Bookish Review: Red Winter Trilogy by Annette Marie

Red Winter Trilogy by Annette Marie

Published: October 2016 – April 2017 by Dark Owl Fantasy 

Genre: Diverse, Fantasy, Young Adult

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

Goodreads | Book Depository

Synopsis for Book 1 from Goodreads:Emi is the kamigakari. In a few short months, her life as a mortal will end and her new existence as the human host of a goddess will begin. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess-and not once has she doubted her chosen fate. Shiro is a yokai, a spirit of the earth, an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host.

Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command-whether she wants him or not. On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate-but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope… and hope is all she has left. untitled

Review: This is a rather unusual review because I’ll be reviewing an entire series in one post – but I can promise no spoilers! Whilst I will rave about the plot and characters in general, this post will instead be a celebration of underrated books and diversity in YA. It all started with a holiday to Japan I had planned over Easter – I was going to be spending a fortnight traversing the country and needed a reading list. Usually when I’m heading off on holiday I like to match up my reading list with the country I’ll be visiting – I find it’s a great way to get a better appreciation of the culture. As a bibliophile, there’s also something really thrilling about being able to visit the setting and sometimes the specific locations mentioned in books and imagine the scenes from your book being played out – it’s a totally immersive experience!  

I became aware of the Red Winter Trilogy whilst researching a TBR list for my holiday to Japan. Knowing that I was travelling to that part of the world I immediately defaulted to fictasian.com. This is a site run by the brilliant Eri (you can find her on Twitter here) with the intention of bringing together a masterlist of YA fiction that, in her own words, “promotes books with Asian characters as well as books written by Asian authors and of course, books that are both”. Since coming across the site, Eri’s lists have been invaluable in not only helping me to compile my TBR as I travel through Asia but also increase my awareness of some excellent diverse books. It’s great to have a resource where I can find YA books that offer an accurate representation of others like myself.

One of the other things that I’m grateful to Fictasion for is the fact that I have stumbled across some great books that are otherwise ridiculously underrated! Often some of these titles don’t come up in Goodreads searches when you’re after a particular genre or country. The Red Winter Trilogy is one such gem that I guarantee would never have made it on my TBR list which is a travesty because it is hella good – the 4.35-4.73 Goodreads ratings and the glowing 5-star reviews will convince you if I haven’t already! And if that’s not enough, I read the trilogy right after reading Flame in the Mist by the unsurpassable Renee Ahdieh and it more than lived up to competition! 

As the blurb for the first book above will indicate, the Red Winter Trilogy is about a girl who is trying to figure out what she wants, what her destiny is, and whether those are the same thing. We follow her on an intense and breathtaking adventure throughout three books that honestly had me turning the pages like there was no tomorrow (and this coming after an enduring book slump that lasted months!) Emi is a great character, very relatable and really develops throughout the series. Shiro, the Yokai mentioned in the blurb, plus a whole host of colourful secondary characters really make this book what it is – you have been forewarned that attachment to the characters is inevitable. The plot moves along at a good pace and the wider trilogy arc always feels like it is making progress.

But what really sets this series apart is the breathtaking depth of mythology and world-building that Marie weaves throughout the book. Using yokai and the Shinto faith as a foundation she builds a great story with so much colourful detail, and as far as I can tell, with a lot of respect for the culture she is portraying. I couldn’t help but immerse myself in the series, and Emi’s world in the fortnight that the trilogy practically became my life. I honestly can say that this series added to my holiday in Japan – every time I came across a Torii gate or saw the washing ritual in a Shinto shrine I felt transported to the world of the Red Winter Trilogy. And vice versa actually, the background on the mythology and customs really enriched my understanding of Japan.

