Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo – A Review

Hi! Happy publication day to Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. It’s time for another review.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Publication date: May 5th 2020
  • Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre/Hot Key Books
  • Genre: Contemporary

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. 

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

Clap When You Land is my first Elizabeth Acevedo book and one of very few stories written in verse I’ve ever read. After reading it I know I need to redeem both.

It’s a beautiful and heart-breaking story about family, grief and how a tragedy can bring people together. It follows two sisters who don’t know about each other’s existence until a plane crash claims the life of their father.
Camino finds out at the airport, waiting to pick him up. She lives with her aunt in the Dominican Republic and he visits every summer around her birthday. It’s her favourite time of the year.
Yahaira is in school when she’s called into the office and told what happened. Her dad lives with her and her mother in America and leaves “for business” at the same time every year. And this year, when he leaves things between them aren’t the greatest.

I loved reading from both girls’ perspectives. Their lives differ completely, yet before they even know about each other’s existence, what unites them is grief. Both loved their father dearly, but as they find out about each other and discover his second life, they have to deal with disappointment and realise their father was not a saint.

I don’t read many contemporaries, it’s definitely not my preferred genre, but I do enjoy ones that focus on family dynamics. Clap When You Land has so much of it, from the two different father-daughter relationships we see, through how different Yahaira is with her mother compared to how Camino views her aunt who raised her, and so many more. It also explores identity and the hardships of being raised poor. It talks about dreams and opportunities, and how one event can change the course of your whole life.

The writing is absolutely beautiful and harrowing, and the narration style makes the story very unique. I don’t read poetry often, nor do I find myself an expert in analising or reviewing it, but I appreciated the tone the free flowing verse set on the entire book. It made the narrative more raw and honest, and that kind of emotion is what made this book excellent.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I feel like this is a must-read for any contemporary lovers out there.

Thank you for reading, as always. I’ll talk to you soon.

The Wrongful Death by Kenneth B. Andersen – A Review

Hi! It’s my stop on The Write Reads tour for the third book in Kenneth B. Andersen’s series. I’ve reviews for the first and second books, if you’d like to check those out first. So… without further ado, as we all know how bad I’m at introductions…

The Wrongful Death by Kenneth B. Andersen
  • Publication date: April 20th 2009 (original)
  • Publisher: Host & Son
  • Genre: Fantasy

An unfortunate chain of events makes Philip responsible for the untimely death of the school bully Sam—the Devil’s original choice for an heir. Philip must return to Hell to find Sam and bring him back to life, so that fate can be restored. But trouble is stirring in Lucifer’s kingdom and not even Philip can imagine the strange and dark journey that awaits him. A journey that will take him through ancient underworlds and all the way to Paradise.

Thank you to the author for sending an e-copy of the book for a review, and for Dave at The Write Reads for putting together this tour.

I’ve grown to really love this series. As I’ve mentioned at the start of every review, it really took me by surprise. While books one and two were between middle grade and YA, at least for me, I feel like The Wrongful Death got a bit darker.

Philip got himself into Hell again! What’s new? This time, by a very unfortunate mix up, Philip’s friend (and ex tormentor) Sam ends up dead and lost in Hell. All because of Philip (and partially Satina). So he has to venture back to the underworld and find him before it’s too late.

As always, Philip was a great protagonist to read from. He remains extremely likeable throughout those books, and it was a real pleasure following him through his adventures. One of my favourites aspects of those books are times where Philip is looking for his dad – every time he sets foot in the underworld he thinks about him and tries to find a way to see him. I feel like it might be a big part of the plot in the later books. I was glad to see many supporting characters, especially Lucifer himself. He’s one of my absolute favourites.

Andersen managed to add even more depth into the already rich world, and we got to visit Heaven and meet god, as well as Hades in his underworld. Apart from the main plot, there is also a lot going on in Hell and the atmosphere gets darker with every chapter. It is quite apparent a big war is brewing, and I’m dying to find out more.

I always find it hard to review sequels and keep them spoiler free, and so they’re usually considerably shorter than other reviews. I found The Wrongful Death to be a bridge of sorts between Philip’s somewhat innocent adventures in Hell (though how innocent can they really be), and something darker and more sinister. I enjoyed it immensely and I can’t wait to continue with the series, and see where they lead.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Thank you for reading.

