Books, Original Post, YA Fiction

The Infernal Devices trilogy review (re-read) // THE NOSTALGIA

Image result for i need a moment gif


Have y’all ever re-read a series that was really special to you when you were younger and expected to hate it right off the bat? And then you start to not hate it and you’re strangely confused but also really happy because the NOSTALGIA? And even while you’re tastes and interests have changed over the years you still happen to really love it because you’re discovering things you didn’t notice the first time?! All while mentally dying of heartbreak?!

Yeah, it’s been a few days since I finished Clockwork Princess. I’m still recovering, so don’t blame me for rambling like a weirdo.

If you guys didn’t know already, I’ve been re-reading all of Cassie Clare’s books to be prepared for her Dark Artifices trilogy which I am yet to read. So far, I’ve gotten through The Mortal Instruments series up to City Of Fallen Angels and have just finished the prequel trilogy, including Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess. I don’t know what possessed me to do a series review, but considering the brief heartbreak I suffered through after reading the epilogue of Clockwork Princess (again) and the fact that I’ve never expressed my thoughts on this trilogy in the first place, I cannot just say nothing has changed since the first time I read it. Which was 4 years ago. Whew.

Taking all of this into account, I have to say I’ve become a stickler in some places and not one in others. The Infernal Devices’ world building is still incredible, I adored the little easter eggs placed here and there, and the interconnection between the Shadow World, Down World, The Clave, and the setting of England was written so effortlessly. The plot involving Tessa’s identity, Mortmain, and his clockwork creatures was so thick and layered, the way the mystery was revealed little by little throughout the trilogy was something of genius, in my opinion. Perhaps, if I wasn’t so attached to this world and its characters I wouldn’t find it so fascinating, but it’s true.

I remember quite liking Tessa before, claiming she was miles better than Clary (in a way though, she is), but at this point, I find Tessa to be as dull as dishwater. Her inner conflict concerning her identity and background was somewhat expressed in Clockwork Angel, but later on, her character just became lazy. In Clockwork Prince, she only seemed to serve as something for Will and Jem to angst over and most of time. I truly do not see the hype in her personality besides those few moments of wit (which everyone seems to surprised to hear), and couldn’t even sense her presence most of the time. I will admit however, some of her moments in Clockwork Princess really got to me, and I only wish who she was as a character was more focused on instead of how much she meant to Jem and Will.

I loved Jem much more the second time around, he wasn’t particularly someone I was invested in initially even if I greatly liked him, but this time he did strike a cord with me. Just as much as Will. Oh, Will. Could you believe I actually thought I was going to despise this precious boy the second time around?! I tried for the whole ass first book and then decided this mindset was simply too much for me, because even if my boy was a little too dramatic, little too angsty, little too up his love interest’s ass sometimes (ha, these are all Herondale trademarks), I still really, really like him. I’m no longer in love with the guy, but I’ll always love him in some way. But seriously, Will’s got enough character development to fill out this whole book by himself.

Continue reading “The Infernal Devices trilogy review (re-read) // THE NOSTALGIA”

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand + Brodi Ashton + Jodi Meadows (review) // 16th century ridiculousness with fantasy elements

22840421Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

On the back of My Lady Jane, an author (I wish I could remember which one) commented that this book was essentially ‘Monty Python and The Holy Grail’ meets ‘The Tudors’, and I don’t think there is a more accurate description of the crazy, comical, fun-filled fluff this book is filled with. After a series of three-star, average to somewhat good novels, My Lady Jane provided a much needed discretion, and it’s no surprise that I ended up devouring it.

This book was not meant to be taken seriously, and I absolutely loved that. I’ve never read a book that subtly poked fun at its source material while creating a bunch of drama that always managed to be serious but lighthearted. The humor and writing was right up my alley, I loved the shameless puns, the satire of the messiness of British history, and the straight-up hilarious but relatable antics of Edward, Jane, and everyone’s favorite horse, Gifford (call him G, though). I’m pretty sure people at school were looking at me weird, because most of the time, I was desperately trying (and failing) to keep from laughing my ass off.

