Until the End, I’ll Follow

Owl Watches Intently Illuminated By Full Moon On Halloween Night

I grin,

She cowers,

We start the chase.

Running, running, running each other down.

She hides in the night sky,

Peaceful,

Or so she thinks.

I flare in brightness,

I will hunt her,

Find her,

And there will be no solace in night.

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Just Pain in a Book: Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson Review

well of ascension

Vin, the street urchin who has grown into the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and Elend Venture, the idealistic young nobleman who loves her, must build a healthy new society in the ashes of an empire. Three separate armies attack. As the siege tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.

***

When I review books, I like to make notes as I go so I don’t forget anything that comes to mind. One of my early notes was a simple prediction: ‘this isn’t going to end well.’ And quite frankly that summarises my entire feelings towards Well of Ascension. That is not to say it wasn’t a brilliant reading, in some ways much better than the first book. Actually one of the problems I had with this book is the fact I didn’t get to write many notes because I was so busy just being glued to my kindle, telling myself, one more chapter, one more chapter.

From page one, we are back to the races, set a year after Keliser’s and the Lord Ruler’s deaths with Elend as King. And for a while I was worried this sequel was going to be a straight forward fantasy, (not that I would have really minded), but it becomes clear that Well of Ascension doesn’t forget its roots and we get back to the cunning politics and devious people. Because really that is what Final Empire was about, it had fantasy elements but it was about politics and rebellions with magic just happening to also exist. Which is what this book is too, it may well include the end of days but its really about how the Kingdom will survive.

While W of A carries over the same elements of Final Empire, it is not the same book and definitely feels like a continuation rather than a repeat. There are new character interactions that obviously, given the society in Final Empire, could never have interacted and it’s great to see these people bounce off each other in a way we’ve never seen before.

But the best thing about this book is definitely the fact I had no idea where it was headed. Usually I have a vague idea about how a book will end and where the characters are going, (I did with Final Empire), but honestly, all of my predictions were horribly wrong. In a good way though, I probably don’t read enough outside the YA genre to have read enough books with an unhappy ending. But to me it felt bold, how many bad things just keep battering our main characters down. And then when you think it’s all going swell-OH WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT MORE BAD THINGS ARE HAPPENING!

‘Elend: I kind of lost track of time…
Breeze: For two hours?
Elend: There were books involved.’

~Ah the story of my life

The Good

Like I said, the book feels like a continuation and the characters feel the same, Vin especially. She is still very insecure after her life on the streets but she’s maturing and learning still, which is great (mostly) to read about. She, along with the rest of the crew are bitter for Kel’s death, still feeling its effects a year on and even though he is dead, what he did is never forgotten both the good and bad, given he’s left this horrible mess for them to fix. Yeah the Lord Ruler was evil but there was infrastructure and patrols to police bandits and now all of that is gone and it’s Kel’s fault.

The chapters are shorter which I’m grateful for, I prefer being able to have the option to read in smaller chunks.

The villains are perfect, we have quite a few and we’ll talk about Zane later but both Lord Cett and Straff are excellent in different ways. Straff is just a dick and unforgivably evil, it makes him easy to hate and I like that, I’ve read about too many complicated villains with a soul, it’s refreshing to see a straight forward bad guy. Cett definitely takes a more active antagonist role and is actually really fun to hear talk, he’s very blunt and doesn’t have any illusions about himself. I wish we had more time with the council Elend sets up, there are clearly enemies and internal battles going on there that we don’t get to see, but what we do see I like.

Anything else…oh yes, Spook continues to be the best character ever.

‘”I killed their God,” Vin said quietly […]

“I helped too,” Spook said, “I even got my nickname from Kelsier himself! But nobody cares about poor little Spook.”’

~Never change Spook, never change

The Bad

Once again, I had no idea what the hell was going on in any of the fight scenes. And given this book is like two thirds fighting and death, it becomes tiring and I end up glazing over swaths of chapters.

