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Jo (London, England)

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The Forbidden Wish
The Forbidden Wish
Price: £6.47

4.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely epic retelling of one of the much loved Arabian Nights stories!, 28 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury is a retelling of Aladdin, and as soon as I heard that, I knew I had to read this book. And then discovering that it was being retold from the genie's - or jinni's - perspective, and that in this retelling, the jinni is female, I was even more excited to read it! And The Forbidden Wish is fast paced, action packed wonder, full of magic and excitement!

Zahra is a jinni who has been trapped in her lamp for 500 years. When Aladdin, a homless pick-pocket, is drawn to her lamp by a magic ring, she is finally released from her captivity. The vizier to the King killed Aladdin's parents in front of him, and with the help of Zahra, he wants to seek his revenge. Zahra suggests he wish to become a prince and try to seek the hand of Princess Capsida, and once they are wed and he has power over the vizier, he can make his life a misery. What Aladdin doesn't know is that Zahra has been given a message from the Lord of the Jinn, Nardukha; his son, Zhian, has been captured and is being held in the palace. If she can free him, Nardukha will grant Zahra her freedom. Zahra's plan isn't to help Aladdin at all, but to get herself in the palace. But the longer she spends with Aladdin, the harder she finds it to abide by the number one rule of the Jinn: don't fall in love with a human.

The Forbidden Wish is a completely epic story. It's a fast paced and action packed high fantasy based on the story of Aladdin from The Arabian Nights. So much happens, it's non-stop. It's almost like two stories in one; the story of Aladdin and his time in the palace, trying to woo Princess Capsida despite her being betrothed to Prince Darian, the vizier's son, and the story of Zahra, her involvement in the fall of Queen Roshana 500 years ago, and her quest for freedom present day by trying to find Zhian and free him. There are obstacles in both their paths, and time is of the essence as Zahra only has one month to find him and release him before Nardukha and all the jinn will destroy Aladdin's town Pathenia,everyone in it, and will kill Zahra. And even then, when it looks like everything will finally come to it's conclusion, there is this twist, and the story takes a shocking direction. Things were pretty awesome already, but then the action is taken to another level, and it's so much woah! Epic in a grand scale!

I would have liked to have seen more of Aladdin; for the most part, he's more of a tool for Zahra at first, a way for her to get into the palace, and because of that, we get more of Zahra than Aladdin. For a retelling of his story, it was a bit of a shame to not have more of him and his life. I would have liked to have got to know him better. But Zahra narrates the story, telling her story, and it's a fascinating one. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if it was told in dual narration, but the story in physical format is 352 pages - I read the eBook, but even with that I knew it was long because of how long it took for the bar to move - so if it was in dual narration, it would have been seriously long.

The romance didn't do it for me, sadly. I didn't really feel it, and wasn't wowing or swooning. For me, it wasn't developed enough; there was more of Zahra in her head and her thoughts on how she was going to accomplish things for her and Aladdin - even when they're together - than there is of her focusing on him and how she feels about him. Though the moments we do have are sweet and tender, and even a little steamy, I just didn't feel it.

The Forbidden Wish is such an amazing story, and I absolutely loved it! There is so much happening, so much to discover, and so much about Zahra's past to try and work out. The Forbidden Wish was absolutely gripping, and such a thrill to read! If you enjoy retellings and/or high fantasy set in a Middle Eastern/South Asian inspired setting, I would highly recommend getting this book on your TBR ASAP!

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
by Sara Farizan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A sweet romance, but the pacing was off for me, 24 Feb. 2016
I've wanted to read Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan for quite a while, so when it came up in Dahlia Adler's Book Club for February, it was the perfect chance to pick it up. Tell Me Again is a sweet, lovely story, but it left me feeling only lukewarm.

Leila has so far managed to keep her sexuality a secret from everyone, something she's pleased about, because she doesn't need any more attention than she already gets for being Iranian American. But when the beautiful Saskia starts at her school and wants to be her friend, Leila finds it really difficult to hide the fact that she now has a crush. But when it looks like Saskia might fancy her too, Leila finds herself going along with whatever Saskia wants to do, no matter the trouble it will get them in. Leila's former best friend Lisa, now part of the popular crowd, has been struggling to come to terms with her brother's death, and Leila reaches out to try and comfort her. Slowly their friendship begins to recover, and she finds, when she signs up for the school play, that there are friends she never thought she would have got on with to be found there as well. Her new friends are there for her when Saskia goes from hot to cold and back again, but how will her family react if they discover she's a lesbian?

