Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino

Book Review

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Ratings

3 stars

Plot: 7/10

Setting: 7/10

Writing style: 6/10

Character building: 5/10

Enjoyment: 7/10

Overall: 6/10

My Opinionated Review

 

Intriguing and emotional-heavy story but disappointing characterisation

Swear on this Life is a gripping and emotional story with a wonderful premise but flawed execution. This book made me feel, and cry, and root for the characters so much. It was a beautiful and heart-wrenching love story that would be worth my highest rating if not for quite a few disappointing outcomes. Nevertheless, despite the negative aspects, I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

The book is about Emi, a struggling writer that does not seem to be able to get published, stuck in a passionless relationship with her ex-athlete boyfriend of 7 years, and having trouble dealing with her traumatic past. So when she starts reading a new bestseller by a mysterious writer J. Colby, she is shocked to find the book to be about her. This brings a lot of painful memories, tears, and anger towards the author – her first love who she has not seen for 12 years.

This book really has many wonderful aspects. First, the premise of the story. I thought it was brilliant. The reader gets to read the book inside the book, transferring them to Emi’s painful past and the wonderful friendship between her and her childhood best friend and first love, Jace. The reader also gets to experience the present timeline, seeing Emi as a grown-up woman trying to deal with her feeling towards her story that is put into words, and her anger and longing towards the writer who cannot be anyone other than her best friend who has been MIA for 12 years ago. This dual timeline gives the story mystery, especially since the reader is introduced to the past through a work of fiction, that is sometimes just an interpretation of one perspective and not necessarily what actually happened.

I really felt the connection between the main characters. These two had a tough and cruel childhood, they took care of each other and loved each other when no one else did. I felt every single thing that Emi felt while reading her story, and it was heart-breaking but truly wonderful at times. Moreover, it was exciting to see how these two people will react when finally coming face to face after years of silence. It was delightful to see the two different journeys that the main characters took, both hopeful and emotional. It really made me feel.

However, I have to acknowledge the problems with this book. It is my second book by Renee Carlino, and I am again faced with the same problem as I was when reading When We Were Strangers. I liked one timeline but found the other one a bit boring. In this book, the fictional novel was really well-crafted and emotional. Characters made silly choices and mistakes, but considering their traumatic experiences and a young age, it was understandable. However, they did not seem to change one bit during the 12 years they spend apart, I saw zero character development, they acted childish and immature, and most of the time I just did not understand their behaviour at all. The long awaited moments seemed anti-climactic and unreasonable, without much emotion. The characters’ portrayals and their actions failed to have any coherence. Especially with so much build-up and emotional trauma, the present story came out flat. The ending was an utter disappointment, and I can just say that I expected much more.

I feel like if I have read this book a few years ago, I would have appreciated it more. But when you read a lot, it becomes very easy to distinguish well-executed books from poorly-executed ones. It is sad that this story must fall into the latter category as it showed signs of potential. In no way it is a bad book, since I found it extremely difficult to put down, plus it did make me cry. I am actually angered to see such an interesting premise and a long build-up be flushed down the toilet.

All in all, I did like this book. I cried, and I laughed. But some of the characters’ actions were really out of character, and some decisions did not make sense. Plus, the dialogues were really boring. It is disappointing to see good premise being poorly executed, yet I still think it is a compelling and decent contemporary romance, better that a lot of similar books that I’ve read. So if anticlimactic endings and characters acting like teenagers when they are in their late twenties do not bother you, then this book really will be a wonderful read.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Do you think it is a great contemporary romance, or do you have examples of the better ones? I eagerly await your thoughts.

Book Playlist

  1. David Gray – Flame turns blue
  2. Counting Crows – Round Here
  3. John Paul White – Ghost in this house
  4. Sara Bareilles – Breathe again
  5. Wilco – True love will find you in the end

 

 

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Book Review

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Ratings

5 stars

Plot: 10/10

Setting: 9/10

Writing style: 9/10

Character building: 10/10

Enjoyment: 10/10

Overall: 10/10

My Opinionated Review

It has been several hours since I have finished reading It Ends With Us, and I am still unable to stop the train of emotions that hit me while reading this book. I am so behind my reviews right now, but I need to write this one right this instant. Not because I want to get everything out while it is still fresh because I am certain I will remember this story and all the feelings it brought out of me for a long time. But because it is not only the best book that Colleen Hoover has written to date, but it is one of the few books that affected me so deeply, that I think deserves to be read by every single person on this planet. The only other contemporary book that has affected me this much is In The Stillness by Andrea Randall.

I am not sure if I want to outline all my emotions in full detail, or leave it vague because I went into this book completely unaware of what the story was about, and it was an incredibly rewarding experience. So for those who have not read this book just yet, all I can say is just read it. It follows an incredibly mature, strong and wonderful character Lilly who narrates a tremendously deep storyline with many life lessons, love stories, terrible and wonderful actions, life-changing experiences, friendships, family bonds, and overall, the perfect outline of what is like to be human. It gives much-needed perspective on life and certain actions us humans often need to take. At least it changed my perception on quite a few sensitive topics.

