Mini Reviews (June 2017)

I’ve been struggling with writing reviews lately. Although I can have a lot of thoughts about a book, sometimes I find it difficult to express them all in review form. Sometimes I feel as though I don’t have anything exciting to say but still want you guys to hear my opinions. So I’ve come up with a new idea of creating posts that feature my latest reads, including some mini reviews. The good, the bad and the overall rather than including the synopsis, background, etc. So without further ado, here are my latest four reads and what I thought about them in a few sentences.
Goodreads | Book Depository

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

This may be weird to admit, but the first book genre I fell in love with as a child was crime thrillers purely because that is what my mother read so the house was full of them! I picked this book up on a whim in Brighton train station and completed it during the journey. Although it was addictive (as most crime-thrillers are) and I did read it in one sitting, the big reveal/ending/plot-twist kind of fell flat for me and it’s something I called from the beginning. However, considering this is a debut novel, I think there is definitely potential for the author’s future works.
Goodreads | Book Depository
One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

So this book is marketed as being like The Breakfast Club but with murder and for those who may not know, that is one of my favourite movies and I love a good murder mystery. This book had huge pros such as the relationship that forms between the members of the ‘Murder Squad,’ especially between ‘Queen Bee’ Addy and the ‘Brains,’ Bronwyn. However, I didn’t like the addition of somebody’s sexuality being a spoiler and once again, the big reveal just made me feel unsatisfied and felt very rushed. I wanted a huge twist. However, loved the Breakfast Club vibes and the characters themselves. Overall, a three star read for me.
Goodreads
The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera


To say I loved this book is an understatement. After being accepted for it on Netgalley (god bless) and finishing it within a day with tears in my eyes, I’ve since been trying my hardest to get a physical ARC copy just so I can hold it. No lies. Beautiful, atmospheric, full of magic and mythology but the standout is the relationship between Shefali and Shizuka, the two girls who were destined to spend their lives together. I felt as though I went on the journey with the two girls, their love came bounding off the pages to the point that I could feel like I was intruding. This book comes out on October 3rd and I would encourage you all to preorder because it is worth it.

The Suffragettes 

This book is not only about the amazing Suffragettes, our ancestors who fought for women to have a voice but it was also a £1 and it’s so cute, it’s literally pocket size. This book is filled (I say filled, it’s around 40 pages long) with news articles, speech transcripts, propaganda and memorabilia from the years of the Suffragettes. It isn’t anything special and probably doesn’t tell you anything you don’t already know but it is still an informative read, especially for those who want a basic understanding of what these women faced. 


What have you guys read lately and what has been your favourite?
Love from Angharad @

May Wrap Up II

* Becky’s Reads *

So I felt as though this was quite a slow reading month for me (mostly because I had my final deadlines for my degree, got into a bit of a slump and somehow spent four weeks finishing one book?) but I definitely read some books that I really enjoyed throughout May!




The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig


Although it took me almost a month to read this (I’m not exactly sure what happened there?) I really loved this book and I think I’d even say that I preferred it to the first one! I have always loved both mythology and history, so a world that includes them both is absolutely perfect for me. The world-building was absolutely lush, to the extent that I could almost smell the sea breeze purely from descriptions, or imagine that I was walking through the streets of modern-day New York (a city that I’ve never visited). 




To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

So as it’s coming up to the summer, I was in the mood for a light contemporary read and after hearing about this series, I thought it would be perfect. It’s a quick read with important family dynamics, a diverse main character (Korean/American) and a whole lot of baking goodness. I quickly finished the rest of the series within a few days and I can safely say that I recommend it. 




Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

This book was definitely a mixed bag for me. The first half of the book took me a while to get into, I wasn’t too invested with the plot or the romance but then the second half definitely improved to the point I gave this book four stars. However, since reading it, we have read some mixed reviews from Own Voice readers such as problems with bi-erasure and inaccuracies with Japanese history. We will be posting a full review soon!




When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Although this was a fast read, I really enjoyed it! It has a diverse cast, it is really lighthearted, cute and fun but at the same time touched on important issues. Dimple wasn’t a typical YA contemporary protagonist and I loved learning about all of the Indian traditions. I’m just excited for whatever this amazing author releases next!



