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Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Title: Red Queen

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Length: 383 pages

Publisher: Orion Books

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ve had this book since it first came out on paperback, in 2015. Now, the last book in the series has just come out on paperback and I’ve waited all this time, so I could read them without having to wait for another book to come out. I’m alway like this, don’t ask me why, that’s probably a different blog post.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to seventeen-year-old Mare, a Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. But Mare possess a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of her potential, the Silvers hid Mare in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess. Knowing that one false move will mean her death, Mare must use her new position to bring down the regime – from the inside. Now Mare has entered a game of betrayal and lies.

‘I told you to hide your heart once. You should have listened.’

As I said, I’ve been waiting a long time to read this book, maybe my expectations were to high? But the first 3/4 I didn’t enjoy all that much. There’s a few reasons why.

We see the world through Mare’s eyes and I just found that she wasn’t likeable. She complained, she whined. She put a lot of people in danger, she was indecisive and frankly just annoying. She didn’t have any depth. Her one redeeming quality was that she cared for her family.

Also, the world they live in. While the reader is told all about, it’s even described in some detail. I just didn’t get a feel for the place. There wasn’t any atmosphere. It was just rich/poor. Commoner/Elite. The world could’ve gone deeper and then I would’ve been more into the story.

There was the love triangle. The good old cliche love triangle. In my opinion it wasn’t needed. It was predictable, obvious and again had no depth. It was hard to believe she was in love with either of them, let alone both. I feel like this part of the story could’ve been left out with Victoria choosing to o focus instead on Mare’s character development and building the world more.

It was also one of those books that has a few holes in the plot. It left me thinking ‘well what about that?’ or ‘wouldn’t other characters figure that out’. The whole book was just a bit shallow.

A lot of people have compared this book to The Hunger Games and I can totally see why. At times whilst I was reading, it did remind me of it also. But this book was nowhere near as good as The Hunger Games. Katniss was a more developed character, the world was stronger and the love triangle was better.

However, then a twist happened. That twist! I won’t spoil it, but wow! I did not see that happening. It changed the whole dynamic of this book. It made everything make sense. It made the love triangle make sense, it bought Mare’s character to life. It was fantastic.

The last 1/4 was epic. I could not put it down and when I finished it, I couldn’t wait to start the next. It honestly felt like the book was just building up to the twist with the 3/4 being average and then that last 1/4 amazing. This whole book depends on that twist.

I would recommend this book but it’s not a book I’m going to rave about. It’s a slow burner but then it really kicks into high gear. It will make you want to read the next one.

Until the next review

JTH

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Favourite Female Characters… International Women’s Day.

It’s International Women’s Day! And let’s face it, isn’t everyday really International Women’s Day? So, this blog post is dedicated to some the fantastic female characters we’ve been blessed with.

There’s some amazing female characters out there. They’re complex, funny, smart, opinionated, kind, determined, adventurous and brave. They embark on some inspiring journeys and we, the reader, get to experience it all with them.

I’m going to list a few of my favourite female characters and share the reasons why I love them.

First up is Katniss Everdeen. ‘The Hunger Games’. The love I have for Katniss Everdeen is something else. She’s strong, yet in touch with her emotions. She supports her family. She takes on The Hunger Games with bravery and compassion. Then she ends up being the face of a rebellion, always trying to do right. I just love her.

‘You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope.’

Secondly is Hermione Granger. ‘Harry Potter Series.’ The only female in the trio of friends , and probably the best of the trio. Beyond intelligent. Her brains and bravery often save the day. We always see her strive to be better, whether it’s school or friendship. Hermione is inspiration to girls and boys out there.

‘Now if you two don’t mind, I’m going to bed before either of you come up with another clever idea to get us killed or worse expelled.’

Thirdly is August Boatwright from ‘The Secret Life of Bees’. August is one of my favourite characters from any novel ever. She is compassion personified. She takes care of her family, has a passion for bees and a strong faith. I’d love to meet her. A proud black woman at a time when it wasn’t easy. I adore her.

