Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

soundless-coverSoundless by Richelle Mead

Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

Publisher: Puffin, 2015

My Rating: 2/5

Synopsis: For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village. Her people are at the mercy of a mysterious faraway kingdom, which delivers food in return for precious metals mined from the treacherous cliffs surrounding them.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, their rations shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the boy she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

Then Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon . . .

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My Review

I feel bad that I gave this book 2/5, not because it doesn’t deserve that score (it does, unfortunately), but because my boyfriend bought it for me as a present and I feel bad for not enjoying it more! So sorry Mark, you bought me a dud, but you weren’t to know.

But anyway, yes, this book does deserve a 2/5 rating. This was my first Richelle Mead book and I’d heard a lot of good things about her writing. Sadly, this novel has put me off reading any more of her work. In a nutshell, Soundless was clunky, predictable and lacking emotion.

The premise of the novel is great. An isolated village atop a mountain, populated by people who have lost their hearing and are gradually losing their sight. With arable lands cut off behind an ancient avalanche, a town at the base of the mountain ships goods via zip-line up to the village in return for the precious metals the village mines. But with blindness overtaking the villagers, mining has become exceedingly slower and more dangerous. Less food comes up the zip-line as less metals go down. Then, one day, our protagonist Fei awakes to find she can hear. And so begins a journey to save her village from starvation.

It started off alright. I wasn’t immediately hooked, but the world-building was at least interesting. Then came the pivotal moment of Fei regaining her hearing… and it was anticlimactic. There was a page or two of “oh, what’s this? What’s going on?” and then Fei seemed to forget all about the fact she could actually hear and got on with her daily duties. Perhaps Mead was trying to convey the idea that Fei’s hearing was coming back gradually, but instead it felt more like Fei just had selective hearing.

The story progressed, yet the action and emotion did not. There were perhaps one or two moments of action that made me tense a little. One such moment resulted in a cliffhanger at the end of the chapter, however, instead of eagerly turning the page, desperate to know the fate of this one character, I closed my book and went off to get something to drink. I just didn’t really care. I knew this character wasn’t going to die and oh, lo and behold, they were fine! No life-threatening injuries, not even concussion. It was all too formulaic and the writing lacked any feeling.

As a result, I didn’t care for the characters or the romance between Fei and old flame Li Wei. Mead tried to capture the tension between the two, but I felt nothing. The sentences weren’t original and nor was the romance itself. By the end of the novel, Mead clearly expected the reader to be totally wrapped up in the romance between the two characters. The rhetoric and the repeated motifs fell flat. Fei would repeat a sentence Li Wei had apparently said earlier about the two of them being good at the impossible, but I couldn’t even remember when he’d said that. In fact, I’d spent some parts of the book daydreaming, my eyes still reading a paragraph, and I’d realise I had no idea what I’d just read.

There were also some parts that needed to be elaborated upon. I felt 260 or so pages was not enough to convey the story and that’s why the emotion and the action was lacking. It’s strange to say a short book lacked action because normally shorter books are nothing but action. However, the action itself was too rushed, with no build up of tension. This meant things often went over my head, particularly Fei mentioning in passing how she also felt some kind of ‘connection’ to do with her hearing. I was halfway through the book by this point and couldn’t remember a time when this had previously been explained.

In addition, the plot was often too convenient and unbelievable to be true. MILD SPOILER AHEAD. DOESN’T SPOIL ANY MAJOR PLOT POINTS DIRECTLY BUT DOES HINT AT ONE:

Fei pulling herself up the zip-line, anyone? How on earth could a teenage girl pull herself hand-over-hand for hours up a zip-line that travelled the height of a mountain? Totally ridiculous!


So overall, this book was pretty predictable and lacking any real feeling. The parents were conveniently out of the way (aka dead), the first person POV had no special voice, and the romance barely even fizzled. I really wanted to love this book as I enjoy Fantasy settings inspired by China and Japan etc., but it was just a bit of a disappointment.

