The Girl King by Mimi Yu | Sister Review

The Girl King by Mimi Yu | Sister Review

The Girl King by Mimi Yu

Sister Review
 This review is a combined effort between me and my sister. We read a book and review it by asking each other questions related to the title we are reviewing. The idea is to provide you with two different perspectives.

 This review might contain spoilers! We might discuss any part of the story (sometimes the questions we ask each other might be general, while other times they might touch upon something specific about the ending, etc). If you have not read the book and do not wish for the story to be spoiled you might want to avoid this post!

The Girl King by Mimi Yu | Sister ReviewThe Girl King by Mimi Yu
Series: The Girl King #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on January 8th 2019
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 518
Buy on Bol.comBuy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Two sisters become unwitting rivals in a war to claim the title of Emperor in this sweeping tale of ambition, sacrifice and betrayal for readers of Sabaa Tahir and Alwyn Hamilton.

All hail the Girl King.

Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty's first female ruler, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. Then their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead—a betrayal that sends the sisters down two very different paths.

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes on the run. She needs an ally—and an army—if she is to succeed. Her quest leads her to Nokhai, the last surviving wolf shapeshifter. Nok wants to keep his identity secret, but finds himself forced into an uneasy alliance with the girl whose family killed everyone he ever loved…

Alone in the volatile court, Min's hidden power awakens—a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set's reign…or allow Min to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters' greatest enemy could turn out to be each other.

 Iris asks Merel:

As pumped as I was for this book, it took me quite some time to get into the story. Did you experience the same? 

Yes, I did! I thought the book had a lot of potential, but I had quite a hard time getting into the story, so that was too bad. It also took me a lot time to get invested in the story. When I put the book down because I had something else to do, I never really felt the urge to pick up the book again.  

The Girl King has three main characters, characters that I found hard to connect with. Part of it might have to do with the fact that it’s written in third person POV. What are your thoughts on this? 

I also had a hard time connecting with the main characters. They felt distant to me, and reading about their stories made me feel rather detached. However, I don’t think it was the third person perspective, since many authors use it. Sarah J. Maas wrote her books in 3rd person POV and I most certainly did not have any trouble getting in to her books, or relating to her characters. I think for The Girl King  it had more to do with the writing style, which wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

What did you think of the Asian elements in the story? Did any stand out to you and/or what’s your favourite element? 

I really liked the idea of it, since there are a lot of myths and legends in Asian culture/history that I’m not familiar with, so an Asian inspired fantasy sounded really interesting! I liked the elements that could be found throughout the novel, and I think it’s cool that she used those. I really liked the concept of the Kith in the story, and how there were all these different tribes. I loved finding out that the empire of the first flame used to have gifted Kith as well, namely the tiger, but that  they lost the ability somehow. I think the storyline of the Kith made the book quite interesting.  

The Girl King is another book in a (pretty long) line up of strong female heroine centred YA books. I think we can agree we both love a kickass heroine, where does this book rate in this line up? 

Oh, I suck at these questions!  For this one, I’ll be going with Lu, since I didn’t like Min very much to be honest… She annoyed me quite a lot. Lu is a badass! Not only is she good with a sword, she also has a sense of responsibility and loyalty. Moreover, I loved how she learned from her mistakes and the encounters she had. She did not blindly stick to her beliefs that her kingdom had been blameless in some of the darker, more ruthless events in the past. Once she learned the truth, she accepted it and learned to live with it, instead of denying it and insisting that the others were wrong.  

In my opinion, Lu is pretty cool. Not just a badass, but also  genuinely a good person. So, she ranks pretty high as a person! It’s just a bit harder to think of her when people ask me for some great heroines, since the book did not capture my full attention.  

I liked how impulsive actions had consequences in the story, which leads to Lu to learn from her mistakes and confront her biases. What do you think about this?  

It always feels good when you read about a character that learns from her mistakes and past, and Lu certainly learned a lot about herself during her journey. Not just Lu though, Nokhai also discovered a whole lot more about himself. I liked how they both developed throughout the story and became bigger than when they started. They learned truths about themselves, the other and the world. 

All and all this book was a bit ‘meh’ for me. Tell me what was your favourite thing about The Girl King and what was your least favourite thing? 

I know what you feel, since I pretty much felt the same. I was really excited for this release, and it felt a bit like a let-down. Which is too bad, because the concept wasn’t bad! And while answering your questions, I also realised that both Lu and Nokhai’s characters were quite well developed, yet still it wasn’t what I had hoped for.  

As I already mentioned above, I loved the concepted of the gifted Kith with it’s different tribes and how she spun this part of the story. I thought it was really interesting and original! (Which is probably why I liked reading about Nokhai most haha.)

My least favourite thing… Honestly, I really disliked how Min evolved in the story. I get that she and Lu were totally different people, and that that was the reason for their strained relationship, but I felt like Min didn’t try a lot. She acted self-absorbed, constantly felt sorry for herself and everything she had to endure, and remained ignorant of everything else. And look at the consequences of her actions… I think I had a hard time accepting that in the end, she dropped her sister ruthlessly, just so she could get what she thought she wanted. She did not think about her sister, or the rest of the world.  So yeah, I didn’t enjoy reading about Min, even though I was quite interested to read about her learning to use her powers. Even when her magic had awakened, she still let other people use her (and her powers). 

