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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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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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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