Covenant’s End ~ Ari Marmell

Covenant’s End ~ Ari Marmell

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Welcome to the review of Marmell’s Covenant’s End or *heavy breathing, wide eyes, drooling saliva* A Fan Girl’s One Of The Most Anticipated Releases Liek Evaaa *dies of happiness and agony*. That is pretty much what this review is going to be about. Let me just say one thing before I start – I got this book Saturday morning, squealed like a banshee and ran around stroking the book, stormed upstairs and finished the damn thing the same night. Did I mention I cried myself to bed? Great! Now that we got the obvious out of the way, hop on the ride.

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The Story: 4/5 stars

I guess this is the end (well it is..). The end of the ride. Finite la commedia (or something). This is the grand finale and had my heart racing throughout the last 50-60 pages with the final battles, you could say. How do I even begin describing the plot without hyperventilating, Marmell?! *l’flip d’laptop* (as you can tell, I am very good at French..that was meant to be sarcastic….meh, French people will get it…probably).

Marmell begins the story with how the entire story will run – kill the fluff as soon as you can. With such a creepy and terrifying friggin’ prologue, you know shiz is getting real serious as soon as you start the book. And the fast pace doesn’t end there! We are quickly thrown to our favourite duo – bratty Shins and cheeky Olgz bruh (I should stop this…I’m probably scaring people by this point). Not only does Shins smell something suspicious with the monster hyperactivity, but also with her being one of the most wanted people around things are ought to get…interesting. Was Marmell kidding with monster hyperactivity? Well if you thought he was, he is sure to prove you wrong and is all set to remind you of what the Widdershins series is all about – blood, humour and action.

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Reaching Davillon took a while but you’re finally brought back to the city you know and love..only to find it not quite the same and not quite lovable anymore. Chaos has come again (eeey, Shakespeare reference…yeah, you’re laughing) and Widdershins is in the heart of it. After a rather…unpleasant welcome back gift left in Widdershins’s apartment, I’m not sure of what to expect from this author. That was definitely…an interesting yet very creepy way to drive the plot forward.

After some melodrama, out of which I only cared about the part that Renard was in fact alive (meh, screw Robin), Widdershins gets a beating of a lifetime after being overconfident. As much as I like the story….this was one of the parts which seemed rather….shady. There was no way Shins could have survived that and even Marmell himself wrote that Olgun was also out of juice so…how did that little miracle occur or did I miss something? To be quite honest, Marmell’s transition from some scenes to others seemed a bit confusing at times, but I’ll get to that in the Writer’s Technique section.

The web of evilness (yes, it’s a word..I think) is more tangled than at first believed and..at times I have to admit Marmell lost me. Some things were not clearly explained, which was a real shame. You were just left scratching your head, shrugging and carrying on at times. That seemed a little bit sloppy on Marmell’s side, especially knowing what good of a writer he is, especially when handling plot, plot twists and intrigue.

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Well at least you would find out that the main antagonists are not Iruoch but…his creepy cousins and uncles? Or something? It wasn’t cleared up too much…or explained who they were..but…yeah?

The story (I must admit) went downhill a bit from there on until it picked up its pace again in the final action and confrontation. The whole confession of true identity..really didn’t seem as important as it should have been. It was just a big meh, I guess. I’m pretty sure it should have been more exciting than how I read it but…yeah. And Marmell once again half-arsed some of the transition scenes.

Now the final pages and the action. Now this was what the series was all about and where Marmell shined. Not only did the action transit and kept going, it had painfully felt high stakes. I honestly thought that Shins was going to die in the end. Marmell really built it up like that until he just had to bring in the plot twist which…seemed forced, to say the least. Oh it was a miracle alright but…but….what the hell, man?! How it was resolved was definitely not how I imagined it!

*SPOILER ALERT*

To be quite honest, I thought that those scenes where all the other characters were fighting against the faes would have had more significance. I really thought that once they would kill them/whatever, then Lisette’s powers would diminish and Shins would finish her off but….of all the things….ghosts??? Whyyyyyy???

*END OF SPOILERS*

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And of course…the final wrap up…can only be described this way:

An ending which will tear your soul apart (although obviously you would have had to read all the previous books in order to understand the deep connection) and you will enjoy it. A perfect ending in some terms, inconclusive in others; satisfying yet leaving you wanting more. A suitable finale for a great series ~ #my amazon review 2015

Pretty much! The ending was just….so imperfectly perfect. What Marmell had to do was obvious since the beginning of the series. We all knew it was coming but…but…it still made the ending sad nonetheless.

*ONCE AGAIN A SPOILER IN~*

And how dare Renard and Shins not get together TAT

*SPOILER OUT~*

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The Characters: 5/5 stars

Love these guys. Honestly, love ’em. Well..most of them anyway.

Widdershins: The lovable, crazy protagonist. She’s back as awesome as ever. Although…at times she seems more childish than she should have been after the progress of the last 3 books. Her maturity does show once in a while though, which is a good sign since it shows Marmell did not forget. She’s still a pretty cool character, even if dense at times. I was conflicted with how she was left forever alone in the end but…I guess it was too soon to move on. My only hope lies in her appearing with someone *coughRenardcoughcough* as a cameo in Marmell’s possible future books set in the same universe.

Olgun: If he wasn’t a god….I would have him and Shins instead of her and Renard OTP any day…or I guess shipping since Marmell seems keen to leave Shins miserable (bully). But ermahgerd I actually loved Olgun in this last instalment. Yes, he was as awesome as always and humorous, but there was more! He really developed as a not-quite-present character! And in a good way too! His deep care for Shins was really radiating in this book, making the ending all the more bittersweet.

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Renard (oh you knew he was coming next no matter what!): Yes. He isn’t too much of a main character. But I love this guy. He’s just so awesome. His little monologue in the end also really kicked me in the feels. Poor fella! He really needed a hug. Although what happened to him in the end is a mystery…just where on earth did he disappear to?! I want answers!

Robin and that other chick…erm…Faustine was the name!: This where ‘most of them anyway’ part comes in. I couldn’t care less about these two. I never cared about Robin in the first place so why would I care about her and Faustine now? Robin was quite literally useless and Faustine…she just…didn’t have enough space for development to grow on me? Oh and in case you still didn’t get the clue of what Robin is like from the 2nd book review or why I paired these two together, their relationship can be described like this:

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Antagonists: There were quite a few. To be quite honest…I thought until the near end that there were 3 and not 4 fae which Lisette got her hands on… It really was a shame that Marmell did not go into as much antagonist-building and go full on out with them as he did with Iruoch (which was a work of pure genius..well…maybe a hyperbole but nonetheless you get the idea. I don’t get impressed that often). The whole things which binded them really was confusing. It was true, as some character in the book pointed out – fae were never that loyal to each other anyway, so why would they avenge their creepy uncle Iruoch? I just felt that Marmell didn’t explain this as well as he could have…I really wanted some more intrigue and plot twists in this area… Like..oh I don’t know! Shins or Olgun being tied to some bigger scheme/prophesy/origin than believed. Maybe Shins being some sort of special descendant or..well anything! Something more special! There was a lot of missed potential, in my opinion.

