The Epic Crush of Genie Lo // A Down-to-Earth Retelling of The Monkey King

A demon invasion is no excuse for bad grades. 

^

This tagline speaks to me on a whole new level!

Welcome to another book review by moi and it will be on the one and only, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C Yee. Genie Lo is a self-disciplined and rather tough Chinese American who is looking to finish high school and go to college when demons invade her quiet town. Now, she’s caught in a supernatural mess of fighting them off, training with the Monkey King, and conversing with ancient Chinese gods, which all seems to be ruining her chances of college prep.

I started this book with high expectations after hearing amazing things about it. It did not disappoint. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is incredibly funny, action-packed and you need to read this if you love Chinese folklore. It’s a modern retelling of Journey to the West set in contemporary society (which offers many moments of comedy in itself) and I feel like a lot of Chinese readers will thoroughly enjoy this. As a kid, I watched the live-action adaptions of Journey to the Westbut for those unfamiliar with the story there is enough explanation throughout the novel that will bring you up to speed in no time.

So, where do I even begin to describe how fantastic this book is?

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Genie Lo is the angry teen protagonist we need.

All Genie wants to is get into a prestigious college and ace her classes. She’s an overachiever, has a lot of spunk and is such a nerd. She’s realistic, relatable and entertaining. She’s also got a lot of anger towards a few things (heck, I was an angry teen) but it doesn’t border onto teen angst. She’s also quite conscious of her Asian heritage, often making comments about the differences between her family and Western/American culture; while it adds a break from the battles and banter, it also offers an interesting insight into how some Chinese-American teenagers view their lives.

It is laced with light comedy and action.

When the goofy and rather strange Quentin introduces himself to Genie, it doesn’t end well. But as their stories reveal they have a long history together, it brings a novel’s worth of wicked banter, fighting demons, talking to Chinese gods and getting to know each other.

Genie’s best friend Yunie provided some of the best dialogue I’ve read ever – she is certainly a force to be reckoned with. I also loved the touch of family dynamics, something I found added a genuine quality to Genie and her relationship with her mother and father. Rather than just having her parents as background noise, they are involved and shape Genie into who she is.

I adored the blooming relationship between Quentin and Genie. Both of them offer such hilarious and refreshing perspectives, which is absolutely brilliant. And when they paired with Genie, they make a hilarious dynamic duo. There’s also a lot of gaming and tech references which is A+.

The writing is absolutely brilliant.

How is this a debut novel? The writing is so easy to follow and down-to-earth. Yee balances the novel’s battles with demons (yaoguai) with discussion of Genie’s family history and her relationship with her best friend, Yunie. Oh, and chatting to the Goddess of Mercy.

So what are you waiting for? If you love mythology, action and light romance, pick this up. It’s engaging, exhilarating and downright hilarious. Just read it.

Rating

 

the literary casanova flowerthe literary casanova flowerthe literary casanova flowerthe literary casanova flowerthe literary casanova flower/5

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgallery in exchange for an honest review. 

The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer // The Ultimate Chick-Flick Read

You know those books you gobble up in an afternoon and you’re left feeling all these emotions with no idea what to do with them? That was me with The Intern. I was flying to Tasmania and remembered I had an e-book of The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer on my phone and I’m so glad I did.

It’s addictive and hilarious, no matter how many times the protagonist, Josie, embarrasses herself. Gabrielle Tozer cleverly writes humour, conflict, loveable characters, and the behind-the- scenes of a glam magazine where the cutthroat nature of journalism is seen; and this is all through the eyes of a university student who is just trying to be the one of the best writers out there.

Here are my thoughts on The Intern, a book that sits between Devil Wears Prada and The Princess Diaries, making it the ultimate chick-flick read.

Josie is a relatable and sometimes awkward character. 

Our protagonist Josie Browning is honestly a magnet for awkward situations and reading these gave me a huge case of second-hand embarrassment, mostly because the way she reacts to things is probably how I would react.

“I’d already slapped one person this week, and if I didn’t leave the cafe in the next five seconds, I was about to boost that to two.”

