14 different viewpoints, including those from a bench and a squirrel, and guess what? I didn’t hate it at all.
A Little Something Different, probably one of the lightest, cutest books I’ve read this year, is everything that is familiar about contemporary romance, but delivered with a hint of originality. I can’t help but groan inwardly whenever I know something is told from multiple perspectives (unless it’s fantasy, of course), but you know what? Sandy Hall does a rather brilliant job here. You get to follow Gabe and Lea’s awkward development of a relationship pretty well, without being in their heads at all, and it’s quite miraculous that it works as well as it does.
I won’t lie. My favourite point of view is the squirrel’s. Gimmicky or not, that little scatterbrained acorn-loving furball is adorable as hell.
The overall story feels quite young overall, given the age of the characters and the college setting, but the lack of drama and overly angst-ridden scenes is so easily appreciated. There is a trauma-based backstory for one of the characters, but again, it isn’t too clichéd or heavy or your typical Huge Emotional Thing That Only Romance Can Solve.
The actual writing could be slightly better, in my opinion, especially in terms of the dialogue, which does border too close to juvenile and unpolished at times. However, for a book that you can read in one sitting and smile along to and appreciate for actually being a little something different, Sandy Hall has me nicely convinced. I’d happily try anything else she cooks up in the future. (less)
Storm Siren is a fairly mesmerising thing on the surface. It has all the right ingredients – an intriguing high concept plot, internal charac...more3.5 stars
Storm Siren is a fairly mesmerising thing on the surface. It has all the right ingredients – an intriguing high concept plot, internal character conflicts, romance that is present but not frustratingly dominating – and it puts most of them to use reasonably well. There is, however, a part of me – that annoying part – that still wants to call this book tame.
Some of it is the world-building. With a story set in a world of conflict, one where politics and social divides and war form a cement of life, Storm Siren creates the impression that it is only scratching the surface. There is enough present about Faelen, Bron and the other kingdoms to follow the story, and enough present about some of the history (though through some pretty clichéd means) to answer basic questions, but not enough to make it possible to fully immerse with interest.
Some of it is the ending. It’s the sort of cliffhanger that you know is supposed to create tension, the sort that should make you feel anxious for the characters and nervous but desperate to continue with the story. I’ve seen this ending before, however, manipulative device or not, and a part of me feels quite confident, perhaps because of the overall tone of the book, that a certain character will not ultimately be doomed to their fate. It’s a boring feeling, so I really hope that Mary Weber will prove me wrong.
Still, I liked this book.
Although some of the overall world-building could be better refined, Weber’s writing style on a sentence-level – the descriptions of man-eating creatures, certain places, clothes and views – had me highlighting like an English teacher. I loved Nym, the main character. She is resilient, bold, but not without struggles and flaws. Her personal growth is convincing, her story compelling. (It’s only the ‘save the world or be killed aspect’ that feels a little weak. I would have liked her position as an Elemental and the last hope of a war-ravaged nation to have had had further depth.)
I REALLY enjoyed the secondary characters. Hot-and-cold trainer Eogan ticked all the boxes for me – wink wink – despite the fact that I pronounced his name in two different ways throughout the whole book. Breck is my favourite. Her personality shines from the minute we meet her – as does her brother’s. Colin is one of the more entertaining characters in the book, but never feels just like a token comedic sidekick, and even better, he is not a love interest. You can tell pretty early on that there isn’t going to be a love triangle in the story, so YAY.
At the moment, I am not desperate for the sequel, but there is a more than good chance that I will read it eventually once it releases. If nothing else, I’m glad this book put a new author on my radar. Despite the slight issues here, and wanting a little more overall, I definitely think this is a solid start and hope there is potential for things to get even better with the next installment. (less)
I am in awe of Abigail Haas and also maybe slightly scared of her.
Her dark, unsettling stories are mind-blowingly good – the sort that haunt...more4.5 stars
I am in awe of Abigail Haas and also maybe slightly scared of her.
Her dark, unsettling stories are mind-blowingly good – the sort that haunt you with their brilliance and make you shiver with uneasy thoughts long after the final pages. Like Dangerous Girls before it, Abigail Haas’ Dangerous Boys delves into wonderfully uncomfortable and chilling corners, it makes you hunt for answers and clues right from the start, and takes you on a journey that is unpredictable and disturbing, even when you think you do know what’s going on.
You can never really know someone. Maybe you think that sounds trite, or perhaps you already learned it a long time ago. But me, I didn’t really grasp it until now: huddled in the corner of the ambulance, watching the medics try to shock life back into a motionless body.
If there’s a difference between this book and Dangerous Girls, it would be that this feels far more character-focused. There is a lot of clever personality-building, and the non-linear narrative works brilliantly, slowly churning up suspense and a slight sense of eeriness. Its twists are quiet, the kind that creep up on you, the way they should in a good psychological thriller. The attention to detail is excellent. It makes you appreciate how small things – almost inconsequential things – can contribute to something bigger. It lets you see how people, the wrong people and the right people, can be more than just passing names.
“You’ve got some guilty secrets?” I teased. “Doesn’t everyone?” I glanced across and saw a dark, solemn glint in his eyes.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot (or anything, in fact), as this is definitely a book that is best entered blind. All I can say is that it’s clever. The overhanging arch of mystery is not as intense as it is in Dangerous Girls, but it is still present and still brilliantly handled. The Abigail Haas Ending is, in true fashion, gripping and strong. This book had me fooled near the final pages, only then to wipe that complacent expression off my face and leave me with my mouth on the floor and my brain feeling somewhat like it’d been put through a blender.
Some pieces couldn’t be glued back together. Some people weren’t for fixing. Sometimes, the only thing to do was burn the whole fucking world down and start again.
Dangerous Something, Dangerous Anything, I’ll take it Abigail Haas. I just hope you never stop writing YA. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The overall story is a little disjointed in places, but really, who cares.
This book is utter fun, the sort of light and delightful summe...moreSO MUCH CUTE.
The overall story is a little disjointed in places, but really, who cares.
This book is utter fun, the sort of light and delightful summer read that stirs as many smiles and laughs as heartfelt swoons. Besides containing one of my favourite types of romance (seriously, seriously entertaining), it has some brilliant characters, realistic family dynamics, and one incredibly charming and well-infused Southern vibe. The heartwarming quality of this book is exactly the sort of thing that I crave.
If you look for me today, I'll be the girl wearing the goofy grin.(less)
A part of me really wanted to believe I would not like this enough to give it 5 stars.
I don't know why - the hype, perhaps - but it did.
The writing I...moreA part of me really wanted to believe I would not like this enough to give it 5 stars.
I don't know why - the hype, perhaps - but it did.
The writing I liked the most - wry, philosophical ponderings, unrestrained cleverness, dramatic sweeping statements and all. The characters were not entirely realistic to me, and nor could half the things they sprouted out ever fit into a reality that I know, and yet, I adored them. I cherished every moment Gus and Hazel shared, and valued each little and not-so-little contribution from characters like Isaac and Hazel's parents.
I don't like cancer stories. I do what I can to avoid them. But this one, this one I drank in greedily. This one, despite it not being entirely perfect, like Augustus and like Hazel, was nothing less than extraordinary. The humour, the emotion, the inevitable ending... I did not stop once, and did not ever feel like I could possibly regret reading it.
Did I cry?
Not at first. Not when IT happened. Not immediately after. My vision, admittedly, got blurrier, but still, there were no real tears. It only happened afterwards, when I decided to go for a drive. To put it simply, I came very close to attaching the windscreen wipers to my eyes.
I guess it hit me like Hazel fell in love: slowly, and then all at once. (less)
This is the sort of thing that I love. Something haunting and atmospheric, rooted in an odd reality with a touch of magic and wonder. Fiendish is a ha...moreThis is the sort of thing that I love. Something haunting and atmospheric, rooted in an odd reality with a touch of magic and wonder. Fiendish is a haunting book, the writing is wonderfully simple and mesmerising, and the story here is one that lingers on the edge of creepy. It’s not completely faultless – there’s something about the second half (particularly as we approach the climax) that loses the charm of the first – but there is an endless engaging quality about Brenna Yovanoff’s style.
“I fell headfirst into a sinkhole of pretty things, and the world inside your eyelids is just as big as the one outside.”
It’s hard not to be drawn in instantly, with the image of a girl – Clementine DeVore – buried behind the wall of a cellar, her eyes sewn shut. This is a world of craft and trickery, where hexes and hellhounds and fiends are as real as the dirt, the carnivals and the guns. We have a division between the townsfolk and the ‘crooked’ down in the Willows, and Yovanoff does a fantastic job warping that familiar small town feel into something sinister and unusual.
“The roots had all grown over me, twisting around my arms and between my fingers, and the sweetest sound in my life was the ripping noise when I pulled my wrist free.”
The characters themselves are a little less vivid, though not difficult to find intriguing. Clementine returns to a place that doesn’t remember her, when freed by a boy named Eric Fisher. She is slightly peculiar – they all are – but smart and fierce and goodhearted. She adjusts to the world outside her cellar surprisingly well, given that she’s been locked away since she was seven. Fisher is a moody thing, though not unlikeable, and the relationship that develops between the two is slight and unhurried and doesn’t feel at all jarring, even if it lacks a firmer depth.
There are several unanswered questions, with any explanations involving the old families, the magic, etc. being woven in only lightly. Fiendish lacks those (sometimes) obvious moments in books that are solely there for the benefit of the reader’s understanding, which does add to its almost otherworldly tone, but makes some of the deeper, intricate details challenging to fully grasp. I’m not sure that I’d be able to explain all of it without poring over the book again, and even then, there’d be a few obvious gaps.
Despite that, I definitely liked this latest odd and unsettling tale from Brenna Yovanoff. Her words have that quietly enchanting feel that makes it impossible for me to stop reading, regardless of what the book is actually about, and regardless of whether or not the rest is up to par. Fiendish had me lost in its pages from the start, and I know I wouldn’t hesitate to read anything else this author has up her sleeve in the future. (less)
I somewhat had a suspicion about the twist from the start (I suspected EVERYONE at some point), but that didn't make the ending any less of a jaw-drop...moreI somewhat had a suspicion about the twist from the start (I suspected EVERYONE at some point), but that didn't make the ending any less of a jaw-drop moment.
Talk about intense.
This is one cleverly plotted, addictive and extremely well-written book. My mind is actually reeling.(less)
Spy Society (or Also Known As, as it is also titled) is a spy novel without really being a spy novel at all.
It’s a wonderfully warm contemporary read...moreSpy Society (or Also Known As, as it is also titled) is a spy novel without really being a spy novel at all.
It’s a wonderfully warm contemporary read – less about the mystery, the espionage, the deeper workings of the mission, and more about identity, relationships and friendship. The characters are seriously delightful, the humour is INFECTIOUS (really - a lot of mad grinning on my part), and the romance is pure and utter cuteness.
It’s essentially exactly what I needed; something light and fun, with just enough emotion and depth to make it memorable. The plot itself – teen girl undercover on an assignment to get closer to Jesse Oliver, the son of a target – is somewhat farfetched, and there is a bit of silliness, a definite need for some suspension of disbelief, but it doesn’t ever feel like a huge flaw. Rather, there is certain charm to this story, something very likeable about its breeziness and easy narrative.
The best part is the characters – their ties, their interactions, the dialogue. Main character Maggie Silver is a bit of goof ball, amusing and completely easy to warm to. Best friend Roux is wild and brash and wonderful, and the unconventional friendship that sparks to life between these two is utterly brilliant. An aspect that I wasn’t expecting, but absolutely welcomed, was Maggie’s parents’ great personalities. Their role in the story is an excellent one, both funny and heart-warming.
It’s Jesse Oliver and the romance that made me smile most of all. There’s awkwardness, hilarity, some touching moments, and one incredibly pleasing first date.
This is really just the sort of book that simply makes the day brighter. I still feel like I’m floating and can’t wait to try more from Robin Benway soon. (less)
This is the sort of thing that I can appreciate for being brutally honest, sometimes ugly, as the real world and the real people in it often are. Ther...moreThis is the sort of thing that I can appreciate for being brutally honest, sometimes ugly, as the real world and the real people in it often are. There is slut-shaming, racial slurs, religious insensitivity, characters that are pretty vile at times. The protagonist is not anyone I’d immediately want to hang out with (though she grew on me), and nor are half the other people in this book.
A lot of it is like watching a TV show or movie where you cringe through most of it, maybe get disgusted or frustrated by some of it, but there is a reason to keep going, despite all of that. For me, Anika Dragomir’s narrative voice is an addictive thing. It’s darkly humorous, somewhat dramatic and ridiculous at times, but above all, raw and unflinching.
Her brand of sarcasm won’t suit all, I imagine, nor will her choices or thoughts regarding the characters around her. Still, I think this book will have its audience. If there’s one thing that I really feel it did wrong it’s the ending. It isn’t the momentous, devastating-but-eye-opening conclusion it probably meant to be. It doesn’t fit the tone of the rest of the book, and the jarring quality of it makes it lose a lot of the weight it should have had. (less)
This was light and so very quick to read. Maybe not the witty, banter-filled fun that was Ask Again Later (*shakes fist at high expectations*), but st...moreThis was light and so very quick to read. Maybe not the witty, banter-filled fun that was Ask Again Later (*shakes fist at high expectations*), but still a nice, comfortable weekend book.