The strength of the book comes from Lilly’s character, and the wonderful writing technique Colleen Hoover uses in telling her story. A first person’s point of view results in the reader sharing the same emotions with the main character. The story’s continuation throughout several years, also giving insight into Lilly’s past through diary entries addressed to Ellen DeGeneres, provides tremendous depth of the story. But mostly, it surprises the reader making them fall in love with all the characters, excusing their wrongful behaviour on several occasions, and seeing the reasoning behind it.

Not only it is an incredibly powerful story, it also is a great lesson. I believe every single person can find something relatable in this book. Colleen Hoover really outdid herself with this one. Although I have loved all of this woman’s work, when I think about some of her books now, I am not sure that the present me would like them as much as the past me. However, I guess with me maturing, I can see Colleen Hoover developing as a writer as well, and giving me exactly what I need with her every piece.

So if you have not read this book just yet, I could not recommend it enough as it is truly life-changing. But be warned of an emotional roller-coaster that is guaranteed to fall upon you. I have read this book during a long coach journey, and I hope not that many people saw me crying for a good couple of hours. So find a comfortable spot, preferably not in public, and read it.

Discussion

Now for those who have read this book or are not too bothered with some spoilers, I will continue with my ramblings since I do need to get all the emotions that I am feeling out right now.

Abuse and the romanticizing it has been a topic that really gets me worked up for quite a while now. I believe far too many books make the abusive alpha males into people who are supposed to be admired and desired. Whereas some texts show only the really horrible parts of the abuse. Coleen Hoover struck the middle of it, exploring the idea of the abuse when it is not just black and white. She completely changed my perception on abuse, towards the abuser, and especially towards the victim.

I am one of those people who see the victims of domestic abuse as stupid if they do not have the strength to leave this kind of life instantly after such incident occurs. Experiencing abuse myself on quite a few occasions, it was always hard for me to understand how this kind of behaviour can be excused. I have felt the physical abuse from my mother’s boyfriend, and abuse by words from my step-grandfather, and I could never understand how my mother and grandmother could be so weak and not leave those men. Especially since this abuse was directed towards me. I do not know if it affected my development as a person, but I always want to think that I dealt with it in the best possible way. I never took it, I never stayed silent, I was never afraid, and I always felt in the position of power. I did sometimes feel disappointed in the examples the women in my family were setting though.

Now I do understand that it is not that easy. I guess my thick skin and the ability to see reason comes from the lack of emotion towards my abusers. But this book has opened my eyes to the reasons why some women find excuses. Some abusers are not just bad, and with love involved, the good part can easily overshadow the bad. I have seen this example in my step-grandfather. He is an alcoholic, therefore has two personalities: when he is sober, he is good and caring, and when he is drunk – he is the meanest person on Earth. I always hear my grandmother telling everyone how good he is, but I was never able to excuse his bad parts just because he has good ones. I still do not excuse this behaviour, and never will, but I can see why she chooses to see the good instead of the bad.

Regarding this book, it was haunting how relatable I found Lilly’s relationship with her father and her mother. But what confused me profoundly was the way I felt about Ryle’s character. I believe that abuse is never excusable, and yet I found myself trying to find reasons behind his behaviour and hoping for a happy ending for him. I loved that character, and although it is impossible to compare real feelings, I do get it now why many women forgive their abusers. I liked the outcome of the book very much, and believe that Colleen Hoover has written the most touching, realistic, and informative story about domestic abuse, and how it is almost never as white and black as you usually wish it was. My perception has changed so profoundly after I finished reading It Ends With Us, my heart was shattered into a million pieces, and yet I think this book should be read by every single woman on Earth because it shows the true colours of life.

“All humans make mistakes. What determines a person’s character aren’t the mistakes we make. It’s how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses.”

It really was a hunting story, it affected me on such a deep emotional level, and confused me in the way that allowed me to grow up some more. More books lie this should exist.

Sorry for my ramblings, but sometimes getting everything out is a necessary step you have to take. I am certain I will remember this book for a long time, therefore my thoughts will always by here to be read whenever I need it.

Book Playlist

  1. 10cc – I’m Not In Love
  2. Fool’s Garden – Dreaming
  3. Iron & Wine – Flightless Bird, American Mouth
  4. The Lumineers – Slow It Down
  5. Tom Odell – I Think It’s Going To Rain Today

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Book Review

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Ratings

5 stars

Plot: 8/10

World building: 9/10

Writing style: 9/10

Character building: 8/10

Enjoyment: 9/10

Overall: 9/10

My Opinionated Review

Note: This is the second book in the series. You can find my review for the first book here:

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury is a strong sequel to the first book, introducing amazing character development, unpredictable plotline, and taking the Fae world building to the next level. The lengthy book never bores the reader, with its character-driven plot becoming the most enjoyable part of the story. It creates the desire for the reader to become a part of the Court of Dreams.