The rest: Yeah. They were there. Is that enough of an explanation? No? Well…there were just so many characters which could have shined more if given the chance. Evrard just vanished in the end..which I thought was a shame since he kinda grew on me in this book.

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Writer’s Technique: 4/5 stars

I wish I could give ol’ Ari a boost on this rating but to be honest, as mentioned before, he really slacked off at quite a few points. The most obvious were the transitions. Sometimes I had to re-read a paragraph as I didn’t realise what was fully going on and that the character was already in another place. It seemed a but out of character for Marmell to do that (see what I did there?….oh shush..). His writing is great, hands down but…it seemed as though he was a bit unfocused in some parts. I’m not sure whether this is a side-effect of writing Mick Oberon book or whatever but…something was missing. Something wasn’t quite right at times. Same goes with the plot. Some of the things just seemed not completely or well enough explained. I was surprised at how I was a bit confused at times or how close I was to confusion. Something didn’t go too well for Marmell on that aspect. I think it was just that Marmell seems to have tried to focus on so many things in such a short amount of space, especially while trying to end the series. I think the last time I experienced a similar transition confusion was in the 2nd book when Julien was….erm…well…oh you already know from my previous review his fate. Well..that! I had to also re-read that part a few times before understanding what just happened. This waver of narration seems to me stemming from Marmell’s waver of confidence or emotion. It’s as though he is unsure how exactly to approach the topic or the next scene. At least he tried, I guess?

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Despite my complaining, humour really worked well despite this dark setting. And if there is a field Marmell manages to excel in, it is definitely darkness. He knows how to set out the mood and is not afraid to ruin a few lives with his pen’s stab of doom. The bravery is admirable and rewarding as it works well.

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Overall: the predictable 5/5 stars!

This was nonetheless a great ending to an awesome series. Can you really blame me for giving it such a rating? ..okay so you probably could but shh!

The story, despite Marmell’s few confusing transitions, is quite well wrapped up. Not all loose ends are tied but doesn’t that leave room for potential future stories? Am I rite? Huh? Who’s with me? No? …Bah!

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To summarise:

I think I shall sum up my conclusions of this series as:

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and

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I have also finally understood what Marmell was:

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aka evil!

All in all this series is a really good pastime. It is entertaining and is just an emotional rollercoaster through and through. Nobody is spared. NOBODY.

And that is all! Thanks for reading and do excuse me as I once again go and cry myself to sleep after having to remember the ending again.

~Rita the Book Fox fox

You can find me on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/RitaArthurs

So how would YOU rate this book:

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I, Coriander ~ Sally Gardner

I, Coriander ~ Sally Gardner

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Yes, yes. I know what you are thinking – ‘this creature is actually alive?!’. Unfortunately for those who had their hopes raised – I am not dead (dat ironing….pun pun pun). I have just been lurking around and procrastinating (I wish…so much damn work to do uggggh). Worry not though! I have read quite a few books over the period of the self-proclaimed hiatus and I, Coriander was one of the books I had the misfortune to read. You can tell already it’s going to be a rant? Good! Believe it or not, I have read this book in one day (I literally just finished it) and my rage was so great that I finally decided to actually post something! So get your seat belts on, you are in for a rollercoaster ride called the ‘rant of a newborne hater’.

The Story: 1/5 stars

I really was trying to bump it up to 2 stars at least. Honestly. After careful consideration however I could not find any redeeming points of this poor excuse of a story.

We have Coriander who seems to be a normal, rich daughter of a merchant (with a weird plant name). Her family is ‘perfectly normal’ and happy – they are blessed with good looks and wealth, let alone witchcraf-I-I mean knowledge of medicine making with herbs (I am a brilliant synopsis writer, as you can see). While I was reading through 80 pages of how happy their life was, it was not too bad actually. It was simple but nothing too bad. It was interesting enough to keep my attention in a noisy library. Then the whole ordeal comes in with the crisis (major spoiler, not really) when her mother is killed…somehow. And I do mean somehow since I had to re-read that paragraph a couple of times to understand what the hell just actually happened. It was just so random and out of place! I could not understand what actually killed the poor woman..until like the very end of the novel! Honestly, Gardner, way to confuse a 17-year-old reading a book meant for 12-year-olds. If I was confused, how are the 12-year-olds meant to understand what just happened? I do understand that Gardner would want to keep it mild, as it is a children’s book, but for God’s sake! At least make some sense, woman!

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Then the part which disgusted me came along – all the typical step-mother stuff only with a pinch of extra spicy child abuse. And when I say disgusting, I mean disgusting. It was hard to read without despising the characters or the story. Sure it may have sounded like something that happened in that time but goodness how it enraged me. The whole witchcraft was also really annoying. (I know I used this before but seriously, this actually really belongs here right now):

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Then came the most ridiculous part of the novel which just lost me – the friggin’ fairy world. I am not kidding. This was pretty much how it was described initially before all the bad stuff happened:

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Let’s just also say that everything was described in as little detail as possible so world building lacked quite a bit, but I’ll go into that later in the Writer’s Technique section.

Let me just say that by that point the story’s plot kind of lost me. Nothing was explained properly and characters began to lack common sense…more than they did before. Oh, you want me to tell you everything about me? Sure! Oh, you’re some creepy old man with a lantern I just met? I trust you with my life! Oh, you’re some weird blue light which may as well be my very own schizophrenic hallucinations? You must be my saviour whom I must kiss (on the cheek)!

Yeah….that did not go well with my brain that by that time was malfunctioning from all the stupidity and childishness. I know this is a children’s book but….DON’T TEACH KIDS TO TALK TO AND COMPLETELY TRUST STRANGERS AND WANDER OFF WITH THEM! WHAT KIND OF LOGIC IS THAT?!

The rest of the story just went downhill with the idling and pointless plot. The confrontations were dull and boring, not to mention predictable and stupid. The plot twists by that time were easy enough to guess and the ending…like what the actual hell did I even read. It was one of the worst endings. I don’t mean as in some tragic end. Oh no, everyone ended up sickeningly happy (too happy for 17th century, says I! Why hadn’t even one of them died of the plague?!). I will of course not spoil it but let’s just say that it was stupid and random. The vagueness also didn’t help.

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Oh this part I will rant probably with the most rage. The historical context of the novel. Let me just say that I am an A2 history student who is doing a course on Charles I, Cromwell and the Restoration so I do know what I’m talking about. Reading this as a historian, this book made me sick by how it was so disgustingly prejudiced and historically inaccurate (I am no professional on this field of research, but I think doing a course precisely on this does give me justice). I can’t say I’m some fanatic of Cromwell or his Protectorate but he was made out a complete monster and tyrant for no good reason. Oh there was a reason, according to Gardner – he banned Christmas. It is a well known fact to any historian that it is a complete load of baloney. Christmas was never banned and I know this well since our class was disappointed to find this popular myth to be false. Let’s also clear another thing up – he was by no means a tyrant or even close (trust me, I had to answer a 45 marker on this one….there were hardly any arguments for him being a tyrant and many against). The toleration levels seemed to have been at the bottom in the novel yet as far as I know, religious toleration was at its highest during Cromwell’s rule, who encouraged it. In fact, Charles II’s rule had once again ended the age of toleration. Heck, his rule started out disastrously with the plague and the Great Fire of London. The whole ‘banning of fun’ was only during the Major Generals rule from 1655 to 1657 (and let’s just say that not many actually followed those rules while most Major Generals got along fine with the locals and only few were tyrannical) and everyone did not exactly get shunned if you weren’t a puritan, making most of the novel pointless and without a stable plot which would make sense. Cromwell was well regarded among England, as far as I can remember. Oh, he was goddamn awful to those abroad, massacring the Irish and deeming the Spanish as the spawn of evil, but the novel is set in London so you can’t use that excuse. Honestly, I think my history teacher would burn this book if I asked him to read it.

