Some lockdown reading

As some semblance of lockdown continues to reign over the planet, a lot of people are still looking to spice up their lockdown activities. While you have absolutely no obligation to be sprucing up your life and having a lockdown soul-makeover, it is a good time to maybe read that book you’ve been putting off for months.

Allow me to recommend something for you!

As inspired by Leena Norms, I have taken the liberty of sorting you all into potential reader categories, so you can happily skip to the genre you think will fit you best.

First we have…

The Non-Reader Readers.

You are the readers who only read for uni assignments. You don’t particularly like reading for enjoyment, but you are looking for something to do while the rest of the world is shut down. Perhaps you’re looking for some easy, lighthearted reads? 

Isla and the Happily Ever After

This is the third book in a companion series by Stephanie Perkins. You don’t have to read the other two first (and this is by far my favourite of the three), but if you have the time on your hands then I do recommend reading them all. 

This lighthearted romance is set in Paris and Barcelona, and follows Isla and Josh while they study at the American School in Paris. Josh’s father is a US Senator, and Isla is the daughter of a French-American family from New York. You follow this pair through the trials and tribulations of falling in love, politics, and the pros and pitfalls of private education. 

Although it covers some interesting topics, this book really is a fun, romantic travel book. You go to Paris, Barcelona and New York, and who wouldn’t love a little glimpse into something other than the walls of our house at this time? 

The Escapism Hunters 

All you want right now is to disappear into some other world and time, and not hear the daily death tolls and political blunders. 

Daisy Jones and the Six (audiobook)

This novel follows a rock band in the 70’s as they rise to fame in rock and roll LA. The story chronicles the hedonistic partying, the friendships and the fall-outs, and a sudden earth-rocking split that was never quite explained. The story-telling in this novel is so visceral that it feels very real, and it truly transports you. 

I would definitely recommend listening to the audiobook for this one, because it is read by a cast of narrators. This makes it feel like a podcast more than a novel, which makes it very easy to listen to and even more of an escapist novel. 

Also, this is getting made into an Amazon series – and so, this is your chance to get in and actually read the book first. Just imagine, when the series comes out you will have that haughty ‘I-read-the-book-first’ status! 

The Artsy Types 

Netflix new releases aren’t quite cutting the mustard. You go crazy for the artsy, aesthetic shots in Normal People. You are desperate for some real high-brow, artsy stuff. Poetry and the like. 

The Essential Neruda

If you’re an Artsy Type then you may have already heard of Pablo Neruda and his work. Whether you have or haven’t, now is the perfect time to read his poignant and steamy poetry. 

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is known for his political discourse and romantic poetry about love and death. The Essential Neruda takes you through some of Neruda’s most famous works. There are poems about the pains of love, the beauty of love, the tumult of death, accepting our fates, our relationships with family… Neruda digs deep into human relationship with itself. 

This poetry was originally written in Spanish, and so it is very interesting to think what has been lost in translation here, and what these political snippets mean against the backdrop of Chile’s tumultuous political history. 

Romance Novel and Chill 

Maybe you love a good old romance novel where you can sit and dream about your ideal gal/guy. Maybe you’re a sucker for a slow-burn. Maybe you’re missing your S.O and want to read about the good old times where you could go on dates and stuff. Maybe you don’t have a S.O and you want to read about the good old times where you could go on dates and stuff.

You get the gist.

The Kiss Quotient 

This is the first book in a series by Helen Hoang which explores neurodiversity in relationships. It is hilarious, unconventional, steamy, and so incredibly readable.

The main character, thirty-year-old Stella works in algorithms, has Asperger’s and has very little dating experience. The premise of this feels like a painfully dated representation of women with autism, but once I got reading I realised it was almost the opposite. In order to become more comfortable dating, Stella hires escort Michael Phan, and so the romantic drama begins.

This is a wonderful exploration of the sensuality of people with autism and of millennial relationships in general. With a no-nonsense female lead, and a probing look at intimacy and why it’s important, you absolutely have to read this book. 

The Book-stagrammers 

You’re into Young Adult fiction, and love a can’t-put-down YA Fantasy. Well… 

Throne of Glass 

At this point, it can’t come as a shock that I am recommending Sarah J Maas. 

