Wednesday, 14 August 2019

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence - non-spoiler review

Hi booklovers

Today I bring you my review of book two in the Broken Empire trilogy by Mark Lawrence - King of Thorns. You can find my review for book one here
This review might contain spoilers for book 1.

(Read on to see my opinion of this book change - in a positive way - while writing this review. I wrote this review shortly after finishing the book, I just now got around to posting it.)

This is a very hard book to rate. It's been a couple of days since I finished it and immediately after finishing it I rated it 3 stars. But now that I've had some time to let it sink in I'm leaning more towards 4 stars.

Let me start by saying that I enjoyed this book even though at first I found it very confusing as well. It took me nearly 20 chapters to figure out that when a chapter said 'four years earlier' it meant the whole chapter was set in the past. I'm completely blaming this on the fact that English is not my first language and the fact that I was listening to the audiobook. (I'm NOT saying the audiobook was bad, because I love the narrator. Sometimes it's harder to follow a story through the audiobook than when you're physically reading a book.) Anyway, having established this, the fact that the story alternates between the past and the present is something that makes the writing simultaneously interesting and confusing. (Or maybe that's just me *shrugs*)

Most of the book tells us about what happened to Jorg and his band of brothers in the four years that have passed since defeating his uncle. Those are the 'past' chapters and they form one storyline.

The second storyline is called 'Wedding day' and is set in the present time. In these chapters we follow Jorg - who's now 18 - on his wedding day. We quickly find out it's not your ordinary kind of wedding day because they're under attack, which kind of hinders normal wedding day procedures!

We also get a third storyline in the form of Katherines - Jorgs aunt who he has been lusting over ever since meeting her - journal entries. She provides a different perspective on Jorg and what happens with the prince of Arrow.

The past chapters fill us in on what has happened in the four years that have passed. A lot of those things lead up to certain events happening in the present day. It was great to see how all those events came together towards the end of the book.

Even though Jorg is still one of the most morally grey characters I've read about, I can't help but symphathise with him and his cause. He is one of those characters that goes through a ton of growth throughout the stories. In the first book he is this extremely self-centered young boy who's only intent on killing and revenge. In this book he really starts to change, going from being very egotistical to actually thinking about other people. He no longer kills just for killing's sake, he actually stops and thinks about his actions once in a while. This doesn't mean he's no longer a bloody bastard, btw!!

Because everything is centered around Jorg the other characters aren't all that fleshed out. We don't really get their backgrounds. Except for Katherine, who we get to know through her journal entries. She wasn't my favourite character!

The book has some forms of magic, but they aren't overly present troughout the whole story. There's fire magic and necromancy, but we still don't fully know how they work or what the limitations are.

The reason I didn't like it as much as the first book at first because I didn't feel as connected to the characters. I was also missing the sarcasm of the first book. But, you know what, the more I think about it and while writing this review, the more I realise I actually like this story a lot and I'm curious to what will happen in Emperor of Thorns.
Have you read this one or any other book by Lawrence? What did you think of it/them? Let me know in the comments.

Bye for now

Annelies

Friday, 9 August 2019

Intimidating TBR tag

Hi booklovers

This is a tag that I've wanted to do for a while now, so here we are.
I can't for the life of me remember where I found this tag or who the creator is.

Questions

1. What book have you been unable to finish? 
*The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. I gave this book two tries, but I have to admit this series just isn't for me.
2. What book have you yet to read because you just haven't had the time? 
There are actually a few books on my TBR that I haven't gotten around to reading because of lack of time (and they are huge):
*The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
*The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett
*Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
3. What book have you yet to read because it's a sequel? 
Again, I have a couple of sequels I need to get to:
*The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks
*Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
*Knight' Shadow by Sebastien de Castell
*Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
4. What book have you yet to read because it's brand new? 
*Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
5. What book have you yet to read because you read a book by the same author and didn't enjoy it? 
I can' t think of any at the moment.

6. What book have you yet to read because you're just not in the mood for it? 
Even though I'm a mood reader I can't think of one either.