I related to her on such a spiritual level; she’s determined yet soft, she’s an over-achiever, loves praise, and feels dejected when she’s not the best. Tozer accurately captures the struggles of being an over-achiever and the devastation of failure that comes with it, something I feel like a few young adults will be able to relate to.

The focus on family is brilliant. 

I love it when YA has a focus on family and the complexities within the relationships. I feel like Tozer did a fantastic job at writing the dynamics within Josie’s family: Her sister, Kat, is headstrong and hot-tempered, which is a stark contrast to her mum, a kind and soft-natured woman who demonstrates the same determination as her daughters. Their interactions are authentic and the struggles they endure are heart-breaking and warming.

“Step away from the camembert.”

The romance is so cute, but a little rushed. 

The naivety in Josie in romance is so genuine, it threw me through a time loop to when I had this insane crush on someone. Tozer captured those tingles and butterfly sensations that come with being smitten perfectly. While I wish I was more attached to James as character, I like that Josie is more focused on her personal life such as the internship and family than the romance.

The story feels like it scratches the surface of deeper issues.

There are mentions and explorations of mental health, body image, financial difficulties and broken families within this novel, and because our protagonist is only eighteen, I feel like The Intern is just giving us a taste of what Josie is coming to terms with, but not actually dealing with. There was so much I wanted to know, but I only got a glimpse of it and I wanted it to dig deeper.

Overall, The Intern is quirky, engaging and an enjoyable read. It’s easy to devour and filled with moments of hilarity and drama that will keep you satisfied till the very end.

 

Rating

 

the literary casanova flowerthe literary casanova flowerthe literary casanova flowerthe literary casanova flower/5

 

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Josie Browning dreams of having it all. 

A stellar academic record, an amazing career in journalism – and for her current crush to realise she actually exists. The only problem? Josie can’t get through twenty-four hours 

without embarrassing her sister Kat or her best friend Angel, let alone herself.

Josie’s luck changes though when she lands an internship at the glossy fashion magazine Sash. A coveted columnist job is up for grabs, but Josie’s got some tough competition in the form of two other interns. Battle lines are drawn and Josie quickly learns that the magazine industry is far from easy, especially under the reign of powerful editor, Rae Swanson. 

From the lows of coffee-fetching and working 10-hour days, to the highs of mingling with celebrities, scoring endless free beauty products (plus falling for her cousin’s seriously gorgeous flatmate James) this is one year Josie will never forget.

{Goodreads}

Book Review: Wings Unseen by Rebecca Gomez Farrell

Wings Unseen by Rebecca Gomez Farrell sounded quite intriguing. Fantasy is a genre I tend to orbit around and I was keen to be immersed in a new fantasy world. I did enjoy some parts of the book and I though the magic was pretty cool, but overall I was rather disappointed.

First off, the aspects of magic and religion were interesting.

I enjoyed Farrell’s ideas of a female god and the forces of magic working together in this society she’s created. However, there was a lack of context or explanation when necessary. I understand that in fantasy we’re usually left to fill in the gaps ourselves, but these gaps were too wide and it was hard for me to comprehend what was happening in some moments. I did enjoy the use of magic towards the end of the book more so.

The characters have specific voices, which was great in guiding the story across three perspectives.

Wings Unseen features three voices: Janto, the heir to the throne; Serra, the prince’s betrothed; and Vesperi, the daughter of a Meduan lord. I had a lot of hope for these characters considering the trials they were about to face, but there were inconsistencies with their development and I found the short and quick shifts between them to be jarring. Their development was better towards the end though, and I particularly liked reading Serra’s perspective. Also, a couple of the plot directions and changing relationships added an element of surprise I enjoyed.

The lack of world-building and descriptions was frustrating.

It could be because there was no map, but I found this world to be completely messy and confusing. There wasn’t much in regards to orienting the reader with the land, or longer descriptions about the Meduans, the Lanserim and the other races. The politics between these countries was also left to the imagination.

Basically, this book is in need of further polishing as quite a few sections were convoluted. I had to reread many sections to fully understand what was occurring simply because sentences were too long or descriptions were confusing. An example of a description I questioned is: “Uzziel waved the club so lustily that he drooled.”

