Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Book Review: Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2)

Title: Girl of Nightmares
Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Anna (#2)
Published: 7th August 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Source: Library

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on. 

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

I enjoyed this book, I really did, but it didn't meet the level of enjoyment I had reading Anna Dressed in Blood. I don't really know what it was, maybe it was the lack of Anna Korlov, but I did enjoy it.

The characters were hilarious yet kick-ass as ever. I laughed out loud so many times reading this - not recommended in public. I really liked the new characters we were introduced to, I think Jestine was my favourite of the newbies.

I loved how I couldn't really tell where the story was going or how the characters were going  to react. But I think my favourite thing about this book was how realistic the characters were, especially Carmel and Gideon. Nobody did anything that was unbelievably stupid, or unjustified, they all had realistic and believable reasons for their actions and I praise Ms Blake for that quality.

All in all, I enjoyed this book but not as much as I enjoyed the previous one. 4/5 stars!

Hagar Manssour

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Reading Slumps and How to Overcome Them

Reading Slumps. Two words that should not be used in the same sentence. A reading slump is where you just cannot read anything. You try to read, you really do, but all the books you own look horrible and unappealing - even if you've been waiting to read it for a long time. We avid readers hate reading slumps, and I have sadly been in one that lasted over a month - eek!
This is my own personal How-to guide to get out a reading slump that might be helpful to you.

1. Watch a movie adaption of a book you enjoyed. 
I, personally, find this really helpful as movie adaptions just has this affect that makes me want to read the book (again). A few favourites are Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Percy Jackson and City of Bones.

2. Visit your local library or bookshop.
I find this really helpful as I'd be surrounded by books and reminded of ones you've already read and your experiences reading them.

3. Re-read (a few chapters) of your favourite books.

Whether or not you re-read books, this tip really helps. It reminds you of your experiences reading the book, and how much you enjoyed them. I usually re-read Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and The Lunar Chronicles.

4. Read a mystery and/or action.

This tip is controversial but I find reading a mystery draws me in and gets me interested in the plot so I keep reading. You could try Agatha Christie.

5. Read a graphic novel/manga.

Maybe you can't read anything because you don't have the time but graphic novels/manga are really quick to get through and the art is amazing. They're really light and a great way to get out a reading slump. I recommend Locke & Key, Death Note and Attack on Titan.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Book Review: Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms, #2)

Title: Rebel Spring
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms (#2)
Published: 3rd December 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Source: Library

Love, power, and magic collide with war in the second book of the Falling Kingdoms series

Auranos has fallen and the three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now united as one country called Mytica. But still, magic beckons, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the world...

When the evil King Gaius announces that a road is to be built into the Forbidden Mountains, formally linking all of Mytica together, he sets off a chain of events that will forever change the face of this land, forcing Cleo the dethroned princess, Magnus the reluctant heir, Lucia the haunted sorceress, and Jonas the desperate rebel to take steps they never could have imagined.


It has been 14 hours since I turned Rebel Spring's final page and I still can't express my thoughts in a way that doesn't make me sound like a 9 year old with a high sugar level. I loved it. All of it. If you think Falling Kingdoms was okay, please push on and read this because I must say, it was fantastic. This book was 10 times better than Falling Kingdoms, for sure.

The characters really came to their own in this book. Magnus, still being my favourite character of the series, got even more complex. Cleo didn't annoy me as much as she did in the previous book, and I came to see a bit of myself in her. We got to know the side characters better, like Nic and was introduced to several new ones; like Lysandra and that Prince from outside Mystica of whom can't remember the name of. Lysandra really reminded me of Katniss Everdeen, but I try to not compare characters from other series. King Gaius turned into even more of a cold. terrifying being - if that were even possible.
In the previous book, I didn't really feel anything for Lucia but in Rebel Spring she really became a character and she was quite enjoyable too. I am terrified for her, I must say.

The plot was just a major roller-coster ride with so many twists and turns which left me hungry for more and more. It was so thrilling and devious which I loved. I said in my Falling Kingdoms review that Ms Rhodes wasn't scared I do anything, that she had the power and grabbed it with both hands not wanting to let go. Well, Rebel Spring was no exception. Ms Rhodes proved yet again that she was not afraid to do anything she wanted to do and I highly admire that quality in an author. 

