(Mini) Reviews: Illuminae & Solitaire

I have read so many books during my vacation that I wanted to review some, so this will be the first two books I’ll review. I normally barely ever review books that have already come out or were not sent to me for review, so this is a bit different for me. Enjoy!

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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Illuminae is just like everyone has ever told me it would be: a wild epic ride, space ships, a little romance and a hell of a lot of danger. What made Illuminae so special to me was the fact that you only get to know the characters via other people’s observations, diary entries, chat conversations and objective descriptions. And yet, even though you don’t really know the characters, you love them. Kady and Ezra are smart, determined and above all very funny. Seriously, I have laughed so many times while reading this book.

“Perhaps bravery is simply the face humanity wraps around its collective madness.”

The format is definitely unique but it does take a little getting used to. In the beginning, I also listened to the audiobook, but it started bothering me because it took so long! I switched to the physical edition and loved it much more! Still, some parts of the formatting I didn’t enjoy much compared to other parts, but it does look stunning! The art and the design are amazing.

“The universe owes you nothing, Kady. It has already given you everything, after all. It was here long before you, and it will go on long after you. The only way it will remember you is to do something worth remembrance.”

Overall, despite some minor things I didn’t like, I LOVED IT. Especially the last 100-ish pages. I flew through them! It was terrifyingly real, heartbreakingly sad, hysterically funny, amazingly creative. I would recommend 100%. Read it!

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Solitaire by Alice Oseman

In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.81czqpilo2l

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.

I really don’t.

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I had such high expectations for Solitaire. I read Radio Silence a few months ago and loved it so much! It became an instant favourite. So when I started Solitaire, I expected to love it, or at least like it. Sadly, I couldn’t stand the main character much. She was so negative about everything. I get that some people just are like that but sometimes I really couldn’t. I just couldn’t. She was a) offensive, b) rude and c) insensitive. This might be a minor spoiler but her brother has gone through self-harm and suicidal episodes and so she knows very well what it’s like, but still, she goes around (she never said it out loud) saying that she’d like to shoot people and that they just can die and stuff like that. THAT’S SO NOT OKAY. I do not condone this, okay. It’s never okay to shoot people or hurt them.

“I think you should know that I make up a lot of stuff up in my head and then get sad about it. I like to sleep and I like to blog. I am going to die someday.”

Beside this, the story was quite enjoyable. I really liked all the side characters, I loved Charlie and Michael and the others. I thought the Solitaire idea was fun, though I guessed the reveal at the ending wayy before it happened. I really liked the fandom and media references. I am giving this book 3 stars because I just can’t give it more with the main character being so horrible.

(ps. for a book that isn’t a love story, it surprisingly has romance in it :/ )

Review: City of Strife & City of Betrayal: diverse fantasy about politics and friendship

I had the opportunity to read the two first books in the Isandor / City of Spires series by Claudie Arsenault (you might remember her from her guest post a while ago). As I am completely into diverse fantasy right now (and probably until the end of the world tbh), I was really glad to have gotten the opportunity!

I will mostly mix my opinions of both the books, since they were both quite similar in build-up and characters and things like that. So this is a double-review! There will be no spoilers!

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30977572A hundred and thirty years have passed since Arathiel last set foot in his home city. Isandor hasn’t changed—bickering merchant families still vie for power through eccentric shows of wealth—but he has. His family is long dead, a magical trap has dulled his senses, and he returns seeking a sense of belonging now long lost.

Arathiel hides in the Lower City, piecing together a new life among in a shelter dedicated to the homeless and the poor, befriending an uncommon trio: the Shelter’s rageful owner, Larryn, his dark elven friend Hasryan, and Cal the cheese-loving halfling. When Hasryan is accused of Isandor’s most infamous assassination of the last decade, what little peace Arathiel has managed to find for himself is shattered. Hasryan is innocent… he thinks. In order to save him, Arathiel may have to shatter the shreds of home he’d managed to build for himself.

Arathiel could appeal to the Dathirii—a noble elven family who knew him before he disappeared—but he would have to stop hiding, and they have battles of their own to fight. The idealistic Lord Dathirii is waging a battle of honour and justice against the cruel Myrian Empire, objecting to their slavery, their magics, and inhumane treatment of their apprentices. One he could win, if only he could convince Isandor’s rulers to stop courting Myrian’s favours for profit.

