July 2021

Usually, I dread summer because I’m always anticipating a heatwave, but I’m so grateful this year that we haven’t really had one. I normally wouldn’t mind sitting out on the balcony and opening my window fully, but since I can’t fix my window thanks to scaffolding outside my window (see below), I genuinely don’t want a heatwave this year.

This year hasn’t really gone my way, so I’m actually quite glad we’re over halfway through. I’m taking everything day by day because there’s not much else you can do in a global pandemic. But hey, there have been some good moments this month – see what down below.

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The Spanish Love Deception Book Review

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

A friend reviewed this book on her Instagram and I was immediately interested. I fancied a cosy romance after reading a fantasy story, and it was exactly what I was in the mood to read. Something with light hearted and with a happy ending.

Synopsis

Catalina Martin lies to her family and has to find an American boyfriend to bring to her sister’s wedding. Enter Aaron Blackford, her enemy and the last person she wants to help her. But as the lies snowball out of control, Aaron is her only choice. Can the pair make this fake dating situation work, or will it all blow up in their faces?

First Impressions

Holy shit! Enemies to lovers, fake dating and there’s only one bed? This has some of my favourite tropes, and Elena Armas writes them so well! Just a delightful book from start to finish – I legit became obsessed with it at one point.

Thoughts

What I Liked:

  • The character dynamics – I love the witty banter between Catalina and Aaron, and I love how they develop and grow as characters
  • Tropes – I adore enemies to lovers and fake dating and I’m fond of the ‘there’s only one bed’ (provided it’s written well)
  • Emotions – you know a story is written well when you start experiencing the same emotions as the characters. I swear, I felt so giddy and happy when Catalina fell in love, and it distracted me so much ’cause then all I wanted to do was read the book

What I Disliked:

  • The incident near the end – I can understand why you’d put it in there, but it just felt a bit… shoved in? I would’ve preferred it if Aaron had hinted at it in some way prior to this, y’know?

Characterisation: I love Catalina Martin and Aaron Blackford with all my heart. They’re both flawed characters, and I love that we get to see how and why they’re flawed. Like, Aaron doesn’t just magically become an endearing character, but he develops into one. Likewise with Catalina – she doesn’t just immediately stop being so stubborn, but progresses into not being so. They often say opposites attract (which I also love) and that worked so well in this story.

The secondary characters are equally as fun. Rosie, Isabel, Catalina’s family, TJ – they all have their own lives and personalities while also helping the two main characters with their problems. Equally, they were a great contrast against the antagonists of the story (Daniel and Gerald), who were both assholes you couldn’t help but dislike.

Story Structure: This story starts with Catalina’s problem and Aaron offering himself as the solution, which builds nicely to the inciting incident. The exposition comes after the problem is explained, which I actually prefer. The ups and downs build to the climax, although I think it was a tad overdramatic just for a Big Romantic Gesture. I did enjoy the resolution, that sense of closure – it wrapped up everything perfectly.

Other Thoughts: Y’know how in enemies to lovers stories, they tend to not really hate each other ’cause they harbour secret feelings for the other but shove it away and antagonise each other all the time instead? I love that shit! Seriously, I eat it up ’cause it’s my favourite thing in the whole wide world.

Summary

There were a few well written tropes incorporated into a cosy romance, and both Catalina and Aaron’s character developments were brilliant. I just loved it, from start to finish, and would highly recommend it to anyone searching for a light hearted read.

June 2021

Ah, the beginning of summer. Every year, I always think my summers will be filled with plenty of plans, especially with friends, and a holiday somewhere. But that has rarely happened, and the long days stretch on and merge into one.

Still, this month has been a debatable one – it started so strong, then flopped. I’m not exactly hopeful from here on out either. I had a wake up call this month, as I think the rest of the UK has too, but we carry on and make the most of what we’ve got.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses Book Review

I have seen several people hype up this series, and as someone who tries (and fails) to write fantasy stories, I wanted to know why this is a New York Times bestselling series. I was so excited to dive into the story, but partway through reading it, my mood changed and I wanted to read a light-hearted romance instead. Plus, I’m heading off for a mini holiday, so I was determined to get it finished before then – I’m not bringing any bulky books with me, so there’ll be a gap between consuming this book and the next.