In this sequel to ACOTAR, the story takes a completely different turn and does not resemble Beauty and the Beast retelling at all. There is no point in describing the book in much detail, since I am very late to the party, and most people know what wonders and horrors took place in ACOMAF. And for those who haven’t had the chance to read it, I can just say it is better to go into the book blind. A few months have passed since the horrible events of Under the Mountain, and everybody is dealing with their experienced horrors in their own ways. The apparent peace is not that easy to accomplish, and an inevitable war is keeping characters on edge. So when Rhysand appears to collect for the bargain that Feyre made, the characters’ lives are changed forever, making it hard to establish who is a friend, and who is a foe.

When it comes to expressing my feelings about the book, I can just say that I get it now. The hype surrounding the book was insane, and now I see why. Although the length of the book is quite intimidating, it is never slow, with so many different plotlines taking place. Although I would not call this book fast-paced as well, but the character-driven story, with the most enjoyment coming from experiencing different interactions, makes the reader get attached to these fictional personas, and left craving for more after the end of the book.

The world that SJM is building in this series is truly incredible. She is so creative with all the Fae traditions, and her ability to introduce these fictional momentums, making the reader believe in them, is truly magnificent. Moreover, the plot was quite amazing as well. So many things have happened, completely changing the tone of the book, and leaving the reader wondering what is going to happen next. The King of Hybern is a tremendous threat, and the amount of preparations and cunning it takes to be ready to face the enemy really makes this villain a powerful and frightening one.

But I believe this book’s strong point was not the rich world building, nor the unpredictable plot, although they definitely did wonders for the story. Its strength lies with the incredible characters of the Night Court. In this book, we are introduced with quite a few newbies (actually they are really old), and I can say, I loved every single one of them. It was wonderful getting to know their backstories and seeing how they interact with each other. Plus, the subtle hints of possible romantic interactions just warmed my heart. I definitely cannot wait to explore their history in more detail, especially Amren’s. These wonderful characters really made the Night Court into a Court of Dreams.

Of course, the most important and most enjoyable dynamic was the one between Fayre and Rhysand. I really loved her relationship with Tamlin in the first book, and was quite worried about the newly introduced romance in this one. However, I needn’t worry, because Rhysand’s character was the best part of any SJM’s work. My heart ached for him, and I was insanely happy when he got to experience some joy. His and Fayre’s interactions were feisty and flirtatious, and heart-warming, but never overshadowing the main storyline. Their slow-build romance kept me on the edge of my seat, and Rhysand is definitely one hell of a character, and his dedication to Fayre made my heart into a melted marshmallow.

So I think it is quite safe to say that this book is really amazing, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I do not seem to share the same opinion when it comes to naming it the best book ever. I am starting to recognise the patterns in SJM’s writing, and a lot of things worry me. First, I did not like the complete reinvention of Tamlin’s character or the whole Spring Court. I get that he experienced great trauma in Under the Mountain, and he might not be the best suitor for Fayre, however, he was made into a character without any redeemable qualities, and I did not like it at all. Moreover, I am also worried about the books SJM added to the series. I can see the potential of the storyline, and the many directions it can be taken, but I doubt it will do wonders for the quality of the series. Plus, there were certain moments where Fayre came a bit too close to becoming similar to Celaena’s character, and I just hope there won’t be that many quotes where she becomes darkness and power, and much much less love interests. I am just really worried that the characters will keep getting reinvented, and ruin my enjoyment. For now, I will be hoping for the best, and seeing this series as an improvement from Throne of Glass.

Overall, I really think this book deserves the hype it is getting. Maas definitely is a talented writer, and I especially love the way she crafts her chapters. I am really enjoying Fayre, even if she is becoming a bit too special for my liking. I like every member of the Court of Dreams, and cannot wait to explore their stories further. But most of all, Rhysand is reason enough to absolutely love the series.

So what are your thoughts on this book, and the series in general? Do you enjoy Sarah J. Maas writing? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Book Playlist

  1. The Smiths – Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
  2. Kodaline – Midnight
  3. Dream Theater – The Spirit Carries On
  4. Muse – Supermassive Black Hole
  5. The Lumineers – Don’t Wanna Go

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Book Review

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Ratings

4 stars

Plot: 7/10

World building: 9/10

Writing style: 9/10

Character building: 8/10

Enjoyment: 9/10

Overall: 8/10

My Opinionated Review

A Court of Thrones and Roses is a wonderful and captivating Beauty and the Beast retelling, with a rich Fae world building, great characterisations, and plots and twists that are impossible to see coming. It is the second Maas’s series, and the complexity and richness of the Fae world have improved immensely compared to Throne of Glass.

I avoided reading this book for months, having been too exhausted and annoyed with the Throne of Glass series. After finally starting it, I saw the similarities with the first series, recognised the themes that I usually do not particularly like, acknowledged the beastly behaviour of the love interest, and the over-the-top love story. And yet, this book broke all my prejudices and bend all my rules, and made me enjoy every single moment of the story.

