@Vee_Bookish

(They/them) Currently surviving the apocalypse with my partner, small human, cat, Grandmother and at least 100 paperbacks in a tiny house in Somerset. 

The Austen Girls - Lucy Worsley

What I wanted from this book was balls, flirting and epic romance that I root for all the way through, I wanted to feel like I'd stepped into the pages of a Jane Austen novel, I wanted to enjoy every ball and be rubbing my feet in solidarity at the end of the night, I wanted to be devastated when a major event happens and leave the final page with a smile on my face.

What I got from this book was an incomplete, unsatisfying story about two cousins, who were as close as siblings, a couple of balls that only lasted a page or two, an incomplete cast (these novels run on the strength of their overall cast after all), a weird history lesson about thieves and an ending that left me thinking, is that seriously it?

I won't pretend I've read every Austen book but I do love two things - Austen movies and Lucy Worsley. I so surprised at just how bad this book was. There wasn't any romance to root for, I'll spoiler tag who the girls chose below, most of the story didn't seem to go anywhere, and the ending seemed to just cut off with the main character writing the first page of a story, before telling us in the historical notes that she never actually became a writer.

Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder

Honestly I think this may be my favourite book, ever. There's just something about Valek where the story could be absolute garbage and I wouldn't even notice because I'm following Valek's every movement like a lost puppy. I love him so, so much and it takes a lot to be added to my book boyfriends list - I only have two others on it.

The story is much more adult that I would normally read, and I would not put it in a Young Adult category due to it's fairly violent depictions of torture and rape. I do wish Yelena and Valek's er... moments together would have been a LITTLE more descriptive to make up for it, and that's coming from an Asexual.

The biggest strength of this book is it's main character, Yelena. Smart, sarcastic, flirty and hilarious when drunk, I just loved everything about her. She actually quite reminded me of Eugenides from The Thief series, they both find themselves in dungeons and navigating castles, using their intelligence to get ahead in life.

Invisible In A Bright Light - Sally Gardner

I thought this was just interesting, it didn't quite pick up steam and I was getting bored towards the end. The ending isn't at all surprising (except when I realised the meaning behind Maria and Celeste's names) and I left feeling happy with the ending, but not sad to leave.

Bone Crier's Moon - Kathryn Purdie

The idea of this is so much better than the execution and the start was so promising I was predicting 5 stars - two friends, both coming of age and expected to lure a man and kill him. You've got the polar opposites - Alesse that hunts animals and enjoys it, and Sabine, who has only killed one animal and hated it.

The story fell apart when Alesse met her Amoure, Bastian, a boy who decided the best way to avenge his father's death is to kill a completely random Bone Crier. After he kidnaps Alesse he seems to forget the whole murdered Dad thing cos, damn, she cute. Their relationship was so random, I couldn't understand why they were together. There was no build up except a vague attempt at enemies to lovers which was quickly abandoned.

The random French words scattered throughout and the italicised words really got on my nerves. B French or don't, don't use the word Dauphin and then Prince in the next sentence to explain it to the audience. The French setting didn't work for me either, there was a lack of world building and the extra character at the end confused me, as we hadn't been given a good explanation of how the world worked, except clues that it might be Paris? Maybe?

A lot of this story is vague guesswork on the part of the reader. You have catacombs and French, so that leads you to Paris. There's fantasy elements like the Bone Criers, but no explanation of why they have magic and how it works. We are told Bastien is a wanted thief, but the story doesn't go into that. Then there's sacred bridges, Gods and ghosts. It's all rather confusing.

Some of the story devolved into soap opera declarations and bizarre twist reveals that weren't surprisingly so much as silly and overdone. Those reveals really weakened the story for me and made it very hard for me to continue to force myself through it.

Sporadic Update (27/03/2020)

 

 

We're day... #4 into lockdown in the UK and our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has just been diagnosed with the virus. That's fine with most of us because we can't stand the man. Prince Charles, our future King, was diagnosed yesterday.

 

Lockdown wise, we're doing pretty good! We live in this tiny two bedroom house in Somerset, there's me, my partner Bear, my daughter, my cat Smeagol and currently until this blows over, my Grandmother. Despite the overcrowding we're all working out ways to live on top of each other.

