Spinning Silver: A Book Review

Book: Spinning Silver

Author: Naomi Novik 

Spinning Silver

I haven’t updated in over a year but Spinning Silver is something I am so thrilled about, I had to share. Just so you know,  this review is fairly long and I’m gushing most of the time. The Neanderthal version of the review: Good book. Fairy tale. Go read.
The Fairy Tale

If you’ve read Uprooted, you’ll find Spinning Silver has a similar atmosphere (for lack of a better word). It’s set in a superstitious Eastern European place where the lords the peasants pay their taxes to are distant and Other beings with magical power are frighteningly near. This story has a ton of fairy tale elements and Novik considers SS a dialogue with Rumpelstiltskin.

Let me be candid, I’ve never liked the story. I have very little sympathy for the father who boasted his daughter could spin gold out of straw–something she clearly couldn’t do. Why lie about something so obvious when there are such painful consequences? Then to compound the lack of ethics, why would anyone ever agree to trade with something they would never give up? What did she imagine Rumpelstiltskin would say, “No problem. If you don’t want to give up the baby you don’t have to?” This is awful enough even without considering how morally reprehensible it is to trade your child to someone you don’t trust to treat them well.
The funny thing is I’m not even outraged that a fairy wanted to trade for a child. But even as a child I was puzzled by Rumpelstiltskin’s delay in in taking the child he bargained for; why induce any unnecessary risk by making another deal for something you should already have? Doesn’t seem like a shrewd, evil faerie to me.

One of the protagonists of SS shares my general disgust with the story:

Because that’s what the story’s really about: getting out of paying your debts. That’s not how they tell it, but I knew. My father was a moneylender, you see.

This book is a beautiful and creative interpretation of Rumpelstiltskin. Novik  does retain a lot of the original elements of the story: the magical properties of the number 3, the obsession with names and trades, the attitude of work hard OR smart to complete impossible tasks. However, the characteristics that originally belonged to the straw-to-gold maiden and the tricky imp are diffused over all of the characters in the book (and there are a lot).

Both Irina, who marries the Tsar, and Wanda,the farm-girl who works off her father’s debt, are unflinchingly aware that their fathers don’t care for them, only for the advantages they could provide. Miryam, the girl who takes over the money-lending business when her father proves too forgiving (like Rumplestiltskin), learns that boasting can have dangerous consequences when it falls into the wrong ears. The woman in the book who bargains her child for a crown is burned at stake before the book begins but the entire book is about the consequences of her actions. I think that’s what I like most about the book. Novik flips the original tale on its head completely and she points out all the flaws the original fairy tale tried to celebrate:

“Where do you think its power comes from? Nothing like that comes without a price.”
He laughed, a little shrill and sharp. “Yes, the trick is to have someone else pay it for you,” he said.

YA or not?

Like Uprooted (which is the only other Novik book I’ve read), Spinning Silver has quintessentially YA themes. All of the young characters in the book are stifled by familial expectations. Family is a big theme in this novel and I should warn you that the first half especially shows a lot of the main characters resenting their family. There’s strength at the core of each character . Yes, they become more powerful and political savvy but they also open up to people and realize that people count on them.

This book is dark for YA so there isn’t the kind of romance we’ve come to expect from fairytales. No first kisses or tender moments. Let’s blame this on the world this novel is set and its archaic ideas when it comes to women. They belong to their father until marriage and then to their husband (who will require a dowry).

He did not look very pleased, but he did not look very sad either.
He was only giving me a considering eye. I was a pig at the market he had decided to buy. He was hoping I fattened up well and gave him many piglets before it was time to make bacon.

Both characters who marry are at an even worse disadvantage because there are other power differentials to account for and their grooms are strong-armed into marrying them. The unfavored daughter of a duke without much political influence or money marries a Tsar and the daughter of a poor moneylender marries a King who could freeze and shatter her if she displeased him. Minor spoiler but both grooms do try to kill their brides shortly after marriage.

So no real romance in the book but as the heroines grow, they command their own respect and the power differential weakens. MAJOR SPOILER we’re given some hope of romance for both of the characters who were initially unhappily married MAJOR SPOILER.

Another dark thing in this book is the antisemitism. The novel definitely gets additional nuance with the money-lender in this book being a Jewish woman. There are casual mentions of Jewish people being killed and driven out of their homes in other countries. Even in the relatively tolerant place this book is set in Miryam and her family face disgust and attempts to cheat them from the community they live in. Some of the protagonists, who eventually become very close to the family, are initially afraid and mistrusting of the Jewish. In one memorable instance, there is violence from a person who uses the stereotype of a greedy, Jewish money-lender to justify their awful behavior. On the plus side, I’m glad to see some diversity in YA protagonists (which are chary of any mention of religion for the most part) with Miryam practicing and believing in her religion.

