Check out my review of Justice League: The Darkseid War by Geoff Johns, Jason Fabok & Francis Manapul – yet another comic book event with cataclysmic consequences.

The Not-Really-About-Darkseid War

Justice League: The Darkseid War by Geoff Johns – Comic Book Review This review contains spoilers. As a new comic book reader, I hear a lot about DC’s various ‘crises’ and their world-altering (and most definitely not publication driven) effects on the wider DC universe. As a very process-driven person, this all seemed messy to me, […]

Pride by Ibi Zoboi – Book Review

Check out my review of Pride by Ibi Zoboi - ‘Zoboi approaches the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy’s with a new, authentic and #ownvoices perspective, which is a rare occurrence in an abundance of interchangeable traditionalist retellings.’
Click on cover for the book’s description.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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Overall, I really enjoyed this refreshing take on one of my favourite classics. Zoboi approaches the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy’s with a new, authentic and #ownvoices perspective, which is a rare occurrence in an abundance of interchangeable traditionalist retellings.

Though it would be worth mentioning here I would not strictly class this as a retelling; I think the cover gives a better description, ‘a Pride and Prejudice remix’. It has notes and snippets of the original story, but the beats are different. There’s nothing wrong with that, just worth mentioning if you’re going into this expecting a carbon copy of Austen’s tale adapted because this is not that book. I feel for a book to really be considered a ‘retelling’ there are certain pivotal plot points that have to be included, which in this case they weren’t. All that really features from the original text and the templates of the majority of the characters and the hate to love relationship between Darius & Zuri.

Related image

Zuri Benitez is a really distinctive and strong narrative standpoint, and the integration of her poetry into the story was a really great touch and gave a deeper insight into her character. The rest of the cast of characters are also brilliant in their own right, both those familiar from Meryton and those unique to this book. Zoboi creates an authentic, warm and vibrant atmosphere and setting you can’t help but get caught up in. So much of this book felt like music coming off the page.

Pride does contain a lot of slang, both in narrative and dialogue which generally I don’t like but I feel as though the book would have been missing that note of veracity without it. I’ll admit, I had to consult Urban Dictionary for a lot of it (learned some new words!) because I just don’t use that much slang. It’s not that I think there’s anything wrong with it, hell half our language is based off it nowadays, it’s just not how I express myself and so I sought help from Google.

However, I still felt I missed a lot in this book. When Zuri speaks to Warren and other people in her neighbourhood who share her culture she often references ‘a secret language’ those involved in the conversation all understand. This language is never really translated to the reader and as a result, I kind of felt like I was on the outside looking in, in places.

Related imageI recognise I am not really the target audience for this book but at the same time, I feel #ownvoices books like this have a secondary purpose, as well as representing marginalised cultures and minorities. That secondary purpose being to remedy ignorance by bringing attention and educating the reader about these marginalised cultures and their beliefs and points of view. This is a small qualm really, and some things could be inferred but at times it really did feel like I was reading another language as the words being exchanged were clearly loaded with meaning but I just didn’t know what it was.

The characters undergo similar development to those in P&P but my only real problem was with an aspect of Zuri’s development. Though I know prejudice is a huge aspect of this novels makeup I found Zuri more than a little close-minded throughout the book and it’s not a trait she entirely lets go of. From her opinion to her changing neighbourhood – which, fair enough I understand having seen my own city change dramatically over past years, but I’m a firm believer places shouldn’t be defined as belonging to one ethnicity or one culture, there should just be places that we, the only race on Earth, the human race, are free to move freely between and live in without being made to feel or believe we have no right to be and I mean anybody when I say that, though I’m well aware it only goes one way at the moment and that sucks – to her constant perpetuation of what she thought Darius ought to be like because he’s black, and her complete refusal to try and get to know people with a different background to her own.

It just sort of grated on what I felt Austen wanted to represent in Elizabeth Bennett who, for her time, was forward thinking and nonconformist woman, made more brilliant for the fact she used her intelligence and other people’s prejudices and preconceptions to get away with it.

Zuri seems closer to acceptance at the end of the novel and I suppose these frustrations are a sign Zoboi wrote her book well as, though I understand their equivalents in the original text, the chronological difference prevents me from really feeling anything for the struggles of the Bennett sisters, where the Bentitez sisters’ struggles feel immediate and relevant to me.

A great read for Afro-Latinx women wanting to see themselves represented by an ingenuitive female author or anyone wanting to try something new and experience a culture I know I personally haven’t been able to before.

Check out my review of Pride by Ibi Zoboi - ‘Zoboi approaches the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy’s with a new, authentic and #ownvoices perspective, which is a rare occurrence in an abundance of interchangeable traditionalist retellings.’
Check out my review of Pride by Ibi Zoboi - ‘Zoboi approaches the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy’s with a new, authentic and #ownvoices perspective, which is a rare occurrence in an abundance of interchangeable traditionalist retellings.’
Check out my review of Pride by Ibi Zoboi - ‘Zoboi approaches the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy’s with a new, authentic and #ownvoices perspective, which is a rare occurrence in an abundance of interchangeable traditionalist retellings.’

 

You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance – Book Review

Read my review of You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance, the first in a series that is perfect for fans of Geek Girl. Gracie Dart is a relatable and funny character and her journey of self-discovery and growing up is one I think young women need fresh out of the stress of exams.
Click the cover to read the book’s description

I received a copy of this book from Hot Key Books via Readers First in exchange for an honest review.

🌟 🌟 🌟.5

This is a book I want to give to 16-year-olds who have made themselves ill over stress and school work like it’s the end of their life and not just a stepping stone to the next stages. Gracie Dart is a relatable and funny character and her journey of self-discovery and growing up is one I think young women need.

Vallance perfectly captured the mindset of a post-GCSE student and the sense of earnest, determined independence, yet greatly undecided and vulnerable nature of a young adult realising the insignificance of these exams in hindsight. The feelings described in this book about how school life depicts your future in comparison to the reality is so accurate it’s staggering. That, and Grace’s witty narration is so candid and sincere, even in melodrama, I was laughing from the start.

Grace goes through a tremendous amount of personal development and self-discovery, not least of all acknowledging her own sexuality to herself and her family and friends and coming to terms with what it all means.

Til, Grace’s best friend, was my favourite character; she was so funny and direct and reminded me so much of my best friend toward the end of high school.

I feel this book may be better given to less impressionable readers who are well versed in the mantra of ‘stranger-danger’ just as, I don’t know what it’s like in Brighton, but I wouldn’t advise Grace’s method of friend-making where I live. Though I did like Spider, he was an interesting character, his and Vicky’s age isn’t really that well defined (that I remember) but I got the idea they were a bit older than Grace and it made their relationship somewhat strange. It also made me a little uncomfortable with the fact this girl (who certainly acts 20+ years old) repeatedly kissed Grace, a 16-year-old, without invitation and Grace repeatedly comments on how she’s not sure she liked it or wanted her to.

I wouldn’t say any of the above is problematic per se, I just found it uncomfortable and weirdly, though I know I felt very grown up at 16, the closer I get to 20, the younger and more childlike that age seems to me.

A little note from me: I’m trialling some new Pinterest Graphics for my book reviews, and they took a while to perfect. I’m pretty proud of them but didn’t want them clogging up my post so they’re hidden within the review – if you could take 1 minute to maybe pin one with the below button I would really appreciate it!

