Mini Reviews on The Dark Prophecy and One of Us is Lying

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The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy

The sequel to The Trials of Apollo series was worth the wait and hype. It follows up with Apollo on his quest to find his demigod friend/master Meg, fulfill a prophecy, and uncover the identities of the rest of the evil Triumvirate.

From the start, I was completely hooked because 1) Apollo is my favourite Greek god 2) the voice is pretty good 3) Apollo makes me laugh while struggling to overcome his selfishness to save his friends and other mortals 4) Calypso is awesome 5) Emmie and Josephine are former Hunters of Artemis and are a loving couple 5) The Throne of Memory is intriguing.

While the book ended with a very dark prophecy and the return of a Percy Jackson character, the ending felt anticlimactic for a cliffhanger, compared to the first book.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


One of Us is Lying

[spoilers ahead]

The Breakfast Club meets Gossip Girl meets Cluedo. Five students end up in detention but one (Simon) dies, leading to a murder investigation and the remaining four (Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy and Nate) become suspects. They all have secrets. Secrets that Simon knows and was about to reveal to the world through his notorious gossip app About That before his death. So who killed him to keep theirs?

My eyes and hands were glued to the book. I couldn’t put it down. The characters are high school stereotypes (jock, princess, geek, bad boy and outsider) but they’re much deeper than that. The book has an interesting plot twist but I didn’t like the “outsider/depressed kid is the killer” trope. It’s not refreshing and is insulting. Not every social outcast wants revenge nor are depressed people dangerous. It sucks even more when the ones who hate or drove the outsider to commit something dangerous aren’t punished or don’t learn from their actions.

I want a story where the mastermind isn’t an outsider or someone who just wants to fit in or have mental health issues.

The ending of the book felt like a contemporary romance with the characters not shown how effected they were by the situation they were in. It was like nothing happened. Like a different book just started. While I enjoyed the romance blossoming between Nate and Bronwyn, it felt out of place in the epilogue.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Happily Ever After: A Review on When Dimple Met Rishi

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Title: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon

Publisher: Hachette/Simon Pulse

Release date: 30 May 2017

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It’s been a while since I read a feel good book with poc leads and When Dimple Met Rishi is the latest. And it’s refreshing. The book centres on Dimple rejecting her mother’s wish for her to get married to chase her dreams and freedom, and there’s Rishi. He’s an obedient and responsible son and observes traditions so he’s fine with the marriage/match arranged by his parents and Dimple’s parents. Only Dimple doesn’t know anything about this, so when Rishi appears out of nowhere, proclaiming that she’s his future wife, she throws her ice coffee at him. But soon things between them blossom.

This is probably the first book that deals with arranged marriages in an ambivalent light and most of the time, I didn’t cringe. Dimple refuses to give in and Rishi learns to accept that. There’s no denying that there’s a bond between them and are right for each other. They’re both complex characters going through inner turmoil – Dimple is in an inner conflict between her future career and this relationship growing between her and Rishi. Rishi wants to do his duties and study engineering, make his parents proud, but he also wants to do comics. They help each other to overcome their flaws and battles.

To be honest, I didn’t expect the book to be so geeky that I geeked so much. There are even scenes where Dimple and Rishi attend a con. There’s also the family aspect that I found relatable. Dimple’s mum reminds me of mine. Both mums want the daughters to wear makeup often and find a guy, and not bring shame to the family – not embarrass them in front of friends or relatives.

Dimple slightly shying away from her culture and just be a modern American teen hits home for me. I was like that as a teen. Rishi being comfortable with his culture is me now. I’m not the right person to say things on Indian rep, but I do like how the book shows that Indian-Americans are diverse and beyond stereotypes – there’s Dimple and Rishi, there’s more to their parents besides being strict and fussy, and there’s Hari totally distancing himself away from his culture and other Indians. He even cringes at Rishi’s love for his heritage and says his name as “Harry”. Sometimes fitting in doesn’t stop after high school, I get it.

Hilarious and emotionally invested that you would lose track of time, When Dimple Met Rishi is the contemporary romance you need to read. Now, I’m craving for an ice coffee. Bye.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

A Unique Dark Fantasy: A Review on The Bone Witch

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Title: The Bone Witch

Author: Rin Chupeco

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release date: 7 March 2017

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I didn’t know what to expect before reading The Bone Witch other than a story about witches by a poc author. The book grabbed me with its haunting atmosphere and Chupeco’s beautiful words.