7. What book have you yet to read because it's humongous? 
*The Red Knight by Miles Cameron
This beast of a book is 650 pages long and has a ton of characters.

8. What book have you yet to read because because it was a cover buy that turned out to have poor reviews? 
No idea, I don't often buy books just for the cover, so...

9. What is the most intimidating book in your TBR pile?
Besides The Red Knight, I think it has to be: 
*Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
What are some of your more intimidating reads on your TBR? Let me know in the comments.

Bye for now

Annelies

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Malice by John Gwynne - non-spoiler review

Hi booklovers

I've been putting off reading Malice by John Gwynne for the longest time :-s
I first started this book at the end of August 2015 and it took me 1 month shy of four years to pick it back up after putting it down after only a couple of chapters.
The main reasons for not picking this back up sooner were that it is 600+ pages and I couldn't find the audiobook anywhere (Audible only has the Italian versions and Scribd doesn't have anything from this author). So, I was extremely intimidated by it. There are a lot of characters and the first time I picked it up I didn't get to sit down and read for longer periods of time (the beginning of the school year is always a busy time), so I just couldn't get into the story.

During the last couple of months, some of the people I've started talking to on IG told me about how wonderful this series is and how much they enjoyed it and I became intrigued again.

Being on my summer break I thought this would be the perfect time to give it another try.

So, after this long and rambly introduction, let's get to the review (I'm not going to give a synopsis, if you click on the name of the book, you'll go to the Goodreads synopsis):

At first I had to take notes to keep track of all the characters that are introduced. You get different POVs and they also encounter other characters, so it can be a bit confusing and daunting at first. But by the time I got to about chapter 10 I got the hang of it :-) 
I really had to adjust to the fact that I couldn't simply alternate between the audiobook and the physical copy. However, it didn't take very long for the story to really grab me. Sure, this story has some very classical fantasy elements: young boy destined to become 'more', good vs evil (based on angels vs demons), fighting for the throne, betrayal, alliances being formed … but they are executed well.

Because there are a lot of characters I'm not going to go into detail about all of them, but I do want to mention some of my favourite ones or ones that stood out to me:

Corban: His is one of the POVs we get in this story and through him we get to know a lot of other characters as well. At the beginning of the story he is 14 and I liked how we got to see him grow and change from this scared boy into a more courageous youth trying to find his path/place in life. Even in this first book we already find out that there's more to him than meets the eye.
I'm looking forward to seeing his story progress and develop.

Cywen: She's Corbans sister (we also get her POV) and she's a feisty one. She's a bit older than Corban and she hates the fact that girls aren't allowed to fight. So she tries to stand her ground as much as possible by SPOILER (select the text if you want to read the spoiler.) learning how to throw knives from her mother. She becomes extremely good at this, which is proven throughout the story a couple of times.

Edana: She's the daughter of King Brenin and Queen Alona. She doesn't have her own POV, but we get to know her story through Corban and Cywens POVs.
The princess befriends Cywen and Corban. Edana is a very down-to-earth character who doesn't look down her nose at others. I'm looking forward to seeing what else Gwynne has got in store for her.

Veradis: He is the second (I think) son of Lamar, Baron of Ripa. Veradis joins prince Nathairs warband and he quickly becomes his trusted 'bodyguard'. Veradis is sometimes a little naïve and he blindly believes everything Nathair says or does. He would give his life to protect the prince without a second thought.
He has his own POV and through him we get to know prince Nathair: At first this was a character I really liked. He's young, charismatic and he has refreshing ideas about battle and warfare. These ideas often go against what his father - King Aquilus - thinks and believes. But at some point in the story something happens which causes him to change completely and I don't trust him anymore. There's a weird atmosphere about him. (Thinking of him not as a character but as someone real proves what a well-written character he is.)

Gar: He is one of my absolute favourite characters of this first book. He is Corbans fathers stablemaster who is like a second father to Corban and Cywen. He's the one who teaches Corban how to use a sword. As with Corban there is much more than meets the eye with Gar, because we still don't know a whole lot about him.