Furthermore, the opening chapter simply does not work. It will either turn readers away or leave them confused. Upon reading, it felt like walking into the middle of Game of Thrones season 2 and being expected to know the politics, relationships and issues within the world. Also, it is marketed to young adults, yet some sections feel like they were closer to New Adult, whereas other parts catered to more Middle Grade. It was all over the place and I found it difficult to pinpoint the audience.

Overall, Wings Unseen has an interesting story that would benefit from more descriptions about the world itself and polishing of the text so it’s more comprehensive for the reader. Farrell has created some really cool characters and I would love to see them fleshed out more and given longer sections for us as readers to settle in. The use of magic and religion was also fascinating and it would be great to see this with some more explanation or context.

Rating

the literary casanova flower.5/ 5.

 

Disclaimer: Netgalley gave me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

To end a civil war, Lansera’s King Turyn relinquished a quarter of his kingdom to create Medua, exiling all who would honor greed over valor to this new realm on the other side of the mountains. The Meduans and Lanserim hav34649841e maintained an uneasy truce for two generations, but their ways of life are as compatible as oil and water.

When Vesperi, a Meduan noblewoman, kills a Lanserim spy with a lick of her silver flame, she hopes the powerful display of magic will convince her father to name her as his heir. She doesn’t know the act will draw the eye of the tyrannical Guj, Medua’s leader, or that the spy was the brother of Serrafina Gavenstone, the fiancee of Turyn’s grandson, Prince Janto. As Janto sets out for an annual competition on the mysterious island of Braven, Serra accepts an invitation to study with the religious Brotherhood, hoping for somewhere to grieve her brother’s murder in peace. What she finds instead is a horror that threatens both countries, devouring all living things and leaving husks of skin in its wake.

To defeat it, Janto and Serra must learn to work together with the only person who possesses the magic that can: the beautiful Vesperi, whom no one knows murdered Serra’s brother. An ultimate rejection plunges Vesperi forward toward their shared destiny, with the powerful Guj on her heels and the menacing beating of unseen wings all about.

{Goodreads}

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

1. Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2017

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.

I know I’m so late to reading this trilogy, but holy moly it is amazing. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was mind-blowing. The world-building, character development, the tension and romance and family elements. It was simply incredible.

 

2. Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2017

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Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. Talk about an amazing sequel to Illuminae. I didn’t think they could beat it, and then they did and blew me away again. I can’t.

I have a review for Gemina you can check out here.

 

3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But You Want To

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. But I need to finish Lady Midnight first (I am so sorry, forgive me for not reading it yet) and I’ve been so busy I kind of forgot about it.

4. Most Anticipated Release for The Second Half of the Year

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff. I mean, Nevernight was insane af. I need to know what happens to Mia.

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5. Biggest Disappointment

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.

Now before you hate on me, this book had the biggest hype of all time and I’m just gonna say it: it was a disappointment. I almost DNF’d this because I was so frustrated with it. It felt rushed, there wasn’t much tension anymore and this looming war that was meant to be a major aspect of the trilogy didn’t quite feel so devastating as it should have. And the ending, I mean. Need I say more?

 

6. Biggest Surprise

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The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. I wasn’t sold by the blurb but decided to give the book a go and it’s one of my favourite YA contemporaries of all time, if not the best.

You can check out my review for this stellar book here.

7. Favourite New Author (Debut or New to You)

Laini Taylor. She is magical! I adore her writing style and the world she created in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy (which I am only halfway through).

8. Newest Fictional Crush

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Artist.

I adore Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. She’s independent, cynical, sassy, has peacock blue hair and is an artist. Marry me.

9. Newest Favourite Character

It has to be AIDAN from the Illuminae Files. I simply love AIDAN to pieces. As an AI, I never thought I would be so attached to it (I don’t know whether AIDAN requires a pronoun?) and his sections in both books were A+. This is a new level of fictional love for characters when they’re technically not human.

 

10. Book That Made You Cry

The Upside of Unrequited. Have you ever seen me ugly cry? That was me with this book.

 

11. Book That Made You Happy

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Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. I loved the convention setting, the characters, the romances and friendships and ultimate fangirling. It was brilliant.

My review for this baby is here.