Follow the tags on Twitter to find more reviews from this tour, as a lot of lovely reviewers already posted theirs.

April Wrap Up

April has absolutely flown, hasn’t it? At least compared to March. I’ve taken advantage of the fact that I can’t go anywhere and see anyone and did a lot of online shopping… no, scratch that. What I was meant to say is that I did a lot of reading (and bought a crazy amount of stuff over the internet, too).

Let’s get into stats.

  • Number of books read: 14
  • Number of pages read: 5142
  • Average star rating: 4
  • DNFs: 1
  • TBR at the start of April: 61
  • Books added: 10
  • Books read: 8
  • Current TBR: 59 (yay for unhauling books!)

Final Girls by Riley Sager

I started the month with a fairly average but enjoyable thriller. The story follows a final girl (as the title suggests) – a sole survivor of a massacre, named by the media – Quincy Carpenter. The narrative alternates between current time and the past, giving us flashbacks from the night Quincy’s friends were murdered. I really enjoyed the latter parts, as what happened that night was a mystery that interested me more than the rest. Overall, although I hated all of the characters and found the ending disappointing, I still had fun reading the book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova

Incendiary was released 2 days ago but I got to read it early. I have a full review on here, if you want to know my thoughts.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Being back in The Lunar Chronicles’ world was an absolute delight. I missed those characters. Stars Above is a collection of short stories following our faves, and I loved all but one of them. It was a really fun and fast read, and if you enjoyed The Lunar Chronicles, but haven’t read this book, I’d highly recommend you do.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Northline by Willy Vlautn

This one has been one of the first books I added to my TBR on Goodreads when I first made an account and I finally got to read it this month. Full review here, as I don’t want to sound redundant.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Wrongful Death by Kenneth B. Andersen

I’ve had lots of fun reading this series so far, and I will review this book in 2 days, when it’s my turn, as once again I’m on the tour for it with the lovely The Write Reads. Spoiler alert: I enjoyed it!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Magic Study by Maria V Snyder

I’ve started the Study series years ago and never got around to reading anything past the first book. I finally decided to pick up Magic Study, as it’s been gathering dust on my shelves for forever, and it was a really fun and fast read. I needed to read a comprehensive synopsis of the first book, though, before diving into this one. I will say, altough since this was released, there are so many similar fantasy stories out there, I do think this one is worth a read.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

I was lucky enough to get approved for an eARC of Clap When You Land and I absolutely loved it. It’s a sad read, and I’ll be talking about it in depth on its release date on May 5th.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan

To be perfectly honest with you, I expected more from this book. It’s a collection of 13 retellings of classic fairytales and I wanted to love it, but it turned out quite… meh. What bothered me the most, I think, was the narration style, as most of these were told in the second person. The tone of this book is quite dark, and maybe I wasn’t in the mindset to read that, either.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke

My lowest rated book of the month. I got to read an early copy, and I was excited because Seven Endless Forests is marketed as a King Arthur retelling. Apart from 2 borrowed names and a magic sword, this was nothing like the legend, and the way the story was told didn’t work for me, either. It was slow and hard to get through, as it lacked plot. I will post a review for it at some point, I think.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle

I started reading this book back in 2018 when it first came out and didn’t finish it until now. Why? God knows, because I loved it! I’ve raved about it here, so if you want to read my full thoughts you can head there, but to sum it up, it’s a great and atmospheric middle grade set in Ireland and it’s delightful.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

If you like complex fantasy, The Fifth Season is for you. I didn’t know much about it before I started it, just that it was a dystopian fantasy where the world was plagued with natural disasters. Honestly, after reading a short story by Jemisin and hearing all the rave about this series, I didn’t need convincing to pick it up. I can’t say much about it because the story is easy to spoil. I docked half a star for sex scenes, though, because there’s quite a few.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

I listened to Sadie on audio because the way it’s done is an absolute masterpiece. It has a full cast and half of the story is told in a podcast form, which really works well in that format. The book deserves a separate reiew, so I’ll be posting one soon. I’m suprised how much I enjoyed it – some books get so overhyped, it’s crazy.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

