Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2)

Just a side not before we get into the review: I am aware that I haven’t posted any of my thoughts on Mistborn, but this review has been sitting on the backburner for months and I figured I might as well post it. Just know that I really enjoyed Mistborn and would recommend it.

Also, I will be referring to the first book in this series as Mistborn rather than The Final Empire as that is the title on my copy but they are the same book.

This review may contain mild spoilers for book one.

Finished 10th May, 2016 

Author: Brandon Sanderson

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4 Stars

The second instalment in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, The Well of Ascension, is a young adult high fantasy with a strong political line, a fascinating magic system and brilliant characters. Following on from Mistborn, Kelsier’s crew are forced to deal with the aftermath of a millennial long empire as well as the intricacies and hardships that come with taking over a kingdom and caring for it – all while being threatened by several other outside forces. I found the characters and the magic system to be what really carried the story for me, as well as some really interesting plot revelations.

As much as I enjoyed this book, for whatever reason The Well of Ascension took me forever to read. As in, I have been “reading” this book since January – January! There are several possible reasons as to why I fell into this minor book slump, one of them being that I had hit a part in the book where I was frustrated with some of the characters and therefore wasn’t that motivated to pick it up and read it. Additionally, I do the majority of my reading in small bits and pieces at school whenever I can fit it in – which usually works really well but being a high fantasy and knowing my particular reading traits, I don’t believe that was the best was to go about this particular novel. To put it into perspective, I read Akarnae and Raelia by Lynette Noni (which are approximately 450 pages each) in less than four days during the period I was “reading” The Well of Ascension.

I do want to reiterate that, in spite of my slight reading slump, I did really enjoy this book. It seems to be that whenever anything is said about Brandon Sanderson the most prominent thing that is mentioned is his writing style. Both Mistborn and The Well of Ascension are testament to that. Brandon Sanderson is brilliant at putting in twists that seem completely out of the blue but, once revealed, the foreshadowing becomes obvious.

Another feature that I really like about The Well of Ascension is that we get to read from the perspectives of pretty much all of our core cast in addition to that of our antagonists and several random perspectives to give insight from outsiders. This change of pace is great for both the slower, more political scenes and the battle-heavy ones. These fluid shifts in points of view are one such example of Sanderson’s great style at work.

I’m not entirely sure what I think of Elend in this instalment. I mean, I still really like him and enjoy his character but he undergoes some changes which I personally feel take away from his character. Also, there is an implication that comes about near the conclusion of this novel that makes me slightly suspicious of him – but I’m not sure if it’s just an evolution of his character or something more sinister at work. There were moments in this book where I loved him intensely and others where I felt somewhat detached. Suffice to say, I have mixed feelings but am interested to see where his character is headed.

Vin is an absolutely fantastic character. She is totally kick-ass and her fighting skills are off the charts (I mean, talk about epic) but she is also a flawed, relatable character. She is honestly one of my favourite characters – period – and that includes those outside Sanderson’s universe. I love how she deals with the conflicts thrown her way and how facing them forces her to evaluate herself and, in turn, grow from those experiences. Vin’s character develops significantly within this instalment but the changes are even more prominent when we consider what she was like when we are first introduced to her in Mistborn. 

Occasionally I tend to find that female protagonists – and sometimes just female characters in general – tend to be somewhat awkward and unrelatable when written by male authors, but I did not find that to be the case with Vin (or any of Sanderson’s other cast) in the least.

The other crew members (read: Breeze, Sazed, Dockson, Spook, Clubs, Ham, OreSeur,etc.) are further developed in The Well of Ascension which is a fun time. I really enjoyed getting to acquaint myself with their distinct personalities and quirks, and they really came into their own in my mind. Sazed, Ham and OreSeur are my particular favourites, with Sazed and OreSeur’s complexities and Ham’s general persona. Both Sazed and OreSeur have some great revelations and are really interesting to hear from. Also, Sazed has an adorable relationship with a new character, who I didn’t initially like but ended up really growing on me (and shall remain unnamed due to possible spoilers). I feel that they have a great connection and their dynamic is fantastic. Sazed’s character arc is a particularly interesting one and I feel like he’s the one that experiences the most development within this instalment.

Aside from Vin, Zane is probably my favourite character in this story. Not only is he complex, experienced and fascinating, but he creates some brilliant tension and conflict within the story and poses an interesting dilemma for Vin. I love their dynamic and find his backstory to be very well-thought out and gripping. We are constantly learning new things about him, yet he remains such a mystery to us. Zane is just such a fun character to read and is a real wild card to add to the mix. The chapters that featured him were probably some of my favourite to read.

If I hadn’t dragged out my consumption of this story and had instead read it at my usual pace, I feel that I would have rated The Well of Ascension 5 Stars. As it stands, even though I really enjoyed it, I feel a slight sense of apathy towards it – induced by my reading experience and not the actual content, I’m sure.