The book starts with the main character Fayre killing a wolf, who is actually a Fae in an animal form. Having been starving for the most part of her life, she is a huntress who provides food for her family, and is filled with hate and resentment towards her father and older sisters for not taking care of her, and especially for the Fae race, who terrorises the mortal lands and leaves humans vulnerable and suffering. But one day, a wild Fae beast appears demanding justice for the killed Fae, and takes Fayre to Prythian, the lands of the Fae, to live the rest of her life among the immortal beings that Fayre hates. Of course, she finds that nothing is as it seems, and Tamlin, the Fae lord who has taken Fayre, is much kinder than she has thought a Fae could be. Moreover, there are many secrets surrounding the place that she lives at now, and many existing threats and twists in the storyline takes the heroine on a wild and life-changing journey, and provides the reader with an incredible romance.

I usually do not find Fantasy books with so much focus on romance to be that captivating. Somehow everything worked in this one. I was enthralled in the shift from hate to love between Fayre and Tamlin, captivated by their wonderful relationship, and was rooting for the characters so much. Of course, being late to the party, I was aware of certain spoilers from the second highly praised book, especially with the love everyone seemed to possess for a character Rhysand. And while reading ACOTAR, I just did not understand how my opinion could change about a cruel character Rhysand, or the very lovable beast Tamlin. Tamlin and Fayre’s relationship was thrilling and primal, and most of all, it was about two wounded souls finding ability to love. I adored every minute of the relationship, with every single moment surprising me about it. I am never a huge fan of such romance-focused fantasy, especially the instant kind, and Maas somehow was able to break every rule I live by.

But the aspect that I enjoyed the most was the rich world building. Compared to Throne of Glass, ACOTAR has such a rich and captivating Fae world build-up, with so many details and different traditions, that I was constantly impressed with Maas’s skills. She definitely has tremendous talent in creating amazing characters and a plot that is able to shift at any minute.

Where the most part of the book was quite foreseen, the last third came as a total surprise. I started liking certain characters more, changing my opinion about others, and most of all, I respected the author for never being afraid to take things too far. So now, after finishing the book, I have trouble processing every single thing that happened during this wild ride, I cannot wait to read the second book, that is apparently even better that the first one, and most of all, I want to know why everyone is so obsessed with Rhysand and why nobody talks about Tamlin anymore. Rhys’s character definitely grew on me in the last bit of the book, but I am not sure what has to happen in order for me to change the opinion about who I am rooting for.

Overall, it is one of the best retellings of Beauty and the Beast. However, the story world is so much richer, that describing it merely as a retelling, does not do the book justice. I definitely saw all the flaws in the book, like over-the-top romance, unnecessary sexual scenes, silly reasoning, and stupidity, but I did not care, because somehow I loved every single moment of this incredible story.

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts about it? I eagerly await to hear your opinion.

 

Book Playlist

  1. Midnight Choir – Muddy River of Loneliness
  2. Mumford & Sons – White Blank Page
  3. Magnolia Electric Co – Leave the City
  4. Bastille – Torn Apart
  5. Giant Sand – Spiral

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Book Review

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Ratings

5 stars

Plot: 10/10

World building: 9/10

Writing style: 9/10

Character building: 9/10

Enjoyment: 10/10

Overall: 9/10

My Opinionated Review

Note: This is the second book in the Throne of Glass series. You can find the review for the first book below:

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight is such a strong sequel to Throne of Glass, displaying Maas’s development as a storyteller and as a writer. While the first book in the series was entertaining, but quite predictable, with this one, it was impossible to guess where the story was going. Filled with action, impressive character development, love, betrayal, and mind-blowing revelations, Crown of Midnight definitely sets the bar high for the following books to come.

In this book, Celaena works as the champion for the King she despises, kidding her deceptions under the King’s nose. Fighting for her freedom as well as the freedom of others, she is in constant danger, especially since she is not the only one fighting for justice, and is forced to choose where her true loyalties lie. It is a book exploring the line between friend and foe, what people are willing to do in war, and most importantly, the battling with your inner self. The story is fast-paced, filled with wonderful romance and heart-wrenching tragedy, never giving the reader a break to catch their breath.

While the first book, although entertaining, followed a very clear and obvious storyline model, where everybody knew how the book is going to end, in Crown of Midnight everything came as a surprise. It had everything: character development, action, mystery, romance, friendships, loss, heartbreak, and much more. From the first page, I could not put this book down, I wanted to hug it at times, and then throw it to the wall at other moments. The book was so beautiful and I loved it, loved the characters and the romantic plot so much. Then my heart was ripped out and it was horrible, and I loved every minute of suffering! Any author that can make the reader feel such great and differing emotions gets my respect. The plot was so much stronger that in the first book, I loved how many surprises the book introduced.

I also think that one of the best Maas achievements with this sequel was focusing on all the characters separately. I absolutely loved the development of Dorian’s story, he became a fascinating character instead of being a boring love interest, and I hope we get to see more of his plotline development.