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Have you read Soundless? Or any other books by Richelle Mead? What did you think?

I’ve now started the second book my boyfriend ordered me, The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent, and it’s much better. So, Mark, you didn’t fail completely. 😉

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!



Review: Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski

51dobgln-xlNightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski

Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Thriller

Publisher: Hot Key Books

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: On Marin and Kana’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours – it comes every twenty-eight years. The twins and the rest of their village are making preparations to leave, but Marin finds the eerie rituals frustrating. Locks must be taken off doors, tables must be set as if for dinner – but no one will tell her why.

And then, just as they are about to sail, Marin and Kana’s best friend Line goes missing. They know where he has gone, and that they’re the only ones who will risk saving him. But will the ships wait?

Night is falling. Their island is changing. And something is stirring in the dark.

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I have mixed feelings about this book. I gave it 4/5 because I can’t deny that it was an enjoyable read, but I felt it was a little lacking in places.

However, let’s start with the positives. Like I said, it was an enjoyable and relatively quick read. I absolutely adore the premise. A small island experiences fourteen years of day followed by fourteen years of night. But, as night arrives, the villagers must clean and prepare their houses as though for new visitors, before setting sail to the Desert Lands on the equator to escape perpetual darkness. I really liked the world-building and thought it was detailed and intriguing. The authors gave out just enough information to satisfy the reader, but without revealing too much. This means there’s room perhaps for another novel set in this universe, as other lands and cultures are mentioned.

The opening chapter is particularly eerie and I think the authors started it well. I then found it slowed a little bit and the strange preparations for the houses could have had the creepiness heightened just a tad, but it was still interesting to read about. Then, by about 100 pages in, the tension really started to pick up again. See, my overall issue was probably with the pacing. A good opening chapter, then it slowed a little. Picked up considerably at about 100 pages in, but slowed down again by 200 and never quite kept the sense of terror going after that. If the pacing had been a bit better, I would have upped my rating to 4.5/5.

To make it 5/5, I would have liked a little more development with the characters. They were fine, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t love them. I didn’t hold my breath when they were in danger, or root for them to survive. Of course, I wanted them to survive, but I wasn’t 100% invested. The three central characters are Marin, her twin brother Kana, and their friend Line. I did enjoy their dynamic, but preferred Marin out of the three of them. Line sometimes got on my nerves a bit; he could be too relaxed and I’m there like what is wrong with you?! There are strange things going on and you’re not that worried?! Kana was probably the character who had the most development, which I liked, but still Marin seemed the most well-rounded, and the most sensible, to me.

I was genuinely creeped out in places during this novel, but I would class this more as a 14+ YA than a 16+, especially seeing as the protagonists are 14. I think if it had been a 16+ it would have really freaked me out as it’s such a good idea. It reminded me a little of The Village, that film by M. Night Shyamalan which I love and totally traumatised me when I was about 10. However, like I said, the terror waned in places and more so towards the end when I should have been feeling really scared. I found that what was “stirring in the dark” wasn’t quite as terrifying as I had hoped. That’s also why I’ve classed it as a Thriller not a Horror because there isn’t much gore or truly traumatising scenes. But like I said, I think this was more down to the age bracket of the novel than anything else, so I can’t fault them for targeting a slightly younger audience, I am 21 after all!

Overall, I’m interested in seeing if the authors produce anything else in the future. They do know how to capture the eeriness of a small island community and the fear that night brings. I’d like maybe something a little older from them, more 16+ than 14+, but this was still a fun read, despite its flaws.

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Have you read Nightfall? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!


Waiting On Wednesday: Goldenhand by Garth Nix


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine where you showcase which books you’re looking forward to being released.

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Words cannot describe how excited I am for this week’s featured Waiting on Wednesday novel.