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You want to write a history novel? Read a friggin history book or two first then and not some damn wikipedia page or rely on popular myths! It just shows how much your research was lacking. I am not asking exactly to become an expert in the field, but at least not to go around and encouraging the popular disillusionments of history in society, especially when writing a children’s book. Those guys take anything you say as fact!

The Characters: 1/5 stars

I hated all of them for one reason or another. Seriously, they were awful characters. I really don’t want to remember everything about them so I’ll make it brief.

  Coriander: One of the most boring characters in the history of literature. She is stupid and doesn’t know half the time what she is doing. She randomly sometimes ‘knows what she’s doing’, which makes no sense. Childish to the core, despite her apparent maturing. I cannot bear to write any longer about this fool.

  Tycho: Or as I call him – Psycho (he’s not really a psycho..he’s a fairy prince but seriously…what is up with the name). The most cardboard box character of the entire book most likely. And he was the flopping main love interest. WHYYYY?!!! The torture! The horror! One minute it’s ‘I love you, please don’t leave me’ and then literally the next ‘I understand *rides off into the sunset*’. My only thought when I read that was literally ‘Da f?!!!!’.

  Eleanor (Coriander’s mum aka that weird fairy with the weird shadow): She wasn’t too bad, but that’s probably because she was present very little before she got thrown in the gutter of the novel world. The descriptions of her later on however did make me think she was rather weird and foolish. And…what the heck is this whole concept of that weird shadow? It just seemed so random and uninspired!

  God-knows-his-name-aka-Coriander’s-father (edit – apparently it’s Thomas): This guy..what is wrong with him?! He sacrificed his daughter’s happiness for the sake of what people would say about him? Let me put this bluntly – just because you have a new puritan wife, it does not drop the charges against you for helping the Royalists. Honestly….the stupidity of this man…

  The bad guys: Now these were disgusting and annoying. A whore, the most unholiest holyman and a witch? Seriously? And what the heck is up with the discrimination of looks? I get it that it makes it blatantly obvious who is good and who is evil if you say ‘he/she is ugly aka evil’ while ‘he/she is beautiful/kind aka good’, but that is incredibly shallow. There was no gray line as the ‘bad people/creatures’ were clearly divided from the ‘good people/creatures’ as if it was black and white. People are not that simple! And it’s completely boring!

  The rest: It’s too much effort to name them all. They were all useless and boring, not to mention having the most random and convenient timings possible. No way in a million years would even half of the events in the novel had such perfectly timed entrances of the characters!

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Writer’s Technique: 0/5 stars

For the nth time – I do understand this is a children’s book. I really do..but…THE WRITING IS GODDAMN TERRIBLE! It’s awful! Let’s just say that I do from time to time read the latest children’s books (since a friend of mine happens to…force me to read them in order to fangirl over them together) so I do know that this is not a good example of good writing. I swear Gardner put as little detail as possible just for the readers to get the gist of what is going on (and even that wasn’t enough sometimes) so it’s no wonder that there is a complete lack of world building of character growth and development. The linear storyline was completely boring as if the author just wrote it down as soon as she thought of it. She tried to make it clever at times, with the whole mirror symbolism and paintings to make it seem like she meant to do this all along, but it tries too much and fails miserably. It’s not clever and the writing techniques of foreshadowing have the skill level of a secondary school kid. I would say that this would probably pass as a very good GCSE/A Level project, nothing more.

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Overall: 1/5 stars

This was an awful waste of time and poor excuse of a story. It was boring to the point that halfway through I couldn’t help but think ‘when is this rubbish going to end?’. Cliche and stupid plot and disgustingly historically innacurate. I think I just may have found a book which is on par with Twili-I-I mean The-Book-Which-Must Not-Be-Named when it comes to my ranting and hatred.

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To Summarise:

This will waste your time and brain power. Don’t do it. Seriously.

And that is the end of my rant! Thanks so much for the patience of reading!

~ Rita the Book Fox fox

You can find me on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/RitaArthurs

So how would YOU rate this book:

Crown of Midnight ~ Sarah J Maas

Crown of Midnight ~ Sarah J Maas

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After a taste of the first book in the series, Throne of Glass, I was very reluctant to buy this sequel. As fate would have it, I happened to receive some book vouchers for a good job being the crazy person last year who did 6 A Levels. Browsing through my favourite fantasy section, I saw Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire. There was the moment of me looking back and forth between my vouchers and the two books, in the end shrugging a ‘wainaut’ and picking up the two books since…they kinda counted as free? Either way – I don’t think I would have bought these if it wasn’t ‘free’. I was also reluctant to read it even though it sat staring at me from the shelf for a month. In the end, I gave in to temptation and was I surprised by what I discovered in Crown of Midnight!

The Story: 4/5 stars

Maas was still trying to get rid of her habit on commenting too much on the clothes, I noticed. There was the phase where in the first pages I kept rolling my eyes at how for the nth time Maas told me what colour his or her eyes were. I was immensely relieved when I found that there are very few scenes with the pretty, sparkly dresses which Maas bombarded us with in the last book.

The whole mood of the novel was more serious, something that piqued my fantasy radars as well as improvement receptors. It was surprising by how, as though Maas finally understood that she was treading the dark waters of high fantasy, changed the tone and events of the story. It was as though she had read all the complaints and praise about the last book and has constructed a masterpiece in the second book. This fast maturity has left me quite pleased (so…..I do apologise for my comment last time that she should get out of the industry…I was quite enraged by the first book…). The story’s pace never slowed down and just kept speeding up, with the tensions and stakes rising as new things were revealed. Unlike in the last book, all events in this contributed one way or another to the plot, be it character development, world building or the overall picture. This was what kept me glued to the book until 4am (I should sleep more…but then again – I am a student; I still had to stop and go to sleep and finish the next day though…).

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Plot twists. Everybody loves plot twists. For me it depended on which ones since half of them were predictable while the other half smacked you in the face in the light of…night (since that was when I was reading). Maas just kept you guessing who the main perpetrator was and you couldn’t guess until the very end, when it was revealed (well I couldn’t, although I did have a slight hunch that the main villain was somehow related but…I didn’t think it was the main villain!).

The feels were real this time, people. The feels were real. There may have been many deaths and tragedies but this was far from overdoing it. Maas somehow managed to pull it off and make it effective. Of course it was about time that this story became more violent with that cover!

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The Characters: 5/5 stars

Maas even managed to write a book this time without me wanting to stab most of them!

