THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE BY SAMANTHA SHANNON

So I finally finished reading The Priory of the Orange Tree a week back. It took me a month to finish this giant but it was totally worth it! Normally, I don’t read high fantasy. I hate high fantasy, anything GOT like. It’s a bias, I know, I just don’t prefer it.

I had no clue about the size when I ordered it online and boy was I surprised when it arrived. I was intimated tbh and I thought I’d end up DNF-ing it.

I read a review which said that the first 200-something pages are a bit slow but action kicks on from there. For me, I found it interesting right off the bat. First off, the world building is SO. GOOD. Excellent attention to detail. I loved reading about the different countries and their contrasting politics, religions, conflicts. Oh, and also, dragons.

For a standalone novel it really does pack up as much world building as it can without seeming boring. The plot does start off like 200 pages in, the premise wasn’t very eventful. Sort of like an introduction to the characters and landscape. But it is REALLY fun to read. And when the plot did kick in, it kept me hook.

THERE’S?? WLW?? Angsty slowburn, the good stuff. I did NOT know about it and it was probably the best surprise.

I LOVED the characters. Sabran, Tane and Ead’s development throughout the novel was great. Loth was my favourite, even if we didn’t get many chapters with his POV.

Overall I say you should definitely go for this. Don’t let the size intimidate you. I did take my time with it but honestly? It was so much fun savoring this bit by bit.

Rating: 5 out of 5

MALORIE BY JOSH MALERMAN

Amazon.com: Malorie: A Bird Box Novel eBook: Malerman, Josh ...

I’ve been waiting for Malorie: a Bird Box Novel ever since it was announced! I read bird box a year ago, after the netflix original came out and I LOVED it so much. I never expected that Josh Malerman would write a sequel. I was all knee-shaking excited but worried it would disappoint.

Did it live up to expectations?

Malorie is set seventeen years after the events of Bird Box. Picking up about two years into their stay at the school for blind, the book starts out with something VERY unexpected which I won’t say though I’m DYING to, for the sake of avoiding spoilers. We then see a time jump, ten years later. This book caught my attention right at the starting.

Does it hold my attention? Yes. I love that throughout the book the plot was so fluid. It didn’t feel boring at any point, nor did I see any info dumps. The world building is great, considering how many new things about the outside world was specified.

It was interesting to see the tense relationship between Tom and Malorie. They contrast so much in opinions, in nature. Tom wants to explore and innovate and stray away from the rigidness of Malorie. Even in this dangerous new world, he’s a bright eyed earnest teenager. Malorie does not like “getting lazy”, in her words. She takes no chances in keeping herself and her children safe. Malorie lives by the blindfold. Tom wants to see a world beyond it. Olympia is a girl with a secret (she quite literally has a secret). She isn’t as rebellious as Tom.

The book isn’t purely plot driven and what makes it so great is how it explores the relationships between the characters side along the plot. Bird Box was about a world confined to the indoors, and about surviving. Malorie is about an uncertain world rebuilding. It’s about finally living, and not just surviving.

So was Josh Malerman writing this just to ride off the hype of Bird Box? This was anything but. He’s a great storyteller. He wrote a satisfying sequel which does not disappoint.

Rating: 5 out of 5

A SORCERY OF THORNS BY MARGARET ROGERSON

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Not gonna lie, the main reason I got this book was that the cover was gorgeous and I have A Thing for hardcover editions. Even if it had review quotes and New York Times Bestseller or something stamped at the back which tells me Nothing about the actual book. Pfft, books these days, amiright?

I read this book with zero expectations and ideas on what it was about. Here’s how it went.

Can I say I absolutely love the concept of the libraries and monster books? It was So fricking cool! A breath of fresh air from a bunch of recycled concepts circulating in YA lit. For a stand alone book, the world building in this was AWESOME. I fell in love with the whole concept – the libraries, sorcerers, demons, Books Gone Wild.

Also want to mention, the prose was beautiful to read. I loved the way this was written, it feels magical!

