Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Book Review: City of Halves by Lucy Inglis

Published 7th August 2014 by Chicken House.

18523130Goodreads Synopsis: London. Girls are disappearing. They’ve all got one thing in common; they just don’t know it yet…

Sixteen-year-old Lily was meant to be next, but she’s saved by a stranger: a half-human boy with gold-flecked eyes. Regan is from an unseen world hidden within our own, where legendary creatures hide in plain sight. But now both worlds are under threat, and Lily and Regan must race to find the girls, and save their divided city.

My Review: Upon hearing about City of Halves, I was sure it was just my kind of book, and that I’d really enjoy it. Then, after receiving a copy, I was a little apprehensive: I re-read the blurb, and then double checked the cover, and thought to myself, “This sounds familiar.” Bits on the cover and synopsis like ‘hot tattooed boy;’ ‘Unseen world hidden within our own;’ and even the title, beginning with ‘City of…’ Despite those elements being frequent in YA, it all sounded a bit too The Mortal Instruments for me!

I was scared the content would be all too similar to Cassandra Clare’s series – so I started it pretty nervously… However, after a while, I found myself really enjoying it – It was a great urban fantasy YA début.

The story focuses a lot more on its fantasy elements and setting more than its characters and their relationships, I felt. That did bother me a little bit, but I quickly grew to like that – I loved Lucy Inglis’s descriptions of London, where the book is set. It’s easy to tell this book was largely written fuelled by the author’s feelings for London. Inglis has set major events in the best, magical feeling locations, like St Paul’s Cathedral, and I think the fact that I was very familiar with areas made it all seem really real.

The fantastical elements in the story were all really imaginative. The book read like a standalone novel, but I really hope that there will be a sequel or follow-up story of some description; I’d love for the author to elaborate a little more, as I was really interested in this urban fantasy world and its inhabitants.

I’m always looking for unique protagonists who stand out, but whilst Lily was likeable, I don’t feel like I ever really engaged with her as much as I’d thought I might. She’s a little strange at points, especially at the beginning of the book, when she discovers this whole new side to her city, and seemingly isn’t very shocked or fascinated at all. However, while she lacked in some areas, she did have an interesting back-story, which made up for it! I wasn’t sure about Regan, aka the ‘hot tattooed boy’ who saves her life. I feel like I was meant to really love him but I just couldn’t, for some reason. I’m not sure why, but I’m sure other readers will.

Overall, City of Halves was not what I expected it to be. I was really unsure as to how I would find it, as the book’s blurb was too similar to City of Bones… But it did become a very different, individual fantasy book. Though I struggled to like the protagonists a little, I adored Lucy Inglis’s talent in weaving fantastical elements around a well-loved city, and I’d love to read more YA from her. Recommended if you’re a fan of the genre, or if you’re looking for a read with a really clever ending!

My Rating:

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I received a copy of City of Halves from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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Book Review: Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

*unrelated note: I have been so busy, with school ending, and working at a school summer project, and other things, that I haven’t posted a book review in almost a month… *hangs head* Sorry D: But now I’ve finished school-related things properly, I’ll hopefully be neglecting the blog a lot less! Yay! (:*

Published September 2014 by Doubleday books.

13608989Goodreads Synopsis: From NEW YORK TIMES best-selling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.

From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will — is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It’s a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.

My Review: 

I started The Iron Trial really excitedly. I’m a big fan of both Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, so I thought that both of them collaborating on a book was a brilliant idea! For the first half of the book, though, I did struggle to get into the story… I definitely had a few issues with the story but towards the end I did enjoyit.

I did really like the characters- namely Call, who’s the main protagonist. As this is an MG book, and the start of a series, I think lots of younger readers are going to grow up loving him and the rest of the students at the Magisterium.

I grew to really enjoy Magisterium, but, mainly for the first half, there were so many points where I got agitated by it. I just found so many parallels to Harry Potter – wizards hiding in plain sight in an ordinary world, secret school, trio of kids (on the front cover) who look a little too much like Harry, Ron and Hermione… yup. (I know the themes are in lots of books, but still…) There were some really great plot twists, mainly towards the end, that made me grow to love the story a lot more, but for the first couple of hundred pages, I was a bit disappointed, because of the similarities.

Okay, ignoring the negative aspects for now; I really did loved the writing! I enjoy Cassie’s writing and adore Holly Black’s, so the two put together was just awesome. They’ve adapted their voices really well for an MG audience, I think. I will probably carry on reading the Magisterium series, as I love their joined writing style.