But that really doesn’t matter compared to ZANE. Let me take you on my journey with Zane. Almost immediately I had the niggling sensation of a love triangle between him, Vin and Elend. And I thought Vin would be better than that…BOY WAS I WRONG. I just couldn’t work out why Vin liked Zane AT ALL, he clearly is evil. And yet I had to sit through Vin pining between Zane and Elend, while Elend just sat there telling her he supported her no matter what…you’re a bitch Vin. Seriously, Elend, THE PERFECT MAN, is right there and Vin seems unable to communicate any of her thoughts to him in a way that makes Vin seem so stupid despite how wary and clever she is in the rest of the book. Also, without spoiling anything, the twist with Zane is just jarring and clearly done for shock value. But in the end all of this is for the good, Vin and Elend come out of it stronger than ever before, and after thinking about it, I enjoyed the turmoil Vin went through for the outcome.

‘He found insanity no excuse, however, for irrational behavior.’

~Tell that to Vin, Zane

And the Ugly

So as I started in this review, this book isn’t one I’d describe as happy and the pain I went through for these characters is both horrifying and amazing. I love watching characters not succeed, or rather I prefer my books with high conflict and stakes. This isn’t the kind of book where the characters can avoid every shot thrown at them. But still the amount of characters who die or are severely changed by what happens shocks me. Literally ‘had to put down the book and walk away’ shocked. But everyone who dies, dies for a reason, no one is made just to be killed like so many often are. Even those who live on with the terrible consequences, it’s all for the sake of character development, even if it kills me a little inside.

(At least Spook doesn’t die, that’s all that matters).

The Curse of Hype: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson Review

Final Empire

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage — Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

***

The annoying thing about going into a book series like this is the standard it’s held up to. I’ve heard people hail Brandon Sanderson as the greatest fantasy author of all time with the Mistborn Series being on par with Lord of the Rings…

It was good, I liked it, but I think I would have liked it more if I’d gone in without any expectations. Right off the bat the book is amazingly involving and engrossing, I mean who isn’t immediately invested in a plot about freeing slaves. But it is a long book, of course, it’s a fantasy epic, but it does make it a quite intimidating read. I’m an incredibly slow reader at the best of times so I had to really push myself to read it.

Also, while I’ve been told again and again this is the best fantasy series some people have read, it’s not that fantastical. It is a low fantasy, a very low fantasy indeed, it’s more about politics and the first half definitely feels like ocean’s 11.

Something I found refreshing was the book wasn’t too heavily invested in the emotional struggles of the characters, not in the way the YA books I usually read commonly are. I know it can be done well, but by God it is done way too often, my poor heart can’t take it. So, this book was a breath of fresh air, focusing more on house politics and devious plans with twists and turns than a ‘heart-breaking’ love triangle. That is not to say there weren’t emotional stakes, it just doesn’t feel like the emotional state of the characters is the most important thing in the world. These characters are definitely more rounded and stable than the people I usually read about which makes them instantly ten times more likeable.

I do have to say I find all the fight scenes really confusing, I have no idea what’s going on, but I think that’s because the magic system loves its rules and I just think if it held back slightly, it would be easier to see what is happening.

 

“How do you ‘accidentally’ kill a noble man in his own mansion?”
“With a knife in the chest. Or, rather, a pair of knives in the chest…”

~Just casual murder and fun things like that

 

WORLDBUILDING AND SO MUCH LORE

From page one it opens up the wider world bursting with life, class, politics and mythos, it really keeps you hooked but mostly (we’ll get back to it) it doesn’t bog you down in worldbuilding. It’s given to the reader on a more need to know basis, so while you’re never really confused it is obvious there’s a lot more to this world than you know, which I like, its spread out rather than dumping it on you all at once.

At first I liked the magic system as it felt very straight forward, all the rules were explained and grounded. But as I continued to read, and more rules and philosophies were attached to it, I wished the reader could be left to fill in some of the gaps themselves. It’s too much science for my fantasy tastes.