Read my review of You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance, the first in a series that is perfect for fans of Geek Girl. Gracie Dart is a relatable and funny character and her journey of self-discovery and growing up is one I think young women need fresh out of the stress of exams.
Read my review of You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance, the first in a series that is perfect for fans of Geek Girl. Gracie Dart is a relatable and funny character and her journey of self-discovery and growing up is one I think young women need fresh out of the stress of exams.
Read my review of You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance, the first in a series that is perfect for fans of Geek Girl. Gracie Dart is a relatable and funny character and her journey of self-discovery and growing up is one I think young women need fresh out of the stress of exams.
Book Reviews by Bloodthirsty Little Beasts

 

Vox by Christina Dalcher – Book Review

My book review of Vox by Christina Dalcher - a book is set in 21st century America, a country recently relinquished to the control of religious zealots who have silenced half the population. #feminism
Click the cover to read the book’s description.

I received a copy of this book from Berkley via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

“Maybe this is how it happened in Germany with the Nazis, in Bosnia with the Serbs, in Rwanda with the Hutus. I’ve often wondered about that, about how kids can turn into monsters, how they learn that killing is right and oppression is just, how in one single generation the world can change on its axis into a place that’s unrecognizable.”

Except this isn’t Nazi Germany, or Bosnia, or Rwanda, this book is set in 21st century America, a country recently relinquished to the control of religious zealots who have silenced half the population with technology I’d guess is not beyond the capability of that we hold now.

I had contemplated making my review only 100 words long but realised that would probably utterly contradict the point this book was trying to make. And boy, it was making a point. If you are looking for subtle metaphors and understated symbolism portraying the oppression of women and its subsequent call to action, this isn’t really that book. This book’s message is not subtle, it’s blatant and undeniable but in a way, I think that is a good thing.

I love that academic subtlety and metaphor in my didactic literature as much as the next person, I really do, but in my experience discrimination is becoming more and more subtle and with anything you try to remove, is digging its heels. Most of my brushes with sexism nowadays are discovering it hiding, ingraining itself in cultural and social practices in the hopes of not being identified.

“When you get down to it, what’s the difference between some backwater assholes’ advising men to marry teenage girls and a bunch of costumed drunks flinging beads to anyone who shows her tits on St. Charles Avenue?”

I don’t necessarily think the above comparison is the best one to make, but I get the point behind it. In an age where basic arguments for equality are often met with a response of ‘political correctness gone mad’ (or at least in my corner of the world), it’s becoming clear that some arguments should be direct.

Enjoy seems a strange choice of word, but I did enjoy this book. It scared me, deeply, for two reasons. The first was Steven, the MC’s son, and how easily a young person at their peak of impressionability can be moulded into a character that is unrecognisable, even to their own mother. The second was, though I’m familiar with the concept of complacency, I have never considered myself complacent but this book made me feel like I was.

Think about what you need to do to stay free. Well, doing more than fuck all might have been a good place to start.”

The book isn’t without fault. The pacing, though generally good, did glaze over some areas and the inclusion of an affair on top of everything else felt like an unnecessary inclusion really. The story would have been perfectly good with either Lorenzo excluded, or situated as Jean’s husband. The whole thing felt … odd. Which bring me neatly to my main issue and that is the fact that Patrick was an interesting character that could have had a brilliant arc to do with uncovering the hidden layers to him, etc. but about 80% of this book short-changed him, especially in the end which felt a lot like the proverbial tying up of loose ends/brushing under the carpet/cleaning house.

I understood the meaning was showing how easily the world can turn onto its axis, as it were, but it wasn’t very well done. Despite that, this book did keep me hooked and it made me feel things: anger, fear, anticipation, indignation. Because of that, it deserves its 4 stars because only a good book can do that.

Book Review Vox by Christina Dalcher Bloodthirsty Little Beasts

 

Ascension by Victor Dixen – Book Review

4-star book review of Ascension by Victor Dixen - the first in the martian, sci-fi series Phobos. Widely described as Love Island in space, this compelling, original first instalment with leave you wanting more.
Click the cover to read the book’s description.

Click the cover to read the book’s description.

I received this book from Hot Key Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

🌟🌟🌟🌟

Be prepared for the world’s weirdest yet strangely addictive dating show in the known universe.

I’ve said in previous posts about this book that it was like ‘Love Island in a spaceship, but with teenagers, segregated living quarters and much less sex’. This still feels like a good description, but I think only UK readers would necessarily get it. There is also a little bit of Take Me Out in there. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please, Google is your friend.

Cut down to its core, Ascension is essentially a book about a space dating show, but the author takes that seemingly inane concept adds in questionable moral compasses; intrigue and several closets full of skeletons and ends up with a really compelling sci-fi novel filled with characters and plot-lines you’re left wanting more of.

I ended up really enjoying this book despite the fact that when the concept was first introduced at the start, I thought it wasn’t going to be good, at all. I quickly realised, that though some of my first impression was right (the show’s format was a smidge convoluted, I didn’t really see why the two teams couldn’t mix more for good entertainment value, it seemed like an unnecessary barrier, also instant marriage after what could only ever be a maximum of what? 3 hours in each other’s company? … ick), as motives and schemes were revealed I realised that something like this absolutely 100% could happen.

Not so much the space of it all, but you know, never say never, but the carrying out of explicable deeds and exploitation of desperate and damaged young people for money? Yeah, I buy it.

I also like that the characters don’t seem to be fulfilling any racial stereotypes either, it was a refreshing change of pace to be able to get to know each character individually as opposed to painfully obvious archetypes of their country – the Brit wasn’t an etiquette obsessed prudish stickler or a cartoonishly evil villain, yay!

Despite my overall enjoyment, the narrative didn’t always sit well with me. I generally like alternating perspectives and I understand now that everything we saw will likely be a crucial bit of information but, with all the suspense and tension, there were times I really didn’t care for the ‘bad guy parts’. You know the ‘Mwahahahaha, we are the bad guys, let us discuss our evil plot at length in this shady-ass bunker in a dimmed room with a long table, mwahahahahah, go us.’ Yeah, that. Some parts were great but I think other parts were a little bit repetitive.

It’s hard to describe the frustration I felt as the plot reached its climax and my e-reader read ‘98%’ at the bottom and I knew I wasn’t going to find out the answers I so, so needed. Needless to say, already pre-ordered the sequel Distortion – also, can we get some appreciation for these awesome covers?!

at the moment aurora librialis

At the Moment #3

I saw this post first over at Aurora @ Aurora Librialis‘s blog and thought it was such a cool, neat post idea that I asked Aurora if she would kindly let me steal pay homage to with my own post. At first, I thought would be a good fill-in for weeks I didn’t have anything […]

How (Not) To Marry A Duke by Felicia Kingsley – Book Review

See my review of How (Not) To Marry A Duke by Felicia Kingsley, a hate-to-love romance set in modern day British aristocracy.
Click the cover to read the book’s description.

I received this book from Aria and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

🌟 🌟

A gentle reminder two stars still means ‘it was okay’ by the Goodreads standard.

The premise for this book was interesting and the majority of my issues with it congregate toward the very start and the very end of the book, because the in between was pretty good and would have easily received 3/3.5 stars from me but, I did have my problems.

