Tag Archives: 4 Stars

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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More Than This

Finished May 11th, 2015

Author: Patrick Ness

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4 Stars

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies.

Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive.

How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place?

As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?

From multi-award-winning Patrick Ness comes one of the most provocative and moving novels of our time.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I really enjoyed this novel. Admittedly, it took me a while to get into the story, but even when I couldn’t I really enjoyed the writing. I found More Than This to be a pretty solid read.

I always hear people (particularly on BookTube) say that they want to go into a particular book blind. Until now, I have never really understood that feeling. The synopsis is in itself rather vague and I feel that was the intention. Also, John Green blurbed this book (just saying).

If left to my own devices, I don’t think that I would have picked up this novel (it was a Kris Kringle gift that I received last year), but I am really glad that I read it and am looking forward to picking up Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy.

To quote John Green, “Just read it”.

Insurgent (Divergent #2)

Finished 29th March, 2015

Author: Veronica Roth

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4 Stars

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

One choice can transform you – or it can destroy you. Tris Prior’s initiation day should have been marked by victorious celebrations with her chosen faction; instead it ended with unspeakable horrors. Now unrest surges in the factions around her as conflict between their ideologies grows.

In times of war sides must be chosen and secrets will emerge. Tris has already paid a terrible price for survival and is wracked by haunting grief and guilt. But radical new discoveries and shifting relationships mean that she must fully embrace her Divergence – even though she stands to lose everything…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Insurgent… Noun. A person who acts in opposition to the established authority, who is not necessarily regarded as belligerent.”

Insurgent is a very well put together, easy, intriguing read. I found the world really easy to slip back into and, as this is my second time reading it, I picked up on several things that have only now come to light as I have read Allegiant. On that note, the foreshadowing just about killed me. And I am not just talking about the end of Insurgent – no, it is clear as day that Veronica Roth had the ending of the trilogy planned out long before she actually started writing it. Throughout the whole book there is definitive clues to that end, which seriously messed with my emotions.

“‘My dear girl,'” she says. ‘I am his family. I am permanent. You are only temporary.'”

Do you see? Do you? Do you? Seriously, it was quite destressing…

Veronica’s characters are complicated, layered and realistic. There is always more to someone than meets the eye – you can never know all that there is to know about them. This is a really important message to broadcast and Veronica does this beautifully.
Uriah is amusing, sassy, sarcastic, fun and a brilliant character to read about. He is a great friend – especially to Tris – and has brought her out of a slump several times.

“‘A representative?’ Zeke says. ‘She’s not going herself?’
‘Yeah, and stand out in the open where a bunch of angry people with guns can take aim?’ Uriah smirks a little. ‘I’d like to see her try. No, really, I would.'”

Marline is sweet and slightly naive. She didn’t really leave much of am impression on me aside from the vague imprint of her bubbly personality. However, I have not read Divergent in over a year, so that may factor into my opinion.

Lynn, Shauna and Zeke were all brilliant characters as well. They, Marlene and Zeke express what it’s like to be truly Dauntless – they are fun, loud, hilarious and free.

“By the time the fight dies down, my clothes are more paint-coloured than black. I decide to keep the shirt to remind me why I chose Dauntless in the first place: not because they are perfect, but because they are alive. Because they are free.”

Both Tris and Tobias simultaneously made me love them and grow extremely frustrated. However, the main thing to take away about their characters is that they fought for what they believed in and remained strong despite the odds. They are by no means perfect, but neither are we. I loved them as a couple and feel that they compliment each other so well – especially after seeing from Tobias’ point of view in Four.

“‘Sleep,’ he says. ‘I’ll fight the bad dreams off if they come get you.’
‘With what?’
‘My bare hands, obviously.'”

Upon first reading the trilogy, I remember really disliking Christina. Now, I actually really like her character. She’s sassy, reliable and loyal. Christina was Tris’ first real friend, and their relationship really expresses that.

“‘Fine.’ [Christina] sighs. ‘I would take out the blush, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the right colour for you.”
‘Shocking, considering we’re so similar in skin tone.'”

The Erudite were just as brilliant, hilarious and awesome as I remembered. By this, I am referring to Cara, Fernando and the rest of the crew – the non-brainwashed members who display the true values of the faction. As an Erudite myself, I couldn’t be more proud to have these amazing people representing my faction and showing that not all members are corrupt.