Elisabeth is “a true child of the library”. She’s bold, yet vulnerable. Into the book we see that everything she knows and understands about libraries, magic (and monster books) are wrong. She starts out as naive, someone who hasn’t seen the world outside the library she grew up in and slowly gains understanding. The character development is good, AND it’s all in one (standalone) novel.

I was Very Afraid that Nathaniel would be one of Those YA Brooding Bad Boys. The goodreads blurb also described him and Elisabeth as “sworn enemies”. Both assumptions? Wrong they were! Nathaniel and Elisabeth’s relationship is not a pointless rivalry for the sake of tension. Good ol’ sarcastic boi which I surprisingly, I didn’t mind :’) His tragic past isn’t just for the sake of it and is important to his character.

(bonus Bonus BONUS points for making nathaniel swing both ways. i screamed when i read that part, even if it was vaguely referenced. the casual rep gets Full Points from me)

But it was Silas I liked the best and found most intriguing! I stan one snarky and incredibly charming demon. Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas make a great little disaster trio.

The one complain I do have is how fast the plot is. I hate slow books, I have very little patience. Which is why I don’t usually mind if books are a bit fast paced. In fact, I was happy the book started out with a fast plot and no beating around the bush. But this was a bit too fast. I didn’t have any time to linger on a scene or savor a moment. Would have been a lot better if this one was slightly slower paced.

Overall it was a very refreshing read! It’s entertaining and gets my rec.

Rating: out of 5

 

 

CRESCENT CITY BY SARAH .J MAAS AND WHY IT ABSOLUTELY SUCKS

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City) eBook: Maas, Sarah J ...

If you know me, (or my instagram/tumblr) you’d know I absolutely hate SJM’s books. Why would I read a 800-something page book by an author I hate, you ask? Good question. I have nothing better to do, I had (misplaced) hopes that it would not, in fact, absolutely suck. I wanted to know what the frick could an 800 page adult debut by a famous YA novelist possibly consist.

Either way, curiosity got the better of me and I tried to read Crescent City.

And failed. And picked it up again. And failed. Rinse and repeat. Somehow, god knows how, I finished it.

*cracks knuckles* aye let’s do this

Perhaps SJM took note of the critics on her world building. She definitely tries to world build. But it is NOT an improvement over her previous world building. There were info dumps every few pages which made me want to bang my head on the nearest wall. I *struggled* to get through them.

There is a HUGE array of species like Fae, Angels, Werewolves. Like a snack platter. They come under “Vanir”, something SJM borrowed from Norse mythology. I don’t know much about it but she didn’t even use the term correctly. (Vanir are supposed to be gods of wisdom and fertility right??)

She tries to achieve this futuristic, dystopian world with supernatural creatures but all I got was Fae and Magik™ with clubs and cellphones thrown in the mix. There’s nothing futuristic about it, just plain lazy writing. There’s the war between Vanir and humans But most of the characters are Vanir so human oppression doesn’t get emphasis.

Maas was going with this great, soulful friendship with Bryce and Danika but I didn’t feel it. Bryce is a cardboard-cutout sassy girl protag. Every dude is instantly horny for her and she is Drop Dead gorgeous. Her flaws include “being “too curvy to dance”. Huh.

Hunt the Love Interest has a new power never seen in his species. Which he uses like two times in the span of 800 pages. Oh, and he’s also gorgeous. The rest of the characters are basically rip-offs from her other books.

SJM needs a good editor BADLY. Either Blooms has editors who suck, or just think that fans will buy anything she writes because the bOOK DIDN’T HAVE TO BE THIS LONG. This reads like a YA book save for F-bombs dropped like confetti.

800-something pages of a badly written plot, info-dumped world building, random liberal usage of supernatural/mythological creatures, snarky Sexy™ characters, this is a gigantic mess which makes my soul cringe to the power thousand.

DO NOT waste your time and money on this. Run far, far away.

