"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R Martin

17 October 2020

The Kingdom of the Wicked REVIEW

The Kingdom of the Wicked - Kerri Maniscalco

Netgalley Review (thank you to Netgalley for a review copy in exchange of an honest review).

4/5 Stars!

This was an intoxicating, atmospheric and dark story that kept me reading, eager to see what happened next. It had its faults yet I continued to read, page after page to unravel the mystery and see how everything came together. 

I felt fully immersed in the world, in the 19th century Italian setting. The setting of a quaint Italian village really had me. The winding, cobbled streets and bustling market came alive and transported me to a historical, fantastical Italy. And also the main thing this book made me? Hungry. Wow, was this book a ride for the senses. Whilst reading I could smell the garlic, the aroma of freshly baked bread, taste the sweet lemony pancakes, and hear the hiss of pancetta cooking. From bruchetta, to ricotta, to mozzeralla, this book was a food lover's delight. The combination of the enchanting setting and the dark atmosphere truly made this a fun and thrilling read.

I also enjoyed the mystery. This book was a dark and witchy murder mystery story. A mystery surrounding several gory, brutal murders. I did have this nagging feeling who the culprit was but I enjoyed the twisted ride nonetheless. Emilia and Wrath were like a witchy demonic duo, working together to unravel the mystery and reveal the sadistic murderer. 

Now the romance. If that's what you can call it. I feel like it was more of a dark, simmering pot of water, boiling slowly but not quite ready to boil over the top. It had me intrigued and the love interest is the perfect brooding character (that we a love to see). I really hope to see more of the couple in question in the next book and hope the pot boils over like crazy as I'm here for it. 

While I liked Emilia's character and loved her headstrong, fearless attitude and fierce loyalty to her sister, she was also infuriatingly reckless. I lost count of the amount of times I rolled my eyes at her complete disregard for her safety (and others) after several warnings. I understand that she was willing to do anything to get to the root of the murder mystery, but she just seemed so reckless and naive really. Also, everything she did seemed to just work out perfectly as if the stakes weren't 100% high for her atleast. A little too lucky really. However, I did love her close bond with her twin sister and her vengeful quest for answers and justice. It's just that she annoyed me at times! 

At times I also felt like the 'magic system' and the whole demon world felt a little loose and not fully fleshed out. I felt a little confused by what exactly was going on with the whole demon side of things and what exactly fuelled certain individual's actions. Hopefully more will be explained in the next book about the magic and the whole lore behind it all. It intrigued me so I'm eager to understand it on a deeper level.

Overall I felt really immersed in this intricately dark tale. Witches, demons, family, loss, romance and betrayal; this book has it all. I'm hopeful that the next book helps to flesh out elements of the story that I found lacking but I was invested in this story and this delightfully dark world. 

20 August 2020

Cinderella is Dead REVIEW

Cinderella is Dead - Kalynn Bayron REVIEW

3/5 stars

Kindly received from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. 

Cinderella is Dead was a fast paced story that turned the famous and beloved fairytale of Cinderella on its head. It was much more Christian Anderson-esque than Disney though! What I enjoyed most of all was the fairytale elements mixed with strong feminist themes. The world that this story is set in is a dark and dangerous place, where patriarchy rules supreme and women are treated as objects, playthings and second class citizens. It's much more of a grim, dystopian place rather than a glamorous utopia you'd find in a fairytale. 

There were a few things that rubbed me the wrong way though. Sadly, the story fell a little flat for me. It seemed to rush on, with everything told to us really and not shown. The insta love element didn't work for me either and had me rolling my eyes a few times. The characters frustrated me at times and I didn't feel completely invested in them. I liked Sophia as a main character but I didn't connect with her really. Her strong spirit and feisty attitude was compelling but as the story progressed I didn't fully believe in everything she did.

Overall, I liked this story. I liked the fresh outlook on a traditional fairytale and how diverse it was. However, it wasn't for me and wish it had more depth and intrigue. 

21 July 2020

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones REVIEW

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones - Daven McQueen REVIEW
5/5 Stars
Kindly received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book tore through me like a hurricane, swept me off my feet and left me a raw, emotional wreck. I am absolutely blown away by this book. I devoured it in less than 24 hours. I sobbed, gasped and shouted loudly as I read this, witnessing racism and discrimation; but I also smiled and laughed, spell bound by this tale of an unlikely, yet unforgettable friendship.

Ethan was such a fantastic protagonist. Witnessing the way he was treated in such a deeply rooted racist society was just heartbreaking. Yet, so important to read about. Seeing him grapple and wrestle with his identity and the colour of his skin was just heart wrenching. He's such an endearing character and I came to care so much for him and was so glad that I was a part of his summer, along with Juniper.

Juniper Jones. What a whirlwind of a character. A wild, free and caring girl with fiery red hair and a fiery soul to match. Her spirit and zest for life was infectious and seemed to burst off the pages. Her passion and understanding nature really spoke to me. We should all be more like Juniper Jones. Bright, carefree and passionate. Willing to stand up for others whilst also willing to recognise our own failings. A loyal and kind hearted friend. I now want to write a list of activities for an invincible summer of my own.

Their friendship was everything. Both seen as different, misplaced and unwanted in town, they're brought together on a mission to fulfill Juniper's goal of having an invincible summer. Their friendship was wonderful. Invincible.

This book dealt with race, racism and discrimination - topics that were relevant back when this book is set and sadly, still relevant as hell in today's world and the Black Lives Matter movement. This should be required reading for everyone - not just young adults - everyone. It's so much more than just a story - it's a lesson, something to learn from, understand (as much as we can) and strive to be better than. We are all people who should be treated equally no matter what.