Brina: She's King Brenins healer. Because of a bet, Corban has a sort of debt to pay and he becomes her 'apprentice'. Damn, this is a cranky old woman, but she's also a very fun character. I don't know who she reminds me of from other fantasy stories, but I like this sort of character a lot.

SPOILER: (about the characters in general) it's best not to get too attached to the characters, because from the first book some of the ones I was rooting for get killed off :-(

There is already some worldbuilding, because we have different kingdoms ruled by different monarchs, but I'm hoping to see a lot more of it in the following books.

Another intriguing aspect of the story is the appearance of giants. They don't play a huge part yet, but they do determine some things already.

I'm very happy that I decided to give it another try and I'll be definitely picking up the next one soon.
Have you read this or any other books in the Faithful and the Fallen series? Let me know in the comments.

Bye for now

Annelies

Friday, 2 August 2019

Book hauls revisited April - July '18


Hi booklovers

Today I'm taking a look at my book hauls for the months of April, May, June and July of last year. After this, I'll be including my 2016 and 2017 hauls again (I started checking those last year, but I stopped in July.)

I already did this for my January, February and March book hauls of last year, you can find that post here.

April
*Obsidio by Amie Kristoff and Jay Kristoff
*Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi
*Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake


May
*Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

June
*Legendary by Stephanie Garber

July
*Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
*Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell
*Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell
*The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
*The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett
*The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
*Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb
*The Shadow of what was lost by James Islington
*The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
*The Red Knight by Miles Cameron
*Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
Out of the 15 books I bought and the 1 I won in a giveaway (Thunderhead) I read 11:

*Obsidio
*Restore Me
*Beyond a Darkened Shore
*LifeL1k3
*Legendary
*Thunderhead
*Spellslinger
*Traitor's Blade
*The Night Circus
*Ship of Magic
*The Shadow of What Was Lost 

and I DNFd 1: 
*The Dream Thieves

I'm patting myself on the back for this 'book hauls revisited' :-)

Out of the ones I haven't read, which one should I pick up sooner rather than later? Let me know in the comments.

Bye for now

Annelies

Thursday, 1 August 2019

MedievalAThon / IronTomeAThon / July wrap-up

Hi booklovers

Yesterday was the last day of both the MedievalAThon and the IronTomeAThon, so let's take a look at what I managed to read.

MedievalAThon

*Nevernight by Jay Kristoff: this was a reread in preperation for the release of Darkdawn in September. Still a solid 5 star read. Hopefully I'll be posting my review soon.
This earned me the rank of peasant and my daggers.

*Legendary by Stephanie Garber: again a reread because I want to read Finale. This, however, I didn't enjoy as much as the first time around. 
I became a squire by reading this one and I got my breastplate.

*King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence: this was a very hard book for me to rate. Immediately after finishing it I was leaning towards 3 - 3.5 stars because I didn't feel the same connection to the characters as I did with Prince of Thorns. But while writing my review I realized I did enjoy the story a lot and that it actually was a solid 4 star read. I'll be posting my review soon. (I have a review for Prince of Thorns.)
Next rank: knight. I earned my crown with it.

*The Sword Volume 1 by the Luna Brothers: I really enjoyed Alex+Ada and Girls by the Luna Brothers, so when this was recommended to me at the comic book store I wanted to give it a try. I really enjoy the artwork and the storyline is pretty cool.
I became a countess with a cloak by reading this graphic novel.

*The Sword Volume 2 by the Luna Brothers: I again enjoyed it a lot and I'll be picking up volumes 3 and 4 at some point :-)
Next rank: princess with a sword.

I was hoping to finish Malice by John Gwynne which would have made me a queen and earned me a pair of leggings. Alas, that didn't happen: I managed to read 504 out of the 628 pages.
When I tweeted about this, I got a really cool response from John Gwynne himself.

I love it when authors interact with their readers like that.

IronTomeAThon

*Nevernight: Oldtown + 428 pages.
*King of Thorns: King's Landing + 597 pages.
*The Sword Volume 1: 100 pages.
*The Sword Volume 2: 100 pages.

