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Review: A List of Cages

A List of Cages - Robin Roe

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Not something I would probably have picked myself, I got one of those pre approval emails from Netgalley for this one. Since I never get approved for anything by Disney Hyperion I jumped at the chance to try something they were offering.

 

Unfortunately, I didn’t like this book much.

 

Trigger warnings for extreme abuse – both physical and mental.

 

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, I did skim a few reviews on Goodreads before-hand so I was aware of the subject matter. The novel deals with two different boys who were once friends, despite a few years age difference. Quiet and reserved Julian the younger boy, and off the wall Adam. Adam is bright, friendly handsome and very chatty. He has ADHD. Something that’s referenced throughout the novel.

 

Julian lives with his uncle and suffering terrible abuse he keeps hidden. He’s miserable at school, not doing well in his classes, and doesn’t talk to anyone. Adam is popular with lots of friends, not the best student, maybe. He finds himself reconnecting with Julian when he gets a job as an assistant to the school psychologist and has to collect students to go to their appointments – Julian is one of those students.

 

We learn that they spent some time living together some years ago after the sudden and unexpected deaths of Julian’s parents. Adam and his mom became Julian’s foster family. Until Julian’s uncle showed up.

 

The uncle is a monster. I can’t even go into the level of manipulative torture he inflicts. It’s gut wrenching and horrible to read. I just wanted to hug Julian and keep him safe. He finds solace in Adam and his friends, who include him as one of their own. And they all get involved and help when things start going south and they discover what’s going on at Julian’s home and try and remove him from it. Uncle is slipping and becoming more off balance and cruel.

 

One thing I really liked was the sense of friendship and togetherness of Adam and Julian and how Adam’s friends helped Julian fit in and open up again.

 

There was just something about this book that wasn’t working for me. And I think it mostly had to do with the fact that every adult in this book was a villain of some sort. The teachers were mean, Julian’s teachers seemed to single him out, the psychologist wouldn’t listen, the police when they were involved were bullies who wouldn’t help. Adam’s mom was portrayed as the only competent adult. She had some odd ideas about how to handle Adam’s ADHD – herbal remedies instead of proper medication?!? I know nothing about ADHD so I shouldn’t judge but that doesn’t sound right.

 

The novel had its moments, but I didn’t really enjoy it all that much.  The writing had some potential, so I would definitely read this author again.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Disney Hyperion for the pre-approval email.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 480 out of 480 pages.

— feeling star
Heart of Iron - Ashley Poston

Possibly one of the best most exciting books I have ever read.

Review: The Belles

The Belles - Dhonielle Clayton

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I read this book twice in a relatively short few months space of time and even after two reads I’m still unsure how I feel about it. This is one of those uber hyped books that I saw all over my Twitter feed and Goodreads. Needless to say it very high up on my highly anticipated reads.

 

So I was very excited when my review request was approved. Only to find that…I wasn’t blown away by it as I had hoped. There was something about the world building that made me very uncomfortable, and I didn’t particularly like the main character much. I found her annoying and childish, the villain cartoony and the barely there romance was completely unnecessary in my opinion.

 

I didn’t feel comfortable reviewing after the first time I read it since I couldn’t put enough thoughts together on whether or not I really liked the book or not. I did wind up buying a finished copy (cover love among reasons) and reading it again a few months later.  It’s still taken me months later to finally put a review together.

 

The novel is set in a fictional kingdom where above all else beauty is the most prized thing in the world. There’s a really interesting origins story at the start of the novel explaining about the Goddess of Beauty and her spurned jealous husband and how the people of the kingdom came to be, and how they were all born grey and ugly. As a gift to the people the Goddess created Belles, who have the power to make people beautiful. Belles are born into each generation. They are revered and worshipped, when the Belles reach sixteen they are presented to society, and Royal Court. In each generation of Belles one is announced as a Favourite and she works at the Palace for the Royals.