Merel asks Iris:

What did you think about the setting? 

I thought the setting was really interesting. When I first heard about this book and found out it was high-fantasy, revolved around two sisters, and Asian inspired I was instantly hooked. In fact, the setting was one of the things about The Girl King that I did really enjoy. I think the Asian setting was really cool and the magic system was really interesting.

Which storyline did you enjoy the most? Which did you like the least? 

I think this was my biggest struggle in The Girl King. There are three third-person perspectives, that of Lu, her sister Min, and Nok. I found about halfway through that I didn’t particularly love any of them. I liked Nok and thought his storyline was interesting, but he felt a bit interchangable with most YA fantasy love interests. Lu was badass, yes, but she too felt really similar to many other YA fantasy heroines. And Min… she annoyed me to no end with her endless naivete and self-pity.

All in all, I definitely enjoyed Lu and Nok’s storylines the most. Min’s story line was without a doubt my least favourite.

What did you think about character development in The Girl King? 

(I am not going to talk about Min here, sorry, but she frustrated me too much).

Similar to what you mentioned previously I really liked how Lu and Nok grew and learned from their mistakes. They discovered who they were as a person, what they stood for, and faced truths about themselves and the world they lived in. I might not have loved the characters, but I do see that they underwent change and defintely came out for the better!

What did you think about the writing style of the book? 

I don’t know. I felt disconnected from the story from the very beginning. It might have had to do with the characters, whom I didn’t really love, or the writing style. Or it might be a combination of the two. What I do know is that the writing didn’t suck me into the story and, especially in the beginning, had to force myself to keep reading.

Usually the male character is the strong and protective one. In Lu and Nokhai’s case the roles were reversed: Lu was the protective one. She was good with a sword and saved Nokhai multiple times. What’s your opinion on this? 

This was quite interesting and quite a nice contrast between the two. Nok was’t a warrior, at all. I think this had to do with the destruction and trauma in his past that left him scarred. Especially compared to Lu, he was quite unsure of all that was to come.

It’s quite an interesting contrast, really. (I hadn’t actually thought about it until you mentioned it).

I don’t tend to have a hard time getting into a new world when reading a fantasy book, as I mostly seem to fall right in. However, this time it took me longer, and I really had to make an effort. Can you relate to this? 

Unfortunately, yes… It took about a 100 pages for me to get invested into the story. If it hadn’t been a Sister Review book I might have actually put it down and stopped reading. I don’t think it had to do with the fact The Girl King is a fantasy book. As I mentioned before, I think it largely had to do with my inability to connect with the characters and the writing style.

Finally, will you read the next instalment in this series, which comes out February 2020? 

I have to think about this. I might pick it up to see if it grabs my attention and to find out whether the sequel is better than the first book. However, right now I’m not really interested in reading the sequel.

  • Plot 60% 60%
  • Setting 80% 80%
  • Writing style 50% 50%
  • Characters 40% 40%
Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen | Book Review

Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen | Book Review

Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Book Review
Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen | Book ReviewReign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen
Series: The Elementae #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on January 30th 2018
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 438
Format: Hardcover
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bol.comBuy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.

But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.

“True power does not force others to make themselves smaller.”

Reign the Earth is such a richly spun tale full of amazingness that I am having trouble forming cohesive sentences about it, let alone write a full review. However, I decided that I am going to try because I want nothing more than to persuade you to read this book as well. I want to see this book on your shelves, your TBRs, and in your lives, period.

The main character, Shalia, is fiercely loyal and brave. She is such a selfless individual who, when faced with tough decisions, isn’t above doing everything in her powers to do the right thing. I loved getting to know her and seeing how she tackled the struggles that came her way (and believe me, there are plenty). Her story isn’t always easy to take. Especially her marriage with Callix and their relationship was very hard to read about. There is a very thin line that Shalia is walking and the smallest mishap could destroy all that she’d sacrificed.

The very best thing about Reign the Earth though is its setting and the variety of cultures. The worldbuilding was so well executed and an absolute joy to read about!

And if that isn’t enough, it all builds up to a finale that will give you feels aplenty! It’s devastating, it’s powerful, and it’s everything you want from such a powerhouse of a book.

Reign the Earth is a well-crafted and BEAUTIFUL book! If all things mentioned above won’t sway you to read it, then I have one last trick up my sleeve:  the cover alone is enough reason to pick Reign the Earth up. I am not above saying that if you occasionally fall prey to buying books for the cover, let Reign the Earth be one of them. I promise you that you will not regret it.

  • Characters 90% 90%
  • World Building 70% 70%
  • Plot 50% 50%
  • Romance 80% 80%

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon | Book Review

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon | Book ReviewThe Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
Series: The Bone Season #2
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on January 27th 2015
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Sci-Fi
Pages: 528
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads

five-stars




Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London...