 

12. Favourite Book to Movie Adapation You Saw This Year

Do reruns of Harry Potter count? Because I have seen no book to movie adaptions this year yet.

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13. Favourite Review You Wrote This Year

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. It was such a fun book, full of laughter and adorable moments, so my excitement for it really translated in my review. You can check it out here.

14. Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought So Far this Year (Or Received)

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Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I mean, that cover is divine.

15. What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year?

Ahahahaha, I feel like this is such a looming question. I can imagine this voice in my head saying, “You need to read all these by December 31 or you have failed.”

Anyway, the books I’m hoping to read by the end of the year are:

  • Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare.
  • The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly.
  • Windwitch by Sarah Dennard.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab.
  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.
  • Half a King by Joe Abercrombie.
  • Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield.
  • Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor.
  • The Gentlemen Bastard trilogy by Scott Lynch.

 

If you want to do this tag, do it! I’d love to see what your mid year freak outs are!

My Day at All Day YA #SydneyWritersFestival

With a light nip in the air, the doors to the Riverside Theatres opened. The foyer was buzzing with activity, people from all genders and ages smiling and gathering; a bookselling table was crowded with eager buyers. Tickets were being pulled from book bags as a sound resonated through the building like a school bell. It was time for the first events of The Sydney Writer’s Festival‘s All Day YA program.

Young adult has always been a go-to genre of mine and to have a whole day dedicated to it was simply incredible. Having expanded their program this year, All Day YA hosted ten events with two running parallel to each other and was convened by Catriona Feeney.

All Day YA

Seated in the Love OZ YA Anthology: Begin, End, Begin panel, the theatre was filled with excited voices and subtle tweeting. Run by Danielle Binks, the panel featured Amie Kaufman, Will Kostakis, Jaclyn Moriarty and Gabrielle Tozer, all of whom are brilliant YA Australian writers and offered a lot of insight into the Aussie literature community and the development of the #LoveOzYA hashtag. What started as a meeting of authors in a small restaurant in Melbourne has now started a movement promoting Aussie YA works.

With engaging discussion on diversity, queer content, explosions in space and the importance of literature for young adults, it was an energetic and hilarious panel.

Keeping Company: Characters Across a Series offered an excellent insight into the creation of characters and how they adapt across a long period of time. Run by Catriona Feeney, the authors in discussion were James Bradley, Amie Kaufman, Garth Nix and Lynette Noni whose books range from fantasy to sci-fi to dystopia. What is it that actually keeps characters going across books?

It depends on the author; sometimes there’s a lot of thought involved like questionnaires, casting actors and writing childhoods, or the characters come mostly formed and the author simply fills in the pieces. Lynette trusts in her characters to tell the story and take her through the motions, and James believes you need to know things about them that makes them real, even if it’s not nice. Not all characters will be loved either; one person’s favourite may be someone else’s most disliked for different reasons.

On the topic of side characters, they’re are incredibly important to the story. It’s those interactions that sometimes define pivotal moments throughout a series. Amie gave a lovely analogy about side characters being like seasoning, they’re good in certain amounts without overwhelming the story.

The More than Meets the Eye: Diversity in YA Fiction panel led an eye-opening discussion on the portrayal of diverse Australian teenagers in literature. Mediated by journalist and author Sarah Ayoub, she was joined by writers Randa Abdel-Fattah, Erin Gough and Will Kostakis to talk from personal experience about their sense of identity, the issues within writing diversity in YA and what is it like to be pigeonholed.

Randa kicked off the conversation by stating that as a minority, it is a calling to humanise those who are not represented. As a Muslim woman, she has often been in situations where she’s had to humanise her religion.

On the other hand, Will spoke about the conflict between being a Greek and gay, finding it hard to understand why one is okay to talk about over the other. He found a lot of backlash from Christian schools on his book The Sidekicks which featured a gay character, and has since sought to understand his clash of identities where only one is accepted by society, placing Will in his pigeonhole as a Greek writer.

Following on the thread of identity, Erin Gough said, “I don’t wake up and look in the mirror and say ‘Hey, look, it’s Gay Erin’ … okay sometimes I do.” The inability for writers to not only write about diverse characters but be diverse themselves is a dilemma slowly being addressed.