 

In this generation, there are 6 Belles we meet on the eve of their presentation into Society. The heroine, Camellia yearns to be chosen as Favourite. It’s all very opulent and glamorous. The excitement is evident in the writing. One thing I really liked was how close all the Belle girls were, they were sisters who adored and loved each other – no obvious dislike or rivalry. They’ve grown up together, learned their gifts together, and support each other. There’s arguments of course, it’s not all harmonious, but the camaraderie between the girls was lovely.

 

Once the Belles make their debut, votes are cast and the Favourite is announced. Not the result anyone expected, the girls are sent to different Tea Houses where they will perform their services. Belle services are highly prized, and the girls live in extravagant luxury.  However, there are very strict rules they must live by – one is they are not to be alone with a male outside of beauty appointments. They cannot fall in love. Yet in a brief moment of weakness when Camellia is caught alone – she finds herself talking to a handsome young man. Someone she finds herself meeting again and again at odd moments. Feelings start to develop.

 

I think it’s supposed to hint at Camellia’s curiosity – she’s never been alone with a boy before, there’s new emotions to explore. The banter between them is amusing, the boy, Auguste, is quick witted, handsome and appears intelligent. He’s bringing out new ideas in Camellia she’s never thought about. To this reader, it was eye rolling, annoying and unnecessary. She finds herself rather lose lipped about him as well. Things she’s not supposed to tell anyone have a strange habit of spilling past her lips before she can stop herself.

 

While the world building is certainly glamorous, rich and elegant, and with hints of some fancy technology mixing in with the fantasy setting there was something very uncomfortable about it, at least in my opinion. I just couldn’t get on board with a society that is just obsessed with looks. People go to Belles to get themselves beautified anyway they want – though there are trends and rules and endless amounts of Belle products to make the client’s beauty dream come true. Though it appears Belle treatments are not without pain. People don’t seem to care. Though I must admit – if I had the option of a Belle – hell, I would probably take it.

 

Camellia settles into her own new routine, she’s worked very hard. Though she learns things in the new tea house she’s assigned to. There’s secrets about the Belles from the generations before her, she hears strange crying in the night and no one will answer her questions. One thing I liked about Camellia was she didn’t take things at face value – she asks questions, she investigates when things are off and she doesn’t let things drop. She’s definitely strong willed and inquisitive. On the other hand though, she’s very rash and impulsive, also bull headed and stubborn. Normally impulsive and stubborn is a trait I admire in my heroines, but there were some of Camellia’s actions that just irritated the hell out of me and came across as childish more than anything. After all, she has lived a very sheltered life and probably doesn’t know how to control herself in certain situations.

 

Something else about the Belles also bothered me – even though they have the most sort after gifts in the kingdom, their power is beholden by everyone – even Royalty doesn’t have the magic the bells do. Yet the Belles are not…free. They live their lives according to the strict rules set out by others – they are not allowed to use their magic as they see fit. They are worked until they are exhausted. They don’t get to make their own choices in a lot of things. Services are bought and paid for. They may live in the lap of luxury but it seems to come at a price. And as the plot progresses, some of this seems to sink into Camellia. Is being a Belle really all it’s cracked up to be?

 

Things for Camellia change and she finds herself voted the new Favourite and shipped off to the palace to work for the Royal family – the Queen and her daughter, Princess Sophia.  The Queen is getting ready to announce her Royal Heir – the oldest daughter – Princess Charlotte has been in a coma for several years. No one knows why and no one knows what causes it.  Torn between the desire to be the best Favourite she can be and the burning questions about what happened to the previous Favourite, Camellia finds herself getting to grips with the pressures of living in the Palace. Princess Sophia appears to be rebellious and rule breaking – she can be very very generous – but she can be a viper.

