Thursday, 22 September 2016

Review on Three Dark Crowns

When triplets Mirabella, Arsinoe and Katherine are born, their fates are already sealed for them. One Queen must take the lives of her sisters using their gift, and take the throne. However, two of the queens gifts have failed to become apparent, making Mirabella the favourite to win the crown. As Beltane approaches, Katherine and Arsinoe must find a way to hide the fact that they are gift-less, and make everyone believe that they are more than a match for Mirabella

I was so happy when I got sent an arc of this book and couldn't wait to read it! It follows a set of royal triplets who can all potentially become Queen. However, the other two sisters must first be killed before one of them can take the throne. I thought this was a really interesting idea, and I loved that each Queen was meant to have her own unique gift. However, only Mirabella, the Elemental seems to actually possess a gift, leaving Katherine the Poisoner and Arsinoe the Naturalist at a great disadvantage. I adored how they cleverly kept this a secret from the public and their sisters, and found ways to trick everyone into believing their gifts were as strong as Mirabella's.

One thing that I just couldn't decide was who my favourite Queen was! As Mirabella is the strongest, I thought she would use her power to her advantage, and be ruthless, so I was quite surprised that she was the most reluctant to kill her sisters. Mirabella is extremely kind, and I especially loved her relationship with Elizabeth. As this is quite a female driven book, I was hoping that their relationship would turn romantic. As a big part of the book revolves around a number of suitors attempting to court the Queens, I felt as if Mirabella having a secret relationship with Elizabeth would have been a great plot point, so I was a little disappointed when this did not happen. However, Mirabella is involved in a love triangle, which completely shocked me! As anyone who frequently reads my blog will know, there is little I hate more than instalove, so I hated her relationship with a boy who she saves. As I had previously liked this character, I felt betrayed that he slept with Mirabella, and sadly Mirabella lost her status as my favourite Queen.

I have to talk a little about Arsinoe, who soon replaced Mirabella as my favourite. As she is a Naturalist, she is a little more down to earth than her sisters, and spends a lot of time outdoors with her best friend, Jules. The Naturalists were my favourite, and I loved that they had animal familiars. I liked the characters from Wolf Spring the best, especially Jules. Although Arsinoe is Queen, it is Jules who is the most powerful Naturalist, and I loved her strong bond with her familiar. I disliked most of the male characters except for Billy, one of the suitors. I adored his friendship with Arsinoe, and how he was extremely loyal to her. I loved the fact that their relationship never turned romantic, as I feel as if platonic relationships between male and female characters in YA is a rare occurrence.

The Queen who I disliked the most was Katherine, as I felt as if she was the most ruthless and determined to win. She does not seem to care much about the fact that she will have to kill her sisters, and she definitely felt like the villain of the group.

I felt as if the book started out too slowly, and it wasn't until over halfway through that the pace picked up, and I started to enjoy it more. The last quarter of the book was definitely my favourite, and I loved the interactions between Mirabella and Arsinoe. One thing that I found quite odd was that the book is written in third person, present tense, and it took quite a while for me to get used to it. For some reason it feels unnatural to me, as the majority of books I read in third person are in past tense. I felt as if there were too many minor characters, as I was often confused over who was who. I find that too many minor characters often creates a distraction from the main plot, as on several occasions, I backtracked to try to find out the relationship of a minor character to one of the Queens.

As I was confused over the layout of the island, I was extremely happy to discover that the book includes a map! As a lover of Tolkien and C.S Lewis, I do love a good map. I also have to mention how much I love the fact that the book has three different covers, which are all gorgeous and eye catching. There is no doubt that these covers will stand out in a book shop!

Although the slow pace made me initially think I was in for an extremely dull read, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. As someone who is usually pretty good at predicting plot twists, I did not see the ending coming at all, and I am definitely looking forward to reading the sequel!

Three Dark Crowns is now available to purchase!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Reviewing the Classics #5 The Secret Garden

                                  Goodreads Summary:

Mary Lennox was horrid. Selfish and spoilt, she was sent to stay with her hunchback uncle in Yorkshire. She hated it.

But when she finds the way into a secret garden and begins to tend it, a change comes over her and her life. She meets and befriends a local boy, the talented Dickon, and comes across her sickly cousin Colin who had been kept hidden from her. Between them, the three children work astonishing magic in themselves and those around them


  I remember trying to read this book around six years ago, but for some reason I have up about halfway through, so for this months classic I was determined to finally read the whole thing! The book follows Mary Lennox, a ten year old girl who's parents tragically die due to a cholera epidemic. Mary has grown up having servants do everything for her, so she is surprised when she has to move to Yorkshire, where the servants treat her almost as their equals. Mary soon meets Dickon, her servants younger brother who loves the company of animals, and Colin, her cousin who everyone believes won't live to grow up. When they find a garden that no one has been into for ten years, they decide to work on it and make it their own.

I thought this was a nice light read, and although not much happens in terms of action, I enjoyed this book. Mary starts out as being extremely selfish, and treats the servants more like slaves. She is obnoxious and bratty, but with the help of Dickon, as Yorkshire boy who spends most of his time on the moor, she soon becomes a lot more pleasant. I loved the change in Mary's personality, and how she ends up realising how awful she used to be. I also loved how she made Colin realise he was exactly how she used to be, and helped him to want to go outside and get better instead of laying in bed complaining that he was going to die. Although Colin is spoilt, I did feel sorry for him, as no one seemed to want to help him get better, and everyone had scared him into believing that he was inevitably going to die young and have a crooked back. Colin soon becomes a hypochondriac, and is terrified that he is growing a lump on his back. I loved how Mary was the only person brave enough to be firm with him, and made him realise that the only reason his back and legs were so weak was because he never got out of bed.

