The Seafarer’s Kiss, Julia Ember

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Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.
Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.
So I am conflicted. I’ve been trying to work out what to say in this for hours now and I just… I’m so… I don’t know.
I got this because it was sold as a Little Mermaid retelling with a f/f romance in it. And yeah… I guess it is kinda that, but it’s also not one I would really want to recommend.
You know what I would have much preferred? A story just about the mermaids and how they were handling the stuff going down in their home. Because that was my favourite part of this story, and it was barely explained. There were a lot of throwaway comments within about how their king ruled in fear and they were looking at somewhere new to move to and it was never explained and I just wanted to know.
Whereas the so called romance? We saw her for like, 5 pages, then she left for most of the book, came back, there was some awkward make out/sex scenes (thankfully time skipped) and then they like punched each other AND THEN IT WAS NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN.
Like, dudes. My loves, my dears. Rule one of a healthy relationship is that you don’t hit each other. Punch each other. Whatever. Rule two is that if it happens, you get out there as quick as because if it happens once, it can happen again. I don’t care if the author trying to prove that both characters are as ‘monstrous’ as each other, you don’t fucking hit the girl you’re making out with (unless its consensual and there’s a safe word etc. Basically you don’t do it in anger.)
Like seriously one of the few f/f romances out there and it’s awful? Like, yay, we have a bi main but that doesn’t make up for it being bad rep.
They literally never talk about it (other to joke about one being able to punch better) and the ‘relationship’ then just carries on as if it’s all fine?  It’s so harmful and ughhh.
That’s all I can say on it otherwise i’ll just get even more sarcastic and annoyed, so lets move on.
As a Little Mermaid retelling, it was interesting. I loved that it twisted the story enough that you didn’t always know what was going to happen, and I love that it also mixed in Norse myths (because we always need a little Loki in our lives – even if in this  version, Loki is far more evil that prankster). The twists were great – and they showed a bit more of what the mermaid world was like, but still not enough (see what I’m getting at here, I really liked the mermaid parts and nothing else…)
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good. Since mermaids are graded on ‘potential’ for their children, when one of the other mermaids has a low count, shes called ‘broken’. Pro tip, people; I know the point of this is that mermaids aren’t just baby making machines like they’re made out to be in this, but don’t call them broken if they can’t have kids, jesus Christ. Also don’t laugh if someone might not be able to have children but wants them. Don’t be a dick.
So all in all, yep, conflicted because I wanted to read about the world she lived in, and I think the story of that world would have been awesome – but it was all completely ruined by harmful rep and comments and everything.
two-stars
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2017 in Books

City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty

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Among the bustling markets of eighteenth century Cairo, the city’s outcasts eke out a living swindling rich Ottoman nobles and foreign invaders alike.
But alongside this new world the old stories linger. Tales of djinn and spirits. Of cities hidden among the swirling sands of the desert, full of enchantment, desire and riches. Where magic pours down every street, hanging in the air like dust.
Many wish their lives could be filled with such wonder, but not Nahri. She knows the trades she uses to get by are just tricks and sleights of hand: there’s nothing magical about them. She only wishes to one day leave Cairo, but as the saying goes…
Be careful what you wish for.

I had been eyeing this book up online for months before I finally managed to get my hands on an ARC of it (Thank you to YALC friendships!). From the moment I heard about it, I knew it was going to be something I would love, and when I started reading it, I knew it wouldn’t let me down.

It’s a fantasy read that dances on the lines of being awesome for both YA and adult alike – one of my favourite kinds of books, because it doesn’t read as simple, but also doesn’t leave you floundering as you try to work out the world you’ve stepped into.

The only thing I was wary about was the duo narration; I’ve read a few in the past and quite often, both voices sound too similar so you forget who you are following, or you just don’t care about one of them at all.

I loved Nahri from her first chapter – how could I not, when she came alive on the page, her refusal that magic existed even when she was a street healer and could sense the wrong in people… and because Dara was in many of her chapters and we should all know by now I have a weakness for grumpy, brooding male mains with a clear secret that will probably make everything go wrong (*whispers* do I have a type?!)

Ali, it took me longer to warm too; for his first few chapters I thought I was going to not care about him, but I soon realised that it was more that I wanted to get back to Nahri than anything else. Once his story took off a bit more and I knew his role in it, I did grow to like him.