Like I said, it was an interesting concept, it was light and quite funny at times and, well it must have been compelling since past the 30% point I couldn’t put it down. By the end, I really routed for Ashford and Jemma because opposites attract has never been truer than when applied to them and, they worked. Inexplicably, they worked.

My issues as I said, began at the start, the first one being Derek’s part to play; I may be naïve to think this but no solicitor, or legal professional, would risk their integrity and livelihood to play matchmaker and disclose confidential client information and advise his clients to commit fraud. I’m sorry but lawyers are smart people, and that is dumb as f***. I know many, many solicitors and they wouldn’t dream of giving such negligent advice, let alone to a friend of theirs. I would have bought the whole scheme more if they had dreamed it up themselves.

The second issue I had was the portrayal of almost every character as some daft, caricature of an outdated stereotype. Carly and Vance’s hippy lifestyle, which hey, could well be accurate but I felt it was overemphasized and overdone; Ashford’s arrogance and ignorance (‘“We’re talking about three million pounds!” I complain.’ I’m sorry but one does not simply complain about discovering they are in £3m worth of debt. No one does, I don’t care how rich you are); and Delphina. Delphina, in general, was the absolute worst example of a caricature but even worse was the injustice I felt was done to poor Jemma.

Never mind the fact she was repeatedly treated like crap, and never actually got her sweet revenge by rubbing her millions in their snobby faces and proving someone can be wealthy and not act like they were born to the celestials, but I felt an injustice was done to working-class women in her portrayal. I felt I understood Jemma’s character, her roots; I come from a Labour-supporting, working-class city with roots as deep in football support as they are in tradesmanship. I know and am related to people like Jemma, who like what she likes and have the same take-me-or-leave-me attitude and don’t pander to those who feel as though they are above them, so her continuous abuse at the hands of the upper class meant something to me and I rooted for her. However, her consistent portrayal (both in thought and in action) as a childish, ill-mannered bimbo was just plain insulting. Living in the working class parts of London (which isn’t cheap even then), of any city doesn’t automatically make you incapable of holding a civil conversation, eating anything other than fried chicken and ignorant of the value of newspapers, even if you don’t enjoy them yourself. It just doesn’t, and whenever she did succeed at something it was never treated as an accomplishment, just a fluke or a lucky break as if no one like her could ever do such a thing based on skill. Even Ashford’s recognition is plain patronising and condescending. I get that everyone is different but I stopped relating to her the second I realised that unlike I first thought, she wasn’t the only real person in the book, she was yet another caricature.

As I said, the story improves and even though the plot cycles through (and references) the timeless tropes and themes of Pride and Prejudice, Taming of the Shrew, Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries, I really did enjoy that part as we actually saw some great character development from our two main characters (even if Ashford never completely stops being an absolute asshole).

But the ending* spoiled it for me and took it down to a 2-star rating because it just made me angry. Not a bad book but for me, it was personally problematic.

*SPOILER ALERT

Read More »

The Last Romeo by Justin Myers – Book Review

Myers, J - The Last RomeoI received this book from NetGalley and Piatkus in exchange for an honest review.

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This was a really, fun and funny read about one man’s descent into the horror that is the internet, online dating and fame going to your head.

“No one cared who i was until I put on the mask.” – Bane, The Dark Knight Rises

When Myers started his book with the above quote, he pretty much had me sold as he was obviously a cool guy with great taste.

I really enjoyed James’ narrative and point of view. He is a very real and relatable character with flaws and insecurities. His endless dating disasters (and not so disasters) were both comical but entirely realistic and I always enjoy reading from the perspective of a character who is a writer.

The author did a  really brilliant job of drawing you into the story and actually getting you vested in James’ hunt for The Last Romeo, without you even realising. I didn’t realise how deep I was until James made the stupidest choice possibly in the history of love stories and I was sat in my living room, alone, shouting “But why? Why? What the hell do you think you’re doing?! Goddamnit James, why?“.

Deep breath.

Anyway, I’m sure you’re wondering why only the 3 stars then? Surely, from what you’ve said this is 4 or even 5 star worthy? Well, because my ship got sunk – that’s why. Yes, it was that good a ship, and yes I sure as hell do hold a grudge.

That and though James undergoes huge character development, and is surely on the path to self-actualisation by the end of the book, it’s just a smidge incomplete at the slightly dissatisfying ending. The ending is still hugely worth it though – and I really hope Myers releases a short story set say, 6 years in the future, to let us know how it all turns out.

WWW Wednesday #20

This is a tag formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and now hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words and answers three questions. I’m back with is What are you currently reading? I’m nearly finished reading Vox by Christina Dalcher, a brilliant novel about a world where the US government has been […]

Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking – Book Review

Hocking, A - Between the Blade and the HeartI received a copy of this book from the publisher, Pan Macmillan, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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So while I was checking who the publisher was for the opening line of this review I saw NetGalley’s description of this book started with these words: ‘Game of Thrones meets Thor: Ragnarok’.

Um, no? I feel like this is a severely misleading description if anything this book is Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Shadowhunters and well, every mythological being out there, apparently. I found this book quite disappointing really. It wasn’t bad, it was actually alright but it lacks focus on its concept and if you’re going into this expecting a Norse-inspired YA fantasy you’re going to be disappointed.

So far as I can tell the Valkyries in this book resemble those from mythology only in name, fierceness and weaponry. Their purpose and values are completely unique to this world and that is perfectly fine, they just don’t line up with the mythology and I think it might have been better if they had had a different name all their own. The atmosphere and setting of the novel is a very grungey, steampunk, overcrowded city complete with hover crafts, dark, gritty alleyways and underground markets just ’cause. The scene setting is actually really good, and the world building as good as it could be with the complete overload of inspirations it had.

The Norse influence is very limited and this book includes all manner of immortal, mythology beings including angels, demons, vampires, werewolves, goblins, cyclopses, ghosts, witches, devas (whatever they are), demigods, real gods, giant spiders, shapeshifters, sorcerers and pretty much everything in between. It’s too much, and frankly, I just wish the bad guys had had one overarching theme. On top of this, while a lot of the names used were German-inspired we also had them side by side with things named in different Norse languages, Latin and probably many others I’m too uneducated to recognise. It was just too much.

It’s our main character, Malin’s (and her fellow elite warriors the Valkyries) job to kill these many, many, many immortal beings when their time is dictated by some other faceless, immortal beings for reasons unbeknownst to us and her and she is aided by her human-come-sorceress-in-training best friend, her knowledge father figure mentor and this other dude she just met – but wait! She has to do all this world-saving and keep up with school work and exes and mother issues like any other teenager?! However, will she cope at being so awesome? (Do you see where I am getting Buffy from?)

Much like Buffy, I found it hard to keep my attention with this book. I mean it was interesting but, as with Buffy (when my best friend made me watch it, appalled I had missed it in my childhood despite it predating us both) my mind would wander and I’d hit pause to go do something else pretty easily.

Overall the writing was good even if a few sentences kind of felt like a thesaurus had coughed them out:

“Many immortals took umbrage with the idea of being “returned”, which was teh vernacular the Riks used for killing.”