Overall, I did enjoy Magisterium, but it definitely didn’t live up to what I’d expected. The writing was superb and will definitely draw readers in, but the storyline didn’t do the same for me. I think, growing up with Harry Potter, I’m a little protective of it, so I just disliked reading a very similar story. However, after the twists at the end, I hope that the rest of the series will have a more original sound – I’m sure I’ll be making time for the sequel when it comes out!

My Rating:

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I received a copy of Magisterium: The Iron Trial from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Review-Graphic: Banished by Liz de Jager

I read Banished, book one of the Blackhart Legacy, over the weekend- and I loved every second of it. It’s a brilliant new urban fantasy, and I think it’s going to be huge! I tried drawing Kit, the protagonist. Yup, obsessiveness. I decided to make a review graphic of the book, because I haven’t done one in a while- and the design & colour scheme for the cover is awesome! So, enjoy (: If you find any parts of the image hard to read, just click on it to bring up a bigger version.

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Banished is published by Tor books UK, February 27th 2014.

Note: I just want to point out that my review is not biased in any way- I do know Liz in person (she used to co-run a book blog!) but in no way at all did that affect my thoughts on the book. My review is completely honest and all my opinion.

I purchased a copy of Banished from a bookstore.

The Coldest Girl In Coldtown

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Today for Halloween Reads, I’ve got a vampire book! I don’t normally read vampire books, but this one was great. Although this looks like a low rating, it’s actually a good one!

By Holly Black, published by Indigo.

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownGoodreads Synopsis: Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

My Review: I don’t think I’ve read many vampire books before. Twilight, Darren Shan’s Cirque Du Freak… that’s about it, I think! I’m not the biggest fan of them; probably because Twilight caused the YA industry to overflow with them, and I just avoided them, really. However, I requested a copy of Coldtown because the synopsis really captured me. It seemed very different to any other Vampire book I’ve heard about!

Coldtown really is a unique book. The concept is nothing like I’ve ever heard of, not just in the gothic genre: Quarantined towns of blood-suckers, rumored to be eternal parties for the undead; broadcast 24/7 on TV. Well… at first, I thought HUNGER GAMES!!!, but then, I was really wrong! The plot and all aspects of this novel were really original. I found some parts not explained as well as others- for instance, I couldn’t get to grips with the background of Gabriel, our lead vampire. I’m not sure if that was just me, or if it just wasn’t revealed in enough depth, though. However, it was a really thought-provoking concept: Because it was very realistic, and slightly political. The reason it’s a scary book is because the events are way too possible, if vampires exist!

The writing was, quite simply, very beautiful. From the start, I was hooked onto this novel, because the writing was so fluent, so descriptive… I just admire Holly’s writing so much! The book was written in a very interesting way. Flashback chapters, of course, have been done before by many authors; but in this book, pretty much every other chapter is a flashback for a certain character. That gave a really great insight into the character’s backgrounds, without lengthy, boring explanations during scenes set in the time of Tara’s adventure. The flashbacks were sometimes emotional, sometimes terrifying- and let me get to know Tara, primarily, very well. While they were so great to read, they did occasionally slow down the novel at points. Holly would leave a chapter on a cliffhanger, write a chapter focusing on another character or on something in the past, then go and tie ends together. It’s a great narrative hook, but at points it did frustrate me a little!

Tana was a brilliant main character. I was rooting for her to get through everything okay right form the start, when she wakes up in a bathroom after a high school party, and finds her friends massacred by vampires. She was a very self dependent, down-to-Earth and understandable- so she was very realistic. If you strip away all of the vampire trauma from her life, she is a very relatable character that I think teens will love! Her journey in this book involved life decisions, a fair bit of violence, friendships, and a pinch of romance… there wasn’t a moment I was bored of her!

Overall, Coldtown was a really good book, and it’s probably urged me to read some more books in the vampire genre. I enjoyed reading about the main character, and the idea for the story was scarily realistic, thought provoking, and interesting. It was a really fun read, great for Halloween- but a couple of things did let it down. The writing style, despite being quite clever, slowed down the pace at points. Also, I didn’t find some aspects explained as well as I’d have wanted it to be (Hopefully if I re-read it soon I’ll understand things better!) and so that made it slightly less awesome. But, it was an awesome book. Highly recommended to fans of gothic fiction!

Also, I will be going to the Foyles event to see Holly Black in conversation with Sarah Rees Brennan on Coldtown on the fourth of November! If you’re interested, go buy tickets on the Foyles website! If you’re already going, leave comment, so I can say hi! ;D

My Rating:

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This seems like a low rating, but it really isn’t!

I received a copy of Coldtown from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.