I basically loved everything about this book. From the world, to the politics of the city, to the characters and all the twists. I want to talk about it for ages but I also don’t want to give anything away; I loved reading this because it was different; I didn’t know what to expect.

So while I could probably write an essay on this book, just… go and read it. Please. It is so beautifully written and amazing and I want it to do so well.

five stars

They Both Die at the End, Adam Silvera

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When Mateo receives the dreaded call from Death-Cast, informing him that today will be his last, he doesn’t know where to begin. Quiet and shy, Mateo is devastated at the thought of leaving behind his hospitalised father, and his best friend and her baby girl. But he knows that he has to make the most of this day, it’s his last chance to get out there and make an impression.
Rufus is busy beating up his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend when he gets the call. Having lost his entire family, Rufus is no stranger to Death-Cast. Not that it makes it any easier. With bridges to mend, the police searching for him and the angry new boyfriend on his tail, it’s time to run.
Isolated and scared, the boys reach out to each other, and what follows is a day of living life to the full. Though neither of them had expected that this would involve falling in love…

Some books are great. Some books are heartbreaking. Some books have you crying at work, and some books have you thinking about them all the way walking home and into the evening.

This book fits into all four categories.

We all played the game when we were younger, in the years between thinking we were immortal and realising we were not. The what would you do if you had a day left to live game, where you pretended the world was at your fingertips and the impossible became possible for twentyfour long hours. Some would say they would travel far and wide, others, that they would say goodbye, give memories back to the people they loved.

In this book, that game is reality. You get a call around midnight telling you that at some point in the next 24 hours, you’re going to die. You don’t know how, or when, but it gives you time to sort everything out, say goodbye and get ready.

Because of this knowing, things have cropped up to give you a good last day; experience centers, apps, discounts….  The app Last Friend is how the two mains meet, and is the whole reason for their day of adventures.

But the app, their friendship and day – all that actually made me think more about fate. I love how, in this book, all these side characters stories get brought together, how the random person on the street is someone important to what you are doing, how the person you might have met is the one you cross the road with later in the afternoon, and how, really, all the small decisions you make are the ones that bring you to why you die.

If Mateo hadn’t have reached out on Last Friend, he would have done various things, but then Rufus wouldn’t have met him and the day might have ended differently – but we will never know, because all those factors did bring around their deaths. Would they have died anyway – if Mateo had never left his house, would he have died sooner, or in a different way?

See, told you this book made me think. I finished it two days ago and I’m still thinking about it. (At least the tears didn’t last as long)

It’s a clever, simple idea that is pulled off effectively – you watch (read), over the whole day, as the two main characters grow and change, even when they know there is nothing to do with that change. You follow them through grieving and trying to work out how to help their friends and help each other, and even though you know how its going to end (spoiler alert, they die) you still mourn for them when it does happen.

I shouldn’t be surprised at the mourning – I’ve read one other book by Silvera and that one got me as well, so I knew already that he was a good storyteller and puller-of-the-heartstrings, but he’s improved with this book, I think. He just knows how to tell a story, and how to make the characters emotions feel just as real as your own, he pulls you up and drags you along with the characters, and with this… I know I say it a lot with character deaths, but I wish they hadn’t died, because I wanted to know what the two main characters could have become – would Mateo have gone back to hiding at home and being careful, or would he have learnt to live?

We will never know.

four stars

One of us is Lying, Karen M. McManus

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Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.
Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond.
Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.
Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.
And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again.
He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects.
Everyone has secrets, right?
What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them.

I found a murder mystery type book that I enjoyed. Wow.

I’d heard a lot about this book by the time I actually picked it up, but I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I mainly started reading because I ended up getting a signed copy at YALC and thought I better read it.

And I was pretty impressed; I loved how so many characters had the motive to kill Simon, I loved how all their relationships changed throughout the book, I loved how, while I had guessed the ending well before hand, it still kept you guessing throughout.

When you have books with multiple narrations, you often find that a few have been only half baked to make way for the ‘big’ character, or that all of them fall flat and are unconvincing. But each of the main characters in this book felt fleshed out – you were rooting for Bronwyn and Nate, you wanted to stand by Addy and shake her because she didn’t see what her sister did. Each of them was real in their own rights, and each of them carried along the story, and even at half way, you wanted all of them to be innocent because you felt for all of them.

Don’t get me wrong; this book isn’t perfect.