And I feel when you are going to reference literature or mythology as part of your world building it’s important to decide once and for all if it’s also canon in your world or not. For instance, there was a place called ‘the Ninth Ring’ and one of the characters then explains it refers to Dante’s Inferno. It’s a place name. Your readers can get that reference themselves and it’s clever. When your characters get that it’s cheesy. I also didn’t get how the characters could refer to anything as mythology when it all lived right next door to them, quite literally. Or question if the Vanir gods are real when according to their own job description, they work for them. It was confused as hell.

My final peeve, is that I saw yet another example of what I’m tentatively going to refer to as a trope, since I’m not sure it is and I have not heard it discussed before. In the last few YA books I’ve read with a bisexual main character, I’ve noticed a trend that every single one seemed compelled to include two romantic rivals, one female, and one male as if it was necessary to validate their characters bisexuality? Just gonna say now, it isn’t. It makes sense in some books but on most occasions, it feels like the author is just trying to prove their character is bi to the reader. When a character makes it clear they are straight or gay in a book I don’t go looking for proof, I accept it because it’s a book, why would it lie? So, why do I need proof for bisexual characters in the form of forced, and often utterly incompatible love rivalries that add naught to the story except annoying inner turmoil for the main character as they decide who they like better? Please just stop, it’s dumb and borderline offensive.

I think this book will really appeal to a lot of people, as many people do really like the meshing of different mythologies and legends and overall it isn’t horrible, I’m just not one of them and I won’t be reading the sequel.

The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle – Book Review

The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly ringleI received this book from NetGalley and the publisher, Central Avenue Publishing, in exchange for an honest review. I’d like to apologise for my tardiness in giving them that review, sincerely.

🌟🌟🌟.5

This is a dark, paranormal romance with a fairy tale atmosphere and an actual non-pathetic heroine to boot.

The intertwining of the two worlds, both our real world and this dark magical one was well done and the ‘liaison’ role between the two forces was original and intriguing though I wished we’d got to see a little more of Kit as a character. The pacing was good and it was refreshing to have such a satisfying ending for a fantasy standalone.

The first scene with Grady and Skye actually really tugged at my heartstrings, something about the way he treated and communicated with her and her own, albeit limited, responses just gave me the feels in a big way. I mean, it got rapidly less cute and innocent as you’ll see but that scene stuck with me.

Oddly, what I took most from this book is a strange insight to mental illness and depression. Though Skye’s illness is really a magical spell/curse the frustration and depression she experiences, as a result, is most definitely less than magical and I thought it was eloquently expressed and I found it interesting to see through her eyes.

One of my peeves with all books of this genre is the tendency for the characters to substitute sex for dealing with their problems and there’s some of that here but it’s definitely not as problematic as other books I’ve read and certainly less vulgar.

Livy was a cool and I must say, unexpected female lead and as I said before, utterly non-pathetic which is great. She didn’t need anyone to come to save her, she just did what she had to and I respected her immensely for it. I did wish Kit had more of a role to play but he was still a good character.

This was a great read I demolished in one day but I’d have to emphasise it only stands this strongly alone – a sequel (unless it was mindblowing) would probably ruin it.

ARC August Read Sleep repeat

ARC August 2018 #2 – Update

Hello everyone! I mentioned last month that I was taking part in ARC August this year and I wanted to throw in a quick update as to how I’m doing. Now, I didn’t take part in the read-a-thon the other day because I was too busy (I mean I finished 1 ARC but I wasn’t actively taking […]

at the moment aurora librialis

At the Moment #2

I saw this post first over at Aurora @ Aurora Librialis‘s blog and thought it was such a cool, neat post idea that I asked Aurora if she would kindly let me steal pay homage to with my own post. At first, I thought would be a good fill-in for weeks I didn’t have anything […]

The Stereotypical Freaks by Howard Shapiro – Book Review

The Stereotypical Freaks by Howard ShapiroI received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The description given on NetGalley for this book, I found slightly misleading, simply because when the phrase ‘life-altering news’ is used I don’t automatically assume it’s a cancer diagnosis. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have requested the book because after A Monster Calls and (most of) A Fault in Our Stars (though both are good books) I had decided that novels centred around cancer just weren’t what I wanted to read. I read for fun, and it just kind of depresses me.

As the story progressed I noticed a lot of ‘life lessons’ being thrown about (all under the general umbrella of ‘make the most of life while you can’), it would have been hard not to notice them honestly, as they were all explicitly spelled out, sometimes more than once, leaving the reader nothing more to infer or figure out for themselves. This is something I’d expect for a graphic novel aimed at young readers but given the heavy subject matter, I don’t think I’d like the age group this level of reading was appropriate for reading this particular story. Especially since the only reason the band enters the competition is so, the lead singer can impress his one true love – the most popular girl in school with a ‘loser’ boyfriend – which is an odd cliche to include in a story about overcoming stereotypes?

This said I liked the music references in the story – even though I think I have a slightly different definition of ‘rock’ than the author.

State of the ARC #4

The State of the ARC meme was created by Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks. My fourth month, let’s look at the scores on the boards! Current Stats… Well, my feedback ratio and average days after/before release has gone up but that’s because I got some batch/late approvals and finally submitted some overdue reviews and that affected them. […]

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – Book Review

Hoang, H - The Kiss QuotientI received a copy of this book from Corvus and Atlantic Books Ltd. Via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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OH MY WORD.

I just cannot get over how much I love this book. I started it yesterday morning on the train and I just couldn’t. Stop. Reading. It. I just couldn’t. And to be clear, not an appropriate book for the workplace. I got absolutely nothing done. But I just couldn’t stop reading and by last night I’d finished it. It was so good.

I think my love was mainly down to Stella (our leading lady), she’s autistic/Asperger’s (both are mentioned in the book but it’s not clearly explained which she is because though they are part of the same spectrum there is something of a difference between the two) and I just couldn’t believe how entirely I related to her[1]. Hers and Michael’s relationship was downright adorable from the start which I feel is a huge accomplishment given it starts through solicitation, for crying out loud.

I liked the alternating perspectives as they were well executed and, it was just too funny at parts, Stella’s mum’s obsession with recommending Tinder was priceless, both mothers, in fact, were fantastic. And Stella’s thought process made me laugh as much as it made absolute sense to me, my two favourite quotes of hers are:

“I like you better than calculus, and math is the only thing that unites the universe.”

(Actually the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard and I’m not even that beguiled by Maths.)

“If a woman purchased underclothes for a man, it meant she loved him.”

This is actually true^. 100% fact.

I’m struggling to find fault frankly. It was a fun, light and extremely funny book that has joined the ranks of my all-time favourites and I will most certainly read again. Thank you, Helen Hoang, truly.


[1] This is a quote in particular that stands out in my mind:

“For several stomach-twisting moments, she ran through her list of presocialization reminders: think before you talk (anything and everything can be an insult to someone; when in doubt, say nothing), be nice, sitting on your hands prevents fidgeting and feels good, make eye contact, smile (no teeth, that’s scary), don’t start thinking about work, don’t let yourself talk about work (no one wants to hear about it), please and thank you, apologise with feeling.”

I have a list of stuff I tell myself in my head (before social stuff I’m made to go to even though I hate it) so similar to this, it hurts a little to read.