It’s the long-awaited fourth (or rather fifth) installment of Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series. This is my all-time favourite series of books. I’ve re-read all three novels, Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen, and the novella The Creature in the Case (hence me referring to this upcoming novel as the fifth installment), so many times. I hate books to be creased or dog-eared but my copy of Sabriel is just that and I don’t mind, because it shows how much I’ve loved the book since I bought it a decade ago.


UK Release Date: 4th October 2016

As you can see, the cover is only a draft, but I’m glad it’s in the style of the previous novels.

I read Clariel, a kind of prequel that depicted the life of Chlorr of the Mask as a young girl, a year or so ago. I really did enjoy it, but it wasn’t as good as the original novels. Hopefully Goldenhand lives up to its predecessors. I’m so excited to delve back into this world again and see what’s next in store for characters like Lirael, Nicholas and Sam (who, along with Mogget, just pipped everyone else to the post as my favourite character in the novels), as well as maybe Sabriel and Touchstone. The blurb doesn’t mention the latter two, but seeing as Lirael is still the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, Sabriel at least must still be alive.

Synopsis for Goldenhand: 

Lirael is no longer a shy Second Assistant Librarian. She is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, with dead creatures to battle and Free Magic entities to bind. She’s also a Remembrancer, and wielder of the Dark Mirror. When Lirael finds Nicholas Sayre lying unconscious after being attacked by a hideous Free Magic creature, she uses her powers to save him. But Nicholas is deeply tainted with Free magic and Lirael must seek help for him at her childhood home, the Clayr’s Glacier. But even as she returns to the Clayr, a messenger is trying to reach Lirael with a dire warning from her long-dead mother, Arielle, about the Witch with No Face. But who is the Witch, and what is she planning? Once more a great danger threatens the Old Kingdom, and it must be forestalled not only in the living world, but also in the cold, remorseless river of Death.

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Are you excited for the fifth installment in the Old Kingdom series? And if not, why aren’t you?! Let me know in the comments below!

Caitlin (1)

Waiting On Wednesday: Heartland by Lucy Hounsom


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine where you showcase which books you’re looking forward to being released.

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I’ve been a little behind with Waiting on Wednesday so, after a couple of hectic weeks, its nice to get back to it again.

This week, I’m waiting on the second novel in The Worldmaker Trilogy by Lucy Hounsom, Heartland. My first ever book review on this blog was for Starborn, the first novel in the trilogy (which I gave 3.5/5), and I was lucky enough to meet Hounsom and get a signed copy of the novel at an event at my university, where Hounsom also studied. Whilst the first book didn’t blow me away, I found that there was a lot Hounsom could easily improve on, and I still enjoyed it, so I’m excited to see if she’s made the necessary improvements in Heartland. Check out the review for Starborn here.


UK Release Date: 30th June 2016 (tomorrow!)



Kyndra has saved and damned the people of Mariar. Her star-born powers healed a land in turmoil, but destroyed an ancient magic – which once concealed them from invaders. Now Kyndra must head into enemy territory to secure peace.

She finds the Sartyan Empire, unstable but as warlike as ever. It’s plagued by dissident factions, yet its emperor still has the strength to crush her homeland. The Khronostians, assassins who dance through time, could help Kyndra; or they might be her undoing. And deep within the desert, Char Lesko struggles to control his own emerging powers. He’s been raised by a mercenary whose secrets could change everything – including the future and the past.

But when Kyndra and Char meet, will their goals align? Kyndra must harness the full glory of the stars and Char has to channel his rage, or two continents will be lost.

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When Lucy Hounsom attended the event at my uni, she actually read an exclusive extract from Heartland and, from what I can remember, the writing style sounded as though it had improved since Starborn. I liked the introduction of this new character called Char and I’m excited to see what he brings to the story.

I also think the covers for The Worldmaker Trilogy are really well put together and they’re not cheesy, like some fantasy book covers can be. I’m not the most avid fantasy fan – I have to be in the mood for fantasy and I’m not really a fan of proper high fantasy – but I think Hounsom’s trilogy has the ability to appeal to a wider audience, like with A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), due to it not neglecting the human aspect for over-complicated magic systems and hundreds of mythical races.