  Celaena: Or whatever her name is anymore. Eh, I didn’t even care about that part, but Nehemia’s random nickname for her was weird. Right…Celaena. This time we saw some action from her. It wasn’t just all talk like before, but she actually proved that she was the good assassin she was. Her motives for faking the assassinations (this isn’t that big of a spoiler since it pretty much says this in the synopsis) left me a bit torn: was Celaena reluctant to kill because of morals (which is unlikely by how brutally she killed others) or because she didn’t want to be a puppet (which is more likely)? If she didn’t want to be a puppet…surely faking the deaths would have instead dug her own grave , which she wouldn’t want if she was so selfish? The slight problem with Maas making this story better is by how much Celaena changes. She is not the same character she was and her being a shopaholic is weird (it had to be said). The justification of her subsided selfishness in the second part is more understandable as the event was pretty traumatic. I have no complaints about the toning down of Celaena’s annoy-ness (is that even a word) but it does make me wonder how fans of the first book would react (alas, there were some). This character growth, in my opinion, is justly done and helps the reader stop wanting to strangle her.

  Dorian: Whoa, this fella got axed (not literally). He had few appearances for the first half of the book to the point that I nearly forgot his existence. I actually felt sorry for the poor guy after being dumped by Celaena like that. My fear from this was however: 1. He would be a rival for Chaol and try to intervene in the relationship of Chaol and Celaena and 2. He would become a boring filler with a useless no-role. These 2 fears however were thankfully diminished by his newly discovered magic which really starts the events going into the chaotic direction, keeping in mind that magic is punishable by death. The explanation for how this is possible (how Dorian has magic while it disappeared years ago) was brilliant (but I will not mention it as…it is a spoiler).

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  Chaol: He’s still good ‘ol Charcoal to me… Ahem… Let me just say what must be said – this guy is adorable.

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He is still a lovable character and the voice of reason. I still can’t get over the fact how he hardly killed anyone yet is the captain of the guard… If I were to compare him to something (other than charcoal), it would be a dog (it’s not as bad as it sounds). He’s loyal and paranoid but he means well.

  The Romance: This time we get the CelaenaxChaol pairing, which I must say is quite successful but…given the events – may be impossible. I stand by with this opinion:

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  The Others: Nehemia was a nice surprise…well the one relating to her secret doings, not her…er…fate. I was also a bit disappointed that Archer didn’t get as much cameo time as he deserved. I mean – a manwhore? Classic! But well…at least the main ‘bad guy’ aka the king was more present this time.

Writers Technique: 4/5 stars

Massive fulcrum point for Maas here. Her writing here improved so much and she has shown that she does know how to keep up suspense. Thank the doritos there weren’t so many exclamation marks like last time. A form of repetition was still present, only this time in the embodiment of triplets (eg “down, down, down”). Now…at times they were very effective to reflect the state of mind Celaena was in but at other times…I found them unnecessary. Why do you need triplets to say she was going “down, down, down” some stairs? No, really. Why? Maas is a fledgling writer and it is noticeable through things like this. She is experimenting with techniques and at times she is successful while at other times not so much. I’ll give her credit for being brave but…is it really practice time in a published novel?

Despite my usual nagging, Maas did write well for most of the book, hence the 4 stars. The action scenes were my favourites and there were so many of them! By how Maas avoided them previously, I had doubts she was able to pull them off but I stand (technically sit) corrected.

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Overall: 5/5 stars

Why? Because I say so and it’s my blog (I’m terrible sometimes, honestly…and that grammar error of ‘because’ as a sentence starter is killing me…). Well the official reason is that this book is actually very good. The story is interesting, it lives up to the synopsis and goes beyond, has lovable characters and many action scenes. It is a real page turner, and that coming from me says something.

Let us see what my reactions were through this roller-coaster, shall we?

Start

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Middle

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End

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and probably

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To Summarise:

This is a pretty good fantasy read with a sprinkle of YA. The amount of gore may disturb some younglings though. This is also in a way a mystery and a series of plot twists. So basically – it’ll pass a good few hours.

Well that’s all, folks! Thanks for reading!

~ Rita the Book Fox fox

You can find me on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/RitaArthurs

So how would YOU rate this book:

Brave New World ~ Aldous Huxley

Brave New World ~ Aldous Huxley

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So this is where my summer exploration of 20th century literature has brought me. I don’t usually read dystopia and prefer fantasy, but Orwell’s 1984 has persuaded me to give this a go (*cough* not to mention my EPQ project *cough*). Let us see what Huxley has offered in his vision of the future then, shall we?

Story – 4/5 stars:

The story introduces us to the twisted orderly world or ‘Brave New World’. The introduction aims to explain the process of how society works and how it is created, including the strange process known as the ‘Bokanovsy Process’. The issue I have with the introductory chapters are that….they have too much unnecessary yet slightly necessary detail. What I bean by unnecessary is that there were simply too many technical terms which even I had to process for a while; it seems Huxley tried too hard to show off his vocabulary. When I say slightly necessary, I mean that it is still key information to explaining how that world works although I’m sure it could have been explained in a few paragraphs or even a chapter or two but..not seven of them…

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In the introductory chapters we see most of the characters which the reader needs to know about throughout the book (I say most as there are still some key characters introduced later). Bernard seems to be our main character..although perspectives do change. He is pretty much an outcast of society despite his high rank because of his stature similar to the ‘peasant’ Epsilons. Society is quite messed up in our terms as ‘everyone belongs to everyone’ since the traditional reproduction method has been eliminated and all the people had to do was enjoy life. It seems that they enjoyed life a bit too much sometimes as they regularly took soma aka drugs. Now the good thing about those drugs was that they had no side-effects unlike the drugs we know of today and the bad thing…well it just seems immoral in today’s society, but since this is a different dystopia world we are talking about, these principles do not apply.

Let us move on to the next part. This is the climax and the turning point of the story – when Bernard and Lenina go to the Reservations. A peculiar savage is discovered there – one born from a mother who used to be a part of the so called ‘civilised’ society who got lost many years ago. This was a rather predictable plot point as in the previous chapters we hear of the Director’s past experience with the Reservation and how he lost the woman he travelled there with. This ‘savage’ of course is the sensation and is the chance Bernard was looking for to get his popularity boost with not only…well everyone, but particularly with the ladies. This brings us on to the next and last part.

John, the savage, is brought to the so called “Brave New World”. He gave it this name is he is somewhat of a Shakespeare nerd (and who can blame him if the only thing he learned to read from was Shakespeare’s collection?). The fascination and disillusionment soon crumbles as John realises how awful and alien the world he has been brought to really is. His thinking is of  a more traditional sense and you can almost see the reader him or herself within John. After a series of events including failed seduction of Lenina and John’s escape into the wilderness as well as Bernard’s and his friend Helmholtz’s exile, the story comes to a tragic conclusion as the mad world becomes too much for John to bear.

The general idea of the story is good, but as I have mentioned before – there is too much information involved as well as specialist or more intellectual vocabulary. I doubt too many people would have understood those words unless they learned them on specific courses, did a lot of reading or just sat there with a dictionary.

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The Characters – 2/5 stars:

Let’s just say I didn’t like most of the characters very much…at all. That was Huxley’s intention but…well this is what happens when you mess them up on purpose.