Dickon was my favourite character, and I loved how he brought his animals to Colin to show him what he was missing out on by not going outside. I loved the friendships between the three children, and how Mary and Dickon both encouraged Colin to get better. I loved how it showed that although it was up to Colin to make himself better, having good friends who encouraged and supported him was also equally as important to his recovery. As all anyone ever told him previously was that he was too weak and was going to die, he had given up and never even attempted to prove them wrong, so I loved it when he got angry when Ben repeated the rumours, and proved him wrong by standing.

Although I adored the characters, I was often bored by the plot itself, particularly when some of the mysteries were solved quite early on in the book. I felt that once Colin started to get better, there were no longer any surprises, and I ended up getting a little bored of the constant descriptions of the garden. I definitely enjoyed the first half more than the second, as I loved the mysteries such as the cry in the corridor and Mary trying to discover how to get inside the garden. I felt as if nothing happened in the second half other than the children digging in the garden, eating and helping Colin get better. I did however love that Colin achieved his goal in the end and proved everyone wrong! I thought this gave a positive message that just because people tell you that you can't do something doesn't mean they are right. Although this isn't usually the sort of book I would read, I did enjoy it and i'm glad that I finally managed to read the whole book!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Book Club Picks #3 More Happy Than Not

Along with the lovely Hot Key Books sending us a book each month, we also vote on another book to read that we can choose for ourselves! Last month we chose More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera. 

. After Aaron Soto's father commits suicide, Aaron feels lost in life. After his own suicide attempt, Aaron is trying to get his life back on track, and not allow his past to haunt him. However when his girlfriend leaves town for a couple of weeks, he finds himself spending more and more time with his new friend, Thomas. Aaron slowly realises that he is developing romantic feelings for Thomas, and that his feelings for Genevieve may not be genuine. Aaron finally decides to turn to a Leteo, a place that has advanced technology to the point where they are able to alter memories. Aaron must decide if he wants to forget his fathers suicide and his feelings for Thomas, or to deal with his traumatic past and his sexuality.

 When I first started reading this book, I had no idea what it was going to be about. It follows Aaron, a seemingly average teenage boy from New York who has a girlfriend and a group of friends. However, when he meets Thomas, everything changes. When his girlfriend Genevieve leaves town to work on her art at a retreat, Aaron grows closer to Thomas, and they soon become best friends. Aaron soon discovers that he has romantic feelings for Thomas, forcing him to realise that his feelings for Genevieve may not be genuine. The first half of the book made it seem like the story was going to be a cute gay romance with a side of Sci-Fi. I immediately liked Thomas, and felt that the book was going in the direction of Thomas becoming Aaron's boyfriend. However, the tone of the book completely changes around the half way point, and I realised that my prediction couldn't be more wrong! I always love it when a book takes me completely by surprise, and this one definitely did that.

Although the book initially seems contemporary, it comes with a Sci-Fi twist. As Aaron comes to realise he is gay, and the memories of his father's suicide constantly haunt him, he decides to visit a memory altering facility. I thought this was really interesting, and it made me wonder how many people would actually go through this procedure if it were real. As humans, we all experience grief at some point, which can ruin our day to day lives, so this made me wonder if people bearing huge emotional burdens would risk a procedure like this.

There was a huge plot twist in the middle of the book that I wasn't expecting at all! I loved that it went over the past year of Aaron's life to explain what had happened to him, and how he had got to the point of wanting his memories altered. The book focuses quite a bit on homophobia, and how his father being homophobic towards him at a young age made Aaron believe that being gay was bad, and that the only way he could be “fixed” was to get his memories altered to make him straight. The sad truth is many parents actually do act like Aaron's dad, saying harmful things to their sons, such as telling them they aren't allowed to play with toys that are marketed towards girls. Playing with dolls will in no way make a child gay, as sexuality is not a thing we choose, it is something that we are, and that we have no control over, and I felt as if this book shows that message perfectly.In the end, there is no amount of memory modification that can change Aaron's sexuality, and I loved that he finally came to realise and accept that. Along with loving the fact that Aaron couldn't become straight, I also loved that Thomas explained he couldn't become gay just because Aaron had a crush on him. It showed perfectly that sexuality can't be changed at will, no matter what you identify as.

The ending was both a mixture of happy and sad,and although I felt terrible for Aaron, I was glad that he still had his friends. Genevieve and Thomas are extremely loyal friends, and although Aaron has upset them both, they stick by him no matter what. Besides Aaron and his family, they were the only two characters who I actually liked, as I felt that characters like Colin were only nice to him for personal gain. I honestly couldn't get myself to like Colin, and I was happy that in the end, Aaron wasn't too bothered about romance and was just glad to have Thomas and Genevieve in his life.

This is an important book which focuses on love, friendship, sexuality, guilt and betrayal, and I would honestly recommend it to anyone! It is both funny and heart wrenching, and we definitely need more books like this one!

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