So, if you haven’t read Starborn, I do recommend it as a slightly different fantasy novel although, like I said, there are things that need to be improved. Hopefully the second novel will have done just that and won’t fall prey to the curse that the middle book in a trilogy usually suffers from.

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Have you read Starborn? What did you think? Are you looking forward to Heartland? Let me know in the comments!

Caitlin (1)

Review: All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

9780765379948_custom-a047a9fe6159435f98535d0c3369b717733b8de1-s400-c85All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Genre: Science Fantasy / Apocalyptic

Publisher: Titan Books

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Patricia is a witch who can communicate with animals. Laurence is a mad scientist and inventor of the two-second time machine. As teenagers they gravitate towards one another, sharing in the horrors of growing up weird, but their lives take different paths…

When they meet again as adults, Laurence is an engineering genius trying to save the world and live up to his reputation in near-future San Francisco. Meanwhile, Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the magically gifted, working hard to prove herself to her fellow magicians and secretly repair the earth’s ever growing ailments.

As they attempt to save our future, Laurence and Patricia’s shared past pulls them back together. And though they come from different worlds, when they collide, the witch and the scientist will discover that maybe they understand each other better than anyone.

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My Review

I first discovered this book when I saw a poster for it whilst rushing through the London Underground to catch my train from Waterloo Station. The subterranean tunnels were heaving with people and I was hurrying after my boyfriend Mark when an advertisement caught my eye. The cover was what initially drew me in – I think it’s really beautiful – but what intrigued me most was the snippet of a review on the poster that described All the Birds in the Sky as ‘apocalyptic’. That was it, I was sold. I was gonna buy this book. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know I can’t resist anything apocalyptic.

When we got to Waterloo, we had some time to kill before our train, so I dragged Mark into the bookshop and what did I see on the first display? All the Birds in the Sky. It was like fate. I bought it immediately.

That was quite a few months ago now, but I’ve only just devoured this book. And devour it I did. I really enjoyed it. Witty and weird, Anders’ writing is smooth and original and so are her two main characters of Patricia and Laurence. They’re both deeply flawed, and not always nice to each other, but they are the only ones who can understand their flaws and quirks. Patricia has the biggest quirk out of the two – she’s a witch. Thankfully, however, there was no sudden ‘oh, I have superpowers, I am all-powerful!’ kind of revelation. It’s much more complex than that and deeply affects both Patricia and Laurence, and their abilities to be accepted by their peers.

Anders has weaved science with magic extremely well. It seems a little weird at first, the two of them mixing, especially because Anders isn’t one to mollycoddle the reader and explain the ins and outs of the magic world, or the scientific discoveries. But this overall makes for an extremely unique story and I really enjoyed that Anders didn’t try and explain everything; it enhanced the wittiness of her writing and the complexity of her strange characters.

I’m actually struggling to put this novel into words. It’s one of those that is too odd and unique to really describe; you have to read it to believe it. The only reason I didn’t give the novel 5/5 was that I felt the climax was rushed and didn’t make a lot of sense. If you’ve read the book, I’m not talking about Patricia’s answer to the question that plagues the novel (you know the one I mean), but the seemingly psychotic actions of two members of the Ten Percent Project. I know the novel is apocalyptic as nature starts going a bit mental, but the actions of these two characters made no sense. Their response was irrational and unbelievable. That’s where I think Anders fell short; the climax of a novel is often the most crucial part, where the protagonist is in the most danger and the conflict is resolved. However, I think the ‘danger’ just didn’t add up with the rest of the story.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed this novel and the characters of Patricia and Laurence. There is an essence of their destinies being star-crossed and I loved that aspect. Will they ‘save the world’? Will they end up together? Can magic and science be one? Who knows. You’ll have to read the book to find out.