Total number of pages: 1225. (I'm a bit sad that I can't add the 504 pages I read of Malice :-/ )

I'm really pleased with how both these readathons went and I hope they'll become annual readathons :-)

I read another book that I couldn't count for either readathons:
*Masquerade by Nyrae Dawn. I needed a break from the fantasy genre after the epicness that is Nevernight, so I picked up this NA contemporary. It is the final book in the Games trilogy and I enjoyed it.
How was your reading month? Did you participate in either of these readathons? 

This month I'm taking my NEWTs, I'm curious to see if I'll become a librarian.

Bye for now

Annelies

Monday, 29 July 2019

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence - non-spoiler review

Hi booklovers

Today, I'll be reviewing Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence.
This book and I had a very bumpy start. The first time I picked it up, I had never read any grimdark fantasy, hardly any adult fantasy and I hadn't discovered audiobooks yet. These three things made me put down the book after only a couple of chapters.

Last year I decided to give it another try and I'm so glad I did. I gave it 3 or 3.5 stars but somehow I never got around to picking up the second book. Because I wanted to read King of Thorns during the MedievalAThon I decided to reread this one beforehand.

I'm happy to say I enjoyed it even more the second time around. I think the audiobook played a big part in that too. I also knew what to expect when it came to the writing style.

The first thing I want to say is: holy crap, I never thought a 14-year old boy (main character) could be so gritty and morally grey.

Prince of Thorns tells the story of Jorg - a 14-year old boy who leads a band of brothers in his quest for revenge SPOILERS on the count who had his mother and little brother killed. He almost died as well and he has the emotional and physical scars to show for it.

It was fascinating to read how all the men he leads look up to him even though he is a lot younger than they are. He leads his group with a great deal of discipline. On the other hand, though, they do some extremely gruesome things most of the time as well.

Jorg is a very funny, but oh so dark character who only thinks about himself, his pleasures (not only of the flesh, also the killing). We get to know him trough two different timelines: one is the present day timeline and the other takes place four years earlier. In those flashbacks we get to see the events that made Jorg become the person he is today. Even though he has a very twisted sense of right or wrong I couldn't help but like him.
Another character I really like is Makin. He used to be captain of the King's Guard before he decided to follow Jorg. He is one of the few people Jorg really trusts.
There is only one character Jorg himself looks up to and that is the Nuban. Jorg considers him to be like a father since his own father doesn't much care for him (and that's putting it mildly!).

This story is fast-paced and action-packed, but it's definitely not for the faint of heart.
Have you read this book or the trilogy? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments.

Bye for now

Annelies

Friday, 26 July 2019

Quick Fire Fantasy Tag

Hi booklovers

It's been ages since I've done a book tag, so today I'm going to do the 'Quick Fire Fantasy Tag'.

I found this tag on ThriceReads blog. I wasn't officially tagged but I wanted to do this anyway.

Rules:

*Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post.

*Link to the creator's blog (thebookwormdreamer) in your post.

*Answer the prompts below - all fantasy books!

* Tag 5 others to take part.

*Enjoy!

A 5 star book
I've only read two trilogies by Robin Hobb but all three books in the Liveship Traders trilogy were 5 star reads. 

Always going to recommend
The friendship in this book is so good, the heist is so well developped, it's action-packed, it's got lots of humour.

Own it but haven't read it
Ever since I've heard Holly from HollyHeartsbooks rave about Joe Abercrombie, I've been intrigued by this book. I'm going to read it soon :-)

Would read again
I'm actually going to read it again in preparation of the release of Darkdawn in September.

In another world
Even though this book is huge I still enjoyed it a lot. It has a complex but fascinating magic system.

Back on earth
This was the first urban fantasy series I read and I really enjoyed it. Highly recommend :-)

I tag:

* Nadine (nadsbooknook)
* Holly (Hollyheartsbooks)
* Kat (Kattalks)
* Jade (bedtimebookworm)
* Everyone else who wants to do this :-)

What's a fantasy book you always recommend? Which fantasy book would you like to reread or have you reread (multiple times)? Let me know in the comments!

Bye for now

Annelies