Speaking of Edward, Jane, and G, can I just say how much I adore these characters? Not only are they all hilarious, but their backstories and personalities are also incredibly layered. Even side characters such as Gracie, Bess, Mary, and Dudley strike a perfect balance between seriousness and hilarity. And they are all so entertaining! Edward and Gracie were totally cute yet relatable together (let’s be real, we are ALL Edward in some way or another) and Jane and Gifford were one of the most organic, realistic, and adorable romances I had ever read.

For anyone who already is obsessed with (and is ready to be obsessed with) 16th century British royal messiness, animal puns, two hilarious yet swoon-worthy romances, and an overall laugh-out-loud story, My Lady Jane will do nothing less than impress you and probably make you giggle unceremoniously in public. I highly, highly recommend! As if that wasn’t clear already.

Rating: 4.25 stars

Thanks for viewing, guys! Leave me a comment with your thoughts below! 🙂

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lisa McBride (review) // burger flipping + supernatural creatures + an utter lack of seriousness

8041873Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?

I don’t even remember adding Hold Me Closer, Necromancer to my Goodreads TBR list, but I’m pretty glad I already did it when I felt like picking it up from the library. It promised necromancers, a male MC, and a lot of humor so I was easily tempted to give it a try. However, where this book excels at infusing irreverence into usually uber-serious topics, it struggles through containing it as well as crafting an engaging, well-developed plot and story. I liked the book, but I wanted so much MORE.

To start off, I will say that I quite enjoyed the careless, doesn’t-take-itself-too-seriously vibe of the story. There are a few outlandish things placed here and there that I didn’t see coming, and I enjoyed the banter between certain characters. My only complaint about it was that there wasn’t enough. I wanted the humor to be stronger, the characters to be wittier, and the villains to be cleverer. Every attempt for hilarity seemed to work at first, but got tiring fast because it became so half-hearted later on. I suppose McBride’s humor just isn’t for me, but I actually enjoyed it before it became so lazy.

Sam was cool, there aren’t many fantasies with male protagonists and I really liked Sam’s personality and sense of humor. I loved Brid and Ashley, they added that extra dash of fluff and non-seriousness that kept this book from going stale. Sam has friends: Brooke, Ramon, and Frank. With the exception of Brooke, they were simply okay in their own right but I liked the relationship between Sam and Ramon, even if it was hardly developed. I always enjoy a good #BROTP.

That was the good, now comes the bad. First off, I appreciate the fact that there was some backstory to Douglas, but I nonetheless found him to be a boring villain. Besides a couple descriptions of his eyes and his overall creepy demeanor, he wasn’t either intimidating or even comical, since we are talking about a fantasy-comedy here. Some other characters, such as Brid’s brothers and their werewolf pack were introduced unnecessarily and only added to the growing clutter of characters. I wish the story was focused on a smaller group of characters and built a stronger connection with them, perhaps I would have laughed more.

This would be a good time to say that I clearly don’t know what I want, because sometimes I criticize this book for being too irreverent, and other times I say it isn’t funny enough. I just wish there was more of both and a good balance between them too. I would recommend Hold Me Closer, Necromancer to those in search of something different in all aspects: a male protagonist, a large ensemble of characters, comical supernatural creatures, and lots of fluff with some seriousness in between. Find out if it’s your kind of different!

Rating: 3 stars

Thanks for viewing, peeps! Have you guys read this book? If you have, what did you think of it? Is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge (review) | Romeo and Juliet meets necromancy

28448239When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.

The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.

Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.

Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.

Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . . .

Like Rosamund Hodge’s previous fantasy novels, Bright Smoke, Cold Fire contains a hodgepodge (ha, get it? hodgepodge? God, I hate myself) of elements, such as a Romeo And Juliet retelling mixed in with necromancy, zombies, and various forms of blood magic. It sounds AMAZING but in actuality it was one of the most flattest, dense, convoluted books I had ever read. I keep holding out for this author because of my liking for Cruel Beauty, but let’s face it. Her style just ain’t for me.