In the back of the book, Hoang writes how writing Stella helped her discover herself and recommends a bunch of books about autism in women that I am absolutely going to read. It’s been a possibility that has niggled in the back of my mind since my earliest teen years that though it’s highly unlikely I have Asperger’s syndrome I am almost certainly on the autistic spectrum, but before now I never wanted to actually ask the question, I just decided I was me and I was weird but that’s okay because I was always told everyone is a bit weird. But oddly, no matter the outcome of that likely strange conversation with my GP, I feel good about this and I really can’t explain why.

at the moment aurora librialis

At the Moment #1

I saw this post first over at Aurora @ Aurora Librialis‘s blog and thought it was such a cool, neat post idea that I asked Aurora if she would kindly let me steal pay homage to with my own post. At first, I thought would be a good fill-in for weeks I didn’t have anything […]

Furyborn by Claire Legrand – Book Review

Legrand, C - FurybornI received this book from its publisher Sourcebooks Fire via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

🌟🌟🌟🌟.5

I absolutely loved this book! I had heard very mixed views previously but I absolutely adored it, the world building, the narrative, all of it. This is kind of like Throne of Glass meets The Fallen meets Song of Blood and Stone. You know what it means when you have to use three different series to try and cover everything in a book? It means it’s a new and original idea and you’re grasping at straws trying to adequately explain it.

The story is told from the varying perspectives of two awesome, powerful and strong heroines, each fully rounded with fears, flaws and wit and both were great. The varying perspectives also take place in different time periods that would ordinarily confuse me because YA Fantasy novels never seem to strike the balance right but this was more in the way of how Scott Lynch writes his Gentleman Bastard Sequence, each is relevant to the other but makes intriguing and exciting narratives alone too. At the end of every chapter I was itching to continue with that narrative and see what happened but just a few lines into the other and that had me hooked too, it was most conflicting – but in a good way.

I don’t think the two stories separately would have been as interesting but together they were spectacular.

As you probably know I try to be balanced in my reviews so in the spirit if being fair my only issues were Ludivine’s dialogue and the propensity of the majority of the lead characters to try and fix all their problems with sex. Like everything, trauma, adversity, war, depression, guilt – when confronted with anything it felt like Rielle and Eliana’s first port of call to fix it was to get their leg over with whoever they were with. Luckily the men and women in their lives knew them well enough to make them actually face their problems but this response doesn’t alter even at the end and I think it would have been good character development for it to have stopped at the 75% mark.

What was my problem with Ludivine’s dialogue? She’s a question-talker. What’s a question-talker? Well, it’s someone who makes every point by first posing a question to themselves and them answering themselves, often in trains of three. Do I have a problem with this? Yes, because it’s freaking annoying!

It’s something writers usually use to make you find a character annoying, but we were supposed to like Ludivine but every time she spoke I was just like please, shut up.

That aside, this was such a great read and I can’t wait for the rest of the series.

ARC August Read Sleep repeat

ARC August 2018 #1 – Participation Announcement

Hello everyone!

So, as if I didn’t really have enough going on as it is I’ve also decided to take part in this year’s ARC August hosted by the lovely ladies over at Read. Sleep. Repeat. and I’m really looking forward to it!

I had the first week of August booked off as a reading holiday anyways so hopefully, I can get a strong start in. I’ve never taken part in this before but I’m quite excited, it will hold my first readathon and, what I’m most looking forward to, another bookish bingo card!

This will mean in addition to the challenges set for ARC August, I will also be taking part in that month’s Reading Rivalry challenges, the State of the ARC bingo card as well as my own personal goal to be Overdue ARC Free by 2019 (hey, I heard that sarcastic laugh, it’s possible). I know others have far more challenges going on but this is the most challenges I’ve taken on in one go, luckily they all coordinate quite well.

Since Reading Rivalry won’t announce their criteria for a couple of weeks yet, I’m just going to put a pretty wall of doom collage of the ARCs I have on my pile to be read and reviewed, both overdue and upcoming. When I know what they are I’ll try to fit them to as many criteria as possible.



Wish me luck! Are you participating in ARC August too? Let me know in the comments!

State of the ARC #3

The State of the ARC meme was created by Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks. My third month and we took another dip I’m afraid … Current Stats… I was so busy with work this month and then – boom! Reading slump. It sucked but it happens. I hate the hot weather! I changed up my tracking this month […]

The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross – Book Review

Shallcross, L - The Beast's HeartI received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I really enjoyed this book, and I hadn’t expected to. Beauty and the Beast is one of my all-time favourite Disney movies (not exactly rare, I know but still Mulan and now Anastasia, since Disney bought Fox, are my ultimate favourites) and I have never read any of its retellings and thought this one was artfully done.

The setting and description are beautiful and I really liked how the prose was written like it really was the Beast’s inner monologue and not just the parts required from the movement of the story. We got self-reflection and memories and it was brilliant. And yet, it was all still important and it still felt as though we uncovered something relevant with each revelation. I would usually prefer dual or multiple perspectives but I think the single perspective works best for this as we really are getting the Beast’s entire and unabridged version of events.

This book also feels like its actually set in France which, with the exception of the odd ‘bonjour’ or mention of French food, most adaptions don’t feel that way. It felt authentic. The magic aspect I quite enjoyed also, as well as Isabeau’s family’s story arc – though I’m not sure how much of this derives from the original story having never read it.

This retelling also slightly redeems the previous issues this story has arising from terms like Stockholm Syndrome and what really qualifies as valid consent (ish, I’ll get more to that though I don’t dispute the validity in this case). I’m not certain how old Isabeau is meant to be in the story but she feels like a fully-fledged adult.

I had to knock a star off for a few minor points I wasn’t so hot on, but none of them were major issues.

Firstly, Isabeau. I think she benefits greatly from the preconceived idea of ‘Belle’ (AKA Beauty) being independent, intelligent, brave and well-read as she doesn’t exhibit a great many of these features and the ones she does, it’s not a lot and whilst I grant the main focus of the book is the Beast himself it would have been nice to see more layers of her personality.

Secondly, the proposals. It got a bit much over time and is what I’m referring to when I say about consent. It’s really more of an issue of how many times should a question be asked before the person being asked is simply worn into submission.

There are a lot of proposals in this book, too many to count and whilst the Beast understands why this is an issue:

“And my occasional proposals began to distress her once again.”

“Indeed, the only thing preventing us from being perfectly comfortable together was my obstinate insistence on proposing to her every few days.”

And, laments over it at length and grieves the upset it causes her, he doesn’t stop. Again, this could be taken from the original tale, and when they do eventually agree to marry it’s not to one of his incessant proposals and it’s doesn’t come across as pushy or forceful in the book … it’s still annoying to read, even if I get why he has to do it.

Overall, I think those who loved the live-action remake will love this as well and those who love the original tale and the Disney film (though you won’t find Cogsworth or Lumiere) will love this book too and I did really enjoy it overall.

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody – Book Review

Foody, A - Ace of ShadesI received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

🌟🌟🌟 .5

Generally, I enjoyed Ace of Shades. My first encounter with Amanda Foody and a page-turner for sure, the world is brilliant and well-built from the start. I have a weakness for fictional grim, gritty cities full of brilliant con artists (I’m looking at you Scott Lynch, you and Locke Lamora). Of course, this is a purely fictional fascination as I am quite aware I’m too soft to survive such cities, in particular, the City of Sin …

I really liked the Las Vegas-inspired world with distinct dystopian overtones and the world building was truly brilliant. The tentative peace of a recently established republic leaps off the page and the blood and split talent aspect was original to me too. The use of the word ‘missy’ for some reason made me think all the characters spoke with Dickensian London accents (because I’m weird) but that added some entertainment value too. Levi felt very much like the Artful Dodger but with poorer decision-making skills.