The Bone Witch centres on Tea who isn’t like any magic user. She can raise and manipulate the dead and beasts that come under a bone witch’s control. Because of this, she is feared and hated by society but has a promising future. She is forced to leave her family to be trained while a war approaches.

Even though I was hooked, I became only invested in the latter half of the book when things started to get interesting and a plot was formed as I felt that the story was aimless. Every now and then, I got lost because I wasn’t sure what was happening or there was no explanation to the characters’ actions or thinking. There were terms and occupations that weren’t clear and quickly brushed away.

I got the impression that the asha are like geiko or geishas and they are interesting. I wish that them using their magic had more page time. Because the book is in first person (Tea’s pov), there’s a lot of summarising/telling and not a lot of action, so it was hard to stay engaged or be in the moment. When it comes to the characters, I did form a connection to them but later I felt detached. They were good but they weren’t as solid as Tea and her brother Fox and there wasn’t much character development for them.

I love the relationship between Tea and Fox which has a dark twist to it. They’re bonded by blood but also magic and that makes things intense.

I didn’t buy into the romance between Tea and Prince Kance. There wasn’t even a build up to it or a build up of feelings that Tea experiences and Kance didn’t do anything to grab my attention – he also felt like a minor character. Tea had more of a rapport with Kalen. Despite that, along with her interactions with rival Zoya and Khalad, who threatened her in the past, I found Tea smoothing things out with the three not believable. Like how can you go from hating to instantly “oh my god, I was wrong, I’m sorry, let’s be friends”?

Despite the negatives, I did find The Bone Witch unique. Tea is an anti-heroine and I love the alternating chapters showing her as a naïve girl and an asha-in-training and her as a powerful witch, isolated and on the road to battle an enemy. The book explores her struggle with expectations and how she fails and succeeds and falls again, but she learns and ends up taking charge of her life.

I love the culture, a multicultural world, which burns brightly and seems to be inspired by India, Japan, the Middle East and to an extent, Russia? If the characters don’t connect you to the book, the setting and culture will. The only thing that bothered me was a tribe being typically portrayed as brutal, unnerving, associated with nature and speaking a harsh-sounding language. And they only appear in one scene to give a gift to the protagonist. That’s it?

I understand that this is a first book, so there are things that aren’t tied up at the end and I’m still confused and disappointed that the stakes weren’t as high as I expected from a fantasy. I guess this is a stepping stone to a much bigger plot and I’m waiting for it 🙂

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Wild, Tense and Definitely Shadowy But Satisfying: A Review on Lord of Shadows

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Title: Lord of Shadows

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Release date: 23 May 2017

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What to say about the anticipated Lord of Shadows? The new entry to the Shadowhunter world is worth the wait and read. The second book of The Dark Artifices series continues on with Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn fighting their love for each other, while a new darker force in the form of the Unseelie Court threatens them, Julian’s family and the rest of the Shadowhunters.

Some spoilers ahead…

The book hooked me in from the first page. The mesmerising writing, strong characters and a high stakes plot are a deadly combination here, not to mention the connection to The Infernal Devices [cries]. Cassandra Clare really knows how to crush your heart especially when it comes to the ending – I did not see that coming and I’m still recovering.

The characters are more fleshed out and shaped carefully and uniquely so that you could feel what they’re feeling, every moment they’re in. I thought I was going to be tired and annoyed about Emma and Julian, but no I’m still rooting for them to be together and I liked how their tragic romance isn’t a distraction. It’s tied to what’s happening around them. We get to see more of Diego and Jaime and how their story is connected as well. I thought I was tired of Herondales but…I was wrong. Kit is a welcoming presence and…quite different and unexpected. He isn’t arrogant or charming like the others. He wants freedom, to run away but is conflicted.

I teared up as his and Ty’s relationship blossomed. They just clicked. Kit might give off an indifferent and brooding teen vibe, but he’s surprisingly loyal and understands Ty. The Blackthorn kids are more involved in this book and I grew so attached to them. Family is such an important theme and despite absent parents, I love that the book revolves around a close-knit family, functional but messy at the same time. Besides romance, the Blackthorns’ wish to be fully reunited with their eldest sister Helen is also intertwined with the plot. I really love how everything is tied and necessary, even the mundane scenes – I found those a reprieve from the rest of the heart palpitating ones.