For a book that has a fair amount happening, Tell Me Again didn't really feel like it. Leila is dealing with her feelings for Saskia and Saskia's strange behaviour, getting to know her new friends as well as keeping her current ones from being annoyed with her, and worrying about how her traditional, conservative Iranian parents will treat her if they ever found out about her sexuality. A lot is happening, but I was thinking for most of the book, "When is something going to happen?" The pace of the story stayed steady, no matter what was happening; there were no real highs of excitement or lows of fear for me as a reader, despite Leila having both for herself. Farizan's writing style kept me gripped, but the pace of the story left me wanting more.

Saying that, Tell Me Again was a really interesting story. It has a great cast of characters; Tess and Greg, Leila's current friends, Taryn, Christina and Simone, the theatre tech crew, and Tomas who is made an understudy and stage manager with her, and Lisa, Leila's former best friend. Then there's Saskia who is fascinatingly vile. She's a bully and she's terrible, but I have a feeling she has her own issues; it would be interesting to see her story. What I loved about this book was how Leila making new friends with the tech crew, Tomas, and Lisa didn't take away from her friendships with Tess and Greg. All her friends are important to her in different ways, and no-one gets left behind. The only reason Leila tries to keep Tess and Greg from being annoyed with her is because Tess fancies Greg, and Greg fancies Leila, and it can make things awkward.

I found learning the little we did about Persian culture really interesting; the party and the wedding, where a large group of Iranian people got together, were fascinating, but we learnt more simply from Leila's home life. For the main, it came through in Leila's concern about how her parents would react to her sexuality - she doesn't just have to come out to her parents, she has to come out to Iranian parents, who come from a country that have very strict views on sexuality. She already knows a mother and father from her Iranian community kicked out their son when they found out he was gay, and she's terrified of what will happen to her if her parents find out.

"Lisa, you don't understand. It would hurt them. I've already disappointed them. My father is desperate for me to be a doctor. They'd probably kick me out. You know where they're from, being gay is illegal? They imprison people over there for feeling like I do! Sentence them to death sometimes." (p212-213)

I have to say I struggled a little with the main romance of this book, but to discuss it would spoil the story. The romance is really sweet, though; lovely and not too heavy. A pretty light f/f romance. I just struggled with it.

Although I was disappointed with Tell Me Again, I did find the Persian culture and the beliefs regarding sexuality interesting, so I'm really looking forward to giving Farizan's first book If You Could Be Mine a read, a f/f romance set in Iran.

Loud is How I Love You (Hub City Romance, A)
Loud is How I Love You (Hub City Romance, A)
Price: £1.89

5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic voice, and brilliant, wonderful story!, 22 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I don't read too much new-to-me NA because it all just seems completely saturated with sex, and I find if the characters keep having sex, I get pretty bored. But YA authors Dahlia Adler and Becky Albertalli recommended Loud Is How I Love You by Mercy Brown because of main character Emmylou's voice, among other things, and as it was pretty cheap, I thought I would give it a go. Loud Is How I Love You was so good!

The first rule of being in a band: Don't sleep with your band mates. It makes things complicated, and complicated is not what you need when you're trying to make the big time. So when Emmylou breaks this rule and sleeps with her guitarist, Travis, she panics about how it will affect the band... until she falls into bed with him again. Emmy just can't get enough, but at the same time, she's constantly worrying about her band - especially as she's seen how relationships are causing trouble for her friends' bands. And when they bag a slot on a gig for one of the biggest bands in the area, she knows so much more is on the line - but maybe more than she realises, if she keeps pushing Travis away.

When I first started this book, I was pretty sure it was going to be one of those books that bored me. There is quite a lot of sex at the beginning. It's the day after the night before, and she's remembering what happened - in quite some detail. But on the whole, there's more story than there is sex, and it does cool down after a while. Once it did, I really fell in love with this story. Travis is such a good guy, and you tell from very early on that he has such strong feelings for Emmy. This isn't just sex for him, he wants more from Emmy, but she's scared - scared for the band, and scared for herself. It sounds a bit like Travis is a walkover, but he's not. Emmy keeps changing her mind. "No, no, no, we can't do this!" "Ok, well... maybe we could, if we take it slow..." Travis keeps thinking he's got the green light, only for Emmy to put the breaks on things again. She hurts him over and over, and that's really only going to go one way.

Emmy herself is such a complicated character. She does have the most brilliant, strong voice; it does feel a lot like you're reading her diary, or her mind. Emmy is so passionate about her music and her band. Music is her dream, it's all she wants to do with her life, so when this... thing she has with Travis gets going, she really does lose the plot. Her mind jumps back and forth like nobody's business, not knowing what it is she wants more, or what to do for the best. What she doesn't seem to get is that the way she's behaving is putting the band at risk more than sleeping with Travis is, because things between them get quite rocky. But it's not just her band that she's worried about. There are things from her past that are affecting her judgement, and she just wants everything to go back to how they were before, when everything was ok. But at the same time, she can't get enough of Travis. She's really torn. Emmy is so flawed, and so frustrating, but you can't help but feel for her.