Talking Tough Topics with Jennifer Niven saw a shift in the room as the heavy issues were dived into. Jennifer was gentle and respectful as discussion moved from relationships, suicide, mental health, body image and dysfunctional families.

She expressed her belief that young adults go through a tough time during their teens with issues that are sometimes not represented in literature. With characters like Libby, Finch, Violet and Jack from her novels, she sought to not only write their story, but address these issues in a way for young adults to understand.

“All of the novels I’ve written are stories I wanted to read,” she said. We can only hope that Jennifer dives further into these topics in her upcoming novels.

This year’s YA program was a success! With a variety of authors, publishers, publicists and editors, the conversations were endless and engaging. The Sydney Writer’s Festival has done a brilliant job at celebrating Australian and international YA stories, leaving us exhilarated and warm-hearted.

Originally published at Chattr

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda // A Brilliant Coming-of-Age Story

I’m late to the bandwagon on this one. This book is being made into a movie while I was still fumbling around with the first 20 pages. Nevertheless, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is quirky, down-to-earth and I found myself smiling the whole time I was reading it. My cheeks hurt, yo. I’m warm and fuzzy from Simon and Blue, and my face is hurting and it is beautiful. This book is a-freaking-dorable and it is a must-read for all YA fans.

Here is why I fell in love with this adorable book.

Simon is sooooo lovable.

What is brilliant about Simon is while he had moments of teen angst, they weren’t bogged down or too intense. In fact, he is a light and jovial character who loves hugs, bad jokes and Harry Potter. Like Albertalli’s newer novel, the protagonist is realistic and lovable. He’s also an overthinker and so relatable. Plus he loves Oreos (and who doesn’t love Oreos?)

Epic friendships everywhere!

Simon has a real tight-knit group of friends: the ones from his childhood Nick and Leah, as well as a new bubbly addition, Abby. They have their moments of tension and arguments, but not every friendship is smooth sailing. The book also showcases these platonic friendships and yes, girls and guys can be friends without having romantic feelings for each other. Simon is supportive of his friends, and loves them for who they are.

I also liked Simon’s siblings, Alice and Nora, and how close they are as siblings. The fact there were healthy and loving relationships in his home life with his parents and siblings added a dynamic to the story that was heartwarming (and a family that watches reality TV together stays together).

The coming-of-age elements were excellent.

Here we have a protagonist who is gay and not portrayed as flamboyant or any other stereotype. He is portrayed as he is: a funny, lowkey popular kid with great friends and an online romance slowly blooming. I liked how we get to know Simon as himself, not who he sexually prefers. The commentary about identity, diversity and sexuality were well said and suited the story, and it added a maturity to Simon (and Blue) that I felt like it needed.

I died over how cute the romance was.

I totally understand online friendships. One of my best friends is from America and while we didn’t reveal our identities for a while, we’re going on nearly 8 (or 9?) years of friendship without having met IRL. So when Simon was in the midst of emailing a cute wordsmith who goes to his school but won’t reveal his identity, yo, I get it. It did annoy me a couple of times when things were tense over their identities, but despite that I loved the email format of the relationship and Blue’s grammatical prowess. The flirting is killer cute and the way Simon and Blue slowly opened up to each other was just beautiful.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is filled with great helpings of humour, realistic and wonderful characters, a powerful love for Oreos and understanding what it is like to be yourself.

Rating

 

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What are your thoughts?

Have you read Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda? Do you have a healthy obsession with Oreos? Have you read books with a gay protagonist and found it realistic? Leave a comment down below with your thoughts.

 

19547856Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

{Goodreads}

The Hundredth Queen // Magic, Mystery and Mythology

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King weaves together magic, suspense, mythology, and romance. At the heart of this story is Kalinda, an 18-year-old orphan who is prone to fevers and doesn’t see herself doing anything other than entering the Sisterhood with her best friend, Jaya. However, her serene life is disrupted by the Claiming and she is now set to be the Rajah’s hundredth rani. Thing is, she has to fight for her place among ninety nine other wives, and maybe find out secrets about her past.