Furthermore, the romance in this book was just perfect. In the first book, I wasn’t sure if I would like any romantic plots, especially when there is so much going on, but this book just made me root for Chaol and Celaena! And it was (SPOILER) heart-breaking to witness their mere couple of week’s happiness tragically destroyed.

Moreover, I love how much attention Maas pays to friendship development. The heart-breaking twist of the story brought out anger and sadness in me, and it was a perfect addition to the book, making the characters feel real and led by emotions.

I love books that do not have clear lines between good and evil. You can see good characters making mistakes, and understand the supposedly evil side’s point of view. Maas perfectly displays that war is not white and black, and a lot that happens is grey.

Whether the end twist was very obvious or I spoiled it for myself before and did not remember it, it did not come as a shock to me. However, I am excited to see where the characters will go after so many revelations. With so many twists in this story, knowing the main outcome did not affect my liking of the book at all.

Overall, Crown of Midnight is one of the strongest sequels that I had pleasure reading. With already established rules of the magical world and the existing connection to the characters, the book brings out a lot of feelings from anyone who reads it. Whether you enjoyed Throne of Glass or not, the rich storytelling technique and a captivating plot make this book a must-read.

Book Playlist

  1. Digital Daggers – Head Over Heels
  2. Howe Gelb & A Band Of Gypsies – 4 Doors Maverick
  3. David Gray – We Could Fall In Love Again Tonight
  4. Kaleo – Bang Bang
  5. Mumford & Sons – Broken Crown

End Of Days by Susan Ee

Book Review

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Ratings

4 stars

Plot: 7/10

World building: 7/10

Writing style: 8/10

Character building: 8/10

Enjoyment: 6/10

Overall: 7/10

My Opinionated Review

Note: This is a review for the last book in Penryn & The End of Days trilogy. You can find the reviews for the first and second book here:

Angelfall by Susan Ee review

World After by Susan Ee review

End of Days is the last instalment in Penryn & The End of Days trilogy. It is a thrilling, action-packed conclusion featuring an intense confrontation between humans and angels in this apocalyptic fantasy saga.

The story picks up straight after the actions in World After, having Penryn and Raffe reunited and fighting towards the piece between the angel and human race. However, the piece is not that easy to achieve, especially when working with the enemy. Penryn has to make hard decisions in regards to her feelings to a certain angel and her dedication to the human race. It is a thrilling ride, filled with action, fighting, politics, trust, and betrayal. The author takes the story straight to hell and back, and tests the beloved characters in the most devastating way.

When thinking about the plot of the book, I could not find a single thing that was bad. The story is full of interesting twists, intense fights of survival, and moments that I did not see coming from miles away. And yet, I cannot shake the feeling of disappointment. In regards to the storyline, it had everything that the last book must possess: action, revelations, an epic showdown, a final stand, development of romantic and non-romantic relationships, and, of course, death. But what the book tragically lacked was the feeling.

I guess Susan Ee lifted my expectations with the first instalment too much. It was so good, that the last book, although quite decent, felt like a disappointment. Since Angelfall had so much vigour and tragedy, I expected a bit more from the last book in this trilogy. It was sad to see the series go out without a bang.

The seemingly good action did not draw out that many emotions out of me. Everything just seemed too weak. And although I thoroughly enjoyed the big showdown between the angels and the humans, I was expecting a lot more. Those scenes indicated so much potential, that could have had much greater impact if written with more emotion.

The second, and probably most problematic thing in the book, was the whole relationship between Penryn and Raffe. I loved those characters so much, both separately and together. They became one of the best, most passionate and heart-wrenching relationships in any book series. And the whole forbidden love angle never ceased to exist. Therefore, when having so much angst and separation anxiety, you expect some big emotionally draining moment of declaration of love. But it doesn’t happen.

For such a roller-coaster relationship that was the forbidden love story between Raffe and Penryn, the ending felt a bit anticlimactic. The expected epic and powerful moments never came, and since the ending scene in Angelfall or the sweet reunion in World After delivered very emotional scenes, the lack of feeling in the last pages of the book left me quite frustrated. For a love story that had immense build-up and angst, I hoped for more epicness, drama and pain.

I truly did not have a problem with the book until the very end. The author would start a very shocking or intense moment, with so much potential for trauma, and end it too quickly, without exploring the emotional impact further. My hopes for everything paying off in the end, were flushed down the toilet. I guess the masochist in me wanted to feel more pain. And although I am quite satisfied with the ending, it is not the kind of resolve I will be remembering for long.

Overall, End of Days has everything it is required from the last book in theory. But it fails in making the reader feel much. Compared to the first instalment, it is quite a disappointment. However, my fresh connection to the characters resulted in me really enjoying most of the book.

I still recommend reading the series but be prepared for Angelfall to the heart of the trilogy.

Have you read the series? What are your thoughts on the last instalment?