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

What I thoughtI was a bit late to the party with The Bone Season. This had to do with the immense hype surrounding the book, I bought it, planning to wait a little while until everything had calmed down a bit, and then suddenly it was a year after publication and I still hadn’t read it. So I read it over the summer and I fell in love with the story and its characters. What a difference this time around. Ever since I finished The Bone Season, I have been anticipating its sequel.

The world-building was as intricate and beautiful as it was in The Bone Season. Which made it so easy to get wrapped up in the storyline. The story picks up right where The Bone Season left off. Paige has managed to escape Sheol I and we’re back in the alternate and futuristic London that we only got a few glimpses of at the beginning of book one. I love how we get to know more about the Seven Seals and the Criminal Syndicate. It was something I’ve wanted to know more about since I read the first book, The Mime Order really dove into the Criminal Syndicate, it became more clear how the criminal underbelly of London works, hierarchy wise, and it was so interesting to read about.

Paige is such a great protagonist. She’s tough, smart, and intuitive. And at the same time she has her flaws and limitations. Which is exactly what makes her such a great character. I love how The Mime Order the offers an insight to Paige’s inner struggles. We learn more about her relationship with her mime-lord and other characters and we get those little insights into her childhood in Ireland (and I hope to learn more about it in the next instalment). She’s tough, but sensitive at the same time. I just adore her character. View Spoiler »

Then the romance. What I love so much is that it’s not the main part of the story. It’s always there in the back of your mind, but it’s not the main focus of the story. I pleasantly surprised when Warden made an appearance in the story. And the interactions between Paige and Warden are everything I wanted and more. Great dialogue. Sexy tension. And I am so excited to see how their love story will develop. Even though their relationship will probably know many hardships. They are such strong personalities, and I hope that their romance will survive against all odds.

Plot-wise this story is absolutely fantastic. The revolution travels with Paige from Sheol I to the world of the voyants in London. There’s lots of things going on and you want to know exactly how they will unfold. The tension between Paige and Jaxon keeps building. View Spoiler » Their exchanges are extremely chilling, filled with power-plays and political undertones. It all builds up towards one point. All those emotions build to peak and believe me, that ending… MIND WILL BE BLOWN.

Final verdict IRISJEXX!

I loved The Mime Order so much. I wish there was more to read, because the thought of waiting another year for the next book is killing. Samantha Shannon did a wonderful job with this book. Beautiful world-building, a great protagonist, thrilling romance, and a fantastic plot. The Mime Order was everything I hoped it would be and more. I love this world and it’s beautiful characters. Now, can I have the sequel? Pretty please!

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon | Book Review

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon | Book Review

First things first, I have fallen soooo much behind in reviewing my reads and I want to apologize! I’m still reading, but due to some health problems I haven’t been able to write all the reviews that I planned and wanted to share with you. They are coming up! I made myself a schedule (with some help from Debbie, who wrote an awesome post in which she shares her planning and scheduling methods) and I have my fingers crossed  this will work out for me and I can keep up with it! Starting now, with my review of The Bone Season!

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon | Book ReviewThe Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Series: The Bone Season #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on August 20th 2013
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Sci-Fi
Pages: 452
Format: Paperback
Goodreads
four-half-stars

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

What I thought

I had this book lying around for quite a while. And back when I bought it, this book just got so much attention from, well, everywhere, that I decided to put it away for a while and read it when things calmed down a bit. I should’ve known that I’d forget about it back then, so roughly a year after publication I finally decided to read it! And somewhere within the story and just past the huge amount of information – that you get thrown at you within the first chapters – I ended up incredibly intrigued with the beauty of the story unfolding on these pages.

Generally, and for pretty obvious reasons, I am not a big fan of ‘info-dumping.’ It often confuses me. I’ll have trouble remembering the details later on in the story, which then leads to me having to go back a few chapters to clear up whatever I’m not getting or understanding. While every now and then this was a bit of an issue for me, I found that as the story unfolded, I didn’t really mind it. Because along the way I ended up so incredibly intrigued by the world of clairvoyance, otherworldly races and the imagined dystopian nature of this well-crafted futuristic society, that it became easy to look past that minor flaw.

Samantha Shannon did such a great job weaving the concepts of clairvoyance, otherworldly races, and a dystopian society into an incredibly intriguing and original story. I just genuinely fell in love with the story and its characters. The story is intricate and fascinating and characters have their own distinct personalities. The characters pack that little something extra that defines them, which makes them memorable and easy to root for. Plus, I love how realistically she portrayed the relationships between characters, how they grow gradually and slowly. It never felt forced or rushed.

This is by no means a light read. It is a big book and it’s pretty lengthy, but if you’re willing to put some time into reading it, it won’t be for nothing. The story is original and incredibly gripping. As the first book (in an expected series of seven!) I think this first instalment is incredibly promising and I greatly look forward to its sequel!

Final verdict IRISJEXX!Original, gripping, and a very well-crafted story! Which made for the slight case of info-dumping to be easily overlooked by all the other compelling aspects of this story. I very very much enjoyed (loved!) this story.