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Have you read All the Birds in the Sky? What did you think? Do you enjoy Science Fantasy as a genre? Let me know in the comments!

Caitlin (1)

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

throne_of_glass_ukThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament – fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

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My Review

(Spoiler-free, just in case, but I know how popular this book is in the blogosphere!)

I’m going to be honest here. The reason I’d put off reading this much talked-about series was because I didn’t like the covers. And I know as a book nerd I’m not supposed to judge a book by a cover, but the covers for the Throne of Glass series always seemed corny and a little kiddy to me.

However, I can now put my hands up and admit that I judged too harshly. Because I really, really, really enjoyed this book.

Maas has created a world that is rich with intrigue and hidden magic, but it is never revealed to us in overwhelming, boring info-dumps. Whilst there are similarities in this series to the infamous Game of Thrones, the world is unique and the characters fleshed-out. In fact, Celaena annoyed me a little at first. She was cocky and self-obsessed, but this made for excellent character development as she actually became more likeable. Her arrogance becomes confidence; her self-obsession is knocked down a few notches; but her wit remains. She’s an excellent heroine, kind but deadly. Whilst I think some of her cheesy lines could be got rid of, I did grow to really like her.

As for writing style, Maas crafts mostly excellent dialogue (it can sometimes be a little corny) but there is no speech that is simply thrown in for the sake of it. The plot moves along at a steady pace and the synopsis of the book doesn’t reveal to you just how many sub-plots are weaved into the story.

More of these sub-plots are revealed to us to pique our interest and they culminate for a satisfying (and not rushed) ending. Aspects of the novel are actually quite dark; it’s not a frilly young-adult fantasy. The protagonist herself is a renowned assassin, having killed numerous times, and the novel is filled with gruesome murders by an unknown beast. However, I felt who/what was behind the murders was a little too obvious; Maas’ red-herring didn’t work on me. But the sense of unease she created was still palpable.

In terms of the love-triangle, I actually enjoyed it because it wasn’t cliche. In fact, it wasn’t really even a love-triangle. There weren’t any cringe-worthy fights between the Crown Prince Dorian and Captain of the Guard Chaol for Celaena’s heart, and I actually enjoyed the fact that Celaena isn’t wholly ruled by the men in her life. Yes, she swoons a bit, but it wouldn’t be YA without a bit of swooning. However, her decisions at the end of the book in regards to the love-triangle were refreshing and I gained further respect for her. Yet if there’s someone I want her to end up with at the climax of this series, I prefer Chaol. Whilst Dorian is witty, Chaol’s somewhat shy and sensitive centre beneath his gruff exterior is all the more interesting. If I was Celaena, I’d definitely choose Chaol.

So, there you have it, I fully admit that I judged this series and now regret that. However, I now have four more books to enjoy (when I have the money to buy them) and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of the world and characters Maas has created.

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Have you read the rest of the series? What did you think? (No spoilers please!) And is Maas’ new fantasy series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, worth a read? Let me know in the comments below!

Caitlin (1)



Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

61gbgcxdeslRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Faber & Faber

My Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: “Tell me that’s how you want your story to go and we’ll write it straight across the sand.”

Dustwalk is an unforgiving, dead-end town. It’s not the place to be poor or orphaned or female. And yet Amani Al’Hiza must call it ‘home’.

Amani wants to escape and see the world she’s heard about in campfire stories.

Then a foreigner with no name turns up, and with him she has the chance to run.

But the desert plains are full of dangerous magic. The Sultan’s army is on the rise and Amani is soon caught at the heart of a fearless rebellion…

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My Review

I devoured this book in a couple of days, I simply couldn’t put it down. (Although the typeset is pretty big, so that helped). Hamilton weaves a unique story which draws heavily on Middle Eastern/Arabian and Indian mythology, but also includes more modern technology such as guns and trains. I loved that the mythology was an important part of the novel, interlinking with the semi-modern, but it never felt unbelievable or too stagnant for the pacing.

