Death Sworn by Leah Cypress

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When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.
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Rating: 3 stars. 

Regrettably, this was disappointing. When I found the book on Goodreads a few months before the release date I was super pumped to find a new Young Adult book/series about assassin’s. I had become a little obsessed with them after reading the first two books of Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, and not going to lie I had pretty high expectations. The premise sounded awesome and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. But it fell flat. 

It wasn’t a bad book, I enjoyed it enough. Enough that I will continue on with the series. But it wasn’t anything special. The plot was kind of what I was expecting it to be, awesome. But the characters were not good. None of the characters are particularly remember-able, which would obviously take a lot away from the book. With better characters this series could be amazing. It’s a shame as I was so prepared to love this book and I feel a little heartbroken that I didn’t. 

On another note, a few good things about the book was the whole magic system, I found it very interesting. Although it wasn’t vastly original, its still different enough to want to pick up this book for. Hopefully this aspect will grow with each book in the series (or trilogy, no idea what it’s going to be). It has me a little excited for more on that front. Fingers crossed that Cypress will deliver, 

Overall, really just another book to add to a pile of “meh”s and “maybe”s. For me this is a series I will have to keep an eye on, I feel like it’ll get better. I hope it will get better, 

 

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Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

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At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar’s cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere. 

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock–to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she’ll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

In a bold departure from her acclaimed contemporary novels, Printz Medalist Melina Marchetta has crafted an epic fantasy of ancient magic, feudal intrigue, romance, and bloodshed that will rivet you from the first page.
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Rating: 3 stars

I feel sad that I didn’t like this book more. The amount of raving reviews I read before hand kind of made me think it would be something amazing. I’m not saying this is a bad book. It is really well written, to the point where I am willing to carry on with the series. However, I feel I didn’t connect with it as well as everyone else did. I think that the reason I didn’t necessarily like this book was not because of it being over hyped, I  actually understand why people love it so much. But I think it was because I felt it dragged on for so long that I kind of had to force myself to sit and read it.

There are a few things I really enjoyed about this book and one was how realistic it was, yeah I know it’s a fantasy, but it didn’t fell like it was accommodating to the clichéd scenarios that so frequently present themselves in other young adult fantasy novels. I didn’t roll my eyes once which was a breath of fresh air. The world in which this series is set is intriguing and it has its good and bad aspects, I thoroughly enjoyed the darker aspects which rarely make appearances in YA, with references to famine, disease, rape and death on a huge scale. It’s a little bit morbid of me to like reading about it but it really gave a much darker edge to the book that I was not expecting.

This book is definitely a story centred on its characters. There is an enormous array of characters that make appearances throughout the book that were really interesting and well formed. My only problem is that I want to know more about them. I really loved Trevanion and Froi. I could read entire books about them (thank god the next one in the series is Froi of the Exiles!). I disliked Evanjalin though, although there were aspects of her character that I liked, there was too much that I didn’t like. It makes me wonder what everyone else sees that I don’t.

There were some parts of the book and the world building that I didn’t like, that were well, confusing. I literally couldn’t picture what Lumatere was meant to look like. I feel that despite the huge amount of detail that Marchetta goes into in this book, she wasted it on things that didn’t matter and could have had more use in the descriptions of the world that the book is meant to be set. Although the writing is fabulous, there were also aspects which I just did not understand, I understand that it is part of Marchetta’s writing style, but I actually found myself trying to guess what was actually happening. I feel that these parts were meant to be obvious to the reader, I don’t know whether I was just being dense, but it really lowered my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, I do think this is a book worth reading. I don’t regret it, I just really wish I could have enjoyed it more. I will make my way through the other two books, but I may save them for a rainy day.

Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

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A powerful tale of magic, love and revenge with a strong female lead set in fairy-tale Japan; this is “Cinderella” meets “Memoirs of a Geisha”. Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to recreate herself in any form – a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama, or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens, or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to capture the heart of a prince – and determined to use his power to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even love.
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Rating: 3.5 stars.

This book was good, I liked it and I’m glad I read it but there was some aspects of it that I didn’t really like at all. Although it is a very good story and very well paced and thought out. I have always loved books that were set in Japan, I find the country fascinating and I liked the sound of the “Cinderella meets Memoirs of a Geisha” storyline. Despite the world in this book being set in a “fairy-tale Japan”, I still found it rather captivating and interesting.

However, I feel like the story could have benefited from more world building, a little more talk about the history I think would have  made the plot more solid. Not to mention that I only barely connected with the characters. Most of which were very 2D and lacked any originality. I couldn’t stand Suzume’s mother, although that is obviously intentional, but seriously what a selfish horrible character. On another note, I quite enjoyed the romance aspect it wasn’t a major part of the plot but I think it embellished it nicely and although in places it could have been more in-depth  I think it worked well.