Synopsis

All Feyre has known is hunting for the survival of her family. But on one hunting trip, when she kills what she suspects isn’t an ordinary wolf, consequences ensue. A High Fae Lord retrieves her and gives her an ultimatum: die or live with him for eternity. Choosing the latter, Feyre enters a world unlike her own and realises everything isn’t as it seems, including a deadly secret that could doom them all.

First Impressions

I adore how descriptive she is and wish I could write description like Sarah J Maas does. The story is enjoyable and the characters are interesting, but it lacked something for me. I just don’t get what the hype is all about, but I guess I’ll wait and see if the other books change my mind.

Thoughts

What I Liked:

  • The descriptions – ugh, I love beautiful and realistic descriptions, and I appreciate how she incorporates colour into the story
  • The complex characterisation – I like how they’re all flawed and how they grow over the course of the story
  • The Beauty and the Beast retelling – she keeps the premise of the plot the same, but with a deadly twist to the story that added something more to the story

What I Disliked:

  • This is petty but not a fan of ‘loosed a breath’ – I know it’s (probably) an alternative to ‘released a breath I didn’t know I was holding’, but somehow this feels worse? It just threw me off every time I read it
  • Amarantha – honestly, I’m willing to look past two dimensional villains, but it always irks me ’cause villains are my favourite characters

Characterisation: I like the characters – they’re (mostly) complex and flawed, which leads to interesting dynamics. Feyre, who hates faeries and is desperate to escape falls in love with them and views them as home. Tamlin, who appears cold and indifferent opens up his heart and does what he can to protect his people (and Feyre). Lucien, who despises humans changes his view and enjoys Feyre’s company. Rhysand, who is a cold asshole helps Feyre defeat Amarantha once and for all.

My real qualm comes with Amarantha. I’ve gotten used to two dimensional villains, but villains are my favourite characters, so I’m usually left disappointed the villain is so bland and revenge driven. Yes, she’s flawed, but considering her entire personality is just a plot point, she’s just a disappointment.

Story Structure: You can tell what the inciting incident, climax and resolution are, and there are enough ups and downs to build to the dramatic climax. The pacing is alright, although there are some moments that dragged on a little too long, and there are a few instances of foreshadowing that pay off, such as Rhysand making a brief appearance before showing up later.

Other Thoughts: I adore descriptions, especially if you can really visualise what she’s describing (which is something I struggle to do sometimes with stories). I also really appreciate her incorporating colours into the story – it’s something I really liked and appreciated.

Summary

I loved the descriptions and generally liked the story and characters, but it felt like something lacked for me. I don’t understand the hype at all right now, but maybe the next book will change my mind.

May 2021

I knew this month was gonna be difficult, thanks to a looming dentist appointment I’ve been avoiding for a month, but I didn’t think the weather would be so abysmal. Genuinely, it felt like autumn had returned. But I did still manage to find some rays of sunshine, which you can read more about below!

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Cinderella Is Dead Book Review

I noticed this book in my local Waterstones, often when I just pop in to browse books. I adored the cover on this, and was intrigued by the title, but it would take me a few months before I’d actually buy it. I wasn’t entirely convinced by it, but I’m so glad I bought it because it totally changed my mind and I genuinely love it.

Synopsis

Once a girl reaches sixteen years old, she must attend a ball to be chosen, or risk the consequences. But Sophia has never been great at following the rules, so when the dreaded occasion happens, she escapes. A decision that will change her life, along with the rest of the kingdom, forever.

First Impressions

Holy shit! I didn’t expect that plot twist at the end! I’m so glad I stuck with it cos it is slow to begin with, but once it picks up, ooh boy! Absolutely brilliant. I love fairytale retellings, especially when they flip the story on its head the way this story did.

Thoughts

What I Liked:

  • The plot twist – I didn’t expect it at all! I kinda thought the witch was up to something, but damn, I didn’t expect a Shrek 2 type twist!
  • The twist on the original tale – I loved how they twisted the original fairytale on its head and made the characters have more depth to them
  • The characters – the main character and the secondary characters were wonderful and complex, which I personally love in a character

What I Disliked:

  • The slow beginning – honestly, it nearly turned me off the book because it just felt so slow, but I’m so glad I stuck with it

Characterisation: The characterisation is honestly impeccable. I love Sophia, who both stands up for what she believes in and won’t ever stop, but who also has compassion towards her dead friend, her ex-girlfriend, her new girlfriend and the witch they befriend. She’s a wonderfully nuanced character that I just love.