 

There are more mysteries and the Queen has a special mission for Camellia regarding saving Princess Charlotte. Princess Sophia is to be announced as Heir if Charlotte can’t be woken, and no one wants Sophia as Queen – she’s manipulative and cruel to an almost cartoon villain level of giddy evilness, and her crowd of Ladies in Waiting and court friends are forced to go along with her, no matter how mean or awful. They are punished terribly if not.

 

Nothing is simple and there’s more mysteries to solve. And it doesn’t help matters when the truth about who Auguste really is comes to light as well. The more Camellia learns about Sophia the more horrified she becomes. The mystery of Princess Charlotte is begging to be solved as well – I certainly have my theories about that one! More questions, hardly any answered. And Camellia is not the only Belle who has been digging into things.

 

Things take a bad turn before the end. The plot is a little slow in the middle but picks up towards the end.

 

There’s also a really interesting author’s note about the end which explains a little bit about the inspiration behind the story and helped tremendously in making sense of the fact that the world building made me so uncomfortable. I understand a lot more now about the overall message behind the book.

 

I can’t say even after two reads I particularly liked this book, but I am very interested to see where this is going to go story wise. Camellia irritated me a lot throughout the book but she did show enough growth over all that I want to know what happens next.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Orion Publishing Group for approving my request to view the title.

Review: The Dazzling Heights

The Dazzling Heights - Katharine McGee

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Yes, I know I’m shamefully behind in finally getting around to reading this. I’ve had a review copy since forever, and it was something I had immediately preordered after reading the first one. Though I needed a refresher and reread the first book, before finally getting around to the second book.  The UK covers are just so sparkly and pretty.

 

A fun follow up to The Thousandth Floor – pretty much high school soap opera, all taking place around a thousand floor  tower mega structure in 2118. The glitz and glamour is awesome, and the technology is fascinating and I want it!!!!

 

Following on shortly from the shock death at the end of book one, everyone who played a part is struggling to come to terms with the events, not helping that most of them are under the threat of blackmail, apart from Mariel who wants the truth about what happened to come out and those responsible to be punished.

 

In the meantime Avery continues her forbidden romance, Leda is as bitchy as ever, Watt is digging up dirt with the help of supercomputer implant Nadia. Yet can’t help fight is ever growing attraction to Leda, they don’t seem to like each other, but can’t keep their hands off each other.  Rylin finds herself with a scholarship to the exclusive school Avery and her buddies attend, along with Cord as well. Rylin and Cord are still at odds with each other. While attending the school Rylin discovers a gift for editing holovids.

 

This instalment introduces slippery new character Calliope, a girl with an attitude and a secret agenda of her own.

 

In a nutshell this world doesn’t require any thinking or particular deep plotting. It’s just plain fun. There’s lots of characters, multiple POV chapters. Once you get started it’s hard to put down, it’s additive, full of love, hate, drama, plot twists. Characters to love, characters to hate. Great writing. Great plotting. And not at all predicable. There’s such a way with the story telling that you just have to know what happens, even with the characters who aren’t likeable (*cough*Leda*cough*).

 

Currently reading the final instalment and really looking forward to see how things wrap up for everyone involved.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, Children’s for approving my request to view the title.

Review: Mirage

Mirage - Somaiya Daud

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I was really looking forward to this one. I got approved for a review copy from Netgalley and then I got a gorgeous purple edged sprayed exclusive signed copy from my Fairyloot September subscription box. But unfortunately, no matter how pretty the book is – I just didn’t like it.

 

I was really disappointed. I sort of went in blind with this one, I didn’t reread the synopsis before I started – I was admittedly expecting a fantasy, and I got a sci-fi. The sci-fi actually read like a fantasy novel. The world building was interesting, the characters were okay, but the plot I found tedious and boring, the romance eye rolling and predictable.

 

At just over 300 pages it’s a relatively short book and was at least interesting enough that I didn’t DNF it, but it was a big snooze for me.

