The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness

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What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?
What if you re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.
Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.
Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

This book… this book is wonderful.

This is my second attempt at reading a Patrick Ness book- the first being The Knife of Never Letting Go, which I never finished, so I went into this slightly nervous that I wouldn’t enjoy it and worried that I had wasted £7.99 on a book.

But I loved it.

Its original and refreshing and hilarious, and I love that it takes the mick out of the cliche Chosen One plots. And all the books (and programmes) in which they happen. I mean, honestly, how many books have we read or seen where the Main falls in love with a vampire? Or when they ‘were all dying beautifully of cancer.’
The thing about the publishing world is that once they know a bestseller, they go after every other book of that type. So after Twilight…after TFioS…

And as much as I do love these books, it does get…tiring.

So here we have a book in which Something is Happening. But our Mains are not the ones involved. They just happen to live in the same place. And really, while all this strange stuff is going on, they just want to get on with school and living.

And our Mains!

Its such a fantastic and diverse cast.

Mainy Mikey, who, at some points in this book, I just wanted to pluck from the page and hug. I think this is the first book (definitely first YA) that has featured a main character with OCD. And not the cringeworthy ‘I’m so OCD!’ squealing character while hovering the floor once (I have read a book with that phrase in before. I did not finish it) But the actual rituals that they cannot break. At one point, Mikey is in tears because he cannot stop himself- and I just wanted to hug him.

Girl He is in Love With Henna, who is trying to find who she is (and who she loves), his sister Mel, and best friend Jared (who happens to basically be Human Catnip).

They are all wonderful.

(I also love that they refer to one character as Call Me Steve. This entertains me most because this is how my best friend and I refer to people)

I also love how each chapter starts. ‘Chatper ____, in which…’ and how it explains what The Chosen One is/would be doing if it was about them. It was really well done, and almost reminds me how much I miss books that do that nowadays.

This is a funny heartwarming, clever book, about ‘normal’ people trying to live through All The Problems we give to Chosen Ones

On the TBR Pile: The Life of Elves, by Muriel Barbery

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The villagers had never seen anything like it: dense white curtains of snow that instantly transformed the landscape. Not in autumn, not here in Burgundy. And on the same night a baby was discovered, dark-eyed little Maria, who would transform all their lives.

Hundreds of miles away in the mountains of Abruzzo, another foundling, Clara, astonishes everyone with her extraordinary talent for piano-playing. But her gifts go far beyond simple musicianship.

As a time of great danger looms, though the girls know nothing of each other, it is the bond that unites them and others like them, which will ultimately offer the only chance for good to prevail in the world.

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V E Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.

This book is honestly one of the best books I have read all year, and is fighting for the top spot so far for Book of 2016 with its sequel, A Gathering of Shadows.

Seriously, I don’t even know where to start with this book.

The characters are wonderful- every single one of them, from Kell all the way down to the characters that only have one or two lines (and they only get better in the next book). Each character is so well rounded and believable you are almost convinced you could look up from the page and see them stood in front of you- and you almost wish they could.
What Victoria does well is she makes you empathise every character, even the ‘bad’ ones. Okay, maybe not all, but most. She makes you care so much about each one that even when a villain gets hurt, you want them to get better.
Oh, Holland, you poor poor daffodil.
Kell is a wonderful main- he’s loyal and loves the people he counts as family, but he is also bitter because he is not really one of them. As the only traveller in his London, his whole life is dictated by what his kind and queen wants him to do. Take letters to the other Londons, do this, do that, and he just wants a small place to be himself. And so he smuggles magic and items across to each place, even though it is illegal.
Rhy- his brother and the prince- is brilliant, and his conversations with Kell…and basically everyone else…is a gift from heaven, I swear. He’s funny and a flirt and wonderful- but behind that is the fact that he never thinks hes good enough or strong enough to be who he is, and he breaks my heart.
And then is Lila Bard. Lila, the book version of myself, my other half and just completely wonderful girl. Honestly, a character that meets a stranger on the streets, steals from him then ends up travelling to different Londons with him, how can you not love her?! I have never identified more with a character- from belonging on the water (as a pirate) to wanting to see not just this world but every world, from the eyes.

After the characters comes the worlds. Three (or four, really) different Londons. Grey London- our own, magicless and dull, Red London- Kells world, with a perfect balance of magic and people, White London- where power is corrupted and evil. Each is in a different Kingdom, each has a version of the Thames running through it, but each is completely different.
It’s wonderful to read about a place you think you know, when you really dont.

