Reviews

The Fallen Empire by Brandon Sanderson

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5* 

Lesbereal.

The last 10% of this book was what gave it the additional star, because it surprised me. And any book that can actually surprise me earns an extra star. Well done, Final Empire!

The story follows Kelsier (known as Kell – what’s with Kell in fantasy?!) a man who’s making himself into a myth by leading a rebellion, and Vin, a ska worker recruited to his crew. It took me about 100 pages to really get into it, because I felt it was a bit surface level, and the metal magic took a bit of getting used to but I did enjoy the winding story.

One of my peeves was Vin’s feelings for a nobleman during her time infiltrating the Nobility. While Elend was cute, I would have loved Vin to actually be queer or just be more focused on her abilities than “falling for a nobleman she’s barely spoken to”. The romance was very sparse, there wasn’t much depth to it. Very thin at best. But Vin as a character proved interesting and I loved her place in the final 20% of the book.

Kelsier was complex, but he was a typical hero in my opinion. But my favourite character had to be his brother Marsh, who went so deep undercover…. well I won’t spoil it. But I love characters like him, the ones you have to think about.

It was interesting, and a good addition to Adult Fantasy and I love, love, LOVE being surprised. So it was a classic case of middling plot and book and characters before BOOM big payoff and amazing scenes. So… I recommend!

 

NetGalley · Reviews

When Dimple Met Rishi Review

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3***

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways

Goodreads: HERE

Thank you Hodder & Soughton + Netgalley for the ARC!

Sometimes, contemporary and I don’t get along. Most of the time it needs some magical realism or something else. And I always think everything happens too quickly, of which this book is no exception.

When Dimple Met Rishi is a really important book, though. I’m glad it’s out there and highlighting other cultures within a predominantly white Christian publishing array of same old books. I think it was hyped so much that I wanted more to actually happen in it than the plot allowed.

I really liked Dimple – she’s a fiesty, intelligent girl who knows what she wants, but my problem with contemporary remained in this book. It all seemed so rushed, and Rishi wasn’t a character I bonded with 100%. I enjoyed him taking down the elitist snobs in the restaurant, but after that he seemed a bit inconsistent. I prefer him a lot to the typical douchebags you get in a lot of YA – bad boys turning good, etc – because Rishi was a straight up decent, positive human being from the start. Though I feel sometimes he still came off as a little arrogant.

A lot of his arc was a struggle within himself, whether he would do comics or go to MIT as expected, which was super interesting. I still couldn’t connect with him or his sense of humour. I actually hoped Dimple and he would end up as friends, and subvert the typical tropes of romance, or even the arranged marriage aspect – that the parents aren’t always right.

Dimple was so angry with her parents for setting her up in that way and not understanding her need for education over romance – and rightly so – that when it all goes out of the window because Rishi is cute and an actually ok guy she suddenly changes her mind? She still brought it up that she might never want marriage, and that’s good, but I wanted more insight behind her decision to change her perspective of Rishi and certainly more from Rishi than Dimple just feeling guilty.

Maybe it’s just me, because I’m stubborn af and can hold a grudge for years and might be a bit of a dick that way, but I didn’t enjoy that aspect of the book.

Plus, the contest seemed just to be a plot device to get them together in the book (since that’s what their parents were all about) and faded into the background. And then there’s a talent show that everyone apparently knows about but is only mentioned 50% of the way in.

I also struggled with the POV changes. They happen mid-chapter and because of the kindle format, it wasn’t always clear that we were suddenly in the opposite person’s head.

Don’t get me wrong, it was cute. Sometimes it was amusing. Not a lot happened and the actual fall-out of feelings was slightly awkward – but it was predominantly romance and not a romance I could attach to.

So to finish…. this won’t change my mind about contemporary. Sometimes we get along, sometimes we don’t, it’s an 80-20 split to the latter. It’s definitely a case of “not you, it’s me.”

