In the Eye of the Storm. Storm and Silence #2. Robert Thier.


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In the Eye of the Storm by Robert Thier

My rating: 4.5 stars

Many thanks to the author for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Released August 3rd!

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4.5 stars (Is it possible to make these numbers bigger?!?!)


Initial thoughts

I really wish I wrote this as soon as I finished it.
But I was on a train….
With not enough to time to write out a frenzied review….. -_________-

(Originally written in July 2016)

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You know, I had my ups and down with this book. Initially I was really excited to receive the ARC from the author, since I found myself loving Storm & Silence for all the reasons I listed in my review. But with In the Eye of the Storm, it was a little different. I came at it full force, with lots and lots of expectations and also, ideas I of what I didn’t want, and yet…this…surprised me more than anything.

Like S&S, I finished this quicker than I expected.

What I love about Thier’s books so far is that they’re ALL fast paced. Every chapter has a climax (of sorts) that leaves you hanging for the next chapter. And when you pass the 50% mark, the rest is free fall. Meaning. Just hang on tight and go for the ride.

And like with S&S there’s everything from steamy kisses to being shot at to who knows what’ll happen next!

Oh yes, and did I mention the fake marriage? The Captain Lilly keeps running into? The poor Old Lady whose holiday was cut short because of Lilly’s lies? A conversation between Rick and Dick?? Oh and Mr Ambrose?


PROS – yes, the things YOU’LL DEFINITELY want to read

1) Mr Ambrose! He is my favourite character (but only because Karim didn’t get so much page time this time….) in this sequel. He was an ass a lot of the time to Lilly, but then Lilly was also being a bit of a stubborn donkey. Mr Ambrose was always relatively reasonable, and I think, despite the fact that we don’t know much about his history yet (a thing I am dying to know more of), he is still very well rounded as a character with evident likes and dislikes. Even better crafted all round than Lilly who is the main protagonist. I mean really…what kind of man would walk through a sandstorm just because it’ll waste time to camp? But it’s the fact that he’s a logical city man, that he makes his decision, which realistically, makes alot of sense. Even more so since Mr Ambrose gives orders, and takes his own advice……..including….

      He gave me a look. One of those looks. ‘Do you know the size of an average grain of sand?’
‘No,’ I had to admit.
‘It is between 0.0024803 and 0.08 inches. Now, think carefully for a moment. Do you think I am going to let myself be stopped by something smaller than the tenth of an inch?’
‘Um… no.’
‘Indeed, no.’ (Kindle Locations 5484-5489).

2) The always obedient Lilly Linton and her feminist mindset :D. I love it when she goes all out feminist, specially during the second half. Lilly’s not a girl to be left behind, nor is she is a damsel in distress! For the first half of the book though, I wanted to shake her – specially when she’s pretending to be Mr Ambrose’s wife (it was so nice to see her in a dress again!) – because she was acting so……STUBBORN. There were a lot of things she did which she could have done without well, making Mr Ambrose look like he did. But at the same time, she was just sticking to who she is!

3) Every conversation between Lilly Linton and Mr Ambrose. There wasn’t a moment where I wasn’t thinking not to laugh. Both of them have a really good dynamic with each other. As stubborn as a donkey, and yet logical and willing to compromise! Such as…a conversation about appropriate husbandly names for Rikkard Ambrose:

      I thought about it for a moment, rolling the name around my tongue. Then, suddenly, an idea came to me, and a grin spread over my face. ‘I’m sure there are other abbreviations for your lovely name. How about “Dick”?’
He gave me a glare that sent shivers down my back. But my smile only widened. Inside, I was rolling on the floor with laughter, gasping for air. Ha! Payback time!
‘It’s “Rick”, Miss Linton! No discussion!’
‘Just as you say,… Dick.’
His glare cooled another dozen degrees. ‘I’m your employer, Miss Linton! You are obligated to follow my orders!’
In return for his ferocious glare, I gave him back a cheerful smile. ‘Apparently, you’re not my employer. You’re my husband now, Dick. Haven’t you heard?’
(Kindle Locations 2858-2864).

4) THE ACTION – while the beginning contains less action, this book is filled with it. From beginning to end. There is every single moment in it worth waiting for. But my favourite part, is the end ;).

5) The little old deaf lady! While in the end the joke got a tad bit old, she was a cracker. Poor woman, being tied into Lilly’s work by accident!! And strangely, I was waiting for the moment where she says ‘I’m sorry to hear that’ and actually has all of her hearing! But then, it didn’t happen, and yet, she was still a fun character :D.

6) The setting. To some degree, it’s pretty vivid. Thier has expected social customs down to a pat, so it makes it clearly to visualise without great detail in the description of the world. So in a way, this makes his plain but humorous style of writing really engaging and quick to read. The worldbuilding is built into the conversations, into the scenes of action, and through the characters interactions with each other!

7) This sequel actually reminds me of the kind of series where in each book the characters encounter a new problem that they have to solve while still remaining their somewhat ambiguous yet high in chemistry relationship!

8) THE ENDING IS NOT FAIR. I was expecting, expecting some kind of IDK and then it ended, with Lilly returning to work, and………..where is my Mr Ambrose and Lilly Linton moment?!?! Or SOMETHING. ANYTHING.


CONS – yes, no book is free of cons!

1) The plot felt a bit scattered and a bit weak, at the same time, it was simple, with one motivation in hand. HOWEVER, because there was only one motivation, the ending thus, seemed a bit abrupt, which left me mourning :(((( and wondering what might happen to Lilly and Mr Ambrose next!

2) VERY romance focussed for the first half. I actually really liked the development of Mr Ambrose and Lilly’s relationship in S&S but In the Eye of the Storm, their relationship takes another level while still remaining in the same position.

3) LILLY LINTON WHAT ARE YOU DOING HALF THE TIME?! Especially the first half. Even though I understand everything you do, I still have to con you! Because sometimes I wanted to shake you so badly. It wouldn’t kill you to behave for at least one or two of your acting scenes with Mr Ambrose, would it?! But then, actually, with the way you’re written, it also makes more sense, since later on, the scene where you’re obedient is actually a little bit more touching!

4) Lilly finds excuses wayyyyy too easily to escape from her home. It makes me wonder sometimes if it’s in the 1920s instead of earlier, considering how chaperoning was more serious and her aunt really doesn’t seem to care much at all ^^”. Then again, Lilly’s family isn’t excessively rich….but well! Logically, it does all work out, I kind of look forward to the moment when her lies/secrets are exposed!


CONCLUSIONS

(Yes, lovelies, I’m awfully aware that I am not writing an essay lol.)
A lovely sequel to S&S. I loved it for the action, for the fast paced, and also for most of the Mr Ambrose and Lilly moments. Goes well with a plain cup of tea i.e. a boring day. Robert Thier is also very humourous in his writing, so there’s not really a chapter where you’re wondering if you’re going to be bored (if you followed my statuses, and wondered what I was referring to around the 50% mark, I was mostly complaining about the romance part, since it was getting a tad tedious but then the WALL exploded and BULLETS were flying and MR AMBROSE was rescuing a DEAF OLD LADY and Lilly at the same time, even though moments before they were kissing like mad – er Lilly and Mr Ambrose, not Mr Ambrose and the Old Lady lol.) If Thier writes another book, I will definitely be reading it. Oh Yes, because the ending of this one is UNSATISFACTORY. GIVE ME MORE MR AMBROSE.

And on a final note there was a lovely surprise at the end of this book with additional chapters from Mr Ambrose’s POV which I LOVED. It was sooooo nice to read from his POV. I actually would love to see chapters from his pov. Mr Ambrose has such an interesting mind after :P.

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Shadow Study. Maria V. Snyder.

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Shadow Study
by Maria V. Snyder

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

(This review was actually done last year and chronicles my reading experience!)

F I R S T  I M P R E S S I O N S

Omg so it’s true, there are three more books! Well, I can’t say that I’m not excited, because I am, and because I really love the original three, but will they live up to my expectations? Yelena and Valek are my favouritest couple ever! I guess I’m excited?? But expectations…are hard to live up to sometimes.

update–16th Nov 2015 at 00:15am
loveeedddd this! missed this world so much!! Yelena, Valek, ari, Janco, everyone and everything!

more detailed review later!

U P D A T E
– 11am 16th Nov 2015

So technically it’s 4.5 stars but in this case, the rating doesn’t really matter because as a long time fan of this series, I loved this installment a lot! And my expectations weren’t disappointed (mainly because I really was soooo in the mood to read this).

Welcome back Yelena and Valek, and all the crew of the Study series. This time though, rather than simply being told from Yelena’s perspective, the story is alternated between Yelena, Valek and Janco. This was a nice change, and while I usually have reservations about one character being told in first person, and the others in third, Snyder blended it in pretty nicely. In many ways, Shadow Study is more Valek’s story than Yelena’s, as we learn so much about him than we ever had in previous books.

It never ceases to amaze me how easily I can slip into the Study series’ world. Comprised two countries: Ixia and Sitia, one North, the other South, one organised like a military with a Commander as its head, the other more relaxed and functioning with a Council and full support for the existence of magicians. Snyder doesn’t bog down the writing with long and winded, detailed and sometime painfully irritating descriptions of the world. Yet, somehow, it’s so very easy to imagine her worlds. Her details are brief yet somehow, oddly vivid. In a way, it helps that the original trilogy was written in first person, because it does, I feel, help the reader become immersed into the world a lot easier. Plus, Snyder had a nice way of providing info without the usual infodumping (in the lessons Yelena had with Valek way back in Poison Study).

This book is set across both lands. Which is great, though still, predominantly in Sitia, I was happy to see more of Ixia, since I missed seeing it in Magic Study and Fire Study.

Yelena, Valek, Janco, Ari, the Commander, the Master Magicians are all back! Along with more familiar faces! Good guys and bad guys alike!

The only difference though, is that it’s been eight years since the events of Poison Study. And it was both odd and normal to see Yelena as a 27 year old woman. It was a little strange, mainly because she didn’t sound any different or act any different to the original trilogy, yet, she is definitely older. Though, still, sometimes as immature as before (specially when she’s around her brother Leif). I liked that she was familiar, it made it all the more easier to re-engage with this series.

Valek. Oh Valek! I learnt so much about you this time. It was really nice to see your life before Yelena, and I like also, seeing your development, after all, we never really got to get to know you before not like this. Still, I really wonder how you’ll deal with all the problems you’re facing, and are coming at you next! And not to mention the cliffie at the end of this book.

Janco–I totally didn’t expect to read from his perspective, but that was interesting! But unlike Valek’s part, Janco’s is written like Yelena’s in the sense that it was action orientated rather than character building. Though, told from third pov perspective. As one of my favourite characters always simply because he has such a big mouth and is unable to ever sit still, it was nice seeing how he thought, and his attitudes to people.

Ari, more of a support than main, poor guy he didn’t get his own personal pov, but that’s alright! The little snippets of him and Janco were, like always, absolutely hilarious. They really make a great pair, and are one of my favourite comedy relief characters, such a good broship.

Other supporting characters: Opal and Devlen return, they were great to see! Opal is so mature and nice, I’d forgotten that. Devlen is still growing on me. Leif was the best! I mean someone really needs to figure out how to plug his stomach up. The Master Magicians, helpful but had a really small role. And the Commander. Oh, the Commander, what are you planning?

This was actually quite straightforward, and a little predictable, but it has that classic Snyder flavour of twists and turns, and sudden surprises. All the study books have a focus on mystery, so I’m not surprised that the majority of this book was also focussed on a problem that’s affecting both Ixia and Sitia.

Valek’s job, while he has always cherished it, since meeting Yelena, has thought about retiring. And while he’s always been challenged, there hasn’t been a challenger quite like this one. So while he’s worried about Yelena, he must also figure out the challenger, the Commander, and figure out what’s going on behind the smuggling operation.

Yelena’s magic is suddenly blocked, why? She doesn’t know, but for the book, she’s vulnerable. This plot development early on actually gave me the chance to see a side of Yelena I hadn’t seen before. It’s funny because the last time she had no magic was back in Poison Study, and for her to revisit that feeling, it’s such a scary thing for her. Yet she remains strong, even though for the most of this book, she feels lost. So while she’s trying to figure out what secret is lurking behind the recent breakout of a notorious prisoner, and trying to figure out what happened to her powers, she’s vulnerable to anything.

Very easy to read. Colloquial and not dense at all. Descriptive without being overly so! And Snyder has a nice way of leaving each chapter ending with a hook to make you keep reading! It’s also high fantasy. Definitely YA even though the main characters are beyond YA ages, however the writing and storyline is very YA. Complex enough for the genre, but not as complex and in depth like an adult novel.


Really enjoyed this installment–my opinion ladies and gents is unfortunately very biased based on the fact that I’ve loved this series for ages! If I was’t so biased, I might have rated this lower, maybe 4 stars, maybe 3.8 because although there was a lot going on, and although Snyder does a brilliant job with switching povs, there felt like something missing. But it was only such a slight small thing (I don’t know what it is), that I guess it doesn’t matter to me!

It’s a great YA high fantasy splashed with mystery. It has one of my favourite OTPs too. And it’s got a nice mix of serious characters and humorous ones so it doesn’t feel so heavy.

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Star Wars: The Lost Stars. Claudia Gray.


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Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

My rating:

 

So actually I finished this on Saturday (a week ago), but I just didn’t have to time remove it from my status lol. (It also took so much longer to read because well, just been so ridiculously busy 😦 )

I am a MASSIVE fan of Star Wars – I love all the films to pieces, and have been in a totally Star wars mad phase since the most recent movie came out. Reading this took me back to this world. I really love this world. So much, yet, I am not exactly versed in the universe, which is why I totally want to read more of the expanded universe.