And the pacing certainly is feverish. The plot is full of action, with well-placed, softer moments, and twists and turns that you don’t see coming. You wouldn’t quite believe this is Hamilton’s first novel. The plotting is slick, the language poetic, the characters well-rounded. The idea of a girl inadvertently joining a rebellion is a little cliché in YA, but Hamilton has crafted a whirlwind story with a strong (but not obnoxious) heroine. Once it gets going, it certainly doesn’t feel like a cliché YA novel.

Amani is a master with a gun and has a smart mouth. At first, she is desperate to scrape money together and leave town for the capital, Izman, escaping the clutches of her creepy uncle and violent aunt. She’s a little selfish in this regard, leaving behind her crippled friend to escape on horseback with a stranger hunted by the Sultan’s army, but she clearly has her reasons. However, this leaves a lot of room for Amani to grow. She soon realises that there is more to life than stories, and her ferocious determination changes from selfish to selfless. She begrudges the world its views on women and I actually think this is a great feminist narrative. Amani’s world may think women inferior, but the women in the book, like Shazad and Hala, certainly carry their own weight. They’re confident, wild and certainly not helpless. Amani’s own mother even stands up to her oppressor, but the act inevitably leads to her execution.

The stranger that Amani flees with is, of course, the love-interest Jin. Thankfully, it isn’t insta-love and we’re given the experience of watching the two grow closer, relying on each other to stay alive in the unforgiving desert. Jin is witty and determined, much like Amani, and the two complement each other. Their growing fondness is believable and fragile and I felt it tugging at my heart strings. However, the romance doesn’t overshadow the main story, which happens much too often in YA. Also, there’s no ridiculous love-triangle.

My only (very small) gripe is the slightly rushed conclusion; everything seems to happen at once and suddenly it’s the end of the book. I would’ve liked a slightly longer climax to the story, but it’s not as if this is a stand-alone book, so there’ll be a lot more answers and action to come.

I’m excited to see what happens next and, if you haven’t picked up a copy, definitely do so.

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Have you read Rebel of the Sands? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Caitlin (1)

Stacking the Shelves | TBR April

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme from Tynga’s Reviews where you showcase the books you’ve received or purchased.

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This month, I’ve taken advantage of a birthday Amazon voucher and the £10 deals to purchase these bad boys (although Bone Clocks I got for Christmas).

The list is:

The Lie Tree, Rebel of the Sands and All the Birds in the Sky are the most recent releases and I’ve seen a lot of hype about the first two especially from other bloggers, so I’m excited to get into them. I was also a big fan of Hugh Howey’s Wool series so I can’t wait to read something else by him. And, obviously, the Red Rising series has garnered a lot of attention too. There are also two more books on the way to me:

I know, I know, I’m pretty late to both series, but I’m finally giving them a chance. I’d originally heard hit and miss things about both books upon their original release so I gave them both a miss. But I’ve had a severe lack of zombies in my life recently and the Rot and Ruin series has seemingly picked up so I’m looking forward to being entirely freaked out. As for Throne of Glass, if you’ve read my review of Starborn by Lucy Hounsom, you’ll know I can be a bit critical of the fantasy genre. I find it often slips into cliches and is just too cheesy sometimes, so I really need something fresh and well thought out to capture me in this genre. Saying that, though, I’ve put my initial hesitation aside about the Throne of Glass series after seeing how much the book blogosphere adores it. So, fingers crossed I like it.

And in terms of zombies, look out for my upcoming ‘A Novel Round-Up’ of my favourite zombie novels.

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Read any of these books? Let me know what you thought in the comments below. Happy reading this April!