This seven book series will keep you going for a while. Full of discovery, bad-assery and heart-wrenching romance, Maas’ epic really does have everything you need from YA Fantasy. The series revolves around the infamous assassin Celaena Sardothian, who has just spent time as a slave in a labour camp, having been arrested by the tyrant King of Adarlan. We join her as she enters into a high-stake competition for her freedom, and (as always) chaos and romance ensues. 

And if you’ve read it before? Re-read! I promise you’ll find little snippets and quotes that you didn’t notice before – the foreshadowing in this is something else!


So there we have some recommendations. If you love or hate these books, let me know! If you are in another category of reader and you feel left out… let me know!


REVIEW: Catwoman Soulstealer

Quick summary: Giving ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ a whole new meaning.
Rating: ★★★★☆

Try this series if you like: DC Comics (obvs), Cassandra Clare, Daniel José Older, Richelle Mead


In this rewrite of DC’s Catwoman, we are re-introduced to the badass anti-hero Selina Kyle, and her ‘band of merry men’, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. We also meet Luke Fox as the ex-military do-gooder, Batwing. Full to the brim with high-stake heists, romance, allies and enemies, this stand-alone book is good for hard-core fans and comic book rookies alike.

The world-building in this story happens quickly. Within the first few pages we are introduced to the teeming, corrupt underworld where Selina Kyle spends most of her life. We learn about the social hierarchies and some of the basic politics of Gotham City but are expected to fill in the gaps ourselves as far as societal culture goes. When it comes to feeding the reader information about the world, it is more ‘tell’ than ‘show’; for example, we find out that Selina’s sister Maggie is very ill, but instead of finding this out through clues such as her coughing, or taking medicine, Maas writes “with her mother gone and her sister sick, no legit job could pay as much or as quickly.” This does the job, but I would have liked a teeny bit more subtlety.

As far as the characters go, they are interesting and reasonably well-developed. Selina Kyle has an interesting storyline; a female anti-heroine who is interested in protecting the people she loves, but ultimately has no qualms over committing high-level crimes. She is cunning, wily, an excellent fighter and adept at having secret plans that aren’t revealed until late in the novel – Maas’ forte, it seems! Her secretive personality complements the brash insanity of Harley Quinn and the stoic, green-fiend Poison Ivy well, and overall I found her character to be an enjoyable and pleasing read.

Some reviews make the comment that Luke Fox is only present in the book to give Selina a love interest, and, as a black character, to add diversity to the cast. I did not find this at all. I read him as a man struggling to keep control over his PTSD, Gotham City while Batman is away, and his growing feelings for someone he really should not be feeling things for. He frequently commented on police brutality against the black community, and this did add a good dimension to the book as there was the antithesis of him being targeted by law enforcement for his skin colour and yet he is the one protecting the city from criminals. I found it ever so slightly basic in its delivery; it was similarly more ‘tell’ than ‘show.’ This is not, however, a criticism of Luke Fox as a character – I liked him, I saw his good intentions, and although he was a bit vanilla, he complemented Selina’s character well.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed reading this book, and I got through it quickly. The plot, world-building, eand characterisation were arguably not anything jaw-droppingly special, but they held my interest, and I was invested in what happened. For both A Court of Thorns and Roses and Throne of Glass (Maas’ series,) I found that while I enjoyed the first book, the later books in the series were where I became truly captivated. Perhaps Maas’ writing is like cheese or wine – it is good at first, but it gets really good over time. If we were to have a series made out of this, then I might fall head over heels in love with it, but as it stands, I love it as you might love a close-ish friend. You’re not my family, you’re not my soulmate, but I get on with you and I’d hang out with you again.

REVIEW: Delirium (series)

Full synopsis of
Delirium (1), Pandemonium (2), and Requiem (3)

Quick summary: The world the book is set in is interesting, but didn’t fully capture me.

Rating: ★★★

This has spoilers – sorry!



To be fair to this series, I did read it after I had just finished the ACOTAR series, which probably means I didn’t give it enough love and attention as it deserved because I was hung up on everything Sarah J Maas. MAJOR BOOK HANGOVER! The writing itself was good and Lauren Oliver created a believable and interesting world, but it just didn’t grab me and make me fall in love with the characters, plot or writing and for this reason I can’t rate it as highly as other books.