 

Book Playlist

  1. Half Moon Run – No More Losing the War
  2. Jetta – I’d Love to Change The World
  3. Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah
  4. John Paul White – What a Way to Go
  5. Andrew Ripp – When You Fall In Love

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Book Review

anna-and-the-french-kiss

Ratings

3 stars

Plot: 6/10

Setting: 8/10

Writing style: 7/10

Character building: 6/10

Enjoyment: 5/10

Overall: 6/10

My Opinionated Review

Anna and the French Kiss is a cute, funny and realistic romance story, with imperfect characters finding their own perfect world. It is very different from the usual contemporary romance: no misogyny, no over-the-top declarations of love, and no insta-love nonsense. It is a pure, simple, and very relatable book about love, life, and finding your place in the world.

This book is about Anna and her journey towards becoming an independent adult. Forced into going to spend her last high school year in an American boarding school in Paris, she has to deal with leaving her family and friends behind, and adjust to a new culture, new people, and an unfamiliar place. However, after befriending a group of students, she starts developing new relationships, gaining independence and self-identity, becoming a new and improved person, and realising that Paris might be quite an amazing place. This isn’t just a romance. It’s a story about growing up and finding your place in the world. It gives insight on both positive and negative aspects of life.

I loved the realistic portrayal of teenage life Stephanie Perkins gave to the readers. It was not just a romance story, it was life and struggles that come with it. Filled with disappointment and happiness, mistakes and forgiveness, and most of all, giving a perfect point of view of a girl trying to fit in in a foreign city, I found the story to be very relatable, since I am a foreigner myself. Plus, who doesn’t love a romantic Paris setting!

However, the most important part of the story was the romantic plotline, and although I found both of the characters honest and entertaining, the supposedly cute love story did not draw out many emotions out of me. There was nothing wrong with this book. Objectively, I see all the reasons why many people adore the story. But after hearing so many great things about it, my high expectations prevented me from really appreciating it. It was realistic and cute, and I respect the author for writing such a simple story. However, this simplicity ensued a very average outcome.

The main problem that affected my rating of the book was the lack of connection that I felt towards the characters. I ended up enjoying the life aspect of the book much more than the romantic plotline. St. Claire was a well-crafted character, very different from the usual love interest. But I just did not manage to really connect with him. I did find his and Anna’s misunderstandings quite amusing, it was very similar to what happens in real life. Yet, it just wasn’t anything special.

Despite not enjoying the book as much as I have hoped for, I still feel that more books like this one should exist. Actually giving a realistic point of view about romance and life in general, without those stupid over-the-top needy love stories, Anna and the French Kiss becomes a delightful break from the unnecessarily dramatic books. Nevertheless, considering so many good things that I have heard about this book prior to reading it, it came to me as a bit of a disappointment.

I still recommend reading it is you want something cute, simple, and refreshing. It might be your cup of tea despite it not being mine.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this romance, and your reasons for liking/disliking it.

 

Book Playlist

  1. Eagles – New Kid in Town
  2. Francoise Hardy – Tous les Garcons et les Filles
  3. Hélène Ségara, Joe Dassin – Et si tu n’existais pas
  4. Andy Williams – Moon River
  5. Twenty One Pilots – Can’t Help Falling In Love

 

 

World After by Susan Ee

Book Review

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Ratings

4 stars

Plot: 7/10

World building: 7/10

Writing style: 8/10

Character building: 8/10

Enjoyment: 7/10

Overall: 7/10

My Opinionated Review

Note: World After is the second book in Penryn & the End of Days trilogy. For a review of Angelfall, first book in the series, visit

Angelfall by Susan Ee review

World After is an enjoyable and satisfying sequel to Angelfall. However, it does not possess the same quality and intensity as the first book. Although with flaws, it is still an utterly enjoyable and action-packed story, displaying many twists and terrifying moments, as well as powerful scenes, and taking the war between humans and angels, as well as Raffe and Penryn’s story, to the next level.

The book begins straight after the intense ending in Angelfall: Penryn is waking up from her paralysis state, scaring many people with her ‘resurrection’. She is now with the resistance group, trying to ensure the survival of the human race, as well as get used to her sister’s drastic change. Separated from Raffe, who now embarks on his own journey thinking she is deceased, Penryn has to undertake a new mission of survival, filled with tragedy, horror, surprising reveals, and separation anxiety.

Upon starting this book, I had worries about the progression of the story. Since the first instalment was a young-adult fantasy masterpiece, the second book felt much weaker and disappointing. The main reason why this story lacked feeling and captivation was the separation between Raffe and Penryn. The majority of the story focuses on Penryn’s journey alone, and although the beloved angel is never forgotten, the lack of passionate and witty dynamics between the two main characters played a vital part in flagging the storyline. The reader was rewarded later on, plus, the plot never seemed boring or action-less. Still, the absence of delightful character dynamics affected the quality of the book tremendously.

Despite all the disappointing feelings that the sequel has brought out of me, I still very much enjoyed it. The plot, although not as strong as in the first book, had all the right elements, surprising and horrifying the reader along the way. Moreover, absence always makes the heart go fonder, and the separation between Raffe and Penryn worked out quite well in the end, resulting in a lot of angst and longing, and a heart-shattering epic reunion. Since it is a trilogy, I am quite impressed how the author is portraying the forbidden romance, never giving the two lovebirds a break, and torturing the reader with the absence of romantic scenes. It results in the romance never being boring.

