Monday 25 June 2018

Book Review: Three Little Lies by Laura Marshall

Three Little Lies is the second novel by Laura Marshall. Her debut, Friend Request, was a great read and I eagerly put my hand up to review her newest offering. Staying firmly in the thriller/crime thriller genre, this novel leaves you guessing.

Ellen and Sasha flat together in London, still friends since high school ended 10 years ago, and bonded by a traumatic event that lead to their friend Karina being raped and them testifying against the rapist - Sasha's god-brother Daniel. 10 years later Sasha goes missing and Ellen fears the worst, Daniel is out of prison, is he after them?
Ellen re-opens old relationships to try and figure out what has happened to Sasha and not everyone is as they seem. Ellen quickly realizes that she doesn't know Sasha as well as she thought. As the story is told, the past is revealed and there are three little lies that have shaped the story and now put Ellen in danger.

I found the introduction of this novel quite confusing. It flicks between timelines and character's viewpoints regularly and I felt that I spent the first few chapters trying to figure out who was who and what was going on. This sorted itself out by about 5 or 6 chapters in. The main viewpoints are from Ellen and Olivia, and Karina has a few chapters too.
The format of the novel I have a sort of love/hate relationship with. It is done often, especially in crime writing, where it is set in the present but flicks between 2 other time periods from events in the past, each of which are written by both Olivia and Ellen. It means you need to pay particular attention to the dates at the beginning of each chapter. I do like the reveal factor of this format though, it means that the story is very much given piece-by-piece.

As far as characters go, Ellen, Sasha and Karina all have quite annoying traits. None of them are particularly endearing and I wasn't particularly invested in any of them. But the hook was what got me, what happened to Sasha? Clearly the title suggests that there has been three little lies told and therein lies the mystery. Despite my misgivings, I ended up engrossed and couldn't put the book down. I was not disappointed by the twists, and I liked that the story had evolved into something much bigger than just a girl disappearing. Especially a girl that is frankly, a bit annoying. But waiting to find out what the three little lies are keeps the intrigue going and the read worthwhile.

So overall, yes I do recommend this book, stick with it and you will be glad you did. 

Thanks to Hachette New Zealand for the review copy of this book.

Friday 8 June 2018

Book Review: War Storm (Red Queen Book #4) by Victoria Aveyard

What a book. Now before I start, let me preface with the fact that this is book #4, the final in the Red Queen series. There will probably be spoilers so if you are interested in a YA novel about kings and war, people who have x-men-like abilities along with a strong female protagonist and a rebellion for a great cause then you will enjoy this series. Start with Red Queen, Glass Sword, Kings Cage and if you want the extra for experts then there are two short novellas from other characters perspectives together in a volume called Cruel Crown. 

I started reading this series earlier this year and I got hooked. I didn't quite time it right and had to wait a couple of months for this final installment which was hard! There is also so much going on in these books that I had to go back and read some summaries of the previous book to remember as #4 just jumps right in from where #3 ends.

If I was to pull a super brief summary to get us to the beginning of War Storm, it would go something like this: *SPOILER ALERT*

Mare Barrow is a Red. She has red blood, and lives each day in a small village, stealing and scrounging for her family's next meal. She hopes to get a job to avoid conscription to the army where a seemingly never-ending war wages in a neighboring land. Reds are ruled by Silvers. Their blood is silver and they have abilities: Magnetrons can manipulate metal, Strongarms are super strong, Whispers can manipulate thoughts, Nymphs can manipulate water etc. Because Silvers have these abilities they have ended up being the rulers of the kingdoms, with King Tiberius the Sixth as the King of Norta. Silvers > Reds so reds are the servants essentially.

The king has two sons and there is a battle of abilities of all the eligible Silver ladies a la Hunger Games. Mare meets Cal, the Tiberius heir when he is disguised as a Red and he gets her a cushy servant job at his palace. She ends up watching this battle and gets caught up in the action. She finds herself in the arena and manages to save herself with her previously unknown lightning powers. A Red with abilities is unheard of so she is quickly transformed into a 'lost Silver princess, raised as a Red girl' to keep up appearances for the King and his court. Mare is not a super huge fan of this but goes along with it because it allows her to feed inside information to the Scarlet Guard, an underground rebellion who want to overthrow the king. There is also a love triangle going on between Mare and the two princes, Cal and Maven.

There is betrayal from one of the brothers, Mare escapes, discovers there are others like her and sets off to find them, meets opposition and has some epic battles, a few people die. Then the books get pretty political and it becomes all about alliances and war strategies and the love triangle of course. Mare is captured and tortured by one of the brothers (one of them has a very twisted way of showing his love). Mare escapes again with a huge effort from her friends, and Mare is finally together with one of the brothers. Mare is betrayed again when that brother chooses the crown over her and she keeps on fighting for her cause.

That brings us to War Storm. Obviously there is way more to it than that but I would be here a long time! I actually managed to get through that without too many spoilers.

War Storm has a slow start which took me a while to get into. There is a lot of political talk which is one of my least favourite topics and a lot of moping going on from Mare. We do get this story from other characters points of view which probably saves this book for me. We hear from both Cal and Maven, Evangeline, a Magnetron from vaguely royal lineage who has been a thorn in Mare's side but has a change of heart in this book, and Iris, a Nymph Princess who is married to Maven for her family's own sneaky ambitions. There is plotting, scheming, backstabbing, kidnapping and fighting between the various alliances. Maven is always a few steps ahead which makes the progress slow but eventually the tides turn (that is a really funny saying that you will laugh at after you read the book by the way).

Obviously as the final book there needs to be a conclusion of both the romantic story and the overall story. These were both resolved in an OK way. I wasn't overwhelmed by how amazing the ending was, it was pretty predictable but I was happy with the way they left the story. As for the romantic wrap-up, it wasn't filled with warm fuzzies but was probably a more realistic ending for them.

Overall I feel like War Storm was a good final book. It is a massive door-stop of a novel and is pretty much 40% politics 50% fighting and 10% for the rest of the storyline. I am conflicted because I didn't enjoy a lot of this book but I enjoyed the overall story. Each character is so overwhelmingly flawed that you have a bit of a love/hate relationship with them all. Except for maybe Kilorn. And Farley.

 I think I managed to give a brief but accurate overview of the series so if it peaks your interest then check it out and if not, I'll stop rambling.

War Storm is out now. Thanks to Hachette for the review copy of this book.