‘There is nothing perfect, only life.’

Next up is Minny Jackson from ‘The Help’. I love Minnie, her character starts off as being the comic relief in this fantastic book. As we get to know her, we realise her strength, her compassion, her kindness. Minnie is a maid in the 60s in the south, with an abusive husband and yet somehow manages to stay strong. Minny ends up displaying her strength with the ultimate act of defiance.

‘Eat my shit’

Then we have June Osborne from ‘The Handmaids Tale. Although we meet June as ‘Offred’ at first, we soon find out who she really is. Although June is in a place where women’s right are totally repressed, she’s only kept around because of fertility, June never loses her fighting spirit. Intelligent, brave and witty. June is a huge inspiration.

‘Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the barstards grind you down.’

We also have Alein Galathynius from ‘The Throne of Glass Series’. We go on such a journey this character. She starts out as a cold, hard-hearted character and turns into a brave, open hearted, caring leader, friend and Queen. You’re on her side the whole time. She’s a character braver than most men. A total bad-ass.

‘My name is Celaena Sardothien. But it makes no difference if my name is Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I’d still beat you, no matter what my name is.

There’s also Star Jackson from ‘The Hate U Give’. Star witnessed something horrible and unjust and is willing and brave enough to speak up about. She’s a character we can all admire. Her refusal to be silent, her heartbreak and her decency spark a national movement. She a relevant story for our times, and a female protagonist that will become a legend.

‘What’s the point of having a voice if your gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be.’

So there we have it, some amazing female characters. Do you have any female characters that you just love? Let me know.

Also, all these characters are written by women. Coincidence, I think not.

Happy International Women’s Day.

Until the next review

JTH

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(E)ARC Book Review: Brush Strokes by E.S Karlquist

Title: Brush Strokes

Author: E.S Karlquist

Length: 230pages

Publisher: InterludePress

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I didn’t know to much about the book when I requested it from Netgalley. But it featured Art and a M/M romance. What more could you want?

Todd Navarro is halfway through college, trying to juggle his art studies with work and avoid the ongoing feud between the gallery where he works and the one next door. When his best friend Mela invites him to a frat party, he meets athlete Daniel Berger, who doesn’t fit Todd’s preconceived notions about jocks. After an unexpected night together, a romance seems possible, until Todd discovers that what they have in common could also drive them apart.

‘Why would you look at it that way? Because it’s easier than being helpless and sad.’

This book has one of the best M/M romances I’ve read in a while. After Todd and Daniel meet at a party, they end up spending all night with each other. Reading about their shared night is sweet, charming and romantic yet it’s not cliched. I think the best thing about their relationship is the chemistry they share, you can feel radiate of the pages. I mean, that’s some great writing. You instantly want them to be together, and when things go wrong you spend the rest of the book willing them to get together. The romance is subtle yet epic. It keeps you intrigued right till the very end.

I also love, the storyline of Todd trying to save the art gallery that he works for. I’m a sucker for this in books, to see our characters work hard for their end goal. It really makes me root for them. This storyline adds another layer to the plot, it makes it so the romance isn’t alway centre stage and it’s refreshing.

Now, I think a real highlight in this book is its representation. It features a character who’s hard of hearing. I’ve never read about this in a book before and I have to say, it made me quite emotional. You can feel the characters struggle and the sadness, yet it doesn’t stop his life or his dreams. I think that’s so inspiring, and I hope it inspires others who are hard of hearing. It has certainly made think twice. I love it when a book opens our minds and makes us more compassionate. It’s the sign of a great book.

‘It wasn’t until I started spending time with other people with hearing loss that I stopped feeling like I was the odd piece in the puzzle somehow…. Sometimes, especially in large groups, it’s easy for people to forget to not have several conversations at the same time or interrupt each other. It’s tiring for me to read lips… I’m proud of who I am, but it blows when other people forget who I am.’

This is E.S’s first novel. It’s self assured and the writing is confident. The book is complex, funny, sweet. It left me feeling so hopeful. In my opinion that’s the mark of a great book and a great writer. I’m looking forward to see what she does in the future. Whatever it is, I’ll be reading it.