I loved the world this story is set in. I used to be really good friends with an unsigned punk rock band, and I would go to so many gigs, was guest listed and allowed backstage sometimes, so although I'm not a musician myself, this was all so familiar to me. It reminded me of a time in my life when I was having so much fun, making great friends, and dancing to great music. I spent years watching those guys dedicating so much time to their band and trying so hard to make it, I could completely understand where Emmy was coming from, even if I disagreed with her all of the time. Loud Is How I Love You was a nice trip down memory lane.

I have to end this review by saying that I really loved Travis. He was the sweetest guy. Despite the things that happen between them, and how many times Emmy pushes him away, or how many times she hurts him with her careless words... you become sure he's just going to throw in the towel, but the boy just has too much integrity to walk away. There are people relying on him. This is not just about him and Emmy; what happens between them affects the whole band, and he keeps fighting to sort things out with Emmy, one way or another, despite hurting and wanting her love. God, I loved him!

Loud Is How I Love You is such a fantastic story, and there's a lot more going on under the surface than you would expect. I'm so excited to read the sequel/companion novel Stay Until We Break when it comes out in June!

The Girl from Everywhere
The Girl from Everywhere
by Heidi Heilig
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gorgeous, gorgeous book!, 21 Feb. 2016
I wanted to read The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig from the moment I heard about it and oh my god, it's so, so, so good!

Nix lives with her father, Captain Slate, and their crew on the time travelling ship, The Temptation. As long as they have a map of a destination from the time they wish to travel to, they can go anywhere and anywhen. Slate is obsessed to the point of distraction with finding a map from 1868 Honolulu, Hawaii, when his wife died, to try and save her life. The only problem is, she died during childbirth when Nix was born. If Slate manages to save his wife, what will happen to Nix? When Slate discovers there is a map that may very well take them to 1868 Honolulu, he needs Nix's help to get it. She can help her father, and risk her very existence, or she can refuse - but Slate is threatening to abandon Kashmir, Nix's best friend, in a place and time she can never return to, if she doesn't help him. It time for Nix to decide what's more important; trying to please a father who seems barely interested in her until she can help him; Kash, for whom she's beginning to have feelings for; or her own life.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved this book! I was absolutely gripped by this story, dying to know where it would it lead and what would happen, but more than that, I was taken in by the sumptuous storytelling. The Girl From Everywhere is a treasure trove of beauty, when it comes to describing the wonderful island of Oahu, and detail; given her home is a time travelling ship, Nix has nurtured a love for history and mythology, and there is so much information woven into this story, I was completely swept away by it all. And with Heilig's master storytelling, it didn't feel like an info dump or a dry history lesson, it was all delicately woven in to the plot of the story. Although The Girl From Everywhere is sci-fi meets historical, it had a magical realism feel to it, where myths and the magical are real, as long as you had the right map.

I was completely taken by the cast of characters, and loved how diverse they were. Half Chinese and half American, Nix is a brave, smart, and resourceful young woman, who has quite a modern voice despite when she was born - due to the fact that she's been brought up by a father from present day New York. She's quick and clever, and I just loved her. She's also stubborn, and determined to work out how to navigate and flee to time travel away from her father, for the safety of her existence, and because of the unintentional hurt she's always caused by a father who is obsessed with a woman who died 16 years ago. I wish we had more of Bee and Rotgut, two of the other crew members, because they were so interesting! Bee is an African woman from a long ago past, part of a tribe that believed that those who die are still with their loved ones, and so she is forever talking about and to Ayen, her deceased wife. Rotgut is a Chinese man who used to be a monk before running away and joining the crew of The Temptation. Bee is friend and an almost-mother-figure to Nix, and offers advice and friendship, and kind words when her father is present but absent. Rotgut... we got less of him, and I can't tell you much about him other than that he does the cooking and loves fishing for the food he cooks, but I really liked him, too!