I have to say the world-building of this book is extremely intricate and thought-out, but the way it’s presented to us just sucks the joy out of everything. All this mythology, terminology, and culture is just thrown at us with no warning and the thick, heavy writing makes it difficult to understand what the fresh hell is going on. I could tell the atmosphere was supposed to be very dark, but the vibe was muddled under the denseness of the prose and convoluted plot. I really appreciate Hodge’s inclination to actually develop a layered plot and story, but their intricacy was their downfall. So much is happening with the necromancy, mystery, zombie awakenings, and blood magic rituals (I swear, every one of the characters is bleeding half the time), but trying to understand this story was like struggling to swim through mud. This was me most of the time through reading this book:

Image result for overwhelmed gif

The characters, unfortunately, were not much better. Slightly better? Maybe. But not good enough to save this book. So we have Romeo, Paris, Juliet, and Runajo, who are all entangled in one great mystery together while dealing with their own issues. In the beginning, Juliet’s Guardian Tybalt, is said to have died by Romeo’s hand, and Juliet is supposed to kill him. Juliet lets him live and actually elopes with him to conduct a ritual that will make Romeo her Guardian, binding him to her permanently. Unfortunately, the ritual goes wrong, binding Romeo to Paris (Juliet’s new Guardian after Tybalt’s death) and Juliet to Runajo. There are some details in between that I left out, mostly because I don’t have the energy to inform you guys of things that confuse me myself. *shrugs*

Each character actually has a very thought-out backstory that is referenced multiple times through the book, however, they aren’t well-written enough to actually make me interested in what happens to them. Paris and Runajo’s stories are sad and intriguing, but their motivations to do what they do are simply too vague and unclear. Why is Runajo so determined to save the world? What’s in it for her? What is behind Paris’ drive to save the Juliet? Yes, I felt for them at moments and found them to be likable, but it wasn’t nearly enough to make me care for their eventual fate.

There is hardly any romance in the story besides the few flashbacks scattered throughout of Romeo and Juliet’s love affair, which comes as a blessing and a curse. Their love story is just as sappy and one-dimensional as the original, but I really think another romance between the side characters, perhaps a LGBTQ romance would have spiced this book up.

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire has a brilliant concept but a mind-numbing execution. I’d suggest passing on this one, and looking for your Shakespeare retelling + necromancy fix elsewhere.

Image result for page breaker

Rating: 2 stars


Thanks for reading, guys! If you’ve read this, what did you think of it? Do you have any experience with Rosamund Hodge’s other novels? Let me know below 🙂

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Black Bird Of The Gallows by Meg Kassel |a rich fantasy unfortunately marred by a trope-y romance


3 stars

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

The natural response to the premise of Black Bird Of The Gallows would be to roll your eyes and mutter a half-hearted ‘pass’ because you’re too tired of the same paranormal romance plots being reused over and over again. However, looking at the praise this book was garnering so far ignited some hope in me, and while I didn’t hold candlelight vigils praying for this book not to be a Twilight repeat (looking back, I probably should have done that), I did let my expectations get high enough to be excited for this book. Well, fellow readers, I have been conned into a state of cOnFLict (the mix of upper case and lower case letters shows the stress this book has put on me). Once again.

I am conflicted over my feelings for BBOTG, but it’s easy to admit that discerning what I liked and what I did not like was a less painful process with this book. I loved the dark and moody atmosphere of Cadence, Pennsylvania (the setting of this book) and yes, small and somewhat mysterious towns are one of my fantasy weaknesses, and Kassel executed the vibe of them perfectly in this book. The world-building was also very original, I’m not used to harbingers of death the way I am used to vampires, werewolves, or fallen angels, but the mythology and history behind the harbingers and the beekeepers was completely new but well-done. I almost wish there was a sequel (fantasy standalones are quite rare) because the storytelling feels unfinished considering the amount of potential the world-building contains.