The plot of the series was quite well developed and it did become more interesting as the series progressed. I thought the strengthening of Lena’s character and resolve as she fought back against her repressive society was good because Lauren Oliver could easily have left her as a wet, drippy character but she didn’t. The introduction of new characters (such as Julian) in the sequels was also welcome because it moved the plot along and made Lena a more three dimensional character, as we see how she responds to new characters. However, I think there was definitely room for more psychologically complex insight in a lot of this series and following novels such as Shatter Me and ACOTAR in my reading list, I particularly noticed this. Things such as the development of the relationship between Lena and Julian, the grief she feels when Alex reappears and the panic of needing to find her family could, in my opinion, have been further explored. I found it anticlimactic (spoiler!) that at the end of the series she just easily slipped back into a relationship with Alex even though when he came back at the beginning of the second book he told her he didn’t love her and basically started a relationship with someone else. This was perfectly satisfactory, but it left me feeling a bit disappointed at the end of the series.

Character-wise, these books did have interesting characters with different motives and backstories that ultimately added to the depth and enjoyment of the novels. All of the protagonists had something that had happened to them which ultimately made it more compelling to read about them – this is definitely one of Oliver’s strong points. She is good at fabricating the world and personalities within the novels which does incite you to keep reading because you are genuinely interested in what happens to the characters. This is supported by the writing style, particularly in the 3rd book, where Oliver switches between character’s points of view, or points in time (from the past to the present and vice versa.) I didn’t think I would like this writing style, but I ended up finding it a good way to get insight into all of the characters and their thoughts and emotions, which is something you can’t do from a singular 1st person narration.

Overall, these books are generally good, and someone else might enjoy them way more than I did, but I just found them to be a disappointment following other series I read recently. I think the highlight of the series was probably the writing style which had lovely imagery and structure, but there were some aspects of complexity that were missing for me, which dampened my enjoyment.

Rosie x

REVIEW: A Court of Thorns and Roses (series)

Full synopsis of
A Court of Thorns and Roses(1), A Court of Mist and Fury (2), and A Court of Wings and Ruin (3)

Quick summary: Romantic, unpredictable, unbelievably addictive, and so well constructed!
Rating:
A Court of Thorns and Roses – ★★★★
A Court of Mist and Fury – ★★★★★
A Court of Wings and Ruin – ★★★★★

(This does not include A Court of Frost and Starlight… Future me will do a review for the spinoffs when they’re all out)

As spoiler free as I could!



Prepare for major gushing because I absolutely LOVED this series!

This series is an absolute must-read for anybody who has any remote interest in YA because it has everything YA novels should have. The world of Prythian has been constructed so intricately and believably that it is impossible not to get lost and caught up in it. The relationships that emerge and are developed are heart-wrenching and beautiful. The writing itself is so detailed and full of imagery that you vividly believe the world is real.
This series made me want to linger on every page because I didn’t want it to come to an end, and yet the unpredictability makes you turn the pages as quickly as you can.

The plotline is so well constructed, and so clever; everyone just needs to bow down to Sarah J Maas.  Every character you encounter makes you wonder what their story is, and what part they are going to play. The love story between Tamlin and Feyre in ACOTAR is intriguing and has spark and romance, and the undertones of the Beauty and the Beast retelling is magical.
However, for me the series just improved and improved with every novel. The plot line of the first book becomes merely a seed that Sarah J Maas has sown to set us up for the twists and turns of the rest of the series. A Court of Mist and Fury unravels so many intricacies and personal stories that I would bet the vast majority of EXISTENCE would not have guessed. Everything we thought we knew about the characters in the first novel is flipped on its head, leaving the poor YA reader quaking and reeling (in a totally good way though, I promise). This authorial ability to warp and change our views of characters is so clever and I really loved this development of the plot.

The relationship between Feyre and pretty much any of the other characters is just so captivating because every time a new relationship pops up, it teaches us something new about her depth of personality. The constant reminders throughout the books of the differences between these relationships was key because it jarred the trust and knowledge we thought we had in the characters (side note: this is really hard to explain without giving away spoilers, so just read the books!)  

