Hello all! I think I’m becoming a bit of an old record lately, recounting how busy I’ve been every month, explaining why I’m playing catch up and *yada yada yada*… Rather than dancing to that tune again, I’ll skip all that and just say if you’re interested in my adventures offline you can check out this post 😉 For everyone else, we can just get straight to the books, cos there’s a lot of them!
The Devil’s Thief– I am haunted by my disappointment for this book. It’s the kind of book I quite enjoyed reading, but look back on with irritation. Because it could’ve been so good! Following its powerful predecessor, this had a bold opening, with stunning prose, thus assuring me I was in for a treat. And yet somehow it didn’t manage to fulfil the promise. While there was some entertaining action throughout, the structure was ultimately more disjointed than The Last Magician and I didn’t feel as connected to it. There was far too much squabbling and I didn’t care for the characters as I should. I also felt that the romantic problems were repetitive and pointless- maybe because I’d just watched a video on the rule of three- or maybe because there’s only so many times you can read that Esta is *a strong woman* and Harte is *too old fashioned* (what with him being from a different time period and all). Problem is, this was not helped by the fact that Esta literally wasn’t listening to the fact Harte was possessed!! I’m honestly unsure about whether I should continue with this series now- despite the fact the twist at the end was decent and I’d kinda like to see how it all works out. It would be really great if someone could pop back from the future and let me know if it’s worth it 😉
Rating: 3½/5 bananas
Emergency Contact- do you know that feeling where you pick up a book and instantly know it’s not for you? Well I had that with this book. The second I’d started reading I knew. But I’d waited in a queue to read it on overdrive and now I had the (albeit not physical) copy, I was determined to finish it dammit! Annnd it was totally not worth it. I *hated* the writing style straight away- it felt like it was trying too darn hard to be down with the kids. And there was SO MUCH virtue signalling. Such as: “Never mind the karma of a total non-Jew stealing a book about the Jewish holocaust from a Jewish person.” Everything. Is. Wrong. With. That. Sentence. I can’t even will myself to dissect it. Or the time when she expresses her thoughts on Memoirs of a Geisha: “a book Penny adored until she discovered some rando white guy had written it”. Wow, stunning and brave 😉 I found Penny insufferably unlikeable and ergo did not have much interest in the plot/romance/much of anything to do with this. This is not to trash the book- I just think you can figure out within the first sentence/page/chapter whether this is for you or not. That’s definitely something I should have done. Moral of the story: I need to DNF more! Needless to say, I have not learnt that lesson quite yet 😉
Rating: 1½/5 bananas
A Separate Peace– “it’s an American classic”, I was sneeringly told by the person that recommended it. Now, that may very well have prejudiced me against the book, but I will still say I am not quite sure why it is considered an American classic. I never connected with the dry writing style; I thought the story lacked a certain punchiness. And this all culminated in a dull and unearned ending. Finny was, admittedly, an interesting character- it was just a shame he wasn’t explored as fully as he could have been. There were also some interesting ideas here- it was again a pity that they amounted to very little in the eyes of this reader, since they were conveyed in a textbook-style telling instead of showing. Most notably, telling me a moral at the end, without demonstrating it throughout the story feels cheap and pointless. Personally, I found this book a bit of a waste of time, though there was potential in it.
Rating: 2/5 bananas
Otherworld– another in a string of bad books. However, the positive side of this one is I DNF’d it! That’s right! I finally learnt my lesson! Why was this the straw that broke this monkey’s back? Well, there’s a long list of reasons- not least that it felt like reading a string of clichés and recycled ideas. This was Ready Player One, only without the great voice and stand-out characters. The protagonist had ZERO personality (no, having a “kishka” does not count- it just makes you a racial stereotype- so thanks for that I guess?) We’re told over and over that the Otherworld is a *fabulous* place, but I never felt it shown in the flat descriptions. Perhaps if I hadn’t had a string of meh reads this month I would have been more inclined to finish it- but life is too short and I had little hope of it improving. Based on what I’d read so far, I gave it:
Rating: 1/5 bananas
Beautiful Disaster– well the clue is in the title I guess 😉 Just so damn ugly and petty- though perhaps not as terrible as I was led to expect (although I do think a lot of the love interest’s behaviours wouldn’t fly today). Oh and heads up, the people in this all suck. Strangely, that wasn’t my biggest issue though. What actually spoiled this book for me is the weird structure- there are so many time jumps and issues with pacing. At points the characters would be in the middle of some crucial interlude in their lives, only to skip a few weeks. For me, this was incredibly jarring.
Rating: 2/5 bananas
Panic– Lauren Oliver to the rescue! I am always assured that when I pick up one of Oliver’s books I’m going to be rewarded with a wonderfully written, interesting concept, entertaining read- and this was no exception! This was a thrill a minute and I really liked how the idea was handled. I also found the characters engaging enough and the twist solid. While this may not be her best book, I still enjoyed it and would recommend if you like her work.
Rating: 4/5 bananas
Dark Matter– this was by far one of the best books I read all month. From the intriguing opening, this had a fast-paced intensity that made it hard for me to keep my breath. There are some creepy turns to this and it works out as a fascinating thought experiment. What I liked most about it was how Jason consistently chose to be the best version of himself (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it 😉 ) This was an absolutely wild ride, an exhilarating journey, with a bonkers ending- in the best kind of way!
Rating: 4/5 bananas
Always Never Yours– this had both a unique and typical plot- which completely works in its favour. Often in YA contemporaries, whatever the characters are studying in school has some sort of bearing on the plot. But it’s usually rather a disappointment. How many times will we see a character studying Romeo and Juliet, for instance, only to be swept off their feet by someone they can’t have? This is always especially funny in a high school when they’re being all *melodramatic* high school about their performances and trying to fit in all 5 acts (when even professionals know to cut for time lol). Now, while I won’t say this was wholly original in that regard, it did miraculously flip the script a little by exploring the role of Rosalind. Even if the character of Megan sometimes made very little sense to me, I did appreciate this fresh take, especially as it allowed for the mc grow in courage, learning to take the lead, instead of always waiting in the wings. It was just a shame that (because of weirdly inexplicable girl rules?) she had to forgive a friend who betrayed her by the end of the story. For me personally, the protagonist was too nice in this regard, sacrificing her character development to be treated like a doormat. Frankly, I’m struggling not to rant about how all cheats are skeez-bags, so I’ll just skip to the fact that at least I enjoyed the mc’s romance and leave it at that.
Rating: 3½/5 bananas
Death Comes to Pemberley– if I had to describe this in a couple of words, I’d sum it up as enjoyable fanfic. I won’t be pretending this is in any way highbrow, when in fact, it is so very, very silly. Personally, the sole reason I picked this up was that I’ve been in the mood for a lot of Austen lately and can’t seem to get enough of what actually exists in canon (anyone fancy building a time machine and fetching Austen from the past so she can write at least one more book?). So, naturally, what was I to do but check out a murder mystery set in Austenland? 😉 Nonetheless, one of its biggest failings is not that it insists on putting the characters of Pride and Prejudice in the most ludicrous of circumstances, but that it recaps the original so frequently and unnecessarily that the point is a little laboured. I confess, I have very little knowledge of fanfic, so perhaps someone can answer in the comments if characters excessively recalling the events of their past is a common theme in the genre? Regardless, I did have a bizarrely enjoyable time with this, mostly thanks to the atmospheric hold of the author and the rather pleasant reading from the audiobook narrator.
Rating: 2½/5 bananas
So have you read any of these? Did you like them? Let me know in the comments!