“My father taught me to see the Erudite a particular way. He never taught me that they made no judgments about what people believed, but designed things for them within the confines of their beliefs. He never told me that they could be funny, or that they could critique their own faction from the inside… He never told me that an Erudite could offer to help me even after I killed her brother.”

For whatever reason, I kept picturing Fernando as a twelve year old… I have no idea why, because he’s actually sixteen (he was in Caleb’s initiate class).

“‘Nando?’ I say to him. ‘I thought the Erudite didn’t like nicknames?’
‘When a pretty girl calls you by a nickname,’ he says, ‘it is only logical to respond to it.'”

Yep, still twelve. (Sorry Nando!)

Johanna was another amazing characters who supported the true values of her faction – for Amity was not always about avoiding existing conflict to preserve peace. Below is a quote from the original Amity Faction Manifesto, which was later removed (as seen in World of Divergent).

Involvement
One Friend says to Another: ‘Friend, today I fought with my enemy.’
The Other Friend says: ‘Why did you fight with your enemy?’
‘Because they were about to hurt you.’
‘Friend, why did you defend me?’
‘Because I love you.’
‘Then I am grateful.'”

Veronica has subtly woven  some serious themes into her writing, making it all the more believable. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), homosexuality, abuse, prejudice, forgiveness and beauty that runs deeper than surface appearances are all examples of this.

“Colour fills her cheeks, and I think it again: that Johanna Reyes might still be beautiful. Except now I think that she isn’t just beautiful in spite of the scar, she’s somehow beautiful with it, like Lynn with buzzed hair, like Tobias with the memories of his father’s cruelty that he wears like armor, like my mother in her plain grey clothing.”

Insurgent was a fun read and while the trilogy is a YA series, it great for all ages, whether you don’t read much or read way too much (though, arguably, that is impossible). I am really looking forward to watching the movie and seeing how well it has been adapted.

Other Notable Quotes:

“‘Thank God,’ he  says, pressing his forehead to the door. ‘I was beginning to think it would never wear off and I would have to leave you here to…smell flowers, or whatever you wanted to do while you were on that stuff.'”

“There is a part of me that wants to be lost, that struggles to join my parents and Will so that I don’t have to ache for them anymore. A part of me that wants to see whatever comes next.”

“Sometimes I feel like I am collecting the lessons each faction has to teach me, and storing them in my mind like a guidebook for moving through the world. There is always something to learn, and that is important to understand.”

“I laugh, mirthless, a mad laugh. I savor the scowl on her face, the hate in her eyes. She was like a machine; she was cold and emotionless, bound by logic alone. And I broke her.
I broke her.” (In reference to Jeannine.)

“Telling me the time is a small act of betrayal – and therefore an ordinary act of bravery. It is maybe the first time I’ve seen Peter be truly Dauntless.”

“Every part of my body chants it in unison. Live, live, live. I thought that in order to give my life in exchange for Will’s, in exchange for my parents’, that I needed to die, but I was wrong; I need to live my life in the light of their deaths. I need to live.”

“Every part of his posture suggests ease… I have never seen him look so comfortable without a gun. I didn’t think it was possible.”

“‘Woah there, Tobias,’ says the man to my left. ‘Weren’t you raised a Stiff? I thought the most you people did was…graze hands or something.’
‘Then how do you explain all the Abnegation children?’ Tobias raises his eyebrows.
‘They’re brought into being by the sheer force of will,’ the woman on the arm of the chair interjects. ‘Didn’t you know that, Tobias?'” (This is by far my favourite)

The Lost Herondale (Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy #2) + An Excerpt from Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)

Read on 18th March, 2015

Authors: Cassandra Clare & Robin Wasserman

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4 Stars

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Simon learns the worst crime a Shadowhunter can commit: desertion of their comrades.

In the early nineteenth century, Tobias Herondale abandoned his fellow Shadowhunters in the heat of battle and left them to die. His life was forfeit, but Tobias never returned, and the Clave claimed his wife’s life in exchange for Tobias’s.