And Kashmir! Oh, Kashmir! A young Persian man from a mythical Iran, he is quick witted and flirty, hugely self-confident, and one of the most talented thieves I've come across in fantasy. I loved him! And his relationship with Nix was so beautiful! Theirs is a slow blossoming romance, it's all under the surface and subtle, but they're hints and flirty banter that might be more than banter, and it's just so gorgeous! He doesn't push it though, he doesn't force Nix into a conversation she's not ready for. Because Kash is her best friend, and she loves him and what they have so much. Yes, she's coming to realise feelings are slowly but surely developing for him, but she doesn't want to risk or complicate what they already have. And so Kash kind of gently places hints about how he feels, and leaves it up to Nix to decide what to do with them, whether that's choosing not to read more into what he's saying, ignore the fact that there might even be more to what he's saying anyway, or face exactly what he's saying head on, and respond. The ball's in Nix's court, and he gives her the space to work things out - both that he feels something for her, and to work out what it is she feels for him. It's the sweetest damn thing ever, and oh my god, I want a Kash of my own! All this sweetness doesn't take away from just how hilarious he is, with his quips and self-confidence. I just love this boy, and I would like more of him. And, with how this story is set up, with all it's different times and places and history, I think it would be perfectly do-able if Heilig ever wanted to write a short story from his point of view of when he first joined The Temptation. So a The Girl From Everywhere 0.5. Or maybe one set between The Girl From Everywhere and the as yet untitled sequel, The Girl From Everywhere 1.5, from his point of view on an adventure with Nix, but where we get into his head and get more of what he feels for her. Or just any kind of short story from his point of view, because I just love him so. Just putting that out there.

And now Slate. He is such a complicated character. I kind of loathe him and feel so unbearably sorry for him at the same time. He is so desperately lost without his wife, Lin, that even 16 years on, his every waking thought is about trying to find a way back to her. He is obsessed - the bad kind of obsessed where he thinks of little else, least of all his own daughter who's very existence is on the line. When Slate has hope, he is so deliriously happy, so unbelievably euphoric. Nix finds it difficult to say no to him when he's like this; yes, helping him is hazardous for her, but despite how he treats her, he's still her father and she loves him, and wants him to be happy. And when he's hoping and needing her help, she has her father back, if briefly. But when hope is dashed - as they have found various maps of Honolulu in 1868 in the past that have just failed in getting them there - Slate falls into the depths of the darkest despair. His only way of coping is to shut himself in his quarters and get so high on opium, he's completely out of it for days at a time. I suspected throughout the novel that Slate might be bipolar, but this is never discussed, so I couldn't say for sure.

Although the stories are very different, the experience of reading The Girl From Everywhere was a lot like my experience of reading Harry Potter*; it evoked the same feelings of wonder, excitement and awe! And despite the fact I read all the time, The Girl From Everywhere reminded me of what reading is all about - those feelings, the wonder, excitement and awe, are what I hope for every time I open a book. Reading this book was like discovering reading for the very first time, again. I have a feeling that The Girl From Everywhere - and subsequent books - are going to be books I read over and over again.

The Girl From Everywhere is perfect and wonderful, and I absolutely cannot wait for the sequel! It's such an incredible debut novel, and I am so excited by the thought of all the books she'll write. I cannot praise this book enough! I need you all to read it, so we can rave about this gem of a book together.

*Please note, I am not saying The Girl From Everywhere is like the Harry Potter books. These books are in no way similar when it comes to plot. I'm saying The Girl From Everywhere made me feel the same way as I felt when reading Harry Potter. Do not read this book and expect Harry Potter, because that isn't what you're going to get.

Weight of Feathers, The
Weight of Feathers, The
by Anna-Marie McLemore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An epic love story full of beauty and magic that left me full of wonder, 12 Feb. 2016
The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore has been absolutely raved about, and with the quote on the cover from Sabaa Tahir, saying it has "a fantastical world as captivating as that of The Night Circus," I knew I just had to read it. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is one of my favourite books, so any book that is compared to it is one I have to read. I'm so glad I bought The Weight of Feathers, as it's incredible.

The Palomas are a Latino family with scale birthmarks, who travel around with their mermaid show, putting on fantastical performances in water, with their brightly coloured tail costumes. Similarly, the Corbeaus are a French family of performers, who have feathers growing in their hair; formerly tightrope walkers, now they perform risky and dangerous balancing acts in the high branches of trees, with feathered peacock wings and fairy make-up, astounding the crowds. The two families have been rivals for generations, each believing the other has the magic of the devil flowing in their veins. The rivalry is violent and dangerous; brought up to believe a touch from one can kill the other, the only way to safely touch them is through fighting in order to keep their magic away.
Lace is a Paloma, new to the mermaid show, and has been brought up on the stories of the terrible things the Corbeaus have done, how they killed her great uncle, and she knows only fear and hate. Cluck is a Corbeau, who creates the beautiful wings the performers wear, and likewise has been brought up to believe in the Palomas are a danger to his family, and killed one of his cousins. Every year the two families arrive at the town of Almendro for it's annual festival, and do their best to keep out of each others way, and make sure the others don't come near them. When the town's chemical plant causes the clouds to rain down poison, Cluck comes across Lace as the water is burning through her clothes and skin. Not knowing she's a Paloma, he saves her life - and one of his feathers burns a scar into her arm. Lace has been touched by a Corbeau, a brand burned into her skin, and neither her nor Cluck's lives will remain the same.