Lost Stars though was really interesting in the sense that, I was expecting – well, I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was expecting something like the movies, only this wasn’t like that. Not really. And truthfully, I don’t know how I feel about it. I know I’m not overwhelmed but it, but I’m also not underwhelmed.

lost stars
W H A T   I   T H O U G H T

Romance
This was the main focal point of the whole story. The romance between two Imperial officers (in a manner of speaking, their statuses change throughout the story). A romance that defies any loyalty to any side of the war. It was cute, sweet, and very strong, I’ll give it that. So that’s the pro. The con, is that it overtook most of the plot. The events that took place didn’t matter as much. It was how Thane and Ciena overcame any obstacle that got in the way – in particular, their changing alliances, their loyalty to their causes, and also to each other – and still managed to love each other.

The Story & Time Period
Set a little before Star Wars Episode 4, all the way through those first three movies, through to a short period after Episode 6. Firstly, I really loved seeing those original movies, being told from a different perspective. Thane and Ciena both, since they were young, admired and dreamed of piloting the biggest ships in the galaxy by being part of the Imperial military. And so the story follows their journey, follows Ciena’s supreme oath to the Empire, and Thane’s somewhat fluctuating alliances. They age throughout the book. So the pro here is, that I really enjoyed seeing it from the Imperial side. The con is, there were too many events. There didn’t seem to be any focus in the story except the romance to give the book much focus. So I didn’t really enjoy it as much. I really wanted more of the action.

But I will say, I really liked the way Gray worked in the themes of loyalty, allegiance, politics, idealism – and in particular, I love the ending, you can really see the lead up to Star Wars Episode 7.

The Action
Plenty of it happening! But strangely, is it just me or did it feel like it dragged a little? Each major scene – like the destruction of the first Death Star, the Battle of Yavin, and the destruction of the second Death Star – was great! Plenty of things happening, and yet…it was as though extreme excitement was never achieved? There were other significant events, like when both Ciena and Thane were tested for their loyalty to each other, and to the Empire. Those were great. I like that it wasn’t just a story of the original three movies, retold. Ciena and Thane have their own stories outside of those movies. I just wished that there was less focus on the romance. I will say though, that my favourite, absolute favourite scene in the whole book was at the end, involving Ciena and a Star Destroyer – that was GREAT, I love how her character really shines in that moment, up until it’s a little spoilt by the arrival of Thane (but actually, that was also mostly okay with me too).

The Characters
Ciena and Thane were both pretty well fleshed out. Though I think a first person pov would have been better for this story, because the third person shift didn’t really do their feelings much justice. At the same time, it wasn’t really a story killer. I really love how Gray emphasised on Ciena’s loyalty. I feel the conflict that swirls inside of Ciena as she questions the Empire – though her doubts aren’t as pronounced as Thane’s. We do catch and hear glimpses of old favourites – Princess Leia, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Orlando (Was it Orlando, I’ve blanked on his name) Calrissian – so that was fun! But there are only a handful of other characters that stand out. Most of them die.



This was interesting. Loved diving into the world again. Loved seeing it from another pov. Gawd, now I’m craving Star Wars again, even though this wasn’t exactly the most interesting expanded novel story I’ve read. But it was alright! I think I do really like Ciena and Thane even though I think the whole story felt like it took a bit too long (then again, I took so long reading it because I have been so busy!!)

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Night Circus. Erin Morgenstern.


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by Erin Morgenstern

MY RATING: 3 | 3.5 | 3.8. Depending on how I want to look at this story. (And this time, I’m writing three mini reviews based on how I felt, and why I would have rated it 3, 3.5, or 3.8. Since depending on the kind of reader or the shoes I decide to put on, I could have found this book mediocre, or I could have really loved it.)

Buddy read with Woolfie! for the Quarterly Book Club!

In all honesty, I am so utterly conflicted about how I feel about this book! It took me longer to read, simply because I had to put it down for a moment, and read something else. Of course, when I went to read something else, I kind of understand now the difference between this book and others. And also, what separated other more exciting books with this one.

What I do love across all my conflicted rating choices is the ‘circus’. I love the Circus in this story, and to me, it was the highlight of the story.

What I absolutely hated across all three ratings is the very fact that the alternating POVs sucked. I didn’t like it at all. Morgenstern definitely doesn’t write it well enough, nor in a way in which I could appreciate it fully.


I rated this book 3 stars on one level simply because asides from one factor, this book loses its appeal. You get dragged into this 400 something paged book with promises of a dual between two really promising ‘illusionists’ who battle it out in a circus venue. It’s a very promising start, and I must say The Prestige flickered through my mind initially. Of course, thankfully I don’t remember much about the Prestige, but one thing’s for sure, The Night Circus does not read anything like the Prestige. It’s a very disappointing comparison. Asides from a similar sounding premise, The Night Circus and The Prestige are nothing alike! At this rating I can safely say this book is very boring. It coasts for one, does not have enough highs and lows. And You are distanced from the characters, giving you very little space to actually care about them. It also doesn’t help that the style is third person and it’s written with alternating point of views. I honestly ended the story without caring much for Celia or Marco or Bailey. Didn’t really care about any of them!

The Promise of an epic contest, is actually very mild. There’s no intensity to the challenge placed on Celia and Marco. The game itself is merely enchanting etc…the details of which you won’t find out until the last 100 pages. Although it’s the most promoted part of the book, it pretty much plays the smallest role in the book. Which is a shame. I wanted someone to epically fail! (Well I won’t tell you what happens at the end, but if you’re after a plot orientated story, this isn’t it. If you’re after a epic battle, this isn’t it either.)

 Remember how I said there was a factor that stood out the most? Well, if I am a reader who is simply after beautiful writing, then this was the book that I wanted. When I say beautiful, I don’t mean loquaciously elegant, utterly stuffed and dense with metaphoric meaning – that’s writing that can and may not always be beautiful if the meaning is obscured by the overuse of language at its finest – I mean that the writing is simple yet wonderfully adorning the pages of my book with some whimsical beauty. It reminds me a little of Lauren Oliver’s (Delirium, Before I Fall) writing (of course with the different styles). Even though I felt close to nothing for the non-existent-yet-supposed-to-be-there romance between Celia and Marco, I found something sparkly and enticing in the writing style. I would definitely read another piece of writing from Erin Morgenstern just for the writing!

But of course, under this writing, my feelings about other aspects of the book don’t stray far from my 3 star rating. I still can’t tell myself that there was chemistry between Celia and Marco. I still feel the duel/battle/challenge between Celia and Marco was over promoted or at the very least wasn’t described accurately enough. The emotions just weren’t really there in the book. And I really, really, really, hated the alternating POVs. Normally I’m alright with it. But this time, I just couldn’t handle it. It infuriated me, irritated me, and seriously, I had an urge to stab the book simply because it was so jarring and choppy and didn’t really help the flow of the story at all. SURE, I loved some parts of the alternating POVs, but most of the time, I found the pov switch happened at the worst possible moments.

 This isn’t the most perfect book in the world. Yet, I can see why it’s loved. I can also understand why others have given it positive 4 or 5 ratings. This book has the potential! If I looked at this with a critical literary eye, I would say, in a way, it’s an intriguing piece of ingenuity. What this book is, is not a love story, or a romance, or an epic, or an antihero story, or a magician story. What it is, is a book about a circus, about the people in the circus, about how it became to be. It is a magical thing, full of mystery, and like the way the story is written, it is filled with many tents, not half of them possibly discovered all at once, but instead must be discovered one by one when the time is right for each one.

This is how the Night Circus unfolded.

Morgenstern weaves her story, one chapter at a time. She does not aim to shock or startle her reader with a hook at the end of each chapter. Instead, she just weaves her story, and I’m reminded of Dickens, a little, or Wuthering Heights, those old classics that are always so dense and leave me holding on somehow for weeks simply because I want to finish it. But of course, the writing of the Night Circus is simpler. The tale this book holds is something precious, and shouldn’t be read as a romance or action filled novel.

It should be read as a history of the circus, or something similar. Because that’s how it unfolds, and to me, I found that the main character in the whole book is the circus itself. In a way, there was a flavour of One Hundred Years of Solitude – not in the magical realism sense, or that Morgenstern had the same way with words as Marquez has, or that the fates of the characters are even remotely similar. What they have similar is this winding tale that lasts for a few decades. Time is and isn’t of the essence in this book, so the flow of time in the story is jumpy, choppy, and a pain to deal with.

In my other ratings, I complained a little about the style. The choppiness, etc. Well, under this rating, I can say that the style isn’t entirely worthless. A little spoiler. By the end of the book you learn that the story is actually a recount by Wdget (who he is, you’ll find out if you go read the book!). Thus, it makes sense that there’s a distance placed between him and the other characters of the story since he hasn’t been around long enough to know all the history (which also knows at the same because of his abilities). Still. For someone who was so intimately knowledgeable about characters in the book, it is a little unbelievable that there isn’t as much connection between the reader and the characters.

In saying that, even at the 3.8 rating, there are cons I can’t run away from.
– The story is a coasty. (But then, this can be a pro too if you’re after a beautiful story about life.)
– Half the flipping time, I kept getting caught up by the introduction of one character, then the sudden use of ‘he’ or ‘she’ ONLY to find that it wasn’t referring to the character I’d just been introduced too.
– Choppy alternating POVs.


Late 1800s, early 1900s. Originally set in London, but moves from city to city. The Circus is also the main setting too.


Look. This book is pretty relative. You’ll either love it. Or hate it. I liked it. But had my problems with it. The ABOVE is a very sketchy right-this-moment reflection of how I feel after finishing. BUT actually, I’m still not sure how I REALLY feel about this. I like it. But I don’t love everything about it. If anything of the above appeals to you, relates to you, interests you, then give this a go?

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Storm and Silence. Robert Thier.


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Storm and Silence by Robert Thier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: YA Historical Fiction

Thank you to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This was a hit on wattpad, and now, it’s being published as an ebook on the 19th of March!

Quick Review. 4.5 Stars

Gawdbloodyhell, if you love cold but secretly sweet though not bipolar male love interests, pick this up! If you love a female protagonist who’s kickass all the way through even in the toughest of moments (though she acts even when scared) and won’t let a man tell her she can’t do anything. Then pick this up! If you love Historical Romance, a female character who’s a feminist, suffragette (but not extremely hardcore feminist/suffragette, but rather, values the principles of feminism and acts on it), then YES you got it! If you’re a bit of a fan of gender bendering, humorous interactions between female protagonist and love interest, you got it. And most importantly, if you like action, this has plenty of it!

Highlights of the book (quick and briefly)

– Miss Lilly Linton and Mr Ambrose. They kept me up until the early hours of Saturday morning because I just wanted so much more of them!
– Pure/clean romance (but there is kissing! Actually quite a lot of kissing at one questionable moment, but it doesn’t go any further than that.)

If you want to know more, keep reading below (because although my quick review is gushing over it, there were several things that nagged at me. BUT definitely not enough for me to rate this down tooo much.)

 

Initial Thoughts Before Reading

I want to point out that, although I was intrigued by the premise. (Although even the premise is very brief and says little). And that cover! You know, I love a beautiful cover, and this one, is just, well, so very intriguing and simple! Though, it did make me frown. Why? Because the 19th century, in particularly the beginning of, is one of my favourite time periods ever. Storm and Silence is set about 20 years later than the Regency, located in the Victorian Era – another era I do love reading about, because hell yes, Queen! on the throne – and the cover just looks like a guy in a suit. Then again, because you can’t see the back of, and I’m not expert on clothes unless I’m looking at the actual thing, my head debated for a bit, before settling down on, OKAY it still passes as being somewhat accurate! And since my brain clearly agreed on that, we moved onto the next thing. Intrigued by premise and cover, I did in fact check out some of the previous reviews, reviews given by people who loved the book on Wattpad.

-.-

I won’t lie. Those reviews made me so gawdawfully suspicious. Everyone loved it! PRAISES FOR ALL. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. THREE CHEERS.

Ugh. I hate books that have too many praises, and though I love reading people’s reviews (both positive and negative), sometimes it’s just so hard for me to believe them! (Hence why I go out and read the book for myself. Though usually, the higher the praise a book gets, the longer it takes for me to read it. But sometimes, I might just jump right in.)

And so YES. I started this book with all intentions of hating it. THAT and also, I started it because I’d already finished the book in my bag on my morning trip to uni, and had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO READ on my way home. And when one has absolutely nothing to read they’ll read anything.

It was really good that my first impression was low. Because if it was high, then I might have found it harder to like.

Or maybe, this book really is just that likeable :P? Because I know, by the end of the book, I was crying for more. Craving, dying, wanting. So glad Thier is an author on Wattpad, and that I have Wattpad, and I can follow and read the sequel!

First Impressions Comparison

– I was reminded of A Spy in the House – the Agency series with the whole mystery angle.
– I was also reminded a little of A School for Unusual Girls, with the whole smart girl thing. Though Lilly is smart in her own little way.
– And Newt’s Emerald, for the gender bending, cross dressing! And also, the mystery aspect again, and the desperate need to recover something.
– Andddd A Matter of Magic, again, for a bit of the crossdressing, but also, the older, more authoritative figure, and the younger, assistant relationship (but mind, the age difference is around 5-ish/6-ish years).
– AND it has all the intense chemistry of any good slow burn romance book.
– OH I had like a Pride & Prejudice feel here, only less classic! Rather simply the values that each character has reminds me of P+P. But other than it’s nothing like the classic!

P L O T

The premise is a bit short in details about the plot. But yes, it does highlight one important aspect of the book. Lilly Linton wants freedom. And in a time when women’s rights are somewhat oppressed, Lilly and her small band of friends take part in small protests for women’s rights. Since this is set in the late 1830s of the Victorian Era, and before any serious suffrage movements take place. At the very beginning of the book, we see Lilly dressed up as a guy heading towards the polling booth. On the way, she helps out a gentleman businessman, who then offers her a job. If it weren’t for her tiny mistake at the polling booths, well, her potential new Employer, according to his card, Mr Ambrose, wouldn’t have found out she was a girl.

