Northline by Willy Vlautin – A Review

Hi! I’ve been self-isolating for 28 days now, and I have at least 20 more days before the lockdown is lifted, so you can expect a ton of reviews, as I’ve been reading A LOT in the last week or so. What else is there to do?

I hope you’re all well, staying safe and sane in your homes.

Northline by Willy Vlautin
  • Publication date: December 28th 2008
  • Publisher: Faber Faber
  • Genre: Contemporary

Fleeing Las Vegas and her abusive boyfriend, Allison Johnson moves to Reno, but finds herself haunted by the mistakes of her past, and lacking any self-belief. Her only comfort seems to come from the imaginary conversations she has with her hero, Paul Newman. But, as life crawls on, small acts of kindness do start to reveal themselves and slowly the chance of a new life begins to emerge. Full of memorable characters and imbued with a beautiful sense of yearning, Northline is an extraordinary portrait of small-town America and an emotional tour de force.

Okay, this one is a tough one. There’s a part of me that wants to give this book a full 5 stars and another part that knows for sure it wasn’t quite there for me, it didn’t accomplish what 5 star books do to me.

Northline has been on my radar for years and years (since I got a Goodreads account in 2014) and when I finally came across it in a charity shop, it was a sign, I knew I needed to finally pick it up and read it. I’ve no regrets.

I didn’t know what to expect from the book, to be perfectly honest. All I knew going into it that it’s a book about a girl in her twenties, who escapes an abusive relationship after she finds out she’s pregnant. Turns out there really isn’t much more to the plot, other than what the blurb already tells you. And honestly – it’s a good thing.

Allison isn’t a very likable character, and yet I felt a lot of sympathy for her. She has a really low self-esteem, her home situation is far from ideal, she works a dead end job because she dropped out of high school and her boyfriend is a major asshole. She fucks up a lot and I don’t even blame her, because she has no real support system in her life and instead ends up getting wasted and talking to Paul Newman in her head.

I felt a certain connection with Allison, to whom Vlautin referred to as “the girl” most of the time, not necessarily because I related to her, but because parts of her story have happened to me or my friends and relatives, or could have happened if we made different decisions. We all go through rough patches and this book doesn’t sugar coat anything.

In less than 200 pages Vlautin packs a lot of emotion. So what the book lacks in plot, it makes up tenfold in atmosphere and overall mood. Allison’s story is not pretty, it’s actually quite bleak, but it’s broken up by a lot of encounters with kind people and it gives you hope that things will get turned around. As her environment changes, you notice a small change in her as well, and it’s especially apparent in her relationships – she opens up to more people and starts letting go of her fear of being inadequate.

I think I’ll settle on 4.75 stars.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back soon!

Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy – A Review

Hi! Happy publication day to Sword in the Stars? I’m not sure how to begin because I can’t think of any reasons to celebrate that. Harsh, I know.

Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
  • Publication date: April 7th 2020
  • Publisher: Rock the Boat
  • Genre: Sci-fi

In this epic sequel to Once & Future, to save the future, Ari and her Rainbow knights pull off a heist… thousands of years in the past.

Ari Helix may have won her battle against the tyrannical Mercer corporation, but the larger war has just begun. Ari and her cursed wizard Merlin must travel back in time to the unenlightened Middle Ages and steal the King Arthur’s Grail—the very definition of impossible.

It’s imperative that the time travelers not skew the timeline and alter the course of history. Coming face-to-face with the original Arthurian legend could produce a ripple effect that changes everything. Somehow Merlin forgot that the past can be even more dangerous than the future…

Thank you to NetGalley for providing and eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


I’m going to try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but this is the second (and final book) in this series, so if you haven’t read the first – why are you even here?


In Sword in the Stars we’re transported to Medieval Camelot. Ari and the knights, and Merlin, obviously, need to retrieve Arthur’s chalice and bring it back into the future. I love me some heist stories, so I was hopeful. I got got once again.