  John: The young ‘savage’. John is a romanticist and a fan of Shakespeare. His values are that of a mix of the savage culture and the poetry/plays of Shakespearean world which of course leads to him rejecting the society of the civilised world. He is an outsider both in the Reservation and the civilised world, however, as the savages never accepted him…on racial and heritage judgements and John rejects the civilised society, which ironically does not seem civilised in our terms (what with their lack of engagement in literature and consumerism mania). There seems to be no place for him which is why his tragic end was inevitable, it seems.

  Bernard: A grumpy misfit and outsider of the society he lives in despite his high position. His conditioning is lacking as he does not share the values of being in company, preferring solitude, and is not interested in sleeping around, not like he had many candidates anyway though. At first his character was somewhat in the area of sympathy and understanding; his drastic change of character for the worst when he gets more famous because of John however makes you dislike him more and more until you come to hate him.

You could say Bernard is a bit like this:

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  Lenina: The popular, perfect ‘barbie doll’. It is as Bernard described her (something among the lines of): “They treated her like meat and she quite liked being treated like it” (this is probably wrong…but it was something among those lines, honestly!). She is somewhat unusual in dating only one person at a time and has strange preferences as she is attracted to Bernard and John. To summarise her – she is the typical loose woman.

  Others: There are many more characters like Helmholtz, Linda, the Director, Mustapha Mond and co. The only likeable character I found however was Helmholtz out of the extras. He is open minded and popular, yet still somehow does not fit in because of his curious mind.

Writer’s Technique – 3/5 stars:

The biggest problem I have with Huxley is his style. It is far more suitable for writing academic essays (some of which I have read and are indeed very good) rather than prose. It’s not bad, far from that, but he tends to use (once again, as I have mentioned time and time again) too much specialist vocabulary and a lot of unnecessary description which is of no use to the reader or the story yet is key to world building. It in turn leaves a stain on the actual story and the ideas which it puts forward. The thing I like about Huxley however is that his ideas were pretty well rounded from his influences like Pavlov. His idea of a totalitarian world seemed much more realistic, compared to 1984 for example. I don’t mean realistic as in how suddenly our society also abandons all literature and begins to only use artificial reproduction. What I mean is that the idea of consumerism used to control society can be seen even today, which is why I said Huxley’s dystopia was more realistic.

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Overall – 3/5 stars:

This is not quite an eerie dystopia, yet there is still some atmosphere and a sense of discomfort. This is typical of dystopia novels, yet they are usually dark unlike this one. So why does it still give off a strange feeling? Most likely because of how twisted society is presented and the scary thought of how much the future society will change from the one we have now. Despite Brave New World being a peaceful dystopia, the chaos through which John, who can be seen as the patron of the reader, goes through can shock the reader to the very last pages.

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To summarise:

This is not a book for the…well not exactly light hearted but…those searching for an easy read? Beware of the complications which await you as this book can be said to be written in code of lexicon which you shall need to decipher so bringing a dictionary may help. I would say that this is a book more for adventurous literature lovers rather than people who want to pass a good time with a book, or perhaps that might be just my opinion.

Well that is that and thank you so much for reading!

~Rita the Book Fox fox

 

You can find me on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/RitaArthurs

So how would YOU rate this book:

1984 ~ George Orwell

1984 ~ George Orwell

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Yes, I am indeed alive after those months of inactivity. Fear not for I have not spent those months in vain! I have read quite a few good books which may be on the 20th century side, but are quite the classics which give you a lot to think about. The first one I’ll explore is George Orwell’s eerie world of 1984. Although the actual year of 1984 was far from it (as much as my 1980s history knowledge goes), let us jump back in time…or in a way the future as this was written in…1948 or 49…I’m sure it was written in 1948 and published in 1949 since Orwell originally planned to name the book 1948 then just swapped the last two numbers…Anyway! On with the review!

The Story – 5/5 stars:

There are 3 parts to the book – the introduction, the rendezvous and the finale. Despite there not happening much (literally), the story still keeps you glued to the book.

The introduction is just that – the part where Orwell entraps you in the world he envisioned and explains it. Albeit the confusing beginning, once you keep reading in for a few pages you begin to understand the gears of this chaotic dystopia. Orwell’s slight obsession with communism (well more of him hating it, not in a good fanatical way) shines through here with the totalitarian setting. As we go along with the thought-rebellious (or ‘thought-crime’, perhaps? See what I did there? …yeah, you’re laughing…) Winston Smith, we discover an earth quite different from ours (or is it? *dun dun DUUN…I should get more serious, seriously..). But this is not just any world – this is a world which will, as they say, ‘give you the chills’. There is no independence allowed and you are always watched (literally. Cameras everywhere! Did Orwell by any chance give creators of CCTV any ideas, I wonder…?). Either way, there is a lot of irony and a lot of hypocrisy (the Ministry of Peace dealing with the war? Classic..). It was a twisted world which was always at war with something, at least that is what all the citizens of Oceania are made to believe. It is but a world full of lies and terror as we find Winston Smith’s job – falsifying the past. There are many more points I would like to make on world building, but that will come later.

The rendezvous. It all begins with a love note and then we have a rebellious couple of Winston and Julia. Julia is quite the wicked wench and her impurity is just what draws Winston towards her. Most of this middle section is pretty much the development of their relationship, albeit quite a weak one based mostly on lust. But it does not end there. The so called Brotherhood, of whose existence no one is sure, apparently reveals themselves to Winston. This was a strong yet predictable move on Orwell’s side. It is strong as we see a build up of resentment and rebelliousness within Winston towards the climax of the story. This very build up however is also what made it a predictable move. Not everything turns out as planned however and there comes one of the biggest plot twists I have seen, a disappointing one in terms of morals though.

And so in the finale the loose ends are tied. The story is wrapped up nicely (not literally). The finale section is most likely one of the most dreadful couple of pages I have ever read. As strange as it sounds – good dreadful. The whole concept and situation was very frightening, despite you knowing you are perfectly safe within your own house/library/park/wherever you are reading. The entire time you are reading until the end and thinking ‘It couldn’t possibly become more horrifying’, you then find out that Orwell has a nasty surprise up his sleeve for you. You could never be quite sure what was going to happen yet you still had hope. Orwell brilliantly ripped out that hope and trampled on it, leaving you with a heavy heart once you finish the story.

If I were to summarise the plot twists in a gif, this would be it:

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The Characters – 3.5/5 stars:

Winston: An interesting little fella who just happened to be the oddball in the most dangerous place to be an oddball – Orwell’s 1984 universe. His hatred of the party is actually understandable and his intellect shines through to the reader. He has an open mind and knows when he is being fooled (mostly. If he knew all along, the ending wouldn’t have been so tragic). Being the outer party member (in human language, we would refer to it as ‘middle class’), he knows the ins and outs of the ministries (at least his own); he knows how he should behave and what to avoid. Keeping in mind what kind of a world he lives in, that is pretty amazing.

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Julia: A shallow little tart who hates the party as much, if not more, as Winston. Her shallowness was rather annoying what with her falling asleep on important philosophical lectures and discussions with Winston. Perhaps it is my memory which has been killed by time or was she not really introduced with a background story and why she hated the party? Oh there are plenty of reasons to hate it, but what was Julia’s?

Big Brother (although not really appearing): With all the given hints, it seems that this is just a fictitious figure of the party. It seems to me like Stalin left quite a mark on this character.