I love Sanderson but his introductions to new series are always so slow! It’s just his style and I understand it completely, I just wish it picked up from time to time. The snail’s pace was worth it, because we got a lot of info about the world the last 60 pages were wild. What I’m trying to say is… I enjoyed it a lot, I just wish it had a side plot or two at the start to tie it all together move a tiny bit faster. I’m not gonna summarise the plot because I bet ye already know what it’s about.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

So, technically I still have around 30 pages left in the Goblet of Fire, BUT there is no doubt I’ll be finishing it the second I post this. I’ve decided to continue with my reread of the series this month. It’s crazy how many things I’ve forgotten. Needless to say – I loved it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

And that is it for today.

How many books have you read this month? Any new favourites? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading, and as always, I’ll see you soon!

Lowest Rated Books I’ve Read

Hi! Not too long ago I’ve posted about the highest rated books on my Goodreads read shelf. Today is time for the lowest rated one, which I think is a tad more interesting. None of these are below 3.3, which honestly isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

The End of the Day by Claire North

This one is rated 3.38 stars and… I think that might be too generous. Do I think it’s the worst book I’ve ever read? God, no. Did I expect it to be the lowest rated book I’ve read? Honestly, no, I’m quite surprised. I thought the concept was good, but I was confused as to the execution and the actual point of the story.

My rating:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

The Dante Club is rated 3.39 stars. I have good yet incredibly vague memories of reading this, I know I enjoyed it a lot, but I read it years and years ago and honestly, have no recollection of what it actually is about. I gave it 4 stars, according to Goodreads, and I’m pretty sure, not counting Sherlock Holmes stories, this is the first ever murder mystery I’ve read. I think I’d have to reread it to either agree or disagree with it’s rating (seeing it blurbed by Dan Brown, I don’t have huge expectations, though – no offence intended).

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

This one is one of a few of Levithan’s books on this list, and it’s rated 3.43 stars. Seems like an average rating but you don’t even need to scroll through the reviews to find lots of 1 star ones completely slamming the book. And while it’s been years since I read it and it’s not Nick and Norah’s (nothing beats that), I really enjoyed this book.

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily is rated 3.48 stars. I don’t know how it’s rated higher than Naomi and Ely’s, it’s mind boggling. I could not stand reading form Lily’s point of view, even though I loved her in the first book (Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares). Dash was great, though, so I can’t say I disliked this book.

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

I kind of expected this one to make the list, to be honest. It’s rated 3.49, which again is fairly decent, and there are many people who gave it 5 stars, but I didn’t really feel the book. I found it quite repetitive (it is meant to be, as it follows a girl with amnesia, but it made it hard to read) and I didn’t connect with any of the characters. It was a very “meh” book for me…

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Are We There Yet? by David Levithan

Ooof, another Levithan. Seems like not many people like his books. Are We There Yet? is rated 3.49 stars. I personally really liked it. I think it did a good job exploring the relationship of the two brothers in this book, and how they learn to get along.

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Bunny by Mona Awad

I was waiting for Bunny to show up! It’s definitely not everyone’s taste and it’s quite a polarizing book (rated 3.5 stars). Some love it, others hate it. It’s definitely the weirdest thing I’ve ever read, but in the best way possible. I really liked it.

My rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

I’d say everyone is sick of me ranting about this book. I think 3.52 star rating is waaaay to generous for it and if you wanna know why – here’s my review where I talk about it.

My rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.
Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I remember very little about this book and it really is not my preferred genre, so I don’t think it comes as a surprise I didn’t really enjoy it. It’s rated 3.55 stars with nearly 150 000 ratings. I haven’t had much luck with her books.

My rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.
This Splintered Silence by Kayla Olson

Last, but not least, with a rating of 3.57, is This Splintered Silence. It’s kind of a strange one, being a sci-fi murder mystery, but it was a really fast and enjoyable read, though nothing ground breaking. I agree with the rating, it was just above average.

My rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

And that is it for today… 10 of the lowest rated books on my Goodreads read shelf. How do you feel about those ratings? Did you hate or love any of these books?

I’ll talk to you guys soon! Thanks for reading.

The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle – A Review

Hi, Lovelies! It’s been a while.