While I’ve noticed some improvement in the overall story telling from the first book, it wasn’t enough to warrant a higher rating. The action got more structured, sure, but the time travel aspect was too convoluted and didn’t make sense.
Time travel stories are my absolute favourite, so this was a big let down. It’s a really difficult thing to get right – there are certain laws that need to be followed. My biggest issue was a certain character appearing in one timeline 3 times and all 3 of them interacting. Now, since there are different ways of viewing time travel, that could be possible and not destroy the universe, but if you want to do that, you set down your laws. Sword in the Stars had none, it just did what it pleased and when it pleased, and well… it did not please me. But it’s time to move on.

I thought, since we’re in Medieval Camelot, we’d get to see some of it and get a feel for how life was back then. Nope. The world building is minimal, and all we’re really told is how terrible those times were because people didn’t understand sexuality and assumed your gender. I get it, you’re really trying to drive the point across on every page and in every sentence, and identity is SUPER important, but it’s too much. One of the characters even tries to teach those medieval folk about the importance of pronouns etc. All while probably messing up with the future BIG TIME.

Speaking of characters. I honestly liked the story of Nin and how she became the big evil enchantress. Merlin was alright for most of the book, too. Everyone else stayed as much of a caricature of themselves as possible. What bothered me the most was how Kay was addressed. While reminiscing (though very rarely) about him, everyone treated him like a clown (Kay was annoying, awkward, got drunk and did embarrassing things etc. and not in an endearing way) and Kay from the past was a wannabe villain. What was that about? He deserved a better story arc.

I’m going to end this review on two things. Sometimes authors try to convey info by telling the readers, instead of showing, because it’s the only way to do it. The main message of this book (as far as I can tell) was identity. The amount of times we were told about it all really made me think the authors think their readers are idiots. It gets to a point where when a new character is introduced, the dialogue goes something like this:
“Introductions?”
“This is Yazmeen, everyone.”
“Mostly Yaz. She/Her. I’m a good ole lesbian.”
And only a paragraph or two later we find out she’s Ari’s cousin.
People are so much more than that…
And secondly… the slight shade thrown at Merlin the TV show at the end of the book? Excuse me, but… no. Just no.

Rant over. I tried to be eloquent but the dumb comes out when I’m frustrated.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

After my March wrap up this review should come as no surprise. Let’s all learn from this experience, though, and swear not to request sequels to books we haven’t yet read, okay?

Thanks so much for reading. I’ll chat to you very soon!

Stolen Time by Danielle Rollins – A Review

Hi, lovelies! We’re going to skip the introductions for now and get to the point, because every time I write one of these, I feel the need to declare some sort of a schedule and, quite frankly, it’s comical how unorganised I am.

It’s review time!

Stolen Time by Danielle Rollins
  • Publication date: February 5th 2019
  • Publisher: Harper Teen
  • Genre: Sci-fi

Seattle, 1913

Dorothy spent her life learning the art of the con. But after meeting a stranger and stowing away on his peculiar aircraft, she wakes up in a chilling version of the world she left behind—and for the first time in her life, realizes she’s in way over her head.

New Seattle, 2077

If there was ever a girl who was trouble, it was one who snuck on board Ash’s time machine wearing a wedding gown—and the last thing he needs is trouble if he wants to prevent his terrifying visions of the future from coming true.

Oh, what a lovely surprise. I got Stolen Time in a subscription box and the blurb smelled of a bad romance disguised as a time travel story, so I held off for a good year before my TBR jar made me read it. I’m really glad I did because this book is FANTASTIC.


If you like time travel, a found family trope and heist stories, this book is for you.

Dorothy comes from 1913. Raised by her mother who is a con artist, she’s lived a life of constant moving and well… swindling people. It helps that she’s really pretty and can play a damsel in distress quite well. But when she’s about to be married off to some doctor for money, she decides to escape her fate. That’s when she meets Ash. Ash is a time traveller. He travels through time to find his missing mentor. Their story becomes entwined when Dorothy stows away on his ship and travels to 2077.

The narrative in Stolen Time is split between Dorothy and Ash’s point of view, with some journal entries that break it up now and then and give us insights into how time travel works, where the characters came from and what happened to the world. 2077 Seattle is nearly all under water. The world is slowly sinking after a series of earthquakes. The journal entries come from Ash’s mentor, who discovered time travel. I thought they were really well done and set up the grounds for the story in an interesting way.