I took issue with a few things in the book. Enne’s character development practically hits warp speed going from dainty-lady-like wallflower-ballerina to black-lipstick-wearing-card-playing femme fatale. I mean I’m two years older than Enne and am definitely stronger and more hardened than the little, sheltered girl that entered the book and I feel like my reactions to the events in this book would significantly more than they did her. It felt a tad unrealistic, but then books.

The other aspect was the love interest. On the one hand I kind of get it, because the two of them are trapped together in a way no one else can understand and it’s easier to grow close that way – I do get that. But at the same time, I wish this genre would just for once understand and appreciate the value of a deep and meaningful platonic relationship between two people of the opposite sex. I think that could have worked in this book. I just hope they don’t fall into the old cliche of their seconds getting together because ughhh.

I couldn’t put the book down though, so that says something and I would quite like to read the sequel – would recommend!

Trigger warning: <spoiler>there is no graphic scenes of sexual violence but one mildly disturbing scene with a character who is evidently a pedophile though nothing happens it’s creepy and may affect sensitive audience members.

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon – Book Review

Menon, S - From Twinkle, With LoveI received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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So many good books recently! So I really enjoyed this too, it was a fun, light summer-y read like When Dimple Met Rishi and honestly, that says a lot because this is really not my genre but I’m trying to branch out.

If you liked WDMR you’ll probably like this too, but I actually preferred From Twinkle, With Love. I love me an adorkable romance, mainly because I relate to that. That’s me and my boyfriend really – we’re not gooey romantic, we’re nerds and we talk about superheroes and play video games and make fun of our friends who are gooey couples (not that there’s anything wrong with that, they usually don’t even notice us). I liked Twinkle and related to her feelings about not coming from a well-off family and the inadequacy teenage girl brains can’t fight off. I adored Sahil. I mean that guy is a legend.

I mean, is it kind of annoying that Twinkle can’t let go of Neil and can’t see what is right in front of her face? Of course, but it adds to the story and to be honest is a pretty accurate representation of a teenage girls transition to adult feelings. All of it was a pretty good representation in fact, and I always love the gentle but undeniable feminist undertones to Menon’s stories. They are great and should be heard by the audience these books are aimed at.

My only drawback is that the book is mostly presented through journal entries which I don’t like in general, though it is handled well in this case. I loved the text conversations between Sahil, Skid, and Aaron – they were freaking hilarious. Group chat goals.

10/10 would recommend.

State of the ARC #2

The State of the ARC meme was created by Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks. So, it’s my second month and last month I didn’t do so good so I really worked hard to try and turn it around so … how did I do? Current Stats… So this month has been so unbelievably busy … but I managed […]

Manga Classics: Romeo and Juliet by Crystal S. Chan – Book Review

Chan, C. S - Manga Classics Romeo and JulietI received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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So this is the fourth Manga Classic I’ve read and needless to say I’m officially a fan. My method with this series is to review the adaption more than the story because really you can’t review it as a story since its based off another book (that I’ve likely read and therefore reviewed).

Since I have not actually read Romeo and Juliet I can’t exactly do that but I happen to know this book is taken word for word from the OG so I don’t actually think it matters and – unpopular opinion coming your way – I genuinely think this could be a good alternative to reading the original. HEAR ME OUT.

Shakespeare never intended his plays to actually be read, he intended them to be seen and experienced. Reading Shakespeare is hard and sometimes dull for leisure purposes. I mean sure, you can get the gist of the language after some practice but I found this method of enjoying it so much better. I have read a few of the Bard’s plays and I honestly don’t find them even remotely fun to do so. I love watching the plays, every actor interprets and presents the character differently and it’s so good to watch and the acting and context makes understanding second nature. But, plays don’t come along that often, least of all really good ones, and manga is a perfect graphic substitute because the style is so expressive and hyperbolic – like good actors in a Shakespeare play should be.

really enjoyed this book, the art was beautiful. I mean, stunning really. Of course, I knew what was coming the whole time because it’s Romeo and Juliet but still loved it all the same. The only nitpick I’d have is maybe more clearly labeling characters as it can be tricky to keep track of them all.

If you enjoy Shakespeare anyway or want to get into it but are hesitant because of the language – read this, it’s great.

Phi Alpha Pi by Sara Marks – Book Review

Marks, S - Phi Alpha PiI received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I did enjoy the book, I just felt like it could have been executed better.

The premise of this book is a Pride and Prejudice retelling in a modern American setting of sororities and fraternities. I adore Pride and Prejudice, it is one of my all-time favourite novels so when I first read the synopsis I was intrigued for several reasons. Firstly, P&P is very quintessentially British as are the characters, and thought seeing American interpretations would be interesting and (due to limited knowledge in the area and a few American movies) my idea of sororities centres a great deal around debutantes and socialites and I actually thought to apply the P&P story to that sounded all kinds of awesome and original.

Well, my idea was a little off but what I got was pretty awesome and original too! The bare bones of the original story are present and fleshed out with a great summer, feel-good romance that most P&P fans (with an open mind) can enjoy. I liked how Lizbeth was translated to modern day, complete with feminist bad-assery, and how other key characters from the original story do too – Wickham a fraudster and identity thief? Inspired! Darcy, explained as an introvert with social anxiety? So clever!

There is enough of the original in there to make it as un-put-downable as the original for me but, since it is a retelling I have to compare it to the original.

Whilst I have nothing against adaption for the purpose of modernisation there are almost always some aspects of classics that are important to maintain unless they’re changed in a specific way. I also have a thing about retellings containing the original material as a piece of media in the book, as in, in this book Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a book that exists. This creates a weird irony from the outset of any novel as the events mirror the book which is either addressed by a) referring to it constantly which is annoying and strange or b) mentioning it once and then inexplicably never again. Phi Alpha Pi uses the latter which is the lesser of two evils but in all honestly I wish they just wouldn’t at all. And that’s not specific to this book, but for all classic retellings. Just leave it out. (admittedly, Austenland by Shannon Hale actually handles it surprisingly well but I’d say it’s an exception).

In Phi Alpha Pi the Bennett sisters aren’t really sisters (well, they’re sorority sisters) which would be fine except they all have their own additional families and siblings that I felt were unnecessary plot devices that could have been substituted by actual P&P characters. But I also felt that removing the blood bond also jeopardizes some of the actual plot points. Lydia’s life choices, for example, I don’t doubt sorority sisters are close but Lizbeth’s constant judgment and commentary of the other sisters’ actions especially Lydia’s just feels rude and like overstepping. Opinions like that are best asked for and when it’s your family those concerns are expected and you’re entitled to shove them in a person’s face. Just some gal you’ve known for a few years at school? Um, rude? What’s it to you? Imean, it wasn’t a huge deal but it’s similar with Dr Bennett (the Mr Bennett archetype). His advice and counsel means more as Lizzy’s father, not her teacher.