Again I’m really pleased this is out there showing another much-needed voice and I’m hoping it gets the attention it deserves for YA. Please keep supporting diverse books! Just because one reviewer (me) didn’t gel with this one, doesn’t mean others won’t. 🙂

Book Things · NetGalley · Reviews

5* ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen McManus

This was on my “2017 Highly Anticipated” so I was absolutely delighted when Penguin Random House UK graciously accepted me to read this early through NetGalley!

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

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Buy it: Amazon UK // Amazon US
Goodreads: Here

RATING: 5*!

I was gripped from the start on this. The writing is simple, but like a warm bath is simple – it’s a universal pleasure to just kind of envelop yourself within it for a few hours. Sometimes the voice changes mid-chapter didn’t really register, but by the middle I was so used to who was who it didn’t take me out of the story.

I admit, every perspective had me going “IT’S THEM!” only to go “NO WAIT – THEM!” half way through. I think at one point I even suspected a mentioned-only-once character. It sucked me in and refused to let go, whispering for me to forget my real life responsibilities until I actually found out who killed Simon.

One thing for me in books is how authentic dialogue is – if the dialogue is so far removed from anything people would actually say, it drags me out of it. Karen didn’t disappoint with hers. There weren’t any stupid “explain the last episode in a sentence” type incidents, for which I’m very thankful, because those make me roll my eyes and struggle to keep reading.

The one teeny gripe I had was I could have done with more from each perspective, for instance when we changed to someone else’s head, I would have preferred to be engrossed for more than a few pages to get more of a feel of them. But that’s just a tiny thing.

I managed to guess two of the plot twists, but that’s all you can do – Guess. There are so many different things that are thrown into the mix here you can’t guarantee your guesses are right. Not in the “PFFFT well I’ve seen this before I know what happens”. But I was really pleased when my Sherlock skills paid off.

Favourite character – Addy, surprisingly, and Maeve, and Ashton, and the badass ladies who simply gripped me. And Kris! ❤

Least favourite – I don’t really dislike any of the main characters but I connected with Bronwyn the least. At one point she calls Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Retro” and I swear I gasped and fell back. It’s not that old!…… right?

All in all this is a great, gripping, well-written book with rounded characters and I’ll probably get it in paperback because I need a physical copy. I can’t rely on Kindle batteries with something this un-put-downable!

Reviews

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

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4.5* – I get it, but I also don’t GET it.

WHAT I LIKED

RHYSAND! – absolutely hit gold with this character, dude. Please don’t ruin him in Book 3.

The fact Feyre wasn’t the same whingy, blind, stupid ass woman in the first one but we still saw some of that. She grew and healed but it wasn’t overnight, which I also appreciated. And the fact Tamlin was recognised as being the huge pile of trash I always knew he was. (people still ship them?! why?!)

The Night Court – my aesthetic. I would live there. Forever.

The Pacing – A lot of the time this was very fast paced and I didn’t even skip lengthy shit until the finale, when I got bored with melodrama and villain speeches.

The Humour – Hello, Feyre Darling. GUH. I loved their snarky back and forths and the tickles and the flirting. Which is what makes the what I didn’t like so impactful to me.

WHAT I DIDN’T

The sex got boring. I mean there are only so many ways you can write a sex scene, I get it, but at the same time, sometimes tender moments are best left to the imagination. I know sometimes she says “we made love” great – but do we have to have 10 pages of rutting and fingers and slickness? It sort of takes away the impact of it, to me anyway. If you’ve read one SJM sex scene you’ve read ’em all. And since I’ve written sex scenes in various diferent guises since I was about 17, I know what works for me.

The bite, dare I say?, disappeared when Rhys and Feyre got together. Rhys was transformed from a complex, funny and interesting individual to a winnowy, growly, brutish mess which I get in concept of the Fae thing, but ultimately – boring. Fawning over Feyre’s every single move and all dopey. YAWN.

Similarly, when he’s explaining to Feyre about his time under the mountain, it was basically in the same voice as Alis’ long explanation in book 1. I didn’t see any nuances of the character I’d grown to love in that speech. Nor in his POV chapter. It was basically the same as Feyre.