One of the plot twists may upset some people – it’s understandable and in terms of the character, it is believable, but it’s something you wouldn’t want to be used as a ‘shock plot twist’ (I thought it was written well for what it was, but it will still upset some people)
Mental illness can also be argued as being handled not very well in the book, especially at the end.

But the problems with it don’t counter the fact that I did enjoy reading it, and it was a good book over all. It’s also one of the few books I’ve read where the character arcs are done really well; the characters are not the same at the end as they were at the start, mostly for the better.

four stars

Tower of Dawn, Chaol, and a Mini Essay on What Characters are to Us

It’s that time of year again! No, I don’t mean the schools going back, (though, thank god, because I can go shopping without having children EVERYWHERE) I mean its september, which means  A NEW THRONE OF GLASS NOVEL.

I know, originally, by this point in time, we had all hoped to have the last book in the series and were all expecting to be lying down, quietly sobbing in denial because face it, Sarah isn’t going to let all our favourites survive, but I’m actually glad that Chaol got a full novel and a year to himself, rather than the novella and three months from June to now.

When it was announced he was getting a huge book for himself, I seemed to be one of the few that was overjoyed; many people hate hated Chaol since book two. Many more have hated him since book four. But Chaol… I just wanted to know that he would be alright, because out of every character in the series, he is the one I understand and love the most.

I first picked up Throne of Glass because of Celaena. She was the character I needed back then- at eighteen, I had only just ‘escaped’ from a place that had done me a lot of damage. I was, pretty much, the way they had hoped Celaena would be locked up in the camp; broken down and lost myself. I read her story and I vowed to myself that if she could make it, then I could (I mean, technically I failed, I unlike her, do not have a kingdom of my own and am not a missing loved princess, but hey, we can’t all have crowns, and a lot of beautiful guys and girls around us). But while Celaena was the one character that saved me, it was Chaol, that from the beginning, I understood and identified with most.

Chaol’s most important trait has always been his loyalty. From the very beginning, it was loyalty to the crown and his best friend, and that was always going to be his downfall. Because he was so blindly loyal that he didn’t want to see the bad in his kingdom – despite the fact that the king he worked for was evil, and he knew it. That loyalty was the thing that ripped him apart- the thing that many readers decided was ‘out of character’ for him in previous books (see: when he and Dorian fought. When he had Aelin fought). But loyalty isn’t this black and white concept that you can turn off when you realise someone was evil.

Chaol tried. He turned away from his king and threw his sword into the river and that was a massive turning point in his story arc. That was him realising that his entire time as a captain was wrong, but that didn’t stop him being loyal. That’s why he fought so much with Aelin. Some of it was because he did love Celaena and given her his loyalty – only to find out who she was. But the rest of it was because he had built his whole life on being captain to the king and thrown it away. That sword was symbolic – to Chaol, he was throwing his life away. Like no wonder he was so angry at everyone in QoS. He had lost all he knew and he assumed the girl he loved was his enemy (and to be fair, she did kinda act it).

(Sorry I have a lot of thoughts on Chaol)

Anyway, back onto the new book; I knew that I would love Tower of Dawn no matter the outcome. Of course, I wanted Chaol to be happy, but I knew he had a longggg way to go before that; because not only did he have the war raging inside himself for who he was, and an injury he hated, he had seen too much to even know he could be happy again.

I also knew it was going to be an emotional rollercoaster. Every Maas book is, but this one was meant to be Chaol’s own Heir of Fire, and that book destroyed me enough. And it proved to be just that. In HoF, Celaena went into it hurt and hating herself, refusing to accept who she was and what she had become. In ToD, it was an identical journey, minus the whole finding his own magic storyline. Chaol went into it unable to find who he was anymore, and came out with not only new friends, but new love and himself.

I may have cried like, at least five times. (If I could pluck Chaol from the book and protect him forever, I so would)

One of my favourite things about this book, though, has been the reactions from other people. Chaol has never been a favourite of the fandom, and when people heard about this book, many spent months saying they were not going to bother reading it as it would be a waste (which like, is totally wrong since MASSIVE PLOT POINT AND TWIST) or was planning to read it to take the piss out of it. However, many of the people who went into it hating Chaol have come out, maybe not loving him, but at least understanding him.

Many who went in shipping him with Aelin or Nesryn came out shipping him with someone else (I don’t really understand shipping, not in this fandom I honestly just want them all to be happy).

