A Tower of Bittersweet Feelings: A Review on Tower of Dawn

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Title: Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6)

Author: Sarah J Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Release date: 5 September 2017


I was looking forward to Tower of Dawn, Chaol Westfall (who I love)’s book which centres on him and Nesryn on their journey to the Southern Continent during the last book Empire of Storms (in which they are absent), but I was also hesitant given Maas’ rep record hadn’t been great. With disabled people and poc in mind, I read it.

I ended up having mixed feelings. I don’t hate, but I don’t love it either. I like it and found it slightly better than Empire of Storms. I was annoyed, a little angry, sad, but also happy.

Spoilers ahead… Continue reading

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A Review on Starswept

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Title: Starswept

Author: Mary Fan

Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

Release date: 29 August 2017

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Starswept swept me off my feet with its tale of a hardworking viola player Iris Lei who gains a patron from another planet called Adrye and freedom from the oppressive system of her world, but not before she encounters the mysterious Damiul, an Adryil (a local from Adrye) who is caught trespassing her school. She becomes curious and infatuated with him especially after he hints that their worlds might not be what she thought they were. Things don’t seem to add up once Iris arrives on Adrye to start her new life.

The writing is beautiful, reflecting a musical atmosphere, and the plot is a slow burner, built by suspense. There were times where I felt the story was heading aimlessly though. Iris does a lot of thinking. The book shows characters speaking the Adryil language. Finally, a sci-fi/fantasy book that doesn’t just have “they spoke in another language (but the author refuses to write words or even sentences in that language)”.

As for the characters, they were okay. I didn’t feel a strong attachment to them because, besides Iris, they were sort of underdeveloped and their role felt quite small, and Iris’ constant contemplation on Damiul got on my nerves (she isn’t really subtle with her emotions or thoughts either). I didn’t buy their romance. They barely know each other. Yet Iris is willing to give up everything and put herself in danger for him? A bit too much, don’t you think? Though Damiul being “re-educated” made me stay reading their scenes.

Despite the flaws, I did enjoy the book.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟 1/2

Enchantedly Dark: A Review on Caraval

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Title: Caraval

Author: Stephanie Garber

Release date: January 2017

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

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TWs: parent-child abuse

I’m sucker for magical circuses and games, so I was sucked into the world of Caraval. The book centres on Scarlett who enters a magical game that involves her missing sister Tella. Together with Julian, the guy who helped them escape from their abusive father, Scarlett races against time to find Tella and win the game. That’s if she can guard her heart and mind from tricks and the Master (Legend) of the game himself…

The writing is magic itself. It sweeps you away and does envelop you like the game and fairytale-like setting. The characters are well developed – though Scarlett annoyed me every now and then – like she still doesn’t learn her mistakes after 300 pages? I found Tella annoying too but she showed her worth through her romantic but calculating ways. Much of their desperate motives (that eventually lead to disastrous results) are rooted in their desire to escape their father so that made me sympathise.

Julian was an interesting character and he has a secret – which he’s terrible at hiding – and of course that kept me turning the page. I liked how the Master of Caraval remains a mystery and an ominous presence in the end. There wasn’t enough of Aiko, a histographer who helps Scarlett every now and then. I want her journal.

The romance…was it necessary? I felt Scarlett and Julian were more platonic – and worked better that way. I’m sure friendships are enough to raise the emotional stakes when it comes to danger.

The book could’ve had a better ending. It felt choppy and a cop out especially after all the careful and brilliant twists and turns, and well, bloody stuff.

At times, it was hard to get through the book – in particular scenes involving Scarlett’s father, but it was an enjoyable read.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

A Review on They Both Die at the End

Title: They Both Die at the End

Author: Adam Silvera

Publisher: HarperTeen/Simon & Schuster AU

Release date: September 5, 2017

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On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

I’m still struggling to write my thoughts about this upcoming book about risks, cute but emotional bonding, and challenging fate. So I’m going to make a summary list and use gifs.

The world: I like how ordinary it is but it has a dystopian-like feel because of Death-Cast. I still don’t know how they could know who’s going to die, but I like the mystery.

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The characters: They were well developed and make you want to root for them except for Peck (LOL). Mateo, precious cinnamon roll, representing homebodies and Rufus, the bad boy with an emotional past and who doesn’t force Mateo out of the house.

Relationships: Mateo and Rufus, two Latino boys falling for each other. From awkward first meeting to spending time together without caring….I’m tearing up.

Last thoughts: I felt adventurous after reading the book. Prepare for some fun times as well as sad ones.

They Both Die at the End comes out in September.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Music to My Soul: A Review on Wintersong

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Title: Wintersong

Author: S Jae-Jones

Publisher: Titan Books

Release date: February 7, 2017

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“We must not look at goblin men,

We must not buy their fruits.

Who knows upon what soil they fed

Their hungry thirsty roots?”

Oh gosh, I love Christina Rossetti since my first year at uni, so Wintersong got my attention with “beware of goblin men”. The book centres on Liesel, the dutiful daughter and sister who has a hidden talent in composing. She becomes entangled with the Goblin King when he takes her sister. After sacrificing her life for her sister, Liesel learns the secrets of his realm, the price of her sacrifice, the Goblin Queens before her, and that there’s more to the Goblin King under his intimidating and beautiful façade.

Wintersong‘s greatest strength is the writing which hooked, well more like seduced me. It’s poetic and musical, perfect for a story where music has a major role and influenced by a Rossetti poem, and folklore. I feel inspired to play my piano now.

The plot is a slow-burning one and if you’re looking for action or a much higher ominous presence than the Goblin King, you would be disappointed. However, I liked how the book is focused on Liesel’s inner turmoil and her mental health. I liked how her thoughts and feelings shifted constantly. Her relationships with her siblings teared me up. The romance between her and the Goblin King is okay. The sex scenes were seductive, but it felt weird and there’s the fact that Liesel kept pushing the guy into sexual situations and became dependent on him as if he was the one who could keep her alive, and he also abducted her sister to get her. But he turns into a better person in the end and does the right thing.

Maybe I’m getting tired of stories like Beauty and the Beast and have female characters trying to get their men out of their brooding shells, but I rolled my eyes and sighed as Liesel tried to get the Goblin King to be open with her and heal him through love. I was more interested in Liesel getting back to her family and creating music.

On diversity, even though I knew that the cast is white, Liesel and her siblings are biracial Asians in my mind. Sorry, it’s just how I keep picturing them. There’s one black character Francois who’s a musical genius. Francois and Liesel’s brother Josef develop a bond and it’s implied that it’s beyond platonic. I hope we get to see more of them in the second book. If you’re black, just be aware that there’s a slur (to refer Francois) in the book. I was a little disappointed that the book didn’t explore more on female sexuality or play more with the themes Goblin Market evokes.

I didn’t like the words that are associated with civilisation/colonisation such as “savage” to describe the goblin festivities, a contrast to human ones. I wish the goblins including Liesel’s attendants had more page time.

Despite its flaws, I enjoyed Wintersong and can’t wait for the sequel 🙂

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