In the ripples that follow Diel’s opposition, friendships shatter and alliances crumble. Arathiel, the Dathirii, and everyone in Isandor fights to preserve their homes, even if the struggle changes them irrevocably.

(this is the synopsis of the first book, not the second)
City of Strife is the first installment of the City of Spires trilogy, a multi-layered political fantasy led by an all LGBTQIAP+ cast. Fans of complex storylines criss-crossing one another, elves and magic, and strong friendships and found families will find everything they need within these pages.

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It took me a while to really get into the first book. This book features a lot of perspectives and for me, that was quite hard. In the first part of the book you get constantly introduced to new people and keeping up with everything was a bit of a struggle. Sadly, that also slowed down the story overall. However, after the beginning, it did pick up and a lot of things started happening. To my tastes, it could have been a little more fast-paced but that’s just a personal preference. In the second book, I did not have that problem, because I already knew all the characters, so therefore I enjoyed the second book more from the start.

“He found reasons to grin even when there were none, in defiance of the never-ending hardships and the world beating down on him. Maybe if he smiled enough, the happiness he projected would stop being a lie and coalesce into the truth.” – City of Strife

The story is about a city (duh) and the city is lead by a group of noble families. Some of the characters are part of this family and some aren’t and you can get to see the situation from many eyes. There is danger and intrigue, but this story is mainly about family and friendship. The characters form strong bonds and care so much about each other. I loved seeing them come together and especially in the second book, where almost all the characters get to know each other. In those final hundred pages of the second book, I have laughed with them and cried with them. They were amazing.

There are a lot of characters in this book, and I could write pages and pages about all of them, so I will only focus on my favourites. My favourites are definitely Cal and Arathiel. Cal is aromantic and he is just very sweet and kind and caring. He loves his friends and would do anything for them. Arathiel is the outsider in the story. He is strange, mysterious, quiet but also very caring. Besides these characters there were plenty more amazing ones. Hasryan and Vellien would get a shared third place on my favourites ranking, because they deserve to be mentioned. I could relate to so many of the characters in very different ways and I loved that they were all so different from each other.

“Arathiel is a warm blanket: simple, reliable, soft. He’s the friend you kind of forget, but when it really matters he’s there. Leaping of bridges to save your neck from the noose, even though you expect nothing of him.” – City of Betrayal

I cannot end this review before discussing the amazing diverse representation in these books. There were characters of almost every sexual orientation you can imagine and there were characters of different descents and different skin colors. I loved in particularly, Cal’s aromanticism because usually aro characters are described as unfeeling or cold and Cal was the absolute opposite. I also really enjoyed the non-binary/enby representation (because whenever I read about one of those characters I just can’t help but love them).

“You can’t always choose your fights. Some battles need to be fought, whether you want to or not — whether they can be won or not.” – City of Betrayal

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For the first book, my rating is 3,5 stars. But after writing this review, I am really tempted to move up my rating for the second book from 3,5 to 4 stars but I think I’m going to just leave it in the middle: 3,75 stars! What I loved most about these two books was the representation of diverse characters and the characters in general. The only thing that could have been improved, to my opinion, was the pacing of the first book. It took me a long time to get into the story (mainly because I struggled with the many perspectives), but after that it was great. I would definitely recommend these books if you like political fantasy, I don’t know if that is a genre but oh well

Review: Girls Made of Snow And Glass: an Enchanting Retelling of Snow White

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust is a retelling of Snow White. It is a YA fantasy story about Lynet and her stepmother Mina with magic and is about friendship and family and love and it’s just amazing.

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32768509Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairy tale

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.
Continue reading “Review: Girls Made of Snow And Glass: an Enchanting Retelling of Snow White”

Introducing… Blogger Newbies: a New Project

Even for someone who has been here in the blogger community for less than a year, a lot as changed since I started. Not only in my way of blogging, but above all in my communication with other bloggers. I’ve found a ton of people that I love and there are probably a ton of people out there that I’d love to meet. However, when I just started it was hard to find the people I liked, I knew nobody here and my blog was pretty much off the grid. Over the months I’ve gathered followers and met wonderful people and to give new bloggers that same experience, I am now introducing a new project/feature to introduce newbies to the community.

How does it work?