I am going to take a temporary break from this series and pick it back up at a later date when I’m more in the mood to read it and am in the position to read it all at once – or at least in several large chunks. I’m interested to see what that will do to my overall reading and whether I’ll be able to get to all of the shiny new books I’m super excited for or if this reading slump will persevere.

 

Let’s Discuss!

Have you read the Mistborn series? If so, what are your thoughts?

Have you read the third book? How does it compare to the rest of the trilogy?

Have you read any of Brandon Sanderson’s other works? Which ones would you recommend me reading next?

Have you ever written a review for the second book in the series and not for the first? (This also happened to me with the 5th Harry Potter book)

Please leave a comment as I love talking to you guys 🙂

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February Wrap-Up 2017

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Hey everyone! This month I managed to read a total of 15 books – mainly because I read a lot of graphic novels and audios, but I’m still pretty happy with it.

Once again, I have a lot of thoughts so this post is rather long.

 

The Books

All titles link to Goodreads

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7)

By J. K. Rowling

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5 Stars

Definitely my favourite of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was a great read and a brilliant conclusion.

I found that this instalment was very much character driven. Alberforth, Luna, McGonagall, Dobby, Hermione and Neville were definitely my favourites. I liked Severus’ character and am very conflicted in my feelings for Dumbledore.

As this is a re-read for me, I wasn’t that emotional when it came to the deaths. That said, there were certain scenes that really resonated with me – I won’t list them due to spoilers but feel free to ask and I’ll gladly reminisce.

I’m rather dubious about some of the reasoning around Harry’s wand acting out and the whole thing with the elder wand, but that could be because I watch a whole lot of theory videos (SuperCarlinBrothers explain both of these instances much better in my opinion; here and here respectively).

I’m really glad I reread the series, I feel that it definitely enriched my appreciation for and understanding of the Harry Potter universe.

 

Saga Volume 4

By Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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5 Stars

Another brilliant instalment the the series. As usual, it was a fast, easy read that took me under an hour. The characters are great and the plot is awesome. Definitely recommend.

 

Saga Volume 5

By Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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4.75 Stars

Saga Volume 6

By Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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5 Stars

I seriously love this series. It is so well written, the art is beautiful and it’s just addictive. The family aspect is great, it has a ton of diversity and strong characters. The plot is fantastic and I just can’t wait for the next volume to come out.

 

Ms Marvel: No Normal (Ms Marvel #2)

By G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

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5 Stars

An absolutely amazing instalment, Ms. Marvel: Generation Why had so much packed into it, plot-wise as well as character development.

All the characters are amazing and we got cameos from Wolverine (who was super sassy), Captain America and a few other superheroes. I’m not really a fan of dogs, but Lockjaw was pretty awesome. Bruno was epic as always (#FriendshipGoals) and the focus on family was fantastic. I also really liked Sheikh Adbullah – he was an unexpected delight.

Kamala is by far my favourite though. She is such a fangirl and a nerd, sassy and loyal. I feel she also has a lot of character development as she grows into herself and learns to accept help. She also has some very poignant things to say.

I really liked how the Inhuman plot line (I’m an avid fan of Agents of SHIELD so I know more than some) and I can’t wait to see how everything turns out.

 

Ms Marvel: Crushed (Ms Marvel #3)

By G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

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5 Stars

Okay, so this was actually the best. Not only did we get Loki in the actual comic and Kamala went through her first crush, an identity crisis and ensuing character growth, but at the end we got a mini comic that featured Jemma Simmons and Phil Coulson, who I absolutely love (as afore mentioned I’m a fan of Agents of SHIELD). Jemma in particular was an absolute gem and I absolute loved the interactions between her and Kamala.

 

Ms Marvel: Last Days (Ms Marvel #4)

By G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

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5 Stars

These comics just keep getting better and better!

The characters were the highlight for me. Aside from the AMAZING team-up with Captain Marvel, most of the characters from previous instalments reappeared and were super awesome, breaking stereotypes and coming into themselves.

The family aspect was especially strong in this one – there was one scene in particular that was so beautiful it had me tearing up.

Kamala with a broken heart made me so sad and I just wanted to hug her forever.

Bruno once again continued to be amazing and I really liked how certain things were addressed.

Everything was just super beautiful, fast paced and amazing. Kamala is definitely one of my all-time favourite characters – I love her so much.

Also, we had an awesome team-up with Spider-Man in an extra comic at the end (which I didn’t 100% understand but it was still great).

 

Ms Marvel: Super Famous (Ms Marvel #5)

By G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

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5 Stars

While not my favourite instalment, Ms Marvel: Super Famous was still pretty awesome.

I appreciate how we get to see Kamala stretching herself to the breaking point, but then acknowledging that she needed help and reprioritising her life.

Aamir and Tyesha are so adorable together and I love them. Iron Man was awesome, and his spat with Captain Marvel was hilarious. Mike is super cool – I wasn’t sure how I felt about her to begin with, but she’s really awesome and great for Bruno.

 

Ms Marvel: Civil War II (Ms Marvel #6)

By G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona

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5 Stars

This issue has a larger focus on family, morals, loyalty and identity, which I really enjoyed. Justice was also a prominent theme.