Even so, she turns up at his office as he had requested, and even though she’s dressed as a woman, she makes her way to meet him (to the surprise of everyone in the office). Of course, Mr Ambrose, a man of his time, and averse to the idea of a woman working, yet true and honourable to his word as a businessman, he allows Lilly to accept the job, on the condition that she dresses as a man – just like she had been when they first met.

But Mr Ambrose, thinking he knew better, didn’t expect her to return as such, finds himself a crossdressing female as his private secretary.

Throughout the whole book, Lilly fights him constantly about her right to work, and since she does her job impeccably, Mr Ambrose, true to his word as a businessman, cannot make her go. So, in turn, he does everything he can to get rid of her.

In the process, an important file goes missing, and Lilly finds herself unable to keep out of Mr Ambrose’s business, proving herself to be very resourceful and useful in the process, which of course, makes it harder and harder for Mr Ambrose to get rid of her. A lot of this plot focusses on this file and leads to the major cliffhanger at the end.

Action is a significant portion of the novel, and so is the romance between Lilly and Mr Ambrose. Though, mind you, it’s slow burn (my favourite type!) yet with plenty of chemistry and humorous encounters. This book, while categorized as historical romance, does not simply focus on these two people. Lilly does have her own problems, and must deal with it, in a dress, and with a fan, and must also be at work on time.

Some parts of this story lag a bit, specially when Lilly comes across her younger sister and her secret assignation with her lover. These scenes to me, felt a bit like a parody, like a caricature of forbidden loves, but at the same time, no less sweet. Admittedly, I just kept rolling my eyes at their interactions, mostly because the conversations were so silly! Bordering on satirical (which is also something I think this whole book does about that time period, but here’s why I also compare it to Heyer, since she wrote serious but humorous romances so the characters fall in love and yet do it humourously along the way). My favourite parts of this subplot however, was the ball scene towards the end.

C H A R A C T E R S

Lilly Linton, one of six daughters who are left with their aunt when her parents died. She’s nineteen, and couldn’t care less about balls, dances, and chauvinistic males. She’s more interested in wearing pants, fighting for rights as a woman, and a way out of her Aunt’s good gracious, to lift the burden, but also, so that she doesn’t ever have to marry anyone!What I love about her. She has a really interesting personality. Lots of humorous thoughts in her head, and doesn’t know how to really be a girl either. Even though in the company of men, she’s pretty feminine, except when she’s in full guy mode and allowed to swear up a storm and act like a guy. She’s clever, and resourceful, and refuses to give up her principles. She’s not invincible though. She doesn’t mind pushing her aunt to her limits, but so long as she plays towards her aunt’s desires (for her to go out and throw herself at gentleman to get married to), then she can be as free as a bird (well sort of free). When she’s in a dangerous situation, she gets scared and angry, but knows how to keep her head and follow orders (well not orders that tell her to stay away, but orders during the most intense moments). ON THE DOWNSIDE, Lilly’s stubbornness and inability to stay away from danger, throwing herself into tough situations might be dislikeable to some. However, I liked her enough because her character was justified and when she made a decision she stuck with it and acted as brave as possible, and not at all like a stupid-damsel-in-distress.

Mr Ambrose. His interactions with Lilly are the highlight of this book! I LOVE him. Well, rather, what I love, is how he was created. Indeed, he is somewhat your romantic love interest, the broody kind I mean. BUT BETTER. Broody typical love interests are always like, well, cavemen, broody and somewhat depressing. Mr Ambrose, is a sensible, logical, non-joking male, who knows how to use sarcasm (or rather he tells truths in a sarcastic way), likes to order people around, a miser who loves threatening Lilly by telling her that all the expenses are coming out of her wage, dresses well but plainly, is considered the richest man in all of England, has a somewhat shady background everyone is always speculating on, and though he acts like he only cares about Lilly because he needs a well working secretary, he does actually care about her, even though he never explicitly shows it because he’s always putting work first. You’ll understand what I mean when you read it! And work, as a man in his line of business, gets dangerous. Usually when it gets dangerous, he sends Lilly home, but she always manages to end up right at his side in the midst of danger, simply because she’s not the kind who takes well to be being ordered away simply because ‘she’s a girl’. Mr Ambrose though, usually after trying his best to send her away, allows her to stay. He does, respect her enough to let her stay, simply because he knows she won’t go away anyway.

Supporting characters mention: KARIM. YES. This guy who is Mr Ambrose bodyguard. HE IS AWESOME. Every time he pops up, he’s nearly the comic relief, even when Lilly and Mr Ambrose are at each other’s next in the most humourous way as possible without downgrading the importance of their arguments. I give Karim a special mention, because he plays an important throughout the book as Mr Ambrose’s bodyguard and trusted person. He does, after all, give Lilly the nickname that Mr Ambrose calls her rarely when he’s in a good mood. AND He’s terrified of Lilly simply because she’s a firecracker female!

S E T T I N G

1830s England, about the time when Victoria is crowned Queen, and the industrial revolution is blooming. My knowledge of this era is scattered, though I knew enough to be pleased with the accuracies. (Except I frowned a bit in confusion about the women suffrage movement, but after some research, I realized that the details in the book were still pretty accurate, since the proper movement didn’t begin until around the 1870s for the UK, but before that, there were smaller, little protests from the middle to upper class. And the notes that Thier added helped sort out the confusion in my head.)

W R I T I N G

Witty. It has it’s personal flair – Robert Thier flair. And by god. I can’t believe it. He can actually write from a female perspective EXCELLENTLY. Generally I don’t like genders writing for the opposite gender mainly because the guys come out extra whiny, or not convincingly enough male. And the females become overly obsessed with shoes and dresses and all, mainly over over exaggerated female stereotypes. However, Thier doesn’t do that. He gives Lilly’s principles, values, morals, habits, likes and dislikes, and writes a very convincing female tomboy without sounding like a man writing a female. Loved it. (And while Lilly freaks out over her feelings for Mr Ambrose, she usually has her head on straight and focussed on the task.)

Also, written in first person, and definitely all through the book a very characteristic YA style. More colloquial than historical in terms of language BUT there is enough era sensitive language used for the book to feel like it is set during the time it is supposed to!

He doesn’t waste too much time on description, but thankfully there is enough detail to give a full picture.
But the best part, is that he interweaves plenty of wittiness to love, and I find it absolutely humorous. Although the review copy I received had a few spelling errors and (of which will probably be filtered out before it’s actually published), I found the writing style likeable. There’s a cliffhanger at the end of nearly every chapter (hence why I ended up staying up to the ridiculous hour of 4am simply because I wanted to finish this AND STILL COULDN’T; if I wasn’t so rational, I would have kept going until 9am and forgoed sleep, but unfortunately, my eyes were just inadequately falling asleep on me!)

OH BUT WARNING. As much as I love scenes where the guy shoves a girl up against a wall (whether to intimidate, make a point, or just be a brute – I usually don’t really like the last option), this does happen a little too often in Storm & Silence, and while it’s not annoying (okay maybe a little) since it is a pretty intense scene each time, even though it’s absolutely pure each time! it does become a little bit repetitive. I think I counted 4 scenes? But well, like I said, the scenes are intense, and so much sparkly, steamy, clean & pure chemistry sparking between Lilly and Mr Ambrose, and it’s usually when they’re arguing! (And also another warning, depending on how you like your historicals, this one borders a bit onto the types where there’s more physical touching (for now I can only think of the Her Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers and The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen as examples of such and less of the distant intense chemistry of Heyer’s historical romances.)

O V E R A L L

I really enjoyed this. I did. Reading it, I was somewhat reminded of Georgette Heyer’s regencies (yes I know, I say this often, but if you follow my reviews, then y’all know well enough how much I love her books, and how they’re like my ultimate historicals) with outrageous scenarios (well in Heyer’s novels, this doesn’t always happen but still), a headstrong, somewhat feisty female protagonist, and a swoony busy love interest. (Still, Silence and Storm cannot really be compared to Heyer, because Heyer is a gem from another century, and her uniqueness makes her Queen Overlord of Historical Regency Romances. But what Thier has in common is his ability to thread his own flair and style into his story.) Either I was really craving a romance like this at this moment, and this just came by a the right time, or this book really is as good as its ratings, whichever, I think this is a pretty good book and I would definitely suggest it!

You know after finishing the review, I feel like I didn’t put in enough cons….but there were some, it’s just that my enjoyment overrode any negative feelings I might have had about the cons! I suppose if I were to pick some cons, it would be that although Silence and Storm felt like a whole and complete novel, sometimes I felt like it could be revisited and edited a bit more, and yet…while I wouldn’t say it’s perfect, it sure as hell is an interesting story (the highlight, the slowly blooming romance of Lilly and Mr Ambrose).

So if anything above catches your eye, give this book a chance. I can’t guarantee you’ll love it, but I sure as did. So maybe you won’t like, but hopefully you will since I do and don’t know how I read through this YA historical romance all at once and wanted more. Sometimes I think, wow there was a lot of silliness happening but then my brain morphs and justifies the scenes with the seriousness of the situation!

P.s. have I mentioned somewhere, this is one of the first ebooks I don’t have a problem with reading on the kindle phone app? I usually don’t like ebooks because I always feel like I’m reading some kind of draft, but well, this time, it didn’t feel like that at all! (except for the typos of course.)

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Mortal Heart. Robin Lafevers.


20522640Mortal Heart
by Robin LaFevers

My rating: 4.5 stars

Finally finished this!! Wanted to finish earlier but didn’t have much time! (Back on Dec 6th 2015)

Buddy Read with Samantha for the Quarterly Book Club.

Initial thoughts for the night I finished it 

Really enjoyed it though I still love Dark Triumph the best. This one was almost more supernatural/paranormal than the others. There was a lot more unravelling of myths and true stories. There wasn’t much I didn’t like, but it lost half a star for being more paranormal/supernatural than I was hoping for and there was a lot of running around when Annith was supposed to be going somewhere but didn’t get there for ages. This was mostly because each step was a little bit more mystery about the gods, another piece of their stories. But I wasn’t disappointed at all, Annith turned out to be a tougher goody two shoes than she had been previously portrayed. I thought I wouldn’t like her, but actually, loved her!

More thorough review later!


M Y   R E C O M M E N D A T I O N

What I loved

— Annith and Balthazaar. I loved them together, and I loved them as individual characters. I don’t know if I would say that LaFevers has upped her game come the romance to this trilogy, but I did really fly through the whole book, half waiting for these two to really give in to each other. Although I did really enjoy reading their story, if I didn’t love it so much, didn’t fly through this book so quickly, didn’t appreciate how easily it read, I might have picked on a number of things related to their relationship. I mean Annith, for such a saintly girl did make the jump on Balthazaar a lot quicker than I expected. But I guess that’s part of why I liked Annith. She was bold and daring, and not half as saintly as Ismae and Sybella portrayed her in the previous books. At the same time though, she was very devoted to Mortmain. Her love for him was very bright.

Balthazaar as a love interest was great. I loved him. He has some great scenes hehe. I.e.

“Have you ever seen Mortmain?”
His scowl deepens, and I cannot help but wonder what fault he finds with this question. “Yes. I have seen Him, but He is the god of Death, not some knight to be swooned over.”

I thought he was the perfect love interest for Annith, even though I don’t overly love the other aspect of him. He’s your dark, broody, handsome, but dangerous kind of love interest. And while usually these guys are swoony and unrealistic, with Balthazaar, he was more human and real than I expected (though what I expected, I don’t even know!)

— The mythology. I do love what LaFevers does here with the Gods. It was interesting, and fun to read. I liked the narration and unravelling of the myth surrounding the gods depicted in this book. I liked it. Then again, I’ve always loved stories where a major part of the narration is the story of a legend, or a myth, which, as the novel goes on, is retold a number of times until the ‘true’ story is revealed. Do you know how much I love that kind of plot device? A LOT.

We also get to see more of the other convents/worshippers in this book than the other books.

— Quick read. Despite the size of this book, it was DEFINITELY a quick read. I flew through it. Loved the writing style enough that it practically screamed at me to read on until my eyes bleed with exhaustion. Unfortunately I had to read this in installments because I was busy. But man, I wanted to gobble it up.

— Learning about Annith’s connection to Arduinna was actually not that unpleasant to me. I think I was expecting it once I got used to the other elements of this novel. Learning her history in the convent and more about the Abbess was fascinating too.

The Not So Great Parts, but of course By No Means Hinders The Enjoyability (probably)

— Supernaturality and paranormality. This book was A LOT more supernatural than the other book. The introduction of the hellequin, at first, I thought were not supernatural because well, the previous installments were minimal on the supernatural aspects, but actually, they were pretty supernatural. Not to mention a lot of other godly intervention taking place. It wasn’t so bad, but if it wasn’t because I really enjoyed Dark Triumph and was definitely flying through Mortal Heart, I might have disliked it more. The thing is, Mortal Heart is the odd one out in the trilogy being more supernatural. Whereas Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph had minimal elements of supernaturality in terms of the gifts that the daughter of Mortmain received, Mortal Heart exceeds that by miles. And since I wasn’t expecting it, I was a bit surprised!

— Less Politics and History. Related to the previous point. Annith’s personal story is a bit more stronger than the political historical plot.

— The Ending. The ending fell a little flat for me (hence the lost of one star), even if I still really enjoyed the book. It fell flat because of the way LaFevers decided to deal with the Duchesses fate. I know I definitely wasn’t a fan of that ending. I felt like it was a bit of a cop out even though it was written excitingly, it just felt like LaFevers wanted a method that would work with the real history? (Yes I did go and wiki this a little lol.) I’ll give LaFevers points for being creative, but I was just not a fan of it. Now, the other part of the ending, related to the Abbess, I liked that! I thought that was fun and satisfying to read!