I'd recommend this series to anybody, avid reader or not. I really enjoyed this read and can't wait for Gathering Darkness (the sequel)! 

Hagar Manssour 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Book Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms, #1)

Title: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms (#1)
Published: 11th December 2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Rating: 4/5 Stars

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed... and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It's the eve of war.... Choose your side.

I read this during the last week of term/semester so while the rest of the class were watching movies, I was sitting in the back of the room reading this novel. Morgan Rhodes - you made my week bearable, well done. This book has flaws, without a doubt, but once I got past them, I really enjoyed it. 

We follow four main narratives; a princess, a sorceress, a rebel and an heir. It was really fun to see that not all of them were on the "good" side. While I did find narratives more annoying than others, I did enjoy them all and sympathise for them in their sticky situations. 
“Even paradise could become a prison if one had enough time to take notice of the walls.” 
I think I would say that the heir - Magnus - is my favourite character. He is just so complex and different and cold, it's really refreshing. I felt like I related to him the most and I really liked how he dealt with situations - even if they weren't the best solutions. Magnus goes through so much and all he really needs is a hug and a little lie down. 

I'll be honest in saying that Princess Cleo annoyed me quite a bit, she's a bit like Clary Fray! She was one of those characters that drove head first into danger and expected anyone to save her. She did have a good heart and isn't that what matters?  I did eventually warm up to her by the end - thank goodness.

The plot was quite interesting. I don't read a lot of books with magic like this book. Ms Rhodes explains the world very well and, using her fantastic skills, will make you fully invested in the world and its plot.
The plot was so expertly executed bringing 4 characters from 3 different kingdoms together. It was so fascinating to see how they clashed together and what came of it afterwards. 

The author did not hesitate to do anything in this book, its almost shocking how much she didn't. She had the power, and she used it and oh my it was fantastic.

Yes it is action packed but I really felt as though this book is just a set up for what's to come in the next few books. I did really enjoy it though and will definitely continue on with the series. Recommended to fans of Game of Thrones. 

Hagar Manssour

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Book Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Title: Looking For Alaska
Author: John Green
Series: N/A
Published:  1st January 2005
Publisher: Speak
Rating: 5/5 stars
Source: Bought

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
  After. Nothing is ever the same.

Looking For Alaska is the second book I have read by the marvelous John Green, after The Fault in Our Stars. I'd heard mixed things about this book but, thankfully, I really loved it. A definite favourite for sure. 

“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. (...) You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” 
I love how real this book was and how realistic and believeable the characters were. I sympathised for the characters who we are introduced to through Miles' eyes. I found Miles' obsession over last words very interesting even though he looks at himself as uninteresting. 

“I found myself thinking about President William McKinley, the third American president to be assassinated. He lived for several days after he was shot, and towards the end, his wife started crying and screaming, "I want to go too! I want to go too!" And with his last measure of strength, McKinley turned to her and spoke his last words: "We are all going.” 

Alaska Young. We all have one of them in our lives don't we? The girl we think we know but don't. She was quite a character. She touches everyone around her, even if she didn't intend to. I loved how we had a strong yet not emotionless female lead who loves books because those are not combinations you see often. Alaska was a really thought-provoking character, with Chip second behind. 
“What is an "instant" death anyway? How long is an instant? Is it one second? Ten? The pain of those seconds must have been awful as her heart burst and her lungs collapsed and there was no air and no blood to her brain and only raw panic. What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”

“I found myself thinking about President William McKinley, the third American president to be assassinated. He lived for several days after he was shot, and towards the end, his wife started crying and screaming, "I want to go too! I want to go too!" And with his last measure of strength, McKinley turned to her and spoke his last words: "We are all going.” 

People have said before that this book is depressing. I'm not going to lie, it is sad but the humour in this story balances it out perfectly. I cannot even count the times I had a huge grin plastered in my face or how many times I laughed out loud and my family looking at me like I was crazy.  John Green has a gift in having a sad book funny at the same time *round of applause*
"If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.” 
This book made me laugh, made me cry and made me want to quote all the lines I found inspiring in real life. It being John Green's debut, it is fantastic. Truly a masterpiece, 5/5 stars!

Hagar Manssour x