book review

Book Review: The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang

Book Review: The Dragon Republic by R. F. KuangThe Dragon Republic by R F Kuang
Series: The Poppy War #3
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 8th August 2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Borrowed, Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: five-stars
In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.</br></br>

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.</br></br>

But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.

I don’t even know where to start with this review. I put off reading The Dragon Republic for almost a year. A YEAR. I adored The Poppy War and after THAT. ENDING. I knew I had to be in the right headspace for the sequel. So I waited, and waited, and waited. Then I finally though screw it, and picked The Dragon Republic up and never looked back.

Rin is still going through a lot of crap. After the way The Poppy War ended, I wasn’t too sure what to think or expect of her character. She did some awful things, and I think it takes a very talented writer to pull off a character in such a way that Kuang did. Honestly, Rin’s character development (or, sometimes, lack thereof) is done wonderously and it makes so much sense. She has grown in lots of ways, but in others she’s still the same ol’ Rin, leaving lots of room for her to continue to grow and work on her sh*t in the final book in the trilogy.

I do have a bone to pick with Kuang, though, because she completely destroyed my ship. Like, blew it out of the harbour. I’m mad and angry and super sad. And yet I’m still clinging onto the fact that it might resurface somewhat in the third book. PLEASE GIVE ME THIS.

In all seriousness, the only issue I have with this series so far is that Rin has, like, no female friends. All her close friends are guys, and she often shuts out female characters and looks down on them and belittles them. I really hope that this is addressed and tackled in the third book, as I think it’s the only downfall of the series for me. I don’t want to read about a badass main character if they don’t have any badass female friends! GIVE ME FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS, DAMMIT.

Read the book. That is all I wish to say on the matter.

Book Review: All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

Book Review: All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana UrbanAll Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: 17th March 2020
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill … or else everyone dies.

Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates and herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?

I thought All Your Twisted Secrets was a tonne of fun! I had a feeling when I requested it that it would be one to watch out for, and I wasn’t surprised to find that it was a hit thriller for me. I’m really impressed with how debut author Diana Urban wove this story, and I now can’t wait to see what she comes out with in the future!

Check back in a few days for my author interview with Diana Urban!

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Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan DennardTruthwitch by Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 5th January 2016
Publisher: Tor
Source: Bought, Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Do you ever read a book that you’re SO. EXCITED. for and then come out of it wondering what the hell the bookternet is thinking by hyping it up? That’s how I feel about Truthwitch. You can watch my Witchlands vlog below if you’re interested!

I remember when Truthwitch was coming out and there was this whole big campaign alongside Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. I’m pretty sure it was one of the biggest book marketing campaigns I had seen, and it seemed as though everyone was talking about the book. I was sad I’d missed out by not getting in on the hype early on, and since then I’d kept putting off reading Truthwitch because I wasn’t ready to dive into a new and addictive series.

I really shouldn’t have bothered, though, because Truthwitch turned out to be such a disappointment. I don’t think it was soley because I’d hyped it up in my head, as it seems as though this book series has a massive online fanbase. I don’t really understand why.

My main issue with Truthwitch is that I don’t care about any of the characters, and the reason for that is that they’re badly written. We follow the POVs of four characters in the first book, all of which sound exactly the same. I struggled to differentiate between them, and I had kept forgetting whose head I was supposed to be in in the middle of chapters.

I don’t think Truthwitch is very well written. It lands you straight into the world and does a bunch of info-dumping in the first half of the book, not giving you any time to settle in or get to know the characters. And then in the second half of the book you’re expected to care about these characters and empathise with what they’re going through, even though the author spent all her time in the first half info-dumping and distracting you from getting to know them.

It didn’t make much sense to me.

In addition, it was clear to me that the author wanted this to be a fast paced and action packed story. And it was. To such an extent that the characters were all over the place. They were rushing from one scene to the next, from one location to another, and I had absolutely no time to settle down and enjoy the story because there was always another thing going on.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy fast paced plots. Slow plots can bore me. But if a plot is fast paced, the rest of the book has to find some sort of balance. I have to care about the characters who are running around, and I have to understand the world building and why they’re running.

I wasn’t a fan of Truthwitch, and I’m so disappointed that I hyped it up and waited so long to read it. I tried to read the sequel, but I ended up DNF-ing Windwitch and I won’t be continuing with the series, unfortunately.

Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne CollinsThe Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #0
Genre: Dystopia
Release Date: 19th May 2020
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Bought
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the 10th annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out charm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He's been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined - every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute... and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

I wasn’t originally going to pick up The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes as I didn’t really have any interest in President Snow’s backstory, and I thought that without Katniss Everdeen, the Hunger Games wouldn’t be all that interesting. I was correct.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes felt, to me, entirely pointless. I struggled from the beginning to connect with Snow’s younger self. It seems strange to me that Collins chose to write the story from Snow’s point of view, as presumably everyone reading this book will know what he is to become. I read books to connect with the characters, but I couldn’t do that with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes because I simply could not see the two Snows as two different people. I knew who he was.

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Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy FoleyThe Guest List by Lucy Foley
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: 19th March 2020
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Set on a remote island off the Irish coast, this is one guest list no one would want to be on, just as no one would have wanted an invitation to the New Year's Eve party in Foley's previous novel, The Hunting Party . Lives unravel amid the revelry on an eerie and remote island as family and friends assemble for a glam wedding in an updated Murder on the Orient Express. Each of the principal characters has a reason to want one of their number dead, there are old secrets, and one of them is murdered.

The Guest List was a fast-paced and intriguing thriller, which was exactly what I was expecting from Lucy Foley after I read and enjoyed The Hunting Party early last year. I’m very glad that it lived up to my expectations on that front!

I was kept engaged by the mystery of what happened on the wedding night – I needed to know who had been killed and who the killer was. The fact that the book was written in first person added to the mystery, as the characters were clearly keeping things from the reader and I knew something was amiss.

That said, I think I would have preferred for the book to have been told in third person. I always struggle when thrillers are written in first, and then the author clearly goes out of their way to keep things from the reader and has the characters omit certain information. I find it quite irritating, and sometimes it can come across as lazy writing. It wasn’t a big deal with this book, as I still thought it was written really well, but I would have preferred for it not to have happened.

I loved the way Lucy Foley wrote the different points of view. There were a lot of characters in this book, but they were all very unique and distinct. She did a really good job with those.

I didn’t find any of the characters to be likeable apart from Hannah and Olivia, but to be honest they weren’t really supposed to be!

As for the twist at the end, I thought it was really well done! I liked how we were fed little bits of information that came together towards the end. I was able to put most of it together right before the big twist was revealed, and I love it when stories do that! I love being able to piece together information just as the twist is happening. It reminded me of how I felt with The Silent Patient, as I figured out the twist right at the last minute, almost along with the characters!