Oh my god, this book is incredible! There is something about magic realism that is so beautiful; there's no explanation for the fantastic - the Corbeaus' feathers, the Palomas' scales - they just are, and are accepted by character and by reader, and the magic of the story always weaves itself around my heart. This is the second novel in the magic realism genre I've read, the first being The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, and although The Weight of Feathers has a more contemporary feel to it, I found the storytelling to be just as wonderful. I completely immersed myself in Lace and Cluck's tale, and I didn't want to come up for air.

At the head of each family is a strong, fierce woman. Each woman is more than the head of the family, they are dictators, in their word in law. For the Palomas, it is Lace's Abuela, her grandmother. Your place in the family is determined by how happy she is with you, and she doesn't bat an eyelid at telling you you're not pretty enough or slim enough, or you're simply not good enough. Every mermaid strives to get her approval. Her tongue is sharp, and she rules with an iron fist. I cannot begin to tell you how dispicable this woman is. Nicole, Cluck's mother, is the head of the Corbeau family, and she despises Cluck, and puts him down at every opportunity. Her other son, Dax, is the star of the show, and as she makes no bones about how much she is disgusted by Cluck, Dax makes sure Cluck does what's right for the family with his fist. Any slip up will bring a beating from Dax, and Nicole will over look it. No-one stands up for Cluck, or helps him. Many don't seem to care, or fear for their own place in the family. The only people who are kind to him are his cousin Eugenie, and his Pépère, his grandfather, who he is very close to and tries to emulate. Individually, each family is absolutely disgusting, but when their hate for each other is added, they become horrifying.

So it's a wonder that Lace and Cluck ever manage to feel anything for each other. I don't want to give any hints as to what happens after the chemical storm, because this is a story you very much should discover as you read it. But both characters are filled with superstition about and fear of the other's family, it's amazing that anything happens. But it's a wonderful Romeo and Juliet-esque story, where they overcome their differences, and learn that what they've been told doesn't matter when it comes to each other.

I was blown away by this incredible story, but I have to say I was a little underwhelmed by the climax. It was more of an anti-climax for me. With all the hate flying around through this story, I just thought there would have been more of an epic conflict at the end. But there's also so much beauty in the ending, and in the actions taken by Lace and Cluck, I can forgive the slight disappointment.

The Weight of Feathers is an epic love story full of beauty and magic that left me full of wonder. With this fantastic debut novel, McLemore has definitely become one to much. I cannot wait for her second novel, When the Moon Was Ours.

Starborn (The Worldmaker Trilogy)
Starborn (The Worldmaker Trilogy)
by Lucy Hounsom
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable story, but so many things that aren't explained., 9 Feb. 2016
I had completely forgotten Starborn by Lucy Hounsom was winging it's way to me, so I got all excited when I rediscovered it once it arrived. I really want to get back in to high fantasy again this year, and discovering new authors, so I was so happy to have this intriguing story. But, although I really enjoyed it, I was a little disappointed over parts of it.

It's Inheritance Day for the town of Brenwym, the day teenagers coming of age look into the town's relic, which will tell them their true name and their calling. But when Kyndra looks into the relic - a shallow bowl filled with water - it reacts strangely before breaking into pieces. Kyndra doesn't know what her calling is, and nor do those who were still waiting to look into the relic. When a massive, dangerous storm kills a local, the town believe they're being punished because Kyndra broke the relic, and turn on her, planning to kill her. But two strangers with strange powers save her life and whisk her away. Brégenne and Nediah are wielders, people who can harness the power of either the sun or the moon, and due to the things they observed in the town, and on their travels, they believe Kyndra is a potential wielder, too. Kyndra knows they are wrong, she's just an ordinary girl, and believes herself proved right when they reach Naris, the secret home of the wielders, and the test, that brings forth a potential's affinity to solar or lunar energy, very nearly kills her. But Kyndra has been having visions of a past war, people are losing their minds, and the Breaking, the storm that destroyed Brenwym, is getting worse - quicker and stronger and more destructive. There are those who think these things mean something, and Kyndra must be tested again. What are Kyndra's visions? And why are people eager to help her pass the test?

I found the premise of Starbound to be really intriguing. I felt the pacing was off a little at the beginning, because things have and are happening, but it just dragged for me. Despite this, it soon picked up, and I was absolutely gripped by the story. In places it was kind of predictable and obvious where things would end up regarding Kyndra, but I was really interested to see how it the book would lead to that point. There's a lot of intrigue, and characters with their own agendas. There were elements that reminded me of other fantasies, which were kind of comforting in their familiarity.