I really liked how we got to see a lot of Kamala’s background and family history as it is a huge part of her identity. I also appreciated it’s cyclical nature in Kamala’s character arc.

Kamala is very much a flawed character and we definitely see that in this instalment. Overall I feel like these last few instalments have been necessary character growth for Kamala. Now, I feel like she’s in a good place with herself and hopefully that’ll show through her actions and relationships in the next issue.

 

The Princess Diarist 

By Carrie Fisher

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4 Stars

The Princess Diarist was an easy read, providing insight into one most notably known as Princess Leia.

The book was divided into roughly three sections:

1) Life before Leia and Carrie’s affair with Harrison Ford

2) Carrie’s poetry and some diary entries from when she was filming the first Star Wars movie and had her affair

3) Life post-affair

My favourite part was definitely Carrie’s poetry. I hadn’t read much poetry, but from what I could tell it was quite good. However, I would have preferred to physically read it rather than listen to it.

I loved how the audiobook was narrated by Carrie. I also liked how they had a second narrator to come in and read the poems as it gave a youthful tone to it.

While not amazing, I would recommend The Princess Diarist to those who like Star Wars and are interested in Carrie’s life.

 

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

By Mindy Kaling

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3 Stars

Prior to reading this memoir, I essentially had no idea who Mindy Kaling was. It was this, perhaps, that made it an entertaining but overall forgettable read.

If I hadn’t listened to the audiobook I highly doubt I would have read this book at all.

 

Princess of Thorns

By Stacey Jay

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5 Stars

My favourite read so far this year, I can’t believe I hadn’t picked it up earlier.

Princess of Thorns is one of my new all-time favourite books (and my favourite audiobook next to the Fairyland series).

Why I Loved it: (No particular order)

  • Sass
  • Banter
  • Girl cross-dressing a boy to hide identity
  • Warriors
  • Kick-ass female character
  • Headstrong but flawed and loveable characters
  • Hate to love relationship (and then back again? It’s complicated)
  • Relationship based on friendship
  • NOT instalove
  • Fantasy
  • Intelligent characters
  • Curses + obscure(ish) fairytale retelling(s)
  • Character development
  • Strong female character challenging society’s perception of females
  • Royals
  • Plot twists
  • Magic
  • Morally ambiguous villain
  • Great sibling relationships
  • Adventure
  • People actually being human and smelling during long journeys rather than attractively smelling like cinnamon with constantly fabulous hair.

These aren’t even all the reasons, but I hope they’ve convinced you. It truly is a spectacular novel.

A note on the audiobook. I absolutely love the audiobook for this and I would recommend listening to it if you can. The accents were probably the best part for me; Aurora was vaguely Irish and Nicklaus British – I think, I’m terrible with accents. Either way, it was amazing. I also just really liked the narrator.

Essentially, just everyone go read it now. Especially if you like fantasy or any of the points I’ve listed sound remotely interesting.

 

Caraval (Caraval #1)

By Stephanie Garber

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3.75 Stars

Having heard really mixed reviews (mostly of the meh connotation) I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this one.

The writing was great, the world was interesting and overall it was fairly entertaining. I read it in one sitting.

That said, I did have some issues and I really wasn’t a fan of the characters.

You can find my full review here.

 

Fragmented Bliss

By B. J. Rosalind

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4 Stars

A beautiful book, I read it in under an hour. While I don’t quite understand all the poems (who really can though?) there were quite a few that were especially amazing.

The writing itself was elegant and sophisticated, yet raw in some parts.

I would definitely recommend, especially if you’re in a poetry phrase like myself.

 

Pygmalion 

By George Bernard Shaw

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4 Stars

One of the more accessible classics, Pygmalion is an enjoyable, comedic read with hidden depths.

The film counterpart, My Fair Lady is also rather entertaining and captures the spirit of the original text.

Would recommend.

 

Honorary mentions to my current reads, Cinder and Queens of Geek, as I read most of them in February.

 

Blog Posts

 

Other Notable Points

  • So far, I have read a total of 21 books this year.
  • I finally got my Learners so I can now drive.
  • I saw Live by Night and Hidden Figures, which are both amazing movies (Hidden Figures more so)
  • I  won an awesome giveaway which entitled me to 8 Audible credits! I got the email the day after I posted my January Wrap-Up, where I professed my love for audiobooks, which was rather amusing timing.
  • I attended the second YA Room book talk. This time it was for Caraval and it was held at Dymocks, which was amazing! It was great to see everyone again and meet a few new people. Also, I was once again in the group photo – an occurrence I’m hoping will hold (for those of you who don’t know, more often than not I seem to miss out on group photos). You can find the wrap-up here.

 

Let’s Discuss!

So, what have you been reading lately? Any exciting life occurrences? Any new years resolutions?

Have you read any of the books I listed? If so, what were your thoughts?  Do your opinions differ from mine?

Please leave a comment so that we can discuss!