The premise of The Hundredth Queen captivated me. Who doesn’t want to read about a strong heroine and her rise to power as she drives the fall of a powerful kingdom? That’s a fantasy lover’s dream. However, while the book was strong in some aspects such as magic and mythology, there were weaker points that I had gripes with such as plot, character development and world-building. It was all rather predictable and a bit lackluster.

Here’s what I have to say about The Hundredth Queen.

King’s writing is captivating, but sometimes it felt like it was too much.

This is just a personal preference, but the amount of descriptions were overwhelming. I also found some areas lacked descriptions – it’s all a matter of balance. I also felt some areas we were spoon-fed what we needed to know in order to move on with the plot whereas things could have been left to the imagination and for the reader to piece together. Despite this, King’s writing is lovely and I enjoyed her writing style. I also enjoyed the use of mythology and magic throughout the novel; it added an edge and a sense of mystery in regards to the politics and dynamics of magic and the court. However, I did find the mythology to be convoluted, especially in regards to the bhuta and the sacred text.

The character development wasn’t as authentic as it could have been.

Our protagonist, Kalinda is weak, suffers from fevers and has no experience with men at all. she is repeatedly described as terrible in combat and unremarkable – yet, what perplexed me was she is suddenly able to defeat one of her strongest opponents during the Claiming, and is described as “beautiful”.  The jumps between her character development were confusing, and while she grows rather quickly into a fierce warrior and woman, I found the supporting characters like Jaya and the Rajah to be a bit two-dimensional. I liked the friendship between Jaya and Kalinda, it wasn’t developed enough for me to grow attached.

I also found Kalinda to be rather plain, but her personality improved when in the company of Deven. Their instalove was predictable and felt a little sudden because of a lack of tension and development, but it was rather cute. Overall, the characters weren’t too impressive and that’s what felt a little off with me: there wasn’t enough tension between the characters and dimension.

Also, the world in which the novel is set does not venture further than the journey from the Sisterhood to the palace, and that’s where the reader resides for majority of the novel. There was a lot of potential for world-building not just through lore and textbook history, but through conversations and exploration. I would have liked more details on neighbouring nations and some history on how the Rajah became so powerful.

The concept of the rank tournament was intriguing yet I didn’t see the point?

It honestly felt like the tournament encouraged girl-on-girl hate rather than sisterhood no matter how hard Kalinda tried. I did like how King explained Kalinda’s disapproval of the system, but because of her negative attitude towards it I didn’t enjoy reading any sections to do with the tournament. It made me uncomfortable and the reasoning behind it all is to rise up in rank – it felt superficial and pointless.

Overall, The Hundredth Queen had the potential to shine and stand out as a unique YA fantasy romance, yet it fell into a rut of predictable plot points and underdeveloped characters. While it was enjoyable to a certain degree (the use of magic was definitely fascinating), the gripes I had with it dampened my enthusiasm.

 

Rating

.5/5

 

Disclaimer: I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

E3 2017: Assassin’s Creed Origins Takes Us to Ancient Egypt

At an Ubisoft event during E3 2017, Assassin’s Creed Origins was unveiled. This latest instalment in the series will take players to ancient Egypt during the Ptolemaic dynasty and follow the story of a man named Bayek, the last Medjay who is basically the local protector of his community. It will also develop the story of how the Brotherhood was formed. One of the most prominent aspects of this instalment is the different direction Ubisoft is taking with game play and combat style, with a focus on action-RPG elements.

Combat has significantly changed to suit an action RPG style. Source.

This game honestly gives me Prince of Persia vibes. You can scale the walls of pyramids, explore the tombs of pharaohs, sail down the Nile, and unveil the mysteries of the gods. As Bayek you command a hawk, Senu, that can fly ahead and identify areas of interest or scout for danger. The richness of the game’s environment is a brilliant re-imagining of ancient Egypt: everything from merchant stalls, wild animals and Egyptian lore to the make and style of weapons and clothing styles.

After being able to give the game a go, Gamespot reports there is a skill tree that separates into three combat categories: rogue, archer and warrior. As a part of the RPG gameplay, these skills blend together so it is customisable to your own style of assassinating your targets. In regards to combat, the game has taken a different design approach to combat that is reminiscent of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and Fallout. Because the game offers the ability to customise skills and weapons, it should mold into the player’s combat style.