 

The basics of the plot are the heroine Amani’s people and her home planet have been conquered, and leaving under the harsh rule of the new rulers, the Vath. They are workers, live in a close community, Amani has siblings and friends and looking forward to her majority night ceremony. One thing I did actually like was the details to Amani’s religion, described in detail with deep history and stories without being preachy. Her faith gives her hope when everything looks bleak.

 

Until without warning Amani is taken away with Vath soliders and removed from her home planet to the Vath royalty homeworld. Her whole world is stripped from her when she learns she’s the exact image of the crown princess Maram, who needs a body double to attend public events as there has been threats upon her life. Maram is cold, cruel and emotionless. Amani is to be trained how to be Maram – dress like her, act like her, study her know her life and her world as if it were her own. If she fails or talks out of turn, she’s punished, harshly.

 

The writing is beautiful, it’s very poetic and poetry plays a large part of the plot, but it takes so long for anything to actually happen, the pretty writing gets flowery and annoying after a while. When Amani is training in her new forced position, it’s hard not to feel for the girl. Her family has been torn from her, everything she knows has gone, she’s got no one to help or anyone who can understand the pain she’s going through.

 

Though she determined to be strong and look for an opportunity to escape. Unfortunately, one of her jobs as posing as Maram includes spending time with Maram’s fiancée, Idris. Idris has his own backstory and was one of the more interesting characters, however, as soon as Amani has her first encounter with him…it’s painfully obvious where it’s going to go.

 

During the course of her training, Amari is sent on various outings as Maram, and learns that not everything is as it seems. There’s a rebellion brewing and she could play her own part to free her people. There’s a try at a political sort of side plot once Amari gets involved in both sides of the rebellion, but there’s a lot of talking and not much action.

 

Of course everything for Amani goes pear shaped and she finds herself in a terrible position – if things couldn’t get any worse – guess what – they do! Left on a cliff hanger of course, with two more books to follow. While it was kind of boring, I must admit I’m interested in seeing where it was going.

 

There were some interesting themes on family and standing up for your believes, being strong and trying to do the right thing in tough situations. The writing as I mentioned was lovely, so there’s definite potential there.  It would work better for me as a fantasy rather than a sci-fi as that’s what it reads like. Admittedly, it’s an interesting way of writing.

 

Amani and Idris felt like the only fleshed out characters, though the romance was kind of eye rolling. Maram herself had potential as well as she does show some growth as the plot wears on but quickly reverts to how she was when the novel opens. Lots to explore in a follow up.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for approving my request to view the title.  

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 992 pages.

Kingdom of Ash  - Sarah J. Maas

AT LAST IT IS MINE!!!!!

 

Review: Everless

Everless - Sara  Holland

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This is one of the most original fantasies I have come across in a while. While I can’t say I was that invested in any of the characters, I found the actual story itself and the world building totally captivating and the combination of the two made it book impossible to put down. In this fantasy time is a commodity that can be bought and sold.

 

The world building was               quite complicated, or at least for me, the combination of magic and science and the whole buying and selling time. The setting was a small, town on the edge of a huge estate where the wealthiest family in the district ruled over everything.

 

The heroine Jules used to live at the estate where her father was a revered blacksmith, but a secret caused them to flee in the middle of the night and now they are barely eeking out a living in a tiny cottage on the edge of the forest. Her father is in debt and sick. So Jules hatches a plan to sell her own time and repay his debts

 

Yet she finds herself presented with an opportunity for employment at the estate, Everless, where she once lived. Seizing the moment, Jules makes herself a plan to save her father. She worms her way into employment at Everless.

 

Jules is one of the brighter YA heroines, she’s smart and thinks things through. She plans and doesn’t seem to act recklessly when things don’t go according to plan. She was a little bit two dimensional but likeable enough. Back at Everless while in a different capacity than she was previously, she’s of course flooded with memories of her time back then, and the mystery of why she and her father fled in the first place. And she has to deal with the two sons of the Lord of Everless. One of whom was a great friend and played with her when they were children, who has grown up to be devastatingly handsome and quite the ladies man. He’s engaged to the Queen’s daughter. And his brother – who was a mean bully.