While we’re talking about nuance, we should talk about the antagonists. I initially was disturbed by Wanda’s chapters. I couldn’t understand the depth of her resentment or the way she treated her younger brothers–who she blamed for killing her mother and creating extra work for her. But, we see that she does care in spite of not wanting to. Her dad abuses his family and she’s terrified to end up in a vicious cycle of abuse so she distances herself. I feel like Novik does a really good job of making readers empathize with the husband-villains of the book. They are pressured into marrying wives (some for nobler reasons than others) who are very different from them and learn their secrets. The one thing I didn’t like about the book was that the arch-villain of the piece was a cartoonish demon, complete with hell-fire, whininess and greed. I don’t know what Novik could have done to make him a real character but he definitely didn’t feel like anything other than an ominous and bloated cloud of evil.

Another complaint I’ve heard from other readers was there were too many voices. I counted 6 but there were only 3 “main” characters. I liked all the voices (except one of the minor character’s) which is surprising since I usually have 1 or 2 favorites and skim over the others. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be Miryam because she’s scrappy as hell. She’s a rags to riches entrepreneur. When she’s practically kidnapped to a place where everyone considers her inferior, she maintains her dignity, gains respect through her actions and schemes the whole time while sticking to her principles.

You have 3 different characters from different walks of life narrating their stories in distinct voices. They rarely meet each other but you can see how their actions affect each other and their stories blend together to show the motives and concerns of other people.

I think this is probably going to be my favorite book of the year. Yes, Shining Silver has a lot going on in terms of sub-plots and multiple point of views. For first time fantasy readers it might be a bit of a struggle, but I would still highly recommend it. If you like fairytales (even if you didn’t like Rumplestiltskin) and female characters who are subtly “strong” this book is for you.

Sugar & Gold: A Book Review

Books: Sugar & Gold (Dreamcatcher #2)

Author: Emma Scott

Sugar & Gold (Dreamcatcher, #2)


Nikolai Alexei Young was born with a special gift…one he’d do anything to lose. The heart and soul of every person he comes into contact with is an open book to his heightened senses. Colorful emotions, whispers of thoughts, the sour tastes of old memories…He feels them all. The sci-fi books would call him an empath. For Nikolai, his ability has made him an exile. He roams the U.S. alone, avoiding the glut of life in big cities, and using his innate talents to win money in underground poker games. Just enough to keep going, one town to the next. He has no hope that his life can be anything else, until he meets her…

At nineteen, Fiona Starling was trapped in an ugly, desperate situation until she freed herself the only way she knew how. Now three years later, living outside Savannah, Georgia, she is rebuilding her life on her own terms; seizing every moment and saving every penny so that she might fulfill her dream of moving to the raw wilderness of Costa Rica. But behind her carefree smile beats the heart of a lonely young woman haunted by her past, until a chance encounter with a tattooed stranger changes everything…

Fiona takes Nikolai under her roof for three sultry nights, waiting out the rain of a summer storm. She grows more and more fascinated by this brooding stranger with whom she shares an intense physical connection—a connection so strong, she wonders if there is something between them beyond lust and passion. Nikolai is shocked to discover that Fiona calms the raging turmoil in his heart. She alone silences the din of other people’s lives, and envelops him in the sweet beauty of her inner self. Every moment he’s with her—every touch of her skin—brings him closer to the peace that’s been eluding him his entire life.

But Fiona harbors secrets that she is too terrified to reveal. After Nikolai confesses his unique ability, she is caught between wanting to believe him and fearing he’ll eventually unearth her own dark past. When the unthinkable happens, Fiona’s plans come crashing down, and Nikolai discovers his hated ability might be the only thing that can save the woman he loves.

My thoughts:

If I’m being honest, the cover and title are what attracted me to this book. Shallow butterfly that I am, I thought they were absolutely gorgeous. I didn’t think twice before requesting this book from Net Galley.

I’ve read other books by Emma Scott. I really enjoyed the Full Tilt duology and The Butterfly Project. I think both are fantastic new adult books that show how a relationship can transition from platonic to romantic, and that dealing with other serious issues doesn’t mean that a relationship isn’t viable.

However, in Sugar & Gold, the relationship was too fast and too dramatic for me. Though the characters themselves seem to acknowledge the relationship is “backwards”, they do not make a real effort to slow it down and get to know each other. Another thing that might offend you: I was a bit uncomfortable with Fiona’s obsession with Nik’s “Russian-ness”; to me, it seemed like a fetish to me instead of a distinct appreciation for a portion of his character.