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones is a poignant read of race, friendship, family and history. Pick it up. I know I will reread this again some day. It will stay with me for a long time.

Every Sky a Grave REVIEW

Every Sky a Grave - Jay Posey
3/5 Stars
Received for review from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Every Sky a Grave is an intricate tale seeped in mystery and intrigue, with even a little magic mixed in. It felt like sci-fi mixed with fantasy; it's set in an otherworldly, sci-fi , realistic setting with fantastical elements dotted here and there. It definitely had an original concept, dealing with the power of language along with the power to destroy or create, all within a sci-fi setting. It had some action, mystery and political intrigue which did make for an interesting read.

The world building is complex - a little too complex at times. Don't get me wrong, it's fantastically rich and vivid in its descriptions of the worlds but I was a little lost at times. I was just a little lost at times and a little confused at what was happening. I'm fully aware that that may be down to my understanding, however it did hinder my enjoyment of it as a whole.

Elyth was a great character; she's strong, intelligent and intuitive. Despite this, I felt a little detached from her and her story. I enjoyed her as a character more as the story progressed, but her lack of background just didn't allow me to gel with her really as a character. Her character arch did make me empathise and care for her and I liked how she developed as a character - especially at the very end! I loved Hok and his team; I kind of wish we had more of them in the story. I love a team and seeing group dynamics. I had my suspicions early on about the true 'villain' of the story but it was still good to see it all unfold, and see that it's more complex, with grey characters rather than straight up good and bad individuals.

I'm in two minds about the writing. First, it took me a while to get into the story and it wasn't until 30% of the way through that I started to feel invested in what was happening. I did like how metaphorical and vivid the writing was though; some of the metaphors and symbolism in the story were beautiful. However, it did seem to slow the pace of the story down at times.

Overall, I did enjoy Every Sky a Grave. I thought it was an original concept that I've  never really encountered before. I liked the world and its vivid descriptions. I'm in two minds about continuing as I'm intrigued to find out what enfolds next but aware that the story didn't quite gel with me as a whole. I'd recommend this book to those who enjoy a complex sci-fi story and likes a bit of originality and intrigue.

11 July 2020

Mexican Gothic REVIEW

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
4/5 stars
Title provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Well, colour me intrigued from the beginning. This eerie, creepy and peculiar  story had me entranced from the start. I was morbidly fascinated by this dark, rather delicious but mostly disturbing tale. I devoured it in a day, eager to piece together all of the pieces of this spine-chilling puzzle. I just had to know what on earth was going on - and I wasn't disappointed. This book was bursting with gothic elements, from the mysterious, complex characters to the grim and decaying setting.

Oh, the setting. The house. I think it may be my favourite character, and it is surely a character, as its presence is overbearing, suffocating and intoxicating. It felt so claustrophobic and creepy, menacing and dangerous. The perfect gothic setting.

Our protagonist, Noemi was simply fantastic. I loved her. She was feisty, outspoken, clever and loyal; she simply oozed glamour with a hint of sass and defiance. She was a great character to read from and felt all of her emotions vividly - I was horrified most of the time as she experienced some awful things and grew angrier and angrier as she suffered at the hands of some monstrous individuals. The other characters were great also. Some villainous and unpleasant, others warm and friendly. One made me feel physically sick. What a disgusting creature. But a great character nonetheless.

I honestly think this book would make the perfect horror/ thriller TV show or film. It read like a film and I could vividly imagine the setting, the characters and the events. And it's all down to the writing. The descriptions are so evocative and intricate, and made the world of Mexican Gothic come to life (no matter how much it scared me at times!). It was suspenseful and full of tension; it had me gripped, turning each page in anticipation. Yet another perfect element of gothic fiction.

All in all, Mexican Gothic was a sinister story that kept me guessing from start to finish. I felt like I couldn't breathe properly until the final sentence; it was atmospheric, suspenseful and hair-raising. It's not my usual read but I am so, so glad that I picked this up. Definitely read Mexican Gothic if you want a diverse, spooky tale set against a glamorously grotesque setting.

09 July 2020

I'm Five Years REVIEW

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
3/5 Stars
Title provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed this book overall but I just admit that I wasn't fully invested in the story and its characters. I felt like the main character, Dannie, just was a little flat and dull. I understand that that was kind of the point as her life was without 'colour' and was quite stale and boring. I did appreciate seeing how she evolved as a character but I wasn't cheering her on from the sidelines if I'm honest. The one aspect of this book that I really appreciated was the strong friendship depicted. Dannie and Bella are more sisters than best friends and their relationship was the most important one at the end of all things. I did enjoy how it wasn't your typical romance story and ended in a different way than usual but I just felt like something was lacking.

Fantastic portrayal of friendship and it definitely tugged on the heartstrings at time. It also made me feel very nostalgic about my trip to New York years ago so maybe that was the stand out character in my mind? Who knows, but it was an okay read overall.

06 July 2020

Bookish and the Beast Review (Netgalley Arc)

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston
3/5 stars
Kindly received this title from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was such a cute book! I loved the Beauty and the Beast aspects in this and how the author retold the beloved tale in a fresh and cute way! I went into this book not having read the other two (I may have to pick those up now!) but I still enjoyed it! It wasn't amazing but I flew through it in 24 hours so it definitely held my attention! My favourite part of all of this was the book love; the descriptions of books, the library and reading just spoke to me in a real special way! I'll definitely be going back and highlighting some of the bookish quotes! I also just love the whole 'nerdiness' that this book is dripping in! It made a fellow nerd (and proud of it!) and book lover very, very happy!
Overall, Bookish and the Beast was 3.5 star read for me. It was fun, fresh and cute! Nothing too serious, nothing too deep, just the perfect amount of cheesy, needy goodness!