I do miss the witty Raffe though. I know, the whole tragic and terrifying plot prevents the character from being too happy. Still, Raffe in Angelfall was a delight, and I wish he would have made an appearance more often. Having said that, I did enjoy the character development. Seeing his attachment to Penryn, and breaking quite a few of his believes because of his feeling for this human girl, was a satisfying factor.

It was also quite refreshing to see Penryn interact with her family. In the first book, it was made clear that the character was ready to do anything for her sister. Yet, we got very little interactions between them. World After explores the Young family bonds in more depth and allows Penryn to develop as a strong heroine by herself.

I am not sure whether it is an already established connection to the characters, an epic romance, or a really captivating premise, that made me love the story despite noticing all the flaws. Nevertheless, I believe this sequel is definitely worth reading. Although it does not possess the strong points of the first book, the plot remains to be intense and surprising, and the characters and the dynamics between them – complex and remarkable.

It is a highly addictive trilogy. There is no way to take a break in between the books. I guess, binge-reading the series adds to the enjoyment since the connection to the characters is fresh and not forgotten. I definitely recommend this trilogy but warn you to prepare for the first book being the strongest one in the series.

Have you read this series? Tell me what are your thoughts on this trilogy, and whether you like it or not.

 

Book Playlist

  1. Apocalyptica ft. Ville Valo and Lauri Ylonen – Bittersween Symphony
  2. Raveonettes – War in Heaven
  3. Sarah McLachlan – In the Arms of an Angel
  4. Ben Howard – End of the Affair
  5. Frances – Don’t Worry About Me

On Every Street by Karina Halle

Book Review

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Ratings

4 stars

Plot: 6/10

Setting: 8/10

Writing style: 7/10

Character building: 8/10

Enjoyment: 7/10

Overall: 7/10

My Opinionated Review

Note: This is a prequel in The Artist Trilogy series. You can find the review for the first book here

Sins & Needles by Karina Halle review

On Every Street is a book that left me utterly conflicted. I have not expected to like the story, however, it surprised me in the best possible way. This prequel completely changes the game, giving the reader a different kind of perspective by telling the whole story between Ellie and Javier. Now, understanding the reason behind Javier’s actions makes the story at the same time clearer and more confusing, and leaves me with more love for the character. Although this story did not change my feelings towards the bad wolf Javier by much (I do not want to see Ellie and Javier as a couple in the future), it definitely made me appreciate the character’s complexity and multi-layer-ism.

This prequel tells the story of Ellie when she was Eden White, and ready to get her revenge on the man who destroyed her life. But when she decides to play Javier, a dangerous drug lord, to get to Travis, she soon sees that her game is turning to real feeling. The story is not new, we see these characters’ older selves in Sins & Needles. But it gives a different kind of perspective, allowing the reader to understand the past much better.

First of all, the fact that I never like prequels, or side stories, or other characters’ perspectives, needs to be acknowledged. They just don’t do it for me. I like the main story and that is it. However, often, I find myself forcing to read them in order to be able to enjoy the main story better. I believed that I needed to learn about Ellie’s backstory when she was Eden White and in love with a villain of Sins & Needles. I was prepared to skim the book but happened to be pleasantly surprised how this story completely allured me and brought up new feelings. It probably was one of the best prequels I have ever read. I am so glad that I read Sins & Needles first because knowing Ellie as a strong and conniving woman has made her actions as Eden White more understandable. Also, it completely changed the viewpoint of Javier. He is portrayed as a complete villain in the first book, and here the reader can get insight on what drew Ellie to him.

So although I definitely enjoyed the story, and I felt the chemistry between two main characters, it still remained a dysfunctional relationship. There are many books that try to glorify those harmful love stories, but in this case, it wasn’t it. The reader is never misguided, thinking that Javier is some kind of hero, as well as made aware of Ellie’s reasoning behind her actions, making her naïve persona easily relatable.

In this book, Ellie is Eden, and at times it felt like I was reading about a completely different character. Although I prefer Ellie, the strong and smart con artist, it was quite easy to understand and relate to Eden. She grew up without love, filled with hate and thirst for revenge, and was never appreciated. She is also young and naïve, still an innocent girl trying to find her place in the world. So when Javier admires her, loves her, and is ready to give her the world, she decides to ignore the reality and live in a lie. It is easy to avoid reality, easy to believe the lie and forget the truth, especially when it makes you feels good. Javier works as an escape for Ellie. She escapes her life, escapes even herself, and these are such human emotions that everyone can relate to.

Javier really has the ability to make your heart melt. Being so loved, especially by a man who should not be able to love, would make anyone feel special. Javier definitely possesses quite a few redeemable qualities. However, he is also a killer. The scenes where he would open up about his feeling towards Eden, and towards himself, really made me feel for the character. Nevertheless, I never stopped seeing him as a villain. Therefore, knowing that the relationship was doomed and Ellie would soon be getting on a journey to becoming her best self, made me enjoy the ride without judgements and eye-rolling. Plus, the fact that the book is insanely does not harm at all.