I think the concept is beautiful. It is not the first time I’ve seen an extremely empathetic person who can see auras in a novel, but I adored how Nik put his abilities to use in poker. His poker skills also allowed for great banter between the characters and gave them some chemistry. I also think that his empathy made him the perfect person to reassure Fiona, who suffered from emotional abuse, that she was beautiful and worthy.

The reason that this book failed for me was because I did not think there was enough build-up in the relationship between the characters. Additionally, I was not a fan of the pacing. The beginning dragged on with multiple sexy scenes, but not enough substance. The characters were too wrapped up in themselves and their own secrets. For most of the book, I felt like they were courting an ideal instead of an actual person. This made the first 50% seem repetitive.

The ending felt inconclusive and anti-climatic to me. There was very little retribution and it just wrapped up too neatly and quickly for the bloodthirsty part of me which likes the characters to be uncertain and precariously balanced at the end of a novel.

This book will still appeal to readers who want to read a love story about a genuinely kind people who have suffered meeting a person who will always put them first. However, if they think about it too long, they will realize that it’s sugar, empty calories and gilt. There’s no real nutrition or metal in Sugar & Gold.

Overall Rating: 2/5

Oh and BTW, this might be because I read How To Save A Life  (Dreamcatcher #1) a long time ago, but I really didn’t feel as the two books needed to be connected. Frankly, it felt unnecessary.

Hold me: A Book Review

Book: Hold me (Cyclone#2)

Author: Courtney Milan


Jay na Thalang is a demanding, driven genius. He doesn’t know how to stop or even slow down. The instant he lays eyes on Maria Lopez, he knows that she is a sexy distraction he can’t afford. He’s done his best to keep her at arm’s length, and he’s succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Maria has always been cautious. Now that her once-tiny, apocalypse-centered blog is hitting the mainstream, she’s even more careful about preserving her online anonymity. She hasn’t sent so much as a picture to the commenter she’s interacted with for eighteen months—not even after emails, hour-long chats, and a friendship that is slowly turning into more. Maybe one day, they’ll meet and see what happens.

But unbeknownst to them both, Jay is Maria’s commenter. They’ve already met. They already hate each other. And two determined enemies are about to discover that they’ve been secretly falling in love…

My thoughts:

This book was hugely anticipated for its diversity. A Latina, transgender main character and a bisexual, Asian love-interest. Compared to Trade Me (the first book in the Cyclone series), the cultural diversity issues take a backseat.

I haven’t included the cover.Don’t worry, it was purposeful. I feel a bit awkward about posting such an obvious romance book clinch on my young-adult blog. I wouldn’t say the cover is misleading–there’s definitely sex in the book, (after all, this is new adult) so the somewhat racier cover fits.

I’m torn on whether I mind the lack of emphasis on cultural diversity. On one hand, I loved the culture-clash in the last book; as an Asian, I easily related to the embarrassment that some customs of your culture can cause, and the guilt that your parents (who grew up in the culture) know how to take advantage of. On the other hand, I like that this book wasn’t about diversity– it was about a character who happened to be diverse, and as a result, there story seemed to feel so much more natural.

Additionally, I wonder where all these cultural-struggles would have gone. This book focused on gender stereotypes that women in STEM have to combat. It also spent a good amount of time on how childhood traumas affects adult life. Maria was kicked out of her house at age 12, when she told her parents she identified as female; her fear of being kicked out of her house followed her to college.

I’ve heard Hold Me compared to “You’ve Got Mail”. Not having watched the movie, I can compare it only superficially. There is obviously this whole element of 2 protagonists getting on like a house on fire online, but hating each other (for reasons of varying validity) in real-life.

I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for the hate-at-first-sight trope. I especially like watching 2 sworn enemies find something they admire in each other, and seeing the chemistry explode.  And there’s something satisfying about watching two people flirt online–with math of all things– that makes this interesting. The one thing that I worried about in this book was whether Milan would draw out this book endlessly using petty jealousy and terrible communication between the characters. No, despite the pranks and the passive-aggressiveness at the beginning of the book,  by the time the characters get to the middle, they are communicating like real adults.

I still don’t know if I like Jay. Like Maria, I find myself taking umbrage to the way he took one look at her and dismissed her as a ditzy girl with a limited IQ. His reasons for it seem weak. Though the reason he shares is that he blames a pretty, shallow girl for distracting him enough to prevent his younger brother from suicide, I wonder how much of it is because he’s intimidated.

“I’m more of a pickup basketball kind of guy, and she’s… Well, she’s into whatever game you play with a French manicure and Louboutins. The game she’s playing sucks, the players are mean, and I want nothing to do with it or them.

