Reading Recap: Blanca & Roja, The Wicked King, Mary Renault

The words 'reading recap' in a white brush script over a blue patterned background, with the words 'at twist in the taile' and an illustration of an open book below.

Hi everyone! I haven’t written a books-related post in like…A Good Time. (By which I mean a very long time.) Perhaps because recently I have read more non-fiction books for school which don’t lend themselves as well to blogging. However, I’ve been on a very  good streak for books in the last month, so I wanted to share a few mini-reviews and a small TBR with you!

Cover of Blanca & Roja. Abstract illustration of a swan turning into petals and the title in fairy-tale font.

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

This book has affirmed yet again that McLemore writes some of the most breathtaking YA fiction I have read in recent years. I can’t believe I didn’t read this sooner. The writing is so poetic and beautiful, and I fell in love with all four of the characters — the book features two Latinx sisters Blanca and Roja, who fear the family curse that one of each sister will be turned into a swan, and two other characters from the town, Yearling and Page. (I don’t want to reveal too much! ‘Tis so hard!) Personally, it was just so incredibly wonderful for me to read a story with a trans character who uses both he/him and she/her pronouns. Basically, I adored the cast, the relationships, the writing — it was just THAT GOOD.

Cover of The Wicked King. A side view of a crown splashing down and sinking into the water. The title is half-submerged in water.

The Wicked King by Holly Black

I’m not going to lie, I had a pretty limited memory of what happened in the previous book when I picked this up. But it was all good! Although I very much enjoy all the political intrigue, I’m more than happy to let it just pull me along without trying to figure out what’s going on, who’s behind this particular event. I also give it to Holly Black: she is very good at writing this hate/love relationship dynamic. I don’t want to spoil too much (again) but, like, I NEED the next book.

Cover of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. A person wearing red lipstick, red nailpolish and a green shirt with a low neckline poses. Her eyes and the rest of her face cannot be seen.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I am SO glad I finally got to read this book! It came on sale on the UK Kindle store so i was finally able to get hold of it. And like…WOW. I loved the form of it — how it used present day narration from a journalist, Monique, looking to interview the famous movie star Evelyn Hugo, as well as Evelyn’s own words to Monique and newspaper headlines from the events Evelyn was describing. I was drawn in so completely to Evelyn’s story. I really needed this book at a time when I needed an escape from everything in my life. . I’m definitely interested in Jenkin Reid’s new book, Daisy Jones and the Six, which sounds like it further develops the form used in Evelyn Hugo. Also, just to say, it was way better than The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

Cover of Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault. Gold and black geometric patterns with illustrations of men on horses at the side.

Fire From Heaven & The Persian Boy by Mary Renault

These are the first two books in Renault’s series about the life of Alexander the Great, covering up to his death at the end of The Persian Boy. I’m talking about them together because they are technically part of the same series, but in truth they felt more like standalone novels that just happen to follow on chronologically. The first book is written in a 3rd person narrative that switches from person to person — sometimes a little jarringly during a passage, though that could be my eBook format — whereas the 2nd is in the 1st person, exclusively from the point of view of Bagoas.

But, anyway, even if they are somewhat fictionalised, I found them both to be a very interesting and immersive introduction to Alexander the Great (and this period of Ancient History in general because I didn’t know much about Ancient Greece or Persia!). Also, I think Renault gives a good take on Alexander’s potential romantic relationships that isn’t just ‘these 2 bros are VERY close friends’ whilst also not transposing modern ideas of sexuality too much? (I mean, it’s hard for me to say. But I’ve read some books with extremely bad takes, so, it wasn’t that.)

on my tbr

There are several books that I’m looking forward to reading at the moment: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, which I FINALLY managed to buy as an eBook, I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver (non-binary main character!!! by a non-binary author!!), and Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault which I picked up from the Gay’s the Word bookshop in London. Also so many more books! But these are the fiction ones that I’m planning to pick up in the very near future.

have you read any of these? do you have any recs for me? i’d love to hear!

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Reading Recap // three mini reviews

The words 'reading recap' in a white brush script over a blue patterned background, with the words 'at twist in the taile' and an illustration of an open book below.