Rating: out of 5

 

INSPECTION BY JOSH MALERMAN

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I’ve literally kept my eyes on this book, since, like, December. Because it LEGIT sounded really interesting. And I thought it would be something like bird box. So I finally snagged an ebook two weeks back.

synopsis

J is a student at a school deep in a forest far away from the rest of the world.

J is one of only twenty-six students, all of whom think of the school’s enigmatic founder as their father. J’s peers are the only family he has ever had. The students are being trained to be prodigies of art, science, and athletics, and their life at the school is all they know—and all they are allowed to know.

But J suspects that there is something out there, beyond the pines, that the founder does not want him to see, and he’s beginning to ask questions. What is the real purpose of this place? Why can the students never leave? And what secrets is their father hiding from them?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest, in a school very much like J’s, a girl named K is asking the same questions. J has never seen a girl, and K has never seen a boy. As K and J work to investigate the secrets of their two strange schools, they come to discover something even more mysterious: each other.

what i liked:

The whole crazy social experiment idea was really appealing. Reading about J, a kid who literally doesn’t know about the existence of the opposite gender, along with all the other alphabet boys, was interesting.

I really liked reading about the implications of a situation like that and how the Alphabet boys and Letter girls reacted.

what i didn’t like:

The main idea was interesting but the way it was written and explored didn’t do it justice. The plot seemed to drag on and on and ON, to the point I really just wanted to skip to the ending. I think a lot of scenes were unnecessary fillers that could’ve been avoided.

Mostly the story just kept going round and round in circles. I guess some parts were meant to create suspense but all they did was confuse me? (not in a thrilling way)

would i recommend it?

It COULD have been a really good, different sort of book. But it was a HUGE disappointment, especially after reading Bird Box. So no, I’d say give this a pass.

overall rating: 3/5

ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE BY BENJAMIN ALIRE SAENZ

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IT’S BEEN A WHILE, I KNOW. While I wasn’t blogging, I did do a lot of other things this summer. I organized a readathon on instagram for pride month! (it’s really fun, I’m @shreyareads there so DM me if you’re interested.)

Our first book was Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the Universe. This has been on my TBR list for a while now. Apparently a lot of other people in our readathon read it, too, but they were more than happy for a reread 🙂

Synopsis:

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.


While reading this book, I forgot about everything around me. I finished it in one sitting. This is the sort of book that makes you feel all warm and nice on the inside, really poetic. It was a beautiful read. I don’t regret picking this book up.

I loved Ari. As a character, he felt very relatable to me, as I’m a bit of a loner myself. I could feel all of his angst right off the page. His insights about stuff, about the people around him, about life, keeps you engrossed. It felt as if I was taking a peek into his universe. I also liked Dante. He’s adorable and must be protected at all costs!

One thing that made me very happy was how supportive the parents were, both Ari’s and Dante’s. I almost thought this would have a sad ending, but they were very supportive.

The writing style was lyrical. There are a handful of beautiful quotes you can find while reading!

Overall, it was the perfect book to start Pride Month with. Everybody should read this gem of a book. Even if you’re not a teenager, reading this will make you feel nostalgic. So you should definitely go read it. You’ll discover a few secrets yourself while you’re at it.

Rating: 5 out of 5

A Court Of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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God I LOVE the ACOTAR series so much, it’s like, my total fave! What’s not to love? Awesome world-building! Badass characters! Such lovely representation! Did I mention what a feminist series this is?

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Kidding. APRIL FOOLS!!!!

Anyone who has read my somewhat recent posts and follows me on instagram knows my passionate, undying hate for all works of Sarah Janet Maas. My personal favourite, ACOTRASH.

I recently read this charming series. Read on to know my thoughts.

synopsis:

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

what i liked:

uh, the cover was pretty?????

what i didn’t like:

Here comes the storm.

The plot,,,,, was very slow. It dragged on and on and on. For most of the book I really don’t get the point of anything. There is no point here. Why is Feyre taken from her home to a much, much more luxurious place? Not much of a punishment.

