Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #35: THE HUNDREDTH QUEEN - by Emily R. King


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Breaking the Spine and now taken over by Wishful Endings that highlights upcoming book releases we're excited to read. On my blog, I include movies as well.


Publication Date: 1st June 2017. 

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple. But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik. Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda’s only hope for escape lies in an arcane, forbidden power that’s buried within her. 
I've heard amazing things about this book, and it looks GORGEOUS. The cover is also INCREDIBLE.
And there's apparently a good dose of feminist undercurrents in the story as well, which sounds ABSOLUTELY AWESOME. The heroine is also apparently epic!




Anyone else excited for The Hundredth Queen?

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

THE DIABOLIC (The Diabolic #1) - by S.J. Kincaid

THE DIABOLIC - by S.J. Kincaid
Published: 2016 - Simon and Schuster.
Genres: Young adult / romance / science fiction
Pages: 416.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball Publishers SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator's daughter, Sidonia. There's no one Nemesis wouldn't kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Now one of the galaxy's most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she's been told she doesn't have - humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire...

I'd heard of this book before I started reading it, but I didn't really know what it was about or if most people had enjoyed it. That was refreshing, in a way, because I couldn't have any preexisting biases.
And I'm pleased to say that I really enjoyed The Diabolic.


Sci-fi is sorely overused these days, but this book is beautiful and refreshing in its utterly unique approach to all things cosmic and scienc-y. It's an electrifying breath of fresh air, and a glorious escape from the cliches of the genre.

There is no info-dumping!! I literally want to dance in glee and repeat THERE'S NO INFO-DUMPING! It's never boring, never tedious (although the short space of time at the beginning before Nemesis goes to court does drag a lot), and the writing is excellent. Smart, elegant prose twist into a brutal - it is very brutal - story full of action and romance, and with completely unpredictable twists and turns. It's so engrossing, and the writing is wickedly and gorgeously skillful.


The characters steadily grew on me. I grew to love Nemesis and her courage and growth, and I adored her fighting skills and how she was so completely capable while still having her feminine vulnerability.
The secondary characters are very strong and well-defined: the atrociously wicked Emperor, the cruel grandmother, sweet Sidonia, relatable Nevani, and of course, the hero Prince Tyrus.
Oh how I loved the romance! It's quite simply unlike anything I've ever read before. The relationship between Nemesis and Tyrus is achingly honest and conflicted, and their romantic scenes are so swoony and romantic. I definitely ship them, and I love their chemistry. Also...TYRUS IS GORGEOUS. He's so swoony and lovable and clever and darling and I want him.

I admit I didn't think I would love Sidonia and Nemesis' friendship. After all, Nemesis loves her because she has to, because she was made to love and protect her, and initially I didn't think that I would be able to accept that their relationship was one of genuine feeling. And initially I don't think it was. But as the book progressed, the relationship between those girls grew on me, and although we'll never know for certain, I did feel like it was a sincere friendship by the end of the story.



The Diabolic is a unique and entertaining sci-fi novel that definitely stands out. I loved the romance, the strong characters, and the excellent writing, and I look forward to the next book!

Monday, 29 May 2017

LA LA LAND (film) is breathtaking and exquisitely powerful

LA LA LAND - 2016
Director: Damien Chazelle.
Cast: Ryan Gosling/ Emma Stone
Content Rating: PG13 for some language.
Source: Rented.

A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.










When I sat down to watch this film, I was already suffocating on high expectations and overwhelming anticipation. I'd been dying to see it for months - months. I was terrified I would be disappointed, or worse, see the "flaws" some of the public had called out.
But no. I fell in love. And those songs and that story have been floating round my head ever since, engulfing me in a dreamy aftermath.
I love this movie.

The atmosphere is dazzling.  The whole movie is reminiscent of the charm and spirit of old Hollywood, and is vibrant, electric, and utterly seductive. The sets are masterfully constructed, the cinematography fizzy, and the dialogue captivating and extremely engrossing.
But I was especially blown away by Chazelle's incredibly thoughtful and exquisite direction. He is an excellent director in every sense of the word, and the more I watched the more I appreciated the choices he made. Just wow.

The music is beautiful. Gosling and Stone aren't amazing singers, but their characters aren't meant to be, and so it works perfectly. The choreography is effortless and tight, and the songs themselves are one minute heartbreaking and then suddenly bursting with life and energy. The music is so sweeping and catchy,  and my only regret is that most of the songs didn't last as long as I'd liked them to.


