The Girl and the Stars Review

On Abeth the vastness of the ice holds no room for individuals. Survival together is barely possible. No one survives alone. To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is not the same. Yaz is torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her days with, and has to carve out a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of difference and mystery and danger.

This was a little unexpected. I didn’t read the blurb and didn’t know anything about the plot going into this story simply because I wanted to be surprised and Mark Lawrence hasn’t done me wrong yet. However, this fell a little flat for me. I was immediately enraptured by the Book of the Ancester’s series and how raw and merciless it was. This was like a watered down version of that in a way. It still had all the elements there and could of been great for me but it just was lacking the oomph!

Yaz’s character definitely goes on a journey throughout the course of this book. She stars off quite young and naïve and then her eyes are opened to the harshness of life below the ice and becomes a lot more hardened and willing to make more difficult choices. I think her decision to find Zeen blinded her from realising how much she was willing to sacrifice and the guilt that she would inevitably feel having put people in danger.

I just don’t feel like the whole love rectangle was really necessary. Sure she is coming into adulthood and the relationship with Quell was already established, but gaining those feelings for Thurin and Erris so quckly kind of pulled me out of the story. In terms of the plot I didn’t think it added anything to the storyline except for confusion.

The concept of the stars and how Yas somehow has power over them and the path was interesting and was a nice nod to the previous series. There was just a lot of info bombing happening and it was a difficult to keep track of everything, especially when Yas fell in the city. The way it was told it was difficult for me to picture everything and see how it was all unfolding. I am still somewhat invested though and definitely want to find out what is going to happen next so I am excited for the next book in the series to be released!

⭐️ 2/5 stars Underwhelming unfortunately…

These Violent Delights Review

*SPOILERS BELOW*

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery. A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

Juliette is definitely a breath of fresh air in terms of female main protagonists. I think it was the fact that she wasn’t afraid to be the bad person in the situation. When she came back from America she was fully committed to being the heir to the Scarlet Gang and would bully and intimidate her way through the ranks and gain the respect of the others members even though she is a woman.

Roma I felt like we didn’t get to know him enough for me to be invested to him as a character. The book was kind of more focused on Juliette even though it was dual perspective and I don’t feel like I was able to make much of a connection with Roma as I was with her. He is intriguing and the predicament that he finds himself in being in love with Juliette and having his father find out and use that information against him was gripping. But I want to say the whole situation was a little too predictable but then again this is a retelling so I can only expect so much.

The mystery aspect with the monster and finding out who was behind the vaccine and finding the lakspur was tedious. There really wasn’t any urgency until Roma’s little sister was infected and then I feel like everything came together too easily. Like all the factors were there and they just couldn’t see it until it really started to matter.

I liked the fact that we are given insight into the other characters and it just isn’t all about Juliette and Roma. I was also highly invested in the two gangs and the way they differentiated from each other. Learning about the blood feud and why the two gangs are so willing to kill each other when they breach each other’s territories gave much needed depth and excitement.

⭐️ 3/5 stars Just ok, will definitely be continuing on!

Catherine House Review

*A few spoilers below*

Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises its graduates a future of sublime power and prestige, and that they can become anything or anyone they desire.

I liked seeing Ines’s growth over the three years at the Catherine House. I was invested in her right from the star, She was quite a refreshing character and seemed really unpredictable and effervescent. I love that she didn’t just blindly accept what was going on at Catherine House and over the years her queries still persisted.

I really loved that we got to learn a lot about some of the other students at the school as well. After Baby I didn’t think that Ines would be able to connect with anyone but I really appreciated her friend group and how they all looked out for each other. Sure the environment wasn’t particularly healthy but I thought they all coped pretty well under the circumstances.

I feel like there was a steady build up of tension and anticipation throughout the course of the storyline. Even though this was a relatively short book there were many different twists and turns that kept me guessing and wanting to read more. The twist with Theo was a nice surprise, I didn’t see that coming at all. I thought it was a little problematic that Ines was willing to go into this whole relationship with him just to break into the lab but in the end it seems like their goals were quite similar in a way. I had him pegged as a nice guy and to have that thrown in my face was fun!

I honestly didn’t know what was happening for the majority of the book in terms of what was actually happening at the school, I was kind of just along for the ride. The whole concept of the plasma and all the scientific explanations behind it went right over my head. That was the one thing I felt pulled me out of the story a little. I guess I just wasn’t interested in any explanations I as just here for the journey of this cultish school.

⭐️3/5 stars This was strange…

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain Review

I really enjoyed this!

The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover—a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty—and discover how truth can survive becoming history.

We learn so much more about Chih in this book without having to go into minute details about them particularly. It’s more so the way they react to situations or how much they rely on Almost Brilliant’s companionship. The stoicism when they had to tell the story to the tiger’s even though they were frightened really conveyed their character to me.

Si-Yu was a quirky character. I liked that we got to learn more about the different kinds of people in this world and how they differ from the previous book. I would of liked to have learnt more about the Mammoth corp and the history of their family but alas this was a novella and there is only so much information we are going to be given about each character.

What really captivated me was the tigers, I was very much interested and intrigued by them from the start. The fact that they can shapeshift into humans, yet they are still considered tigers. The way Chih had to negotiate with them in order to not be eaten and the way they interjected throughout the course of the tale because Chih had it wrong. How Chih had to reiterate that this was only the way they had been told the tale and to ask the tigers to correct it.

The one qualm I have is that the writing style is a little hard to get into. It’s kind of structured in a way that you really have to pay attention at all times and take in what is being said. It’s quite a lyrical and descriptive style and isn’t something I am able to just pick up straight away I have to kind of ease myself into it. And being that this is so short the books halfway done by the time I’m situated.

⭐️3/5 stars I was invested, definitely unlike anything I’ve read before!

The Midnight Library Review

*SPOILERS BELOW*

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”

I absolutely loved this book! The concept was intriguing, compelling and highly original. The way the story was structured held my attention and the length was honestly perfect!

Nora’s character and her journey throughout the course of the plotline and her lives was highly interesting. I was pretty much invested right from the start when we learn she decided to kill herself. Her self discovery, jumping between her lives and coming back and forth from the library made for a really honestly entertaining read.

I have always been a fan of the butterfly effect and to see that kind of theory put in narrative form was unlike anything I’ve ever read. Seeing how one simple decision could have such a major effect on the way her life could of been. I liked the fact that we meet other people who are in the same situation that Nora is in, making their way through their various lives. It added some depth to the story and was another element that kept me wanting to read more.

The only thing that I wasn’t a big fan of what all of the philosophical talk and how they kind of broke down what was happening into more scientific elements. I would of appreciated if we kind of had to just accept what was happening without any kind of explanation. I think it would of make the experience that little bit more touching. Not really knowing if The Midnight Library was a real place and actually happened to Nora or if she just imagined everything after she overdosed.

I think just the second chance at life trope was something that touched me and I really found myself sympathising with Nora and happy that she managed to figure out what she really wanted in the end!

⭐️4/5 stars Poignant, relevant & impactful!!!