I finished The Storm Keeper’s Island (as I was typing the title, I nearly wrote The Storm Island’s Keeper, which sheds a bit of light on how I’m feeling today) not too long ago and decided to write and post a review for it, because… that’s what I do?

The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle
  • Publication date: July 1st 2018
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury
  • Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

When Fionn Boyle sets foot on Arranmore Island, it begins to stir beneath his feet …

Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for Fionn’s grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new Keeper will rise.

But, deep underground, someone has been waiting for Fionn. As the battle to become the island’s next champion rages, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war.

I have started this book when it first came out back in 2018 and, for some reason unknown to me, put it down and never picked it back up again. Until now. And it was everything I love about middle grade books.

The Storm Keeper’s Island is set in Ireland and follows Fionn as he goes to visit his grandfather, who lives on the island of Arranmore, for the first time with his older sister, Tara. As she abandons him for the friends she made the previous summer, Fionn spends a lot of his time with his grandad and learns the island is magical and his grandfather is the Storm Keeper – the protector of Arranmore. The blurb above makes more sense than my one, so just read that.

This book was absolutely delightful. The story was really fun and magical. I loved the setting – books set in Ireland and written by Irish authors feel strangely familiar and close to my heart, even though I’m not Irish (I have been living here for 12 years, though).

Fionn was a likable main character. Very unsure about himself and the trip to the island at the beginning, he develops greatly and finds his purpose. I loved the way his realtionship with his sister was tackled. Constant bickering and teasing is definetly something many can relate to, but it was also visible they both cared about each other. I enjoy the trope of an old grandad-like figure as a mentor (e.g. Dumbledore), and the relationship Fionn had with his grandad was incredible.

The Storm Keeper’s Island was such a quick read. Granted, it’s only 300 pages long, but it took me on a wild adventure and out of the current bleak reality. It was never dull or boring. I especially loved the magic in it, where memories can be trapped in candles.

I can’t wait to continue with the series and follow Fionn on his adventures. I honestly think book was amazing and more people, especially kids, should read it. It’s a story worth growing up with.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was a fairly short one. Thanks for reading, I’ll talk to you soon!

Highest rated books I’ve read

Hi! Happy Easter.

I’ve seen people a few people talk about the highest rated books on Goodreads that they’ve read, so I decided to do my own post about it. Ground rules before I get into it – if the same series pops up in the top 10, I’ll only count one book from it, as it can get pretty repetitive. Okay, let’s go.

My top 10 highest rated books on Goodreads:

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Number one on the list, with a star rating of 4.79 is the first book in the Stormlight Archive series (though, part 2 of it) by Brandon Sanderson. Am I surprised? Not really. Actually, the whole top 5 is various books from that series, which is INSANE but also understandable. As you probably already know, I love Sanderson and his writing, and so I think this is a well deserved first spot.

My rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

In second place, with a 4.6 star rating, we have Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. The Six of Crows duology is one of my absolute favourites, it has everything I love in fantasy and I’m not at all surprised it’s rated so high. It’s such a beloved series.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess, the final book in The Infernal Devices trilogy, ranks at number 3 with a 4.58 star rating. I can honestly say The Infernal Devices is Clare’s best series (I thought maybe The Dark Artifices would beat it, but Queen of Air and Darkness ruined EVERYTHING) and I remember absolutely loving all the books in it. Though I’m not too clear on the details, I’m pretty sure I cried my eyes out reading this one.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

I don’t think anyone is surprised that there’s a Harry Potter book on this list. Half-Blood Prince comes in at number 4 with a 4.57 star rating. Coincidentally, I think it’s actually my favourite Harry Potter book – it gives so much insight into the magical world and Voldemort’s life, while still keeping the school setting, which I adore. Not at all surprised it’s been rated this high.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

Number five belongs to Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff – rated 4.56 stars. I’ve had some issues with the pacing of this one, and found it hard to get into the story at the very beginning. I also skipped over the smutty bits and I stopped reading the footnotes altogether. Nevernight is a well known and loved fantasy series and I get why, as it’s really well crafted. Some things in it work for me more than others, but overall I did enjoy this book.