I can’t recommend this book. I read this book in two days, I couldn’t put it down.

I have to Thank Netgalley and InterludePress for giving me a copy of this book in return for an honest review. It comes out on the 12th of March and you can preorder now. Don’t miss this one.

Until the next review

JTH

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February Wrap-up

It’s that time again! I can’t believe how quickly this month has flown by. I hope you’ve all had a good month, reading and otherwise.

I’ve managed to read 5 books again this month, the same as last month. I know that’s not great, but it seems to be all I can manage! As I’ve said many times, I’m a slow reader.

So here they are:

First up was ‘Sea of Memories’ by Fiona Valpy. This book was fantastic. Such a brilliant story. Set in the past and modern day. Historical fiction at its finest. Fiona Valpy is fast becoming one of my favourites.

uSecond, was ‘The Sun is also a Star’ by Nicola Yoon. Another fantastic book. I really enjoyed this YA book. Set in New York over the course of a day. Give this one a go.

‘The Line of Beauty’ by Alan Hollinghurst was my third read of the month. This book was sophisticated. Queer fiction at its finest. It’s a modern classic.

Up next was ‘Red Queen’ by Victoria Aveyard. A huge YA series, I’ve been waiting to read this for a while. First 3/4 was disappointing, then a twist and I loved it. Can’t wait to start the next one.

Last up was ‘Brush Strokes’ by E.S Karlquist. This is an ARC and it’s fantastic. The best M/M romance I’ve read in ages. Comes out 12th March. So glad and grateful I got to read this one.

So that was it for me, roll on March and more fantastic books.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: ‘The Line of Beauty’ by Alan Hollinghurst

Title: The Line of Beauty

Author: Alan Hollinghurst

Length: 501 pages

Publisher: Picador

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Having read Alan Hollinghurst’s most recent novel ‘The Sparshot Affair’ and throughly enjoying it, I found out this is his most loved book and couldn’t resist when I saw it in the shop.

In the Summer of 1983, twenty-year-old Nick Guest moves into an attic room in the Notting Hill home of wealthy Feddens: Gerald, an ambitious Tory MP, his wife Rachel and their children Toby and Catherine. Innocent of politics and money, Nick is swept up into the Feddens’ world and an era of endless possibility, all the while pursuing his own private obsession with beauty.

‘The pursuit of love seemed to need the cultivation of indifference. The deep connection between them was so secret that at times it was hard to believe it existed. He wondered if anyone knew – had even a flicker of a guess, an intuition blinked away by its own absurdity.’

I’ve been trying to read more queer novels lately, whether they be young adult, general fiction, romance. I have to say, this is one of the best I’ve read in a while.

This books queer storyline is sublime. It’s starts out with the main protagonist, Nick a recent oxford graduate, trying to find love and lose his virginity. It deals with his first relationship, his first sexual experience, all with someone of lower class than himself. The latter half of the book, we find Nick in a secret relationship with one of his engaged Oxford friends, Wani. This relationship is tender, loving, complicated and realistic. It’s the heart of the book. Nick is also out in book, at a time and in a social class that wasn’t easy. This book is about his, not about his sexual orientation which is refreshing.

‘He felt there must always be hints of a secret affair, some involuntary tenderness or respect, a particular way of not noticing each other… He wondered if it ever would be known, or if they would take the secret to the grave.’

However, this book is so much more that this. It’s political storyline is so intriguing. I didn’t think I’d be interested in this side of the book, but I enjoyed it. I think it’s mainly due the fact that this book has fantastic sub characters. Gerald, the MP. Catherine, who deals with Mental Illness. Leo, Nicks first boyfriend. Wani, his secret lover.

This book, although published in 1993, is set in throughout the decade of the 80s. And it’s really a book of its time. The political storyline, with Margaret Thatcher. The gay storyline, with gay men being out in the open, used to be sexually free, now having to deal with the AIDS crisis.