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O’Brien: Oh, holly macarena. Now this was a twisted character in more ways than one. I cannot honestly claim that I foresaw the plot twist on his sake, it was quite a shock for me as to who O’Brien was and his real purpose. As they say – it’s always the quiet ones.

Goldstein: Was this but another fictitious character with whom the party could diagnose traitors and offenders while also giving a common enemy? Orwell have left that a mystery, yet his style of gnashing your hope gives me the impression that Goldstein most likely was another fake enemy.

The Others: Well these were just the minor characters. They were important in a way, and they were not. Mostly because a lot of them became ‘unpersons’…

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Writer’s Technique – 5/5 stars:

Orwell’s style is bleak and blunt (why am I thinking of knives now…?) so it goes without saying that this story’s tone was perfect. The style created a depressing and hopeless atmosphere, perfectly reflecting Orwell’s 1984 universe.

Let us get to the world building then. The idea of falsifying the past is quite a scary one yet a realistic one. This was influenced of course with communist USSR under Stalin’s tyranny. The way Orwell presented it however and the background stories he created almost made it his own creation. Many of Orwell’s inspirations came from the same place such as the delusional and bizarre idea that 2+2=5. The way this view however was forced was indeed very scary. Orwell played his cards well in contrasting the calm demeanour of the torturer and the agonising prisoner who had to accept those views as one can take a certain amount of torture before actually wanting and beginning to see what his tormentor tried to make him see, even if it was complete baloney.

A certain phrase however really shocked me to the core – “You. Are. The. Dead.“. I was amazed again and again at Orwell’s masterful skill in creating shocking and smiting remarks which once in a while just hit you right in the…feels, I guess. I’m not sure how else to describe that.

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Overall – 5/5 stars:

This is a very dark dystopia which gives you a lot to think about. It is a favourite type of book of mine – one that stimulates the brain and one that engraves deeply emotionally. Every time I think about this story, I still get the ‘chills’. It was far from a ‘pleasant read’, but more of a very interesting read.

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To summarise:

This is definitely not a book for children or those who love a good light-hearted novel with a good romance. I think I would even go as far as to categorise this in a way in the horror genre (as the last part of the book definitely qualifies for that). As I have mentioned before – this is a stimulating read so if you like these sorts of books, go ahead! Personally I have enjoyed it (but I am a very weird person).

And so that is all~! Thank you so much for reading!

~Rita the Book Fox fox

You can find me on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/RitaArthurs

So how would YOU rate this book:

Throne of Glass ~ Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass ~ Sarah J Maas

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My Goodreads exploring is always fruitful especially when I discover awesome new books I have never heard of. There are however cases where it is not always successful. As you know, there are 3 simplest categories for books – good, ‘meh’ and terrible. There are also those books which promise you great things and deliver that and more; there are books which promise you things and kinda fulfil those promises; the worst is when a book promises you something and doesn’t fulfil it. How this has to do with ‘Throne of Glass‘? Simple – it is the latter of every category I mentioned. 1. Terrible and 2. Promised great things which it never fulfilled. Call me what you want but I usually have certain expectations from at least reading the synopsis (and not just from the cover *cough Eyes Like Stars cough* ¬w¬). My point is – I have to warn you guys before you read this – I may lose myself in emotion of disappointment and start raging, perhaps even uncharacteristically using certain vernacular which is usually frowned upon (although I will filter it) but that is only to emphasise my point.

The story – 1/5 stars:

The story seemed very promising. How about I shall be lazy again and show you what I mean by the synopsis:

Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.


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?

Sounds awesome, right? Promising, yeah? Well I was very excited to get this book. I started reading it as soon as I could (by that I mean it came after my prioritised must-read-as-soon-as-possible Traitor Spy Trilogy by Canavan…it was worth it – I mean the Trilogy, not the Throne of Glass). I didn’t even have many complaints at the start of the book as it was rolling with the synopsis somewhat. I admit it was a bit tiresome to read about how Celaena loved herself oh-so-much and how handsome the Crown Prince’s fabulous hair looked or whatever. I thought those were just, y’know, a style – the author described way more than necessary especially when it came to looks and clothes. Boy, was I devastated to discover that this led me to a bumpy ride through the book full of that and that the beginning was merely an omen.

Right…story…

I think my brain must have filtered the last sentence of “But will her assassin’s heart be melted?” since it seemed so insignificant. Yeah, it obviously foreshadowed romance but I knew this was a YA so that was to be expected! What I didn’t expect was that 3/4 of the mother fudging book was concentrated on it! Let’s get this straight – I come in, expecting a story about a kick-butt assassin who is not only sassy but witty. I expect interesting intrigue and awesome battles to the death as this series was dubbed ‘Hotter than the Hunger Games’. What I DO NOT expect is to find a story about a girl who does absolutely nothing for most of the book and mostly gets beaten up despite her being a world famous assassin! I DO NOT expect glitter, sparkles and rainbows, dress up in pretty dresses and lots of flirting! I had to literally puke out all the glitter this book fed me and this is not even the Book-Which-Must Not-Be-Named! I honestly have no idea how you can f*** up such a great promising story that badly… It just pains me as a fan of the fantasy genre… To say I was close to tears would…of course be an exageration but I was very pained to see the genre being ripped up and burned like that.

‘But there were some good premises, riiight~?’ Perhaps, but none of them were to my liking. The only thing this thing had was the plot but even this was screwed up by Maas so badly that it is unbelievable. What’s worse is that I can actually provide evidence for it, which is the scary part since I never bother to do that:

It had been over three weeks since her last encounter with Elena, and she hadn’t seen or heard her at all, despite the three Tests she’d had, the most exciting of which being an obstacle course, which she passed with only a few minor scratches and bruises. Unfortunately, Pelor hadn’t done so well, and had been sent home at long last. But he’d been lucky: three other competitors had died. All found in forgotten hallways; all mutilated beyond recognition.

Trivia time! What do you think is wrong with the quote above except everything? Trick question, right? Well…where do I even begin… Firstly, the beginning of the book emphasised how important all the tests were. They were supposed to eliminate the candidates in the most horrible way possible and with the idea of the ‘Hunger Games’ still creeping around in my mind, I thought this was meant to be something really difficult with lots of gore and fighting or at least something close to that. What do I find? Well, just like in the above excerpt, most of the so called ‘Tests’ were briefly summarised in 1, maximum 3, sentences…I got the impression that after the narration of the first ‘Test’ Maas got bored and decided to ignore the actual key plot point and concentrate more on Celaena doing nothing. I was also actually very curious as to what these ‘Tests’ shall be only to discover….they were something like rock climbing and archery – ARE YOU ACTUALLY KIDDING ME?!

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You know another pathetic thing about the above excerpt? The actual gore and killing happened outside the ‘Tests’. This leaves me with one question – Maas, what were you thinking or were you even doing anything close to that?

“It’s cold,” she moaned, holding her knees to her body. She didn’t care that she had only a few months to beat the other Champions – she needed sleep.

Wow….all I can say here is – ladies and gentlemen, here is the world’s greatest assassin for you! Oh and this was cut out from the event where the Captain of the Guard has to wake her up and resorted to taking her blankets to do so. Am I joking? Nope, that is actually what happened.