If you’re still not entirely convinced, there’s more! For the manga fans among us, the Red Winter Trilogy has some of the most beautiful illustrations peppered throughout the book. The artist is super talented and got the characters just right in terms of how I’d visualised them in my head. And finally, the trilogy is complete – in fact they were all released within six months (Ms Maas please take note…) and they are all on Kindle for silly prices. If you adored Flame in the Mist, are interested in Japanese history and mythology, or a huge manga fan (or all of the above) the Red Winter Trilogy is definitely for you! 

Do you have any Japanese or Asian fantasy recommendations? Any lists or sites for Asian YA that are your bibles? Let me know in a comment below 🙂

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ARC Review: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

Release Date: 9 February 2017 (UK) by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Series: Untitled (#1)

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Goodreads | Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads: It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods–only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and other like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not in any way influence my views on the book.

Review: Well The Edge of Everything surpassed my expectations! And that was partly to do with the fact that I’m an idiot and, having read the Netgalley blurb, thought this was a contemporary (realistic) romance?? I did not clock at all that this was a fantasy until quite a few pages in… But when I did, an already promising start just improved 10x over. The story itself is an intriguing one, not much good comes from having a boyfriend literally from hell it turns out (!) It took a while for me to get the gist of the Lowlands but when I did I was totally immersed in the star-crossed lovers’ fate and the thrilling ride that Zoe and X embarked on to save themselves and stay together.

A frantic beetle was flitting back and forth between the panes of glass, trapped forever with the wide world in full view. X knew what it felt like to be that bug.

The Edge of Everything is one of those rare books where I could forgive the instalove and actually get behind it! Jeff Giles has crafted the characters in such a way and with so much depth that it’s almost inevitable that they would be attracted to each other and you cheer them on because they complement each other really well. I loved that Zoe is the badass, fierce and bold one in the pairing whilst X is very much the shy, naive but hopelessly in love one. I loved that the sweetest stuff between them was often unsaid/thoughts or physical gestures. 

I really warmed to Zoe – she’s dealing with some pretty horrific stuff but manages to stay strong throughout. She’s by no means perfect, and I liked that we saw this part of her. At times she’s pretty mean to her little brother but it is the way she loves fiercely and loyally whether it is her family or her friend Val that really shines through. X on the other hand is less snarky but so resilient considering how he has grown up and what he is expected to do. The fact that X is able to hold on to his ‘humanity’ having never experienced it is such a beautiful thing. Reading about their first meeting and what follows, the sweet moments and the heart wrenching really swept me up and just totally immersed me in their story.

He realised now that he didn’t know very many stories – and certainly no pleasant ones. So he told her their story. He began with her knocking him down on the ice.

I also loved how the other characters all had their own stories and personalities – whether it was Regent, Banger and Ripper in the Lowlands or Jonah, Val and Dallas (loved the dialogue between him and Zoe!) in Montana. The female characters were very badass and inspirational – with brilliantly sharp tongues! The sibling relationship between Zoe and Jonah was also interesting, especially how far she was willing to go for him, and I liked how her protectiveness brushed off on X too. In that sense, I’m really glad this is the first in a series, because I seriously need more page time for these secondary characters! 

The world building was top notch and Giles writes beautifully. The Lowlands was fascinating and I liked how some of it is recognisable and other bits totally original. Again, this book set us up with lots of questions about how the Lowlands works and I’m looking forward to discovering more in the next installment. This is the second book I’ve read in so many months where it’s set in a snowy location. Zoe’s Montana was beautifully described and the bits on caving which I’d probably usually find rather dull actually had me vividly imagining (and later googling!) chandelier-esque rock formations. The story weaves together a good mix of fantasy elements and romance and moved along at a thrilling pace.

The light, meanwhile, was dying fast. The coffin lid over Montana was getting ready to shut.

One of the things that really stuck out to me about The Edge of Everything was how Giles dealt with ‘big’ issues like morality, grief, and the afterlife but did it in a non-claustrophobic or preachy way. I found it really interesting to see how the characters dealt with different, and often uncomfortable, feelings like remorse and mercy and it was actually quite emotionally stirring. I liked that Giles does not shy away from the worst base instincts of humanity but doesn’t glorify them either – if anything he highlights the ambiguity inherent in things like morality and that was a fascinating thing to see in YA. 