 

The plot gets quite twisty, there’s a legend on how time came to be used as a commodity, a vicious queen who everyone’s terrified of visiting Everless, Jules discovers she has time letting abilities that are beyond normal, a hidden vault where Jules believes she will get some of the answers she seeks, there are plenty of secrets – including a mystery to solve about Jules’s deceased mother, and some things her father neglected to tell her. And people who turn out to be nothing like you thought they were.

 

I read this quite some time ago so I can’t remember all the details. Just that it was a really good one, quite different and I liked it. I’ve already pre ordered the next one.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Hatchette Children’s Group for the review copy.

 

Review: The Smoke Thieves

The Smoke Thieves - Sally Green

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I was really looking forward to this one. Included in the Netgalley approval email was a really interesting note from the author about the characters and the inspiration for the novel. Admittedly I never got around to reading the kindle version I got from Netgalley and I bought the finished hardcover from Barnes and Nobel and read that one. For a 500 page book I read it in just under a week.

 

And found it really disappointing.

 

About five different storylines with lots of different characters, lots of different POVs.  It’s fairly obvious at some point while all these people seem so different and random that at some point all their storylines are going to cross in one way or another. I was waiting for something to happen that caught my interest. The different storylines are interesting enough, the problem I had was it all felt so…bland. The characters were kind of flat and boring.

 

Princess Catherine is the only daughter of a cold and uncaring king only interested in furthering his own reach and power. Catherine is set to head off to another kingdom for an arranged marriage with a prince she’s never met. A union which is supposed to strengthen ties and trade between the two kingdoms. Her cruel violent brother and a selection of armed guards will be escorting her. Only problem is…Catherine is in love with one of her guards, Ambrose. Too bad that in this reader’s opinion it’s one of the worst cases of YA intsa-love I’ve seen in a while. They’ve barely spoken, yet they’re completely dippy for each other.

 

Catherine is actually one of the most interesting characters, she knows she’s a political pawn and she’s quite strong willed and intelligent, she’s determined to turn the situation around in a way that advantages her, makes her appealing to the people of the new country she’s going to, learning their ways, their culture. She doesn’t just want to be a pretty figurehead with no say in anything. Especially since in her own country women seem to rarely be of any importance. One thing I found really interesting was that the women in Catherine’s country have developed a way to talking to each other, a sort of sign language that allows them to communicate without the men knowing what they’re doing or saying to each other. Catherine’s story starts at an execution for a woman accused of the highest treason. She tries to send Catherine a warning message of some sort. The first hint that there’s something going on behind the scenes.

 

Tying into Ambrose’s story, the guard who is dippy over Catherine. He has his own family secrets and when he starts getting involved in Catherine’s, things go badly for him.

 

Another storyline involves a thirteen year old girl, Tash, who is part of a team that hunts demons and sells their smoke for profit. Forbidden of course, but highly lucrative. Tash’s biggest dream at the start of the novel is getting a new pair of really nice suede boots. Another storyline is Edyon, son a tradeswoman, a cocky teen and a thief, with a big secret of his own he doesn’t even know when his storyline starts. Along with March, a servant from a war ravaged country, who’s Prince is the brother of Catherine’s father. March gets himself involved in a revenge plot.

 

There’s nothing wrong with the writing, the world building is solid, the political plot quite intricate, and what this reader really wanted to know is how all these people come together. Some storylines were more interesting than others. A mix of good guys and detestable bad guys, hidden agendas, secrets, twisty invasions, illegitimate children of royals, forbidden magic, forbidden love…

Yet there was something missing from this one for me. I can’t say it was a bad book because on reflection it wasn’t really bad at all. I’ve been on a big fantasy kick lately and read some fantastic books, while a lot of them have overdone tropes and storylines as this one did, this particular novel just wasn’t as good as some of the other fantasy books I’ve read this year.