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You think that’s bad? Oh you should see how Celaena can’t stop checking herself out in the mirror while she wears dresses and how this notorious assassin instead of training reads books until like 2 in the morning and then wakes up at noon (that sounds like me actually….). I think Maas got her story and characters mixed up…

Oh right, the plot twist. Everyone loves a plot twist, right? Yeah, that might be valid if there was a good plot twist which was actually unexpected, maybe? No? Tell me if I’m wrong, but isn’t a plot twist supposed to be…shocking? See what I did there? ….Anyway…. my point is that the plot was terrible and it seemed as though Maas had just made it up as she went. To be honest, considering that the novel’s origins are from Fictionpress.net, I would not be surprised if that was the case.

Another point I wanted to make was that it seems this was pretty much ripped off ‘Poison Study‘ by Maria V Snyder. I haven’t actually read the book, but I think I’ll pick it up some time in the future. Now, I know that some might argue that Throne of Glass has been in the planning stages since something like 2002, but how can a plot be supposedly so similar? Well…I don’t really care but I thought I might just let you ponder on that.

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The characters – 2/5 stars:

This is probably one of the worst cast of pieces of cardboard in any book I have ever read. And here I thought Twili-I-I mean the Book-Which-Must Not-Be-Named and Eyes Like Stars had terrible characters… How do I even start this…

Celaena: Most likely the worst possible assassin in the history of assassination. I am not even joking. Here we have a character who is apparently the world’s greatest assassin – trained to be as hard as steel and as tough as nails. It would help if she could have actually at least at some point in the book properly proven it (and no, the duel hardly counts). I can’t believe I’m saying this but the antagonist, Cain, was actually right in saying “Is this all you got?” or “Can you actually prove it or are you just yapping?” because those were the exact questions I would have liked to ask Celaena! How can an assassin snore through people randomly entering and exiting her room, even leaving some sort of a gift, without her noticing? How can an assassin miss killing someone from a balcony with a damn plant pot? Oh and don’t even get me started on how vain this brat was. Yeah, I understand that Maas intended to make her have the flaws of vanity etc etc but there is a limit to how annoying you can make a protagonist! She was a horror of a protagonist and instead of making her awesome, Maas made her into a typical annoying as hell Mary Sue. Yeah, we get it that she is literally a goddess walking the earth with her amazing skills, wit and looks but there is a limit to how many times per paragraph you can say that… At least I think that should be included in the law from now on in case something like this comes along.

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Replace L with Celaena and ‘World’s Greatest Detective’ with ‘World’s Greatest Assassin’ and it’ll be pretty accurate….I should actually do that! …nah, this series is not worth the effort…hmm actually…

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Perfect.

I guess with Celaena it was either a hit or a miss and you can pretty much guess that it was a miss for me. It really doesn’t help the story if you want to strangle the protagonist yourself.

If you want a summary of Celaena expectation VS reality, here it is:

Expectation:

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Sad sad reality:

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Dorian: Mr. Prince Charming on a White Horse. Except he’s not since he’s a player except he’s not since he hates all the court ladies except he just wants to annoy his parents except he’s…yeah. That’s what I got out of this character. The list goes on but that would be too boring and confusing for you to read. So…does Maas think the readers are complete morons or does she actually expect us to buy the crap that Dorian has never noticed just how evil his father was and that he actually had to do something about it? Well it sure seems so as the only reason Dorian started all this was because….he was bored. Wow, I know, right? Bored and defiant of his parents who are barely present after being mentioned quickly apparently being important. His infatuation with Celaena was so….forced… Honestly, he basically merely lusted after her but then apparently claimed quickly that he loved her to the core of her soul.

*SPOILER…or is it?*

He didn’t seem too bothered by Celaena basically dumping him despite his claims…One would have thought that he would actually try to do something about it…

*END OF SPOILER…or is-yeah I know, I should shut up*

He is foolish beyond logic so I think I shall just..continue to ignore him. He was a boring filler.

Chaol: Okay…I cannot help but state the obvious – am I the only one who keeps thinking of charcoal every time I read his name? …No? Anyway… I think this guy it the only one who brings up the rating of the character section to 2 stars…since he was the only character I kinda liked. Why? Well, for starters he reminded that bi-I-I mean female dog, figuratively speaking, of where her place was. I’ll show you what I mean:

I look ridiculous! These pants are absurd, and this shirt is awful.” [-Celaena]

Stop whining. No one gives a damn about your clothes.” [-Chaol]

[You tell her, Chaol!]

Let’s be honest – someone had to say that.

“Is anyone staring at you? Are any of them sizing you up? No. Because you’re not real competition.*more yada*” [-Chaol]

Exactly! It’s unsulting!” [-Celaena]

It’s smart, that’s what it is.” [-Chaol]

[Shouldn’t Celaena be ashamed that someone as lowly as a Captain of the Guard outsmarted her? And what the heck is her problem with going undercover? Isn’t that what assassins do all the time?]

The problem with Chaol, however, was that he wasn’t developed much. We didn’t know much about him and it was rather pathetic how he never killed anyone in his life despite being a Captain. His redeeming point was that he was literally the only character close to reality, especially in terms of romance. It was shown how it gradually developed and how Chaol stopped seeing the simple ‘black and white’ world.

The others: I’m not even going to bother giving them their own sections, they were that unnecessary/irrelevant/uninteresting. Nehemia was a forced ‘best friend’, Cain was a beefcake who clearly was the bad guy, the king wasn’t even there and…yeah, I think you get the idea. ‘Nough said.

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Writer’s technique – 1/5 stars:

Maas, who taught you how to write? The most obvious dilemma I had with Maas was that she described a lot of unnecessary detail. I know this may be shocking but I am not interested in how shiny his hair is or how sparkly that dress is. Last time I checked, I was supposed to be reading a book about an assassin and not a crazed teenage girl who wants to be a model and drools over the hot guys.

Next – repetition. Repetition is good when used appropriately usually to create emphasis. If I were to say doing it right, I would mention Hodge and ‘Gilded Ashes‘ and from now on I would use doing it wrong example as Maas’ ‘Throne of Glass‘.

Massive story killer – exclamation mark mania. At least that was what I diagnosed Maas as. I’m sorry but since when overusing exclamation marks ever a good idea?! Ridiculous! Scandalous! Even in these 2 lines I managed to imitate Maas exactly. Now, imagine having that every few paragraphs or so. I almost guarantee that there will be an exclamation mark or two at least on every page.

World building was about as good as a 5-year-olds. The only life support Maas had in this area was the map at the beginning, which I should say, she did not draw. Apparently to understand most of the events in here you need to read the prequel novellas but….aren’t novellas additions to the story just like icing on a cake? The main story is what’s supposed to explain the events at least more than Maas did. Novellas are usually an expansion to give a much better picture.

Finally – fantasy genre. Maas, you impostor, get out of this industry! I don’t mean to sound like an angry hater but…this book actually invoked rage! I was utterly disgusted with Maas’ poor attempt of trying to pry into this area. This is pretty much the same as Twi-The Book-Which-Must Not-Be-Named and the vampire genre. Oh and guess what? Apparently this story was inspired by Cinderella…. Maas, are you mad? How did you get an assassin in there?