But there's a lot we're not told. What is the purpose of the wielders? Once you've completed your training and are no longer a novice, now a master wielder, what do they do? All these wielders living in Naris, what are they doing? I understand that the world no longer knows or understands what wielders are since before the war, and so now have to live in hiding, but what do they do?! I have no idea! Brégenne and Nediah are out to track and observe the Breaking, but otherwise, the wielders as a whole? I just don't understand. Speaking of the Breaking, I don't really get why the Breaking is here. We're told why it was caused, but that why isn't explained. I don't want to spoil the story, but it's as in, the Breaking was caused because X happened. Ok, buy why did X cause the Breaking? There are a lot of things like this in the book that aren't explained well enough for me, and it left me with a lot of questions.

I was really surprised by the climax and ending of this book. Every major plot point for this story is wrapped up, which I'm not used to; normally, some things are left open to be read about in consecutive books, but it's all wrapped up in Starborn. It's the wrapping up that leads to what will happen in the next book. But the climax and wrapping up happens so quickly! Not in a rushed way, but just that everything is resolved much sooner than I expected. And it's actually brilliant. During the lead up to the climax, I was completely lost to who the "good guys" were, and who Kyndra should be putting her trust in. I was completely turned around and so invested, that the last pages just flew by. Although, as I said earlier, there were elements of the story that were predictable, there were a number of surprising elements I was completely blown away by.

I will probably read the second novel to see where things go, but I'm not sure it's a book I would rush out to read. I do hope the book gives further explanation in the second novel. I guess we'll see.

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1)
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1)
by Marissa Meyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely amazing, and utterly gripping!, 30 Jan. 2016
Although Cinder has always sounded really interesting, it's taken me until now to read it. This series has been raved about far and wide, but I'm not a huge fan of sci-fi, and a retelling of Cinderella where she's a cyborg mechanic... it made me nervous. But I finally picked it up, nd I really wish I hadn't waited so long; Cinder was bloody amazing!

Cinder is a mechanic in New Beijing, and all of her earnings go straight to her lazy stepmother. She was in an accident when she was 11, and the only way to save her was to make her a cyborg, which, by law, makes her the property of her stepmother. She has no rights to own anything. When Prince Kai, heir to the Eastern Commonwealth, stops by her booth in disguise, asking for help fixing his android, and soon after her youngest and favourite stepsister catches the plague, her life is changed forever. She is soon sent off to the palace by her stepmother to be involved in the cyborg experiments to find a cure - experiments involving injecting her with the plague, with only one real outcome. Only she doesn't die. Meanwhile, Prince Kai is thrust into politics when his father, the Emperor, dies from the plague, and must continue to try to form an alliance with Queen Levana, the evil queen of Luna, who controls her subjects through magical brainwashing. But the only alliance she will agree to is marriage to the Prince, to become Empress. But Prince Kai has bumped into Cinder a couple of times at the palace, and he seems to have more than a casual interest in her.

Oh my god, this book was incredible! There are a few elements of the original Cinderella story within Cinder - she slaves away for her stepmother, there is a pumpkin coloured "carriage" of some kind, there's a ball and a prince - but there is so much of this novel that is new! Although the elements of the original fairytale story are there, and some of them you expect to appear in someway, you never know how they're going to appear, or how Cinder will get from one moment to the next. Cinder is so gripping, and I was completely absorbed in this story.

There was an element of this story that I guessed at as soon as it was mentioned, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the story. Although it's sci-fi-esque with androids and cyborgs, and an humanoid aliens from the moon, it felt a lot like a high fantasy to me, with all the royal and political intrigue and manoeuvring. Though the story focused more on Cinder and her story, we did get some chapters from Prince Kai's perspective, so we knew what was going on inside the palace walls and with Queen Levana.

I want to rave, and rave, and rave about this book, but I'm really not sure if there's more I can talk about plot-wise without spoiling the story. So on to the characters. Cinder is wonderful. She is a whole lot spunkier than the Cinderella we've all been brought up with. She argues and stands up to her stepmother, even when it's likely to get her into trouble. She's no walkover. I love that this story took the element original element of her slavery and made it into something different, something that also challenges gender roles. Cinder has to work, because her stepmother needs the money, and she doesn't work. But she's not slaving away for hours doing chores, she has an actual job and it's in something she's not only good at, but something she enjoys! Cinder is also pretty damn clever and resourceful, and she's just brilliant.

Prince Kai was really interesting. The romance is a slow burner in Cinder; they're attracted to each other, but there are other things going on in each others' lives. Not only is Kai having to deal with the sudden death of his father, but also the fact that Queen Levana decides to make her way to Earth the day after, to show give her "condolences" in person, and be there for the coronation. I loved how Kai had to deal with politics of trying to keep the Queen of a stronger planet happy so that another war is started, but at the same time, doesn't want to give his planet over to the Queen on a plate by marrying her. She is a threat, but it's difficult to find a way around the threat without marriage or war - a war they can't win. I really, really love political intrigue, so this side of things was right up my alley.