Nothing, except… My stupid lizard brain wouldn’t mind watching her play.”

Yet, he’s the character that grows the most in this book. He comes a long way from dismissing accusations of sexism because he works with women.

“You’re a goddamned professor. If you assume your female students who care about their appearance don’t know math, you’re doing them an incredible disservice.”

 Unlike other books where you can see the love interest has a deep antipathy for women, and even while falling in love with one (*cough* Whitney, My Love *cough*), falls in love with her because she is different and completely unlike other women, by the end you can see that for Jay respecting women is not theoretical, he has concrete examples.

This book was good, but it wasn’t overwhelmingly amazing. The first part was fun to read if I suspended disbelief that characters in their late 20s would act that way (people who are older than me may agree that this is normal, but as a measly teen–I think I expect more). It was a good read–Courtney Milan is an amazing writer.  But i dove in the book, expecting to be wowed; here expectations worked against me and so I’m a little disappointed.

Overall rating: 4/5

Empire of Storms: A Book Review


“The world will be saved and remade by the dreamers.”

Book: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)

Author: Sarah J Maas

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5)


The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

My thoughts: 

Trust me, you don’t want to know what I had to do to get my grubby hands on a copy of this book. So, it gives me great pleasure to tell you all about it and you’re so excited about the book, you have to listen because, I think this is what they call a captive audience.
While the title gives me gleeful shivers, I’m going to refer to the Empire of Storms as EoS throughout this post for convenience’s sake.

The plot thickens and there are more names to remember. It feels almost like an authentic fantasy book. We’ve come a long way from the frivolous confection masquerading as the Throne of Glass.  Plot wise, most of this book is about rounding up armies, underscoring how high the stakes are and gathering the major players. It’s also a chance for Sarah J. Maas to solidify her characters because… well, she’s not known for keeping them consistent.
Take the main character: She went from Celaena, spoiled and violent assassin, to Aelin, responsible and self-sacrificing queen.  What really sunders ToG fans  is the fact that she’s been attached romantically to 4 characters. I don’t know how Maas managed, but Celaena/Aelin has had great banter, romantic scenes and chemistry with all of them. Is it any  surprise the fandom will never agree on who she’ll get her happy ever after with?

“Even when this world is a forgotten whisper of dust between the stars, I will always love you.”

Speaking of romance, I don’t know if this could be classified as a spoiler (since it becomes obvious midway), but EoS is a first for Sarah J. Maas because there are no shifting ships. I can’t believe it but Rowan is still with Aelin. Dorian and Manon continue to play with fire (by toying with each other).

There are some ships I saw coming a mile away: Lysandra and Aedion toss some flirty banter back and forth. There are epic declarations and everything.

Lorcan reached out, grasping her chin and forcing her to look at him. Hopeless, bleak eyes met his. He brushed away a stray tear with his thumb. “I made a promise to protect you. I will not break it, Elide.”
“I will always find you,” he swore to her.
Her throat bobbed.
Lorcan whispered, “I promise.”

But guess who I’m shipping?
That’s right, Lorcan and Elide.  I know it seems like an unlikely pairing. Elide is an escaped slave girl and in the last book she really got on my nerves because she seemed to depend on everyone else to save her. However, in this book she starts to stand on her own feet. She is a masterful liar, a conman in every sense of the word. She’s brave and ferocious and weirdly enough, she’s unflinchingly honest with herself.
Lorcan is a vicious fey warrior whose constant companion is death. Until EoS, I thought he was irredeemable. Who would have guessed that he had a gruff, sweet side? But EoS makes it clear Lorcan’s a man of actions, not of words. His strength and cynicism perfectly complements Elide’s cunning intelligence and boundless optimism. Together they’re beautiful. I have to hold myself back from crushing on him; I would be devastated if this ship sank.

Let me end this the way my English teachers have warned me not to: All in all, EoS was perfection. The real question is, can you wait another year for the last book to come out?

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Adorkable: A Book Review

Book: Adorkable

Author: Cookie O’Gorman



Adorkable (ah-dor-kuh-bul): Descriptive term meaning to be equal parts dorky and adorable. For reference, see Sally Spitz.

Seventeen-year-old Sally Spitz is done with dating. Or at least, she’s done with the horrible blind dates/hookups/sneak attacks her matchmaking bestie, Hooker, sets her up on. There’s only so much one geek girl and Gryffindor supporter can take.

Her solution: she needs a fake boyfriend. And fast.

Enter Becks, soccer phenom, all-around-hottie, and Sally’s best friend practically since birth. When Sally asks Becks to be her F.B.F. (fake boyfriend), Becks is only too happy to be used. He’d do anything for Sal–even if that means giving her PDA lessons in his bedroom, saying she’s “more than pretty,” and expertly kissing her at parties.