The second is Lizzy’s social standing. Lizzy’s stalwart and satirical resolve against a marriage based on financial advantage means that much more when she is set to inherit nothing because it means she is quite literally happy to choose to be placed at a disadvantage before she jeopardises her beliefs and marry for money. Making her wealthy takes something away from that, even if I suppose it accentuates she’s really choosing Darcy for love since she doesn’t need his money?

There’s the two pivotal scenes in Darcy and Lizzy’ relationship: the slight and the proposal. I found the flip in the severity of these two scenes very amusing – the slight is actually not very much of a slight at all. Barely even a passing comment – ‘Not my type’ and a general (and kind of accurate) comment on people who aren’t Lizzy is so not on par with ‘tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me’ and an unfounded assumption coupled with the belief his company is a gift. Where, by comparison, “You are an aggressive, unconnected nobody who holds everyone up to ridiculously high expectations and acts like you’re entitled to everyone’s respect.” – but please love me back, is pretty darn brutal. I actually found this quite funny – in fact, I may have said “Ooooooh, snap” out loud.

The writing style was actually pretty good but the one thing that really sticks out in my mind is Marks’ constant remarking on what people are wearing, to the point that I dedicated a highlighter colour to every time this happened in the exact same format/phrasing on my kindle. The grand total? 20 and it’s not a long book. Unless there was something symbolic about Darcy’s penchant for Chucks that I missed.

I liked it, it was a fun read but I’m not likely to read it again, to be honest. It was a fun way to relive P&P in a new way for a weekend but in terms of retellings/adaptions, it’s not the best but also not the worst.

Can anyone recommend a P&P retelling with the setting of debutantes by any chance? I need to read that book.

Smoke in the Sun by Renée Ahdieh – Book Review

Ahdieh, R - Smoke in the SunI received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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So, overall – it totally holds up.

I really enjoyed this as a sequel to Flame in the Mist, Ahdieh did a great job of picking up where she left off and I couldn’t put it down. The whole story was seamlessly delivered, with all the threads interweaving at just the right moments. If anything, I’d say it was almost too neat, there was suspense and highs and lows throughout but I wouldn’t say it was as … captivating as the first. Still brilliant, definitely still brilliant but I think I’m just a sucker for an origin story.

I loved Mariko’s personal journey the most I think, and Okami, Tsuneoki and Yumi had some really great beats as well – I only wish we’d gotten more. I think Yumi could have been used more, she’s an amazing character.

[Medium] Spoilers ahead.

Okay, so I’m going to admit I kind of shipped Raiden and Mariko. They could have worked so well. And honestly, I thought that’s where she might be going until I realise this was probably the last book in the series. What I was hoping for from Raiden’s introduction proper onwards was Okami to escape (maybe grow closer to Yumi, there’s something there) and Mariko to stay on as spy but then fall for Raiden, this may be an unpopular opinion but who cares – I’d ship it all the way.

Roku was a pretty awesomely written villain – I love when you see the development of a monster, it was also especially powerful through Raiden’s eyes. Kanako I didn’t get so much, I felt there was an easier way to achieve what she did without so much innocent blood shed but I guess that the plot invoked so many feelings from me is just a testament to how good it was.

I think the best part about the whole series – including the two ‘shorts’ (practically minis) Ahdieh published over the past week or two – is that all the characters have a flaw, a fundamental weakness that makes them imperfect and so, so relatable. I like there are no perfect specimens of protagonist – that the winners and the heroes do so through pretty questionable means because it feels more real that way. Perfect heroes and heroines are okay sure, but when they try to spin it that their flaw is they’re too loyal or care too much I just want to call bullshit and make them have a real flaw, something that brings some humanity, you know?

A great (what I think is the) end to a series I will happily include in my modern favourites – plus their covers are so pretty, I’m glad for the redesign!

Smoke in the Sun is due out on either the 5th or 7th June – my sources can’t agree! – so plenty of time for you to read Flame in the Mist if you haven’t already. This series is perfect for fans of Mulan (my favourite Disney animation!) as it is a sort of retelling but set in a Japan-inspired fictional world.

Until next time!

Blog Tour: Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope – Book Review

Penelope, L - Song of Blood &amp; StoneI would first like to start with an incredibly grateful thank you to Brittani Hilles and St Martin’s Press for the opportunity to be part of the Song of Blood & Stone Blog Tour (my very first blog tour! I’m so excited!) and NetGalley for a sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Minor spoilers, you have been warned.

This book took me by surprise in a big way and a very good one at that. Jasminda makes a fierce heroine with an independent streak a mile wide that is hard not to admire. The ways she faces adversity, prejudice and danger throughout the book are amazing and so different from other female MCs in this genre. The world building is so immersive and elegantly done, and although the beginning parts in the town have something of a Western feel (not a bad thing), this is a fantasy novel through and through offering a unique history and a power-set I have not seen explored so well in this genre before.

The romance did have a touch of the insta-love, (well a lot of it), but I felt it was well earned throughout the book and loved that though there were parts when it slipped, the relationship’s dynamic did not falter as events unfurled. I was hooked from the word go and couldn’t put it down – even during the time at court which is almost always the most boring part of royalty-involved fantasy but was intriguing and cut right to the meat of the situation.

One of my favourite parts of the book’s layout was the little fable snippets at the start of each chapter, I found them so clever and gave me an interesting thought process when approaching the next chapter, one of my favourites was:

“Bobcat and Horse raced to the river to see who was fastest. Bobcat fell behind on a turn in the path, and Horse began to gloat. But when he approached the riverbank, he was shocked to find Bobcat leisurely bathing.

How did you beat me? Horse cried, angry.

Bobcat replied, When the path curved I stayed straight. A road is not enough to throw me off my path.”

Although, they are all brilliant and I would like mugs or coasters with them printed on with little characters – Etsy, take me money!

I loved Jack as a character even though I wish we had learned more of his history as opposed to the brief glimpses we get, but I should imagine that will come more into play in the sequel which I simply cannot wait for despite the fact I think this could easily stand alone as the ending was most satisfying. I always find that those kind of endings are worse than cliffhangers since you have no idea where they are going to go with it.

Trigger warning: there are attempted rapes of two characters in this novel, one male and one female, this being an area of upset for me personally I felt it important to include here and (slightly less minor spoilers) though both are unsuccessful (the method of which in both made me laugh with both nerves and relief at the absurdity of evasion).

There are also two consensual sex scenes that get somewhat graphic so I’d advise 16+ at the least.

It was released yesterday and you can buy it here. (P.S. I recently became an Amazon Affiliate so if you use this link to buy it a mini percentage will make it’s way back to me 🙂 )

I can’t wait to read more of L. Penelope! If you’d like some more views on this awesome book check out Marta @ The Cursed Books awesome post and Angela @ Pooled Ink Reviews equally awesome post (complete with excerpt and Q&A).

SONG OF BLOOD & STONE - OS_Whim 3_Root.png

Until next time!

The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan – Book Review

Logan, K - The GloamingI received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

🌟🌟 .5

Yes! It finally happened – a month trudging through this book and I’m finally done!

Okay, so I’m 80% sure this is a beautiful and haunting story about grief and overcoming loss and life, finding love, etc, etc but I’m 100% sure I just didn’t get it.