There is only one other part of this book that I disliked and that was the ending, although essentially it wasn’t that bad but I felt it was lacking. I still have numerous questions about the side characters and it’s annoying that I’ll never know what happened to them because this book being a stand alone. Ugh!

On a more happy note, I really enjoyed the magical aspects of the story, it was fascinating and it was very original. A nice breath of fresh air from the usual. Despite there not being as much of this “magic” as I would have liked it worked. I don’t have anything bad to say about it really.

I do recommend this book if you’re interested in stories set in Japan/ Asian countries, original magical ideas and an action packed novel that is a little gut-wrenching.

Book Haul [#6]

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I went to Liverpool yesterday to see the comedian Sarah Millican (it was hilarious) and during the day I did a spot of shopping and ended up spending over an hour in Waterstones. Despite being skint. 

Autumn Rose (The Dark Heroine #2) by Abigail Gibbs

The highly anticipated sequel to Dinner with a Vampire
Autumn Rose has the chance to save the world she loves. But how much will she have to sacrifice to achieve it?
In Autumn Rose, book two of her breathtaking series, Abigail Gibbs draws us even further into the dangerous and romantic world of the Dark Heroines.

I wasn’t that impressed with Dinner with a Vampire when I read it last summer, but the ending made me want to pick up the next book in the series. Hopefully this book will be so much better. 

Blood Song (Raven’s Shadow #1) by Anthony Ryan

We have fought battles that left more than a hundred corpses on the ground and not a word of it has ever been set down. The Order fights, but often it fights in shadow, without glory or reward. We have no banners.
Vaelin Al Sorna’s life changes forever the day his father abandons him at the gates of the Sixth Order, a secretive military arm of the Faith. Together with his fellow initiates, Vaelin undertakes a brutal training regime – where the price of failure is often death. Under the tutelage of the Order’s masters, he learns how to forge a blade, survive the wilds and kill a man quickly and quietly.
Now his new skills will be put to the test. War is coming. Vaelin is the Sixth Order’s deadliest weapon and the Realm’s only hope. He must draw upon the very essence of his strength and cunning if he is to survive the coming conflict. Yet as the world teeters on the edge of chaos, Vaelin will learn that the truth can cut deeper than any sword.

Ugh. I’ve been eyeing this book up since it came out. So when it was one a ‘buy one get one half price’ stand I grabbed it. I want to read more from the high fantasy genre and I think this will be one of the next ones I’ll read. 

The Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass 0.1 – 0.5) by Sarah. J. Maas

Contains all five novellas.
Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

I was hoping these novellas would come out in paper copy! Hooray! One of my favourite series at the moment and so glad to have these in my hand. I have them on my kindle as well but I have been putting off reading them for some reason. I like to think they’ll be near the top of my reading list now I’ve got the paper copy. 

Lizzy Bennet’s Diary by Marcia Williams
When Lizzy Bennet’s father gives her a diary, she fancies she will use it to write a novel, as her real life is exceedingly dull. Then the handsome Mr. Bingley moves to nearby Netherfield Park, and suddenly life is every bit as thrilling as a novel would be. Who will he dance with at the Meryton ball? Who is his haughty friend? Will Lizzy ever receive a marriage proposal? Readers will have to read her diary to find out! Marcia Williams offers a lively introduction to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in a highly illustrated scrapbook-diary format, featuring such novelties as foldout notes from sisters and suitors, an elegant bill of fare, and an invitation to the ball.

This is amazing. I love it. So much. Usually I’ll buy anything that relates to Pride and Prejudice. I have an entire shelf in my bookcase of books relating to it (bit excessive, I know!) So I had to have this, of course. The fold out bits are awesome too. 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
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Rating: 4.5 Stars.

(Beware: A few spoilers)

I liked this, I liked this a lot. It was pretty amazing. I believe I have only read about 4 angel books in my life and only one of them was terrible, but I’ve met a lot of people who have read so many awful angel books that it always makes we weary about picking one up. I should probably drop this suspicion, and take more leaps of faith because this book did not disappoint and I went in with pretty high expectations. The amount of rave reviews I’ve read about this book, its hard to not have high expectation. Despite not liking certain aspects of the book, I still enjoyed it immensely.

I loved the fact this story was set in Prague. Its nice to read Young Adult books that aren’t set in the USA or UK, as the majority are…
It sort of gave a more quirky aspect to the book. I don’t really know anything about Prague, I have friends who have been there and loved it, but I’ve never been myself. I definitely think I want to go now.
However, I wasn’t overly impressed by the “heaven” slash “portals” part. I don’t know whether its just me being awkward, but I just found it incredibly hard to imagine the whole thing. I think there could have been a bit more description, in that respect. I’m hoping there will be more clarification on this in the next book.

