Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: March 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ .5
Goodreads

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

1509457980918Welcome to Weep. 

I honestly loved this so much.

About a librarian who devours stories of adventure, Lazlo Strange is the puppy protagonist you always want to read about. He’s a humble hero, with dreams far beyond his life inside the library, carrying the dreams of others on his back. Instead, Lazlo dreams of the lost city of Weep, shrouded in mystery where no one remembers it’s name or it’s face.

I have Laini Taylor’s other trilogy, The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, in hardback, maybe in not so pristine condition, and they just do not read as well as Strange the Dreamer does. I had trouble with the writing, and I could never remember what I had just read, or picture what was happening. But here I got the whole thing; I could easily imagine myself dropped right into the centre of Weep and see before me white buildings and blue tiles, with blue people living above me in a citadel that shielded the sun.

So, maybe not so picturesque, but still magical.

This feels a lot like a fantasy mixed with fairy tales and historical fiction, which I’m getting a kick out of at the moment. The magic was beautiful and delicate and particular, and I loved how Sarai struggled to deal with a gruesome past that her parents’ left her with while trying to deal with the people who hate her and her friends for it. It was definitely reminiscent of how people pass the burden onto younger generations in order to find a place to put their prejudice.

Beautiful, dreamy and a whole lotta strange.

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Everless by Sara Holland

Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: 2nd January 2018
Rating: ☆ ☆ .5
Goodreads

The novel, pitched as Red Queen meets Downtown Abbey, is set in a kingdom where time is a commodity that flows through the blood and is hoarded by the rich, and centers on a 17-year-old girl who becomes the next handmaiden at the Everless Estate only to find herself at the heart of a centuries-old rivalry over the secret to immortal life.

1507201345324So this was kind of…blah. And I hate saying that, because ‘blah’ isn’t a good review is it? But how can you describe a book that makes you feel nothing?

Everless is pretty much a textbook YA court fantasy story. I knew what would happen, and it felt horrible that I didn’t care. My mind began to automatically skip over sentences that weren’t dialogue until at one point I didn’t even know what was going on and had to force myself to go back over it. It still didn’t make sense.

There seems to be a half formed plot about Jules’ past that makes her obviously ‘special’, but what it is is half-assed and doesn’t make for much of a shocker moment. Yeah, of course she’s special, yeah of course she’s the only one who can save the kingdom. The rest of the characters? Kinda boring, a bit 2D. I only gave it 2.5 stars because the beginning didn’t at least drag and I kind of enjoyed the magical ‘blood-iron’ system that allowed people to pay in time.

Something very refreshing in this story however was the inclusion of LGBTQ characters within the world. While it was unfortunate that they were side characters, or extras just passing through, it really showed the kind of worlds that Holland will be writing in the future. Inclusive, diverse, and different. It’s so hard to find historical-esque fantasy that will include dragons but find non-straight people ‘unrealistic’, and so I am pleased that we’re finally building the blocks to a more well rounded genre.

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They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Publisher: Simon & Schuester
Release Date: 7th September 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

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When Mateo receives the dreaded call from Death-Cast, informing him that today will be his last, he doesn’t know where to begin. Quiet and shy, Mateo is devastated at the thought of leaving behind his hospitalised father, and his best friend and her baby girl. But he knows that he has to make the most of this day, it’s his last chance to get out there and make an impression. 

Rufus is busy beating up his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend when he gets the call. Having lost his entire family, Rufus is no stranger to Death-Cast. Not that it makes it any easier. With bridges to mend, the police searching for him and the angry new boyfriend on his tail, it’s time to run.

Isolated and scared, the boys reach out to each other, and what follows is a day of living life to the full. Though neither of them had expected that this would involve falling in love… 

This is the first Adam Silvera novel where I haven’t cried, which is sad in itself because I love it when I cry at Adam Silvera novels. You’re supposed to cry; you’re supposed to have emotion pouring out of you. So while I enjoyed They Both Die At The End, there was always a small voice in the back of my head wondering why I don’t have butterflies in my stomach and my eyes not on the verge of tears.

I loved both Mateo and Rufus and how distinct their voices were. They definitely complimented each other and would have loved to see their relationship evolve, but I think it would have felt a little more realistic if maybe there was a bit more time in between them meeting and falling in love? I already had to suspend my disbelief with Death-Cast which, I really couldn’t, and it glared out at me while I was trying to concentrate on other part of the stories.

I want to point how happy I was when I found out that Rufus was bisexual. This isn’t a spoiler, a character’s sexuality isn’t a spoiler or a plot reveal, but it was so lovely to see the word used, to have a character to say that they are bisexual and to be proud and wear the label on their sleeve without any ‘I don’t use labels’ or ‘I’m just fluid’. Sometimes, people are bisexual, and characters who allude to be don’t say it enough in canon. So thankyou Adam Silvera. BISEXUAL VISIBILITY! *raises fist*

Great third novel by one of my favourite authors. But not my favourite novel by one of my favourite authors.

