January 2019 Wrap Up - A fantasy filled start to the New Year

January 24, 2019



So the Christmas Tree is packed away, kids are back to school and new reading goal is set on Good Reads with grand plans to work towards 70 books read in 2019 so I delved in straight away in January with a solid 5 books this month, and still a few days to go till the end of the month.  So let's take a look at the books I read this month. 



Girls of Paper & Fire by Natasha Ngan

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



This book forms part of the James Patterson Presents series where he helps new authors to launch themselves into the publishing world as with Kerry Maniscalco and her Stalking Jack The Ripper series.  Natasha Ngan's novel is about young girls who are taken from their homes and given to the Demon King as his concubines, destined to serve only for his pleasure and amusement.  Known as Paper Girls there are new girls chosen each year and then cast aside when the King is done with them. 



Telling the story of Lei, a girl who is taken from her small village to the Royal city to be a Paper Girl we follow her training in the Women's Court of the King and her journey to try and rebel against the political status quo as she refuses to give herself over to the Demon King's wishes.  Within the Women's Court she finds herself being trained with the other Paper Girls, some whose ambitions will seek to undo everything Lei holds dear including her growing relationship with one of the other Paper Girls. 


There were parts of this book I loved, I loved Lei's time training in the Women's Court and the political manoeuvrings of the girls she met there, their changing allegiances and the stories they told of their lives before the palace.  I liked that we have the mystery of what happened to Lei's mother years before and the way she seeks to resolve this and her growing strength as the book goes on. 


If I had one niggle about this book it would be the Demon King character, I felt I needed more from his perspective.  He for me was a little one dimensional, he was the bad guy but what we didn't have was they why.  It is touched on briefly but never explored as I would have liked.  I know we are meant to intensely dislike him but I always like with a villain to understand their deep motivations and I felt this wasn't explored here. 


A good book, I will read the sequel when it is released but I hope for a little more world building next time around. 



Knight's Shadow (The Greatcoats #2) by Sebastian De Castell

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars




Traitor's Blade was one of my top books of 2018 and so it didn't take me long to get back to Sebastian De Castell's wonderful Greatcoats series in 2019 with book two Knight's Shadow. 


I have done a full review for this book on the site so go check it out by clicking on the link at the end of this post.  However, what else can I say other than I loved this book so so much.  It was absolutely on point with everything I loved about book 1, the friendships, the camaraderie, the adventures and then it upped the ante about 100% by adding even more politics, 

just a wonderful story.  It was magnificent.


This series is very quickly becoming a firm favourite of mine with it's Three Musketeer's vibes and great story of a King leaving behind his trusted guards to fulfil a grand promise and quest he has left to each of them.   You can fully expect to find me delving into the last two books in this series very soon so keep your eyes peeled for my reviews of those soon. 



Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman

Rating 4 out of 5 stars




You can't call yourself a true Young Adult fiction lover if you haven't heard all the hype around Neal Shustermans' Arc of A Scythe series, featuring Scythe and Thunderhead with a third book Toll due to be released hopefully later this year.  It is everywhere and everyone who reads it cannot wait to sing the praises of this series about a future version of our world where all death has been eradicated and we can all live forever.  Therefore in order to maintain some level of population control Scythe's are appointed to select people to kill or 'Glean' as the book refers to it.  People are selected to take up the role of Scythe's and this book follows the story of two young apprentices Citra and Rowan as they leave behind their lives with their families and begin training as apprentice Scythe's. 


This book was fascinating, the world Shusterman builds where we have our entire world controlled by a supercomputer called the Thunderhead that can eradicate all famine, poverty, ageing was really immersive.  I found it really creative and different from anything else I've read before in this genre and really enjoyed this aspect.  


I was also a huge fan of the political manoeuvring within the worlds of the Scythe's,  their scrambling for political power, the different factions with different beliefs as to how they should Glean, how often and the way they should emotionally treat those they choose to end the life of.  It was brilliant to see Citra and Rowan experience this as apprentices and see different sides of the argument from their perspectives. 