THE ACTING BLEW MY MIND. I'm a fan of both Ryan and Emma anyway, but I thought their performances were especially amazing in this film. Their exhilarating chemistry and adorable exchanges made me laugh and cry, and I was spellbound under their magic. They are unbelievably shippable, and I am not lying when I say some of their romantic scenes actually gave me goosebumps.
But while they are an irresistible duo, their individuality is also brilliant.  Emma always amazes me with her incredible realness and lack of ego, and her performance comes across so achingly raw and honest. She put her heart and soul into this role, and it shows.
Ryan is equally fantastic. I usually find that he, unlike Emma, brings a lot of ego to the roles he plays (although it could be the characters he typically portrays) but I was shocked by how down-to-earth and natural his performance was in La La Land. I think he gave one of the best performances of his career, and he certainly wowed me just as much - maybe even more so - than Emma did.

Their characters are also amazing. The character development is effortless, and Mia and Sebastian are two of the most vivid, relatable characters I've ever seen in a film.

I loved how down-to-earth and real this film is. Its theme - "here's to the fools that dream" - resonated deeply with me, and I just adored how Chazelle didn't glitz it up and instead dug deep into the gritty realness of Mia and Sebastian's situation and their lives and their dreams. It's a story - a message - for all of us; the writers, the artists, the actors, the singers, the designers...everyone. The way they handled this theme and the way Emma and Ryan portrayed it, made the movie not feel like a movie at all. It felt like life.
There's so much passion, so much emotion, so much heart and love in this film that it soars upwards while at the same time never losing sight of those below.


The only thing I found disappointing was the ending. I know why they chose the course they did and I know that had it ended another way it might not have been so powerful and thought-provoking, but I was personally heartbroken. I don't want to give spoilers, so let me do it in code: "I like my boats to float." *wink wink*



La La Land is breathlessly real and beautiful, and Gosling and Stone are intensely genuine in their dynamic roles. This film is compelling and inspiring, and its thought-provoking, hopeful, and relatable story is haunting and gorgeous. 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Weekly Round-Up: I start bookstagram and then get sick...a sign?!


I AM NOW ON BOOKSTAGRAM!! But bear with me because my photo skills have a long way to go... BUT I'M THERE, AND I WENT PROP SHOPPING, AND TA DA IT'S THE BEGINNING OF SOMETHING AMAZING. 
I hope.  

Since Thursday I've had terrible flu, so I've basically been slouching around the house taking bookstagram photos and feeling like I'm dying. 
However.......I FINALLY WATCHED LA LA LAND!!! My review will be up tomorrow, but I don't know how coherent it'll be because #feels. 

Posts of the week: 

Book Review: ICE KISSED
Book Review: THAT NIGHT


I'm not reading anything at the moment, but I did finish The Diabolic. Review will be up on Tuesday. 


This darling arrived this week, and I am so excited to start reading. It looks AMAZING. 








Jollygirl shares a post about Tomorrow



How was your week? What are you reading or watching?

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Writing and Inspiration drawn from Montserrat - Guest Post from author AP. McGrath



I am so pleased to have author AP. McGrath on the blog today! He's a photographer as well as writer, and he's going to be sharing his experience in Montserrat - which inspired and influenced his future writing. At the bottom of this post you can also see more about his novel: a gripping, romantic, crime drama called A BURNING IN THE DARKNESS. 
Take it away, AP!
The small town in south Tipperary where I grew up had a population of 5,000 and when I was a teenager, I began taking black and white photographs of local people in the places where they worked and lived. My mum knew the editor of the local newspaper - everybody knows everybody in a town that small. He liked the pictures I was taking and offered a weekly slot entitled ‘The Town and It’s People’. I would approach shop owners, butchers, pub owners etc. and ask them if I could drop by some day soon to take their picture. I realised they would dress up a little and strike a certain pose, but people reveal themselves through these self-conscious acts as much as they do when they are caught unawares. 

These folk had a certain pride in their living or work places and I wanted to capture these spaces as much as the people themselves. 