I also wondered why it had to be male and female, no room for anyone else, all tied up in a neat Friends-type bow? GIVE ME SOME VARIETY, diversity! Why couldn’t Lucien be gay? Why do her sisters all have to be the mates of the other elves so conveniently?

So despite the MASSIVE improvement and how I was connected to Rhysand for the first 80%, that’s why this book was 4.5* for me.

Will I get book 3? Probably. But not for a while. I know there are massive flaws in rep in Book 3 already but I hate being left on a cliffhanger where the douchiest of all douchebags is hopefully going to get his arse served to him on a Night Court platter. So I’ll try and get it from the library.

 

 

 

Reviews

QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen

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**** 4 stars —

Be prepared, this is a really fricking long synopsis

An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.

Here’s a book I WISH I’d got the hardcover for. But hardcovers are incredibly expensive and I need to eat to live, so I made do with the paperback.

This was a story of two halves – the first 200 or so pages was a lot of exposition with not a lot going on. I didn’t get a good read off Kelsea – she seemed a little bit haphazard. But as the book went on I did warm to her – apart from when she so clearly spat bitterness at a venomous noblewoman about her looks and that nobody would want her for sex. I found that to be very harsh, and possibly yes a reflection of her own worries about her plain appearance, but still.

This book would have been 5* but along with Kelsea’s shaky start I was VERY confused about the appearance of watches, Rowling and The Hobbit in what I’d imagined to be a typical medieval fantasy. I didn’t have the explanation on the back cover that this was set after some massive dystopia of our modern world, so I jarred a little at that. But the worldbuilding, despite that, was pretty damn good.

The side characters were all memorable, and I really enjoyed Mace (Lazarus), Pen and the Fetch, even though Mace and Pen’s sudden change just before the finale didn’t make sense canonically to me.

I WILL be getting the second book, because I’m fascinated, and I enjoyed the political intrigue so very much.

Reviews · Uncategorized

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

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BEWARE, THERE BE SPOILERS IN YE… anyway spoilers.

3.5* – with one star dedicated to Rhysand and Lucien.

This was recommended and talked about to me SO many times I finally gave in and ordered it. I put off reading it for a while because I wanted to finish The Raven Cycle, but my friends really wanted me to read it and squee. It’s basically a Beauty and the Beast retelling – sort of – in a Fae world.

I understand why it’s popular, I do. But Feyre to me wasn’t a strong enough character to grip me. I think Samantha from Thoughts of Tomes summed it up perfectly – she’s meant to be a hunter, a survivalist, yet consistently makes absolutely stupid choices which put her in danger.

Such as “don’t go into the forest, you’ll get killed.” She goes into the forest and almost gets killed. Before she even went on the mission I literally put the book down and went “so stupid” and didn’t pick it up for about 3 nights because I knew the next chapter she’d get into trouble.

Also. “Don’t come to Fire Night”. She goes to Fire Night. “Don’t drink the wine”. She drinks the wine.

GODDAMNIT.

Similarly with the romance, I didn’t “get” the connection between her and Tamlin. The sex scene (of which I have written and read many so I know what I like) didn’t have much of a build up. Like they were talking cryptically as far as I remember about Tamlin having to shove her back home, and then suddenly they were in the mood and doing it. It felt disjointed to me.

After spending a majority of the book wondering why the heck Tamlin was being so nice to her, and we get told about the curse, it kinda got creepy. Not only because an entire chapter was written for Alis to explain everything to us out loud (aaaaaugh) but like, Tamlin took Feyre to his mansion and was uber nice and tried to give her things just in the hope she’d fall in love with him? At least in Beauty and the Beast the Beast seemed to be acting out of pure beastliness and anger at her father’s wandering into the castle. He might have known about the curse but he was acting on rage.

Here it’s almost pre-emptive.