The problem: Sally’s been in love with Becks all her life–and he’s completely clueless.

This book features two best friends, one special edition Yoda snuggie, countless beneath-the-ear kisses and begs the question:

Who wants a real boyfriend when faking it is so much more fun?

My thoughts:

This is not to be confused with Sarah Manning’s book of the same name. That one features a well-known blogger in high school who lives by herself. This one features a much more “normal” protagonist; she’s geeky and in love with her best-friend.

Adorkable was a very light and quick read. It didn’t touch upon any serious issues. The characters were adorably stereotypical and the plot-line was blessedly predictable. One serious issue I had with the book was the whole premise. Sally is in high-school?  Why are her mother and best-friend so concerned about her being boy-friendless. High school is nowhere near the point at which you are supposed to be in a serious relationship. I’d estimate that age to be closer to 30, maybe 35.

A relatively minor quibble compared to that gaping plot hole is Sally’s plan to get into Duke. Now that I’m a Senior and applying to colleges, I’m aware that Duke requires a really high-caliber student. Leadership in a couple of extracurriculars, several AP’s and a super high test score are expected. And I don’t know about the other 2 criterion, but president of German club and a position on newspaper staff probably wouldn’t be enough unless she was a recruited athlete or she got ridiculously lucky.

On the other hand, this book was sweet. Cookie O’Gorman did a better job of diving into the trivialities of a teenage brain than most YA authors.  This made the book funny at points. It was a breeze to read through and I “aww”ed a couple of times because it was just that cute.

“I was free, liberated. For a second there I even considered burning my bra.”

Overall Rating: 2/5


The Unexpected Everything: A Book Review

“Theoretical crushes could remain perfect and flawless, because you never actually had to find out what that person was really like or deal with the weird way they chewed or anything.”

Book: The Unexpected Everything

Author: Morgan Matson

The Unexpected Everything



Andie had it all planned out.
When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.
Important internship? Check.
Amazing friends? Check.
Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).
But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.
Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.
And where’s the fun in that?

My thoughts:

Who would have thought that this book would be so relatable?
I mean, I know this was a Morgan Matson book and she writes fabulously down-to-earth characters, but scandal and senator’s daughters just don’t seem real. 

But here’s the thing: I identified with Andie so much. Morgan Matson somehow figured out exactly what an over-achieving teen’s brain looks like. I could empathize with Andie’s frantic search for summer employment after her initial internship falls through. When she spoke about “spinning” stuff to make it sound more important, I gasped a little because I recognized me in that statement. As she muses over what activities she needs to make her college application perfect, I feel her.
Just like Andie, I’m not necessarily proud of the super-organisation or massive management that goes into my life. Just like her, I sort of need to plan spontaneity. I stress about similar things, about sharing feelings and having my game plan fall through.

Andie is surrounded by a group of people you would love to be surrounded by. They’re not perfect; they have their annoying idiosyncrasies, they sometimes take themselves too seriously and they don’t always get along. However, they’re fun and supportive, creative and welcoming. Like any other group, their are under-currents of frustration between them and impatience just waiting to boil over. But their perfect imperfections are what makes them real.

One very cool thing about this book is the relationship between Andie and her dad. At the beginning of the book, they are practically strangers because they’ve never really talked to each other. They love each other in theory, in a distant, polite sort of way.  Somewhere during the course of the book, their relationship evolves. They sit down and talk about things that have been going unvoiced for too long. They negotiate over teenage rights. They go on crazy scavenger hunts. From beginning to end, Dad plays a major role.

“DAD!” I screamed as I barreled into the house, Toby at my heels. A second later, I realized how that sounded. “Everything is fine!” I yelled a moment later. There was no need to give my father a heart attack.

“No, it’s not!” Toby yelled, though a little less loudly than me. “We need help!”

Hands down, the sweetest part of the book is the romance. I have a tiny crush on Clark, because he is adorable and funny and witty.  There is cute banter and story telling about an assassin named Marjorie and a thief named Karl (it’s obvious who these characters are supposed to represent). There are inside jokes and a crazy dog. First and foremost, Clark and Andie are friends. What’s not to love?
The theme of the day seems to be perfect because of imperfections and this tiny love story is no different. Andie doesn’t even want a serious relationship. She goes out with him, without even knowing his last name. There is a crappy date, and Clark has his own set of uncertainties. But the romance is like sour punk- just sweet enough to be candy, and sour enough to be interesting.

” ‘I was just thinking,’ I said, sure that the rest of the crowd could probably hear how hard my heart was beating, since it seemed deafening to me, pounding in my ears, ‘that maybe Marjorie realized she was in love with Karl. And told him that. And said she was sorry for being scared.”

