a short diary excerpt #1

something short and personal

{spilled tea, fairy floss sunsets, a long steady drive, the swell of the radio sweeping me off my seat • i have a cloud over my head but a gentle hand running through my hair; a trembling kiss presses behind my ear as my breath catches and my stomach sinks • he makes me sway in the wind like a willow tree, holds my heart with fingertips so kind i’m afraid i’ll drop to my knees as the air suddenly becomes too thick • there’s a humming in the air and i follow its vibrations down a crooked path until his voice calls me back – all the way back home}

Six Things About Six of Crows

I have to admit I am a sucker for epic fantasy, especially anything that involves assassins, thieves and characters dark enough to perforate my soul. And here I am, writing this review while holding my mauled heart and saying, “God damn, that was brilliant.”

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a quite simply a heist story. Six young criminals are hired to break into the world’s most secure prison and extract a prisoner for a larger than large sum of money. It’s dark, dangerous and filled with plots and schemes that might go wrong. It’s  a well written steampunk fantasy heist tale and I don’t know what took me so long to read it.

So here are six things about Six of Crows – spoiler free!

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The world itself is incredible.

Set in the same universe as the Grisha trilogy (you don’t have to read that series in order to read this one as they are totally separate), the novel explores the gritty Barrel and the lavish Ice Court, slowly forming Ketterdam as we dive into the various cultures Bardugo has created from the Shu to the Suli. It’s not lacklustre by any means; there’s knives, guns, magic, technology mashed together into something that is so attractive. It’s rich with culture and has an grimy vibe as we travel with this crew of misfits.

The characters are extraordinary and dimensional af.

“No mourners. No funerals. Among them, it passed for ‘good luck.”

The 400 page novel balances six characters, all with their own backstories and reasons for being a part of the heist. These characters, the Dregs, have left a hole in my heart because of just how incredible they are. They’re diverse, broken and mismatched and I love the balance they created with each other.

  • Kaz: The ringleader of the Dregs, a cold and calculating mastermind who is so tragically lovable. He’s covers his bets, is mysterious to even his own crew and is capable of incapacitating a person with a cane. Because you know, he has a limp and doesn’t let anyone take advance of him.
  • Inej: She’s the spider, the Wraith, a deadly acrobat who knows everything. She’s fierce in a quiet kind of way and ambitious.
    I also ship her really really hard with Kaz because yolo.
  • Nina: Oh my lord, this woman is my spirit animal. She’s a Grisha, loves food and is sassy af. She’s loyal to a fault, doesn’t like to be in debt to anyone and capable of making men drop to their knees (and not just because of her good looks).
    I would alternatively be shipping Inej with Nina because their relationship is so damn cute.
  • Matthias: He’s kind of like a brick wall with feelings. He’s basically helping these crows break into a place that is sacred to his culture and he’s not liking it. He’s extremely stubborn and doesn’t like to show said feelings. It’s hilarious.
  • Jesper: The comic relief, the dork who loves guns and has a slight gambling addiction.
  • Wylan: This precious baby is adorable as he tries to prove himself to the Dregs. He’s defiant, clever and sometimes forgotten because he hasn’t quite conformed to the crooked personas of his fellow crew members.

“Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.”

The use of multiple perspectives allowed for a deeper and more mysterious plot.

Because we’re seeing things from six POVs, not everything will be interpreted the same. Different scenes had one or two characters telling the part and it was brilliant to see how the Big Job has unfolded for the six of them. It also allowed for their backstories to ease into the plot without much introduction; and while it was sometimes too much information at once, I loved that we got to see what made these characters so hard and despicable. While I would have liked more of Kaz’s perspective, but the novel had to balance them all and it worked well.

“The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.”

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The heist itself is incredible and humourous.

I haven’t read a good heist book in a long time, especially one that involved magic. I liked living vicariously through these characters who could pull off such incredible feats and still hold a conversation while sassing each other. The plans and schemes formulated in order to succeed had my eyes glued to the page. I wanted to know everything. How can someone (Kaz, my child) be so clever to come up with such a complex plan and improvise when things go wrong? Ugh, I loved the manipulation, the cons, the gradual world-building as we follow the crew through the Ice Court. It’s a damn thrill.

“I’m a business man,” he’d told her. “No more, no less.”
“You’re a thief, Kaz.”
“Isn’t that what I just said?”

Bardugo’s writing is just so good, I could eat it.

It’s no lie – I enjoyed this series so much more than the Grisha trilogy. There is a depth to her writing that lacked in the her previous work. She’s clever with her words, quick with descriptions that paint a lasting image and has penned some impressive feats by these characters. There’s a richness to her words that I found exciting. The dialogue is also A+.

The book itself is the definition of epic fantasy.