Now, admittedly, I haven’t experienced a loss so very close to me and I did sympathise with the characters greatly for all their hardships and losses (it was about 7 chapters in I realised just how morbidly depressing and beautiful a book could be) and I do have those close to me who have experienced similar conception issues as Peter and Signe but I think what was missing was my ability to empathise as I just have never experienced these things myself. A lot of the feelings and the little moments that I could tell were supposed to be symbolic and powerful and show me something just went over my head. I just didn’t get it.

I didn’t get Pearl, I didn’t get the mermaid stuff, I didn’t get the island magic that was just there, unexplained and not really magic and I didn’t get the transition into first person or the flashbacks and anecdotes or just … any of it.

This is not to say this is a bad book, not at all – it was beautifully written and there were parts that really spoke to me like when Mara experienced a revelation as a reader toward the beginning, which I had experienced as a writer a few years ago.

“Over that winter she read a hundred deaths – and when the book ended, she could turn to the first page again, and the death was undone.”

For me it was the weird power of writing – you create a character, control their lives, create them in every dimension and way, make them real to the reader and then in just a few short words, take them away as if they were never there to start with. It was just a part that really spoke to me.

There were also quotes about the many things that could happen after we die but honestly I just found the bulk of this book … boring.

Nothing really happened in the beginning then after it did I thought it was getting to a turning point where stuff would start to happen and then it didn’t but it seemed like it could then I was too far in and realised I’d already dedicated too much time to give up and thought it might throw a huge plot twist right when I wasn’t expecting it and then I wondered what I was still doing reading a book that made me equal parts bored and morbid when it just went on and on about nothing like this sentence you’re still reading because you think it might have a point when it doesn’t.

Overarching theme: not a bad book, but not for everyone and not for me.

Anna by Amanda Prowse – Book Review

Prowse, A - anna

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Just a gentle reminder that 2 stars on Goodreads mean ‘it was okay’.

Okay, I have mixed feelings about this book that left me feeling a bit …

I’ll start with the parts I liked. The cover is very pretty and I will go to my grave before admitting seeing a photo of how gorgeous the paperback edition is on Instagram was about 80% of the reason I requested it. I liked it was relatively easy to read and fairly well written, the characters were well-rounded and I could clearly see them and their mannerisms in my mind’s eye. I also loved the idea that there were two whole books told entirely from one half of the prospective couple’s perspective – something I feel should be done in more genres.

With a cover as pretty as that I had set myself up for a nice, easy, cheesy love story which was really what I needed at the time of this reading because I was ill and just wanted a fluffy, girly book. I didn’t get this and that’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but it did re-teach me the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover lesson’ once again – will I ever learn? Probably not.

Now I can and will never use subject matter as a reason to dislike a book of this genre because whilst I don’t enjoy reading about this kind of angst and all the horrible things that can happen to people in this world because I use reading as an escape from those things, I understand that some people do and that’s fine.

Things I can use as a reason include pacing and characters. This book covered a lot of time, and in order to do it had huge time leaps varying from months to years and it just made the whole book feel rushed and left me wanting more detail in places. I would have preferred for the book to start at say, when Anna starts working or leaves the home and then revisit the early parts in flashbacks or something similar. It just would have felt … neater, but that’s just me. I just felt like I was being ushered around a store, able to browse things but not really pick them up and examine them.

Anna was the main character I took issue with and that was a problem since it was all told from her POV. It wasn’t so much in the beginning when she didn’t speak as much but as time wore on she just got repetitive and annoying. When she was sad she whined and when she was happy she was really, really happy! So happy! So, so happy! That everything she said, ended in exclamation points! I’m being harsh and man, I felt bad for her at times I really did – I’d have actually stabbed Theo at points – but other times I wanted to slap her and tell her to get a grip.

Hers and Theo’s marital problems got real old, real fast and I found myself skimming most of their rows and not really missing anything new.

To sum up I get why this book literally has no bad reviews (as of the time of this writing) but it wasn’t for me. I’ll probably read Theo’s side just because there were a lot of blanks regarding him I’m assuming so the second book would sell but in all honesty, I just want a more satisfying ending than the one provided.

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan – Book Review

Mangan, L - Bookworm🌟🌟🌟🌟

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This took slightly longer to finish than I thought it would but it was totally worth it. I’m not much of a non-fiction reader as I often find it does not interest me as much as fiction but the title – and gorgeous cover – drew me in immediately.

Though my childhood and upbringing was primarily during the noughties, and Lucy’s (I feel as though referring to her by her surname is too formal – I feel like I almost know her after this book, and I related to her in so many ways; being raised in the Northern fashion, being told off her hiding behind a book and causing no trouble at, etc) was in the seventies, this book still recalled on many of my childhood favourites – The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Spot the Dog, Elmer, Miffy, Meg and Mog – even if I can’t pinpoint where I remember them from as clearly as she can.

The whole book was not only a nostalgic, scenic train journey (not a roller coaster – far too disruptive) but a trove of interesting publication facts and witty commentary that had me laughing out loud on my commute – some favourites were:

“The Brontes owned a copy of A History of British Birds and by all accounts cherished it. Then again, so would you if it was the only thing available to take your mind off the TB-ridden siblings dropping all around you like flies.” 

“Even now, after 40 years in the same place, you would not be able to guess a single thing about the people who live there. Apart, possibly, from the fact that one at least must be a monomaniac who has forgotten more about decluttering than Marie Kondo will ever know.” 

“In love with a hundred-year-old vampire Bella may be, but Buffy, she ain’t.” 

It also helped me remember books I had forgotten I had ever read, Flat Stanley for example. I had completely forgotten about Flat Stanley Lambchop until I read this book! Stanley meet my Read shelf.

I think what resonated with me the most about this book, however, was just how much I related to some of the stories Lucy told. Like pretending to try and fit in with the other kids at school.

At one point she says ‘At five I was largely studying the difference between upper- and lower-case letters, but in my spare moments, I was already having to contemplate tearing down my entire personality and starting from scratch.’.

At 19 years old, this is a thought I can’t remember not having and do still and this is the first time I’ve read the feeling so aptly put into words. Whilst I don’t relish the fact that others share this insecurity, it’s almost comforting enough to begin to potentially overcome it. You know, maybe.

The feelings Lucy relates about her wishes for Alexander – her son’s – reading experiences also made me smile as they paralleled my own for my two-year-old baby brother, whom I recently bought The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Spot the Dog and The Tiger Who Came to Tea in addition to We’re Going On A Bear Hunt and The Gruffalo.

Admittedly there were parts I skipped over either because they gave away plot points in a book I intend to read or it was a large amount publication history or facts that didn’t interest me as much as I had not read/heard of the book itself but I still found it hugely enjoyable. I was slightly surprised that in all the little tidbits of obscure information regarding various authors personal lives that in the section on Alice in Wonderland none of Carroll’s more … unsavoury tastes were mentioned. This could, of course, be because they are essentially impossible to be reliably proven as fact and may well just be a poisonous rumour invented by English Literature teachers to ruin childhoods forever but it was surprising nonetheless.

I could probably write a review consisting of 90% awesome and witty quotes from this book but I’d much rather you just read it for yourself and take a quick stroll down your bookish memory lane and, like me, lament that your memories are not as distinct and detailed as Lucy’s or that you were not blessed with a bookish parent to help guide you.

Alas. But thank you, Lucy Mangan for sharing these stories, I enjoyed them immensely.