This book is hilarious, a little wacky and immensely relatable. The term ‘feels’ was coined for this book. It’s not a story about family, it’s not a story about friends, it’s not a story about love or even growing up. It’s a complex piece that really has trouble fitting into any one of these categories. It’s ridiculously realistic, ridiculously beautiful. Go read it.

Overall Rating: 5/5



Kick Push: A Book Review

“You said that life’s just like skating; I just need to kick forward and take a chance, push off the ground and follow through. And when everything works out, I’ll coast.”

Book: Kick Push

Author: Jay McLean

Kick Push (Kick Push, #1)


There’s a single defining moment within every skater.
It lasts only a second. Two if you’re good.
Three if you’re really good.
It’s the moment you’re in the air, your board somewhere beneath you, and nothing but wind surrounds you.
It’s the feeling of being airborne.

The sixteen-year-old version of me would’ve said it was the greatest feeling in the world.
Then at seventeen, I had my son.
And every single second became a defining moment. Even the ones that consisted of heartbreak when his mother left us.

Seventeen. Single. Dad.
That’s what my life became.
Yet, every day, I managed to find that feeling of being airborne.
Or at least I convinced myself I did.
But I lied—to myself and to everyone around me.
Until she showed up; Tanned skin, raven dark hair, and eyes the color of emeralds.

You know what sucks about being in the air?
Coming down from the high.
Sometimes you land on the board and nail the trick.
Then kick, push, and coast away.
Other times you fall.
You fall hard.
And those are the times when it’s not as easy to get back up, dust off your pads and try again.
Especially when the girl with the emerald eyes becomes your drug…
And you become her poison.

My thoughts:

Kick Push was one of my Random Reads. I don’t know why I picked it up. It was about a skater. I know nothing about skating. It was a new-adult romance. I typically dislike angsty, over-blown new-adult romances. It promised to cover teen pregnancy. (This is going to sound awful) I’ve never considered the difficulties of being a single parent in your teens. Not in anything more than a vague, distant way.

Kick Push has amazing writing. It is lyrical and descriptive. Each word is violent and necessary. Each sentence high-kicks you in the face and each paragraph shoves your head under water. Sometimes, the writing was so beautiful and sad and simple, I found my lungs burning because I had forgotten to keep breathing.

“He punches the steering wheel. And then he breaks. The boy I love breaks. And there’s nothing sadder, nothing harder in the world than watching the person you love fall apart right before your eyes—and you can’t say or do anything”

Yes, it’s melodramatic and overblown. You can tell just by reading the blurb (which I did not do because it was a Random Read). It’s overly-poetic and unabashedly sorrowful but I can forgive it….Almost.

This book gave me so much more respect for single parents. In an abstract way, I knew that it wasn’t easy to be a single parent (or to be a teen parent). I know that jobs rarely want to hire high-schoolers with no experience. I know that child-care is expensive and I know that parents make sacrifices, but never has it resonated so much with me.

I am so impressed by Ms. McLean’s gutsy decision to write this from the perspective of a guy. Again, this  makes me sound recklessly uncaring,  but even though I’ve heard of single-mother teens, I’ve never considered how tough it would be for the father.

“You know what’s worse than your landlady calling you out on wearing cologne purely because you want to impress her granddaughter? I’ll tell you what. Being in the confined space of a truck while your son tells said granddaughter about how you paid him five moneys for him to tell you about what she said about you. Yeah. That’s happening.”

But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?)  this is first and foremost a love story. While I loved both characters individually, I couldn’t root for their relationship. They were just so broken and dealing with so many responsibilities, that I kept thinking their relationship was unhealthy. Maybe, that’s why I wasn’t surprised the relationship turned to shit, that the break-up was so destructive.

I appreciate that the book acknowledges that real-life lesson, that love isn’t always enough. That sometimes there is some scary, horrible things happening below the surface and that you need to be careful when you give your heart to someone, even if they’re the most selfless, bravest, kindest person you know.

This book ends on a cliff-hanger and I’m not even angry about it. If there was a happy-ending, I would have considered it rushed. Both characters fought some of their nasty demons in this book, but they still have a lot of growing up to do. There’s a second book (no idea when it’ll be released though).

“There’s a big difference between being happy and being selfish. Choose to be happy. Fire truck the rest.”

Overall Rating: 3/5

On a barely related side-note, this book makes me realize that real-life is scary.