I fell in love with these characters already. Dorothy is such a complex character. She’s soft and naive at times, because she’s trying to find a place where she belongs, but she’s also really smart and cunning. Ash is the best kind of a brooding hero. I love Chandra’s back story and how well she adapted to 2077. She’s fun, but she’s also a boss lady. Willis is a friendly (or maybe not so friendly) giant. Zora is tough and protective. They really fit together as a group and complement each other.

Stolen Time is a time travel story done well! Shocking, right? The rules are laid out at the start, thanks to professor’s journal entries, and they make sense. It’s not a common occurence, in YA especially. Danielle Rollins managed to give us all the needed info and not bore us to death by too much info dump.

I really loved the plot and pacing of this one. The book never lost momentum. Things were happening constantly and it made for a very fast read. Stolen Time is a page turner, and it pays off at the end when all the pieces fall together. The ending was great and it came unexpected. In retrospect, it makes a lot of sense, but I didn’t catch onto it while reading and that’s great because I love being surprised.

There is romance in this book, but it escapes me why it’s the first genre listed for this book. It’s subtle and really intertwined with the plot where it’s almost there to serve a purpose. So, in other words – the best kind. Romance usually puts me off, but I think in this case it added intrigue and some conflict to the story.

I can’t wait to read Twisted Fates!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thanks for reading and until next time!

Final Girls by Riley Sager – A Review

Hi! It’s very late, but I thought I’d hop on here with a review of the fist book I finished this month.

Final Girls by Riley Sager
  • Publication date: July 17th 2017
  • Publisher: Ebury Press
  • Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

 Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

 That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Quincy Carpenter is a Final Girl. It’s a name the media gave sole surviviors of massacres – and currently there are three: her, Lisa and Sam. But Quincy’s moved past it… she has a successful blog, an apartment in New York and a stable boyfriend. She remembers nothing from the Pine Cottage massacre, where her friends were slaughtered, and she wants to keep it that way. That is until Lisa dies and Sam shows up at her doorstep.

I don’t know what to think about Final Girls. The premise had me itching to pick up this book. It sounded interesting and messed up and exactly my cup of tea when it comes to thrillers. The execution turned out to be mediocre.

I think I disliked every single character in this book, Sam and Jeff the most. I thought at the start at least Quincy was alright, but I soon changed my mind. She was the most interesting out of all of them and I enjoyed the chapters she narrated, but I grew tired with her behaviour once Sam showed up. No matter how nicely Jeff was painted, he was really the worst boyfriend on the planet and every mention of him was a snooze fest. Sam was frustrating to the point where I needed to put the book down a few times because I just couldn’t stand her.

I was much more interested with the flashbacks from the cottage than most of the main plot. The first third of the book was pretty slow, but the overall mystery made me read on. Figuring out the plot twist is part of the fun for me when reading thrillers, and although I haven’t called the big finale, I figured out more less everything else. It didn’t make me enjoy the book any less, as they made sense. The ending, however, was quite disappointing. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t say much, but I feel like we weren’t shown any of the signs leading up to that reveal, and so it wasn’t entirely believable.

Still, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this book. After the slow start, the pace really picked up and I ended up finishing the two thirds of the novel in one sitting, though not without frustration, which means it couldn’t have been that bad. I think Final Girls is an alright thriller that could’ve been better if the ending was changed or foreshadowed more throughout the story, so I’m giving it a hesitant 3 stars.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Would you recommend any other Riley Sager novels?

Thanks for reading! Until next time.

March Wrap Up

Hi! Let’s talk books because I need to talk about things that are not in any way related to the virus or my head will explode. Deal?

March has been good, reading wise, as I have completed 10 books. That’s the most so far this year, but I am determined to beat it. What can I say? I’m a bit of an overachiever sometimes.

  • Number of books read: 10
  • Number of pages read: 4029
  • Average star rating: 3.7
  • DNFs: 1
  • TBR at the start of March: 60
  • Books added: 5
  • Books read: 4
  • Current TBR: 61

I have a feeling no matter how many books I read in April, my TBR will keep growing.