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The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice & Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (Harper Collins)
Release Date: 27th June 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

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Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

So this book was not what I expected, which, is kind of disappointing. But it doesn’t stop it from being a really fun adventure that made my need for LGBT+ Historical YA to sore through to the sky.

Judging from the synopsis, I imagined a ‘romp’. I think maybe that word was used once or twice in one lined reviews slapped on some promotional material. Yeah, ‘romp’ and ‘raucous’. I love, and I mean LOVE, cheeky male characters with soft hearts and giant smiles, and that’s definitely what Monty was in the beginning, in the very beginning, however. He’s just woken up after a huge piss up and he’s seeing the antiques from the night before. But, while I understand that character development and change are a thing in books where the character has to learn a lesson,I was disappointed that Monty was kind of carried through by his sister and his best friend, Felicity and Percy.

I expected a lot more laughs and silliness from a rather naive-to-the-world rich teenage boy going on a Grand Tour (which were quite an important thing for a young man before he became ‘responsible’), but what we got was a lot more serious and a bit boring.

Things I did love; Percy and Felicity defying expectations, stereotypes, and social norms of the time. Considering when you read historical fiction, authors don’t bother including POC characters at all and only have female characters as speaking mains if it’s a bodice ripper and they’re sleeping with a king/prince, so it was nice just to have them there, with plots and personality and futures! Oh my!

I did thoroughly enjoy this novel, despite the fairly critical review, and the fact that it took me a while to even write one. But, I think the synopsis could be worded a little differently just so you’re not surprised that you’re not laughing as much.

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Shit Books I Unapologetically Hate

It’s time to get salty.

Inspired by LilyCReads’ ‘Shit Books That I Hate’ that came out quite a while a go, I decided it was time for a little collection of my 1-2 star ratings of books that I hated. As a disclaimer (#1), I have read all these, and won’t be going into books I haven’t read but know are problematic, they’re just, in my opinion, terrible. And I’m not going to be speaking constructively like a normal review so, if you’re not into me saying ‘this books sucks’ then this post probably isn’t for you.

DISCLAIMER #2: Just because I hate them, this does not mean that you cannot. I would never tell anyone that they should hate a book just because I do and if you love any of the books mentioned then great! I’m sure there are books that you loathe and I love too.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

27883214This book was so hyped. So fucking hyped. People were clambering over themselves at YALC 2016 to get the one proof they were giving away. Everyone was talking about it. Comparing it to The Night Circus, and how fucking dare you.

This was the one book I received for my birthday. It was every word synonymous with beautiful but oh my god, it’s innards were bladdy awful. Not only did the plot make absolutely no sense, there was no heart to the book? It was literally slapped together, and I feel really sorry for Stephanie Garber if she worked so hard on the world building because where was it? All the characters are unlikable and stupid as fuck, the main character was just dragged from one place to the next and could’ve been swapped from a human to a doll and you wouldn’t have had to make many changes to the text. Characters just threw information at her and then when she had questions, they would just say “it doesn’t matter” or “never mind about that” and we just had to move on. Who cares about that thing? I certainly don’t. What utter shit.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

rrcoverTurns out even your ‘handsome’ face can’t help you write a good book.

I didn’t even finish this nonsense because it wasn’t science fiction at all. It was a book about the perfect man being perfect and having sex with women and then them dying except it happens on Mars. Nowadays I just expect shitty female characters from male authors; if it’s sci-fi/fantasy, they’re sexually promiscuous with giant breasts and have no personality, or the opposite, an innocent virgin maiden, then if it’s gen-fic, they’re a bitch who cheats on the main male character. In most situations, she’s raped or killed or both. Without spoiling anything, Red Rising ticks a lot of these boxes in the first 100 pages. I couldn’t be asked to read the rest. Do one.

 

 

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

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This was a lot more disappointing than most. #Ownvoices LGBT rep, how could I say no? I bought this the day it came out and read it in about two days. But what I read was just shite. It was just a poorly written story, but then again the concept itself was a bit odd. I get why; it’s meant to be a bit of a piss-take of spy movies and also a commentary on heteronormative stories. It could have been interesting…sort of. What it actually was a description of things happening, it was dire to read. I wrote a scathing review about it including some examples taken right out of the book. Read them out loud and you’ll see what I mean. Did anyone actually read this book before they published it? It’s just notes, it ain’t even a first draft.

This is a novel from a debut author too, which makes me a little guilty for saying all these things. But the work and the grind and the passion that has to be put in a debut novel just to get your foot in the door of an agent is so mighty that many just give up after a billion rejections. So to see this be taken on and published is such a shock and there, the guilt has gone.

The Host by Stephanie Meyer

the_hostThis book was just generic Stephenie Meyer forumla. Take a special girl and make two guys fight over her. It’s not flattering, because the guys are also mean to the girl, who just moves from one room to the next to receive a few info dumps before nothing happens. And this is a thick book. Ughhhh. I can’t believe I read the whole thing, what’s wrong with me?

I didn’t put the Twilight series on here because, despite giving the books 1-2 stars on Goodreads, when I read them as a teen I adored them, so I don’t think lil’ Hollie would appreciate me trashing them now at 24. So I’ll do her a favour and just diss this nonsense.