The scenery is breathtaking in 4K. Source.
The scenery is breathtaking in 4K. Source.

Ubisoft have also announced the pre-order for collector’s editions of Origins. With only 999 available worldwide, the Dawn of the Creed Legendary Collector’s Edition comes with Assassin’s Creed Origins Gold Edition, the season pass, a Digital Deluxe Pack, an additional mission, a 73cm statue of Bayek and Senu, the world’s map, art cards, a collector’s case, a replica of Senu’s skull amulet, a Steelbook, the game’s art book, four large lithographs, and the official soundtrack. Oh, and it’s $800 USD (roughly $1249.50 AUD). There are other collector’s editions available for far more affordable prices, but if you’re a major fan this one might be for you.

Assassin’s Creed Origins will be available October 27 and will feature 4K gameplay on the new Xbox One X.

You can watch the game’s trailer below.

Originally published at Chattr. 

Queens of Geek // Three Friends, Two Love Stories, One Convention

This book is for the fandom queens, the regular geeks, the people who think they’re a little weird. It’s for everyone, because everyone needs to read this.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde is like walking into a pop culture convention and feeling like you’re home. It’s like taking a plunge into the deep end of your worst fears and resurfacing with a smile because it turned out better than you thought it would. That’s how I imagine meeting your idols and being surrounded by your nerdy loves would be like when you’re not accustomed to being around people.

Queens of Geek is set at SupaCon and follows the journey of a trio of friends who have flown from Australia to be there: Taylor (who is a massive Queen Firestone fan, struggles with anxiety and is autistic), Charlie (a bisexual Chinese-Australian vlogger with rockin’ pink hair) and Jaime, the moral support who is just as huge a geek as the others. Did I mention that this is an Australian book with an Australian author with Australian characters? YO, THIS IS GREAT!

Let’s get into some of the things I adored about this book.

 

There are pop culture references EVERYWHERE!

The amount of references had me geeking out in my own bedroom. There were references to Back to the Future, Lord of the Rings, Marvel, Supernatural, you name it. (THEY MENTIONED DESTIEL LIKE, I CAN’T!) They even see Felicia Day and I lowkey screamed. I also loved the use of social media throughout the book because I find that YA lacks the appropriate use of it (I haven’t read a YA book where the protagonist uses Twitter as a bargaining tool in a race).

The characters are simply fantastic.

It is dual-narrated by Taylor and Charlie and their voices are so distinct and brilliant, you can’t help but fall in love with them. While it would have been super cute to have a chapter from Jaime’s perspective, I liked how it was with just the two girls. Jaime is adorable and precious and I loved every moment he was in. I loved the representation and diversity we get from this book, especially with autism, which was amazing to see.

It emphasises the importance of friendships between girls.

It’s been a long time since I’d read a book where two girls are able to have a good friendship without the negative stereotypes of tearing each other down or being mean/popular. I liked how Charlie was the ‘popular’ one in regards to her YouTube following and acting, but Taylor was popular on Tumblr and Twitter. Despite their differences in popularity, they were both focused on their friendship, always checking in on each other. It reminded me a lot of my high school friends and the support we gave each other – it was great to see that reiterated in a book.

The slow burn romance, yo. I can’t.

The relationship between Taylor and Jaime is super sweet and shows how the little things are what mean the most. Jaime is understanding of Taylor’s anxiety and autism. He knows how to react and help when she suddenly feels too tight in her body. In turn, Taylor knows how to make Jaime smile and it brought a warmth to my chest when I was reading their parts of the book.

I also adored Charlie and Alyssa’s relationship (the two of them secretly fangirled over each other, I mean, how is that not true love?) While it came across as instalove, I didn’t mind it in the slightest because it was really cute.

The moments of fangirling and important discussions were not only brilliant but educational.