This book was a 4 out of 5 stars for me, not sure why but I expected 'more' from it.  I really liked it but I wasn't as blown away as the hype had led me to believe I would be.  I have high hopes for Thunderhead as we delve further into the world but at this point it was a good but not incredible book. 



The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars




So with The Final Empire, the first Mistborn book, popping in at the top spot on my Top Books of 2018 list you knew it wouldn't be long before I read more of this amazing epic fantasy series by Brandon Sanderson.  I am determined to keep on track with my goal to read all of his books this year. 


The Well of Ascension picks up a year after the end of The Final Empire with our characters having tried to rebuild the world after the explosive end of Book 1 and put in place a more just and equal political world for everyone in Luthadel.  Just as they are beginning to feel like things can change they find themselves under siege by 3 armies outwith the walls of Luthadel, all with the aim of taking back the city and placing a new ruler on the throne.  It's up to Vin, our band of misfits from The Final Empire and nobleman turned King Elend Venture to find a way to save them all. 


This book is another magnificent example of Brandon Sanderson's ability to build incredible characters and allow us to watch them grow.  Vin, our street urchin from The Final Empire is now the most powerful Mistborn in the Empire and she must use her powers to try and hold everything together whilst protecting her King and love Elend.  Elend, the foppish nobleman is now King and trying desperately to a just and fair ruler but we follow him as he learns that sometimes to be a good ruler doesn't mean allowing everyone to have their say, sometimes you need to do what you think is right and let everyone deal with it whether they like it or not.  


Yes, I think I'd by lying if I said I didn't miss Kelsier a little in this book but his spirit is there and he hovers like a shadow over our band of thieves turned politicians.  It is amazing to have them all adapt to their lives as they realise now they aren't the vagabonds they were but are the people everyone looks to to save them.  Just brilliant character writing by Sanderson. 


An excellent last 150 pages in this book as the underlying story of the book, the importance of the Well of Ascension is addressed and sets us up nicely for the concluding book in this part of the trilogy.  Yes, The Hero of Ages will be one of my books this coming February so watch out for my review then. 



The Wicked King (The Folk of The Air #2) by Holly Black

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



The Wicked King, the sequel to Holly Black's 2018 besteller The Cruel Prince is THE book this January for all Young Adult fiction lovers.  Literally everywhere you look people are devouring this book.  The Cruel Prince was one I liked but didn't love in 2018 so did The Wicked King fare any better? 


In a word, no, again this book was okay for me but I still don't really see it as a challenge to the real Queen of the Fae, Sarah J. Maas.  


This book kicks off 5 months after the end of The Cruel Prince, with our heroine Jude ruling Faire through the High King Cardan who she manipulated to take the crown and do her bidding at the end of book 1.  She is trying to rule whilst not making it apparent that she is really the one pulling the strings, she is still at odds with her stepfather and estranged from her twin sister Taryn. 


I have to be honest with this book and say I was reading along, kind of enjoying it and got to about a third of the way through and realised that nothing really significant had happened.  I didn't feel at that point there were any real stakes at play.  It was a really slow built to the action and then when the action did get going it was over before I knew it.  The story of the Queen of the Underworld waging war against Cardan was really intriguing when it became the focus of the book but I always feel a little with this series that it suffers from not enough dialogue.  The really deep political manoeuvrings that we get from really good political fantasy novels is missing for me in this series and it always leaves me feeling it's a little 'fluffy' for my liking.  At just a little over 300 pages it felt a bit rushed for me which is a shame as I like the premise and the characters in this series, I think it could be magnificent but it hasn't been fully explored in my opinion. 


The ending was a great twist to the book, it certainly leaves me intrigued to read The Queen of Nothing, Book 3 of the series but I could only give this one a 4 out of 5 stars, it doesn't quite hit the hype it's been built up to. 




So all in all a fantasy filled month for me in January with lots more planned for February and as those new releases keep hitting the market there much to look forward to in the month ahead. 





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