 

 

 

 

Please, don’t take any of these to heart. I would never hate a person for loving a book I dislike. The freedom have a difference of opinion is a beautiful thing and hey, if there are any books that you hate but think/know I love, then tell me in the comments and we can all be salty together!

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Wintersong by S. Jae Jones

Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: February 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world. 

I think I bought this book because I knew exactly what to expect.

IMG_20170716_174959_683I had imagined, when reading the blurb and reading a few reviews, that it would be very similar to that age old tale of a maiden being tricked into being captured by a scary but handsome, supernatural being. You know, Sarah J. Maas-esque. I had previously read and enjoyed A Court of Mist and Fury, but after deciding not continue with the third installment, there was a hole missing in my TBR.

Another book I absolutely adored was Uprooted by Naomi Novik, and reading Wintersong gave me so many Uprooted vibes that I quickly nabbed it from Waterstones, cutting short my pathetically executed book buying ban.

Wintersong is, first and foremost, gorgeous.

A large part of the story is about music, and how it has raised, supported, and empowered main character Liesl. It’s described so beautifully that you can almost hear it. Along with the setting, it’s one of the best things about the book, and even though I had to google what ‘klavier’ was (it’s German for ‘piano’), I pictured Liesl and her brother making beautiful music together and working hard towards Liesl’s brother’s musical career.

The setting is also stunning, but maybe I’m biased because I love Bavaria. I’ve been to Southern Germany twice now, and every time I’m there, I can think about romantic stories set in the quiet, quintessentially German villages that populate in between mountains and gathered around castles. So reading Wintersong was a right treat for my mind when it’s on holiday.

The only downside was the ending, which took far too long to execute and became a little confusing. The set up and middle sections, where we’re introduced to life in Liesl’s village and the folklore that’s been a part of it, gripped me to read on. The introduction of The Goblin King and Liesl’s time Underground also made sense and set us up for something great and maybe even action packed, but beyond that, there were a lot of sleeping scenes, Liesl being stuck in her room, and then a few conversations with The Goblin King. The ending became a little convoluted and confusing that I am still thinking about what happened and not being too sure. The was not even a sizzle, never mind a bang.

A fun tale weaved from magic and music but still missing the fourth and final leg.

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The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

Publisher: Dial/Penguin
Release Date: 22nd August 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

Molly Mavity is not a normal teenage girl. For one thing, her father is a convicted murderer, and his execution date is fast approaching. For another, Molly refuses to believe that her mother is dead, and she waits for the day when they’ll be reunited . . . despite all evidence that this will never happen.

Pepper Al-Yusef is not your average teenage boy. A Kuwaiti immigrant with epilepsy, serious girl problems, and the most useless seizure dog in existence, he has to write a series of essays over the summer . . . or fail out of school.

And Ava Dreyman—the brave and beautiful East German resistance fighter whose murder at seventeen led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall—is unlike anyone you’ve met before.

When Molly gets a package leading her to Pepper, they’re tasked with solving a decades-old mystery: find out who killed Ava, back in 1989. Using Ava’s diary for clues, Molly and Pepper realize there’s more to her life—and death—than meets the eye. Someone is lying to them. And someone out there is guiding them along, desperate for answers.

WELL WASN’T THIS MOTHER-FLIPPIN’ AMAZING

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This book. Oh my gosh. After I finished the final page, I closed the book slowly and just sat there staring out of my window. I cannot believe that there are books that I’ve been waiting for for months, sat on my TBR pile physically and on Goodreads, and The Arsonist hasn’t been on any of them. Not even that, but I didn’t know it existed until I saw it on a table at the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) and all I had to do was sign up to a newsletter and I would receive it for free.

I had the choice of any one of the books on the table, and yes, I may have chosen The Arsonist because of that pretty cover and because my friends’ also picked it up. But what was inside? WHY HADN’T I KNOWN ABOUT IT BEFORE?

The Arsonist is a story told through three perspectives that flow so well together, Molly, the girl with no friends, with a broken family with a father on death row and a burning idea that a mother didn’t kill herself and is actually in hiding, Pepper, a boy failing school and figuring out whether he cares or not (plus he’s got a hilarious seizure pug called Bertrand), and Ava, a young girl living in East Berlin in the 1980s, imprisoned behind the wall and away from the rest of the world.

I loved every single perspective in a different way, and it would be cruel to pick favourites. I loved Molly for her inquisitive mind, her determination, Pepper for his comedy gems, his willingness to go along for the adventure, and of course Ava for her harrowing life in East Berlin and the journey she took in search for freedom, right up until her death (this isn’t a spoiler it says it on the blurb, kids). Everything was gripping, everything, I hated putting this book down because I felt like I was wasting time doing other things.

I actually, for a short period of time, thought Ava Dreyman was a real person in history and a quick Google search found me back at The Arsonist’s Goodreads page, whoops.

This book comes out 22nd August. Please, if you’re looking for a new release that has intrigue, drama, adventure, incredible friendships, history, and a useless but lovable doggo, then read The Arsonist. What a treat.

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