This will be bi-weekly feature on my blog. In each of the posts, I give the word to a new blogger. The idea is that it will be a short Q&A with a guest post written by the blogger. The Q&A will be three questions:

  • Tell us something about yourself: Who are you?
  • What is your blog about and what are you planning to do with it?
  • Why did you start blogging?

The guest post should be something related to your blog but it should not be a review, a tag/award, or regular feature (such as Top 10 Tuesday). What you could do is write a discussion about something you think is important, write about something in your life (if you have a personal/life style blog), write about something you love, something you hate, whatever you want! Be creative! This can be bookish or non-bookish depending on what your blog is about.

Who can participate?

This project is made for newbies, so for bloggers who have less than 100 followers and/or have been blogging for less than 4 months. I think these are quite okay rules, but they’re not fixed so if you vary slightly from these rules, I’ll consider it as well.

You do not have to be a bookish/writerish blogger, but since I am and I assume most of my followers are as well, I will be able to help you most if you are. If you are a lifestyle/ beauty/idk something blogger, I am not sure to what extent I will be able to help you out, but you can always participate if you want.

How can you participate?

Simple, send me an email at liaislost@outlook.com with the answers to the three questions mentioned above and your guest post. If you do not know what you want to write your guest post about, you can also email me with the answers to the questions alone and I might be able to help you out. The guidelines for the guest post are 300-600 words and if I think it is either offensive or simply not okay (rude or otherwise), I will not accept your submission. If you want to participate but don’t have a guest post yet, you can also message me, then I’ll give you a date (on which your post will go up) so you can take your time working on it.

You also need to provide your blog url, and if you want all your social media accounts that are connected to your blog (twitter/facebook/tumblr/etc), because then I will post those as well so people can follow you. Optional is a logo or picture, that I can use in the post.

Important! make “newbie blogger” the subject of your email, that way I can easily make sense of my inbox.

When I’ve received your email I will make a schedule and let you know once your post will be going online.

You can also fill in the form below!

I hope this project will go wonderfully and therefore I do need also need the help of more experienced bloggers, please share on social media or on your blog or simply tell people, so blogger newbies will be able to find this. Thanks in advance!

If there are any questions, feel free to email me or comment below!

Geekerella Review (a modern-day retelling with high levels of adorablenes)

General rating: 4 stars
Diversity rating: 2 stars (POC, LGTB+ (lesbian))

Geekerella has the perfect level of cute and adorableness combined with addictiveness, which makes an amazing book to read in two days. Geekerella by Ashley Poston is a modern-day Cinderella retelling (obviously) with a twist.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

What I loved most about his book was the incredibly geeky-ness of it all. There wasn’t a page without references to any popular book or tv show. I have to say, I didn’t catch them all but I still loved it. Elle is the main character of this book and she is a super geek. She has been a fan of this tv show called Starfield since she was a little kid. Her father and mother have died and now she lives with her stepmother and evil stepsisters. Cal and Chloe, and especially Catherine make her life a living hell. She devides her time between cleaning the house and working at a food truck called the Magic Pumpkin. One of the best characters is definitely Sage, her co-worker, she is funny and outspoken. Via some weird miracle, Darien, the new actor for the main part of Starfield, gets in touch with Elle and that is how the story starts.

The story has the familiar Cinderella components, which were very cute and fun to see, but made the story slightly predictable. From the first moment Darien and Elle get in touch you know how the story is going to end. Not that that made the story any less fun. It was cute and adorable, and incredibly geeky.

“Sage thinks I hate Princess Amara on the principle that she’s a lying double-crosser, but I hate her because I can relate to her. I’m the one tossed in the Black Nebula. I’m the one lost, in a life, a world, a universe that is no longer mine.”

There was a lot of character development in the book, which I loved. And I loved that some of the characters went through a large change of opinion, which is one of my favourite things in books.

The story contained both the original themes in the Cinderella story but also more modern themes: fandom culture, fame, modern media (blogging!) and teenagehood. The book was both diverse and interesting.

I’m giving this book 4 stars, because it was a delight to read. Even though I am not usually a big fan of romance, this book had the perfect level of romance, not enough to make you want to puke and enough to make it entertaining and fun.

Goodbye Days Review (and the mystery of why I didn’t cry)

General rating: 3.5 stars
Diversity rating: 3 stars (POC (Filipina), LGTB+ (gay), disability (synesthesia))

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner is a novel about grief and friendship. It’s a very emotional book, and starts off with Carver (also called Blade) at one of his best friends’ funerals. His three best friends died in a car crash and Carver blames himself for it.