Constance (Sophia’s new girlfriend) is so much more than that. Like Sophia, she knows the truth and wants to fight for it at any cost, and given her upbringing, it makes sense that she’s more edgy and willing to go to extremes. But I love how soft and vulnerable she is towards Sophia. It’s what makes their relationship so great.

The witch (aka the fairy godmother) is certainly an interesting character. She begrudgingly helps Sophia and Constance, but she isn’t what she appears. That plot twist was very good at building her up to be one way and just immediately shattering the illusion.

Prince Charming was a two dimensional villain, but he seemed more as a plot point than a character. An obstacle Sophia had to defeat in order to be truly free from his reign. Although, this could just be sticking to the original tale in some sense since Prince Charming didn’t have much of a role to play then either. Still, turning all his good traits into their polar opposite was interesting, and made the story all the more exciting.

I love the twist on the original characters. I love how it’s implied the characters were all portrayed a certain way to fit in with Prince Charming’s retelling, rather than what they were actually like. It was beautifully done, and something I applaud Kalynn Bayron for.

Story Structure: The inciting incident takes a while to happen, and while I do understand why, I didn’t think we needed as much of the background information as we got. But the rest of the pacing and story structure was fantastic – the climax, the resolution, the ups and downs throughout. It all led to something, and had some wonderful foreshadowing scattered throughout.

Other Thoughts: The feminism undertone is handled so well. I love how Prince Charming was a metaphor for the patriarchy, and how once they defeated him the world was a fairer place to all. I love how Cinderella wasn’t some helpless woman, but instead someone willing to fight to end the patriarchy and reclaim her right as heir to the throne. Even the stepmother and stepsisters wanted the same thing as Cinderella – it was just so cool to see such an interesting take on Cinderella, but to also appreciate what could happen if oppression were to be destroyed. What that world could look like.

Summary

If you want a story featuring a complex main character defeating the patriarchy/oppression, an awesome retelling, a major plot twist and impeccable characters, then you’ll love this book. It’s honestly so good, and one of my favourites I’ve read this year so far (once I got past the slow beginning).

I Was Born For This Book Review

I don’t know to what extent Alice Oseman was inspired by a certain band and its fandom, but I couldn’t stop myself from reliving those fandom days while reading. It almost exactly mirrored the experience I saw and had in the 1D fandom (and fandoms in general). It was bittersweet in a way, nostalgic in another, but an experience all the same.

Synopsis

Both Angel and Jimmy live in a fantasy. Angel, as the obsessive fangirl of the band The Ark, and Jimmy, as the front man of said band. But you can’t escape reality forever, as both Angel and Jimmy discover over a week long period.

First Impressions

I wasn’t expecting to be thrown back to my 1D fandom days, but damn, that hit me full on. It’s unnecessarily dramatic in places, especially the ending, but I love the characters and how they function in their every day lives. Just a wonderful story.

Thoughts

What I Liked:

  • The realistic portrayal of a fandom – most people portray a fandom as chaotic and crazy, but it was refreshing to see the sweet, helpful, level headed fangirls, and to see the perspective fans so wish people understood (we love certain celebs for who they are, not just because of their looks)
  • How Angel and Jimmy mirrored each other – I love how both were struggling with their reality and refusing to deal with it, and I definitely related to Angel in that respect (fixating on a fandom rather than my real life)
  • No romance – I actually really like that Angel and Jimmy didn’t end up dating, and how Angel just let the band go and carried on with her life (it’s refreshing)

What I Disliked:

  • The ending – look, I’m all for Dramatic Confessions, but a near death experience due to an accidental stabbing? Personally, it felt like a step too far

Characterisation: Jimmy and Angel mirror each other perfectly, neither content with their own lives. But this works in their favour as they’re able to help the other, somewhat, and both have the realisation that they can’t escape reality forever. I love that they didn’t end up dating (thank god!) and I love that Angel just accepts she’ll probably never be anything to Jimmy (and that’s okay). Honestly, I’d love it if more stories were like this. Not every story needs a romance after all (although, I am a sucker for them).

I liked the balance Rowan, Bliss and Juliet offer to Jimmy and Angel. Rowan, as the best friend who knows Jimmy better than anyone and helps him when he needs it most. Bliss, the down the earth dating Rowan, but has a normal life outside of him, and offers blunt advice to Angel and Juliet. Juliet, the fangirl who wanted a friend more than anything, and helped Angel see there’s more to life than a (boy) band.