A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Although I thought ACOWAR wrapped up the trilogy really well (I definitely cried more than once) for the most part I was so happy with how things turned out, there are a couple of issues that needed discussing with this book (such as biphobia and ace phobia.) However, without overlooking these issues, I did really enjoy ACOWAR and have loved this series so much as a whole. I think in the future, Sarah J. Maas definitely needs to focus on bringing more diversity to her worlds and stop describing penises as ‘velvet steel.’
So that was my reading month! I’m looking forward to the month of June (and not just because I’m going on holiday.) What was your favourite read this month?
Love Becky @

Our May Wrap Up!

* Angharad’s Reads *

So after months and months of not doing a wrap-up and being caught up with our new business, we’ve decided to stop abandoning this blog (yay!) Although I’m behind on my reading challenge at the moment, I read more books this month than I thought I did! Some let me down but I also found another all time favourite so it was worth it. So without further ado, here’s the books I read this month and what I thought about them. 

A Dance with Dragons 2: After the Feast by George R.R. Martin

So I’ve finally caught up with the ASOIAF series! This isn’t a quick read series or even a happy series (it has more death than a graveyard) but the amount of magic and world building in these books is hard to beat. I don’t watch the show anymore but these books more than make up for it! The unfortunate thing about catching up is that I now have to wait like everyone else for the next book. Wish me luck.

The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

I have wanted to pick up this book of poetry for ages and then a miracle happened when I won a copy in a giveaway! I follow Amanda on Twitter and she seems like the most beautiful person so I just knew this would come across in her book. Her poems are raw and real, heartbreaking but beautiful. As the title suggests, this is the story of a princess who saves herself, a damsel who becomes queen, a girl who picks herself up. I also loved the size of this book as poetry books can definitely be too sparse. 
P.S. I Still Love You & Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

The second and third instalment in the Lara Jean trilogy. I read the first book in April after hearing about it being a cute little contemporary with a Korean American protagonist and it didn’t disappoint. They are your typical coming-of-age stories but with beautiful scenes between Lara and her family as she deals with future plans and a more than complicated love life. I would definitely recommend this series as they are quick and perfect for the summer. 

Idiot Verse by Keaton Henson

For those who didn’t know, Keaton Henson is a very talented singer/songwriter who also happens to do a bit of art and poetry on the side. When I heard about this book, I ordered it immediately and finished it in just a few minutes (it’s very short and a few pages are dedicated to his own illustrations.) Despite being a huge fan of his, unfortunately this book of poetry just didn’t resonate with me but don’t let this put you off as I believe poetry is subjective and others may love it! Plus, look at that cover art.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I am a HUGE sucker for post apocalyptic stories even though they have been done almost to death (har har.) This book has been on my shelves for about a year and the other day I decided to pick it up and ended up reading it in one sitting and it has become a new favourite of mine. This isn’t an action-packed novel, it hardly even has a plot but it is about the characters and how they have survived and kept going since the world ‘ended.’ It shows how humanity rebuilds and how nature reclaims its domain and this is everything I’ve been looking for in a book.

A Jarful of Moonlight by Nazanin Mirsadeghi

We were sent this small book of poetry in exchange for an honest review.  The book is split into five parts with a small poem on each page but by the end, they come together to form a story of love, heartbreak and grief. For me, my end review is a bit of a mixed bag. Some poems resonated with me, some didn’t and some reminded me of poems I’ve read before, either by other authors or on Tumblr. Our full review here!



Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh 

I have been highly anticipating this read since hearing about it and the reason for that is because as a person who didn’t watch a lot of disney films as a child, the one I loved more than anything with Mulan. And what’s this? A Mulan retelling! Unfortunately, for reasons that will be discussed in a future review, I was left disappointed. Although it was very atmospheric and I enjoyed the main character, there were problems with bi-erasure amongst other things. However, if I could rate the book on cover alone it would be a full five stars.



Girl A

This is a memoir written by the victim who stopped the infamous Rochdale sex ring. Remaining anonymous, ‘Hannah’ tells the story of the abuse she, and other young girls, suffered at the hands of older men which for many years was ignored by social services and the police force. I decided to pick this up after watching the BBC drama, Three Girls and even after finishing it, I feel it is a book I can’t rate. It’s harrowing, it’s difficult and it’s a story that never should have to be told, especially by a young girl. 