The majority of the characters I LOVED. Karou is awesome! So is Zuzana. I love them. But I am finding Akiva a little… well, boring. (I’m sorry, don’t hate me!) He’s just a little dull and lacking in character depth in this book. I really hope this will change, I don’t want him to be yet another two dimensional love interest in a YA novel.
One character that I really love though is Brimstone. I was absolutely gutted by the end, and a part of me is hoping with all my heart that it is a mistake. I would have loved to find out more and more about him, but alas, I think that will never be now. (why do I always like the characters that die?!)
I’m also intrigued by Thiago, I want to know more about him.
Just one more, problem I have with the book is the humans reactions to angels and supernatural stuff. I find it a little unrealistic and frustrated me in places. If I met an angel in a street I’d be running as if my life depended on it not standing there taking pictures. Haha.

Overall, I think this book is a great start to a trilogy/series. There is a lot of background information and I really look forward to reading more about this world. It has a lot of potential to grow into something epic.

The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of travelling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivalled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

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Rating: 4 stars.

Little Book Owl on Youtube inspired me to read this book, she raved and raved about it until I just couldn’t wait any longer. I went out and bought it. I wasn’t disappointed, but I also feel like I expected more. I will definitely be reading the next book The Wise Man’s Fear because I’m hoping the story will get so much better.
This first instalment in the Kingkiller Chronicle was basically us getting to know the main character Kvothe. It was a very engaging read, despite half of the book being Kvothe just wondering around. I was hoping it would get far more action-packed by the end of the book but it didn’t really. I actually found myself losing interest a bit throughout the book which is evident in the time it took me to read the book. I can usually read a near 700 page book in a week or so, but it took me 2 months. There is a side of me that thinks I was in a reading slump and just didn’t want to read but I did read 6 other books during those 2 months, so its kind of irrelevant.
Although I absolutely loved the characters. Even the ones I wasn’t meant to. I am especially interested in the Chandrian, I can’t wait to read more about them. One character I didn’t like though was Denna, and I can’t seem to figure out why. I find myself wanting to thump Kvothe on the head when he goes out looking for her. But I will admit I liked her a lot in the last 100 pages or so, very funny.
I can understand everyone’s infatuation with this book but I don’t think it is as great as everyone makes it out to be. It reminds me a little of The Fellowship of The Ring from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in that it is very slow starting, but the story gets frickin’ amazing in the last two books. I’m hoping this will be the case with The Kingkiller Chronicle, it has a lot of potential to become a classic.

Book Haul [#4]

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I know… another book haul… I have a problem this month. 

We have The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. 
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The tales of The Silmarillion were the underlying inspiration & source of Tolkien’s imaginative writing. He worked on the book throughout his life but never brought it to final form. Long preceding in its origins The Lord of the Rings, it’s the story of the 1st Age of Tolkien’s world, the ancient drama to which characters in The Lord of the Rings look back & in which some of them, such as Elrond & Galadriel, took part.
The title Silmarillion is shortened from Quenta Silmarillion, The History of the Silmarils, the three great jewels created by Feanor, most gifted of the Elves, in which he imprisoned the light of the Two Trees that illumined Valinor, the land of the gods. When Morgoth, 1st Dark Lord, destroyed the Trees, that light lived on only in the Silmarils; Morgoth seized them & set them in his crown, guarded in the impenetrable fortress of Angband in the north of Middle-earth. The Silmarillion is the history of the rebellion of Feanor & his people against the gods, their exile in Middle-earth, & their war, hopeless despite all the heroisim of Elves & Men, against the great Enemy.
The book includes several other, shorter works beside The Silmarillion proper. Preceding it are Ainulindale, the myth of Creation, & Valaquenta, in which the nature & powers of each of the gods is set forth. After The Silmarillion is Akallabeth, the story of the downfall of the great island kingdom of Numenor at the end of the 2nd Age; completing the volume is “Of the Rings of Power & the 3rd Age,” in which the events of The Lord of the Rings are treated in the manner of The Silmarillion.

I love The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings. So it’s only fitting that I read this right? I love the elves too, so even more of a reason to read it. I’m just ashamed that it has taken me this long to buy it!

Then we have The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.
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The second book in The Kingkiller Chronicle.

In The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, forced to reclaim the honor of his family, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived…until Kvothe.
Now, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.

I’m currently reading The Name of The Wind, the first book in the trilogy, and I love it. It’s brilliant so I had to buy the next one. I would definitely recommend these books. If you’re looking to read more Epic Fantasy then I would start with this trilogy. 

