Tuesday, 12 May 2015

REVIEW! Books I read in April: Half Bad, The Country of Ice Cream Star, A Darker Shade of Magic.














Ooh I read some right gooduns in April. All of these have been recommended by various bloggers and booktubers so I was very much looking forward to reading them, and I was not disappointed, whee! I read Half Bad by Sally Green, The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman, and V.E. Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic. 


Half Bad

This is a story about witches in Britain, but not quite the usual kind. Nathan is half white witch and half black witch, and growing up in a predominantly white witch modern Britain, which is warring against black witches. As the son of the most notorious black witch, Marcus, Nathan has been brought up by his white witch grandmother and has been tracked and monitored by the corrupt and prejudicial Council for his whole life.
Nathan is quite young at the beginning of the book, and we see him grow up and slowly learn more about who he is, and why he gets treated differently to his half-siblings. There is quite a gritty, realist feel to the setting, while there are potions and shape shifting and magical occurrences, this is set against a grimy and grey backdrop. Nathan gets involved in punch ups at school (a normal non magic school attended by non magic children- fains), is nauseated by hearing mobile phone static in his head, and has to learn how to pick-pocket wealthy city workers. His time spent in a cage in the Highlands is just as grim. However, this is a fast paced and witty book and a fully formed novel in its own right, though it is the first of a trilogy. Read it!


The Country of Ice Cream Star

Wow, where do I start with this book. I thought it was pretty wonderful. It's set in a post apocalyptic America, about 80 years after a virus has wiped out most of the population. The people who are left behind are all black and all children, dying of 'posies' before they reach their 20s. Ice Cream Star is 15 and part of community called Sengals. They hunt and live in the Messa woods, and search old 'evac' houses for clothing and supplies. The amazing thing about this book is that  Sandra Newman has created a language, a kind of English dialect, which at first is a little jarring, but soon easy to understand. A few chapters in and my own thoughts were in Ice Cream's language. And it was really hard to shake it after I'd finished. So a pretty immersive read. It's a long book, and so took me a long time to read, but it was well worth it. Ice Cream is a brilliant strong character and leads the story of this unsettling world, through capture, becoming a Queen, and Russian invasion, always looking to do the "right" thing. 

“I know, ain't evils in no life nor cruelties in no red hell can change the vally heart of Ice Cream Star.” 

A Darker Shade of Magic

This is a magical tale of multiple Londons, dark and dangerous magic, and excellent coats. A great introduction to what should be an exciting trilogy. Kell is a great misfit character, taken in by the Royal family but never quite fitting in there, feeling like the a trophy of the King and Queen rather than part of the family. Loyal to his duty, as one of the last Antari, to travel between the worlds and between Londons. His many sided coat is amazing, I want one. He reminds me a lot of Howl (of Howl's Moving Castle) and there is something of a Diana Wynne Jones feel to the Schwab's writing. With his red hair and search for answers he also reminds me somewhat of Kvothe (from The Name of the Wind). I loved Lila Bard, who dreams of being a pirate, and is tough and strong as long as she keeps telling herself she is tough and strong. The coat and cape she acquires is a thing of wonder too. In Lila I saw a bit of Hester from Mortal Engines, fending for herself, determined not to rely on anyone. The worlds were beautifully built and the plot very fast paced, taking place over just a couple of days. The baddies convincing and the heroes strong, flawed and independent. So much happened in this first book, but there are so many questions left unanswered and potential paths left open that I am very much anticipating the next in the trilogy with great excitement. 

I've already read some wonderful books in May- so I'm excited to share those with you next month! I'm currently doing the #MayBookChallenge on Instagram so go follow me there- @ruthlily

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