But, alas, I would only read that sequel if it was telling the story of a different set of characters. Angie Dovage is actually a very formidable heroine, she’s got a rough history and a complicated character due to it, and she’s also smart and admirably independent. Her best friends, Deno and Lacey, are a tad unnecessary until the very end, when they become considerably more significant and useful. Reece Fernandez is a goddamn bore to me, his chiseled jaw and sculpted abs aren’t as emphasized in this PNR, but regardless of the heavy descriptions and dialogue about his tortured soul, I really couldn’t attach an interesting personality to it.

It was my mistake not reciting a couple of mantras before preparing myself for the romance to hit, because man, was it painful. Practically instalove, and I was really holding out hope for something different because I heard such great things about this book. It’s clear Reece and Angie had an inherent attraction to one another but from the beginning, but the way they acted upon it and how quickly they got together felt wholly unnatural and forced. Their relationship has such a vague foundation, and while there are details later clarifying that foundation, it wasn’t enough to make their current romance believable. It’s upsetting, because the whole book is based on their relationship, and I just can’t put my faith in it.

This is just me, but I’m sure I would have been more content with BBOTG if there was a sequel to be released. With the introduction of certain characters, the intricacy of the world-building, and the amount of questions raised, there’s just too much unfinished work left to end it after one book. What about Rafette’s backstory? Hank’s backstory? What about Angie’s mom? All these questions are answered so quickly and swiftly like??  I think fantasy standalones just make me uncomfortable. They’re so unheard of.

In certain aspects, Black Bird Of The Gallows exceeds many standard PNR novels. The main character is actually competent and the world-building is existent. However, in other aspects, it simply sinks into the elements that make PNR so recognizable yet annoying, such as the ever present high school tropes and the unbelievable romance. I would recommend this to anyone who naturally loved the PNR genre, but don’t expect to find anything particularly special in the romance department.

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Frostblood, by Elly Blake | Shadow And Bone meets Frozen


3 stars

The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

I was reluctant to go into Frostblood because of the overflowing negative reviews, before realizing that it was rated such a way because of its repetitive plot, repetitive character writing, and other aspects of nearly every YA fantasy we have seen before. And yeah, I agree. However, much to my chagrin, I ended up liking it anyway due to my everlasting love for the Avatar universe (water, earth, fire, aiiiir) and its general engaging, entertaining nature. Plus, arena battles. You can never go wrong with arena battles.

When it comes to the world-building and plot, many readers have been comparing Frostblood to Red Queen and Red Rising, comparisons that I totally understand even if I’ve never read those two. I would consider Frostblood to be similar to Shadow and Bone, but its world-building and writing isn’t nearly as developed as the Grishaverse. Of course, I will always choose the Grishaverse over anything but I don’t know anything about the Frostblood world, besides a few stories about their mythology and their powers. Yes, there is background information sprinkled here and there, but it never comes full-circle to form a big picture. A map would have really, really, helped (seriously, can we make maps mandatory in all fantasy novels?). It’s a good thing I enjoy frost and fire powers (you can thank my Avatar obsession for that), because that’s the only thing that kept me afloat throughout the book, plot and world-building wise.

Concerning the characters, I would say Ruby, Arcus, and the Frost King (I forgot his name, dammit) are direct parallels to Alina, Mal, and the Darkling from the Shadow And Bone trilogy. Ruby has a fiery, passionate, and mischievous personality but I simply couldn’t come to love her, because she reminded me too much of Alina Starkov, who I adore infinitely more. However, she was enough to keep the book engaging and played a significant role in engaging me. Unfortunately, her boy toy (s) aren’t as great. Arcus is another carbon copy of every brooding, mysterious male love interest and the Frost King is a poor-man’s version of the Darkling. He’s so forgettable, I can’t even remember his name!

Obviously, these three form a very uninteresting love triangle but this doesn’t entirely come to light until the second half of the book. Ruby’s primary love interest is Arcus, and while I enjoyed their chemistry and relationship, I felt as though it progressed too quickly and predictably. It didn’t particularly bring anything new to the romance department, but I am looking to see it grow throughout the rest of the books. If I even decide to read the rest.