 

Making the most of this week's sunshine, I went for a walk to the next village a couple of days ago with my Gran, visited the church, had a wander around and when we were walking back this old fashioned plane similar to a Spitfire flew past right above us, that was amazing. I went to the park with Bear yesterday and it was nice to just sit in the sun, each a sandwich and take Bookstagram pictures.

 

Speaking of Bookstagram, as of last night I no longer have one. I've been working on it since October last year, recently gaining 1500 followers, so I was pretty happy. But last night I logged out, logged back in again and Instagram stared refusing my 2 Step Verification Codes. If they refuse those and you have no back up, tough basically (I'll never use 2 step again). I made a new account, went to look for my now old one and it's gone. Even comments I know I made have vanished. I received no email about it from Instagram, it's just... vanished. I'm fairly annoyed about it but there's not really anything I can do other than start again. I'm now @Vee_Bookish_ if anyone is on Instagram!

All Your Twisted Secrets - Diana Urban

To be disappointed with my most anticipated March 2020 release is, in itself, disappointing. I was so ready for this book, the blurb whispered promises of Breakfast Club and Agatha Christie, so I was expecting something pretty powerful, explosive and with a killer ending that left me flipping through the pages. In reality, I had to remind myself at one point when I was feeling like it should be close to the ending that I was in fact, only 40% into the book and I only finished it because my chronic insomnia had me awake until 4am last night.

I didn't spend my time guessing whodunnit throughout the story, because I made my guess early on and every clue told me I was right. So the big reveal was just a pat on the back, a well-done-you-slogged-through-300-pages, sort of thing. I was initially wary of the present - past storyline, as I felt that being dragged back into the past, away from the present danger, would be a bad choice because you don't get that build up of tension. That proved correct.

The biggest problem this book had was weak, uninteresting characters. If this was what I thought it would be, a murder house people dying, The Hunt movie, sort of deal, this wouldn't be an issue. Unfortunately the present chapters were very short compared to the past chapters, which was your typical, bland, high school drama. I honestly didn't really care for it.

 

 

Tithe (The Modern Faerie Tales, #1) - Holly Black

I have an old battered copy of Tithe - a copy so old it took some digging to find even a passable photo of the cover, and I had to delete most of my 2014 Goodreads review to write a new, updated one. When I read this again in 2014, I did say that my review was closer to a 4, but now I would definitely rate it a full 5. There's just something about Tithe, and Kaye, and Roiben that I love so, so much and keep coming back to.

so someone tell me why the ever loving fluff I have not read the rest of the series yet. seriously.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

This was so freaking cute, and heartwarming, and everything I needed to distract myself from the current pandemic. I need to read it 6 more times and actually buy a copy, because the one I read was snagged from the library right before it shut down for the foreseeable future.

The Eye Of Ra - Ben Gartner

This was a fun read for younger readers, I've always loved Ancient Egypt and time travel and this combines the two, transporting siblings John and Sarah across time to Zach's family, who's in charge of building new pyramids. They learn the ways the Egyptians lived, and introduce Zach and friends to their own world.

I had a couple of issues with this book that did affect my enjoyment - the first half of the story felt like I was getting infodumped with a history lesson - always show, don't tell - and I did find it strange how long it took before John and Sarah started missing their parents.

I really liked the idea of The Eye Of Ra and wonder if it's possible to have future books with John and Sarah time travelling to new places, but the final chapters make this quite difficult, which is a shame. I particularly enjoyed the Ancient Egyptians discovering John and Sarah's world and left wondering what happened to them after they went back home.

"If her family found out she had killed, they would see her differently - not as a sleeping serpent, its poison dormant, but as one that was awake and poised to strike."

Girl, Serpent, Thorn - Melissa Bashardoust 

"She was a secret, hidden away in the palace like a carefully guarded treasure."

Girl, Serpent, Thorn - Melissa Bashardoust 

Girl, Serpent, Thorn - Melissa Bashardoust

This was one of two books I read at the same time, that I found difficult to finish because I was just so incredibly bored (the other one was Havenfall). Originally I thought that this may because we've just hit the Coronavirus epidemic, but after finishing the books I realised that they both have major issues that affected my reading.