Simon and his fellow students are shocked to learn of this brutality, especially when it is revealed the woman was pregnant. But what if the child survived…could there be a lost Herondale line out in the world today?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Like every Cassandra Clare book, I absolutely adored The Lost Herondale. It was fun to read; we saw old friends, the story was interesting and the character development was great. Most of all, I loved hearing from Simon again – his humor and nerdiness are particularly of note.

“Fortunately, the tall, dark-haired man who strode into the classroom looked unlikely to have any interest in Simon or his bod.”

Despite this, I was slightly disappointed that we did not hear more about the lost Herondale. Admittedly, there was not much else that could have been added given the limited length of the installment but I felt rather let down, especially considering the title and synopsis are centered around this Herondale. Hopefully Four’s *cough* sorry, Tobias‘ descendants will feature in the coming installments, but somehow I don’t believe that they will be. (Sorry, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.)

My two favorite scenes of The Lost Herondale would have to be the one where Catrina details the (full) story of Tobias Herondale and the concluding scene.

Lady Midnight Excerpt

You have no idea how excited I was when I saw those three words on the contents page – I couldn’t even. (Side note: Why do fangirls always travel in odd numbers? Because they can’t even.)

Julian and Emma are so adorable together! I ship it so much… When Emma was recalling the memories of Julian and her? I may or may not have squealed and gushed and awwed. You know, maybe.

12 months. We have to wait twelve months for TDA – the thought rather depresses me… But in the meantime we get Simon, so that’s something I suppose. (Just kidding Simon, I love you!)

Chasing the Valley (Chasing the Valley #1)

Read from 28-29th September, 2014

Author: Skye Melki-Wegner

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4 Stars

* * * * * * * * * *

Escape is impossible. Escape is their only hope.

Danika is used to struggling for survival. But when the tyrannous king launches an attack to punish her city – echoing the alchemy bombs that killed Danika’s family – she risks her life in a daring escape over the city’s walls.

Danika joins a crew of desperate refugees who seek Magnetic Valley, a legendary safe haven. But when she accidentally destroys a palace biplane, suddenly Danika Glynn becomes the most wanted fugitive in Taladia.

Pursued by the king’s vicious hunters and betrayed by false allies, Danika also grapples with her burgeoning magical abilities. And when she meets the mysterious Lukas, she must balance her feelings against her crew’s safety.

Chasing the Valley is the first book in an epic trilogy of magic, treachery and survival.

* * * * * * * * * *

Combining magic, alchemy, fantasy and adventure, Chasing the Valley is a quick, enjoyable read.

At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the characters – none of them immediately stood out, there didn’t seem to be anything extraordinary about them. However, this worked in their favour, added to their appeal. The characters were very easy to relate to because, while they all had their strengths, they were thrust into an unfamiliar environment and forced to adapt. They made mistakes, fought, formed relationships, solved problems, and were so utterly human. Their talents at first seemed either irrelevant or under-developed, but the most seemingly irrelevant things ended up saving them. Maisy’s book smarts, Clementine’s sparkly clothes, Teddy’s bravado, that old song that lead them true – all of which helped them out, maybe even saving their lives. They were nothing extraordinary – just ordinary teenagers – but their experiences shaped them and forced them to grow and discover within themselves and as a team. There were certainly no Mary-Sues.

The world-building was interesting and very well-done. Information was gradually added though character interactions – they came from such different walks of life that it was only natural for them to elaborate upon the differences – as well as when the characters experienced new discoveries. The magic was prominent but not overdone, able to be used but not a first resort.

Overall, an interesting, easy read for lovers of fantasy and magic. While not my absolute favourite, I did quite enjoy Chasing the Valley and look forward to the rest of the trilogy.

Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales

Read from 11-17th September, 2014

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4 Stars

* * * * * * * * * *

Collected here for the first time are all of the tales from the land of Tortall, featuring both previously unknown characters as well as old friends. Filling some gaps of time and interest, these stories, some of which have been published before, will lead Tammy’s fans, and new readers into one of the most intricately constructed worlds of modern fantasy.

The Dragon’s Tale
Daine’s dragonling, Kitten, helps an outcast from society.

Elder Brother
A tree, made human by Numair, must learn the intricacies of being a man.

The Hidden Girl
Despite the laws of her patriarchal society, a girl wants to learn…and teach.