I didn’t know this was meant to be a Beauty and the Beast retelling when I first started reading it. To be honest I felt it was more of a “let’s use plot points to make this book’s structure and then say it’s a retelling”.

And at the end before she solves the riddle (if Amarantha were Rumpelstiltskin, I would understand, otherwise, WHA?) it seemed too convenient that she remembered Tam and Lucien talking months ago about Tamlin’s heart of stone. How could they POSSIBLY know that would be key plot point in the future enough to leave the door ajar so she could eavesdrop, commit it to memory, and the use that information to their advantage later? Maybe they had a crystal ball.

For the first two thirds, the writing in general seemed fluffy and lengthy and I found myself skimming unnecessary information. Also so. . . many. . . ellipses . . .

The Big Bad was okay, I mean Amarantha seemed to have borrowed style tips from Maleficent, apart from the horns, but snarky and twisted witch uninvited to Prythien for sure.

Rhysand and Lucien were the two characters I wanted to read about most. Though with Rhysand at the end, he seemed to be able to open up a little too much too fast, and he lost his edge, I would still read about him and have in fact just ordered A court of Mist and Fury simply because he will naturally be in it a lot more. I’m also intrigued by the Night Court and the This Court and the That Court, because who doesn’t like Fae Hogwarts Houses, amirite?

Lucien to me seemed the most consistent in that he was loyal, snarky, and his objectives never seemed to change. I also really enjoyed that he rarely accepted any of Feyre’s shit and called her out on it cause damnit, someone had to.

So on the basis there were two characters I enjoyed and will continue to read about (plus I hear the next book is better) I gave this book 3.5*.

 

jadewritesbooks · NetGalley · Reviews

THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED by Becky Albertalli – REVIEW

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Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

4* –

I was graciously given this as a e-ARC via Netgalley by Penguin Random House UK

Diversity! This book has a lot of it. I loved the fact there were lots of women, lots of religions, LGBTQA+ falling out of the pages, so cool. It’s only the second book I’ve ever read with a tubby protag, too.

So much about Molly resonated with me, it was as though the book reached down into my body, dragged back up the 17-year-old Jade, and made her read it with me. Being an overweight, inexperienced teen is absolutely terrifying and isolating because so much emphasis is placed on hormonal surges and sex it’s overwhelming. If you don’t fit the mould, you feel you’re a failure, and everything Molly believed in this book and worried about, I felt wholeheartedly.

It was like Becky Albertalli had taken a trip back in time to see what I was like as a teenager. And – admittedly – into my early 20’s too. She must have had a checklist.

Serial crusher – check.
Wants a relationship – check
Self-conscious about her weight  – check
Has awesome mom – check
Doubting every boy’s motives – check

Also Middle Earth Reid – hello, tall, curly haired, bespectacled dude with a Middle Earth t-shirt. Molly might not have appreciated it at first but 17 year old me CERTAINLY would have. (I still would, actually.)

I was transported back in time SO MUCH that I had a little cry half way through. The little fat girl inside never really leaves you, but she can heal. This book proved that she still effects me, even to this day, no matter how much I’ve grown. And I felt it absolutely wonderful that Molly wasn’t trying to change the fact she was fat – that wasn’t it – it was just trying to understand why the world around her seemed to ignore tubbier people weren’t as valued.

The main difference was Molly had people to talk to about her fears and I never did (get out those tiny violins!), so it was nice to see that she was able to share in her worries with her sisters and friends. Even though Cassie, at many stages, was a prat. She lost favour with me, and never got it back, really. I liked and understood Will more than I understood Cassie.

I loved some of the one liners and Molly’s internal monologues were laugh out loud funny, but sometimes the writing skipped things I thought might have been better to dig deeper into. My connection to this book probably relied more upon the fact I had lived Molly’s existence – minus the hot and actually interested love interest – so it engrossed me more than perhaps it may have done without that connection.

It’s a good and important book, though, once again, and I thoroughly enjoyed the foray into Molly’s world.

4*!