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Can a text message destroy your life?30649795

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

What I loved about this book is the characters. The characters are diverse, original, funny and overall just really amazing. I loved Carver and Jesmyn and Mars, Eli and Blake were great too. I loved to read about the memories they shared and how they were all very different but had great chemistry. I didn’t really like the love story in this book, but at least it wasn’t insta-love. It was okay and quite cute. But I rather have them be friends.

“I wonder if the actions we take and the words we speak are like throwing pebbles into a pond; they send ripples that extend farther out from the center until finally they break on the bank or disappear. I wonder if somewhere in the universe, there’s still a ripple that’s Blake and I sitting in this living  room, laughing ourselves silly. Maybe it’ll break on some bank somewhere in the vast sky beyond our sight. Maybe it’ll disappear. Or maybe it’ll keep travelling on for eternity.”

I loved how it addressed topics such as sexuality and especially parents. My relation with my parents is not that amazing but it was really nice to see how different people have different relationships and how that works out.

The writing of this book really made it stood out, the writing is just beautiful. With this Jeff Zentner definitely put himself in the position between the other great contemporary authors.

“For the most part, you don’t hold the people you love in your heart because they rescued you from drowning or pulled you from a burning house. Mostly you hold them in your heart because they save you, in a million quiet and perfect ways, from being alone.

There is just one thing, one thing I just can’t understand. I’ve been reading through some amazing reviews about how this book shattered them and how it broke their hearts and left them crying on the ground. Well, that didn’t happen. At all. Not a single tear. Sorry Jeff, your book just didn’t give me any feels. Nothing. It makes me feel so indifferent about this book, even though it was really good. It just didn’t do it for me. And I really don’t know why, it’s a mystery I might never find out.

I’m giving this book 3.5 stars, because it was great, but it just didn’t do much for me. The mystery of why this book didn’t crush me will remain. The lyrical prose and the characters really made this book great. I will definitely recommend this book if you like heavy topics in contemporary. Please let me know whether you cried!

*I have received this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a honest review, it will be published April 6th 2017*

The Baker Street Peculiars Review (graphic novel set in the world of Sherlock Holmes)

The Baker Street Peculiars is one of the first comic books / graphic novels I’ve read in a long time. I used to read a lot of Suske and Wiske (Dutch comics), but this one is very different.

The Baker Street Peculiars by Roger Langridge and Andy Hirsch1

The Baker Street Peculiars is a supernatural twist on the beloved world of Sherlock Holmes.

When a giant lion statue in Trafalgar Square comes to life and wreaks havoc on 1930s London, it seems like the perfect case for the world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. With an overwhelmed caseload, however, Holmes recruits the help of three precocious young detectives-in-training (and one cunning golden retriever) to solve the mystery. Molly, Rajani, Humphrey, and Wellington (the dog) will have to work together and use all their wits if they are to uncover the truth behind the living statues and save London. But on the legendary Baker Street, nothing is as it seems and their biggest mystery might be the real identity of the famous detective who brought them together.

Written by Eisner Award winner Roger Langridge (Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Abigail and the Snowman) and illustrated by Andy Hirsch (Adventure Time, Regular Show), The Baker Street Peculiars is a heartfelt and supernatural twist on the beloved world of Sherlock Holmes.

The story is about three very different kids living in the days of Sherlock Holmes, one is an Indian girl named Rajani who grew up on the streets, Molly is a girl who has very strict grandparents, and Humphrey is a rich kid “posh boy” with a dog. Together they roam the streets of London, trying to save the city from the mysterious statues that came to life.

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Andy Hirsch’s drawing style is really beautiful, it’s very cartoonish but has a grimness to it that makes the atmosphere of the story seem really 20th century. The story is funny and original, and if you like adventure you’re definitely in the right place with this book.

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I loved how the story was diverse and had a strong feministic message: everybody can be a detective, even a girl. Molly was definitely my favourite character but the chemistry and struggle between the three kids made the story worthwhile. All of them were struggling with different things in life and together they made a great dynamic friendship.

I am giving this book 4 stars, because it was highly entertaining, funny and the artwork was great! I would definitely recommend this book if you like adventure and Sherlock Holmes!

*I have received this book in exchange for a honest review, this did not affect my opinions*