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Overall – 2/5 stars:

The only reason I am even giving this poor excuse of a book 2 stars is because I still respect the fantasy genre, despite this book trampling on it, and assassins and maybe even Chaol. This was a torture to read and I had to literally tie myself up and read the last….300 pages (this book has 400 pages).

I’m not sure whether the problem here is that I’m a more serious reader and judge literature very critically since I study English as my A Level and wish to do it at Uni or whether I’m just not supposed to take this seriously and am over-reacting. Many have said that they liked this book…and I don’t understand why. It has a high rating on Goodreads but then I remember a certain…I can’t even call it a book…with sparkling leeches whose sexual orientation you question just by reading their description or listening to them (or looking, if you roll with the terrible film adaptations). This is once again a brilliant deception of being a best-seller. I think all that praise and advertising probably tells you how bad the book actually is… This is a pattern I noticed here, people! Conspiracy!

Overall:

I was utterly disgusted with this being referred to as an epic fantasy. You want epic fantasy? Go read Tolkien, Canavan, Weeks or Martin just anything but this piece of…yeah. Basically – you read all you needed to know here and so you should run far and hide. If you are still not discouraged by this book….Gods help you. I’m not sure whether to call you brave or a masochist or having a strange taste. This book seems more like a soapie for ‘vastly-miscommunicated-about-what-a-true-assassin-and-fantasy-genre-is’ teenage girls than a serious fantasy.

Well that’s all. Sorry for the rant but I just had to try and warn people about this trap.

~Rita the Book Fox Image

You can find me on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/RitaArthurs

So how would YOU rate this book:

 

Gilded Ashes ~ Rosamund Hodge

Gilded Ashes ~ Rosamund Hodge

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Well I was dying to read this after reading Cruel Beauty. I was a bit upset that this only would come out as an e-book, but that didn’t stop me doing some online research and an easy find of mobipocket reader so that I could get Gilded Ashes and read it on my laptop. Dear god..this book…I just finished reading this and was over-flowing with emotions so I thought that while I had the passionate drive, I just had to write the review.

The Story – 5/5 stars:

The story was an absolute delight. I don’t mean it was good in the way of everything being all wonderful, but in a way that the plot was wonderful even if somewhat bitter-sweet. I absolutely loved the Hodge’s retelling of Cinderella with an icing of Cruel Beauty universe and the Gentle Lord’s deals (man, that guy sure is wicked). Sure the story was short but I still could not stop reading it. It flowed wonderfully and everything made absolute sense with no plot holes (unlike another book I’m currently reading. Yes, Throne of Glass, I am looking at you!

Despite it being a retelling, it felt like a completely new story (well it kinda was). It was lovely, it was dark, it was absolutely delicious (what is up with my descriptions of books…anyone who would listen to me talking about them would think I eat them or something…). I was more satisfied with this ending in contrast to Cruel Beauty one.

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The Characters – 5/5 stars:

Hodge is on a roll with rankings from me today! All the characters were marvellous!

Maia: Oh gosh how I loved the main character. I could somewhat relate to her and I could understand her completely. I emphasised with her worries and I feared for her. Basically – I actually cared about her. This doesn’t happen often in books or with a heartless wench like myself. I actually wanted to comfort Maia and give her at least a hug. Honestly, Hodge just shaped her so wonderfully. Her flaws were excellent and once again Hodge made the flaws represent something every single one of us has – the necessity to deceive and pretend everything is fine to have the society functioning properly. Ask yourself this – how many times in your life did you have to put on a porcelain mask, smile and pretend everything was fine despite you hating your job/school/whatever you have to do which you don’t like and carry on? I’m sure every single one of you would have done it at least once in your life. Maia has to do it every single day which shows how strong she is and I really admired her for that. She claimed that love made people fools, but she was a fool herself since she tried to protect the ones she loved subconsciously.

Anax: This guy was great. He wasn’t the most central character in the book let alone the one who had to suffer the most. His story was somewhat simple with the usual business the noblemen had to put up with their heritage – the duty to his house as well as the honour. All he wanted was people to stop lying to him all the time in the world full of lies. I can actually understand that. I really hate it myself when people sugar-coat everything and all those fake smiles just make me want to throw the person out the window. That is exactly how Anax felt, I would guess. I could actually relate to him seeking company of those people who are honest to you since that is what is important in any kind of relationship be it friendship or love. This of course made him seem more real and another representative of the problems in our lives.

The Romance (once again – I do know this is not a character, in case you ask): It was actually vague yet still pleasant and did not make me want to throw up my dinner. I actually enjoyed this pair and rooted for them. I do, however, wonder how it’ll work out. Then again – it shouldn’t be too bad since Maia was still a noblewoman despite being forced to slave off for her Stepmother.

Koré: I thought I was going to dislike her – she was pretty mean. Throughout the story, however, you actually begin to understand more why she does what she does. She is actually a pretty brave woman and worked quite effectively as a character despite being the potential Mary Sue with her perfect looks and her brains. I do feel sorry for her in the end. I wonder how she would live out her life now as well…

The Stepmother (or should it be the Godfather..okay, I’ll shut up now…): Again, I thought I would hate her at the beginning. She was haughty and an evil woman. It’s actually quite shocking to find out that in fact she was mad. I could not help but also feel sorry for her after reading her story. It is understandable why she did what she did and also saddening. Every character in this story had suffered while trying to merely save their loved ones.

Thea: Well…I think this is the only character I didn’t feel too strongly about. She was okay, but nothing grand. She actually reminded me of Astraia from Cruel Beauty a bit.

So to summarise – I really liked what Hodge has done with her characters. She has used them all to represent certain troubles we face in society even today, just a bit more extreme.

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Writer’s Technique – 5/5 stars:

Goodness gracious, Hodge has used her writing very effectively. There was a lot of repetition, I noticed, but it was used so effectively it made me marvel as a student of literature. Hodge doesn’t stay on world building for too long and that suits the story just fine – you don’t need all the details. I also appreciated that the few references and concepts explained about the universe are short since we already learned it all in Cruel Beauty. They were just enough for someone new to this universe and made me, someone who read the original book, appreciate that none of my time was wasted (although since it’s a novella for that universe, it’s more likely that the readers would also have read it).

There’s something about the writing that makes it one of my favourites. It is simple yet complex. It is elegant yet plain. It is dark and mysterious yet still clear. I don’t know, something about the style just draws me in. Hodge is definitely a favourite of mine now and I am looking forward to her future works (I am really looking forward to Crimson Bound).

 

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Overall – OF COURSE 5/5 stars:

This was absolutely amazing. It actually evoked something which I thought didn’t exist – emotions. I really loved this novella. It was short and just the right length. It was bitter-sweet with just the right amount. Hodge can really go far as an author and this as her second official book (well novella) is very promising. The actual story took me about an hour or so to read so don’t give me the excuse that you don’t have the time or too lazy – you should really try this. If this actually made me feel something, surely it can do the same with you.

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To summarise:

JUST READ IT ALREADY! Honestly! You won’t be disappointed! It is a quick read which tramples your emotions which is worth it! (…no seriously, I am really not a masochist. I swear!)

Well that is all! Thank you for reading once again and happy reading!

~Rita the Book Fox Image

You can find me on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/RitaArthurs

So how would YOU rate this book?: