I was more than a bit apprehensive about The Tyrant's Daughter at first. While the synopsis sounded great, numerous warning flags popped up in my headI was more than a bit apprehensive about The Tyrant's Daughter at first. While the synopsis sounded great, numerous warning flags popped up in my head. Not only was the subject matter was hard to pull off, but at the end of the day, J. C. Carleson was still a white, American author - no matter how extensively they'd traveled - and the book was about Muslim royalty. Not to mention my last encounter with YA books concerning Muslim teenagers...
Laila's story is an extraordinary one. After her father was killed in a coup, Laila is relocated to the US along with her brother and mother. The Tyrant's Daughter chronicles Laila's adjustment to American high school life while having to deal with her family - including her brother's irritatingly carefree
J.C. Carleson's biggest strength is in her writing. While it was clean and minimalistic, it conveyed the intensity of the events extraordinarily well. I didn't expect much from The Tyrant's Daughter but Carleson more than delivered.
Laila was an incredibly realistic protagonist. She was far from perfect yet still relatable. Laila was far from likable as a person but I don't think I'd say I disliked her. Despite her haughty self-centred streak, Laila was a genuinely interesting and intriguing character. Her flaws and her strengths were well-developed. I could easily see a real teenager ((view spoiler)[[cough] me [cough] (hide spoiler)]) acting in a similar way as she does.
While I enjoyed the characterizations of Laila's people - her family and the other families from her home, I felt that the American characters were severely lacking and one dimensional. Even Laila's American friends such as Emmy and Ian were missing the spark that the other characters had. I couldn't like either of them because they were just too cardboard for my liking.
The story of The Tyrant's Daughter was engaging and eye-opening. Laila's whole life was turned upside down when she and her family are rushed out of their country. They are forced to exchange a life of decadence and opulence for a dingy little apartment and financial insecurity.
At the end of the day, the book was mainly about Laila trying to come to terms with who and what her father was and how her perfect family wasn't as pretty as she wanted it to be. It's also about Laila's journey of self-discovery. The 'love triangle' (a term I use loosely) was less between two boys and more of an internal strife between two parts of herself.
I appreciated how the Islamic faith was treated. It wasn't villianized or treated as non-feminist as I've seen all over media. While Laila did struggle with trying to find the real her, I appreciated that Carleson didn't totally mess it up.
Laila's story was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed it. While it wasn't perfect, it was really good and I totally recommend it to people looking for a deeper book than the average YA novel. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I've come to the conclusion that the only place I will truly be happy is in middle grade books. No matter how much I love young adult - and I do - itI've come to the conclusion that the only place I will truly be happy is in middle grade books. No matter how much I love young adult - and I do - it seems like I can only really enjoy middle grade books anymore. Maybe it has something to do with the lack of romance or it could just be because middle grade books have, generally, much stronger characters than young adult.
There are quite a few things that differentiate middle grade from young adult. Obviously there are things like writing style and the censored content but also the characters are very different from what you'd find in a YA book.
YA books are renowned for weak, stereotypical characters. While MG has its archetypes, they're generally a lot more interesting and likable than YA ones. YA girls are often weak, extremely emotional, and useless. The average MG girl is strong, heroic, and capable. While yes, this is an archetype and these characters can lack the depth that YA or Adult characters have, I'd rather, for the most part, read a MG female protagonist than a YA one.
The Mark of the Dragonfly is one of the finest examples of these fantastic MG books. The characters and the plot are absolutely amazing. Piper and Anna are awesome and adorable characters whom I may have given a large part of my heart to.
Piper is a strong, confident character and Anna is a darling little intellectual cutie. The chemistry between the two was all but tangible and I loved seeing them interact and grow together. Piper and Anna weren't incredibly developed characters but I thought they were very well done despite this.
The plot was engaging and drew you in from the first page. The first chapter has the perfect mixture of action, world building, and allure and the rest of the book delivers incredibly well. The twists were incredibly well done and did justice to the interesting mysteries.
On the flip side, the worldbuilding was incredibly lacking. I'm honestly not sure where this is set - whether another world or perhaps a parallel world. It could have even have been Earth, in the future. I'm not sure whether this was intentional or just lazy writing. It could easily be either of them.
The romance was an entirely useless aspect of the book. There was neither chemistry nor need for it in the plot. It wasn't a bad romance per-say, it just felt like it was put in because it could be instead of any other real reasons.
Overall, I really adored The Mark of the Dragonfly. It was incredibly good book with very few flaws. Honestly, the biggest flaw is that it was too short! I recommend this to anyone looking for a break from boring characters and boring plots....more
I'm afraid that Colleen Gleason was trying just too hard with this book. The Clockwork Scarab was Gleason's first venture into YA and it seems that shI'm afraid that Colleen Gleason was trying just too hard with this book. The Clockwork Scarab was Gleason's first venture into YA and it seems that she wanted to put in all her great ideas for YA but it didn't work out that well. The Clockwork Scarab is a bookish chimera; with vampires, Sherlock, steampunk, time travelers, and cults centered on ancient Egyptian goddesses.
Most of the aspects blended fairly well, except for the time traveling. It felt like it was slapped in because it had no real impact on the story. Dylan, the time traveler, wasn't even a major character. He had maybe one major plot changing appearance and that's it. He was really only in the novel for comedic effect.
There was one time where Dylan was explaining to Mina that he plays hockey and how it works. In the book, Mina had absolutely no idea what hockey was. I'm sorry but hockey was invented in the early 1800s and it would have been popular already by 1889.
The Clockwork Scarab is set in a (subtle) steampunk London, which was really interesting and unique. Most steampunk Londons are vastly different from the original London but here, it's barely altered. London is still as Victorian as ever, except not there are steam-powered robots to help dress people.
The main characters, Mina and Evaline, were not really my favourite characters. Neither of them were interesting at all. I found Mina to be too much of the classic 'smart girl' trope (aka poor social skills, unable to get friends). She had very little actual originality. Not to mention, despite her 'intelligence', I didn't really find her all that smart.
Evaline was somehow even less interesting than Mina. I don't know what to say about her because she wasn't really anything. At least Mina had some emotion and personality, while Evaline had pretty much nothing going for her.
The story was incredibly interesting. I know I say that a lot in this review but it's really just that. It's just really entertaining and interesting (here's a new drinking game: take a shot every time I say the word interesting). The mystery was one that I actually felt interested in, instead of only reading because I have to. I don't often feel like that lately so it was a welcome surprise.
The Clockwork Scarab was an interesting enjoyable read, which kept me going. It was definitely a fun book to read and I would recommend it to someone looking for a nice, light read....more
There are unmarked spoilers for Shadowlands, book one, and marked spoilers for Hereafter.
When I read Shadowlands last year, I couldn't really say I waThere are unmarked spoilers for Shadowlands, book one, and marked spoilers for Hereafter.
When I read Shadowlands last year, I couldn't really say I was impressed with it. I loved the murder mystery but the characters were incredibly lacking for me and I couldn't really connect with any of them. While the characters slightly improved in Hereafter, the plot took a turn for the worse.
Shadowlands had an incredibly interesting plot, full of tension and mystery. Hereafter definitely suffers from Second Book Syndrome and honestly, the plot wasn't all that. It was good, but not great by any strech of the imagination. Not only was the big twist the most predictable one I've encountered in a very, very long time (I guessed it by chapter two), but the overall story just didn't grab me as much as the one in the first book.
I do have to say, though, Hereafter didn't have a bad story. At times, it was properly emotional and gripping. I was interested in the why of it all. However, all the girl-on-girl hate and lustful pining was just too much for me to properly enjoy it.
In the first book, the mystery second narrator was purposefully obvious, I think. In this book however, it was meant to be a surprise. As in, you weren't meant to immediately realise who it is due to how boringly obvious it was and the poor positioning of the mystery chapters. (view spoiler)[Really, placing one talking about how easy it is to fool people right after the big kiss? Really? (hide spoiler)]
All the tropes in one book were kind of astounding. There was the jealous 'slut' archetype, the MIA parent cliche, the cold sexy love interest - I could go on and on. It was clearly an excuse for Brian's lack of creativity in creating original characters.
After looking at the cover (I'm assuming it's her sister in the background), you'd think that she and the father would play a major role in the book. Especially, since (view spoiler)[she wouldn't have them for much longer (hide spoiler)]. But, no, not really.
She spends hardly any time with either of them, obviously much more interested in spending time with Tristan. I don't buy it. Her dad would be worried sick about her, especially because he thinks Steven Nell is out there. Would he really let his daughter spend practically all of her time out in the town, without any protection?
I don't know about you but I know my dad wouldn't let me.
Tristan was incredibly boring as a character and the romance between him and Rory was excruciating. Tristan had no chemistry with Rory and obviously didn't care at all about her. He was still in love with his old girlfriend and didn't seem to give a flying fuck about Rory. (view spoiler)[I know it was meant to be like that but c'mon, couldn't Brian have been just a little more subtle about it? (hide spoiler)]
The hate between Nadia and Rory was really stupid, honestly. Rory immediately took Nadia for a provocatively dressed, man-stealing bitch and Nadia hated Rory... because she was supposed to? I'm not sure what started this immense dislike for her, but dammit, Nadia hated Rory.
Rory's obsession with Tristan was just plain annoying to read. I don't like pining in my books and this was no different. Rory just wouldn't shut up about Tristan's sexiness or his amazing bod. I don't care, Rory. I don't care.
The mystery of the souls going to the wrong place was literally all Hereafter had going for it, and it did it fairly well. The tension was well done in places and I felt involved in the story (view spoiler)[,mostly when Rory's dad got taken. I expected it but it still pulled at my heartstrings. (hide spoiler)]
While I did enjoy reading it, Shadowlands was perfect as a stand-alone and maybe, you might just want to pretend this book didn't happen. I recommend this only to people who are invested in where the story goes, because otherwise, it's just not worth it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more