Huntress
A contemporary teen tries to fit in with the cool group at school, at a terrible price.

Lost
A darking shows a self-doubting math genius how smart she can be.

Mimic
Ri helps any wounded creature, no matter how ugly or strange

Nawat
Nawat the crow-man faces a choice no father wants to make.

Plain Magic
What happens when you lose a lethal lottery?

Student of Ostriches
A young girl fights a proven warrior to protect her sister’s honor.

Testing
When trying out a new housemother, how hard do you push?

Time of Proving
Arimu of the Wind People meets a poet from the Veiled City.

* * * * * * * * * *

I rather enjoyed this collection of short stories – I adore Tamora Pierce’s work and it was great to slip back into her writing.

To be honest, I’m really not sure which was my favourite! I think I’m torn between Lost, The Dragon’s Tale, Mimic and The Hidden Girl. Though I did enjoy them all.

One thing I loved about Lost is when they were talking about maths, I understood what they were saying. Not to mention, Lost (the darking) was absolutely adorable! Though I did want to strangle her father and Inspector Park…

I’m not quite sure how I feel about the last two tales, (Huntress and Testing) as they are set in modern time, America. They were both great stories, but I felt they kind of interrupted the fantasy/alternate medieval vibe Tamora has going for her… I don’t know why, but I kind of hopes they’d be a modern-day Tortall or adjoining lands.

An easy, enjoyable, on-the fly kind of book (or maybe that’s because I’ve been reading all my books that way recently?) Anyway, I definitely recommend this to all Tamora Pierce fans out there! Especially those who wonder about side characters or “what happened after”.

Buddy Read: What’s Left of Me (Hybrid Chronicles #1) – Review

Read From 6-9th July, 2014

Aaaaaaand here it is! The final review ;). Thank you go those of you who have travelled with Stefanie and I this week as we’ve progressed through Kat Zhang’s first instalment of the Hybrid Chronicles What’s Left of Me.

I would also like to thank lilnerdling for allowing me to borrow her copy of this book and Stefanie for buddy-reading with me.

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4 Stars 🙂

What’s Left of Me is a dystopian novel based in a world of hybrids – that is, two souls in one body – but who end up “settling” at a young age – as in, one of the two souls permanently leaving. Those who don’t are considered “abnormal” and are hunted and feared. In this world, the government press all sorts of propaganda and lies against hybrids and foreigners, leading people to believe that they are “unnatural”, “dangerous” and “to be feared”.

I loved the world building in this book. It was enthralling and while what they did to the people of the Americas without them even knowing and to the hybrids made me sick, that’s how you’re supposed to feel.

Addie was quite frustrating for most of the book and there were times when I felt like tearing my hair out because of her. In the beginning, she came across as somewhat spoilt, but she seemed to grow out of it as the story progressed. Thankfully, she did change, growing a backbone and becoming strong, I really grew to like her in the end.

Eva was so sweet, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her – trapped, paralysed and unable to move. I’m so glad that she got her chance! I love her and Ryan together and even before anything really happened, I shipped them so much!

I feel that we didn’t really get to know Devon all that much. He was the hacker, and rather anti-social. While I selfishly wish that something will happen between Addie and him, I know that that’s not going to happen (synopsis of the third book).

I love Ryan!! He is so cute, and obviously cares very deeply about Eva. He’s the mechanic and the coin sensors he made are just so awesome! Not to mention, he’s a bookworm too ;).

Hally and Lissa were just the best. While I couldn’t find much distinction between their personalities, I really enjoyed their character. I felt so sorry for them though – a half foreign hybrid? That’s just the hight of social outcast. Also, it’s always amazing when there’s a character with the same name as you that you really like :).

My heart went out to Lyle. He was just touched me so much and was filled with so much life. Since it was inevitable that Addie/Eva were going to have to stay in the hospital, I’m so glad that it meant that he was able to be healthy again! He, too, was a bookworm, which was super cool.

A point that I am really curious about is hybrid marriages. After Addie’s reaction when Eva and Ryan kissed, it brought this up in my mind. After all, they are two different people, and I really hope that this is a concept that will be explored further as we venture deeper into the trilogy.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable novel and I’ll certainly be on the lookout for the other two books.