There Will Come A Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

I’m wondering now why I never posted a review on here for this one (insert thinking emoji – I’m addicted to it)? I got an eARC and I usually post reviews for those on here… Anyway, it matters not! I knew what the book was about when I requested it, but by the time I got approved for it I had no idea what to expect. So I dove in blind and it was a really good surprise. It’s a debut fantasy about a prophecy that foretells the “age of darkness”, told from 5 POVs, which I was apprehensive about at the start, but which ended up well executed. There Will Come A Darkness is an ambitious story – there’s a lot to the plot, magic system and the characters – but it delivers. It’s fast paced and engaging. The world building is solid. 5 POVs is stretching it, but for most of it, it works. I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel and more from Katy Rose Pool.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake

Another great read! I finally finished the Three Dark Crowns series and it was everything! (don’t let the picture fool you, I know I put Two Dark Reigns there, but it’s cause I got this one out of the library and I don’t own it YET) This last book absolutely broke my heart but I weirdly enjoy that, so coming from my lips it’s a compliment. For a series that started mediocre for me, it really grew with each consecutive book and I can honestly say it became one of my favs. If you haven’t read it yet – you should.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

I’ve posted a review for The Poppy War already, so I won’t be saying too much here. Another well done debut. It was exciting and well crafted. It’s not without faults, obviously, but I enjoyed it overall and will definitely pick up the sequel.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Locke & Key Vol. 1 by Joe Hill

I’ve no idea how to review graphic novels. I picked up Locke & Key because I’m curious to start the Netflix show and I’d like to compare both. I’ve heard they’re quite different. This was a really gory and dark horror and I actually really enjoyed it. It made me very uncomfortable at times and we’ve already established that constitutes a good time for me (in case of books and movies ONLY, in case I need to specify).

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Diviners by Libba Bray

This book has been on my radar for forever. I didn’t love it as much as I expected to, I found it a bit tropey and predictable, but it was by no means terrible, either. Some books just don’t age as well as others, and I’m sure have I read it when it was first released I would’ve liked it more. I think it tried to cram too many plot lines into this first book alone and hence felt disjointed at times. There was also some insta love I didn’t quite enjoy. I have a feeling the series gets better with each book, though, so I will definitely be continuing with it.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

You might already know what I think about this book, and if you don’t check out this review, because I cannot rant any more.

Rating: 2 out of 5.
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

I needed a break from fantasy and sci-fi, so I picked up this book because I heard, style wise, it was similar to Celeste Ng’s stuff. I do agree with that a bit, but nothing is as good as Ng’s books (in the hard hitting contemporary genre at least). The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a story about grief and teen suicide and (as I said it in my Goodreads review) deals with it better than Thirteen Reasons Why. I really connected with the main character. I almost cried once, and that deserves 4 stars.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Die of Death by Kenneth B. Andersen

Another book for which I have a separate review, that you can read here. I’ve nothing else to say. It was good, can’t wait to read the next book (I’ll be reading it in April).

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

I know what you’re thinking! Zaneta, why did you read this book if you hated the first book in the series? Well… that’s what happens when you go on a requesting spree and press that green button when you haven’t even read book 1 because you “have a feeling you’ll enjoy it”. Feelings LIE. And I committed. Review to come very soon.

Rating: 2 out of 5.
Stolen Time by Danielle Rollins

I’ve decided to start utilising a TBR jar this year to finally get to some of the books that have been sitting on my shelf forgotten and unread. Stolen Time was my lucky pick. I got it in a subscription box last year and expected a tropey romance. Instead I got a book in which time travel actually make sense, with great and loveable characters and an exciting plot with sort of a heist. In other words – exactly my jam. I loved it! (even the romance) Can’t wait for the sequel to come out in 16 days!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My one DNF this month was Wakenhyrst. A friend of mine read it and liked it, so I decided to try it out. There was nothing wrong with it, it just wasn’t my cup of tea, so I decided to put it down.

And that would be it. How many books have you read in March? Have you read any of the ones mentioned above? What did you think?

Until next time!