Feyre is a mix of Katniss Everdeen and Bella Swan, I’m guessing she is what SJM hoped would be a badass, feminist character. Overall, Feyre is very dull. As one dimensional as paper. Apparently, this book was marketed as a beauty and the beast retelling. So Belle = Feyre, Beast = Tamlin, People cursed to be objects = Lucien and other peeps around.

The writing is really flowery and extravagant. SJM was going for a big medieval vibe but it spectacularly fails.

Also that one non-con scene between Feyre and Tamlin.

conclusion:

This is a grossly over-hyped book. And what’s worse, it’s applauded for being feminist or something. It doesn’t deserve the hype. There are YA authors out there who actually deserve hype. Avoid this book, I beg you.

Rating: 1 out of 5

 

 

FIVE FEET APART BY RACHAEL LIPPINCOTT

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I don’t really read much of sick lit stuff, because they all turn out the same. Girl and boy meet, girl and boy fall in love and all that sappy stuff BUT girl/boy/both are terminally ill and tragically die in the end.

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Anyways, I didn’t know this was actually a book at first. I wanted to watch the movie because it looked sweet and it had Coal Sprouts in it. So I decided to read the book because while it does sound cliched enough, there’s a twist. Girl and boy can’t come six feet within each other, because they both have cystic fibrosis.

So was it a total cliche?

synopsis:

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

what i liked:

Despite what I thought, it WASN’T a total cliche.

So like, I know it’s romance centric but I love they didn’t focus completely on the romance, or how they didn’t make Will and Stella’s illness their only defining trait. It is also their induvidual story and how they deal with the struggles in their life, plus their illness. And character development in the end was great too. They both realize in the end, that they can never be together without seriously endangering the other.

The ending was a little open ended, but I think I prefer it that way. The plot is a perfect mix of sweet and tragedy. Overall what I liked the most, is how this story is a little different than other similar Sick-lit books.

what i didn’t like:

I felt the story was a bit rushed. Maybe they could have taken it slow? It’s a short read and you can’t have so much in a book of this size, so quick. While they do manage to give emphasis on both Will and Stella personally, and not just their romance, they should have slowed down a bit.

As for accuracy, I’ll leave it for the people who actually have the right to decide: the CF community.

conclusion:

It was much better than I expected. What I had expected was another Sick-Lit book that exploits off people with illnesses. But this is an actually sweet read, completely refreshing. Anyone tired off excesive Sick-Lit in YA should read this.

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

ANOTHER BIG RANT ON YA FANTASY

My opinions on YA books have been forever changing, the three and four posts on it here, each having completely different opinions from the other, are proof enough. So like, this year I’ve been reading a lot of mainstream YA fantasy books because I *used* to avoid them like the plague. And I wanted to write this post with what I think about this genre now (i have all the time in the world my exams just got over. thank u, next, 9th).

I was 11 when I started reading YA, and one of the first few books I read was Twilight. Initially I liked it, but, I was 11. When I gained a few braincells I started to recognize Twilight for what it truly was: shit. Which sowed the seeds for my hatred for the YA fantasy (does twilight qualify as such?). Obviously most YA fantasy is no where near Twilight, thank god.

I read Divergent and a bit more of YA fantasy. I didn’t like it. It was cliched, dull, boring. Same old chosen one, same “plain” girl, same divided societies. Then I gave it a break, and switched to other books.

Last year I started reading YA contemporary. I loved them. I love feel-good books, plus some of them were actually relatable. And had much better rep. Although I now recognize some inherently racist tones in Eleanor and Park. After reading them my opinion on YA fantasy being shit solidified, because I still thought we lived in the Twilight era. That isn’t fair, now I can see, as Twilight released in 2008 or smthn’ but over the years a LOT of nice *actual* YA fantasy books came out.

There are so many awesome YA fantasy authors.. Unfortunately there are also some who follow the footsteps of Stephanie Meyer.