Basically, the web of characters Sarah J Maas creates is intricately designed and fascinating. Each character is three dimensional and real. They are not all good or all bad; in fact there are only one or two out-and-out evil antagonists. All of the characters reflect human nature, and this absolutely adds to the power of the books because you start to believe the world exists and the characters exist. Maas’s ability to create layers of audience and contradictory impressions of characters is perhaps what makes these books so addictive because I for one wanted to find out the next piece of information, or the next revelation from characters.

These books are like little masterpieces; the language, the plots, the characters all contribute to this. I, however, think the real genius lies in the gentle unraveling of the novels. We find out conversations that have happened without us knowing, and morsels of the character’s stories are revealed at intermittent points. We learn more and more about the history of the world, and we are not sure that good will conquer evil right until the end. This series summarises everything I love about YA fantasy and books in general; they should take you on the journey and keep you hooked, as well as wholly invest you in the lives and emotions of the characters. This is something this series did for me and I would 100% recommend!

Rosie x

REVIEW: Shatter Me (series)

Full synopsis of Shatter Me, Unravel Me and Ignite Me

Quick summary: Slow starter, but once I got into it I did enjoy it.
Rating: Shatter me – 5/10
Unravel me – 7/10
Ignite me – 8.5/10

THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS, SORRY!

Full synopsis of
Shatter Me (1), Unravel Me (2), and Ignite Me (3)

Quick summary: Slow starter, but once I got into it I did enjoy it.
Rating: Shatter me – ★★
Unravel me – ★★★★
Ignite me – ★★★★



THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS, SORRY!

Just before I start, this series review is only for Book 1, 2 and 3 of the series (i.e Shatter Me, Unravel Me, Ignite Me.) All of the other spinoffs and the new Restore Me might come up in a later review, or I might re-edit this one, but for the moment it’s just going to be the original series.

This is a series I was majorly conflicted about when I first started reading it. I really wasn’t sure about the writing style, which was modern, and seemed to ramble slightly. However, I had bought all three books as a set and so wanted to persevere so as to feel like I hadn’t wasted my money, like the tight stingy person I am. I am glad I did this because the books did keep improving and I was hooked by the third book.

I found character development to be the strongest part of Mafi’s writing in these novels. Part of the reason I didn’t like the first book was that the characters were not three dimensional enough for me. Although Juliette and Adam each had interesting back stories, I found their immediate love story cliche and honestly quite boring. However, as the second and third books unfolded, I started to become really invested in the characters, particularly as Juliette began to understand herself more, and her relationships with Warner and Kenji began to develop. I loved the relationship between Juliette and Warner; I really like how Mafi gives us insight into the ‘evil’ character. This development of Warner from a psychopath to a genuine man who had a really difficult childhood was so refreshing and interesting. I think it was the psychology behind Warner’s character that kept me hooked on the books – I’m really glad Mafi took this plot path for the trilogy, or I would not have enjoyed it anywhere near as much.

In terms of the plot, I think that there were fascinating twists and turns which made these books different from other YA novels. The relationship between Warner and Juliette was a particularly strong plot point, as it allowed for character development of Juliette, Warner and Adam. Although I would not describe these novels as having been a page turner for me, I do think that they were interesting and the world in which they were set was well constructed.

The third book, Ignite Me, was, for me, the strongest book of the trilogy. By the time I got to the third book I was invested in the world because it had grown on me as the series progressed. It was somewhat repetitive, as certain phrases (such as “I swallow, hard”) were used lots throughout, and this started to annoy me towards the end. Having said this, I did get used to the writing style and there were captivating aspects. I liked that as Juliette became disenfranchised with Adam, the reader began seeing his flaws and failings, inviting us to make a more weighted judgement on him; equally, as she became more infatuated with Warner, he became kinder and sweeter in our eyes as well.

Ultimately, although I did like these books by the end of the series, I feel like had I not bought them as a trilogy then I might not have gone further than the first book. I do think they are worth reading if you want to read a series, because they are psychologically interesting and there is good character development, but for me they were a slow starter and did not immediately captivate me. It was definitely the character of Warner that made these books.

Also, side note, I really like the covers and the books are that satisfying floppy kind, which is really nice.

Rosie x