OVERALL

I probably have a lot more to say but I can’t think of it right now! I do know though that I want to read it again. And again, just for the fun of it, and seeing Annith and Balthazaar get together. But I would read Dark Triumph for the intensity of the plot on all fronts. I would suggest this as a great book with strong female characters, historical fiction fans, and a quick read!

THE OTHER HIS FAIR ASSASSIN BOOKS

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These Broken Stars. Amie Kaufman & Megan Spooner


These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5/idk it’s good enough to be 5 stars yet I don’t know why I’m holding back!

Really enjoyed this, eyes glued to the pages at that dangerous level of engagement (do not touch or I’ll explode kind of intensity).

I can’t even explain how I feel right now but this book is a little bit more than just a romance. It’s not even really a romance! nor love focussed yet THAT plays such a big role and the fact that there’s just two of them. Really….I think I just need to read next book and the last book to really really understand how deep this trilogy will go.

Shucks I can’t explain this right now–but I TOTALLY get what Sam’s review over at A History of Books refers to now! and I get it. I totally agree with her.

Okay a more coherent examination later. But note: while in the beginning I was reading this out of curiosity and as a recommended book, and expected more love/romance, but by the end, I was in this for the meaning. I was in this for the mystery. I wasn’t in it for Lilac and Tarver only anymore (I think if I was, I’d have rated it lower), I was in this for the ending. (Well near the ending part).

U P D A T E

From the above you can see that I ended this book really enjoying it. Hard not to when the climax of the whole novel had me in chills and goosebumps. It was creepy yet it wasn’t so creepy that it would keep you up with nightmares. Rather, it was creepy because of the implications. I mean, sure this book is sci-fi fantasy. It’s not real. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be real in the future. Scientists are always wondering and searching the world for the existence of life other than Earth after all.

P L O T

So this book begins with a scene and disaster parallel to that of the titanic. Lilac LaRoux is the daughter of the richest man in the universe and she’s on the Icarus, one of her father’s biggest luxury spaceliners, for her birthday. Tarver Merendson is a decorated war hero,a guest on the Icarus. There’s a little of instalove here, but trust me, it’s not really instalove. Anyway, so he meets her for the first time, and unaware of her identity, he shows an interest in her. Just like she shows him (though she knows exactly who he is). But it doesn’t take long before she draws a line between them, and makes it clear that he was just a game.

And then disaster strikes. The Icarus is yanked out of hyperspace, and plummets into the nearest planet–Lilac and Tarver just manage to escape in their escape pod which neither had wanted to share if survival hadn’t been at the forefront of their minds.

They are the only ones to survive. And yet they hope for rescue. So together they travel across the terrain of the terraformed planet towards the wreckage of the Icarus in hopes of being rescued. After all, the spaceliner of such a big company as LaRoux Industries carrying the daughter of it’s head, would be looked for after all right?

The plot is slow going, with very little plot. It reminds me of Blood Red Road, where the beginning of the story is focussed on the main character in search of something. There’s a very small cast of people, and it’s simply a narrative of their travels, their fears, and their discoveries. Lilac and Tarver, after their encounter on the Icarus dislike each other immensely during the first half of their trek across this unknown terraformed world. Well, they don’t really dislike each other, but rather, they dislike the hierarchy that separates them. For Tarver, he just wants to be rescued and off this planet, same as Lilac, so they stick together.

As the journey proceeds, Lilac is the first to be affected by the strange things on the planet. There are whispers, and things that mysteriously appear. As they get closer to their goal, the mystery deepens as they constantly question the existence of this planet…

R O M A N C E

I figured I’d give this its separate section since the premise of my edition heavily implies romance. I quote:

These Broken Stars is a timeless love story about hope and survival in the face of unthinkable odds.

There is a love story. But it’s not hot and heavy, nor is it fast and dramatic. It’s slow and accumulating, building over the time that Lilac and Tarver spent together. It’s not my favourite kind of love story because it focusses so much on tthe love story. I love slow burning love stories but I don’t like books that only focus on love stories (too muvh romance and not enough action sometimes!). And this book, like I mentioned earlier, is focussed on the development of their relationship as they traverse the plains of the terraformed planet, and yet isn’t so overdone that I had to roll my eyes and put it down. What I appreciated was the way Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner develop both Tarver and Lilac. They also develop the relationship between the two characters, giving them more than just an ‘instalove’ story.

But even though there’s a strong love story, I feel like These Broken Stars has actually got a stronger mystery plot. It’s a survival story too.

C H A R A C T E R S

Lilac LaRoux is a spoiled rich brat. But I figured she probably wasn’t as spoiled as she seemed. (Kind of classic YA.) She was interesting. I liked her character in the sense that I didn’t find her annoying. I like that she grows through the book. That she’s not above helping out and taking on some of the workload. I should point out though, that in the beginning, Lilac is somewhat pretty insufferable! She seems so spoilt! But she’s not really as spoilt as she seems…

Tarver Merendson is awesome. Well as awesome as a guy gets in YA. I mean he’s clever, reliable, actually capable of doing things rather than just brooding and being grumpy. But he’s a little skeptical–which, I think is a good thing since it gives him that additional dimension. I also feel this book was more his story, since his chapters seemed a lot more substantial than Lilac’s!

S E T T I N G

Futuristic world. Sci-fi. Some Terraformed planet.

W R I T I N G

Very nice. Very easy to read. Wasn’t overly descriptive, so sometimes I had to stop and reread again to see what I’d missed. But otherwise I did like the writing. This book is also sci-fi, though it’s not really a heavy sci-fi. It does deal with things you’d see common to the genre, but I don’t feel (at the moment) that it’s too much sci-fi. Meaning, even if you don’t like sci-fi, you might like this if you like fantasy. There aren’t any mind-boggling terms to work your way around, no foreign scientific hardcore jargon to burn those cogs in your head.

Also, this book is written in first person pov.

O V E R A L L

I really wished I’d bought This Shattered World the last time I went to the store. I’d have started reading that now! But well. This book….this book….well if any of the above appeal to you, then give this book a go? That’s what I’d suggest! ALSO, I have to say, I LOVE that Amie Kaufman is Australian. As an Australian myself, that makes me go gaga over wanting to read this. And wonder why I hadn’t done it earlier!

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My Life Next Door. Huntley Fitzpatrick.

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My Life Next Door
by Huntley Fitzpatrick
My rating: 3.7 Stars!

I read this for a buddy read with Rinji for the Quarterly Book Club.

I did really enjoy reading this, don’t judge me by how long it took me to read because I was also busy with academic work and other books.

However, unfortunately, this book had to compete with Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta. It’s one of my favourite books of all time. While Marchetta’s other contemporaries are considered better, Looking for Alibrandi is a classic for a lifetime, and upon rereading it, I really, really, really enjoyed it. AS for My Life Next Door, I think it’s a good book–

——> Oh gosh, I sound like one of those old grannies who say ‘she’s a nice girl’ or ‘he’s a nice boy’ but really means, ‘that person is just not for you!’

I’m rating My Life Next Door 3.7 stars because it was in fact a really good book that by the end of it had me smiling, and appreciating the story that Fitzpatrick wove, despite the fact that it was grossly overshadowed by Melina Marchetta’s book.


The Pros

– Samantha. She has a very relatable voice, and her kind of character is one that I can really understand–she’s someone who has never really spoken up before because she wanted to help her mum and suffers under the pressure of Family Obligations. And I never once found her annoying. She has a well defined character with depth to the way she acts.

– Jase. Are dream boy next door. Ideal YA love interest. Since I have little to say about him, because he was almost perfect–training hard every day, works for the family, considering college if he can get in on scholarship, all round, the perfect kind of guy to see in a YA contemporary novel. I liked him. But, in some ways, I feel like he doesn’t have an extremely deep character, but yet is still well developed, if that makes sense?

– The family dynamics. I liked seeing the contrast between Samantha’s family and Jase’s. The reasons behind them, and how they developed.

– Supporting characters. Tim was the best! I loved him as a character the most and I would love to read about him. I mean, really, that guy was awesome. In a way, he kind of outshone Jase (not that I want him to be with Samantha, but in character development terms, he did outshine the boy). Nan. I can’t believe Nan, and actually that was something I was kind of displeased with! (More in cons.)

– And wow. There really aren’t that many pros.

– Oh wait. Sam and Jase’s relationship. I liked it. It was cute. It began pretty quickly, and progressed at a reasonably interesting pace. I like how Fitzpatrick dealt with Sam and Jase’s relationship. And I guess their relationship is one of the highlights of book. I should probably say…it’s the main highlight, bviously, because it’s a romance…

The Cons

– Clay is an atrocious, ambitious asshole who I still felt sorry for. I didn’t like him at all but knew from the beginning that he was no good (and the only con is that he’s an ass, but the pro about him is that he ended up helping Sam’s mum out, so this should also be a pro lol.)

– Jase could sometimes come across as boring…only because he seemed a little too perfect sometimes. Perfect in the sense that he is the dreamy kind of good love interest in YA contemporary novels. He doesn’t have many problems, though he does have family ones and also the fact that he’s a total family guy….(but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! I think, once again, the love interest in Looking for Alibrandi overshadowed my appreciation of Jase)

– NAN. THE F**K happened there? That TOTALLY sucked. I mean, I completely understood all the reasons why, and so on, but it just felt like a loose tie that wasn’t really tied up at the end–I wasn’t really satisfied with how they ended up. The only good part was that because of Nan, Tim looked better. But still. Nan and Sam were the weakest part in the whole book–> A Big Angry Dissatisfied Frown Here.

Overall

I did finish this with smiles and liked it all round. I would DEFINITELY go and read the companion/sequel to this because I DEFINITELY want to see more of Tim. The guy is so messed up, I want to know about him. But yeah, the sad part is that I read this while reading Looking for Alibrandi, and Looking for Alibrandi just has a deeper message, a stronger plot, and greater themes for me to relate to than My Life Next Door. That’s all. I do suggest My Life Next Door however, as a Suggestive Read, it kind of reads like Sarah Dessen (yes and no), and it’s definitely the light and fluffy kind of thing that if I had more time, I’d have read it faster!

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Dark Triumph. Robin LaFevers.


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Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read for the 4th Quarter (Historical Fiction) Read for the Quarterly Book Club!

This is also the companion sequel of Grave Mercy, the first of the His Fair Assassin Trilogy.

P L O T

The plot of this story is less like Grave Mercy than I expected. Granted, it has been so long since I read Grave Mercy, I can’t even remember the specifics except that Ismae used her body to save Duval (I actually forgot his name too before I started reading Dark Triumph), and then things worked out well in the end. The good thing is, I didn’t have many expectations for this sequel/companion novel. Apparently I liked Grave Mercy! But my review of it was sparse and detailess, so anything I really liked, loved or hated is lost in the swarm of a thousand books in my head. The downside of being a readaholic without an eidetic memory (not that I would want an eidetic memory at all–I’d like to be able to forget when I can). However, I rated it pretty good, and what I did write, did not make me any less or any more hesitant to read Dark Triumph. I think, even back then I really wanted to read Sybella’s story, mainly because she seemed so unreachable, not like Ismae who seemed so full of hope and belief and faith.

So where Grave Mercy had a more substantial plot about the world and its historical elements, Dark Triumph tends to read as a more solo, individual journey of self for Sybella. Yeah there is a plot, but not as much as the first in my opinion (or from the vague feelings I remember). In this book, the main plot is very simple. Defeat d’Albret. Help the Duchess. That kind of thing. Two sides clearly defined, and a war for Brittany. The historical elements are well tended to (I’m not a historian and have never studied history, but I do like my historical fiction novels every once in a while, and a variety at that–though usually stories older than the 20th century.)

The plot also while it is very simple, it actually doesn’t fall flat. I felt the urge to keep reading (and yeah, stayed up to like 2:30am in the morning (continued reading from like 160pages at around 11pm) to finish it all in one go (gawd I am so tired right now, I wonder why I haven’t had several micronaps by now!). Mostly, I think I was interested in when Sybella would do two things: a) Get the man; and b) kill d’Albret. I was also wondering exactly what would happen to her family, and what had happened to the family to make it so bloody twisted!

But as for the actual other non-Sybella, and non-romance parts, there weren’t actually many elements to the political plot. Like I said, it was very simple. It makes me wonder how the ending will look like in the last book.


C H A R A C T E R S

Sybella! I loved her! But only because she had such a deep character and was twisted in her own way, supported by all the dark events of the past. I hate her family though. But they did shape her. And I felt sorry for her a lot of the time, but she never wallows in self pity, and she does her best to keep trying. I liked seeing how she thinks when it comes to her family. Even though it’s all a little sickening, I liked seeing how she stays strong even when she knows she should be afraid. Loved when she had to help the Beast escape. That was funny, specially when she woke up! And while some might go and hate and be stupid, I like how Sybella does her best to put her fears aside and go with the flow. She’s a strong character, totally kickass, and not afraid to kill, even though she doesn’t always want to. And when Ismae comes back into the picture, Sybella really contrasts to her, in terms of personality. They’re similar and different at the same time.

Beast. Oh the Beast. Described as ugly, but really, overall has a really nice personality. And I liked him! And I love that Sybella notices how even after they sleep together, he doesn’t look any prettier (I love how normal that sounds, rather than the usual flowery, he looked beautiful even though he was ugly crap). Beast is Beast. He is scarred and considered ugly, but he is beautiful deep down. Which his actions show, and there’s no need to dress up his ugliness in pretty descriptions. If that makes sense? I just liked how LaFevers depicts Beast. And also depicts and develops his relationship with Sybella.