I mean, it’s a heist book set in a Russian-inspired fantasy universe where a crew of thieves and assassins who are all sassy af are about to pull off their biggest stunt for a large enough sum to risk their lives. Why haven’t you read this already?

Rating

 

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Let’s chat!

Have you read Six of Crows? Do you like heist books? Who was your favourite character? Leave me a comment down below and we can discuss!

 

 

 

The Upside of Unrequited // Lots of diversity and a squishy romance

I finished this book at 2am on Tuesday morning with a warm heart and a wet face. I thought about whether it was a good idea to have read this on a night when I had university at 9am.

Turns out I didn’t really care. I have no regrets. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli was absolutely brilliant.

Let’s talk about Molly Peskin-Suso.

Our main character is Molly, a chubby 17-year-old with a fraternal twin and two mums. She’s never had a boyfriend, never been kissed and has had a long ass list of crushes (26, I should add). When her twin, Cassie, falls in love, Molly finds herself in a situation where her other half is slowly orbiting around someone else and she is feeling alone. As any good sister would, Cassie is determined to hook Molly up with her girlfriend’s best friend, Will; but Molly’s new job at a Pinterest perfect store has her thinking about her geeky coworker, Reid. Molly’s inward struggle between following her sister’s guidance and what she’s feeling in her chest is a painfully accurate representation of relationships, rejection and being seventeen.

The coming-of-age elements within this novel are so realistic.

I liked the way Becky explains Molly’s thought process behind the crushes, capturing the fleeting yet exciting feeling perfectly. I also loved how Molly’s weight didn’t define her story (because why should it?), but it was brought up in fleeting moments when Molly’s insecurity was strong. It resonated with me so much, taking me back to a time in high school when I was worried about not being kissed and my body. Did people not like my body? Was I wrong to like mine? A lot of old memories bubbled up as Molly’s character developed into a more confident and thoughtful individual. Her story was so relatable – from needing to feel rejected, to being confident in your own skin, to feeling confused while everyone is moving on without her. I also liked the representation of anxiety in Molly, especially in regards to medication. There was never a moment when Molly was made to feel inferior because of her condition.

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The diversity is absolutely lovely.

The representation in this is amazing. There are so many queer and POCs and explanations on various sexualities, rounding the story into something unique and lovely. I loved Molly’s two mums, how her relationship with them was positive and open, the unconventional family dynamics that totally worked, and the bonds between the family members (including cousins and aunts). The relationships within the novel are realistic, hilarious and beautiful, especially Molly and Cassie’s sisterhood as it explores the bittersweet process of growing apart and losing that sibling closeness. I also loved the fact Molly is Jewish (because since when have I read a book with a Jewish protagonist?).

The writing is brilliant!

I adore the dialogue between the characters. It is so realistic and relatable. I also couldn’t take my eyes off the page. I devoured this book so easily because of the excellent writing.

The romances are so sweet and cute, I couldn’t handle it.

Cassie and Mina: Too cute that I was blushing. I loved how easily they complemented each other.

Molly and Reid: Um, they bond over cookie dough and Cadbury Mini Eggs. How is that not true love? I also liked their honesty with each other, and the subtle drops of adorable geeky things.

Nadine and Patty: Molly and Cassie’s mums have such a brilliant relationship. I loved their compassion, honesty and love for compound swear words.

Overall Thoughts

This is the cutest contemporary YA novel I’ve read so far. Extremely diverse and geeky, it accurately represents what it’s like to be seventeen and afraid of the world, but also the excitement in growing up and being confident. The romantic elements were so cute and I loved the emphasis on family.

Rating: 5/5!

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Series Review: The Grisha Trilogy // Russian mythology and a suave villain

“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”

Hello, bookworms! Today I’ll be reviewing the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. This isn’t something I do quite often because I usually like to review books one by one; however, I did read the trilogy as a buddy read with a dear friend on bookstagram, and now I’m inclined to do a review on the series as a whole.

So here we go.

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March Wrap Up + April TBR

March has been a hectic month for me with university, editing and bookstagram. I managed to crack 900 followers, I finished editing Taylor‘s novel, and I’m already drowning in assignments. However I did manage to squeeze in some books to tide me over and keep me sane. I did a buddy reading of Gemina with some lovely people on bookstagram such as Beth, who has been an absolute gem to me. I also finally finished the Grisha trilogy with Shelby and she is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet.

So, without further ado and ramblings from moi, here is my March wrap up with their respective reaction gifs that sum up how I felt about them.

March Wrap Up

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Book Review: Gemina // Wormholes, space sass and plot twists

Here it is, the sequel to Illuminae – the book that had me dusted and broken into a million stars.

Holy heck, what did I just read?