I confess: I haven’t had much blogging inspiration lately. My brain is very much filled with school and then — well, yeah. School. So I have a LOT of school-related things to say but not much of anything else, oops! However, I’ve been reading some great books lately so I thought it would be fun to, you know, actually do a bit of book blogging and have a bit of a chat about them.

warcross by marie lu

Cover of Warcross by Marie Lu. The word 'Warcross' on each side of a metallic rainbow cube on a white background, with 'Marie Lu' in rainbow at the top and the words 'player hunter hacker pawn' below.

I barely ever buy hardbacks for myself, but one of my friends gifted this to me for my birthday and I feel SUPER BLESSED. I absolutely raced through this, which was something I hadn’t done in a while. I was gripped by the plot, and I think that was helped by the fact that it was such a neat premise with a clear end point that propelled it forwards. (If that makes sense? Friends, I haven’t written a review in like a year, please don’t be too harsh on me.)

In particular, I enjoyed the detail of the technology of Warcross; I don’t play many video games, but the technology seemed really thought out and innovative. I know a bunch of people have been talking about the end, and I definitely did not predict The Thing so THAT WAS EXCITING. I can’t wait to read the sequel! (Although I initially thought it was a standalone, so it was great to discover that actually there’s another book to come haha.)

little & lion by brandy colbert

Cover of Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert. The words 'Little & Lion' over a flat line illustration of a palm tree, a magazine, a flower, a coffee cup, and a book.

This book was in fact also a gift from a friend, but it was in so many ways completely different to Warcross. It’s a contemporary, character-driven book which looks much more at the changing relationships between the characters rather than a lot of action. However, I still finished this really fast! I do love me a character-driven plot, and this had such a good cast of  interesting and diverse characters, and also characters who really screwed up and said crappy things. Because, you know, people are often crappy. It discusses racism, particularly casual racism, figuring your sexuality, and what it means to be family, among other themes. (I…probably am going to forget something important.)

Personally, whilst I was reading this I strongly connected with Suzette’s experience of exploring her sexuality (because I am a person who often finds many people of different genders cute!!!), and I also enjoyed the romance. However, on reflection some parts could be read as a love triangle/emotional cheating kind of thing, which you might be frustrated with. To be frank: I don’t quite know! I need to do some more thinking about that. I’m looking forward to rereading this more slowly because I’d like the time to discover and consider the stuff I missed the first time round.

the diviners & lair of dreams by libba bray

I’ve put these two books together because I did actually read them one after the other, despite my best efforts to save Lair of Dreams for a little later. I was super excited to find these in my school library (I think they’ve got some new books this year and it’s amazing?!?) even though I didn’t know what to expect apart from the blurb.

WELL, FOLKS. I loved them a lot! They’re a super weird mix of magic & the occult & 20s New York, with many characters that I adored. I haven’t read long fantasy book in a while, but it didn’t feel like a drag — both of these were relatively easy reads for me. I liked that I got to see Henry, one of my favourite side characters from the first book, become one of the mains in Lair of Dreams, but we also got way less narration from Memphis which made me sad.  I haven’t read a combination of genres like this before so it was exciting for me! (However: the covers for the UK paperbacks are definitely not my favourites. I feel like there is so much potential there, argh.)

Can you believe it I’ve made it to three reviews? To be honest, ME NEITHER. A little cheer for me. Truly, I haven’t written reviews in so long and it was actually pretty nice… Perhaps I shall make this a feature? But, who knows, I’m not very good at keeping up with those haha.

have you read any books recently? do you prefer getting hardbacks or paperbacks? what books are on your tbr list?

Note: I’m away until the 29th, and I probably won’t be able to reply to comments. Thanks for your patience! Also, sorry to those of you waiting on the giveaway; I will be contacting and announcing the winner upon return.

 

Buddy Read: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

dash-and-lily

Helloo everyone! This month I was lucky enough to participate in a readalong with the very lovely Lia @ Lost in a Story and Lu @ Girl Who Reads. We read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, a book about book-lovers in NYC at Christmas. 😀 It really got me in the Christmas mood!

I am myself both a) a book lover and b) a lover of New York City so this book appealed to me immensely. The premise is that each person leaves instructions in a special notebook for the next person to follow… I thought that was super cool. Even if reality was sometimes stretched. Although it wasn’t, like, a critical genius, I found it a sweet & fluffy read!  I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on the sequel at some point.