Caitlin (1)

Review: Starborn by Lucy Hounsom


Starborn by Lucy Hounsom

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Tor, 2015

My Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis: Kyndra’s fate holds betrayal and salvation, but the journey starts in her small village. On the day she comes of age, she accidentally disrupts an ancient ceremony, ending centuries of tradition. So when an unnatural storm targets her superstitious community, Kyndra is blamed. She fears for her life until two strangers save her, by wielding powers not seen for an age – powers fuelled by the sun and the moon.

Together, they flee to the hidden citadel of Naris. And here, Kyndra experiences disturbing visions of the past, showing war and one man’s terrifying response. She’ll learn more in the city’s subterranean chambers, amongst fanatics and rebels. But first Kyndra will be brutally tested in a bid to unlock her own magic.

If she survives the ordeal, she’ll discover a force greater than she could ever have imagined. But could it create as well as destroy? And can she control it, to right an ancient wrong?

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My Review

As I said in a previous post, I was pretty excited to get my teeth into Starborn after Lucy Hounsom gave a talk at my university. Hounsom, a clearly avid fantasy fan, pitched the novel to us as a somewhat epic/high fantasy adventure for adults. However, those hoping for a myriad of strange creatures will be disappointed. Different races are hinted at, and there is of course magic, but ultimately the novel takes on a more Game of Thrones feel in that the human aspect is prioritised over warring races and talking creatures. However, magic is still at the forefront of this novel, revolving around a magical system that uses the sun and the moon, as well as the stars. I would also pitch this novel as more of a YA/adult crossover. There isn’t a cheesy YA romance, but the protagonist is a teenage girl, so I believe the novel would be suitable for older teens and adults alike.

It is clear from the outset that Kyndra is special. The novel follows the typical structure of village girl discovers she has powers. However, what power Kyndra has is not really revealed to us until 400 pages in, long after the reader has guessed it for themselves. This was a little annoying for me; I just wanted someone to come out with it already before I got even more annoyed with Kyndra’s obliviousness. I couldn’t quite believe Kyndra could really be that dumb and not work out what she was. She spent a lot of time denying it even though the facts were all there and she’d clearly accomplished things no regular mortal could. She is a feisty heroine at times, but sometimes lapses into being rather bland as plot takes precedence over characterisation. However, there is certainly room for Hounsom to develop Kyndra in the upcoming sequel, Heartland.

But what about the other characters? Kyndra is chiefly helped along in her quest by the mysterious Bregenne and the caring Nediah. Bregenne is a blind woman who wields Lunar power, Nediah her Solar counterpart.

Bregenne began as cold and intriguing and I was excited to see what dynamic she would have within the novel. However, Bregenne doesn’t seem to develop, but actually recedes somewhat. Suddenly, she isn’t this hard, troubled woman, but fragile and weak. There didn’t seem to be much reason for this change and I found myself frustrated with the character development.

Nediah, however, was developed much better. He provided some comic relief, but was also a rather complicated character in terms of the women in his life. There’s no romance between Kyndra and Nediah, but their dynamic is very interesting in the way it progresses, as they seem like siblings and I found myself enjoying their scenes together. He is a willful character, portraying a vaster range of emotions than Bregenne.

Other interesting characters include the sly and sarcastic Kait, and the ambiguous Medavle, who readers will encounter throughout the novel.

Also, the identity of Kyndra’s father is a clearly important mystery right from the beginning of the novel. I found the reveal an interesting plot twist that I didn’t see coming, much unlike Kyndra’s destiny.

I’ve given this book 3.5/5 because, whilst I really did enjoy it, and found it difficult to put down at times (despite the sometimes slow pacing), I found there was much room for improvement in terms of characterisation and world-building. Whilst the world-building throughout is quite unique, it needed some more explaining to be properly understood. Hopefully, Hounsom will develop both Kyndra and Bregenne in the next novel. Hounsom actually read an exclusive extract from the sequel for us at the reading and, whilst the scene involved new characters, I found it really interesting and can’t wait to see how the next installment develops on the first.