The Edge of Everything is out on 9 February in the UK – it is a stunning debut, so make sure to grab yourself a copy. I am already eagerly awaiting the sequel which sadly (and worryingly!) isn’t even up on Goodreads yet (don’t leave me hanging Mr Jeff Giles!!!)

Are you looking forward to The Edge of Everything? Any recs for great urban fantasy YA? Drop me your thoughts in the comments below!

Bookish Discussion: Cult YA Fantasy Series I’ve Yet to Read…

One of my top reading goals for 2017 is to focus on the YA fantasy genre (i.e. play catch up on the cult classics that I’ve totally bypassed…) The topic of this post will probably make you question my credibility as a YA blogger (*gulp* why did this seem like a good idea again?!) but I’m hoping the public humiliation will spur me on to actually reading these awesome series that I’ve been criminally neglecting. 🙂

This post actually came about after a delightful chat with a Waterstones bookseller (thanks Valentine!) I had gone to pick up the Fantastic Beasts Case but found myself accidentally-on-purpose skulking around the Sci-Fi and Fantasy section looking for the new Tearling book. Valentine and I got talking and we realised we had similar taste when it came to this genre and we fangirled about A Court of Mist and Fury, Ember in the Ashes and Daughter of Smoke and Bone. And then I realised how much I was missing when I noticed how many “cult classics” I’d not read… voila this post!

Reading for fun was put on hold during university (cruel reality unfortunately!) and clearly I was on hiatus during the most inopportune time – most of the series in this list, or at least the first book, were all published 2014 or earlier and all have now wrapped up. It’s interesting that I’ve not read lots of them already because YA fantasy is easily my favourite genre but I’ve found myself getting seduced by newer releases getting tonnes of hype that I’ve not been able to play catch up.

SO I’ve made it my mission to read (/make a start on…) these gems in 2017. I know I’m seriously missing out and my blogger rep might as well be in the gutter! Without further ado, in no particular order, my top ten cult YA fantasy series that I’ve not read (yet!)

  1. Graceling Realm by Kristin Cashore (2009-2012) – a read of this series is so overdue. It’s got a badass protagonist Graced with the skill to kill – what more could I ask for?!
  2. Penryn & the End of Days by Susan Ee (2013-2015) – angels?? Sign me up. This will fill the Daughter of Smoke and Bone shaped hole in my life.
  3. Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch (2014-2016) – a refugee training to be a warrior, unrequited love, magic and politics. Err yes please!
  4. Study by Maria V. Snyder (2006-2008) – I’ve no idea how this one slipped through the cracks – I’M SORRY! *repentant face* 
  5. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare (2010-2013) – I’m currently reading Lady Midnight so I’m really keen to go back and brush up on the Shadowhunter ‘verse with this series.
  6. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater (2012-2016) – this fully deserves to be in a list with “cult” and “YA” in the title. I’ve heard so much about this series and am familiar with the awesome fan art…
  7. Seven Realms by Cinda Williams Chima (2009-2012) – this was a recommendation from Valentine at Waterstones and once I’d read the blurb I was totally sold.
  8. Legend by Marie Lu (2011-2013) – the blurb of this one sounds amaaaazing! It’s one of the highest rated YA fantasies on Goodreads to boot.
  9. The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson (2014-2016) – the first book in this series is a book club read this year so I will absolutely be getting round to it. Yay!
  10. Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta (2010-2013) – this is one of those high fantasy classics so I’m really looking forward to ticking this one off my TBR list!

So a good mix of fantasy, paranormal/ supernatural and dystopia to keep things interesting. I figure I can make a dent in at least a few of these series this year!  