So that is all my reads for the month of May. It was a mixed month but I read a lot more than I thought I did and I’m looking forward to June as I have a few books I’m so excited for. 
What did you guys read? What was your favourite?
Love Angharad @

A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

 

The final instalment in the Shades of Magic series follows our favourite Antari, Kell who is a magician with the ability to travel between alternate Londons. Teaming up with fellow magician, Delilah Bard – cutthroat pirate and thief and his brother, Rhy, heir to the throne, they must put a stop to a murderous force that threatens to take over everything and put everyone under their spell.
(Trigger Warning – The Magicians in this series use blood magic so there are some detailed descriptions of cutting in this series.)

 

 

* Angharad’s Thoughts *

If I could just insert an audio clip of me screaming for my review, then that will probably sum up my experience with this trilogy. Usually with trilogies, the first book is amazing and then the second book is okay and then the third is either a hit or miss but this entire trilogy managed to be A+++ all the way through and nobody could have done it quite like Victoria Schwab. Just a quick summary because if you’re reading this review, then you’ve probably read the previous books. The Shades of Magic trilogy follows Kell who is an Antari, a magician able to travel between worlds, or in this particular case, various Londons.
This series introduced me to one of my all time favourite characters – Delilah Bard. Thief/pickpocket and wannabe pirate, whose goal in life is to just live it. She is gender-fluid, has a disability, carries a load of knives around with her and is confident and sassy without being cocky. She starts off as something of a side character when she teams up with Kell but by the end of the series, she is the shining star. She goes through so much character development in just three books and grows so much as a person. She was a girl used to running, used to having nothing, used to sleeping with her back against the wall but now she is pure magic (literally and figuratively.)
Another character with huge development is Rhy, heir to the Arnesian throne and Kell’s brother (also a queer PoC.) He has no magic and always felt as though he was less because of it but he proves that you don’t need magic in order to be a true and just king. I was so so proud of him after reading this book, he’s just my royal son. His relationship with Alucard progressed more and we hear more about their backstory – they are just the cutest. Speaking of Alucard, he continued to be a badass in this book, whilst also breaking my heart into a thousand pieces and constantly bickering with Kell.
Want to know what broke my heart the most? Other than pretty much everything. The award goes to Holland. We get chapters from his POV as he also tells us about his past, from the beginning. Without excusing some of his actions, he has been through so so much, his life has literally been hell on earth and we hear more about his life and the people who have been in it. Holland, Kell, Lila and Alucard even team up in the second half of the book and I enjoyed every second of these people working together. Teamwork (especially between former enemies) is my soft spot in fiction. Also, without giving away spoilers, Kell and Holland go through quite a bit in this conclusion.
Overall, this book was huge (the paperback being 666 pages, har har, Victoria) but every second was packed with action, emotion and excitement. I read this book in a day and every time I had to put it down, I felt as though I had been pulled from the world. We get POVs from Kell, Lila, Holland – even characters such as Queen Emira & King Maxim which was really interesting. I usually hate secondary characters suddenly having a voice in the final book but this is Victoria Schwab we’re talking about so she nailed it. The beginning, middle and end captured my attention and I’ll miss this world more than you can imagine. It is rich, diverse and just magical and it will forever be a series I recommend.
* Becky’s Thoughts *

It’s been a few days since I finished this book and I still can’t put my feelings into words. The one thing I can confidently say right now, to sum everything up, is this – although I’ve loved this series from the start, it was A Conjuring of Light that truly made it one of my favourite series’s of all time.

We are thrown straight into the action with this book kicking off exactly where A Gathering of Shadows left off, and this fast-pacing carries on throughout, because for Kell, Lila, Alucard, Rhy and Holland, it’s no longer just a magical power play – it’s about saving their world(s). I’m not always a fan of books that are full of action all the way through, but ACOL did this perfectly – yes, the action, tension and plotting never stopped, but it wasn’t all action and nothing else. Each of the characters grow and develop more in this book than in either of the previous books, and we get more of a look into their pasts as well – Holland’s back story, most of all, destroyed me. I’ve always loved him (sorry, I just have a thing for antiheroes/villains) and his story arc in this book couldn’t have been more perfect. Lila was, as always, amazing, and she definitely grew and matured in this book in my opinion.