The 3rd book is The Last of the Mohicans by J. Fenimore Cooper.
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Cooper’s famous adventure brings the wilds of the American frontier and the drama of the French-Indian war to vivid life. Featuring the classic character Natty Bumppo, it is a moving, memorable depiction of courage, passion, and forbearance, and a precursor to the Western genre.

This was bought on a whim. I’ve never read anything like this before, so I thought its about time I tried. It sounds good. 

The last book is Longbourn by Jo Baker.
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If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.
In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice,the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended. 
Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own. 

This sounds rather awesome. Downton Abbey meets Pride and Prejudice?! Yes please. 

Favourite books of 2013

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Just a list of all my favourite book/series that I have read this year. I’ve read a lot of books this year and it was so hard to put them in order.

1) Penryn and End of Days series by Susan Ee (Angelfall and World After)

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Amazing start to a series which I believe will be five books. I honestly can’t wait for the next book.
Angelfall: review
World After: review

2) Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound and Last Sacrifice)

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A series that I should think everyone is familiar with. Entertaining, funny, heartbreaking and ultimately fantastic. I read this series in one swoop in August and still find myself revisiting it to reread snippets.

Series review.

3) Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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The second instalment of the Throne of Glass series. This is how sequals should be done. Better than the first book and the first book was pretty great. A series everyone should give a go, because there really is something for everyone.

Review

4) His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers (Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph)

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The first two books in a trilogy. Brilliant books about assassin nuns. What more can make you want to read this book?! Love love loved it.

Grave Mercy: Review
Dark Triumph: No review available.

5) The Duff by Kody Keplinger

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Love this one a lot. Perfect for a quick read. Great characters even if the storyline is a little predictable.
Review.

6) Maus by Art Spiegelman.

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Just… wow. All I can say really. Pick this up, you won’t regret it. If you do… there’s something wrong with you.
No review available.

7) The Monk by Matthew Lewis

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One of the few classics I read this year. It’s insane. If you looking for something shocking this is what you need.
Review.

8) Study Series by Maria V. Snyder (Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study)

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The male hero in this is to die for. I love him. Haha… But there is so much more to these books than the romance. Wonderful fantasy trilogy, with a strong heroine.
No reviews available.

9) Starcrossed Trilogy by Josephine Angelini (Starcrossed, Dreamless and Goddess)

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All about Greek mythology. I know a lot of people stay away from this when reading Young Adult but I would definitely recommend giving this series a change. It is so action packed and fast paced its great. I’m not overly fussy when it comes to mythology so it would suit someone of the same opinion.
No reviews available.

10) Blood of Eden series by Julie Kagawa (The Immortal Rules and The Eternity Cure)

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Yeah, another vampire series. But WAIT! with a twist: It’s set in a dystopian world. This series has so much potential to be one of the best Vampire series out there. Its not soppy, and these vampires are no push overs. People who have read Kagawa’s Fey series and disliked it may be put off by any of her other books. BUT PLEASE give this series a go. The writing, the world building, the characters AND the plot is utterly mind-blowing.
Short reviews but its something…
The Immortal Rules: Review
The Eternity Cure: Review

World After by Susan Ee

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In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller, Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what’s left of the modern world.
When a group of people capture Penryn’s sister Paige, thinking she’s a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken.
Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels’ secret plans where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.
Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can’t rejoin the angels, can’t take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?
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Rating: *****

I absolutely frickin’ adore this series. I can not gush enough about how awesome these books are. The first was fantastic and I was a little weary that this second instalment wasn’t going to live up to my expectations. I needn’t have worried! I’ve never really been one for ‘angel’ books but I gave these a try because of the rave reviews they seem to get and my my my I am so glad I picked them up. I honestly think Angelfall and World After is up there with some of my favourite YA literature. 

World After is a little slower going that Angelfall but it works. Its a wonderful book where we see a lot more of all the characters, we learn more about the plans of the angels and how the humans are trying to show them that they are not weak. A few new characters are introduced to fill the absence of Raffe in the majority of the book. I grew quite attached to Raffe in Angelfall, and was a little disappointed to learn that he was barely in this sequel. But I loved it nonetheless, which I think is quite an achievement on Susan Ee’s part. Many YA novels, I find, tend to fall flat when the “love interest” is absent and this is definitely not the case here. I read this book in one sitting I just could not put it down.

The character development was a little lacking but Penryn’s Mums character really caught my interest her story is fascinating and I honestly can’t wait to find out more. She really becomes quite intriguing and the development there is wonderful, in many YA novels secondary characters don’t really get any development so it was great to see some here. 

Overall, I would so recommend this series. I am quite infatuated with it. The only complaint I have is that the books are too short! Argh! I need more NOW!