Do you also have a similar TBR guilty secret? Any on here that you also haven’t read? Or if you have, recs for which I should absolutely start with first?! Let me know in the comments below. 🙂

Bookish Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Published: September 2015 by Hachette Children’s Group

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Series: Six of Crows (Book #1)

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 1/5

Goodreads | Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Review: I was really looking forward to this series. I’d read the Grisha trilogy and fell in love with the world Leigh Bardugo had created so I was keen to revisit with a whole new cast of characters!

Six of Crows started off really strong. I was totally sucked into the plot, the different characters and their predicaments – I loved finding out how each of them had come to be in Ketterdam and they had really strong back stories and felt properly fleshed out. Needless to say I grew attached really quickly! Kaz was the ruthless gangleader with the troubled past he had buried deep inside him, Inej, kidnapped into slavery and was given an escape from a life of indenture by Kaz, Nina the Grisha in exile who has a complicated history with Matthias a loyal and righteous Fjerdan, with an unfortunate soft spot for Nina. We also have Jesper, the trigger happy guy from a humble background with a bad gambling habit, and finally Wylan the posh kid who has ended up right in the middle of the most ambitious heist ever.

I liked how distinct they all were not just diverse in terms of race (brilliant by the way) but also their personalities. One of my favourite things was easily the fact that these guys aren’t and don’t pretend to be perfect or even good at times! Kaz can be really nasty but it’s his way of surviving and the thing that’s got him to the top of his game in Ketterdam. The conflict between Nina and Matthias was great because you totally root for them but also understand why it wasn’t an instalove happily ever after for them (and waaay more realistic). And Inej despite her horrible experiences still holds on to her faith and light temperance which contrasted really well with Kaz.

As I read on, I found myself more invested in the brilliant characters over the plot! I loved how their back stories trickled into the story as we went along and the flashbacks were seamless and didn’t feel clunky at all. I was totally intrigued by some of their histories, especially Kaz and Nina’s, and very curious as to how they would play into this book and the next. Also credit to Leigh Bardugo, who is now queen of my heart, because there is not one love triangle to be found anywhere in this book – even with six characters milling about!

The pace of the book was great, things were continuously happening and nothing felt like filler – all of the events related back to The Heist. The audacity of the entire plot kept it totally riveting and the characters’ personal motivations for the money made it all the more nail-biting! It was all going swimmingly until I got to the last quarter when The Heist is going down and the proverbial hits the fan. Without going into detail and falling foul of giving away spoilers, whilst reading this section I found it a little difficult to follow the action – the description in this section of where they are and how they get from A to B is a little dense and I think the problem was that I just couldn’t visualise it – so more ‘it’s me, not the book’ as I don’t think this would be noticeable to most readers but I have notched off 0.5 stars. I found myself dragging and taking longer to just power through that section… and that’s when my book buddy stepped in!

I’d organised a buddy read of Crooked Kingdom with Laura over at Reading Sanctuary for when I’d finished Six of Crows and honestly that powered me through. She was great, really encouraging and I’m so glad I persevered because Six of Crows went back to being fabulous after that very brief, slightly frustrating, section. We’ve started our buddy read of Crooked Kingdom and it is seriously *so* good so far – expect another rave-filled review soon! So if there are two takeaways from this post it’s:

  1. Absolutely read Six of Crows and get ready to fall in love with some awesome characters (and don’t be stupid like me and get distracted by or lost in the description in *that* scene)
  2. Get a book buddy/buddy read a book – it’s so much fun to be able to fangirl to someone in real-time because they’re reading the book at the same time. There’s nothing better than fangirls coming together and… well, fangirling together!

Have you read Six of Crows? What did you think? Or maybe you’ve already discovered the brilliance of buddy reading? Let me know your thoughts!!