I didn’t mind Cristina, Mark and Kieran. I think they would work well as a threesome. You would understand once you read the book. We learn that faeries aren’t all cold and evil, but are as complex as everyone else. Even Gwyn, the leader of the Wild Hunt, and he shows a softer side as he falls all over Diana. It was so unexpected that I laughed and went all heart eyes. The Seelie Queen is…subdued but still carries a creepy vibe. The Unseelie King…while he creeps me out too, I wish he had more scenes since he’s quite intriguing.

Annabel Blackthorn comes back to life. I wasn’t surprised that she killed Malcolm. I would be pissed off too if I was resurrected without my permission. Annabel isn’t exactly a villain but she is a force to be reckoned with and I felt a weird urge to protect her at all cost. She’s hurt, lost in a new world and preventing worse things from happening because of the Black Volume which raises the dead and something darker than that. But Julian and Emma need the book, but so does the Unseelie King and Seelie Queen. A lot of tension, I know.

We see more socio-political things with the rise of the Cohort, an anti-Downworlder group who want to put restrictions on Downworlders and return to a “golden age of Shadowhunters”. They’re a reflection on hate groups in our world and wow, did they make my blood boil. There’s only so much Jia Penhallow, the Consul, can do. After ten books, the Clave still got on my nerves.

On the diverse rep, I was impressed by its improvement in the whole Shadowhunter universe. Clare has managed to add intersectionality and that’s important. Diana is black and is trans and Gwyn doesn’t mind that – he respects her. Ty is autistic and he isn’t burdened by it, and the book more than hints that he’s gay. His feelings for Kit is too hard to miss. Mark and Kieran are bi. Aline Penhallow, who’s biracial, and Helen make an appearance, and so does Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood who are now parents. It didn’t feel like Clare was throwing every marginalised group in nor does the people respecting and accepting the characters come off as unrealistic or too optimistic. What I’d like to see more are LGBTQIA+ people who are still underrepresented and interracial relationships that doesn’t have a white person in. Of course this is my opinion as a poc and bi. I don’t know if other diverse readers agree.

Lord of Shadows is a book that promises you promises and hope, but when you’re getting close to them, it rips you away. But you still want to know what happens, do a reread, and waiting for the next book is going to be agony. Anyway, I recommend the book – one of the best Shadowhunters books 🙂

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

A Flaming Plot: A Review on Flame in the Mist

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Title: Flame in the Mist

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Publisher: Putnam/Hachette Aus

Release date: 16 May 2017

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Was Flame in the Mist worth the wait? Yes. Did Renée Ahdieh sweep me off my feet again? Oh. My. God. Yes. The book is the setting stone to a new series and centres on Mariko who is almost killed on her way to her royal betrothed. She is determined to find her assassins and get some answers from them. She suspects the notorious Black Clan and infiltrates their ranks under disguise. But are they really the ones who targeted her?

The book has a slow burning plot and despite that and getting hooked midway, I enjoyed it (I definitely didn’t see that twist at the end coming). The main characters are well developed. Mariko is not another Mulan. She has her own strength, personality and flaws. Although I’m over the mysterious, brooding love interest, I love Okami but I don’t ship Mariko and him. I felt their romance was…flat. There’s definitely tension and banter, but from the scene where they first kiss and getting hot and heavy and onwards, they didn’t make sense as a couple.

I wish the minor but interesting characters like Yumi and Genmei had more scenes. As for the use of Japanese culture, it didn’t feel like just an “exotic” backdrop. Much respect and care were given into incorporating it into the story, but I also felt that it wasn’t anything new. I would love the culture to be explored further than the typical things we see/read – hopefully in the next book. Of course this is just my opinion and I’m not Japanese, so I might have missed something. The only thing that bothered me was Japanese words even honorifics being italicised.

I want to know what readers who are Japanese or members of the Japanese diaspora thought of the book. If you’re Japanese, please let me know your thoughts below 🙂

There’s so many things to say about this book, but I’m struggling to write them out [laughs], so here are some gifs to encompass my thoughts and feelings:

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (definitely recommend)