Is it possible to fangirl over fangirling? Because that’s what I did. The aspects of SupaCon were so cool and I loved how involved the characters were with the convention. It led to the book addressing issues of sexism in acting, bi-phobia and bisexuality, as well as body positivity and mental health. It was brilliant to see these in a YA book and while some of the discussions came across as a bit ‘preachy’, I didn’t mind it too much. Some parts of the book felt a little underdeveloped and it’s easy to see when the narration goes from the story to emphasising the message it is trying to convey. Despite this, it’s an enjoyable read!

I honestly like the discussions about anxiety the most, because as someone who suffers from it, the inclusion of it was fantastic.

“That’s what we do. We walk a tightrope every day. Getting out the door is a tightrope. Going grocery shopping is a tightrope. Socializing is a tightrope. Things that most people consider to be normal, daily parts of life are the very things we fear and struggle with the most, and yet here we are, moving forward anyway. That’s not weak.”

Overall, this a warm and light-hearted YA book with lots of geeking out and fandoms galore.

It’s too adorable for words so just read it. You won’t regret it.

Rating

the literary casanova flowerthe literary casanova flowerthe literary casanova flowerthe literary casanova flower.5/5

What are your thoughts on Queens of Geek? Have you ever been to a convention? Let me know in the comments!

 

When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

28245707Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.


Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Goodreads

 

 

One of Us is Lying // An addictive YA mystery thriller

Mystery thrillers are always a brilliant read, especially when you’ve been hooked on contemporaries for a while. It was good to shake it up a bit, and I found One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus to be a gripping read from start to finish. It will bring you to the edge of your seat and keep you hanging there for more than 300 pages, suspense and mystery growing to a crescendo. It is an addictive and delectable book, perfect for YA.

One of Us is Lying commences with five characters going to detention at Bayview High:

  1. Bronwyn, a smart, rule abiding student.
  2. Addy, a picture-perfect beauty queen with the perfect boyfriend.
  3. Nate, a slacker with a criminal record on probation for drug dealing.
  4. Cooper, a popular baseball pitcher looking to score a place in the top 5 colleges.
  5. Simon, the creator of Bayview’s ‘About That’ gossip app.

However, Simon dies before the end of detention and his death is ruled as murder. The remaining four later learn he was planning on spilling their secrets on the gossip app and suddenly everyone has a reason to get rid of Simon. Is one of them lying or is there an actual murderer on the loose?

Sounds damn brilliant, right?

The characters are dimensional and relatable.

Despite the fact they initially embody the tropes we all know and love in YA high school drama, these characters were brilliantly written. The tropes slowly fall apart as they are fleshed out with their own backstories and reasons for doing the things they did. Their personalities and differences were easily contrasted but as a reluctant team now bound by the death of their classmate, it was so interesting to watch their journeys of self-reflection as the investigation grew hot on their heels. They acted like teenagers feeling the pressure of the adult world and the judgement of others, and the way they responded was entertaining to read. I liked their mistakes, their upbeat moments and the struggles they all faced to keep their secrets buried. My personal favourites were Nate and Addy. Overall, these characters were wholesome and fantastic to read about.

The plot and suspense building was excellent.

I honestly love a good mystery thriller. I loved the way the book was written with subtle hints dropped here and there about what each of the characters were hiding. The constant questioning and trying to solve the mystery was addictive. While some sections were not as detailed or engaging, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. I also liked how the book was split into the four perspectives, adding to that element of mystery and suspense as readers. I did guess a couple of the plot twists and the ending, but I liked how it wasn’t a typical YA ending with couples everywhere and happy days. It was realistic and genuine, something we’re seeing more of in YA.

I did have one issue: the first is the representation of mental illness. Without spoiling, I find that the way the book handled the tough topics was great and mental illness has been prevalent in YA, but some readers may be divided in regards to what occurs with one of the characters and their mental health. It is a delicate issue and one that will have various reactions. I personally thought because it was YA, there may not have been a place to go into more detail behind it, but it would have been good to see it.

Overall, this is a great and fun read for anyone keen on something with a good YA mystery.

Rating

 

the literary casanova flowerthe literary casanova flowerthe literary casanova flower.5 out of 5.

What are your thoughts?

Have you read One of Us is Lying? Let me know in the comments what you thought of the book!

Disclaimer: Netgalley gave me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.