Twilight: Why I Can’t Respect it

We all know the plot: Girl moves to rainy town. Falls in love with the”inhumanly” good looking loner at school almost at first sight. He turns out to be a sparkly vampire with masochistic, brooding tendencies. Vampire leaves girl for her own good. Girl cries for months. Werewolf falls in love with her. She tells him she wants to stay friends and jump off a cliff. Vampire thinks she’s killed herself and decides he finally wants to be Romeo to his Juliet., etc.  What am I talking about?

Twilight (Twilight, #1)

I was recently requested to review Twilight.
Twilight…is Twilight. It’s the series that we love to hate.  You might remember the”…still a better love story than Twilight.” and “Edward is Tinkerbell” memes. However, there is no doubt that the series was financially very succesful, with just the films grossing a profit of 2314 million dollars and inspiring the even more profitable 50 shades of grey phenomenon.

But I still don’t like it.

I don’t [openly] judge people who adore the book, but I do think it promotes some very unhealthy relationships. One thing that really disturbs me is that Bella’s life revolves around Edward. As a teenage girl, I feel qualified to say that life doesn’t revolve around one boy. There is school-work and sports practice. There is SAT prep and volunteering. There is the drama that comes with teachers who grade on curves and friends who need emotional support. There is going out for coffee and there is hanging out at the library until your squad gets enough nasty looks you feel compelled to leave. There is gossip about which guys are cute,  which ones are dating who and which ones would be a disaster. At this point (this point being high-school), few people think their love is going to last forever. Nobody dedicates much time to high-school romance. There is so much going on and so much nervous anticipation about the future, you very literally can’t picture being with the same person for the rest of your life. You can barely imagine getting married to them- much less following them into eternal death. You can’t imagine falling into a several-month long depression if/when they break up with you and ditching your friends, extra-curriculars and school-work.
Teenage girls do dream about love and romance. And there’s something inherently compelling about young lovers who are willing to give up their life  for each other. I know it’s not a new theme (Romeo and Juliet) but it’s such a waste of life.

Another thing that freaks me out about Edward and Bella’s relationship is the age-difference. In some case, age is not just a number. Edward has all the power. Not only is he physically stronger, he has also had more life experience (he’s lived for over a century). He’s able to ‘dazzle’ Bella at several points- compelling her to do things she was initially dead-set against. They’re not equals in the relationship because Bella is incapable of saying ‘no’. There’s a term for the type of relationship where someone has so much power over the other and that is rape (statutory rape is a real thing). I can not idealize a book about rape.

Still, I am reluctant to throw every single page of Twilight into the trash. Some of the characters that Stephanie Meyers has created have amazing backstories. Alice, for example, used to be in an asylum. Jasper is an ex-confederate soldier and was pressed into service in a military army. Rosalie was raped and murdered by her fiance. Esme was abused by her ex-husband and thus lost a baby. All of these characters carry so much baggage with them. I think Stephanie Meyers would have had a much healthier (and more compelling) story if she had chosen to focus on one of these characters and their struggle to become (mostly) healthy individuals.

Lady Midnight: A Book Review

Book: Lady Midnight (Dark Artifices #1)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)


It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

My thoughts:

So much controversy around this book. Complaints seem to revolve around the fact that this is  yet another book set in the mortal instrument world. I think this is the fifth series that Ms. Clare has set in this universe (Wow, I can’t even…)

This series, the Dark Artifices, features Julian, Mark and Emma and is set 5 years after the Mortal Instruments concluded.  There’s a brief appearance from Jace and Clary and crew in Lady Midnight.

Lady Midnight is from the perspective of someone who grew up the Shadowhunter way. As a result, there’s a whole lot less disbelief and angel-worship (like hero-worship but angels because the shadowhunters are part angel, geddit?). Instead, we get thrown head-first into the world of the clave and it’s shadowy politics: The law is hard but it is the law. Thank god! As someone who’s read both the Infernal Devices and the Mortal Instruments, I think I would have been bored if I was forced to go over all the world-building again. I love the shadowhunter world. It’s as exotic and on-point as always, very well though out and richly described.  But I wouldn’t recommend Lady Midnight for a first Cassandra Clare book.

Now onto the characters. Personally, I had trouble connecting with Emma. Part of the issue may be that I was expecting a female Jace. While Emma does have fighting skills and a good amount of recklessness, she doesn’t have the confidence that Jace seemed to exude in the Mortal Instruments. Though she has wholeheartedly accepted the Blackthorn’s as family, she is constantly fighting to prove (to herself because no one else ever doubts her place) that she belongs. To me, it seems like she’s trying too hard. At times she seems desperate and childish (especially when her parents are mentioned). I’m keeping an open mind because this is only the first book in the series and I know that character development has to take place. But currently, I would not consider Emma a positive role-model or even interesting.

“In the dark and shadows where secrets lived, that was where Julian survived. It was how he had managed for years.”