I think that shows how brilliant a writer Maas is; that she can make so many people care about a character they thought they would always hate, and make them fall in love with his journey.

Out of all of the books in the ToG series, ToD has been one of my favourites, because Chaol has always been nearest to who I am than anyone else, and to see him grow over the book was amazing.

And really, there are people out there that don’t understand how some people have coped through fiction or even survived through it – I think this is the book I would hand them to make them understand. Because fiction, and characters, are not just on the page. I’ve spent five years loving these characters, I’ve been on their journeys through pages, and they have seen me through many of mine.

… and I’m slightly terrified to see what will happen in the last book…

There’s Someone Inside Your House, Stephanie Perkins

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

WARNING, THIS REVIEW DOES CONTAIN A PRETTY BIG SPOILER. NUMBER SIX ON MY LIST. SO JUST SKIP THAT IF YOU DONT WANT TO SEE IT. IT’S A VERY BIG SPOILER.

I don’t know where to start with this so please bear with me…

I wouldn’t have picked this up if not for reading Perkins’ previous series. Not normally my kind of thing, Anna and the French Kiss was cute, fluffy, well written and fun so I was looking forward to seeing what else the author could write. And I’m… so disappointed.

I’m never one for saying stick to what you know. Because the only way to improve is to try new things and experiment. But Perkins is good at light and fluffy and cute. She isn’t good at whatever this was meant to be.

I think it was more that she was trying to do too much, than her actual writing. I almost look at this book as two separate stories, and I think she should have chosen one to write and skip the other. Because having all these chapters where the two mains are making out, or having sex, or talking cute in between them being hunted and a load of murders… it doesn’t work.

I may be alone in thinking this, but when there’s a murderer after you, there’s more important things than having sex.

Okay I’m going to try and put my thoughts into words:

  1. It was meant to be like Scream Queens, or something. The only thing you can compare with these two things was they both happened at a school, and multiple people died in different ways. Scream Queens had a huge cast and over the series, you got to know them all enough to kind of care before they were killed off. I get thats a TV series and this is a book so it would never work as well, but the characters that died? You never met them before their chapters (other than like, for a line) so how are you meant to care about them? Its just like… oh cool, a kid died, who were they? I had no emotional impact about it at all. 
  2. With murdery thrillers like this, aren’t you meant to have a few big suspects and it could literally be any one of them? Granted, I rarely read this genre, but it seemed like Perkins was trying to do this with the Love Interest, but gave up in about two chapters and never actually gave reason for any suspects other than oh they dont fit in. Hey, guess what. ITS SCHOOL A LOT OF PEOPLE DONT FIT IN. There was nothing for me to feel fear for? All these evenings where Main Character was alone with LI (before we knew it wasn’t him) were just make out sessions. I feel a bit cheated, I wanted to be on the edge of  my seat, wondering if she really was safe.
  3. The killer was revealed half way through the book, and again, it was a character we only had seen for a sentence or two, so there was no *gasp* moment, nothing that left me wanting to go back through the book for clues, because we didn’t know him. 
  4. Too much of the ‘suspense’ of the book hovered on Main Characters ‘WHAT IF THEY KNEW MY SECRET’ style sentences. It’s built up to be this massive thing and then was….nothing… when it was revealed. The blurb itself says “dark secrets among them must finally be confronted” but this dark secret was anticlimactic, then literally no character cared about it?
  5. The romance itself felt really flat to me. I liked LI enough on his own, but there wasn’t enough of a spark in it for me to want to root for them both to survive or end up together.
  6. The end was just…strange?
    OKAY OKAY I’M BOLDING THIS. THIS IS A SPOILER FOR THE END READ AT YOUR OWN RISK
    Okay so firstly if this community was that saddened by these deaths they would not all be dressed up as the murderer for fun. LITERALLY TOO SOON. Then like, the whole… Main Character killing him, then the POLICE LADY letting her run off to the LI. Like I get he was a murderer and stuff but I’m pretty sure police procedure is still that you TAKE IN THE PERSON THAT KILLED THE MURDERER for at least a statement?

SPOILER FINISHED RESUME READING HERE.

I’m honestly just so disappointed in this book. I had such high hopes for Perkins, but I think I’m going to have to pretend this book never existed and never mention it ever again.

two-stars