The Die of Death by Kenneth B. Andersen – A Review

Hi! I’m back, just like I said I would be, with a very exciting review! It’s my stop on #TheWriteReads blog tour for A Die of Death by Kenneth B. Andersen! I’ve reviewed the first book as well, and you can read my review by clicking HERE

The Die of Death by Kenneth B. Andersen
  • Publication date: August 31st 2007
  • Publisher: Host og Son
  • Genre: Middle Grade/YA Fantasy

Philip’s adventures as the Devil’s apprentice have changed him—in a good way. Although he misses his friends in Hell, he has made new friends in life.

But when the future of the underworld is threatened once again, Philip’s help is needed. Death’s Die has been stolen and immortality is spreading across the globe.

Philip throws himself into the search—and discovers a horrible truth about his own life along the way.

*First and foremost, I have received a free e-copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.*

This series really took me by surprise. I mean it in the best way possible. As I said in my first review, I was afraid it wouldn’t be my cup of tea (for reasons unknown to me), but the first book turned out to be a great, super fun and original adventure story. I’m happy to report the second book didn’t disappoint either!

We start not too long after we left off. After his time in Hell, Philip comes back changed – he makes new friends and leaves his angel ways behind. He’s not quite the devil he’s turned into under Lucifer’s wing, but he’s definitely easier to tempt and give into some not-so-innocent fun. Just as he thinks he is back for good – the underworld needs him again! The die of Death has been stolen.

I want to start with saying it was such a pleasure returning to this world. I didn’t realise just how attached I got to it until I went back to the story. Hell is an interesting place, and we find out even more about its rules and inner workings. Just like in the first book we meet a few biblical and historical figures, and those small references interwoven in the story really add a lot of depth to the overall world building. Andersen adds so much richness to the world, expanding the underworld and showing us the outer perimeter of Hell and Mortimer’s house, as well as telling us about more sinister places I’m sure we’ll visit in the later books.

I said it before and I’ll say it again – Philip is a great protagonist to follow. He’s incredibly likeable, even when he strays, and you really root for him throughout the story. I loved seeing all the other characters, too! When Philip comes back to Lucifer’s palace, it’s like a family reunion. It’s heart warming as Philip comes from a broken family and has never met his father. I really like how consistent the characters stay in the second book – in some books, especially in sequels, the secondary characters tend to loose their personality a bit, especially if they’re taking the back burner after being one of the mains in the first book. Instead they become plot devices. That wasn’t the case in The Die of Death.

I loved the plot and pacing of this one. Philip is back in Hell to find Death’s missing die. Without it, Death can’t establish the length of the humans’ life – and that makes them immortal. While investigating the missing die, Philip discovers something about his own family and things get even more complicated. There’s never a dull moment in The Die of Death. The plot is gripping from start to finish, with more intrigue added as we go. First book talked a lot about morality and in this one we focus more on immortality and what it means to live forever. I really like that there is depth to each of those stories other than just the adventure story we see on the surface. My only qualm is the subplot with Philip’s father and the fact that it was done twice. I understand where it came from, but it made the ending seem a bit repetitive and predictable.

I can’t wait to continue with the series and I’ll be picking up the third book real soon, as this was a pleasure to read!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Please follow @ TheWriteReads on Twitter to find more reviews of this book!

I’ll talk to you very soon! Thanks for reading!

Series I Won’t Be Finishing

Hi!

I decided to start keeping track of all the series I’ve started and haven’t finished for different reasons. Some, I just haven’t gotten around to, others I forgot about or lost interest in. Of course, there were a couple I just flat out refused to continue. I decided to make a post about these. So, here we go: all the series I’ve started and definitely won’t be finishing, in no particular order.

It’s been forever since I picked up Snow Like Ashes and all I remember from it is liking the idea but absolutely hating the execution and the main character. That’s saying something, as I was much less critical in 2016, when I first read that book. I didn’t really care to find out what happens in the rest of the series back then, and I’ve definitely lost interest by now.

This one is also an old series, and I know a lot of people really enjoyed it. I remember it being marketed as YA Game of Thrones. I’ve never got through the first book, so it’s hard to compare those, but Falling Kingdoms really didn’t impress me. The characters were super one dimensional and the book was trying hard to be gritty and to stand out in the YA world. There are so many books out there I would rather read, I will give Falling Kingdoms a pass.