Hands down this is the perfect sequel, and it was just as good as Illuminae. Kristoff and Kaufman have outdone themselves with their masterful words and fantastic story. It’s 2575, and they delivered everything I could have asked for: a rapid-fire thrilling adventure featuring the perfect amount of sass, wormholes, a lethal BeiTech team, ingenuity and alien-esque creatures that’ll haunt your dreams. This is a page turner, a masterpiece of young adult science fiction.

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Book Review: Fury by Charlotte McConaghy

This is a spoiler free review!

I feel like I haven’t reviewed enough books yet so here we are with this rather underrated dystopian gem by Charlotte McConaghy.

Review

This is that perfect mix of Divergent and Maze Runner with the good qualities of a dystopian novel without the bland cynical parts.

Fury follows the story of 18-year-old Josephine Luquet, or Josie as you’ll get to know her as, who has a horrible experience on the blood moon every year where she wakes up covered in blood and naked without a clue on what has happened.

The society in which she lives has purged anger by introducing the Cure, an immunisation manadated by the government. Those who do not take it are subject to become Furies and those that do become ‘drones’. She has not responded to the Cure like the others, and that makes her dangerous.

Then along comes Luke, a drone who is determined to help Josie figure out what is happening and save her before the next blood moon, and before the government finds out she has not been Cured.

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Book Review: The Star Touched Queen // Indian mythology and a whirlwind love

On the blog today is a review for this rather lovely book by Roshani Chokshi. Set in a luxurious kingdom lush with Indian mythology, elegant writing and a mystery, The Star Touched Queen is, without a doubt, a beautiful book. It is a recent diverse read in my collection and I was so thrilled to have it in my hands. The story follows Maya of Bharata who is whisked away by the mysterious Amar, made Queen of an unknown realm and starts to uncover secrets within the palace.

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Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aka the book that ate my heart, spat it out into the cosmos, let me explode into tiny atoms then put it back together.

Illuminae is the kind of book that leaves you breathless, fumbling for purchase while you cry, and gripping your heart at the sheer beauty of it. I’d like to thank the book community for introducing me to this gem.

Synopsis

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.

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.

{Goodreads}

Review

The book is still fresh in my mind and the thought of it is making my heart ache. What I loved most about this book was the format. It’s told through files, online messages, emails, documents and surveillance cameras on board the Alexander and Hypatia. Not only is that a genius idea but it also gave the story the ability to withhold information and let us imagine what has occurred. It was interesting to read the interactions across ships via online messages, especially between the captains of the vessels. The plot twists and revelations we would get in a normal book felt so much more intriguing when told in this format. Illuminae is not black and white, but various shades of grey as we get accounts from multiple perspectives.

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This is legit how I imagined outside the ship to be like. Source.

Let’s talk about Kady Grant and appreciate this girl’s sass, brains and resilence even in the moments before death grew imminent. Kady had just broken up with Ezra and two minutes later their world is under attack and they’re on separate intergalatic ship heading for a safe base. With only dialogue between her and the interviewer at the very beginning, we already get a glimpse at the girl I grew to love.

Then there’s Ezra Mason and while he’s not as intelligent with computers and numbers and strategy, he’s the softie we needed to cushion Kady’s rough edges. This is why I loved their lowkey and slow burn romance throughout the entire book. Ezra helps Kady hold it together, the voice of reason during their bleak times on board different ships. I also loved his lame attempts to romance her while being stars away from her. If only someone would write me a drunken email every once in a while.

And now, I want to talk about Aidan. God, I hated this AI so much at the beginning. He was destructive (to me and to our beloved characters), unable to compute orders and downright scary.

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Aidan will be the death of me. Source. 

But his fascination with Kady, something I didn’t expect from an AI, was so interesting. I loved the second half of the book simply because we get to see Kady and Aidan interact in a way that will make you laugh and cry. My heart was breaking so much in these last pages, and I have never been so attached to a psychotic and poetic AI before.

The writing itself was brilliant, rich and so cool with the tech and space lingo. I adored how Kristoff and Kaufman worked together and created such a fascinating universe.

Rating

 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Let me know in the comments what you thought of Illuminae! I’d love to chat!

Until next time.

Stay golden!

 

Book Review: A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Contains spoilers for the novel. 

I have to admit that I had some high hopes for this book and while I was somewhat satisfied, I was also let down. Greek mythology, a main character who can make empires fall, a dark past and a future in the balance – I was holding out for something that would exciting and adventurous. I had actually neglected to realise that this was a romance, and primarily a romance. 

I had a few gripes with this novel, mostly because I felt like this could have steered away from the romance and focus more on the actual world-building, the politics of the different tribes, and the potential of having a Kingmaker on your side.

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Synopsis

Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

{Goodreads; Book Depository}

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