We each answered some questions about the book on each of our blogs, so go and check out the other posts here and here! (Wouldn’t want to miss our wonderful insights, naturally ahaha.) (Also, the cover I put for this post sadly isn’t the cover of my edition, but I thought this one looked way nicer so there we are.

how addicting was the book?

Me: It was really readable; although I didn’t read it in like 1 day because, alas, school, I read it very fast and I was invested in what would happen next in the story.

Lucy: I wouldn’t way that it was the most addicting book I’ve read this year, but it was certainly gripping! I was always wanting to know what happened next, but not to the extremes like some of the books I’ve read recently. I actually really liked that it wasn’t so gripping that I couldn’t put it down, as it meant that the overall reading experience was lovely.

Lia: The book was quite addicting, after I got into the book and passed halfway I just couldn’t stop reading. I was reading the e-book and I had no clue how far I was into the story and then it was suddenly over! I just needed more, immediately!

what could have been improved in the book?

Me: Some parts of it felt unbelievable to me. Sometimes the characters felt like their quirkiness was being stretched too far, and the premise was a tiny bit unbelievable. But there wasn’t anything massive.

Lucy: I think I would have liked the chapters to be a little shorter, because I was always wondering about the other chapters and found them a bit bulky for most contemporary dual PoV chapters.

Lia: Something that could have been improved… I think they could have toned down the way Dash speaks. Sometimes it felt like Dash swallowed a dictionary and randomly spits out words. Often I had no clue what the words meant, and that made it kind of less realistic.

are any of your pet peeves in this book?

Me: Mm, I don’t think so? I don’t read loads of contemporary YA romance, and it’s probably not my favourite genre ever. (Except Rainbow Rowell. I read a lot of Rainbow Rowell. Her books are in a league of their own for me ahaha.) But for what it was I enjoyed it a lot 😀

Lucy: Not so much a pet peeve, but I found Lily a tad immature ( and fun too), and was feeling sorry for herself quite a lot. I didn’t dwell too much on it, but I sort of just noticed it a few times.

Lia: There’s one thing in the book when Dash & Lily almost meet, but just miss each other. It is something that annoys me slightly, but I don’t think I would call it a pet peeve though.

Overall I had loads of fun doing my buddy read and I’d really like to participate in more in the future! 😀 It got me reading a book I probably wouldn’t have otherwise read ahaha, which was nice.

Why I Don’t Write Book Reviews

I’m not exactly a book blog. My blog is very good at morphing and not being in one of those…what do you call them…ah, yes. Niches. One of them. 😉 Still, it’s no secret that I adore books and I’ll happily tell you how fabulous many of them are. No, what it seems like I’m missing are book reviews. I’d like to say I have a wonderful and enlightening reasoning for this, but sadly not.

Most of all, I don’t post reviews because I don’t really like writing them. I’d rather spend time doing something else. I’m pretty sure this is also related to the fact that I’m not awfully good at it.

See, I don’t read many reviews. I have huge, huge respect for people who do write reviews – you are all amazing and I have no idea how you do it! – but I don’t tend to browse reviews much unless it’s for a) a book I’m looking to buy or b) a book I’ve already read and want to flail about with other people. Writing sites will always tell you that reading is the best way to write, and I’m 90% sure that also goes for book reviews. I think I could get better at reviewing if I wanted to. I just…don’t think I do.

Part of it’s also down to bit of irritating subconscious thing I have: I always want to be different. (Even writing this post feeds that.) I’m that one who always wants to choose a different subject for their project, get a different result, whatever. Doing good in the same subject as others isn’t what I want. I must be DIFFERENT and DIVERGENT and MORE SPECIAL.

It’s quite annoying. But there we go.

That title is a bit of a lie, if I’m honest. I’m fine to occasionally write book reviews for other sites and I’m not averse to bookish goodies either. I went through a phase when I posted some on Goodreads. I’m also cool to give my opinion; as I’m sure my friends know, there’ve been many occasions where I’ve ranted/fangirled about books constantly. I just…don’t want to scribble down my analysis. Who’s it actually helping? What’s it achieving for me?

I’ve made peace with not writing reviews. Being lazy and sticking to my comfort zone interests is fine for me at the moment; if I want to, I can always pick up the pen again.

Do any of you write reviews? What do you think of it?