Me and Sarah J. Maas just don’t work. I’ve tried. I finished book 1 and attempted book 2, hearing praise from every single person who has read it. I don’t get the hype, I don’t get the appeal and maybe that’s me (or maybe it’s trash?). I don’t like romance (who’s surprised by now?) and her ones definitely rub me the wrong way. I don’t have much else to say. I also won’t be finishing Throne of Glass, but I won’t go talking about it will turn into a Sarah J. Maas post, and we don’t want that.

I read Truthwitch the same year it was published and for most part enjoyed it. It wasn’t what I expected, not quite anyway, but I didn’t dislike it. The problem is, there was nothing about it I particularly liked, either. After a couple of years and tried picking up Windwitch. I listened to it on audio and I feel like I kept zoning out because I was that bored. I don’t think I blame the series, though – I genuinely think it was me in this case and the books are alright, they’re just not for me. I have Sightwitch on audio, too, but I won’t be picking it up.

Last, but not least, Caraval. Once again, I read the first book when it was published. It was marketed as a YA The Night Circus. It definitely isn’t The Night Circus. I didn’t dislike the first book, but I found it too convoluted and complicated for the sake of it and never felt a desire to continue. I know those books are widely loved, at least with the bookstagram crowd, but I just don’t think they’re for me.

There are other series I won’t be completing, but I though I’d leave it here for now, and revisit the subject in the future. Am I wrong to give up on any of these?

I’ll be back tomorrow with a special review AND a wrap up.

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy – A Review

Hi! I’m trying to make this “post-every-second-day-thing” an ACTUAL thing, at least for the time being. I wasn’t going to post this particular review, because it’s not a positive one, but I have requested a sequel for this book (I’m not sure why I’m trying to keep the title of it a secret when it’s clearly up there in big letters) just before I started reading it, in hopes of loving it, and I just got approved for it. And so, now I need to commit.

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
  • Publication Date: March 26th 2019
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications
  • Genre: YA Sci-Fi

I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I’m done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

Disappointed is not a strong enough word to describe how I feel about Once & Future.

There were so many things I thought I’d love going into the story that did not deliver in the slightest. Once & Future is a King Arthur retelling set in space, where Arthur is a girl and her knights are incredibly diverse in all the meanings of the world. It was blurbed by Amy Kaufman, for crying out loud. It had to be good, right? Wrong!

Once & Future reads like it was written by a horny teenager (or, more accurately, 2 horny teenagers, though both authors’ voices seem indistinguishable). There, I said it. You couldn’t go a couple of pages without someone taking, thinking or in some way referencing kissing or sex.

The book tries to talk about important things with the main character being an illegal immigrant on the run from a big and greedy corporation called Mercer, which controls the universe, but all the meaningful aspects are lost in the terribly paced narrative. The conflicts arise fast and are resolved even faster, with a convenient time skip just as we reach the climax (see what I did there?) to the aftermath of what just happened.

The tone changes constantly, too, every single important and serious issue is broken up with a stupid joke or a make-out session. It doesn’t relieve the tension, as intended, instead it makes the reader not take the world and the characters seriously. *spoiler alert* There are a few deaths, some more and some less important, and I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of them because of the way they were presented.

I love diversity in my books – the more, the better. But Once & Future reduced all its characters to their sexuality and gender. Not a single character has a personality – Ari, the main character, an incarnation of King Arthur, is bi, Merlin is a gay wizard who ages backwards, Jordan, Gwen’s knight and protector, is ace etc. That’s all there is to all those characters. There are things mentioned here and there about the characters’ past and their hardships, but all are soon forgotten and replaced by info who wants to sleep with whom.

It’s great to include all this diversity in a YA book, but assuming sexuality or gender identity is all that there is to a person is just not okay.

If I didn’t have such high hopes the book might somehow get better, I would’ve DNFed it at 100 pages, but instead I pushed myself to finish it. Some books have really great premises that just aren’t executed right, and unfortunately Once & Future is one of them.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Sword in the Stars is out on April 7th and you can expect my review for it on the day!

I’ll speak to you soon! Please stay safe and take care.

Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Quarter of 2020

Hi, everyone!