I was interested in the details of the old shops that were giving way to the more modern out of town shopping. I liked the light and the tonality and the resonances of past times. The weekly portraits were a hit with the townsfolk. Indeed on more than one occasion I remember my mum remarking to me “Oh, I hear Mrs O’Reilly is disappointed you haven’t taken her photograph”. The townsfolk wanted themselves seen in and certain light and, in truth, I probably had my own slightly selfish reasons for taking the photographs. I knew that I wanted to leave. 


Probably all of the world’s biggest airports have a quiet prayer room offering sanctuary before a journey. A traveller might be embarking on a whole new life in a new country. Maybe he or she has planned an escape from an anxious past or is simply going on a welcome family holiday in the sun. Travel can also be a dreary necessity. We may need to make a business trip or a journey because of events that are beyond our control, as in the death of a family member or loved one. One friend told me she was about to go on a business trip when she miscarried her second pregnancy. She was in her mid to late forties and knew it was probably her last chance to give her young son a brother or sister. She entered the quietness of the prayer room and had a think and a good cry before she carried on with her journey. The prayer room had been a welcome and necessary shelter.


In a novel, place is inseparable from character and events. Indeed it can become an effective character in itself, a protagonist, soaked in mood. My novel A Burning in the Darkness begins in the prayer room of one of the world’s biggest airports. There is a tiny confessional box and in its anonymous darkness a voice confesses a murder to Father Michael Kieh, but a young boy has witnessed the killer go into the confessional. Michael becomes the main suspect in the murder investigation because of a group of pitiless antagonists, but he doesn’t betray the identity of the young boy nor break the Seal of Confession.

The airport is a cinematic place. It is a frenzied cathedral dedicated to travel. It is also a lonely place. Michael is one of a number of faith representatives tending to the needs of more than 80 million passengers who pass through its gates each year, yet he rarely gets to see members of his flock more than once. His environment is constantly changing and he begins to question his faith. As a consequence, he is drawn to the companionship of an art dealer, Joan, who frequents the airport for business trips.

Michael grew up in Liberia in the midst of its brutal civil war. His childhood experiences shaped him and made him what he is: a good man. I wanted to explore the idea that he had the freedom to think differently from his environment. He had the ability to strike out against its dominant mood because he wanted the world to be good and not characterised by the destructive madness of war. And he had the strength of character to do it.


I studied English and Philosophy at University College Dublin, but I also trained and studied as a photographer. In the late eighties I had the opportunity to go to the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat and used my time there to take portraits of some of its people. Some months ago, after I’d finished writing the novel, I was doing a clean-out of the attic and came across the photographs which had been hidden away for many years. I was struck by the way they explore the intertwined relationship between character and environment. In technical terms the portraits are taken with a wide angle lens so that you see both the person and the surroundings. I was drawn to the looming Soufrière Hills volcano at the centre of the island and it becomes the backdrop to many of the photographs. However in July 1995, the volcano erupted and destroyed most of the main habitable areas, including the principle town, the airport and docking facilities. Two thirds of the population was forced to leave, mainly to the UK.

Most of the photographs were taken in parts of the island ravaged by the volcano. This area was designated an exclusion zone and it covers more than half of the island. So there is poignancy to these photographs that capture a world now lost.

Several months before the publication of my novel I realised I had to set up a web site. I’m not a corporate person. I couldn’t see myself in a smiling brochure portrait, passing myself off as a kind of salesperson. But I could see that the photographs of Montserrat might say as much about me as they do about the people in the photographs. The quality of the relationship between the subject and the artist is crucial. The degree of imaginative sympathy for the subject is something that sets a good work of art a part from others.
The ultimate skill is not in mastering the camera or a fancy ability with words; it is getting the subjects to reveal themselves – even if the subject is entirely your invention.
AP. McGrath 
AP was born and grew up in Ireland. He now lives in London and works in TV drama production. He is a single father with three beautiful children. He studied English and Philosophy and then post-graduate Film Studies.


Goodreads   /   Amazon
A murder at one of the world’s busiest airports opens this simmering crime story where a good man’s loyalty is tested to its limits. Michael Kieh is a full time faith representative serving the needs of some of the 80 million passengers, but circumstance and evidence point to his guilt. His struggle to prove his innocence leads him on a charged journey that pitches love against revenge. Michael’s loneliness was eased by a series of brief encounters with a soul mate. When she confides a dark secret, he is motivated to redress a heart-breaking injustice. Together they must battle against powerful forces as they edge dangerously close to unmasking a past crime. But Michael faces defeat when he chooses to protect a young witness, leaving him a burning spirit in the darkness. Michael’s commitment to helping those in need was forged in the brutality of the Liberian civil war. Protected by a kind guardian, he too was a young witness to an atrocity that has left a haunting legacy of stolen justice and a lingering need for revenge. More poignantly there is a first love cruelly left behind in Africa because of the impossible choices of war. When Michael and his former lover find each other once again they become formidable allies in proving his innocence and rediscovering their lost love.