This book is sophisticated. Its specific. It’s written in a very clever way, it’s detailed, quite sexually graphic and at times dense, with its political subplot and the array of characters you meet. But what is so clever that Alan Hollinghurst has done, is that we get to see the world through Nicks eyes. He’s an outsider to their world, therefore making the characters, plot and time more accessible. It’s so real, that’s all down to the talent of Alan Hollinghurst, with his excellent choice of perspective.

This book, was published over 25 years ago. It’s been made into a BBC series. I think it’s fair to say it’s on its way to becoming a modern classic. I truly feel it should be on the list of books you have to read.

Until the next review

JTH

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(E)ARC Books + My other social media.

Just a quick blog post to say I’ve been blessed by the Netgalley Gods, and I’ve been granted 4 ARC’S this week and I’m extremely grateful!

As I said I’ve been given a total of four this week. I know a lot of people can get more, but I don’t like to request too many as some don’t interest me or aren’t my type of book and I don’t want to give bad reviews.

The books are:

  • ‘Brush Strokes’ by E.S Karlquist from InterludePress. This once comes out on the 12th March. It’s an LGBT romance.I’m reading it now and it’s good.
  • ‘Once More Unto the Breach’ by ‘Meghan Holloway. This once comes out on the 14th May. It’s historical fiction. It’s a mystery/thriller. I can’t wait to get stuck into this one.
  • ‘Another Life’ by Robert Haller. This one comes out on the 4th June. It’s a general fiction. Told from different perspectives. Sounds interesting.

    ‘Bethlehem’ by Karen Kelly. This one comes out on the 9th July. It’s another historical fiction. About two women, thrown together in the name of family.

    Can I just read all these books now? They all sound fantastic.

    Just a reminder that you can follow me on other social media’s

    Instagram: Jthbooks

    Twitter: Jthbooks1

    Goodreads: Jthbooks

    Until the next review

    JTH

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    Book Review: ‘The Sun is also a Star’ by Nicola Yoon.

    Title: The Sun is also a Star

    Author: Nicola Yoon

    Length: 344 pages

    Publisher: Corgi Books

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Having previously read ‘Everything, Everything’ by Nicola Yoon and loved it, I’ve been nervous to read this as wasn’t sure whether it could live up to predecessor?

    Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

    Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget all about that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store – for both of us.

    The Universe: Every moment in our lives has bought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

    ‘ Sometimes your world shakes so hard, it’s difficult to imagine that everyone else isn’t feeling it too.’

    I loved this book. I honestly feel like I could finish this review here, so you stop reading this and start reading this book.

    The plot takes place in one day in New York City, where you follow the journey of Natasha and Daniel, how their day begins, how they meet and how the day ends. The two characters are instantly likeable. I really enjoyed reading their points of view. They had such great chemistry together. I enjoyed reading them falling in love.

    ‘I didn’t know you this morning. Now I can’t imagine not knowing you.’

    The writing in the book is heartfelt and witty. I mean, for them to fall in love on the day they meet and for us readers to want them to last is a true testament to the writing. Each character has a clear and concise voice. In a less talented writer, these characters and storyline could’ve come off as cliche but the reader is left with something wonderful.

    The diversity in this book is one of the best things about it. An illegal immigrant and a Korean American are at the front and centre of the story. They’re backgrounds really make this book special. The illegal immigrant storyline is obviously, very relevant today and this book really puts a heartfelt, very real spin on it. It’s truly thought provoking and really made me feel for Natasha and her family. I think it could open a lot of people’s minds.

    Throughout the book, there are chapters about the people Natasha and Daniel meet along the way, their family members or a subject they’ve discussed and they are fantastic. They’re a real highlight throughout the book. They’re short, funny, heartfelt. In one of these chapters you meet Irene, who think is my favourite character. How these chapters can be so engaging and heartfelt even though they are often only two pages long, just proves the talent of Nicola Yoon.

    I fully recommend this book. If you love Young Adult novels, a sweet romance then this is the book for you. Or if you like a book with diversity, then pick this one up.

    Until the next review

    JTH