 

I wasn’t really interested in following up on this one, but after thinking about it…yeah, I do want to know what’s going to happen after that cliff hanger of an ending.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House UK Children’s for approving my request to view the title.

Review - Ash Princess

Ash Princess - Laura Sebastian-Coleman

Review: Ash Princess

 

I received a copy from Netgalley. 

 

This one was a granted wish!! One of my greatly anticipated reads of this year as well. It's not a new concept - surviving princess of a conquered kingdom discovers the means and power to aid a revolution to take back her throne. The way the plot was handled was extremely good. Again not particularly unique, but well written with interesting characters and a narrative that made the story captivating. 

 

Theodosia is the surviving princess kept as a hostage to a cruel Kaiser and his invading court, a reminder to her people now enslaved of the power the Kaiser. Nicknamed the Ash Princess (her mother was a Queen of Fire magic, killed in the invasion) and renamed Thora, she now lives a hard life in the Kaiser's court. While she still lives in the palace she's as much as a slave as any of the remainder of her people. She's punished brutally at the Kaiser's slightest whim and supposed to sit there dolefully and accept everything thrown at her without complaint. She's supposed to be thankful she's there at all. 

 

She's sneered at and ridiculed by the court people. She has guards and a maid who watch her every move and report on her daily. It's a walking nightmare. The magic that was once sacred to Theodosia's people is now almost like an accessory to the people now living in her world. Theodosia's only friend Crescentia is the daughter of the Theyn, the head of the Kaiser's army and punisher.  Crescentia is an airhead, a spoiled court daughter. She's sweet but dim. She's kind to Theo and one of the few people who treat her like a real person. Yet there has to be some resentment there on Theo's behalf - it's just not really something that Cress wants to deal with. (Or at least that's my interpretation). 

 

The Kaiser's heir Prinz Soren has come back to the kingdom and the buzz is that he's ready to settle down and choose a wife, all of which Theo has no interest in. It appears that The o has pretty much given up at this point but there's something deep inside her, a righteous anger simmering beneath the surface. Mourning the family she's lost, of the people who died in the invasion, the pain she suffers daily, and the helpless that she can't seem to do anything about her position. 

 

Until one night when she comes across an old friend, now an escaped slave from the mines pretending to be a palace worker makes her an offer. Help her escape. Theo is given some harsh truths about what is left of her mother's people. They want a queen to rise and take back what is rightfully theirs. And Theo is that queen. 

 

There is a revolution brewing, there are still people loyal to Theo who believe she can be the queen her people need. It's an awful lot of pressure. Theo has to decide what wants. The punishments she is suffering are getting worse and there's also a threat of marrying her off hanging around as well. The revolution needs someone on the inside. 

 

So plots form. One involving the handsome, eligible Prinz Soren, round the same age as Theo. Ditzy Cress is swooning over the prince convinced her position as the Theyn's daughter makes her the most eligible match. Yet it's not Cress of course, who has caught Soren's attention. 

 

And there of course, the inevitable fantasy romance. Theo's emotions are in overdrive, Soren is nothing like his monstrous father - if Soren were king would things be different? The plot continues to twist and turn. The end was pretty damn good, cliffhanger (of course) and I really want to see where this one was going. 

 

It's quiet violent in parts, particularly Theo's punishments. The character building is intense, every character grows throughout the novel, a shock twist at the end changes the boundaries between Crescentia and Theo which could be an interesting plot for the follow up novel to take on. And the twist at the end for Theo and Soren made me grin.

 

I loved Theodosia and how she grew over the novel, she's my favourite type of fantasy heroine. She makes tremendous sacrifice for herself to start to right the wrongs that were done. Her strength and development is brilliant. And this is only the beginning of her journey. 

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for approving my request to view the title. 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 109 out of 454 pages.