Now, most of the book is fine when it comes to exposition, except for the ending. I get it had to be done to make the end reveal work, but it just felt like it was page upon page of people explained new information to each other with too little time to actually do it naturally and in the end, it just exhausted me.

 

“You should try not to talk so much, friend. You’ll sound far less stupid that way.”

~I intend to use this in my everyday life

I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS

What this book does so amazingly well is its characters. The main characters, Vin and Keliser are easily empathetic without even trying because they let you into their lives immediately and the authors knows their flaws, rather than trying to hide them as if they are perfect people. This means I let a lot slide that normally irritates me.

I usually have a lot of issues against main characters who are without reason are extremely powerful, but with Vin, who ticks this red flag, it doesn’t bother me. I think it’s because Vin is very paranoid and hurt by past experiences, like actually hurt rather than the atheistic hurt most main characters are labelled with. Here. there are actual stakes and consequences if Vin messes up. People, both she and I care about, can and do get hurt.

Again, another cliché I hate, the star-crossed lovers, is done well here. For starters they don’t immediately fall in love with each other, like the other is the most important thing in the world, it’s more that they get along. Plus I like the love interest, Elend is snarky and an active character, rather than just a pretty face.

But no one is pretending the other main character, Keliser, is perfect either. In fact he’s worse, and the characters know it, they even openly discuss it. He is horribly stubborn to hate the nobility, just as much as the nobility hate the skaa and he’s proved wrong, which I loved because I was calling him out the entire book!

The rest of the team is great, they are unique and eccentric making it easy to hear their distinct voices. Spooks is also adorable, I just want to say it, he’s very sweet.

 

“And Vin liked solitude. When you’re alone, no one can betray you”

~Oh my sweet child, you need a hug

THE ENDING I KNEW WAS COMING

Annoyingly I knew where the book was going because, (without giving it away), the thing that should happen in Act 3 started in the beginning of Act 1. It worried me greatly and I called it, I knew what was coming, but once again it didn’t irritate me. It wasn’t because of any betrayal or anything to tear at the heart, it happened because of human error and I prefer to not have to roll my eyes when Evil McEvilson finally betrays them.

Rating: 4 stars

I can’t wait to read the next one!

The Bittersweet End: Champion by Marie Lu Review

champion-1.jpg

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.
But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.
With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

***

The final instalment of the Legend trilogy is by far the best in the series. The story of the first two books has been shed off and allows this final novel to spread its wings and just be the action book it was meant to be. The world of Legend is once again expanding further by the chapter, giving us a world we’ve never seen before. This series has always been able to surprise me, I keep expecting that I know where it’s going but I have been shocked at every corner, especially by how it kept breaking my heart, (but in a good way, I swear)!

It was so fast paced, even more so than the previous one. It was unrelenting and unstoppable as it just goes at full speed and never lets up on the tension. I couldn’t put it down for more than ten seconds without rushing back to it to read another chapter.

I love returning to these characters, even if it is for the last time, it practically feels like I am living their lives beside them as I read, we learn as they do, debate every argument they have with them. There is no more good versus evil, its people in a shit situation arguing, and that is not as appalling as it sounds, it’s really hard to know which path is the right one to take and I don’t know any better than them.

 

Communication is STILL KEY!

At the start of this book, it’s eight months later, but Day is still a big mess after the last book, enjoying (as best he can) a normal teen life and being obsessed with June. It’s cute and though I was very worried that he and June wouldn’t talk about his diagnosis for AGES. However, it quickly is resolved, and the story begins pretty soon after.

 

“Hey—with your metal leg and half a brain, and my four leftover senses, we almost make a whole person.”

~My broken messes, how are you going to survive this

 

On the Edge of My Seat

At first the tension didn’t really grab me, but what hit me was how dark it quickly became. There were new obstacles to tackle all of them incredibly murky and grey in quality. Especially for Day and the inevitable, which isn’t often tackled in YA fiction and I really think it adds to Day’s character. All sides are making valid arguments to explain complex matters of the class system and mortality and feels more down to Earth than ever. There can been no true happy ending, the USA cannot be reunited, and I love that because no clear ending can be predicted. It’s a mystery to everyone.