March is quickly coming to an end and that means we’re already a QUARTER into 2020. Madness! I like keeping up with new releases quarterly, because usually it’s a nice and manageable number and it doesn’t seem overwhelming. That being said, I’ve read none of the books I mentioned in my first post from this year, oopsie. I blame it on the 60+ books on my physical TBR – I’m sure you understand.

Anyway, enough with the rambling, here are my most anticipated new releases for the months April, May and June.

Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova

Incendiary is a YA fantasy about a girl who has the power to steal people’s memories and it’s inspired by the Spanish Inquisition. That is literally all I know, yet it’s enough to make me want to read it. I’ve never read anything by this author, but Labyrinth Lost has been on TBR since before it was published. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this book through Net Galley, so I’ll be getting to it relatively soon and post a review before the release date on April 28.

Seven Endless Forests by April Tucholke

The release dates for this book vary so much, I honestly have no idea when it is out. Amazon UK says April 30th, Goodreads has 3 different dates (March 31st, April 16th and April 28th) and Net Galley has the pub date set on June 1st. Regardless of the date – Seven Endless Forests is a companion novel to The Boneless Mercies (which I haven’t read, but I’m 99% sure I don’t need to) and it’s a King Arthur retelling. Once again, I know very little about it, but I’ll be reading and reviewing it for you soon, as I got the ARC for this one, too!

Aurora Burning by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

More sci-fi greatness from Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff! My heart is happy. Aurora Burning is a sequel to Aurora Rising, which came out last year and I devoured and if you don’t know what it’s about… where have you been? It’s about this rag tag team of space cadets who “are not the heroes we deserve, the’re just the ones we could find” and you should read it. Vague? Yes, but also totally worth it. Trust me. After the ending of the first book I cannot wait to read book 2. Aurora Burning comes out on May 5th.

The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Also on May 5th we’re getting this stunning looking book about pirates and mermaids (and witches, duh). I might regret putting it here, because it’s a romance of sorts, but I have faith because it’s also a QUEER romance and we know those are ones I tend to enjoy most. I’m just really dying to read a good pirate book and I feel like it might be the one. Plus, I’m gonna repeat mysel – LOOK.AT.THIS.STUNNING.COVER

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

May 5th is a big release date apparently, because Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo also comes out on that day. It’s a story about estranged sisters whose father dies in a plane crash; about grief, family and forgiveness. As if that didn’t sound great, it’s also written in verse. There’s a theme to this blog post, you see… ya girl got approved for the ARC of this one, too, so she’ll be reporting back on how much this book broke her heart before May 5th!

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

We’re getting this amazing sounding YA mystery thriller on June 2nd and I can’t wait! Zoe Spanos wen’t missing on New Year’s Eve. Anna is the new girl in town and bears a close resemblance to the missing girl. Looking more into the disappearance of Zoe, Anna is convinced they’re connected somehow. But when Zoe’s body is found, she’s charged with manslaughter. Doesn’t this sound insanely good? I’ll be picking it up as soon as it is out, for sure.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Cemetery Boys comes out on June 9th. It’s an own voices novel with Latinx representation and a queer romance (another theme of this post?) full of magic and ghosts. I’ve read a few reviews of people who had the pleasure to read it early and honestly this sounds like a perfect mix of heart warming and heart breaking. Sign me up.

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty

Last, but certainly not least, on June 11th we have The Empire of Gold – the third and final book in The Deavabad Trilogy. As of now, I still have only read the first book and yes, I’m ashamed of that, but hear me out… I’ve over 60 books on my physical TBR. City of Brass was easily one of the best books I’ve read last year and I really want to continue with the series. It’s a rich and intricate Middle Eastern inspired story full of magic. It’s well balanced and vibrant and just heaps of fun, and since it’s not a review, I’ll leave it at that.

Are you looking forward to reading any of these? Let me know in the comments down below.

I’ll chat with you very soon!

Reading Habits – Book Tag

Hi! As is the case for most of you, I’m stuck at home at the moment – my workplace closed and I don’t have the option to work from home, so days have been… strange to say the least. I’ve taken a few days to clear my head and make a sort of an action plan and decided to take all of this free time to blog more often. So, today I’m easing myself in with a book tag. I found this tag on Ariel Bissett’s YouTube channel and as she hasn’t tagged a creator, I’m going to assume she came up with the questions.