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Bookish Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Published: September 2016 by Macmillan

GenreFantasy, Young Adult

Rating: ♥ ♥ 1/2

Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

This was my first Kendare Blake book (*gasp* and I call myself a YA book blogger). I’ve never gotten around to reading Anna Dressed in Blood and tbh it’s never really appealed because ghosts, horror and paranormal which aren’t my favourite genre in the world. Buuut I thought I’d take the plunge with this pure fantasy offering 🙂

Three sisters, triplets, queens: Mirabella, the elemental, Arsinoe, the naturalist, and Katharine, the poisoner, are bred by their guardians to compete for the Fennbirn crown. In their 16th year they will take part in a life or death battle, using their gifts to outwit their sisters, to claim the throne by being the last one standing. Except this generation things aren’t proving quite so straightforward. Arsinoe and Katharine’s gifts are weak whilst Mirabella is the only one showing signs of power that has people convinced she will triumph. As they and their guardians fight to cheat, trick and betray their way to the crown, the girls are tested and find the darkness in them brought to the fore…

I was hoping for great things with Three Dark Crowns. First of all, although it’s got a bit of a Hunger Games premise about it (the whole to the death competition thing) I liked that it had a “purpose”, that they weren’t randomers just thrown together by a cruel government. These girls have been bred to compete for the crown and murdering their sisters to get it was par for the course. It was interesting to see how their separate upbringings had shaped their personalities and how far they had been indoctrinated to believe that either they killed their sisters or died trying. The wider political friction between the Black Council and the Temple was intriguing but I would’ve liked to understand more about how it all came about. 

And that leads me to what the biggest letdown was for me – the world building, or lack of. There were so many different rituals, the Gave Noir, Beltane, the Hunt, the Quickening to name a few and some of the names were really ambiguous that by the time they were mentioned a second or third time, I’d forgotten what they were, where they came in the sequence of the Ascension Year, their significance etc. and it jarred the reading for me having to pause and remember. It also felt like a lot of context was skimmed over – why the animosity and friction between the Temple and the Black Council since they all believe in the Goddess? Why are King Consorts so important, what do they do? Hell, what does a Queen do once she’s crowned? I can’t for the life of me tell you what happens to the Queen in the 16 years between the birth of the triplets and the Ascension Year. The twist at the end also wasn’t so much a twist for me as a facepalm moment, and again it feels due to a lack of world building.

The characters weren’t the most memorable I’ve come across and there were quite a few to keep track of. I just feel like a lot of info was held back purely because Three Dark Crowns is the first in a trilogy and this also meant the pacing was rather slow. For pages and pages, we essentially watched as the girls learned and learned and learned some more how to use their gifts (or not so much in Arsinoe’s and Katharine’s case) and it did make me wonder what they’ve been doing for the past ten years that they haven’t really grasped the fact that neither are gifted and should have made contingency plans waaaay sooner. So as this plot was crawling along, the subplot of romance was given more airtime than I think we needed in this book.

The romance was a little miss for me. Reading Three Dark Crowns I actually felt like I was reading a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We had plenty of potential couples, but then we saw them running around with other characters because of various reasons such as curses and duty and it all was just rather messy. Hell, even the parents were in on it – was it just me who found the whole Madrigal (Jules’ mother) going off with Matthew (Jules’ bf’s brother) very weird? Like if Jules was to marry her boyfriend, Joseph, whilst her mum was dating Joseph’s brother, wouldn’t that just be a really awkward situation??? Anyway, I wasn’t sold on any of the ships – most of them seemed quite passive and I couldn’t really feel/sense the attraction between a character and their love interest.