As the story progressed however it quickly ramps up the pressure. The fight scenes are especially tense given Day is no longer on form and is slowly losing his mind. Throughout the book it feels like they are constantly on defence and unable to win any fight. It makes it really hard to read as I’m afraid that someone is going to die on the next page. Though, despite that, Day’s ability to avoid bullets for the majority of this book is still ridiculous.

 

The Villains

I love the Chancellor, he’s an amazing villain because he can take EVERYTHING and more from Day. But June’s villain (Commander Jameson) is less threatening. She’s fine except for the fact she tries to say she and June are the same. It’s a cliché I don’t care for because…well June is nothing like Commander Jameson and she’s a clever otter, she should see right through it. Come on June, you’re better than this! But other than that, I loved the opposition, I’m glad Thomas’ arc got resolved as well. I love the Colonies for threatening Day because he isn’t a superhero in this book, he’s dying and if I were him, I’d side with them because there’s nothing the Republic can give him, but he stays loyal and I love him for that stubborn determination.

 

“I’ve been searching a long time for something I think I lost. I felt like I found something when I saw you back there.”

~Ah my heart!!

My favourite couple and how they destroyed my poor heart

I love these two, by God I love June and Day, they are adorable. The eight-month gap between books really helps cements the awkwardness between them, even if I don’t want it to be there. And so, when June and Anden started to gain feelings for each other, I was heartbroken, but I understood it. They’re in this horrible situation and both want something to make them feel human and protected, it’s cute. But of course the soulmates get back together eventually.

But then the ending happened and…I don’t want to spoil anything but it’s unnecessarily sad. It’s very bittersweet and I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but it just wasn’t needed. I’ve been inconsolable for days!

You couldn’t have waited?

Wedding Cake

Samantha beamed at her groom though she wasn’t really paying him any attention. She was smiling for how perfect the day was going. Her train was being held by her beautiful niece and her dress were dazzling white. Her hair was curled, her makeup was flawless. Everything was prefect. Even the groom was, a twenty-five hunk with an oil baron father, days from dying. She smiled for the crowd who was simpering as the groom read his vows. She dabbed the corners of her eyes. She wasn’t listening to what he was saying but didn’t matter really. He just needed to say his and then she’d say hers and then they’d be flying to the Bahamas.

The church doors opened and at first Samantha paid no attention to the screams from the aisle, they had been very over dramatic all day. Only when the gunshots started did she scream herself, pushing the groom away as she dived. Everything happened in slow motion and Samantha was able to turn just in time to see her groom riddled with bullets, ruining his three-piece suit with his blood. She sobbed as the vicar fell gracelessly across him. She had been so close. The bullet storm still streamed overhead, but she could see the cloak room from where she was. If she could just crawl unnoticed to it…maybe she could see what the law said about marrying a dead man. She slipped when she took her first step, biting her red lipstick in pain. She turned over, her whiten dress was now stained by blood.

“Shit,” she hissed. The shooting had quietened though the screaming had not. Samantha held her blood stained dress and looked across at the groom. He wasn’t moving, deathly still. She sniffed and sobbed again. So close. Heavy footsteps approached her, and she groaned and rolled her eyes as the shooter came into view.

He was masked and held the gun to her head, still all she did was exasperatedly mutter, “You couldn’t have waited until he said I do.”

 

Raindrops

Rain

The sky fills with clouds and the pattering is gentle.

The tiny dancers turn the leaves,

Until they tap their beat into the ground.

The sky darkens, and the soldiers come.

The army tears the leaves and bark from their homes,

And storm them to the dampen floor.

 

They retreat, the sky is filled with sunlight.

The rain dries and returns to home,

The cloud march on for new land.

Writing Tip: 176#

If I’m anywhere public, whether it be at a park or my workplace, sometimes I’ll eavesdrop on people. Not because I’m nosy but because listening to actual conversation can really help in writing flowing dialogue.

Eavesdropper

But also because I’m nosy.