! Bouda! I am exclaiming because they have grown so much and have been built so beautifully I would struggle to review this without spoilers. So I will leave it at this – read on, you won’t be disappointed. Multi-faceted characters are my drug of choice.

The romance part of the story blossoms in this book. I find myself frequently gasping as I read the well-written scenes of the characters exploring their never-simple feelings for themselves and each other. I have a few predictions for unexpected couples following events in this book – and this is the best compliment to an author – keep readers interested, keep them guessing, keep them shipping!  

The writing style is still as beautiful. Ms James writes eloquently and command language very well to provide the reader with an easy way to distinguish which character’s POV they are currently observing the story from. Only reason this section did not receive five stars is that the more obscure words are not always suitable to the books YA audience and some teenagers might find it difficult to read.

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Minus half a 🐼 for the cliffhanger ending. I’m biased because I hate them in all media. Sorry not sorry!

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Gilded Cage – Vic James (Book thoughts in 300 words and 3 gifs)

Three ‘Skilled’ stars 🐼🐼🐼

‘Gilded cage’ is the first novel of Vic James’s debut series about an alternative United Kingdom which has plenty of magic, political and sociological issues, emotionally and physically tortured people and lots and lots of intrigue.

The world is built beautifully, with descriptions scattered around the chapters, allowing the reader to put the jigsaw of what alt-Britain looks like. Obscure references in the beginning, such as the family singing a song in Chinese, threw me off at first but as I kept reading, things started mostly falling into place.

The plot is interesting, and while the pacing is a bit all over the place, it’s promising. I want to know more, despite some paragraphs about history being rather tedious to read.

The characters are this novel’s strongest point. There is good selection of different narrators, presenting plenty of different points of view. As this is the first book out of three, however, some of them fell flat as there was not enough time to develop them. I struggled to find some of them compelling and was not sure why they made it as a POV character – I’m looking at you, Bouda and Jenner – and I hope that will be clearer as the story moves on further.

I have become a definite fan of Silyen, a wonderfully complex character, and can’t wait to know more. There is something inherently sexy about the way he carries himself and I hope Ms James has some romantic development in store for him!  

I also adore little Daisy and her interactions with Gavar. She seems very mature for her age and the scenes with her are fascinating to read. She seems to soften the perpetually sulking and short-fused Jardine heir so is a nice tranquil part of the ensemble.

The writing style is beautiful. Ms James writes eloquently and commands language very well to provide the reader with an easy way to distinguish which character’s POV they are currently observing the story from. Only reason this section did not receive five stars is that the more obscure words are not always suitable to the book’s YA genre audience and some teenagers might find it difficult to read.

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Minus half a 🐼 for the cliffhanger ending. I’m biased because I hate them in all media. Sorry not sorry!

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