And then Victoria’s writing, which is a bit like magic itself, writing that draws you in and makes you feel like you are sat next to the characters, watching events unfold rather than reading about it. It’s so beautiful to read.

The only problem I had with the book is a small one, and one that most people wouldn’t pick up on. I said I identified to Lila because of eyes, when really I should have said eye. Lila had a glass eye- meaning she only sees out of one eye. Now, my left eye isn’t glass but it is blind, so I know how it is only seeing from one. The problem I had with it was you find out in a single sentence near the end of the book. Before that, there is not a hint of it, even when it is her PoV.
The thing is, seeing out of only one eye sometimes messes up balance. It means you find it harder to judge distances and speed of things, it means that often, you walk into things on the blind side. Lila is this adventurous girl, a thief and wants to end up as a pirate. She would have struggled with some of the stuff she did- maybe not enouh for others to notice exactly what was wrong, but enough that she would be slightly more careful with some things. (as a sailor myself, I also know how difficult it is to, well, sail with only one eye).
In one respect, I love love love that there is a character I understand like this, because she is the first (around my age) that I have ever read about, but at the same time, it annoys me that I felt like it was just…thrown in there as an afterthought?

Other than that, though (and it is a small thing, really) This book is amazing, brillaint, and if you are not already running out to go and buy it, then you need to. Quickly. No, really, its amazing.

Currently (re)Reading: Harry Potter

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Harry Potter is a wizard. He is in his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Little does he know that this year will be just as eventful as the last…

It’s always good to go back to a favourite series, right?

I finished Allegiance of Honour last night- a book I had been waiting to read for a year and was looking forward too- but it left me almost….disappointed. It lacked something that the rest of the series had, and since the last three books in the series had been my favourites, I had hoped this one would be even better. (There are 15 in this series now, it’s wonderful.)

So to cheer myself up from the disappointment, I thought I would break in my new editions of Potter, since my old originals have been read so much that two of the books are no longer books but covers and sellotape and pages that are trying to stay in place.

On the TBR Pile: This Savage Song and Vicious, by V. E. Schwab

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Having devoured A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows in only a few days, I cannot wait to read these two books by the same author!

This Savage Song:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Vicious:

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

Snow Like Ashes, Sara Raasch

 

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Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

 

There are two ways i get disappointed by books. One disappointment is that one of just awfulness, where the book is so terrible in the end you have to laugh.
The other is when it has potential and could be amazing….but just falls terribly terribly short.

This book was the second type of disappointment.

The Plot was interesting, and despite me guessing the plot twists and ‘shocks’ it was the one thing that made me gently want to carry on. Because the magic system sounded interesting, the history sounded interesting….but then it was never really talked about.
The world- I wanted to know more about that. Why were there four seasons and why were the others called Rhythms. How did it become that way?

And then the potential fails.

The plot twists were so easy to guess I was rolling my eyes by the time they were ‘revealed.’

The characters were two-dimensional, flat and mostly, annoying. More than once I wanted to scream and throw something at the main character because of how she was acting and her infernal internal monologue. She spends the first half of the book mooning over one boy, meets another- and while being furious than shes meant to marry him- and then spends a page talking about how wonderful Second Boy looks shirtless…She spends 90% of the time complaining about her life, and then to prove to everyone she can do things, she makes stupid decisions because she don’t think.

She was irritating to have as a narrator, and unbelievable as a character.

If it weren’t for my sheer stubbornness at wanting to finish the book, I would have given up well before half way, because I didn’t care about the characters or their problems, and didn’t care for what they were going to do to solve everything.

When writing a book were a group of people are trying to save their kingdom, it is vital that you need to care. you need to feel for them and hope they win, you want to be able to feel their longing to go back home and to be safe, and I felt nothing except the urge to throw the book at the characters and telling them all to grow up.

I looked so forward to reading this book, so many people told me I would love it, but in the end, it was dull and disappointing.

Currently Reading: The School for Good and Evil

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With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.

The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.

But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are?

I started this yesterday and while the premise for it is interesting (a school where you learn to be Good- princess, prince, fairy goodmother- or Evil- the villains in every story- and graduate into your own fairytales) I have a few issues with it already. I am enjoying it…but my eyes might ache from being rolled so much by the time I finish it.