THE D’ALBRETS. Gawd. That is one twisted family. Only the sisters are harmless. Being young and isolated, protected from the merciless elder brothers and their father. Sybella is a d’Albret, but she hates that she is. And she hates remembering it. Yet, she is, and because she is, she must use it to her advantage for the convent. Her older brothers are asshats. And Julian, her older brother too I think, but like with her other siblings, is a half brother, was both someone she loved and hated. The relationship between them is….well….a bit incestuous, and at the same time….and I hate saying it, but the ending at the end, resolves it and makes me feel abit better. Then again, how LaFevers treats the whole family dynamic, she treats its carefully and thoughtfully. She puts all the necessary emotions in there so that one should feel how Sybella feels about everyone and everything related to her family. There is so much hate there, and there is also, so much she wished she hadn’t done. Sybella’s father though, is the worst out of all of them though. He’s cruel and callous, and he doesn’t care who he uses, hurts, in order to get what he wants: and that is the Duchess’s hand in marriage. I think d’Albret is based on a real historical figure. I’m not too sure, but well. LaFevers did well with being creative with this whole period of history.

Supporting characters and return of the old. Loved seeing Ismae and Duval again! That was awesome! They’re so cute together. The Abbess has me frowning as always. And we hear about Annith again!


S E T T I N G

Morlaix, Nantes in Brittany.  Year: 1489


W R I T I N G

I can’t remember what I thought of LaFevers’ writing previously, but I enjoyed reading it last night! Maybe it was Sybella, or maybe I just needed this kind of writing at that moment. Either way, I did really like her writing. Written in first person, LaFevers mixes both historical language and contemporary language well. The style of writing has a taste of formality to it, yet isn’t dense and a pain to read. Which was beautiful. I almost cried (after all I did lament a bit about this when I was reading the Witch Hunter). It was great. I loved it.

O V E R A L L

I really enjoyed this one! Though now after writing all of the above, the ending while it was nice, I was already happy a few pages before the end of the book lol. Anyway, yes, a suggestive read. And looking forward to Mortal Heart.

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Paper Valentine. Brenna Yovanoff.

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Paper Valentine
by Brenna Yovanoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read as a Your Choice Book for the Quarterly Book Club 3rd Quarter Read (Paranormal/Mystery/supernatural)

Okay so I gave this 4 stars primarily because in comparison to the last book I read, this one was so much better. Once the story started flowing (thankfully within the first 50 pages), I really started getting engaged, and it didn’t take me long to finish this at all! (It does help that I had a to-and-back train ride to read.)


The Plot

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

Paper Valentine is a hauntingly poetic tale of love and death by the New York Times bestselling author of The Replacement and The Space Between.

For a book like this, I think it was well done over all. If I compared to this another book, I’m not sure I would pick out any flaws, because there aren’t many–or maybe it’s better said that compared to the last book I read, I had a lot more to like in this book in comparison. The plot is pretty average, pretty straightforward. It takes a moment to get used to the idea of the ghost hanging around, but you know what? I think the ghost’s relationship with Hannah is the most outstanding part of this novel. The actual mystery plot was pretty predictable, but at the same time, not very. I didn’t exactly spot it until later on. Still, it was a nice twist. I was expecting it though!


The Characters


Hannah Wagner is the main character and focal of the whole story. On the whole, she’s a quiet girl who always seemed to be overshadowed by her best friend, the now dead Lillian. For a moment, I thought this story would twist their relationship and burn it after ripping up all the history between the two, leaving me with a story about a girl who actually didn’t realise her best friend didn’t like her that much and was only haunting her because she was the only girl who was too chicken to do anything. BUT. Yovanoff didn’t do that. What she did though was paint the story of a girl who had taken her own life and another girl, the one left behind, and wove a beautiful story of friendship between them. The ups and the downs, the anger and the sadness. THe loneliness and the grief. Yovanoff exposes it, and spoon feeds you as the reader, guiding you on a coaster of paranormal mystery. I really love the things that Hannah realises about herself and also, about everyone else around her, and mostly, about Lillian. It was also interesting to compare the inner voice of Hannah and her actual physical appearance. She’s described as small, and wears a lot of bright coloured dresses (influenced by Lillian), something I often forgot, since her inner voice never seemed like someone who would wear a brightly coloured dress.

Oh Lillian who I can’t remember despite just finishing this, what her last name is. Lillian is the ghost of the story. She is literally a ghost, and she is currently haunting Hannah. Or rather, more specifically, she’s watching over her (something that isn’t entirely evident until later on). She is definitely a colourful character. Certainly, a much more outstanding social voice than Hannah, yet before this book starts, she suicided, and it absolutely devastated Hannah. Yet she’s still alive six months later, albeit as a ghost, and she’s haunting Hannah. If Hannah is the main character, then Lillian is the second. And I really loved how her character developed. I really loved how much the pair mean to each other. The declaration of their friendship is so much more than the small romance in this book–the romance is nothing in comparison! It’s cute yeah, but your eyes and mind will be on Hannah and Lillian.

Other characters, all had evidently important/key roles in the story. Although with one character, I did want to kind of see what happens after the ending scene of this book, but that’s just one small desire compared to whole of the book. One small tie which well, quite frankly, it was nice to see Hannah snapping at that girl! Finny was an interesting love interest. Though, their romance was a very small aspect of the book. Ariel–love her as Hannah’s sister! As for other primary characters, they were all interesting! Specially who turned out to be the murderer in the end.


Setting

The City of Ludlow.

And also predominantly Muncy Park where most of the killings take place. At times I forgot to worry about what era this was set in, because even though it’s set in contemporary I often forgot because Hannah was always wearing some brightly coloured vintage thing. Another thing about Hannah.


The Writing

On the whole I liked the writing. First person, plain and not overly embellished with pointlessly dense metaphors. And yeah, that’s all I have to say about the writing. It was very simple, but not overly simple. It brings out the emotions which I like the best about the writing. Other than that, yeah!


Overall

I suggest this as a suggestive read. I liked it. (Even if my opinion is a little biased based on what I just read yesterday–A History of Glitter and Blood.) It’s not bad for a paranormal mystery. Simple, quick, easy, and not at all disappointing (though maybe if I’d read this another time, after a series of spectacular books, this book’s good stuff might have been dimmed in comparison).

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Laurinda. Alice Pung.


22603951Laurinda
by Alice Pung
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Bookshelves:  asian, australian-author, coming-of-age, contemporary, literature

Now I know why this book can be considered a piece of literature. It’s not just fiction. It’s literature. So in effect, I should be rating this 5 stars but I won’t because there are many things about this book that frustrated me enough that it marked itself down one star.

Let’s see…
In the beginning I had a really hard time reading this piece of fiction. I have read one Alice Pung book before this one, and I have always wanted to read her first piece of creative fiction, Unpolished Gem. However, both of those books are memoirs, little pieces of life, creatively expressed in a book. Laurinda on the other hand, is not like that, even though many aspects of it reflect sentiments I find familiar in her memoir.

Now, firstly, this is written in first person pov. The premise is not so fascinating, and the contents, so-so. it took me a lot of effort to push through the 335 pages–the size of the copy I have, makes it seem like 400 pages. So admittedly, the size of this thing, was unacceptably big, and as a booklover, my previous phrase is unacceptable too. I should love big books, and often I do–if the book is engaging enough. Laurinda is an engaging book. It’s colourful and abundant with lots of raw story telling material, yet for the majority of the book, I kept asking myself, what’s missing here?

The truth is, Laurinda isn’t missing anything. Not glaringly anyway. It just begins awfully slow. Plus for me, I was contending with three things: 1) Looking for Alibrandi — the author of the book, I do believe Alice Pung admires, and also she admires that particular work in the same way that I admire it; 2) Her previous works; and 3) myself.

Once upon a time, I had a little rule about reading multiple works by the one author. I found it repetitive, and disenchanting to read more than one work by the same author. Coincidentally, Melina Marchetta was also one of the first few authors whose books encouraged me to read more than one of her books. With Alice Pung, I did struggle with this. Not to mention, in hindsight, I should have considered reading Laurinda first, then trying out Pung’s memoirs. My reason: Laurinda begins with sounding like a memoir. It can’t be helped though, because it’s written in first pov, and not only that, epistle style as well. Lucy Lam writes to her friend ‘Linh’ detailing all the events of her first year at Laurinda, a prestigious school for girls in which Lucy had won a scholarship for. She writes 4 letters throughout the course of the book, one for each term (in Aus, we have four terms, two per semester, and we begin in Feb fyi.) So in the beginning, my head had to work its way around ‘Alice Pung’s Memoirs’ and ‘Alice’s YA fiction work: Laurinda‘. It was admittedly quite difficult, and I had so much trouble feeling Lucy’s character, which in itself, was a whole other situation.

Lucy Lam, to say she was an interesting character to begin with, is an overstatement. She was admittedly very boring, very ordinary, very familiar to me. She was also, a great contrast to her friend Linh who was more vibrant and lively than she was. Throughout the course of the book, this becomes more clear, and sometimes, I don’t know if I should commend or condemn Alice Pung for this little piece of literary genius. It frustrated me a whole lot. And I even went and grabbed my copy of Looking for Alibrandi off my shelf to see the difference in writing. Where Marchetta begins simply, dropping us right into the middle of a scene involving Josephine, a nun, and a every day girl’s magazine, Pung goes a different route. She sets the scene, decorating the pages with descriptions of Lucy’s life before Laurinda, and while we’re fed dialogue immediately in Looking for Alibrandi, in Laurinda, we’re given lots and lots of descriptions. This indicates two things about both books. I know people who have loved Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi have recommended this little gem. But to me, I don’t think this is a given. To me, there are two very differing styles here, and while you might love Looking for Alibrandi, Laurinda might look lacklustre next to it. On the other hand, for others, this book really hits the mark. It just depends on where you’re coming from. And for me, while I did struggle a lot with the beginning, I made it to the end, and I rated it 4 stars too, which says something, since at the very beginning, this was only just making it to 3 stars. Because Lucy Lam is an interesting character, and it takes a whole book to understand her. As an Asian-Australian–born here, and not moved–I can understand her character, and I hated how much I could understand her. She was an uncharacteristic Asian, and yet characteristically Asian throughout the whole book. Quiet, accepting, scholarly, lonely. I recognise so many of the scenes within the book, it frustrated me, but for very different reasons. And when Katie tells Lucy at the end exactly what she should do, I had to say, I was very interested then. It was about time she saw the truth!

When I look at Looking for Alibrandi and Laurinda, I obviously could not help but compare, as I have said earlier. Here you have two different authors writing about girls multicultural situations confronting their own cultural identities–I use cultural here, but it’s not just about ethnicity! But the premise is different. With Alibrandi, we expected a romance and we got one. With Laurinda though, we got a girl in a new school trying to find her place in reality. There is no romance in Laurinda.

Both books are written really well, but they are incomparable. Both authors have different styles, and there is no justice to either author by comparing them. Melina Marchetta is the kind of author whose style I will always love. Her writing is emotive gold. It’s beautiful, and wonderfully enthralling. It isn’t hard to get into the head of any of her main characters or flow with any of the stories she tells. Alice Pung on the other hand, has a different way with her words. She is a describer. She writes paragraphs, and it’s always about the internal monologue. She writes well too, but her style is different. As a first time writer of YA fiction, Laurinda was a good beginning, a reasonable debut. If, for its purpose, it is supposed to be a literary book, then yes, it is an excellent piece of fiction. But if, if it was aimed to please a general audience of contemporary YA lovers, it has its work cut out for it. It just lacks that extra spark that would make Laurinda a sparkling diamond in the rough for Australian Young Adult Contemporary Fiction.

The plot premise in this book is really good. I liked it. But it didn’t stand out much. Advertised as a story of Lucy Lam who is eventually courted by ‘the Cabinet’, a trio of girls who are school royalty, and who seemingly control the whole school, and who reminded me of the girls in Mean Girls (like seriously, they really did), it took a long time to actually get to the ‘courting’ part. And even then, there was very little courting happening. It wasn’t so much courting, but rather, almost immediate assimilation within the Cabinet. In many ways, I think this could have been paced a bit better, but on the other hand, it was okay. It didn’t throw a massive wrench in the whole story, and it’s about the part that gets the whole story rolling. And it’s only then that we really start seeing the real Lucy Lam shine through. It’s when she starts to realise who she is, and how she relates to the other characters in the story, and also, who she wants to be in the end. But at first, I had to defeat myself in order to really appreciate this book. And when it’s very difficult when the beginning of Laurinda is a very slow read. It takes perhaps a 100 pages before I start to feel more comfortable with the story. Perhaps, it is because while I have never lived a life like Lucy’s, I have experienced switching schools often enough to be able to empathise with Lucy’s feelings when she first arrives at Laurinda. She was a little slower than me though–unfortunately I was a clique jumper, jumping around, always looking for a place where I belonged, and in the end, I found out a lot about how and what people were like. I can really understand Lucy’s feelings about her old school: Christ Our Saviour. That’s how I felt about my last and final highschool. It was a multicultural place, a sanctuary, that even if it has its imperfections, it was also undeniably perfect. So in Lucy’s memories of her old school, I find realism and truth. I also find the portrayal undeniably honest–that fantasy is real, regardless of any imperfections, because to Lucy, it was real, it was safe.

Unfortunately, my favourite line is located at the end of the book, but still, here it is:

They were not good. They were not bad. They were just nice.

As a literary novel, I really liked the portrayal of an Asian-Australian girl. One who is portrayed in a story that isn’t really about their ethnicity, rather about something else. One reason why I wanted to read this book. But that wasn’t what really caught my attention. What caught my attention were the little references to Pygmalion and Emma. Loved those. There’s a lot more here I could say about its literariness, but I won’t go into details.

Overall for Alice Pung, this is a good debut into the world of YA Contemporary fiction. As a writer, it would be interesting to see what else she writes. I think, she has yet to bring out a book that really wows me off my face. So far, impressive, but I’m waiting. As a suggestive read, this is definitely an interesting one.

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The Family Law. Benjamin Law.