Thank you, AP, for posting on my blog today and sharing your experience!  

And I hope everyone who read this post enjoyed it :) What did you think of AP's photography and experience?  

Friday, 26 May 2017

The Blog Squad: A Blogger Collaboration - Part 11


We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions. 

 A MAGICAL WORLD OF WORDS - AmyNikita 
 BOOKS.BAGS.BURGERS - Uma K 
 BOOK REVIEWS BY DI - Di Hewlett



What is the best blogging advice you've ever been given? 


To remember WHY I started book blogging in the first place and to always remember that I blog because I LOVE READING, and not the other way around. I think it’s always important to keep this in sight and remember to keep doing what you love.



I’ve received loads of advice from my fellow bloggers ever since I started my blog and most of them have been extremely useful advice that have helped me a LOT. To state the best, I think one of the advice that MOST bloggers gave me was to stay true to who I am and not try to copy or imitate any other blogger. This is VERY important. There are so many bloggers who are extremely inspiring but it’s never okay to imitate their blogging style. It’s important to be true to yourself and keep doing what you love. Don’t do something because someone else is or jump onto a bandwagon because everyone else is; do it only if you believe you will enjoy it. And don’t refrain from doing something because it’s not the ‘it’ thing in the blogosphere; go ahead and start something new if you enjoy it!


What's the worst/most misleading blogging advice you've ever been given? 



This is a tough one, because I haven’t actually received any BAD advice per se but there’s something that’s often talked about in the blogging world that I think needs to be addressed here. And that is, BLOGGING CONSISTENTLY.

 Now yes, as a blogger you DO need to be consistent, but there’s consistent and there’s consistent.

Don’t rush in and create hundreds of posts and try to post every day, - you’re going to burn out or at least wonder how on EARTH do I keep doing this? You might start posting every day, then go down to every other day, then once or twice a week.

By the same token it can also be difficult to sit down every day/every other day to create your content and rinse and repeat. After a while (possibly even years) you will wonder, how on EARTH do I keep doing this?

The answer is to find your rhythm - what can you realistically expect of yourself on a weekly basis. You need to both be able to create content but also have actual breaks. If posting every day still works for you - that’s amazing! But if it doesn’t, don’t feel pressured!

Blogging consistently is also completely different to blogging a lot. You do NOT need to post content every day - you just don’t! Nor do you need to have such a rigid blogging schedule that your posts go up on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:25am. If your content is good/unique/interesting it’s going to get read regardless of whether or not you post at the same time every week.

You also need to consider the fact that you need to have a balance between posts and engagement on posts - especially in the beginning. I don’t think that posting on a daily basis will increase your traffic but in fact it could divide your traffic between all your content when you could have maximised engagement and page views by posting less!



I don’t think I’ve ever been given ‘bad’ advice but like Di, I want to talk about something that is seen often in the blogosphere. Following blogs just so they will follow you back and unfollowing them when they don’t. This follow only to unfollow phenomenon is very common in Social networking sites especially Twitter and Instagram and has now infiltrated the blogosphere too. It’s a popular belief that following as many blogs as you can will help increase your followers as at least 50% of them will follow you back. While no one gives this ‘advice’ outright, this is something many do. I am NOT saying don’t follow blogs. I’m all about making wonderful friends in the blogosphere. I’m saying don’t follow blogs just for the ‘follow back’.  

Follow a blog you truly think you would be interested in. I admit when I first started my blog, it felt like it was all about the numbers - followers, pageviews etc. But truly it’s not. Ask yourself, do you want someone to follow your blog just because you followed theirs or do you want someone to follow your blog because they truly enjoy the content you post? I love it when I get a new follower ; I love it even more when a follower reads my posts and interacts with me; and that they will do only if they enjoy my content. So don’t get caught up on follower count but focus on doing what you love and trust me you’ll end up making wonderful friends through your blog!


If you could only give one piece of advice to an aspiring book blogger, what would it be? 