I really wanted to like this but I’ve rated Three Dark Crowns 2.5 stars – the premise was interesting enough that it did keep me reading and was original. I liked that the plot doesn’t rely on some epic romantic arcs for our protagonists to have agency, at least in this book, and that it was more about 3 sisters dealing with their difficult predicament (kinda has a girl/sister power Frozen vibe about it!) However, I’m still on the fence about whether I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for the next installment…

Have you read Three Dark Crowns and have drastically different views? Let me know, I’m always intrigued when I’m in the minority with views on a book 😀

Bookish Review: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

ATorchAgainstTheNight_CV 4.14A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Published: September 2016 by Harper Voyager

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Goodeads | Buy on Amazon

I pretty much pounced on A Torch Against the Night as soon as it came out. And boy am I glad I did but at the same time, I’ve seen the next book in the series is not due to be released until 2018… 2018??!! WHY!!! Anyway, enough hysterics, let’s dive on into this review.

A Torch Against the Night is the second book in the An Ember in the Ashes series which I read earlier this year (review here) so minor spoilers ahead as to how things were resolved at the end of the first book. Following the events of the Fourth Trial, Elias and Laia are now fugitives on the run from the Martial Empire, now headed up by Emperor Marcus and Helene Aquillas, his Blood Shrike, but also Elias’s oldest friend at Blackliffe Academy. After Laia saves Elias from his execution, they journey to Kauf prison where Laia’s brother Darin is being held. However, hunted by the Empire, the Commandant and otherworldly forces, the path will not be an easy one for any of our characters and difficult choices will have to be made…

Ahh where to start? Because I read the last book so recently, the plot and characters were still fresh in my mind, but Tahir made it really easy to pick up where the reader leaves off and you get totally immersed straightaway. In this book we get to see the characters dealing with the aftermath of the Trials in the last book. I found the exploration of Elias’s guilt and remorse really interesting and gave the character a lot more depth, and the chapters in the Forest of Dusk were brilliant, hinting at what we’ll see in the next book. The idea that we make the best choices we can, and that our best intentions can turn into the worst of mistakes and regret really resonated with me and made the characters feel so much more realistic and human (as if Elias needed to be any more perfect, but I digress…)

So you’ve made a few bad decisions… So has everyone attempting to do something difficult. That doesn’t mean that you give up, you fool.

Tahir excels at writing strong female characters and in A Torch Against the Night we get the whole gamut of different personalities. I loved encountering the strong Tribal characters (Afya, can I be your friend you sassy thing, you?), the reliably ruthless Commandant, as well as some other old and beloved characters from the first book, but the real standout is easily Helene. Helene Aquilla, you are flawed perfection wrapped up in scims and white blonde hair. Her various predicaments (to put it veeery lightly) throughout the book are just heart rending. I cried and raged on her behalf, she is the best kind of flawed character dealing with the ultimate unrequited love for Elias which complicates things to no end but her perseverance to protect and remain loyal in the face of so much is really admirable. I’ve raved about Helene but Laia is equally awesome, she really comes into her own in this book, asserts her independence and makes difficult choices all with saving her brother in mind. One of the things I really liked was that Tahir kept the romance to a minimum and did not try to shoehorn it in – as far as I’m concerned these kids have got plenty to deal with already.

She needs nothing else. She needs no one else. She stands apart.

The pace of A Torch Against the Night was something that really struck me. Although its a middle installment, at no point did any of the plot lines feel like filler fodder. Although I guessed parts of the bigger picture as we sped along, I absolutely did not guess the “reveal” at the end and this is all down to Tahir’s fantastic story-telling. She gives us enough info that we don’t feel totally blind-sided when the reveals come along, but also keeps enough just hidden so that we’re hooked to keep going. I liked that all the different plot lines contributed to the wider story arc in some way and the world-building also developed in a way that brings this book and the last together. There’s also something to be said of the events that our protagonists face – the obstacles are relentless and Tahir is not afraid to really up the ante to make sure there’s no coasting through here. Didn’t do my blood pressure any favours though – there were many points where I was so done and I’m just the reader!

If you’re on the lookout for a quality YA fantasy series, An Ember in the Ashes, should be very high up on that list. The only thing is, after reading this book, I realised there’s TWO more books to go still – folks PSA this is not a trilogy.

