Red Seas Under Red Skies Review

Thief and con-man extraordinaire, Locke Lamora, and the ever lethal Jean Tannen have fled their home city and the wreckage of their lives. But they can’t run forever and when they stop they decide to head for the richest, and most difficult, target on the horizon. The city state of Tal Verarr. And the Sinspire. The Sinspire is the ultimate gambling house. No-one has stolen so much as a single coin from it and lived. It’s the sort of challenge Locke simply can’t resist… but Locke’s perfect crime is going to have to wait. Someone else in Tal Verarr wants the Gentleman Bastards’ expertise and is quite prepared to kill them to get it. Before long, Locke and Jean find themselves engaged in piracy. Fine work for thieves who don’t know one end of a galley from another. 

Fire and Heist Review

  • Author: Sarah Beth Durst
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Fantasy/Magic Realism
  • No. of pages: 290
  • Date read: 07/01/19 – 12/01/19 (DNFed at page 172)
  • Rating: 1 star

My first DNF of 2019! To put in context, I only dnfed one book in 2018, The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. We are in the middle of January. It is the 2nd book I have read this year. I have already dnfed it.

I read this as part of a read-along with the company, Fairyloot, who sell subscription boxes for books. I was excited to participate in the read-along but I don’t think I will participate in the next one, I prefer to read at my own pace. The curators of Fairyloot obviously hyped up the book, the premise sounded so cool who wouldn’t want to hype up the book. But subsequently, I went in with really high expectations which weren’t met at all! I have still purchased 2 more boxes from Fairyloot and will continue to do so as I personally loved the other items that came with the box.

Plot: Sky Hawkins is a wyvern. A person who could turn into a dragon and poscess the abilities of a dragon. Her ancestors were exiled from their home and forced to live on earth. Like dragons from myth and literature, wyverns like to hoard gold and subsequently these families are very rich. The way they get their gold is simple… they steal it. The story starts with Sky who’s mother disappears after a failed heist and the story follows her trying to uncover why and where her mother has disappeared to.

POSITIVES:

I always like to start off positive and this book did have some positives.

The setting is our modern world. What I liked seeing was magic and technology mixing. I liked seeing how the wyverns have adapted with technology. I liked seeing magic and technolgly working togehter, how magic helps enhance the technology. I thought that was smart and fun to read about.

The mystery of where Sky’s mother disappeared to was really intriguing and kept me going after each chapter. I just wanted to know what happened to her. Was she locked up? Has she been tortured? Did she choose to leave? I had so many questions and each chapter more pieces were added to her disappearance and I was really excited to see what happened to her. That being said you find out where she goes halfway through the story and because that was the main draw of why I continued to read the book I subsequently had no incentive to continue the story.

I really liked learning about the lore, myth and history behind the wyverns. Everytime Sky mentioned something about their meetings known as “Reckonings”, the rules they must follow, the hierarchy, the powers. It really interested me.

My favourite character was Gabriela, Sky’s human friend. She was the sweetest person who I related to a little bit in the fact that she wanted so much more to life and wanted adventure. She just was a little ball of sunshine.

NEGATIVES:

My main problem with this book is the writing.

The writing to me was very cringey. I can’t explain what it is about the wiritng but it felt very young YA. Someone said she felt it read like fanfiction! The main point is the writing ended up ruining parts of the book that could have been good.

I think Sky, the main character, could have been a really cool, empowering female character but reading from her perspective was annoying and she just came across as a spoilt brat so I couldn’t connect with her whatsoever! Durst tried to make it out that Sky was really self-aware with the fact that she was spoilt but to me it didn’t help make Sky’s character likeable, it actually made her worse. It was disappointing because I love a powerful female character.

The first half of the book felt rushed. It felt like the writer was just trying to get to the second half of the book and get to the plot twist. Some of the best parts of heist movies is watching the training and the execution of the heist unfold but in this story, we get a very short training section, which didn’t have much training in, and then suddenly its the heist which started and ended within one chapter. It was very lacklustre and not developed at all.

The romance was not good. I didn’t care whether Ryan and Sky got back together. I think Ryan was a lovely character but because I didn’t like Sky and the writing surrounding their relationship was cringey. I didn’t want to continue reading about their relationship. It felt out of place sometimes as this is marketed as a heist book but Durst spent more time focusing on their relationship than actually developing the writing of the heist!