I think if I could only give one piece of advice, I’d have to remain in the same vein of the great advice that I was once given - Remember WHY you blog and the love that you have for books. Don’t make this into such a chore that you don’t enjoy it anymore. Keep reading the books that you love and if you want to read that book that doesn’t necessarily fit into your usual genre/category or whatever - DO IT! Don’t ONLY read for your blog - blog because you are reading.



Remember to be yourself and keep blogging because you love to - NOT to get more followers, NOT to get more pageviews but because you enjoy doing it. And intereact! When you find a blog post on the blogosphere you enjoy, leave a comment saying so; if someone comments on your posts, reply to them. Most of all, have fun! Don’t get so crazy about blogging that it feels like work.



Come check out my answers over at their collab posts!: 




 We hope you’ve enjoyed the first in our series of discussion posts! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

THAT NIGHT - by Chevy Stevens

THAT NIGHT - Chevy Stevens.
Published: 2014 - by Sphere.
Pages: 466.
Genres: Adult / mystery / thriller / romance
Source: Bought.
Eighteen-year-old Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were wrongly convicted of the murder of her younger sister. Seventeen years later, she's out on parole and back in her hometown, but she's struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Ryan is convinced he can uncover the truth; her mother still doesn't believe Toni's innocent; and the former high school girls who made Toni's life miserable may have darker secrets than anyone can imagine. Before Toni can move forward, she must take a terrifying step back to her past to find out the truth and clear her name, before it's too late.



I was INCREDIBLY excited to read this book. One, the cover is SO THRILLING AND ATMOSPHERIC; two, the premise sounds SO SCARY AND DARK; and three, I love love love thrillers.
So you can imagine my HUGE disappointment when I found myself extremely unimpressed after flipping the last page. It was such a let-down.


The writing isn't amazing. Toni's first person narration feels numb and disconnected, and not in a chilling or skillful way; her character just doesn't feel invested in the story, and I found it hard to sympathise with her as her emotions didn't feel real, vivid, or wholehearted. The writing is also amateurish, dry, and extremely mediocre. There're no beautiful phrases or chilling subtext - it's just flat. In addition, the dialogue is very uninspired and boring.
For most of the book it doesn't even feel like a thriller. The incidents in the story are random and weak, and most of them don't even add anything to the main plot or characters. That made me feel cheated; it wasn't like I was faced with a shocking revelation and could go back to see the hints of it previously in the story. There isn't any proper foreshadowing, and I found the ending underwhelming.

Everything Toni goes through - the bullying, the relationships, the prison sentence - all feels very unrealistic. Does the legal system - for example -  really work like she describes it in the book? I didn't find those situations or experiences credible at all.

I didn't love any of the characters and none of them felt incredibly well written or three dimensional. I did, however, rather like Toni's romance with Ryan; I really enjoyed their chemistry and relationship arc (the most three-dimensional aspect of the novel). But the other characters didn't win me over. Nicole feels stereotypical and predictable, Toni's parents unoriginal, the mean girls vague and boring, and just...meh.



That Night is a mediocre thriller with disconnected narration and a boring, predictable plot- line.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #34: ROAR - by Cora Carmack


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Breaking the Spine and now taken over by Wishful Endings that highlights upcoming book releases we're excited to read. On my blog, I include movies as well.




Release Date: June 13th 2017. 


In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them. Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people. To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters. Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

The cover is AMAZING and this book sounds absolutely epic. Aurora sounds like such an awesome heroine.  Hopefully I'll be able to get a copy soon!!!



Anyone else excited for Roar?! 


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

A COURT OF MIST AND FURY (ACOTAR #2) - by Sarah J. Maas

A COURT OF MIST AND FURY - Sarah J. Maas.
Year Published: 2016 - by Bloomsbury Children's.
Genre: Young adult / Fae / romance / high fantasy
Pages: 626.
Source: Library.
Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people. Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.




(Please be aware that this book contains graphic sexual content and that I'll be discussing that in this review.)

WELL. I guess it goes without saying - if you've read my reviews of other Maas books - that I have a love-hate relationship with this author. I'm always left angry, confused, broken, and electrified after putting down her books, and reviewing any of her books is a nightmare.
I will try make this logical. Try.