I feel like there isn’t much that I can say that Angharad hasn’t already said or that wouldn’t absolutely spoil this book for anyone else, so I’ll just say this – go and read it. If you’ve already read the first two books in the series, I don’t think you need me to convince you to pick this up, and if you haven’t started this series yet, take our gushing as encouragement to go and do so. If you want a fantasy series full of complex, well developed and diverse characters, three different worlds with the most perfect atmospheric world building, a fast-paced, emotional plot, and enough twists and cliffhangers to make you dizzy, this is the series for you.

+

love,

 

Dreadnought by April Daniels


Dreadnought is the first book in the Nemesis series by April Daniels. We follow the story of Danielle, a superhero who just happens to be transgender. This is a world where superheroes are a part of everyday life and when Danny is confronted by a dying Dreadnought, one of the world’s best superheroes, it isn’t long until her life is completely changed when with his dying breath, he gives her his powers and changes her from the boy she was born into the girl she has always been. Faced with her new appearance and blossoming superpowers, Danielle is drawn into the world of heroes and villains alongside her fellow class-member/masked vigilante, Sarah/Calamity as they work together to stop Utopia, a super-villain hell bent on controlling the world.

Thank you to Netgalley for sending me this.
Goodreads | Book Depository
Fifteen-year-old Danny will take your heart and then proceed to jump all over it. She broke my heart, she made me smile, she made me feel strong just by how positive she could be even when so many bad things were happening. Her dad is unable to accept her transition, immediately finding ways to ‘fix’ her whilst shouting abuse at her and every slur under the sun so I must point out trigger warnings for transphobia. Her mum stands on the sidelines, too frightened to intervene and even fellow superhero, Graywytch constantly misgenders and dead-names her. The one thing that remains positive is Danny. She takes every situation and tries to make the most out of it, even when she wants to give up, she finds the strength to keep on going and not because she’s a superhero, but because that’s the type of girl she is.
The entire cast of characters are diverse – Danny being trans and a lesbian, one character being an sentient android and Calamity being Latina. This, primarily, is the story of the strength behind women and it is their story and although there is no romance, there is a hell of a lot of female friendships. Although this is a story about superheroes, Danny is still an average teenager. She goes to school, she worries about homework and friendships, all whilst saving the world. She experiences what it is like to be a girl on more than just the inside when she experiences blatant sexism from her ex-best friend who assumed because she now ‘looked’ like a girl, they should probably start dating. However, Danny just spends this book shutting everyone down and I had to stop myself from cheering each time.
If I had one problem, it was that the author tended to info-dump a lot of the ‘science’ parts to the point where I had no idea what was going on and found myself skipping through it, whilst still being able to follow the story. Maybe it is because I’m not the most scientific of people, but for me it just seemed like too much thrown at you all at once. The ending of the book is truly like a movie, the action was fast-paced and had me sitting on the edge of my seat.
The best thing about this book is that I wouldn’t just recommend it to people who are fans of superheroes but also to people interested in the trans community or just want to read a coming-of-age story as I truly believe Danny grows so much throughout the course of this relatively short novel. She faces everything head-on and makes light of every situation with a joke – even to the point of asking for food after an epic battle which is what I would probably do. Her relationship with Calamity and Doctor Impossible was a highlight for me – they are three very difficult people but come together again and again and portraying the strength in female friendships. There are so many questions I have and backstory I’d love so I cannot wait for the next book. Read this book, guys. It is fun, important and revolutionary.
Love, Angharad @

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

“Mental health is usually the last place people go when they think about someone being sick… I’ve heard you don’t look mentally ill at least a half a dozen times in the past four years, a couple of those times from my former friends. I blame the media, stereotyping ‘mentally ill’ and calling every murderer since Manson crazy. People always seem to be expecting wide eyes and a kitchen knife dripping with blood.”
**
Goodreads | Book Depository

/TRIGGER WARNING FOR SELF-HARM/

(I, myself, am a recovering agoraphobiac living with severe anxiety and depression so I was very hesitant about going into this novel, purely because I didn’t want to get triggered. Luckily, despite connecting to Norah on a very deep level, I was able to deal with it. However, I would advise people like me to only read this book if you’re able. No book is worth risking your mental health.)