Queen Levana is the best kind of villain. Oh my god, is she sadistic. She glamours everyone into seeing her as beautiful, and has all the people of Luna worshipping her. There's a sign of uprising? Well, just fiddle with their minds and make them love you instead. Or kill them. She's a complete dictator who strives for power, and only has her throne by killing her sister and niece. She's vicious and cruel, and wonderfully, wonderfully evil. I'm really looking forward to seeing what other abominable things she'll be behind in future books.

I absolutely loved Cinder, and I am so excited to read the second book in The Lunar Chronicles, Scarlet. If you've not yet read Cinder, don't leave it as long as I did. Pick this book up now!

The Summer I Found You
The Summer I Found You
by Jolene B Perry
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.94

4.0 out of 5 stars A really sweet romance, 27 Jan. 2016
This review is from: The Summer I Found You (Hardcover)
Kate has just been dumped by the most perfect boyfriend, and she's reeling not only from her heartbreak, but also with having to deal with her type 1 diabetes. She's known she's been diabetic for over a year now, but it still hasn't sunk in that this is something she'll live with for the rest of her life, or just how serious it is. With her heartbreak, and her nonchalance over her condition, she is sick of everyone on her back about looking after herself properly.
Aidan is 19, and already he's a veteran. While touring in Afghanistan, an explosion left him with only one arm, and no longer able to serve. It's been three months since the explosion, and he's still trying to come to terms not only with how to manoeuvre through daily life with just one arm, but also the fact that the future he planned for himself, a life in the military, went down in flames when the bomb went off. He's struggling to work out what to do with his life now the only future he wanted has been taken from him, and wracked with guilt over the death of his friend and sergeant, Pilot, who was killed when the bomb went off.
Both Kate and Aidan are dealing with facing difficult futures neither wanted, so when they meet, they think they've found the perfect distraction from their lives in each other. Kate doesn't ignore the fact that Aidan has no arm, but doesn't treat him any differently, unlike everyone else. Aidan doesn't know about Kate's diabetes, and so with him she gets a break from all the questions and concern. But when they develop feelings, their complicated lives get even more complicated.

The Summer I Found You is a really, really sweet story. It's such a cute romance, and I love the added element of obstacles to Kate and Aidan's lives, separate to each other. This is both the first book I have read to feature a protagonist with a chronic illness or disease, and the first book I've read featuring an amputee, so I found it really interesting to read about their individual stories. Kate is in complete denial about her diabetes. She refuses to see just how serious the disease is. Sure, sometimes her sugar levels get too high, but it's easily sorted. It's not that big of a deal. Except that it is; if she doesn't look after herself properly, her diabetes could cause her serious problems, like blindness, or can even kill her. But the idea that she'll have diabetes for the rest of her life - that she will continue to have to check her blood sugar levels, continue to inject herself with insulin, continue to count carbs for her whole life scares her, and so she's buried her head in the sand.

Aidan hates how slow he is at everything now he only has one arm. Even making himself a drink is a much longer process when he only has one arm. He can no longer drive his beloved car, that he saved up for, for so long when he was 16, because it has a gear stick. He can only drive a manual now. It's the small things that are constant reminders to him every day. And they're not just reminders that he's disabled, which is hard but bearable - at least he's not dead - but it's the reminders that he no longer has a future in the army, the life he so wanted, and that Pilot was blown to pieces, and possibly saved his life by giving him a bit of a push at the last crucial moment. Aidan is devastated by both loses, and he knows he has to move forward - decide what he's doing with his life, and visit Pilot's widow - but it's all just too hard to face. Therapy isn't helping, and his family is trying to ignore his stump and act like everything's normal, not bringing it up at all, and he just feels different by their avoidance of the subject. Aidan also has really bad nightmares, some memories of what happened, others crazy army-themed nightmares, which made me think he was suffering from PTSD, but that was never touched upon.

When Kate and Aidan meet through Kate's best friend and Aidan's cousin, Jen, they find in each other the perfect distraction. Literally seconds before meeting him at a fair, Jen announces that Aidan's lost an arm in the war, and so she is completely unprepared, and puts her foot in it by making inappropriate jokes about the fact that Aidan only has one arm. Everyone around her is completely shocked by her remarks, and she is so embarrassed, but Aidan is actually relieved. Finally someone who isn't pretending. And when hanging with Aidan, Kate gets a reprieve from all the grief from friends and family about her diabetes. The two are very quickly drawn to each other, not just because they find each other extremely attractive, but it gives them a break from all they're dealing with. Neither are really sure what the other wants from them, but soon they come to rely on each other for what they get fromt them. As Aidan has found someone to trust and talk to about what he's going through, Kate has found someone she doesn't have to talk to about it. But as their feelings grow and they get even closer, Kate knows her silence on her diabetes is likely to cause problems.