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Maus by Art Spiegelman

At number six and 4.55 star rating is Maus, a graphic novel. I read it back in 2015 and I didn’t love it as much as other people did. Maybe it was the mix of the format, the fact it is nonfiction and historical as well (though I used to enjoy historical books back then), but it just didn’t work for me.

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Number seven shouldn’t surprise anyone. I read The Name of the Wind this year and really enjoyed it. It’s one of those books everyone loves, so I’m not surprised it’s rated 4.54 stars. It’s not quite my favourite fantasy, but it’s a great book and I think it deserves the spot on the list.

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I couldn’t be more excited this series made it onto the list! Obsidio ranked at number eight, with a star rating of 4.54, but in my heart it deserves a whole universe of stars. The Illuminae Files is one of my favourite series in the world. Thinking about it now… I might reread it soon.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The only contemporary on this list lands at number nine with a 4.51 star rating. I think it’s one of those books everyone should read. It explores a lot of important subjects and is a very poignant story. I loved it and I’m glad many people did, too.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Last, but not least, we have Lord of Shadows. Cassandra Clare managed to land another book on the list. It has a rating of 4.5 stars and I agree wholeheartedly. I loved this book, hence why I mentioned I thought this series had the potential to be better than the Infernal Devices. Clare’s writing improved in this one so much, the story was so complex and the ending killed me. Sadly, what followed was just a steaming pile of garbage.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As you can see, this list is 80% fantasy. It really reflects on my reading habits. It turns out I’ve mostly popular opinions on popular books.

I won’t ask if you’ve read any of these, because chances are you have, but do you agree with the ratings? Or did you rate these books lower? Let me know down below.

Thanks for reading.

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:
“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!

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

The Poppy War by R.F Kuang – A Review

Hi! I’m back with yet another book review and this one’s a positive one. Let’s get into it.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
  • Publication date: May 1st 2018
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager
  • Genre: Fantasy

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

The Poppy War was probably the most hyped book of 2018, at least as far as I can remember. Everyone talked about it, and so as a fantasy lover I hastily added it to my tbr. I only got to it now, though, because with every glowing review I’ve seen about it I became more and more apprehensive. What if it doesn’t live up to my expectations? Spoiler alert – it did!

I think The Poppy War is a fantastic debut novel. It’s not without faults, obviously, but it makes for an exciting read. The plot is fast paced and the world building intricate and interesting. I’m no expert on the subject but it is clearly rooted in Chinese history, which for some might feel unimaginative, but personally I really enjoyed it.

The story follows Rin, an orphan raised by her aunt, who wants to marry her off to secure her own opium smuggling business. To escape the fate of an arranged marriage Rin trains to pass exams to get to an elite military school – Sinegard.

I’ll tell you right off the bat – the characters were the novel’s weakest point. Rin is not likeable, nor is she relatable, but not as a character one loves to hate, either. She’s whiny and annoying for the most part of the story, and too head strong for her own good. It changes slightly at the end of the book, and I much prefer the Rin turned villain from the last couple of chapters, as it adds depth to her character. The side characters started off great in the first part of the book, just to fall off the face of the Earth in the later parts and reappear as a plot device. This could be due to the novel being very much plot driven, or maybe it’s just not Kuang’s strongest point and something she’ll improve on with time.

The world building and the magic system were both rich and compelling. Some would say the story was a tad bit info dumpy, but I enjoyed every single history lesson we got. It made the story more interesting, and the military aspect a lot more digestible. I found the magic to be unique in the way opium was used to control it. I’m looking forward to learning more about it in the next two books, as there’s still some gaps that need to be filled in.

The pacing and tone of the 3 parts felt quite disjointed to me. I know it was done intentionally, and with every event the book was becoming darker, but I wish there was more connection between all three. Looking back, the start of the book felt like a completely different story – much in the vein of The Name of the Wind, and quite typical and tropey with Rin attending the academy, learning and excelling at everything, just to flip on its head and get incredibly grim and dark some pages later. It’s not something that bothered me greatly, though.

Overall, I’m really glad I picked up The Poppy War and after that ending, I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. I think despite it being Kunag’s first novel, she already found her voice and writing style and I’m curious as to what she is going to come out with next.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Have you read The Poppy War? What did you think about it?

Thank you for reading!