There’s Sarah J Maas. I’ve heard dozens and DOZNES of YA blogs giving glowing recommendations, praising her world-building, characters, rep, so on (ironically it was a negative review that made me read it). I had read Assasin’s Blade when I was in 8th and my friend was obsessed, but I just found it boring. It follows the path of ACOTRASH, I see.

There are so MANY probematic elements in her books. First off, ACOTRASH shouldn’t be marketed as YA, period. Yes, the general targeted audiences are 13-14 to 19, but kids much younger read it (i don’t want to imagine reading this series at 11). The whole glorification of abuse and excessive smut aside, her books are just plain bad. The characters are too similar to each other, the writing is dull, etc etc. And the terrible rep too.

There are some books and series which have similar problems. Authors like SJM are hyped for no reason and are blindly praised. Thankfully the anti-sjm community has expanded 😀

Overall I’m not that averse to YA fantasy anymore. Over the years so many good YA books have been written, that break the genres stereotypes. The representation has improved so much, though there’s always room for improvement? Finally, YA fantasy has good books, which we can relate to, which have actually good representation.

*also like, sorry for any typos i wrote a lot

THE CRUEL PRINCE + THE WICKED KING BY HOLLY BLACK: A JOINT REVIEW

My finals start on Tuesday, wish me luck folk (lol, i need it). Anyways, you know how you end up reading a book because a friend forced convinced you and you expect it to be meh? But then it ends up to be, like, super-duper awesome?

The Folk of The Air series turned out to be one of Those books. Yeah.

I was suffering from a bad bout of cold and there was nothing to do, so I thought why not? I finished BOTH The Cruel Prince and Wicked King in two days, no speed-skim reading (where is that read-speed when I need it?).

I really don’t like to read anything Fae related because, well, acotrash has scarred me for life. I thought “okay-ish overrated book”.

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plot:

The plot was legit the most captivating since SOC. Perfectly paced and told through Jude point of view, I wasn’t bored even for a second. Family, loyalty and betrayal play an important part. With a side-serving of adventure and a sprinkle of the Perfect Ship Ever, you will 100% read this in one sitting.

Unlike the ACOTAR series, where the plot is literally non-existent, boring to the point you fall asleep, and all over the place.

world building:

It’s awesome! This is the first series I’ve read where the Fae world is set alongside a modern setting. What I love is how flawless the world-building is in one book itself. The setting is very aesthetically pleasing, quirky, original, not just some rip-off from the medieval era. As compared to ACOTAR where even in four books, I can’t really visualize the setting or anything.

characters:

Omg I am in LOVE with the characters. I can go on about Jude all dayyyyy. What I was initially expecting: another washed-out cliched YA Female Protagonist™. She’s one of the most badass, ruthless protagonists. What I really like is how she isn’t turned into a mary-sue, and she has her flaws. My fav female protagonists alongside my SOC ladies 😀 Honestly I can’t believe people compare Feyre and Aelin with Jude. Jude is nothing like Miss Perfections.

And then there’s Cardan. Who I thought was the Broody and Evil Guy™ but just turned out to be a sad trainwreck of a person with a crush (honestly, relatable). All other enemies-to-lovers troops can go home, please, because #Jurdan absolutely SMASHES them all royally. I love how Jude is the broody one here while Cardan is the morally conscious one. Another rare YA dude that doesn’t make me want to gouge my eyes out.

(THO WTH DID YOU DO CARDAN????? I CANT GET OVER THE ENDING OF WICKED KING)

It was interesting reading about Jude’s relationships with her sisters and foster parents, and how she tries to navigate her life in the Fae world. I loved her character development in these two books, from an insecure girl to a person who (literally) pulls the strings from behind the scenes.

Love to hate Taryn and Locke. They deserve each other.

conclusion:

This book is a treat for people who love good fantasy lit. Or even for people who don’t care for it. With the captivating world and badass characters, I think everyone will appreciate this series. I, for one, am eagerly waiting for Queen of Nothing to release next year. (let’s hope they use the “One year and one day, but not a minute longer” for the release date).