The atmosphere sparkles and writhes with a pulsing energy and life. Every scene is vivid, every detail tangible and exquisite, and everything comes alive on the pages. The world building is epic, and also so extraordinarily intricate.
The language is beautiful and the descriptions are delicious, but there's also a lot of repetitiveness and melodrama.  Maas uses too many words when only one or two will do, and phrases like "I was smoke and mist and ash" have become infuriating. I rolled my eyes a lot.
It's occasionally boring, but so addictive. I can get through a Maas book in about two to three days, and that's got to say something. They're incredibly more-ish.

I hate Tamlin. Hate is too mild a word, actually, but I don't like swearing, so it'll have to do. BUT GOSH, I freakin' hate his guts; his relationship with Feyre is downright abusive, and what was horrific sexual violence in the first book now escalates to controlling, domineering psychological assault. Thankfully Tamlin's behaviour is, for the most part, seen for what it is, and Feyre turns against him (to an extent).
Rhys is fantastic. I love his relationship with Feyre (again, to an extent, but I'll get to that in a bit) and I love how he sees her strength, respects her, and treats her as an equal. I love his attitude towards her and how he encourages her to embrace her potential.
So many new awesome characters are introduced in this book. I don't exactly love any of them, but they all come through vivid and rounded and with strong personalities. And I like and appreciate that so much.
Diversity is glaringly absent from Maas's books, and ACOMAF is no exception. I want to see disabled people, people of colour, and I hate how literally everyone is a sex god or goddess! Life isn't like that, and it's about time we saw some underdogs and - *gasp* - "ugly people" in the Fae world.

Character development is a huge part of this book, and I love that more than anything else. Feyre undergoes some incredible development; she grows so much as a character, and while I still don't particularly like her, I do adore her development.
But. I don't like how Maas makes her into the girl every guy wants to sleep with. In the first book, she was average and plain, but suddenly in the sequel she's hot and sexy. I hate that, and yet there's still some epicness from Feyre; lines like this:
“I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal. I was a survivor, and I was strong. I would not be weak, or helpless again I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.”
YES YES AND YES. I NEEDED THAT IN MY LIFE.


This is where I may start ranting. You've been warned.
What gets me every time with Maas's books is her treatment of sexual behaviour, lust, and "romance". Tamlin and Feyre are bad enough (although I'm glad Feyre's seen through him), but now it looks like Rhys and Feyre are entering into that abusive territory. AND IT KILLS ME, OKAY, because when they're not ogling each other's bodies and making out, their relationship is brilliant: mutual respect, equals, blah blah. But as soon as sex comes in, I want to tear the book up and hurl it across the room.
Rhys: "I want to stay in that bedroom and f*** you till we're both hoarse."
Rhys: "I want you splayed on the table like my own personal feast."
OH. EXCUSE ME IF I'M NOT SWOONING HERE.

I don't see how there can be another way to interpret this particular scene. When they have sex, he's abusing her; the definition of abuse is "cruel and violent treatment of a person", and Rhys is definitely violent. In this case, it's sexual violence against women and it's horrific. I don't see that as sexy, hot or romantic, and I certainly don't believe it's loving. It's violent, it's possessive, and it's revolting. There's nothing healthy or beautiful about it. Rhys was awesome before this sexualness between him and Feyre crept in, and now I'm so furious and bewildered and torn. Maas has just ruined a brilliant relationship.

Not to mention.......the crude sexual innuendoes just get too much. Every gorgeous character (oh wait, they're all gorgeous) is sexualized to a degree it almost overwhelms their personality. And when that sexuality comes in the form of crude comments, lusting like animals, and violent sex, then NO IT'S NOT RIGHT. It's abominable and perverse. The Fae are more animal than human, and I hate how the males act like sex-crazed beasts.
"Rhys came back the next morning, and when he learned what had happened..." She laughed under her breath. "We try not to talk about the incident. He and Cassian... I've never seen them fight like that......I know Rhys wasn't p***** about my virginity, but rather the danger that losing it had put me in. Aziel was even angrier about it - though he let Rhys do the walloping. They knew what my family would do for debasing myself with a bastard-born lesser Fae...They were right."

EXCUSE ME? This sounds a awful lot like the guys were fighting over her virginity, despite Mor saying, "I know Rhys wasn't p****** about my virginity, but rather the danger that losing it had put me in". Well. I don't buy that denial, and even if it is true, then it still doesn't sit right with me. To me, the whole exchange comes across like Rhys and Cassian are acting like territorial animals about what Mor's done with her body, and SINCE WHEN IS THAT OKAY? I hate how the males act like feral beats; it's disgusting.
I read that scene so many times to try unscramble what Maas actually meant by it. I'm still unsure. But what I've typed above is what I keep coming back to.