Let’s go.

Do you have a a certain place at home for reading?

I do 90% of my reading in bed. It’s comfy, it’s warm, the lighting is good and I’m just incredibly lazy and don’t leave my bed if I don’t have to. Sometimes, though, I do read at the kitchen table or on the couch – I try to squeeze in some reading time while I’m fake socialising by having coffee or breakfast with my family (before ye all claim that’s rude – we tend to just be on our phones and show each other silly videos).

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Almost always a random piece of paper. Sometimes a ruler. Other times a pen. A LOT of the times I just leave the book open upside down on my bed. I’ve also used receipts, napkins and random pieces of string before. I don’t really own pretty bookmarks, I have plenty of the Book Depository ones or promotional ones for books, but they’re all in a box and almost never handy when I need them, so I make do with other objects.

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/a certain amount of pages?

In the past I used to try to always finish the chapter, and if the chapters were impossibly long, at least wait until the break in paragraphs. Nowadays I’m more about an amount of pages BUT I have this weird obsession where I have to finish on a 0 or 5 – I keep going until I read 10, 15, 20, 25 etc. pages. It’s super silly, but I can’t seem to stop it.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

No. I don’t like eating while reading, because my hands get filthy and I don’t want to dirty my book. DUH! If I’m eating breakfast/dinner I might read an ebook at the same time (very rarely), but I tend not to snack while reading. As for drinking – I wouldn’t be opposed to it but I forget about my tea or coffee 99% of the time and that’s a waste, so I stopped doing it altogether. Reading time is for reading and that’s what I focus on.

Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?

Impossible. I’m not great at multitasking, so I’m afraid I would end up focusing on the TV or music a lot more than reading. I like having peace and quiet – that’s when I can focus the most and keep my attention on the book. Again, reading time is for reading.

One book at a time or several at once?

At any given time I like to have a physical book, an e-book and an audiobook going. Since implementing that into my reading I find I get through a lot more books. If I’m not feeling a story or a format I can just switch to a different book and immerse myself in that instead. And though I’m terrible at multitasking, reading 3 different stories at the same time isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be – I tend to be able to immerse myself in all of the stories and not confuse them with each other, which I know it’s an issue many people have.

Reading at home or everywhere?

Everywhere. I read while walking and shopping, I read at work, I read when I’m visiting other people (again NOT in a rude way, I just mean I read at their houses when we’re not doing anything important). Outside of my house I mostly read e-books and audiobooks, though. I have stopped carrying physical books around as most of them just don’t fit in my bag.

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Always silently. I hate reading out loud. I seem to always mispronounce words and stutter.

Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

I never skip pages, but I’m guilty of reading paragraphs out of order sometimes… For example, if there’s a dialogue on the page that’s broken up by a few random lines, I’ll read the dialogue first, then read the rest. I know, I’m a weirdo… I will still absolutely read everything on every page (unless the book is boring AF) and sometimes reread some things in order after I jumble them up.

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

100% breaking the spine. I’m not a crazy person and don’t bend back the cover and crack the spine on purpose, but I also open my books flat so they’re more comfortable to read. The way I see it – if the spine is broken it means the book has been read and that’s what books are for, no? I buy some special editions of books I’m more careful with (mostly Harry Potter books) and those just sit on my shelf and look pretty. Everything else will probably have a cracked spine.

Do you write in your books?

No. I’d like to, I think, but I don’t have the balls to do it. Also, taking notes while reading just doesn’t work for me as I get too distracted. But I tab, and I think that’s similar enough. Maybe one day I’ll start writing in my books, it feels a lot more personal and probably makes for a great reread, but I tend to ramble a lot and I feel like I’d just word vomit on the page and not make any sense.

If at any point while reading this you though “hmm… this tag sounds interesting, I might do it” now you have to because I tag YOU! Yes, you. And if you do do it (do-do!), leave a link to your post down below, I’d love to know if more people are as weird as I am about some of those things.

I’ll talk to you all soon (most likely tomorrow). Until then!

Thanks for reading