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If you’ve read Starborn, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Caitlin (1)


March To-Read List

It would be an understatement to say my ‘to-read’ pile is pretty big. After three years of reading four novels a week academically , I am down to my final two novels of my BA English degree. There’s the slight panic of: What do I do now that there’s no lecturer choosing books for me? Well, I finally get to read for fun.

Some of the books on my courses over these three years have been amazing, and some have been so boring I’ve wanted to rip the letters from my laptop keyboard and gouge my eyes out with them. To put it mildly. But now I can go back to reading my favourite genres like sci-fi and horror, and even delve back into the world of YA. So here is a short list of books I’m looking forward to reading once this term is over.


The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig



Cass is born a few minutes after her brother, Zach. Both infants are perfect, but only one is a blessing; only one is an Alpha.

The other child must be cast out. But with no discernible difference, other than their genders, their parents cannot tell which baby is tainted.

Perfect twins. So rare, they are almost a myth. But sooner or later the Omega will slip up. It will eventually show its true self. The polluted cannot help themselves.

Then its face can be branded. Then it can be sent away.

Why I want to read it: I’m a huge fan of dystopia and this book caught my eye on display in Waterstones. The blurb is really gripping, creating a lot of questions that I want answered. Twins in novels usually go down pretty well as a plot device and I’ve heard some great things about it.


Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Plot: In the wake of the complete destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, three people are left alive who know the truth about what happened and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace, rescued from the ocean after seven days adrift with her friend Libby (who died of thirst just before rescue), knows that the Persephone wasn’t sunk by a rogue wave as survivors Senator Wells and his son Greyson are claiming. It was attacked. In order to insure her safety from the obviously dangerous and very powerful Wells family, Libby’s father helps Frances assume Libby’s identity. Frances has spent years in hiding, transforming herself into Libby, and she can no longer allow the people who murdered her entire family and Libby to get away with it even if she had been in love with Greyson Wells. After years of careful plotting, she’s ready to set her revenge plans into motion. The game has just begun, and Frances is not only playing dirty, she’s playing to win.

Why I want to read it: I was a huge huge HUGE fan of Carrie Ryan’s zombie The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy. The writing was atmospheric and lyrical, the world-building entirely unique and immersive, so when I heard Ryan was bringing out another novel I was pretty excited. Whilst there doesn’t seem to be any zombies in this one, I’m hoping Ryan’s plot and writing will keep me hooked.


The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Plot: When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that’s seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptillian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful – exactly what Rosemary wants.

Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years… if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful.

But Rosemary isn’t the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.

Why I want to read it: I picked up this little gem at London Waterloo when waiting for a train. Having just re-watched the Star Trek reboot films, I was in the mood for something spacey and sci-fi. This sounded right up my street and it’s also now been nominated for The Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction!


Dark Tides by Chris Ewan

Plot: When Claire Cooper was eight, her mother disappeared during Hop-tu-naa, the Manx Halloween.

When Claire was eighteen, she and her friends took part in a Hop-tu-naa dare that went terribly wrong.

Now in her early twenties and a police officer, what happened that Hop-tu-naa night has come back to haunt them all, and Claire must confront her deepest fears in order to stop a killer from striking again.

Why I want to read it: I do try and push my boundaries out of the sci-fi/apocalypse/dystopia world and this was one of my attempts to do so. Everybody likes a good thriller and this just happened to catch my eye in Waterstones. It’s had good reviews so I’m hoping to be dying from suspense when I get round to reading it.


Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Plot (some spoilers if you haven’t read the first book): 

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare’s blood is Red – the colour of common folk – but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from the prince and friend who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by the Silver king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

Why I want to read it:  I did enjoy the first book, the plot certainly had me gripped, but I wasn’t totally enamored with the writing style and the characters. I’m hoping for some improvements this time around.

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And that’s it for this month! Hopefully I should get around to reviewing these books once university begins to calm down, so bear with me. Thanks for reading!

Caitlin (1)