Judging by commentary, one would assume I hated this book. So why the 3 star rating? Well, arena battles are my shit. Ruby fighting the various warriors and creatures with her powers and weapons was so cool and entertaining. I’m already hella biased toward elemental powers so I enjoyed the action scenes. The story’s overall entertaining and addictive nature kept me going, but other than that, there isn’t much that is special about this book. However, I still might continue with the series with the hope that it will define itself by branching out on its own more.


Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

The Library Of Fates, by Aditi Khorana | a beautiful concept, an underwhelming execution


1.75 stars (I’m aware that this is probably the most ridiculous rating I’ve ever given)

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.

The palace is soon under siege, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

I had been scarily intent on getting my hands on The Library Of Fates ever since my eyes brushed over the striking cover, and while there are an increasing number of books coming out on Indian folklore, it’s still pretty rare to see one and I wasn’t going to miss The Library Of Fates for the world. But, I suppose I should have turned to The Star-Touched Queen to get my South Asian fill because this book managed to disappoint me in number of ways. A much too convenient progression of events and flat character writing contributed the most to my disappointment, but to see all this potential go to waste is the saddest of all.

The world-building is fairly okay, as I do have a feel for the two main kingdoms the story is set in, the small yet free Shalinger, and the grand but conservative Macedon. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the rest of this world looks like which is why it should be mandatory for every fantasy novel to include a map. I did enjoy the descriptions of the atmosphere, it felt South Indian as hell and I’m South Indian as hell, so it was damn cool to see my culture (in varations) on the page. It kind of made me want to watch one of those Hindi period dramas that have been trending recently, you know, the ones that Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone have been in? I swear those two are all I see these days in Hindi cinema, not that I’m complaining. I probably should have watched the Padmavati trailer a few times before attempting to visualize the beauty and richness of the Indian culture expressed in this book, but I felt it nonetheless.

The story is also ridden with mythological and folk tales naturally, which I appreciated as well. These stories aren’t real of course but the elements they contained felt very familiar, but sadly, the familiarity of the novel’s culture and atmosphere was the only thing keeping me afloat throughout the course of this book. The story and plot itself were highly convenient and calculated to the point in which I had predicted the whole ‘twist’ beforehand. Things came much too easily to Amrita, making the story completely devoid of any tension or excitement. The writing seemed incredibly juvenile, especially when it came to the more intense scenes, in which the prose failed to inject any sort of liveliness. I really like the concept behind the story and what message it is supposed to tell, but it never really came full circle to me because of the utter blandness, and worse, the lack of complexity, behind the plot and characters.

Typically, by this point if I think the plot is crappy and the writing is crappy, I can rely on the characters to pull me through the novel with mild interest, and books like these are mostly rated 3 stars if I’m in a good mood, maybe even a 3.25 (there’s a big difference between the two for me, don’t judge). Obviously, the characters did not come through. Amrita is blander than … the blandest thing you could think of. First off, I could not find any reason to root for her because her personality was incredibly lacking in complexity. I despise characters that are inherently good-natured and two-dimensional in such a way. Another aspect that has probably contributed to this was the fact that everything came so easily for her. Her whole journey is so calculated and unsurprising, I never got to experience Amrita actually growing and facing her challenges, and the times where she is mildly challenged, the writing never came through to show (show, not tell) the emotion behind her changing character.

Thala actually seems to be a more complex character, but due to faults in the crafting of her backstory and general lack of insight into it, she was lost on me as well. The side characters, namely Amrita’s love interests, Arjun and Varun, were even less complex, which obviously made the romance aspect incredibly dull. Perhaps my biggest disappointment involving the characters is the total lack of dynamic and energy between Thala and Amrita. While I did like how they ended up forging a deep friendship, I definitely wanted more entertainment from them both. It didn’t have to be comedic, they didn’t have to make out (but god knows I was secretly wishing for this), they just had to create a unique energy between them both that kept me excited and entertained.

For those who enjoy younger-sounding fantasies and are looking for some South Asian-based stories, this will be a perfect fit for you. Sadly, The Library Of Fates wasn’t for me but I am happy that Indian mythology is gaining more attention in the YA world.