I absolutely loved The Summer I Found You, I just wish it was much longer, so I could be with these two as they figure their lives out a little more and their relationship grows! It's such a sweet, romantic story, and I cannot wait to read Perry's other novels. This book is brilliant.

Changers, Book One: Drew
Changers, Book One: Drew
by Allison Glock-Cooper
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad story, but let down by world building., 24 Jan. 2016
I was really interested in Changers: Drew by T. Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper when I first heard about it; but I'm sad to say I found it quite disappointing.

Ethan wakes up the first day of high school to discover that he's a girl. Absolutely terrified, he has no idea what's going on. Then his parents tell him; he is a Changer. With a Changer parent, he has been chosen to undergo a mission in empathy, to make the world a better place. Every year of high school, he will become someone new. This first year, he is now Drew. Drew must start school in a new town, make friends, and face the usual challenges that come with starting high school, while she has no idea who or what she really is.

My main problem with this book is the world building. I still have no idea why there are Changers and what it is they're supposed to do - and neither does Drew. It's all cloaked in secrecy, and there's enough to know that there is something to being a Changer other than changing bodies for four years, but I've no clue as to what. Except that it's not all the Changer Council claims it is. Which we find out from the very, very beginning, before the Prologue, when we're kind of told, in brief, about the amazing things Drew (or whoever she will become) is involved in, in a "before all this stuff happened, he was a normal boy" way. But it's a hint that there's a huge amount of stuff to come. But in this first book? Nothing major, in the great scheme of things. It's like it's setting up the story, without giving you much to go on.

However, there are a lot of elements to this story that were really interesting. As you can imagine, there are some trans themes; before she gets used to who she now is, Drew felt a lot like her body didn't match up who she was - at the time, a boy. What's different is the sudden change from being male, having known being and feeling male, to then being female. What was really interesting about this was a guy seeing how girls are treated, the other side of the coin. There are some really feminist moments; Drew realising what it's like to receive unwanted attention, expecting to look and dress a certain way by society, and so forth. It was really interesting for her to realise just what it's like to be a girl, and I would have loved if there were more moments like this. For this book, it's where the empathy comes into play.

When she was Ethan, Drew was attracted to girls. Now as Drew, that hasn't really changed, and she is kind of confused when she starts falling for her best friend Audrey, because she's now a girl. At the same time, when she starts finding herself attracted to a boy, she reacts even worse. She still feels like a boy, and now she's finding herself feeling things for a boy, and she's so confused. Drew's feelings and her sexuality are developed as the story goes on, and it's really interesting to see how this element to the story, and her coming to terms with this new side of her and her feelings.

The book did take me a really long time to read, though. I found I didn't emotionally connect to Drew, and she was quite a young character. I didn't care enough about her or her story to keep picking it up, I just wasn't interested, and would find other things I was more interested in doing. Saying that, as the story was starting to end, there were hints that the story would progress into something more interesting, so I might have a look at the second book, Changers: Oryon. For the general premise of the story of waking up as a different person, it was fascinating, but as a story with a sci-fi element, I was pretty disappointed.

The Little Prince (Alma Classics)
The Little Prince (Alma Classics)
by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a wonderful classic!, 19 Jan. 2016
I'd never heard of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry until becoming more involved in the book community online. Other people have raved about it being one of their favourite children's classics, and how much it meant to them, so when the opportunity came up to read it, I decided to see why it is so dearly loved. Now I completely understand.

When a pilot crashes in the Sahara, with only eight days to fix his plane before his water runs out, the last thing he expects is to meet a Little Prince - a young boy from another planet. The Little Prince regales the pilot with stories of his tiny home planet, with it's three volcanoes (one extinct, but "you never know"!) and his flower - a vain and arrogant flower - but one he loves dearly, and of the many moral lessons he learns on his travels to other planets before he comes to Earth. The Little Prince teaches the pilot so many things, and is forever changed by the little boy.

The Little Prince is such a wonderful, wonderful story! I was absolutely bowled over by this sweet little boy and the insight that comes through because of his innocence. I was moved by his relationship with his flower and the love he felt for it, and how something (or someone) can be so special and important to you, even if there are others quite a lot like it. There's also something brilliant to be said about platonic love and friendship, no matter how short, and the line, "It was worth it for the colour of wheat", really touched me. Other discussions covered by The Little Prince are on superiority, materialism and ownership, work, loneliness; it's written in a way that everything seems really obvious, but, despite this being a children's book, I did have a few light bulb moments. The topics covered were obvious, but it's the way the Little Prince talks about them, his perspective, that really opened my eyes.

The Little Prince is a beautiful story, and I absolutely loved it. I can completely understand why this book is such a classic, and I'm sure it will be marvelling readers for years to come.

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