It’s hard to say what I think of Julian. Despite reading from his point of view several times, he’s still mysterious to me. I sympathize with him because he’s had the burden of caring for his family placed on his shoulders from a very early age. But he and the phrase “open-book” are direct antonyms.  He keeps everything so shuttered inside, it’s hard for me to know him as a character.But I like him for sure. I predict he’ll become more interesting as the series progresses.

Like always, Lady Midnight has a cast of well-developed and diverse background characters. There’s fierce Livvy, supportive Cristina (who is running from her past), intense and somewhat stalkery Kieran, insane Arthur, “Perfect Diego”….The list goes on.

But my favorite character has to be Mark, the missing Blackthorn sibling.  After 5 years with the Wild Hunt, he is a very different character. Initially, he seems broken and incapable of functioning in the human world. But through the course of the book, he becomes more confident, dangerous and (dare I say it?) seductive. Initially, I shipped him with Cristina. Then I shipped him with Kieran. After that, I put him together with Emma. Finally, I gave up; I just want him to be happy.

Lady Midnight doesn’t disappoint. Cassandra Clare’s writing style and characterization has only improved since she wrote her first series. All the elements and world-building that made TMI successful are present in Lady Midnight too.

Rating 3.5/5


“When you love someone, they become a part of who you are. They’re in everything you do. They’re in the air you breathe and the water you drink and the blood in your veins. Their touch stays on your skin and their voice stays in your ears and their thoughts stay in your mind. You know their dreams because their nightmares pierce your heart and their good dreams are your dreams too. And you don’t think they’re perfect, but you know their flaws, the deep-down truth of them, and the shadows of all their secrets, and they don’t frighten you away; in fact you love them more for it, because you don’t want perfect. You want them. You want—”

“When no one you know tells the truth, you learn to see under the surface.”



Morning Star: A Book Review

“If this is the end, I will rage toward it.”

Book: Morning Star (Red Rising #3)

Author: Pierce Brown


Morning Star (Red Rising, #3)


Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied – and too glorious to surrender.

My thoughts: 

After the ending of Golden Son, what were we supposed to think? I was fairly sure Darrow was screwed. But of course, that didn’t happen because you knew there was one book left over in the series.

Holy fuck! This book takes place a year after the last book ended. Even if you can’t do the math, the book reminds you that Darrow has been tortured for 12 months. Understandably,  at the end, he’s more cynical and defeated.
To be honest, I missed the Darrow who was playing a practical joke on the rest of the world, naively brave and good. But this is what you sacrifice when you read a well-written book: Your characters change. Darrow’s always been a nuanced, complex and troubled. But he’s also emotionally immature and unstable. In this book he does a lot of growing up. He’s still not perfect. There were several times in the book that I wanted to slap him and tell him to get over himself.  Somewhere in between the two books, halfway between the starvation and the use of the sharp implements, Darrow’s grown less idealistic. He’s grown up and finishes up the last stage of grieving by admitting that Eo wasn’t perfect. That admirable thing he did in the last two books where he went out of his way to preserve every single life? Gone. In this book, Darrow’s playing a game on a grander scheme and he’s willing to sacrifice a couple of thousand lives (and does accidentally kill off several million people).

The secondary characters in this book are no less fleshed out. Minerva’s still the cool, calculating general. Her brother, Jackal is the main villain of this piece (no surprise, right?) to my utter disappointment; I seem to have a thing for book-psychos.

“This is always how the story would end,” he says to me. “Not with your screams. Not with your rage. But with your silence.”

Sevro’s one of the characters to change the most. Still potty-mouthed and funny, he’s become more serious as the leader of the Sons of Ares. He’s still rash, but he has a certain gravity which is inspiring to see (even through the pages of a book). 

“A man thinks he can fly, but he is afraid to jump. A poor friend pushes him from behind.” He looks up at me. “A good friend jumps with.”

But the part I love most about this book has to be the world-building. No detail has been missed and I’m willing to bet that Pierce Brown has a document 1000’s of pages long about the Red Rising World. From the social structure to the description of inventions, everything is on point. The Red Rising World is my idol for World Building. 

I am so glad that the long wait for the last book of the series is over. Morning Star was everything I hoped for and more. I can’t say much more without seriously spoiling things, but I would recommend this series (and by extension) this book. The pressing question on my mind now is: What’s next? 

Overall Rating: 4.5/5


“In war, men lose what makes them great. Their creativity. Their wisdom. Their joy. All that’s left is their utility.”

“Forget a man’s name and he’ll forgive you. Remember it, and he’ll defend you forever.”

“What is pride without honor? What is honor without truth? Honor is not what you say. It is not what you read. Honor is what you do.”