A Court of Mist and Fury is exhilarating, brilliantly written, and improves upon the first book in just about every aspect. It's dark, chilling, action-packed, and packed with strong characters and excellent development. 
But I hate hate hate Maas's portrayal of all things sexual, and there is no excuse for the violence against women that is inflicted by males who are glorified as heroes. 


Monday, 22 May 2017

ICE KISSED (Kanin Chronicles #2) - by Amanda Hocking

ICE KISSED - Amanda Hocking.
Year Published: 2015 - by St. Martin's Press.
Genre: Young adult / urban fantasy / romance
Pages: 309.
Source: Thank you to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Bryn Aven refuses to give up on her dream of serving the kingdom she loves. It’s a dream that brings her to a whole new realm…and the glittering palace of the Skojare. The Skojare people need protection from the same brutal enemy that’s been threatening the Kanin, and Bryn is there to help. Being half Skojare herself, it’s also a chance for her to learn more about her lost heritage. Her boss, Ridley Dresden, is overseeing her mission, but as their undeniable attraction heats up, their relationship is about to reach a whole new level—one neither of them is prepared for. As they delve deeper into the Skojare world, they begin to unravel a long-hidden secret. The dark truth about her own beloved Kanin kingdom is about to come to light, and it will change her place in it forever…and threaten everyone she loves.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Frostfire. Since it ended with a lot of unanswered questions, I was eager to know what happened and looked forward to the second book.
But unfortunately, Ice Kissed just felt like a halfhearted filler to get the characters where they needed to be for the final book.
I was so disappointed.


The story is marginally fun, and it easily sweeps you along. It's relaxing, easy-to-read, and I loved the ice/snow aspects - I'm such a sucker for snow scenes; they're fascinating and leave so much potential for tantalising writing.
I loved the setting and atmosphere. The world building is also very strong.

The writing isn't brilliant. The sentences are too long, there's a lot more telling than showing, and there's explanation after explanation; "because" is used too often, and it's just plain patronising. I have a brain and imagination, and I don't need to have everything explained to me when it's actually glaringly obvious in the scene.
It's very boring. As I said further up, this instalment just felt like it was there to get the characters in place for the next book. Not much happened, although I was relieved to have a lot of the main questions answered; the mystery part of the series that had gone unexplained and unresolved in Frostfire, is explained in this book.

The secondary characters easily blur into the background with weak personalities. Bryn is still a terrific heroine, Ridley's still swoony, I loved Linnea and Ember, but characters like Kasper and Kennet are extremely dull. No one left a great impression on me.


The romance goes downhill. I ship Bryn and Ridley like crazy and I love them together, but in this book their relationship felt rushed, random, and pushed to the side. Ridley is such a strong character, but in Ice Kissed he's reduced to a rather dull, stereotypical hero. He's still lovable and I still want him and Bryn to get together, but his character development is skimped and dry and basically nonexistent. I feel like Hocking's shoved Ridley to the side so as to nudge Bryn and Konstantin together. And my shipper heart boils with rage and screams no.
Ridley's page time is also extremely minimal. I hated how he hardly features during the whole book, especially during the climatic ending.  His character now feels like "just another love interest".
I don't like what Hocking's done to him.

Then there's the sex scene. Just to put it out there, I hate the way Hocking writes sex scenes: they're so cringy and awkward.
Anyway. Ridley and Bryn's sleeping together felt completely forced and out of character. Not to mention how Ridley has the disgusting audacity to add afterwards: "And there's Juni... She's not my girlfriend, but she deserves better than this."
Okay. This annoys the heck out of me because Bryn and Ridley slept together knowing it wouldn't mean anything and knowing that Ridley's with someone else ("not my girlfriend" my $&#@%; Ridley and Juni are definitely together, I'm sorry).
In the space of this scene, my opinion of both Bryn and Ridley dropped drastically. My darling characters deserve to be written better than this.



After enjoying the entertaining, romantic adventure that was Frostfire, I sadly found Ice Kissed dull, boring, and rushed. I hope the third book will redeem Bryn's story. 


← Frostfire