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Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillanSword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
Series: Sword and Verse #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 19th January 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: one-star

Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

I’m not entirely sure what the plot of Sword and Verse was meant to be. It had such promise. Promise of a revolution, of a slave fighting back for her people. Typically those are the stories that pull me in and make me fall head over heels, but in this case it fell flat. It just wasn’t executed in a way that was enjoyable for me.

The biggest problem with this book is that the main focus is the instalove and romance between Raisa and Prince Mati. Obviously, this is forbidden, since Raisa is a slave, but there was no tension and no chemistry between them at all. They fall in love right away, and I was expecting Mati to be an “innocent first love” type thing, but that didn’t turn out to be the case at all.

I also had issues with the timeline of the story and the pace at which it progressed. The book skips forward a year after the first chapter, which would normally be okay, but we missed a lot of build up between Raisa and Mati, which would have been essential for a book with this amount of romance. Then we continue to skip forward months into the future, and again, I feel like we missed a lot of character growth because of this.

I started skimming after a while because the entire first quarter – or first half, really – was just about Mati and Raisa’s “love” and also about Raisa learning to read and write. There were too many descriptions of these writing lessons. I don’t care if a letter has a curve that goes left or right, I just want something to happen!

I’m incredibly disappointed by this book, and I’m hesitant to call it a fantasy novel. It’s definitely more of a romance.

Mini Review: Beastly by Alex Flinn

Mini Review: Beastly by Alex FlinnBeastly by Alex Flinn
Series: Beastly #1
Genre: Magical Realism
Release Date: October 2, 2007
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Bought
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: one-star

I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

Simply put, Beastly is dull. Worse than the movie, if you can believe that (and the movie is pretty freakin’ bad). I didn’t like the arrogant main character who was so far up his own arse that it hurt. I wasn’t interested in his redemption story, and I am pretty sure I started skim-reading two thirds of the way through. I just couldn’t do it.

Mini Review: Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

Mini Review: Rampant by Diana PeterfreundRampant by Diana Peterfreund
Series: Killer Unicorns #1
Genre: Paranormal
Release Date: July 1, 2009
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Bought
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns . . .

Astrid Llewelyn has always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one attacks her boyfriend—ruining any chance of him taking her to prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient Cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.However, all is not what it seems at the Cloisters. Outside, unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from bone-covered walls that vibrate with terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to her growing attraction to a handsome art student . . . an attraction that could jeopardize everything.

I had been avoiding Rampant for a while. Five years, in fact. And I should have avoided it for a bit longer. Continue reading

The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen

The Revenge Playbook by Rachael AllenThe Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen
Release Date: 16th June 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Don’t get mad, get even! In this poignant and hilarious novel, Rachael Allen brilliantly explores the nuances of high school hierarchies, the traumas sustained on the path to finding true love, and the joy of discovering a friend where you least expect.

In the small town of Ranburne, high school football rules and the players are treated like kings. How they treat the girls they go to school with? That’s a completely different story. Liv, Peyton, Melanie Jane, and Ana each have their own reason for wanting to teach the team a lesson—but it’s only when circumstances bring them together that they come up with the plan to steal the one thing the boys hold sacred. All they have to do is beat them at their own game.

Brimming with sharp observations and pitch-perfect teen voices, fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Mlynowski are sure to fall head-over-heels for this sharp tale—by the author of 17 First Kisses—about the unexpected roads that can lead you to finding yourself.

I like to think of The Revenge Playbook as a Frankie Landau-Banks light. It’s Frankie without the sharp insight into patriarchal power structures, a kind of Dare Me without teenage girls who are dangerous and fascinating. I mean, that’s not to say I didn’t like it exactly, but it definitely reads like a marketable ~~feminist~~ book. Look at these teenage girls turning the tables on the boys – so rad, so powerful and you know, that’s cool but for these kind of books to work for me they need to have meaning and depth. And yeah, I want to feel the anger pour off the pages because as a woman, I know the struggles these characters go through because like many of us, I have first-hand experience. That being said, for the most part, I had fun reading this.

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Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle ClaytonTiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton, Sona Charaipotra
Release Date: 26th May 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

I was initially intrigued by the premise of this book because of Bunheads, another novel about the ballet that I absolutely loved. Tiny Pretty Things is in many ways a pretty similar story but whereas Bunheads is told from a single POV, Tiny Pretty Things opts for multiple narration by a host of different characters. Both books, I thought, were really good at lifting the veil on a very closed off world and showing the life behind the curtains.

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