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The Family Law
by Benjamin Law
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bookshelves: Asian, Australian Author, Autobiography Non-Fiction, Humourous, Memoir

There aren’t many books in the world that can talk about something utterly, and entirely, unbelieveably disgusting, and still make me laugh. I usually puke about these things. And believe me, when I say that there were some really disgusting things mentioned in this book–I mean really disgusting, all blood and gore without the blood and gore! because it had been turned into a joke. This whole book is one humourous situation after another, every chapter, there’s at least one joke, one line that’ll be bound to have the corner of your lips tugging upwards. I was definitely cracking up like a weirdo on my couch and on the train, and it was a good dose of well needed medicine. I haven’t laughed so much for so long. I think it helps that he has a sense of humour. If all autobiographies and memoirs were like this, then I would more likely read them. (Since I really don’t like how close to home autobiographies can get.)

However. WARNING. contained in this book are a number of scenes that make me never ever want to think about various things again. They are mentally scaring, and if you’re a person of visuals, who like to picture their next move, picture the scenes of what they’re reading in their head, have an awfully vivid, Not Safe For Work imagination, then you might want to reconsider reading this.

Why?

Because through this novel, predominantly at the start of the narrative, I learnt something about the birth of Benjamin Law and his siblings’ mother that I never ever want to read about it again. The thought of stitches and cutting, and well…to say anything more is mentally scarring, and to think his mother actually told Benjamin and his siblings about each birth….it makes me wonder, did that really happen?!? Either way, that was mentally scarring. Just as it was mentally scarring to get so deep into the mind of male–something I’ve never wanted to do, and hence have always avoided doing in literature because all I ever read when it comes to a male perspective–if written by a male writer–a lot of swearing, a lot of sex, and a lot of immoral yet totally natural thoughts, and when written by a female, all I get is blah blah blah, I have to have her! blah blah blah, the luscious curve of her breast, perky and just right for his hand…. or some crap like that–As you might have guessed, I rarely read fiction written from a male perspective, told well. And because of that, I generally swerve away from the curb of diversity and stick with female perspectives. One more reason why–at least from a female perspective–abhorrent, often shameless presumptuous thoughts of women are easier to handle than when reading from a male perspective about a guy who is putting up with all the crap that we women do sometimes. (I’m horrid, I know as a female, but I’ve read enough Twi-like-stories to drown me in a lifetime of wondering why females have to be so….that.) In short, I really, generally don’t like reading books from a male perspective. Because it confirms all the negative things that generalise the entire male population. But with this book, I actually don’t feel uncomfortable sitting in Benjamin Law’s mind and reading about his life. And this is not because he’s gay, because really, his thoughts and feelings were pretty much like that of any other guys, real and fictional. What made it so comfortable, was the humour. Which makes me think that in reality, he is a really funny guy. So this memoir gets points for not being boring, for having a humourous narrative voice, for having a main character who is likeable and relatable (On a side note, because memoirs are really not my thing, even if Mr Law is a real person, I really can’t call him anything else but a protagonist….then again he is a protagonist of his own story….which….oh never mind, clearly I’m not thinking straight! No wait…I know what this is, it’s the fact that this is a memoir, and because I don’t usually read them, I’m treating this like fiction even though this guy is a real life human being, and he has a book about his family ^^”).

Now. Onto the story itself. Like other autobios and memoirs, this book is a collection of well organised stories about Law’s life. It’s actually structured really well and it doesn’t feel awkward with the various time jumps from one period to another. I can see why he’s had so many essays published and is a freelance writer for various journals/media/etc. He knows how to begin and end, so that each chapter feels like a well balanced, well rounded story. If you look for a flow or connection between one chapter to another, you won’t find it. At the same time, for some authors, the flow of the whole book is broken sometimes by the jump between one chapter to another, but for Law’s book, it is almost flawless. I never once felt like I’d missed a whole lot of things in between. Law has a way with beginnings. He knows how to single out one event, narrate it, and then get to a point by the end of the chapter.

What was interesting in the whole telling is that Law doesn’t bring in the stories of his family’s past until the latter half of the novel. Now I’ve never really read any other memoirs (something I have to rectify asap before I can really give my opinion on it), but you can really see this story is the story of an Australian Born Asian. Even then, his parents’ pasts only play a small role in the whole book, only to give some colour to the various reasons why his parents does certain things. There are also stories about his relatives and how they came to work illegally in Australia, and how they were deported. But when it comes to the main story, the story of his family, this is also a story of Law’s experiences growing up. You see him deal with his identity–cultural and sexual–and how his family operates as a whole. The highlight of this little book for me, was seeing these childhood recollections of Benjamin Law. I am still partially in ignorance here about the reality of each and everyone of these experiences. I mean, they have been humourously retold for this memoir, with Law’s witty use of language, but man, I don’t know if I’ll ever believe these things had actually happened! Specially with the things that his mum says–who, admittedly, despite all her frank and vocal descriptions of birth, life, and death, is one of the most amusing people I’ve ever read about.

For me, this book, like Alice Pung’s book, was a very interesting, if but sometimes uncomfortable (because it’s not like I always read the stories about other Australian Borns who have a varied and ranged number of experiences growing up that I can and can’t relate to at the same time (and just to clarify, I wasn’t uncomfortable about Law’s experiences with his sexuality–that was actually really interesting, and cute too, I must say)). I would definitely recommend The Family Law as a suggestive read. BUT I also caution, for it is somewhat graphic, and there are some scenes which I wouldn’t recommend one read if they are uncomfortable with those sort of things–painfully unnecessarily gorey description of childbirths, gorey descriptions about the things that happen once a month, etc. and admittedly, in this book I see the frank and laidback voice that I would generally see in Australian novels featuring caucasian protagonists–stories which I usually hate reading (whether because it’s too close to home, literally and figuratively, or because I just find all the overdone expressions of reality so far from my own and seeming so exaggerated I just can’t help but hate it, but it’s not like I don’t try and read books like that. I just don’t like a lot of them, and of the ones I do, there’s probably a very familiar pattern or trend.)

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Vicious. V.E. Schwab.

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Vicious
by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nina’s Bookshelves: antihero, dark, favourites, para-psychic, paranormal, quarterly-book-club-3rd-quarter-2015,something-akin-to-horror-thriller, superpowers, thriller

Your Choice Read for the Quarterly Book Club’s Third Quarter Read!

Omgomgomgomgomgomgomg how I drool. Someone please get me a towel. I am so glad that this book is due tomorrow, because that totally pushed me to take a break from nonstop academic research, and to let myself be taken in by this story.


Where to begin?

There is so many good things to say about this book, I don’t know where to start. I guess, I should probably point out that my excitement over this book is coupled with a number of things–the fact that it’s an adult novel, the fact that it’s dark, the fact that compared to the only other series I’ve read by Schwab this one is so much more

Okay, so that doesn’t make much much sense. Let me start again.

First:

Rivalry.
Ambition.
Jealous.
Bromance.
Antihero.
God complexes.

The Plot

A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers. Victor and Eli started out as college roommates? brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find? aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge?but who will be left alive at the end? In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

So. Like many books for the Quarterly Book Club Quarterly Read, I usually haven’t actually read the blurb or the premise. I just go to the library and put everything on hold and see how many come in within the three months. Because of this method, I’ve become pretty overly ambitious–i.e. putting too many on hold and barely able to handle the reading load!–but also, because of this method, I get exposed to a whole different variety of fiction that I might not consider picking up normally. Vicious is one of those. It’s not because it’s not interesting (as my rating can attest, this is a very interesting book). It’s because while I have read The Archived, and intend to read the sequel, The Unbound because I did really enjoy the Archived, there was something missing. It was a good book, there were enthralling moments, and a plot line that really picks up at the end. So while I enjoyed all of that about the Archived, it wasn’t really enough to get me to pick up another book by Schwab anytime soon. Not because I’m not interested, but because I’m a little lazy, and I have a tbr list longer than my height (I’m short btw, but still). So, it’s a good thing that when I picked up Vicious, I had little to no expectations. And rarely does a plot grab my within the first 50 pages.
Do you know how much I love a story that just captures me right from the beginning?
I love it so much.
Vicious captured me right from the start, and trust me that’s no easy feat, not with the way Schwab told her story. Vicious is told from a number of perspectives. Firstly, it’s told from various character perspectives–in particular, the main characters, Victor, Eli, Sydney, Mitch, Serena. (Though, really, Sydney, Mitch, and Serena all play a slightly smaller role compared to Victor and Eli obviously.) Secondly, the timeline is alternating. It begins with “Last Night” but then it jumps back to “Ten Years Ago”, then to “Two Nights Ago” and later on in the book, “This Afternoon” and “Five Hours to Midnight” (This last one is only one example) so on, depending on the character, giving the overall story, I suppose a comic book effect–though, I don’t read many comic books, and haven’t read one for so long, that this style is both new and just, plain, ‘different’ to me. I’ve seen this style before, and most of the time, it gets confusing, and unnecessarily messy, but with Vicious it was nothing like that. With Vicious, there’s not one single moment when you think ‘I’m lost’ or ‘bloody hell that’s confusing’. In fact, Schwab does this so well, you will love the way she reveals the history through a series of complex flashbacks.

The way she reveals the whole plot–a complete web of interlacing ties and connections of both the physical and mental kind–via specifically choosing which parts of character’s history to reveal at various stages of the story act as layers. She layers them on top of each other, one at a time, until by the climax, you have a very clear picture of the characters, their motives, and the complex relationships tying each one together. And it’s this developing plot structure that had me in shivery, excited knots–because Schwab knows how to build the tension, how to pit one character against the other without making it seem like just children in the playground. These are children with big ambitions, big knives, and who aren’t children at all, but adults playing a dangerous game against each other. (Actually about this, I’ll talk more about it in the Characters section.)

At the same time, the overall plotline is very simple. It’s very straightforward–a basic story of two incredibly intelligent, incredibly ambitious young adults who were friends turned enemies because of their own ambitions. In many ways, the beginning of this plot is similar to the Social Network. But in this story, it begins with college kids and a college thesis idea about supernatural people called ‘ExtraOrdinary’, aka ‘EO’. How an EO exists is actually the thesis of one of the main characters, and because they’re friends, they help each other out until things go wrong, and the climax of this story takes that paranormal turn. It skyrockets.

The most significant part of this whole book is the relationship between Victor and Eli, it’s seeing that contrast between characters, and realising that in this story, there isn’t one single ‘good person’, just as there aren’t any ‘bad people’. Victor, is the featuring protagonist, but he is anything but ‘good’ and his is the ultimate antihero. Regardless of the simple plot, this book shines because of its characters, because of the writing, and most importantly, the raw emotions and character development that goes on between the characters..

The Characters

The two main, most prominent characters in this book are Victor Vale and Eli Cardale, later known as Eli Ever. They were once roommates and friends, who eventually turned enemies. At first, Victor is seen a rather selfish, bored, uncaring, somewhat jealous person who can lie very well; while in contrast, Eli is the golden boy, with the great smile who can talk his way into anything, and who Victor was drawn to, because of the brightness that seemed to follow Eli around. So at first, you think Victor is going to be the ‘villain’ and Eli, ‘the Hero’, but as the story progresses, and more and more Eli and Victor’s personalities and histories are revealed, the more it becomes clear that the line between Hero and Villain is blurred by the concept of ‘in the name of the greater good’. I’m not going to tell you what powers/what happens to make them estranged because that would ruin it, but during their college days, the both of them get carried away with Eli’s thesis, and attempt experiments beyond the control of young adults. The consequences are severe, brought on by anger, jealousy, and the ambitions of foolish young adults, and it lands Victor in jail for ten years. They are like children, yet they are adults. More accurately, they’re young adults with great ambitions that make them so dangerous in the playground that no one else wants to join in their fight.

Victor. Oh Victor. At the beginning you were a person with a somewhat horrid personality, but I didn’t hate you. I liked your complexity. I liked the darkness in your heart, and I liked how between you and Eli, there is almost no distinction between who is ‘good’ and who is ‘bad’. I think Eli was worse than you though. Since you didn’t do things in the name of the greater good. You just followed your ambition, your goal: to kill Eli. Whereas Eli, Eli hid behind that self righteous shield and tried to play god. Indeed, Victor himself was no ‘pure’. He killed. He hurt. He tortured all in the name of getting his revenge. But he didn’t kill someone without a good reason. Well, as good enough a reason he would ascribe to someone. Usefulness was usually the key in this story–since after all, for both Victor and Eli, neither wanted to keep someone useless around. But between the pair, Victor is less cold about who he keeps and who he throws away.

Sydney actually doesn’t read like a thirteen year old. At the same time, it makes sense that she doesn’t because of what has happened to her recently (as of two nights ago in the story). She grew up in a short time, yet there is still a childish innocence to her. I liked her character. But at a lot of times, I wanted to scream at her, ‘don’t trust him!!!!!! Regardless of my own opinion of him’. And then there is Serena–with both Sydney and Serena, I won’t tell you their significance or who they’re aligned with–is a pretty solid character. But of all supporting characters, she’s probably the shallowest, and has the least amount of depth. Yet at the same time, there is so much to her character that wants for something she can never have. She is an interesting character that’s for sure.

Lastly, Mitch, I bring him in because he is a supporting character on Victor’s side, and I thought he was really cool. I like his character, and when it came to revealing his history, I really liked him.

The Setting

This is set in a variety of places (depending on the chronological time period), but mostly, it’s focussed on the City of Merit for the last three days of the story (since the story is told currently over a period of about a day and a bit, with the rest of the story told in flashbacks accumulated over ten years). EOs are also considered dangerous in this story, they are something of a myth, of which most of the world don’t know about, and the police/federal bureaus will cover up any EO related incidence.