There were moments where Eden’s actions were really unwise, but the author always acknowledged her stupidity, making the character human with a desire to love and be loved. Javier was never made into a ‘perfect’ boyfriend, Eden knew she was living an illusion, at times even questioning whether Javier’s actions were romantic or creepy. This awareness gives the reader a completely different perspective of this dysfunctional relationship – Javier’s bad actions and Eden’s willingness to ignore all the bad stuff are never glorified, but the ability to love a bad man is never judged as well. The voice of reason here was Gus, and he made both Ellie and the reader aware of the relationship being a delusion. And that, plus the horrible stunt that Javier pulls, allows Eden to turn back into Ellie, and become the character I love very much.

I feel there has to be more story to tell behind Javier’s actions. Now he is definitely a villain – a killer with an obsession. However, I still feel he possesses some redeemable traits. So off to the next book, where I hope to find more answers.

I definitely recommend reading this prequel after Sins & Needles, but before going into Shooting Scars

 

Book Playlist

  1. Dire Straits – On Every Street
  2. Nine Inch Nails – Wish
  3. Calexico – The Vanishing Mind
  4. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – People Ain’t No Good
  5.  Elliott Smith – Bottle Up and Explode

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Book Review

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Ratings

4 stars

Plot: 7/10

World building: 8/10

Writing style: 9/10

Character building: 9/10

Enjoyment: 9/10

Overall: 8/10

My Opinionated Review

Cruel Beauty was a surprisingly captivating story. I have not expected to like this story as much as I did, especially since I was never planning to pick this book up. But this well-written blend of Beauty and the Beast retelling and Greek mythology has completely sucked me in and would not let me go until I finished the story. I was confused half the time, hardly understanding what is going on, not even trying to guess how it is going to end, and half the time getting lost in a passionate, dangerous and complex romance. This book is nothing like I have ever read before, it was so different, so weird and so mysterious that somehow, everything seemed to work perfectly.

The story is about Nyx, a young girl who is promised to be a bride of a monster that has been terrorising the town she lives in. Her mission is to do whatever she has to until she kills the beast. Since she is one of the twins that were chosen for sacrifice their life for the future of the townsfolk, Nyx has quite a lot of bitterness and anger bottled up inside her. Of course, after the marriage, her seemingly terrifying husband is not what Nyx was expecting, taking her on a journey where she has to make really tough decisions and sacrifices in the process.

I will not attempt to describe the book in more detail since I believe it is worth going to the story blind. I just want to ensure you that the first impression of this novel might not be the greatest, but sticking with it pays off later on.

It is so refreshing to read unusual Beauty and the Beast type of story, where the heroine is not simply an altruistic innocent girl, but a complex strong character, having her moments of heroism as well as darkness. Nyx was a wonderful female lead, full of witty remarks and rebellious spirit, strong and loving, but also filled with hate and resentment. Moreover, the Beast was not just simply misunderstood, but a character who was able to show heroism as well as villainy. He was complex, he was evil and yet he was not, and nothing was so simple. It was just refreshing.

The dynamic between Nyx and Ignifex was the most entertaining part of the book. Although I often have problems with some kind of enemy lover storyline where the love interest actually indulges in bad actions, this time, the romantic plot brought me only joy. Mainly because the heroine actually acknowledged that Ignifex is a monster, she was aware of his impurity, and aware that she was no angel as well. And having such a strong and self-aware female lead completely changes the dynamics of the allure of an enemy-lover type of romance. Because all the power was in Nyx’s, not the Ignifex’s hands.

Apart from all the good and captivating storylines, there were quite a few moments that just seemed a little bit too weird, even for this book. The completely twisted weirdest love triangle type of thing, the constantly changing mystery of a house, and very complex historical/magical background that was hard to follow. Yet somehow, everything made sense and the things that did not – did not matter. This is how the enemy-turned-lover books are supposed to be written, with passion, and colourful dialogue, and equality ground from both sides. This is also how a great fantasy book is supposed to be created, where it is impossible to guess the final outcome. I have trouble fully understanding the ending, and the whole book world, even after finishing the story.

Overall, my low expectations of the book left me completely surprised and enchanted with the story. I have laughed and cried, was entwined in mystery and passion, and overall, glad that I decided to read this story. If more authors would create such strong and complex female leads…

It is a weird story, it does not have the expected plot and does not follow the familiar structure. But after you get used to the weirdness, the book has so much to offer. So whether you love fantasy, or a captivating enemy-lover type of romance, or just like the idea of a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I would recommend picking this underdog up.

Book Playlist

  1. Snow Patrol – What If The Storm Ends
  2. Hozier – Arsonist’s Lullaby
  3. Sophie Zelmani – Stay With My Heart
  4. David Gray – The Other Side
  5. Regina Spector – The Sword & the Pen