I’m sorry to say, but Lister and Mac felt like totally irrelevant characters to me. I can understand why Mac is a more background character, given who he is (also, I genuinely keep picturing Dylan from Modern Family). But Lister was supposed to be a band member and a school friend of Jimmy and Rowan, yet felt like a convenient plot point. I didn’t need this drunken confession to Jimmy, and he could’ve just drunkenly stumbled into the flooding river, rather than accidentally stab himself? I just think it was unnecessary. Lister could’ve been fine as a background character who acted as a mediator between Jimmy and Rowan.

Story Structure: The story structure is interesting as it switches perspective every chapter between Angel and Jimmy and it splits into two set structures as the story is sectioned into days over a week long period. Within those days, there’s a beginning, middle and end, while also maintaining an overarching storyline. It’s handled very well, and I can tell where the main plot points are. I just think the climax was a bit too dramatic (see above point about Lister).

Other Thoughts: I really do appreciate the way Alice Oseman shows fandoms. So often, the media report them as frenzied fans who only like a person for shallow reasons. But fandoms can be one of the best environments. They can be supportive and creative and loyal without being stalkerish or obsessive. They can have their own lives outside of the fandom, but still come back to the fandom as a break from reality. I could honestly write an entire blog post about fandoms because they’re not just hormonal teenage girls, nor is every fan obsessive.

I’d also like to appreciate the lack of romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romance. But some stories just don’t need it, and it’s refreshing to read a YA book that doesn’t focus on it. I love that Angel can just be friendly towards the boys without that leading to anything else.

Summary

A lovely story about a band and their fans, with a lack of romance, an insight into fandoms and trying to cope with reality (whatever that means to the characters). It’s easy to read and enjoyable from start to finish (although, a bit too dramatic of an ending).

April 2021

Another month has come and gone.

To think, this time last year dragged on so much, but this month has gone by in the blink of an eye. I guess pressing university deadlines will do that to a person though. I’ve also been up to other things, which you can find out if you carry on reading…

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To Kill A Kingdom Book Review

I’d been itching to read this book after reading the synopsis and hearing it was an enemies to lovers story. I enjoyed reading it, and I might read it again if I’m looking for an easy fantasy read, but it’s not a book I’m gushing about or leaping to read.

Synopsis

The Princes’ Bane is feared across the hundred kingdoms for killing princes mercilessly. But when the siren herself, Lira, becomes an ordinary human in a cruel twist of fate, she must take the heart of the siren killer himself, Prince Elian. Can she do so before the Sea Queen’s deadline?

First Impressions

I wanted to like this book, especially given the enemies to lovers trope, the witty banter and the pretty good ending, but there was something lacking for me and I can’t place what.

Thoughts

What I Liked:

  • Enemies to lovers – one of my all time favourite tropes
  • Elian and Lira – I loved their interactions with one another, especially the witty banter
  • The crew – I love a good found family trope, and this found family were great

What I Disliked:

  • The descriptions – they got better as the story went on, but I just didn’t like them to begin with
  • The resolution – don’t get me wrong, I like a happy ending, but I don’t think it was necessary to sum everything up the way it did? I would’ve been fine not knowing about Princess Yukiko

Characterisation: I love Elian and Lira together, much better than when they’re alone. I loved the witty banter, the comfort they felt around one another, trusting one another despite everything. God, I love it. I will say, I think the story could’ve worked just as well without the romance. I know it was building up a romance, but it missed something for me.

The crew were equally as brilliant. I loved Kye and Madrid’s relationship, and Torik in general. Even Kahlia, despite not appearing very often (for obvious reasons). I love the found family trope, and I love that they look out for and look after each other. Just… yes.

The Sea Queen felt more like a plot point than an actual character, which worked well if that was the case. But if she was supposed to be a substantial character, she fell flat.

Story Structure: I haven’t got much to say on the story structure really. It followed a basic story structure, with an identifiable inciting incident, lowest point, climax and resolution. Although, the inciting incident happened later than I thought it would, to the extent that I thought the blurb was purposefully misleading me. Patience is a virtue.

Other Thoughts: I didn’t like the writing style to begin with, but it improved as the story went along. It had quite beginner writer vibes, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but something I was taught (thoroughly) not to do. But I loved it towards the end, so I think it was just the writing style to begin with.

Summary

I enjoyed the story, especially the witty banter, the enemies to lovers trope, the found family trope and the pretty good ending, but there was something lacking for me. It’s the perfect book if you want an easy fantasy story to dive into (pun intended).