The Writing

I was very surprised by the density of the writing. By dense, I mean, there are a lot of words on the page, and there are bigger paragraphs than I expected. The Archived was not like this. It was simpler, more YA. But as expected of a book that’s been shelved as Adult, the writing in Vicious is much more denser. More intense. More complex. And it actually required me to read every single word on the page. I usually read really fast, because paragraphs and words melt together. But in Vicious, it was like I didn’t want to miss out a single word out of fear I would miss out something important. I actually really revelled in this writing. I love the way Schwab uses her words to capture each character’s idiosyncratic speech and actions. There is so much depth to the writing. I drooled. (And this might also have been because compared to academic texts that are usually a little drier, Schwab’s writing was excellent.)

Overall

Should you read this? Well that depends. This book isn’t a romance. It’s not a superhero story either. It’s a dark, gorey, epic mental, physical, and moral battle between antihero and so-called hero. This isn’t a story about who is ‘good’, rather it’s a story about ‘who is the lesser evil?’ Is this a suggestive read? Yes, definitely.

[N.B] If I sound repetitive or nonsensical, my apologies! I’m just so tired right now from finishing the second half asap and writing the above which I hope sounds somewhat rational and cohesive lol.

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Skip Beat! Chapter #226.

I just have to say…oh my god!  This chapter….how long do I have to wait for the next one?!?

Firstly, yes, manga is the only thing I really read online.  If the bookstores on my side of the world actually spent the time to sell each and every volume of my favourite manga, I would be there, eyes brightly sparkling, hand freely dishing out money from my wallet with a huge silly grin on my face; because really, while I would probably not spend too much money on manga (each volume is about five chapters long, maybe 100-something pages, and is about AUD$15) since they are pretty expensive.  I would however, spend money on Skip Beat! even more so for the 3-in-1 editions.  Since it’s one of my favourite mangas, as those who follow my blog will know, I’ve done a few pages on this top so far:  All About Skip Beat! , The Many Faces of Kyoko Mogami (Skip Beat!), and Skip Beat! by Yoshiki Nakamura.

Today however, I just want to hyperventilate a little on what just happened in the latest chapter!  (The pages below start with the one on the left, reading from the right, top most corner across to the left, before going to the second page on the right also from right to left.  Sourced from:  Kissmanga.com)  So this chapter is focussed on Kyoko’s desire to confront her mother for the first time in a long time.  (Spoilers alert!!!!  Don’t read any further if you don’t want to be spoiled!)  In the previous few chapters, Kyoko happened to see her mother on tv as a lawyer on one of those showbiz shows.  By coincidence, she is watching this because the tv player at the place she stays at (the little restaurant that she was helping out with at the beginning of the series), recorded the show Saena Mogami was in because it recognised the name ‘Mogami’, which is also Kyoko’s last name–everyone else she knows and recognises and wonders about the name, has seen the show and are worried about Kyoko.  And they’re right to, because once Kyoko hears what her mother says on the show, publicly declaring that she is not a mother, Kyoko goes out, and the despair hits her.  She ends up telling Sho Fuwa to get lost, and runs off where she sees Ren, who she mistakens as Corn (even though we all know they are the same person, Kuon) and seeks solace in hugging him–of course when she stops crying and realises she’s hugging Ren, she freaks out–

–Which puts Ren in a tough spot, but because this is Ren we’re talking about, he smoothly works his way around the situation, giving a half ridiculous (but to Kyoko kind of believable) reason for being where he is now, and also managing to comfort Kyoko without being overly corny.  I really like how this manga is both romance orientated, and yet not.  I like how comfort doesn’t always come in terms of hugs and kisses and lovey-dovey things, but rather, because of the relationship between Ren and Kyoko, and because of their own separate characters and attitudes towards life, they take things very slowly between them.  Comfort comes in just being together, talking and advice, and also, doing couply things without actually being a couple.  And I love the humour Nakamura injects into the story–

–Mind all of the above scenes are taken from Chapter #225.  Which brings me to Chapter #226.  Where, Kyoko is psyching herself up to go confront her mother.  A mother, who so far, we as readers already know doesn’t really think or is seen in Kyoko’s eyes, as not much of a mother, and a mother who Kyoko was always considered as a ‘bother’.  Hence why she’s freaking out over confronting her mother. She is determined to do it in Chapter #226, but like many of us know in real life, for the hard things, sometimes we’re just too chicken to do it and we tell ourselves, ‘maybe another day’ again and again.  And then, when something can happen earlier than we plan, you are almost tempted to back out, only you go for it, and you end up spending the hour or so before the actual event/meeting/etc thinking of all the excuses you could possibly use to get out of it, until you realise the hour is over and time’s up, and before you know it, you’re facing the music.  That’s what happens to Kyoko in #226.

And so Kyoko ends up meeting her mother’s colleague, and—

WHO IS KYOKO’S FATHER?  I am now curious.  Before I was just curious about what happened to Kyoko’s mother to make Kyoko think that her mother doesn’t care about her, and now, with that reveal, who the hell is Kyoko’s father?  I haven’t even yet begun to hypothesize who it could possible be, except I am definitely sure it’s someone in showbiz.  But I don’t think we’ve met that person yet, let alone seen them around.  There just hasn’t been any potential possibilities.  Which makes me wonder, just who is it?

But before that.  I am absolutely dying to read the next chapter (don’t know when it will be out, but it better be soon!) because look at how this one ends!

See?!  Truthfully, I don’t think Kyoko’s mother hates her, nor do I think she doesn’t see Kyoko as her child.  Rather, I think she doesn’t feel like she’s worth being called a ‘mother’ because whatever relationship drama Saena Mogami went through, it was probably the blackest moment in her life in which I reckon she felt worthless once it ended.  And because she felt worthless, she pushed all of herself into work to a) distract herself, and b) to feel worthy of herself again, and in turn she pushed all that pressure onto Kyoko too.  So while she worked, she left Kyoko alone, didn’t want to see her, didn’t want to be reminded.  And then by the time Kyoko ran away, she probably realised how much she was missing of her daughter, and how she probably does not deserve to be called her mother.

Or something like that.

I’m still building my theory, but so far, that’s what I’m getting from Saena Mogami’s character.  But because I don’t know enough about her yet, and also because I don’t think she’s really a ‘villain’ character, and because this is Nakamura’s shoujo manga, her character is definitely going to be complex.  You just don’t get simple characters in really good mangas.

Lola and the Boy Next Door. Stephanie Perkins.

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Lola and the Boy Next Door
by Stephanie Perkins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

I remember reading Anna and the French Kiss and thinking a lot of things about it. Lola and the Boy Next Door isn’t any different. Stephanie Perkins does something funny to me. She makes me love and hate her books at the same time. I love it for the humour, the light fluffiness, and the cute romance. But I hate them for all the little things I usually hate in books! Specially romance books!


What I loved

[1] Lola. On the whole, Lola is a well rounded character. She develops well throughout the whole book and it was a pleasure to read. At first, she comes out really strong, and then with the arrival of various characters, things go downhill for her, and I liked seeing her downhill trend, the descent of Lola into someone even she can’t recognise. I like the struggles with herself that she goes through when it comes to love, to Max, and to Cricket. The struggles are real, and very genuine. Even if a little stupid. But then, it’s a romance, and therefore, I feel, perfectly valid.

[2] Cricket. He’s cute. Adorable. Great contemporary romance love interest material. I like how Perkins’ created his character and definitely think he’s better for Lola than Max.

[3] Lindseeyyyyy! I loved Lindsey, mainly because she reminded me of me. I mean that was almost me in highschool! And also me when with my best friend. My favourite character in the whole book.

[4] Character development. I liked that each character develops throughout the story. They go from high to low then spring back up. For some. For other characters, it’s the slow unravelling of depth. You learn more and more about other characters as you go on.

[5] Diversity. This has quite a bit of diversity. Not extensively, but it’s not like a full on white cast with straight lines everywhere. You have Lola’s parents, technically her uncle and his partner, who he has been with since forever, and who took Lola off her mother’s hands and raised her as her two dads. You have Lindsey who is Korean. SO there, there’s a little bit of diversity for ya. And I guess you can count Lola, who is eccentric, diverse in her own right.

[6] Most of Perkins’ writing is to die for. I mean if it was so engaging, I would have gagged and gagged more than half a dozen times. Perkins definitely knows how to bring the teenage/young adult mind to life. All the worries are there, all the mistakes, all the selfishness in Lola’s thoughts. Perkins gives us writing that submerges you, and makes you want to like her work even if you kinda hate the story.

[7] I love the cameos of familiar characters! Loved it!!!


What I didn’t like

[1] I really, really, really, sometimes didn’t like Lola. And I mean all the stupid things that crossed her mind, which mind you are all perfectly valid, and can be reasonably explained, but still I hate that she did all those things! What Lola does in this book, reminds me of the things I really hated about Anna and the French Kiss. In Anna and the French Kiss, Anna pined for a guy who was in a relationship with someone else. In this book, it’s Lola in a relationship, pining for an old love who suddenly appears. So there is that familiarity, that kind of contemporary forbiddenness which can sometimes grate on my nerves. I know when I first started Lola, I really enjoying it, and I really liked how it began (I believe I had the same feeling when I started Anna), but then, enter Cricket, and then the messiness there, and then Lola’s feelings, and well, my enjoyment dwindled a little, before perking back up again. Although I understand all of Lola’s actions and choices in the book, sometimes I just wanted to scream at her and tell her, the answer is staring you right in the face! (Luckily, she got there pretty soon!)

[2] The obsession with the beauty and physicalness. Then again, in reality, relationships begin with attraction physically before it progresses to personality. Sometimes it’s personality first. With Perkins’ stories, it’s attraction as much as it is personality, and I wonder how many times I’ve rolled my eyes at a descriptive passage in the book where Lola is focussed on Cricket’s pants or his hair, or his eyes. Yeah. It got old. But at least Perkins wasn’t going on about how beautiful the male love interest was, not like how Maas did so with her main love interest in Throne of Glass. That was sooooo irritating!


Overall

And that is the end of my little discussion. I’d write more but for some reason, I’m feeling very very tired! And can’t be bothered writing more!

If you’re looking for a light fluffy romance read, then this is the one. If you want something that will make you smile, then you got it. While I do feel this one is probably not as ‘wow’ as Anna and the French Kiss, it does have something!

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Anna and the French Kiss.  Stephanie Perkins// @Words That Flow Like Water

The Winner’s Crime. Marie Rutkoski.

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The Winner’s Crime
by Marie Rutkoski

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh so I finished this a few hours ago, and much like the first, I was in love with it. Not to fall into all the hype I initially didn’t read the first book because I didn’t trust the hype. And now, I did, so glad I bought this book on a whim, because I don’t know what I would have done without it. I just seriously crave the last book now.

(Okay so keep in mind I did write this actual review a few month back–May 2015 to be exact but I’ve only just got round to posting it here on Words That Flow Like Water >.> I should probably be more in sync about these things, but then again, oh well!  Anyway!  This, what is written here, is and was my first impressions right after I finished Winner’s Crime, which if you can’t tell, I really, really loved.)

I have pondered on why I like this series so much. I have figured it out: I don’t know. It just has the awesomeness that I only reserve for a particular kind of books.

You see, I don’t love overly dramatised books. I like it better if it feels real. I don’t love romance plots only. I like it better if the romance is only a subplot and instead the main characters must deal with their own problems first. I don’t love war books from the sidelines. This book isn’t really ‘war’ but it also is. Kestrel is at the centre, and she’s in a place of power. Power to make or break a country. Even if it seems like she’s only surrounded by pretty things and balls and high society. But this was the life she was born in, and it’s no different to a historical. I really despise historicals that have a much too modern character at the centre of the story. I like Kestrel. She follows her rules, and also bargains with them. She is for maintaining her reputation, whilst playing the game of high society. What I like, is that at the very base of her decisions about how she acts in society is her relationship with her father.


Which brings me to:

[ 1 ] What will happen now to Kestrel and her father after what happened at the end of this book? I was so torrrnnnnnnnnn by the decision. I totally understand the power play here, understand the reasons, but still I can’t believe it happened!

[ 2 ] What will happen now between Kestrel and Arin (Well actually I can guess, it’s obvious that they should end up together at the end of the next book. If Rutkoski breaks this trope, then I shall be very surprised!)

[ 3 ] What will happen now between Kestrel and Jess? I am totally unsatisfied and wretched about what happened between them two. I feel like nothing was explained! And my rating should lose stars for that. But yet, on the whole….it was just too good.

[ 4 ] The ending. Omg the ending. Funny, it’s a very simple ending, yet it has me going ‘omg omg omg’.

[ 5 ] I suspect something between Verex and Risha.

[ 6 ] I will admit, Arin was a bit of a sob sack in this, but at least he was feeling something. He just needs to keep his head screwed on straight and read between the lines. Kestrel is strong in her own way. But she likes the political game too much. I liked seeing how she went through this one, felt the way she was crumbling under the pressure of the game. I always did like a book where there’s a strong and heavy game of politics in play, specially in a situation like this.

[ 7 ] If you loved the first, you’ll love this one even more. There’s no book that walks you over the edge in terms of intensity and politics like this one does in YA. There’s just no YA fantasy that matches up. Not even Throne of Glass.

[ 8 ] A Suggestive Read of course, and also, I want the Winner’s Kiss right now.

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The Winner’s Curse.  Marie Rutkoski// @Wordsthatflowlikewater 

End of Days. Susan Ee.

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End of Days
by Susan Ee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Angelfall will always be my favourite book of all three, but for every installment, I haven’t ever had the urge to put this down. One of my favourite series of the year, End of Days ends with a bang. This is definitely a post apocalyptic book with hope a tthe end of a book!

Loved all the characters!

More review later!

** Update **

It’s been a while since I read End of Days, but when I finished the book and realised it was finally over, my heart was just loonnnnnnggggiiinnngggg for more. There aren’t many books I’ve read this year that left me feeling like that.