The problem with the book was the plot points were really cool and could have wowed me I just don’t think it was executed in the right way.

The Hobbit Review

  • Author: J.R.R Tolkien
  • Series: Prequel to The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • Genre: Fantasy/Classics
  • No. of Pages: 280
  • Date Read: 17.12.18 – 26.12.18
  • Rating: 5 stars (Favourite)

Wow! Ummm… where to start with this book?

I heard so much about this series but to me, it was so well-loved and highly praised, I was quite scared to even attempt to read it as I was worried I wouldn’t like it. I hadn’t read much high fantasy before this book so I wasn’t sure if it was my thing. But I thought I would just go ahead and see what happens. I mean, I got the whole set for £4 at a charity event so that gave me the push I needed to give the series a go.

Minor spoilers.

The Plot: Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who loves the safety of his hobbit hole and doesn’t have an adventurous bone in his body. One day he is approached by a mysterious wizard and a band of burly Dwarves and is whisked away on an epic adventure to steal the mounds of riches from the evil dragon, Smaug!

Positives:

Tolkien’s world building is unmatched! I have never read a book with such intricate world building, I hear that the Lord of the Ring series is a lot more detailed so I am looking forward to that. What made Tolkien’s world building so great is that it allowed you to visualise and place yourself within the scene. You feel as if you’re there with the characters experiencing all the events alongside them. The world building was also important for the battle scenes. I tend to find battles scenes long, boring and most of the time I don’t understand what is going on half the time but with the use of the world building it gives you a clearer image of where they are and where people are positioned, making it easier to understand.

The description of the battle scenes was incredibly intricate. I was never bored reading the scenes as he always managed to keep it light and fast-paced but without losing any detail as he goes. The detail in which he described the fighting styles and the positioning of all the characters was really interesting and as I said before, worked really well with the image of the battlefield he conjured up beforehand. The battle scenes were intense and at moments I couldn’t tear my eyes from the page as I had to know what happened next.

All characters were varied and unique and I don’t think I came across any characters who were similar to each other. Characters of notability include;

Bilbo. Bilbo was by far my favourite character from this book, he grew so much and I loved seeing him change from a man who didn’t like any form of change to a quick-thinking, brave individual who stands up to leaders and dragons! I felt very connected to him as I saw parts of myself in him. (Mainly when he was complaining of being hungry and tired.)

Bombur. Bombur was by far my favourite dwarf. He was endearing and funny and he was a constant throughout the story adding moments of comedy during the dark and morbid moments. He stood out to me the most in this novel as he was so unlike the other dwarves.

Smaug. I was quite shocked by how little Smaug featured within the novel. He was only in about 4 chapters but he made his presence known. I loved his dialogue, you could quote Smaug so easily. All his interactions with Bilbo were really interesting to read and it was fun to watch them bounce off and try to outwit one another

Tolkien’s narrative voice was another element of the story that I really liked. The story is spoken in 3rd person and Tolkien acts as an omnipotent voice following Bilbo and his journey. I loved how he sometimes mentioned things to show he knew more about the story than we did and how he would give extra information about characters or events that the characters didn’t know yet. This just added to the intricacy of the whole novel.

I haven’t read a book about a quest in over two years so I was really excited to go on this epic journey and experience the ups and downs and the problems that the characters were going to face. I loved visiting all the new places and it was just so refreshing to read a story about getting from A to B and the bumps along they way as it’s the kind of story I haven’t read in so long.

The last thing I loved was the realism of the novel. Important characters die, people lose things that are incredibly important to them and after the events of this adventure nothing is ever really the same and I loved that about this book. While I love a happy ending where everyone is ok, it made the novel fell more believable and realistic that the stakes were high and not everyone made it.

Negatives:

My only problem with the book was that initially I found it quite hard to get into it. Tolkien’s writing style for me was a bit hard to get used to so I struggled with the first couple of chapters. Once I had sat down and focused more on the words in front of me I finally got immersed into the story.

This is the last book I will read in 2018 and I look forward to see what books 2019 will bring!