The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater

Third read of this wonderful book. This time I'm listening to it in audio then marking the pages in my paperback. (Reading and listening) and it may be one I've the best audio books I've ever heard. It's really atmospheric and the narration is amazing. The Southern accents are awesome.

More Fall Bingo Stuff

Purple Cover - Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Dual Pov - The Towering Sky by Katharine McGee

Set In Another Country - Wildcard by Marie Lu (Japan)

Fall Release - A Room Away From The Wolves by Nova Ren Suma

Space it Stars - Light Years by Kass Morgan 

Fire in Title or on Cover - The Arsonist by Stephanie Oaks (fire on Cover)

More Fall Bingo Updates

Middle Grade - The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

One Word Title - Shatter by Aprilynne Pike

Gold Copper or Bronze Cover - The Merciless 2 by Danielle Vega

History with a Twist - In The Shadows of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Myth or Legend - The Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwall 

Killers - Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z Brite

Set in a School - Blythewood by Carol Goodman

Fall bingo plans

what I have so far...

 

Mystery - While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt

Witches - Toil and Trouble anthology

Black Cover - Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Pretty Spine - The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Freebie - My BestvFriend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Under 300 Pages - A Murder of Magpies by Sarah Bromley

Scares You - Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Found Family - The Raven Boys by Maggie  Steifvater

Fall Bookish Bingo

With the summer card completed I have once again put most of my currently reading on pause and signed up for Pretty Deadly Reviews Fall Bookish Bingo card.

 

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Another book I was a little apprehensive about since I’ve seen so many mixed reviews about it. Romantic comedies are not really my thing, but I really wanted to try this one and was so excited when I got approved on Netgalley.

 

Though it took me forever to get around to reading it and the paperback had come out so I wound up buying a finished paperback. I was so pleased at how much I wound up loving this book.

 

I saw a lot of talk on YA book twitter about people complaining when Dimple first meets Rishi she throws her coffee in his face (iced coffee) and how that made her unlikeable. Given the circumstances….I kind of applaud her for it.

 

Wen the novel starts Dimple has been accepted at Stanford and is totally thrilled about it, she also wants to go to Insomnia Con, a special programme/competition for designing an app. Some lady who’s famous to coders in the knowhow presides every year and Dimple is overexcited to go – just one thing to get out the way – convincing her parents.

 

Her parents are nice enough – hard working middle class people. Though Dimple’s mom doesn’t seem to get that Dimple isn’t interested in things like Indian make up techniques or finding an ideal Indian husband). The makeup techniques sound fascinating and learning little bits about other cultures is always really interesting. Yet they relent and let Dimple head for the convention.

 

On the other hand we have Rishi. His parents are very well do to and he’s also on his way to Insomnia Con for one reason only – to meet Dimple. Their parents have been talking…Rishi has his whole future planned, he’s going to MIT but already planning on how he’s going to woo Dimple and has ideas for how they will work together as a couple. While all this probably sounds cringeworthy the thing about Rishi is he’s such a sweetie. He was so nice and such a genuine person. He’s thoughtful and kind. He’s really ready to give this arranged thing a good go.

 

Dimple…not so much. So not surprising when she first meets Rishi and is clueless to everything else going…she is not amused. However, she does thaw towards Rishi as the convention gets going. Dimple is really smart and put a lot of thought into the app she wants to design. She’s creative and witty and awesome. She’s forward in some respects and reserved in other. I really liked her character.

 

Some of the technical side of the app building and the convention stuff was a little over my head as I know nothing about that sort of thing.

 

However the novel was so well written that it was easy to get into the flow and the spirit of things. The spark between Dimple and Rishi is just delightful as they navigate each other and the people at the convention. Dimple has a friend she’s made online Celia who is also attending the convention. They room together – but both are very different. Celia is a flirt and a rich girl who makes friends with a bunch of other wealthy students (who you sort of wonder why they’re there at all) and she wants to include Dimple in their outings. Dimple is clearly uncomfortable.