What I adored
;

[1] Penryn and Raffe. I will always adore this pair. They have a romance, it gets hot and kind of steamy, and even though all these events seem to happen over a short period of time, how they developed did not seem ‘instant’. But I guess what I liked most about this pairing is that their romance wasn’t the focus of the whole story. The action is. The way it ended though, that was perfect.

[2] Penryn. Penryn is such a strong character. I love the way she focusses on her goal and aims to accomplish it. She has plenty of faults too, but mostly, I like that she stays true to herself. I also really adore that her head doesn’t go all pear shaped when a guy is involved. Sure she thinks about allowing herself to feel things for Raffe, but she doesn’t let it get to her head.

[3] Raffe! Gawd I love him. I don’t usually like guys like this, placed in the story in this manner. But usually I don’t like them because in other stories, the guy is the one that turns into a brainless, possessive, ball of mush. Raffe is a bit like that too, but he actually retains a brain. And the fact that Penryn doesn’t pull any stupid shit, no silly sacrifices made for silly reasons to make the hero chase after her. So I’m glad Raffe never had to do anything stupid. And instead, it felt more affecting, their little romance, and why I loved it a whole lot more. As a character, I liked him. He was stoic, but a nice guy. He has a goal to accomplish, and while he has feelings for Penryn, he also doesn’t want to give her hope. Yet at the same time, he doesn’t want to hurt her, so he tells her beforehand the way it’s going to go.

[4] This book is definitely post-apocalyptic science fiction and definitely not dystopia. So that was a nice change. The end of this conclusion had me feeling good. In dystopia, you get the feeling that nothing has really changed in the world, that the characters go from one hell to another, even though for a moment, it seems like it’s better. At the end of End of Days though, there’s that feeling that things are going to be better, that the world is going to rebuild itself, specially with the angels going back home and leaving the earth.

[5] The secondary characters. Oh my god, they are just fabulous. By fabulous, I mean not a single one of them were casually included. Everyone had a purpose and being. And one of my favourites of all those characters is is Belial.

[6] Rarely, rarely do I see in a YA novel, a villain character giving some justice. Belial for so long in the series, I thought he was just going to be one of those guys who did bad things for no reason except to be evil. Belial is not like that. And I wonder if perhaps he would get a backstory, particularly since he had such a big grudge against Raffe in books one and two. And oh yessss my desire was fulfilled and in the middle of End of Days, I nearly squealed with love for Belial’s backstory. It made so much sense, and believe me, it was one of the best parts of the book.


What I disliked
;

[1] I do find that the part where Penryn took over Obi’s position was kind of lame and contrived. I mean I did see it coming. At the same time,it’s not as over done as other similar scenes in other books. I also dislike how things ended for Obi, but I think the fault there is because we don’t see enough of Obi to really know the real him. Not like what we do with Belial.

Overall;

I did really enjoy this. Was sad that it ended. Totally wanted more lol.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Ransom Riggs.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #1)


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My face —> -_________________________-

In truth, I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up this novel for the Quarterly Book Club’s 3rd Quarter Read. All I knew was that this book has a tonne of reviews, supporters, lovers, and is currently on sale on Book Depository (love that site!) Other than that, I knew nothing. And thus had no expectations when I started reading it. I got through 85 pages relatively engaged, but not dying to continue reading it, and then I put it down for two weeks, and sought out something else to read.

-______________________________-

Nothing blew my mind away. And with two days before Miss Peregrine’s is due at the library, I came back. I came back and finished it today, while I was procrastinating. I didn’t finish it quickly because it was the most mind blowing book I’d ever read. I finished it because I had to finish it. If I owned it, I’d probably leave it for a long time. Since really, I wasn’t overly ecstatic.

Why?

Here is why:

[1] Jacob starts as a semi-strong character. I did love him in the beginning, I did love the way he talked about his grandpa. That was my favourite part of the whole book. But then, my interest in him as a character waned. When he meets all the other peculiar children, it dips completely. If I knew exactly why I lost interest in him, this would be so much easier to explain. But it could have been a number of things. The fact that he ends up kissing the same girl his grandpa liked. The fact that I no longer felt like I was getting to know what kind of person Jacob was. The fact that of all things, Jacob’s father doesn’t really seem to care about him! That he kind of gives up, and while yeah there were so many scenes in the book highlighting how much Jacob’s father cared about him, I just didn’t feel it. Each scene felt like they’d been thrown in casually and not really useful. So by the end, I felt Jacob lacked depth.

[2] The story on the whole is nothing overly special, the plot is pretty generic, however I have no gripes about it. I never was one to really care whether there’s some fascinating plot or not. It’s the emotions that get me in books (emotions that the second half of this book really lacked). I do like that while Jacob is special, he isn’t overly special, because you see it from the beginning where his peculiarity comes from. And as for the climax, it was both unpredictable and predictable. Maybe I’m in one of those moods, and things just hit me quicker or something, because I saw the twist coming, felt the foreshadowing long before it came. So when it hit, it was only a mild surprise, but not really overly surprising.

[3] This book suffers from too much sea. It coasts. Coasts a lot. There are action scenes, and intense moments of mystery, but I never really felt the spark. For this, I feel it’s the fault in the writing. Again, it might just be because I felt that the writing was too simplistic, hence why I didn’t jump when certain things happened, or when the action kicked in. In many ways, I think I would have loved this a lot if I was younger. It just didn’t have the same excitement I’m used to feeling with a really good book.

But then again, it might just be me, ya know? One of those moods where I don’t want to appreciate something that is loved by a lot of people. Or maybe I’m just coming along with an unpopular opinion.

[4] -_____________________________- This book has been misleadingly been advertised as a horror book on Book Depository. IT IS ANYTHING BUT HORROR. Supernatural, yes. Paranormal, yes. Thriller? For like a ten year old, yes! But for me, who has seen her fair share of horror movies, I do not think it’s scary at all. Anything but. Again, I blame the writing here. It’s too simplistic. It feels like it’s constantly holding back on really bringing out the utmost potential this book has. And yet….at the same time, in my indecisive mood, this book has reached its utmost potential.

[5] Other characters. Emma was pretty kickass, but like with any book written from a male perspective, sometimes I really hate female representations. Sure, Emma was not as bad as a few others, and she was actually pretty cool, but seriously. I CAN’T TELL HOW OLD SHE’S SUPPOSED TO BE. Seriously, is she like ten? And even if she’s fifteen like Jacob, then she’s got a very sharp personality, which makes her both kickass and annoying, depending on my mood, she can be both lol.

[6] The world/mythology/fantasy. It was interesting. I liked the development, and I liked where it went with the whole ‘peculiars’ and ‘hollows’. I wouldn’t say it’s original, but I will say it was a pretty original way of executing a familiar kind of parallel of good and evil. I think I liked it more for the story that came with how hollows came about. It’s not just an ”evil’ version of peculiars. Hollows came from somewhere, and how they came to be, was something I was really grateful to see in the story. I think I liked the execution of the story as well.

Overall it was still an interesting read. I wouldn’t call it YA, or Horror, but as a teen book, aimed at a younger audience, it’s definitely a Suggestive Read. Since others might like this more than I did.

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The Last Wish. Andrzej Sapkowski.

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The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.8 Stars–Not quite 4 (I was sooooo disappointed in the last short story, I thought they were going to kill each other, but they didn’t!!!!), but it was still a really good read over all.

This book series was recommended to me by a friend. I didn’t think I would start reading it so soon, but then I did. Though because it’s a series of short stories interwoven into a bigger story, I put it down and picked it up every so often. Not to mention I was reading the ebook version, and lord knows I generally find reading on a screen a pain in the butt. However, I finished it. And I did like it. I would definitely read the second, and the third, and more just to see where it goes.

The character, ‘the Witcher’ fascinates me, though in this book there is a lack of depth to his character. At the same time, you couldn’t say there was no depth either. It feels like in this book, Geralt is a figure, slightly blurred, somewhat a mystery. We have insights to his past through the short stories, but that isn’t the focus of the short stories. Not really. Yet also, really, since with each story, you learn a little more about the Witcher, about his choices and regrets. Particularly in the short story The Lesser Evil, where the Witcher had to choose, and ultimately hadn’t made the right choice, and in the story, A Question of Price in which more is revealed about Geralt’s character.

Geralt the Witcher is the main focus of the whole book. The last short story in the book, highlights the title of the book, and bloodyyyyy hell that was some story! (More in a minute on it!) Geralt’s job is to essentially exterminate monsters–demons, malicious supernatural beings, etc. And hence, with each short story, you see him performing a task. He is a Witcher by destiny, and not really by choice–something I want to know more about. As a fan of backstories, in depth character building, and plot twists that tie the character in with the story so deeply, I just drooolll, I really want to see the moment when I find out everything about Geralt’s past. Specially after hearing this about him from a secondary character in A Question of Price:

He knows the law better than anyone else, because it applied to him once…. He was taken from his home because he was what his father hadn’t expected to find on his return. Because he was destined for other things. And by the power of destiny, he became what he is. (At 49%)

Little things like that know how to snatch at my heart and catch my interest. And like always I kind of really hate it.

In the beginning, I had very little, close to no expectations of this book. I generally don’t, specially if they’re recommendations. Not to mention in beginning this book, it was kind of slow, and the switching between short story, and present telling, was kind of confusing. However, once I got into the flow of the story, and when my mind decided to wake and click to the fact that the short stories are related to the little in between pieces that are being told in the present, I became more invested in this book. Sometimes I have no idea what catches my attention, let alone, what the hell I’m reading even though I’m reading it. This was one of those times. But when things started clicking, and I read the Lesser Evil, I started to really like this book. It had my attention that’s for sure (though admittedly the use of short stories had me putting this down every so often since, after all, why should I read all these short stories at once? I felt like hoarding them for a bit!) and I was definitely engaged to read all the way through to the end!

However, and this is the problem with adopting this method of narration–a major plot, with short story intervals–is that the short stories end. And sometimes they end kind of awkwardly or whatnot. Not that Sapkowski’s did. I won’t lie, I AM STILL BUMMED BY THE WAY THE LAST WISH SHORT STORY ENDED, WHY DIDN’T THEY KILL EACH OTHER???? Am I cruel? There was just so many mentions of Yennefer prior to that short story, and
I thought it was a bad thing…..then again, in that short story, it ended well. I just really got the impression that something else happened….

Either way, it was still a good short story, and the ending of the whole book was still good, with promise of more adventure and witcher duties in the next one.

My biggest desire for this series, is to see what happens to Geralt and how he grows. Therefore, I will read the next book primarily for that reason. While it’s not the best fantasy I’ve ever read, it’s not the worse either. THIS main character does not want pity or forced sympathy from me unlike Kvoth from The Name of the Wind–I really didn’t like him, or that book much, even though it’s not a bad book. The Witcher, is just what he is, the Witcher. He’s not overdone, his weaknesses are real and believeable, he is confident, yet he is also not confident. He doesn’t brag or boast, but is modest about his skills. He actually uses his brain too, and falls prey to his own desires and missteps. He has a crutch that prevents him from doing some things, and you know what, he kind of reminds me of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell portrayal) from the TV Show Arrow–well that interpretation!

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Doctor Mars. T.A. Uner.

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Doctor Mars
by T.A. Uner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many thanks to the Author for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

First off, this is 3.89 stars. It loses stars for being too short! I knew this was short to begin with, and knew that it was perfect for a train ride. However in the end, I didn’t get around to reading this until well, now. And even then it wasn’t while I was on the train either. I was just bored, and wanted something different regardless of the fact that I actually have a small stack of library books to still finish up.

Secondly, I had very little expectation of Doctor Mars when I started it. I read the premise and thought it was interesting. I’m always game for a mystery story on Mars. Who isn’t? It’s been a while since I read an actual sci-fi novel that isn’t classed as a dystopian or post apocalyptic. Rather just a simple story set o another planet or something. The last time I read something this sci-fi was probably Garth Nix’s A Confusion of Princes which was a while back. Well that’s the last one that I can remember right this moment. But well, these days, I can’t really find anything that catches my fancy in sci-fi, not like how Phillip K Dick works his masterpieces into a thrilling futuristic tale.

T. A. Uner comes very close to that perfect sci-fi imagery I have in my head thanks to Philip K Dick. He’s my ultimate Sci-fi genius, and since I rarely dwell in full on sci-fi stories, yep, he’s definitely my all time favourite. SO when I saw T. A. Uner comes very close, I mean, the beginning of his novella has that same mysterious feel as Minority Report. You’re thrown into this world of the Mindcop Dossiers, and it works. I didn’t feel one bit confused. The language is simple and straight forward and there’s a goal to be followed, a directive given to the reader that there is a purpose for this novella. The purpose: to solve the murder.

Simple. Straightforward. Our MC is an officer with the Mindcop Division. Liberty Rise is mutant with a power that enables her read people. It’s not mindreading, but via touch, she can read little bits of history, whatever comes from who she touches. This ability allows her to unravel the case of Doctor Mars.


Pros:

~ Simple.

~ Straightforward.

~ Mystery.

~ Action packed–there’s never a moment in which you feel like you’re lacking in action. For a 48page novella, Uner does well in packing in a punch.

~ Liberty. I like her so far. Don’t have any issues with her yet, but because the story was so short, and with the focus on the mystery, there is so much more I want to know about her!


Cons:
Yes, all books have them.
~ It’s only a novella, but totally deserves to be longer!

~ Because it was so action packed, you lack the in depth development of the characters. Which is a shame, because I would have definitely have liked to see more of each character.

~ World building. Even though it was very easy to slip into this story, this was mainly because we had a mystery to unravel. If the mystery wasn’t so prevalent, then the world building wouldn’t have been strong enough. I would definitely love to see more of this world. I think it was clever how the places were named.


Overall:

A must read Suggestive Read! A short and quick sci-fi story definitely worth reading!

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