We follow the story of seventeen-year-old, Norah who lives with agoraphobia and because of this, the story mainly takes place within her home and safe place. She also battles with OCD and self-harming tendencies (this story also focuses on what it means to self-harm and the different categories it falls under.) If you’re looking for a plot-based book, you won’t find it here but if you’re looking for a book about mental-health and its effect on daily life, you’ll find it here. Louise Gornall, in my opinion, absolutely nailed living with these conditions and has done it justice. Yes, Norah meets a boy and she falls in love but her mental illness is never glossed over, not even at the end.
The relationship between Norah and Luke was lovely, healthy and realistic. I love how they chose to communicate sometimes by writing on windows or on their hands when Norah wasn’t feeling up to talking. I saw a review saying that it was unrealistic to find a boy who would accept your mental illness *insert eye roll* but they actually do exist, guys?? I am so done with people saying people who live with mental health issues cannot find happiness. Another highlight was definitely Norah’s relationship with her mum and her mum is the coolest (I mean, she wore her hair in space buns??) They have such a strong relationship that reminds me of my mother and I so I loved their moments together. They truly were heartwarming, you can see how much her mum supports her and yet never pushes her too much. Norah also has regular visits with her therapist, Dr. Reeves and I wish I had a therapist as lovely as her. A lot of advice that was given by her, I definitely took on board myself which is something I’m incredibly grateful to the author for.
Overall, this is a very quick read (if I didn’t have a migraine for three days) and if you’re searching for a book to either help you learn about mental illness or to see yourself in Norah, then I would definitely recommend this. It’s a hard story to read, especially when Norah relapses and the event that takes place near the end of the book made me anxious and uncomfortable but that was because of good writing and a relatable main character. We go deep into the inner mechanics of Norah’s mind, the questions she is constantly asking herself, her worries about germs and disasters but she also has the ability to laugh at herself, to have your typical teenage-girl issues and that is why she is a character you can immediately jump into your shoes of, even if you don’t particularly want to. This book shows the dark side to mental health that isn’t romanticised or at all stereotypical despite its MC falling in love. There isn’t a cure or a happy ever after, Norah is still ill and still recovering at the end of the story. Give this book a shot but look after yourselves.
Love from,
Angharad

Mini Review: The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho

Goodreads 
“She had not realised before that she hated men. But she did, and this was one of the reasons why: this incessant demand for sympathy and interest from every woman in the vicinity. Jungsheng did not like Siew Tsin, he did not even know her, and yet he was extending his appeal to her. It was a sticky thing, his need, with tentacles that would strangle her if they could.”

Two things entered my mind when I found out about this story from the wonderful Read Diverse Books – first was coming to the realisation that this was my first experience with a novelette and second, it was also the first time I had read a book centred on Chinese mythology. I can safely say that I give you all permission to recommend me all the novelettes and Chinese mythology you can think of because I loved this story. It is short (coming in at around 11,000 words) and although you know this at the beginning, it is still bittersweet when it ends so soon.
The Terracotta Bride follows the story of Siew Tsin, one of many residents in the tenth court of hell after dying at a young age. She was married off to the richest man in hell, despite her best wishes, but realises that in a place based upon wealth, she could be in a much worse situation. However, everything changes when one day, her husband brings home a new bride but this isn’t any ordinary woman. Yonghua is an artificial woman constructed entirely from terracotta. What follows is the budding relationship between Siew Tsin and Yonghua and their husband’s first wife, Ling’en. The three women are far more intelligent than their husband expected and as they grow closer, the mystery and origins behind Yonghua’s creation may show the secret to everlasting life or a very final death.
Despite it being so short, these three women were wonderfully developed both as individuals and as a group. I loved Siew Tsin and her gentle demeanour despite literally being in hell, Yonghua and her curious nature and Ling’en and her strong will. The three become a force to be reckoned with against their husband. A stand-out scene for me was Yonghua telling Siew Tsin to run and then entered into a battle with terracotta assassins single-handedly. I’m so here for female relationships when they look out for each other – even if the rest of the story hadn’t of been my cup of tea, these women brought it to life.
The setting and the atmosphere Zen Cho created with magical, bringing a whole new depth and outlook to hell. This is a place where money can buy you anything and luxury is easily achieved and because of this, the very world became rich in more ways than one. The world-building was excellent in such a short amount of time, something that full-length novels sometimes struggle to achieve. The ending was spell-binding, incorporating the myth of the red string of fate which is all I will say without giving away spoilers. Upon finishing, I alternated between wanting more but being satisfied at how it ended. I also immediately went and ordered Zen Cho’s other novel, Sorcerer to the Crown and I’ll be reviewing that on the blog in the new year. 

Love,