 

Of course in swoops Rishi to help. It’s so cute how they keep winding up together. Naturally nothing is ever smooth sailing, there are drama issues with Dimple’s own plans for her future and what Rishi has in mind for his. While their personalities, as different as they are fit together, their ideas for the future don’t mix so well. Rishi has an art talent – he’s an excellent artist and has designed a comic series of his own. He’s not interested in pursuing this brilliant talent of his as he’s got it in his head that an art career won’t provide a good future for him and Dimple. She’s pissy that he’s not following his dreams and doing what is expected rather than what he wants. Just as he got involved in her life…she takes things in her own hands for his talent.

 

Drama alert.

 

It was a tad predictable is the only thing that didn’t really land it a five star for me. Though I really really loved it. I loved the characters and the writing and the story and this is now an autobuy author for me. I already have her next book ready and waiting.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Hodder and Stoughton for approving my request to view the title.  

Review: The Queen's Rising

The Queen's Rising - Rebecca Ross

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

After seeing a few not so great reviews popping up for this title I did have some misgivings about it when I stated it, however, it exceeded my every expectation and I was surprised at how much I wound up loving this book.

 

It’s a very slow burn fantasy, not a lot of action but a lot of political manoeuvring and some epic world building. Also beautifully written, almost lyrical in a way. The plot initially wasn’t anything I haven’t seen before. Basic outline -  girl born out of wedlock, no one knows what to do with her, she’s smuggled into a special teaching house, discovers she has secret magic, gets involved with difficult tutor.  In a world that’s usually run by queens a usurper king has stolen the throne, there’s a lost female heir who is the rightful queen and there is a plot to overthrow the evil tyrant king and bring the rightful queen back to the throne. Girl finds herself a key part in this plot.

 

Admittedly, I had some eye rolls at the start of this book thinking I was fairly certain of where this book was going. While the writing was gorgeous, the plot was painfully slow. I liked most of the characters and the impending romance was kind of obvious as to where it was going as well. Quite pleased to see this wasn’t anything like I thought it was going to be.

 

The heroine Brienna is raised by her grandfather. Girls are taken to special schools to learn to be “Masters of Passion” – art, music, dramatics, wit or knowledge. Each pupil is assigned a talent and are given years and years of training to become a master. Starting at 10, Brienna is considerably behind the other girls, and the house is full. But she comes in and can’t find a passion to suit her. She fails miserably. Brienna was okay, if a bit wooden.

 

Finally she comes to decide knowledge the one thing she’s actually good at, she’s got to be better than everyone if she’s to become a master by graduation time. One thing I really loved about this book was the positive female friendships. The other girls who are students are not rivals, they are close friends and almost like sisters. While there’s a little bit of ill contention with one or two with Brienna stepping on a few toes, there’s no outright dislike or rivalry.

 

Brienna discovers a hidden talent of magic where she can see into the past. It happens randomly, no one knows why or where. Brienna’s planned path doesn’t really happen and she finds herself embroiled in a mysterious family with a plan to rebel against the tyrannical king. There’s a lot of journeying and the plot takes a turn from the somewhat mystical side of things to political undertakings.

 

There’s very little action until almost right at the end. And actually very little romance. There are quite a few secrets and plot twists revealed that kicked raised the stakes as far as the plot was concerned. There was a good feeling of family coming together and even if it’s not your biological family – it’s the people around you who become part of you and your own chosen family.

 

My only misgivings were the characters were a little flat, I can’t say I was particularly mad about anyone. Other than Brienna I can barely remember anyone’s name. I do remember how much I enjoyed the novel. For a fantasy it wrapped up really well too. Though there are apparently two more books to come. It will be interesting to see where this one is going. I loved this so much I bought a finished paperback.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK Children’s Books for approving my request to view the title.