Have you read A Torch Against the Night? What were your thoughts on the ending? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Bookish Review: The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee

9780008179977The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

Published: August 2016 by Harper Collins

Genre: Sci-Fi, YA

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

This book was one of those impulse reads based on the cover. I was in a bit of a book slump over the summer (hence the tumbleweed on this blog…) so when I came across this gold, gleaming and very unsubtle cover I thought this would be the perfect easy read.

Manhattan, 2118. The Tower dominates the skylines, a thousand floor building which represents the incomprehensible wealth of those on the upper floors and the desires of those on the lower floors. New York City is almost unrecognisable with the vast leaps in technology, but often people don’t change and it doesn’t matter how much money or tech you have. Enter five people whose lives are shaken by family drama, dangerous liaisons and secrets that must remain hidden. But what happens when those secrets risk being outed, and what lengths will they go to to avoid the dreaded fall from grace?

In this world, the higher you go, the farther there is to fall…

The Thousandth Floor has been likened to two well-known YA series: Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl and Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars. Now I’ve not read either of these series (travesty, I know) but I am fans of both TV series so I thought this would be right up my street and it didn’t disappoint. The characters basically read like a Gossip Girl roll call: we have Avery Fuller, the Serena van der Woodsen high society it-girl, Eris Dodd-Radson, the Blair Waldorf best friend, Cord Anderton, the Chuck Bass old money playboy, Watt Bakradi, the Dan Humphrey geeky wannabe, Leda Cole, the Georgina Sparks, the slightly off the rails chick, and Rilyn Myers, the firmly working class Vanessa Abrams well you get the drift. The characters  range from the  super-rich like Avery Fuller who lives on the Thousandth Floor right down to Rilyn Myers who is barely scraping by and lives on the 32nd floor.

And beneath her bare feet lay the biggest structure on earth, a whole world unto itself.

The setting of The Thousandth Floor is one of the things that really set it apart from your usual sci-fi and I was a little reluctant to use that genre tag. It’s futuristic but the tech advances are frighteningly feasible and not too much of a leap for the imagination (electric-shock instant hair straightening anyone?). The Tower itself is a brilliant metaphor as it literally resembles a social pyramid with the teeming masses at the bottom where the floors house thousands of units, compared to the top where 10 mansion units will make up all the floors space. I have to say though, it did take me a while to get to grips with the architecture of the Tower itself – the sheer scale of it wasn’t immediately obvious and I would’ve liked to understand how it came about a bit more. It seems to have replicas of real NYC monuments but it doesn’t go into why the parks have been recreated or why buildings have been seemingly lifted from ground level into the Tower.

The chapters are written from five different POV with lots more secondary characters part of the story so it was a bit overwhelming at first trying to keep track of who’s who and their respective stories. But it wasn’t as much of a problem as you go along because the stories begin to intertwine quite ingeniously. As with any multiple POV storytelling, I had my favourites and not-so-favourites, and I did find myself skimming through a few of them towards the end. I have to admit this was mostly because in the last quarter of the book we are literally racing towards the climax and I just really wanted to know how it ended dammit!

He didn’t know whether she’d fallen, or been pushed, or whether – crushed by the weight of unspoken secrets – she’d decided to jump.

The blurb really hooked me as well as the first chapter and my interest in finding out who falls from the Tower held until the last page. Whilst a lot of the drama can be described as very #firstworldproblems like falls from grace and wealth, illicit romances, downward spirals etc., I didn’t go into The Thousandth Floor expecting serious and heavy stuff so it delivered on what it promises. I was interested enough in the dilemmas of each character to overlook their obvious pettiness and privilege. 

This is a good book if you’re after something a little light-hearted, with enough drama and an interesting twist to the Gossip Girl set up to keep you turning the pages. The Thousandth Floor is apparently a trilogy and although I’m keen to read about the aftermath of the first book, I don’t think it was absolutely necessary.

Have you read The Thousandth Floor? Yay or nay?