This book sounded so, so good with hella Medusa vibes. It's based around Persian mythology about a princess that cannot touch anyone cos they drop dead, presumably dramatically. It sounded cool as hell and I wanted to read it for a couple of months before it made an appearance on NetGalley.

This just did not have the kick that I wanted. Like many readers, I'm tired of woe-is-me main characters that spend most of their books moping about how hard their lives are. I'm sorry, it just doesn't make for interesting reading. This character is supposed to be embracing her darker and lighter sides and she just came across as pathetic. And really, really annoying.

The plot was both fairly easy to guess and overcomplicated, as well as all over the place. The various demons needed a full colour illustrated guide because I could not picture them in the slightest. The plot weirdly reminded me of Labyrinth in some places and it's really hard to discuss it's issues without giving major spoilers, as the second half is where everything happens and the first half is Soraya just mooching about the castle, moping about the one time she poked a butterfly and it died.

Azad? Annoying and almost cartoonish. Soraya? Annoying. Parvaneh? Honestly kinda cool, the book would have been better from her perspective. The world building... honestly outside of Soraya's immediate area I have zero clue how that world functions and the harmony between the creatures and humans (or lack of it) is kinda glossed over. It was an interesting book with maybe a few too many things thrown at it.

Nothing is as dangerous as the loneliness that wraps around me sometimes, as cold and real as an iron manacle.

Havenfall - Sara Holland 

A fissure in the expanse of rock, shadows swarming beyond it. Claw marks score the stone on either side. The door to Solaria is cracked open.

Havenfall - Sara Holland 

Havenfall - Sara  Holland

This was one of two books I read at the same time, that I found difficult to finish because I was just so incredibly bored (the other one was Girl, Serpent, Thorn). Originally I thought that this may because we've just hit the Coronavirus epidemic, but after finishing the books I realised that they both have major issues that affected my reading.

If I told you that this was an Agatha Christie style murder mystery at a magical inn with guests from different worlds, with fantasy creatures, this sounds exciting, yes? If I now tell you that this is a book about an inn with magical doors that leads to different worlds, but we never get to see those worlds, you now feel a little cheated, right?

That was the problem I had with Havenfall. I am a Christie fan so I picked up on that vibe quickly and guessed who the Bad Guy was pretty much as soon as they turned up. That was, when we finally got past the 100 page constant infodump. The first third was rougher than a dog's backside with sandpaper taped onto it. I couldn't really enjoy the story because Maddie kept dragging me back to past events that I didn't really care about.

So, what we have here is a confusing murder mystery, the most random hidden secrets ever that took so long to get to I no longer cared and a character that disappears for most of the book, makes a reappearance later on and really doesn't give a satisfactory answer as to why they vanished, except Plot Reasons.

I would read the second book because God Damnit I want to finally visit those other worlds, if we ever do. If we do not, I'm giving the sequel 1 star and calling it a day.

The Closest Thing To Flying - Gill Lewis

This is an absolute gem of a book and I am so glad I borrowed it from my library on a whim. Samira, a refugee in an abusive household, buys a hat in a hat box one day and finds a diary hidden inside. Opening the pages, she meets Henrietta, a girl from 1891, who is also trapped by the expectations of her parents.

Believing that her and her mother, who does not speak English, will be deported if they run away from their living situation, Samira is at the mercy of Robel, a man who controls every aspect of their lives. She often goes to school hungry and struggles to keep her secrets hidden.

The only problem this book suffered from was a few too many elements - the diary, Samira's missing father, her life as a refugee, household abuse, the suffragette movement, feminism, animal rights, famous people, the list goes on. Some elements seemed to be sacrificed later to focus on Samira, which was a wise choice.

This is told very well for younger readers, despite the tougher subjects they were written carefully, in a way that readers could fully empathise but wouldn't leave the story feeling traumatised (like I did after reading The Turnaway Girls!). This would be an amazing introduction to feminism and the suffrage movement too.