It all begins with a morning shift at GoodFoods Market, where we meet the five teenage employees that, later, get accused of stealing money from a charity donation box, along with main character Chloe Novak.
The first half is quite slow going, and it isn’t really until after a good few chapters that things pick up. That is, we only really get to know the characters better, and get a solid feel of their relationships – or lack of – with one another, once they are accused of stealing the money. This is the bit where the book begins to shine, and where Liz Czukas does what she did brilliantly in her debut novel, creating believable and entertaining character dynamics, putting the emphasis on friendship or the promise of friendship.
I loved the characters. They are a diverse bunch, with different backgrounds and different, almost contrasting, personalities, and yet, wonderfully and unconventionally compatible. Charismatic Gabe, hard-bitten Sammi, sweet, charming Tyson… I wouldn’t mind a mad trolley dash and racing around the supermarket with this lot.
I do think the mystery surrounding the lost money is quite transparent, but despite the predictability, the book ends pretty well. Surprisingly, there is very little romance for the majority of the story, but when it happens, it happens splendidly.
I’d say this was less of a grin-like-a-mad-fool sort of book, and more a smile-pleasantly-and-move-on fluff read. It’s fairly adorable, amusing and fun, but if I had to choose between this Ask Again Later, it wouldn’t be much of a contest. Still, I am always grateful for effortless, light distraction, and this was exactly that.
Well. I have to say, this was nothing like what I thought it would be. It’s unexpectedly light and simple – fluffy, even – more entertaining...more3.5 stars
Well. I have to say, this was nothing like what I thought it would be. It’s unexpectedly light and simple – fluffy, even – more entertaining historical romance than politically-driven fantasy. There’s plenty of courting, dancing, flirting and frivolity, with an underlying plot that is somewhat shadowed by the glamour of dinner parties and balls. It’s not a bad read. It lacks some depth and world-building, yes, and the story itself is not particularly memorable, but there is a lot of quick fun to be had with this book, and entertainment is entertainment.
Most surprising of all is how well the multiple perspectives work. It’s almost effortless easing into the different voices, all of which are clear and distinct. We have the heir to the Franco-British throne, Princess Marie, and her friend and the bastard daughter of the Merlin, Aelwyn. There is also Wolf, the cheeky and confident younger brother of the crown prince of Prussia, and Ronan Astor, a spunky young lady on her first experience of the London Season. The supporting cast is large and diverse, and although very few of the characters in The Ring and the Crown are truly memorable – the sort of characters you would want to treasure in your thoughts long after the final pages – the personalities created throughout are miraculously easy to track of.
The romantic ties are endless and many, with the most attention given to Marie and a young member of her personal guard, Gill, and the perfectly-matched Ronan and Wolf. The relationship between the latter pair builds quite well, is very amusing in places, and mostly enjoyable to follow. Gill and Marie have the whole childhood buddies thing going on (which I can never resist), and although the pacing falters and takes a mad dash forward at one point, it is also not too difficult to root for them initially. Admittedly, neither of the romances here succeeded in triggering the fangirl mode in me, but that’s okay. They were still fun to read.
Although I did largely enjoy this book, I do simultaneously wish that certain world-building opportunities had been fully embraced. There are far too many scatterings of snippets of information, and not enough of an attempt to pull them all together. It’s infuriating to get a taste of something – something good – only then to be denied anything that delves further and deeper. The alternate historical setting is a fascinating foundation in itself, and with the sorcery and magic intertwined into this fantasy world, there really could not have been a better basis for creating something truly mesmerising. It’s a definite shame that it never quite delivers on that front.
The plot is also not a very strong aspect of the book – in fact, nearly all of it is summarised in the book description – and that contributes slightly to the lacklustre (and kind of lame) ending.
Nevertheless, The Ring and the Crown is a good rainy-day pick. Something easy and light to pass the time with, even if not likely to be a momentous read. I certainly liked it more than Melissa de la Cruz’s previous books, and wouldn’t avoid trying something new from her again. (less)
So incredibly entertaining. Fun and light, and exactly the sort of book that I needed to recharge. Jessica Darling's narration is downright h...more4.5 stars
So incredibly entertaining. Fun and light, and exactly the sort of book that I needed to recharge. Jessica Darling's narration is downright hilarious - chaotic, cheesy and dramatic, yes, but never not hilarious.
Plus there is that Tutti Flutie. Enough said. (less)