Bookish Review: The Dazzling Heights

The Dazzling Heights by Katherine McGee

Published: 7 September 2017 by Harper Collins

Series: The Thousandth Floor

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi, Young Adult

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

Goodreads | Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads: New York City, 2118. Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a breathtaking marvel that touches the sky. But amid high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, five teenagers are keeping dangerous secrets…  

Leda is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’ll do anything to make sure the truth stays hidden—even if it means trusting her enemy. Watt just wants to put everything behind him…until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Will he do what it takes to be free of her for good? When Rylin wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being there also means seeing the boy whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return. Avery is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. She’s desperate to be with him…no matter the cost. And then there’s Calliope, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who arrives in New York determined to cause a stir. And she knows exactly where to begin.

But unbeknownst to them all, someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. After all, in a world of such dazzling heights, just one wrong step can mean a devastating fall.

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Review: After reading The Muse of Nightmares, and to keep up my reading streak, I was in the mood for something light and uncomplicated – Katherine McGee’s second book in The Thousandth Tower seemed to fit the bill quite nicely. Having read the first book, I knew not to expect anything too complex or intricate and going into this book with my expectations well and truly managed helped. (Some spoilers below!)

I found Leda to be one of the more compelling characters even though I didn’t actually *like* her. She felt more layered than the other characters. Her obsession with control and how that manifested in her relationships with others at least made for some interesting dynamics and drama. Her relationship with Watt was also one of the more interesting love lines in the book – it was the only one where we didn’t have the female moping after the guy. Instead, Leda and Watt’s relationship developed out of something more akin to hate and that made their story that much more intriguing, and you really felt the nuanced change as it turned into something more.

Maybe the important thing wasn’t finding someone without flaws, but just someone whose flaws complemented your own.

I also found Leda and Watt were the characters that underwent the most development. Leda can be your classic bitch but she was way more fun as the badass friend that would back you to her last breath. Seeing her use her doggedness to protect others rather than keep them at bay was way more fun. And seeing her open up to someone, and expose her vulnerability felt like the character had come quite far from the Leda we met in the first book. Watt was similarly interesting – seeing him forced to confront his over-reliance on AI when faced with messy human emotions was sobering. 

On the other hand, Avery and Rylin were pretty tiresome, replaying the same drama over and over with their love interests like a broken record. I had to keep reminding myself that these are teenagers and so you have to take the angst as it comes, but when the characters act like adults in so many other situations, it’s difficult to let them off because of their age. I do have to give it to Avery – in the last few chapters, I actually warmed to her because we saw something there beyond the vanilla character we encounter throughout most of the books. Can we have some more pissed-off warpath Avery please? 

It all struck Avery as futile, and purposeless… everyone was stuck in their little loops – engaging in the old tired flirtations, doomed to the same disappointment.

Rylin and Cord just did nothing for me. The whole student-teacher subplot was yawn and I thought we’d at least confront the issue that had broken them up in the first book. However, the two characters essentially skirted around their feelings even though it was pretty obvious their feelings for each other remained. Calliope was a fair distraction but she felt like an unnecessary complication when the original problem, bridging the trilogy, was still unresolved. By the end of the book it seemed Calliope was set up as the antagonist of the final book but I frankly just want to see how the Eris ‘thing’ plays out and am not here for the Atlas-Avery-Calliope love triangle.

Despite trying my best, the first 75% of this book felt rather pointless. The pacing is way off – nothing of note really happens in the first 3/4 of the book and I found I had to really push myself to keep reading. The last quarter though made me glad I did. It upped the ante and drew the strands of the story together. I’ve also realised I much prefer these characters when they’re interacting with one another –  when they’re forced to confront their differences, put aside these distinctions, and ultimately find common ground is when the book really shines. It’s difficult to do that when writing a multi-POV novel but this is one of McGee’s strengths and I hope there’s more similar interaction in the final installment. 

In some ways it felt like he was reliving that terrible night on the roof, nothing had changed… but of course that wasn’t true. Everything had changed.

Balancing out the pacing issues was McGee’s world-building. I genuinely adored reading a book that had sci-fi elements without it being the crux of the book. McGee’s world is not post-apocalyptic or dystopian but just an imagining of life on technological steroids. McGee weaves in the tech as enablers of these characters rather than crutches, and it really fits the message of the trilogy – that no matter how much we advance in science and tech and make life easier in the superficial sense, human emotions are messy, complicated, and uncontrollable things not open to decryption by an algorithm.

I will read the last book in the trilogy, if only to see how the overarching plot line is resolved. I’m not really invested in the romances so much as the dynamics between all the characters – the highliers, and the downtowers, the seemingly have-it-alls and the down-and-outs, the perfect and the destructive. And of course more of the glamour and tech please!

Have you read The Glittering Heights? What are your go to ‘trashy’ books? Drop me a comment below 🙂

Waiting on Wednesday: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which puts the spotlight on eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Publication Date: 2 May 2017 by Bloomsbury 

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses (book #3)

Synopsis: Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places. In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all. (Goodreads)

Why I’m looking forward to it: I’ve tried to keep it spoiler free but read at your peril! Right, so I’d be surprised if this upcoming release isn’t on most YA readers and bloggers’ TBR lists! Anyone who has read A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury will be on tenterhooks to find out what happens when Feyre returns to the Spring Court after all that happened during ACoMaF. I read A Court of Mist and Fury as soon as it came out last year (review here). I basically devoured it and it went straight to the top of my favourite YA fantasy series.

The Inner Circle – Rhysand, Mor, Cassian, Amren, and Azriel – was easily one of my highlights in AcoMaF. The characters were in-depth, distinct and the dynamincs between each was killer and had me wanting an Inner Circle of my own *sigh* so I’m definitely looking forward to the return of Mor’s cutting one-liners and Azriel’s broodiness. I’ m also super duper nervous about the ships that I’ve come to adore and it’s got me worrying about which of my ships will be endgame! 

In AcoTaR and AcoMaF, Ms Maas also teased some of the wider world – the different Courts, the history of Prythian, and of course the motives of the King of Hybern so I’m really looking forward to finally (hopefully!) getting some long-awaited cameos from the other High Lords as well as some answers to my million burning quetions! The world building in ACoMaF in particular was phenomenal so I’m sure Sarah will not disappoint in this installment 🙂

I love that this book sees Feyre taking charge of her destiny, she’s really evolved as a character so it’ll be interesting to see what happens when she returns to the Spring Court and how things play out with some familiar faces (can’t say I’m not looking forward to more Lucien… hehe) Plus, with this being the final book in the series, I can’t wait to see how the final battle goes, I’m hoping it brings the whole of Prythian together and we get to see a certain character get the recognition he deserves…

Have you read A Court of Mist and Fury? What books are you most looking forward to this month? Drop me a comment below!

Top Ten Tuesday: Galentine’s & Valentine’s Day Picks

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/ hosted by the brilliant ladies at The Broke and the Bookish with the idea of putting together bookish listicles according to the week’s theme. Today’s theme is obviously Valentine’s Day related: All About Romance Tropes/Types. However, I’ve decided to mix it up a little with my own take on this theme!

As some of you may know, whilst today is Valentine’s Day, February 13th was Galentine’s Day!! Galentine’s Day was introduced in Parks and Recreation (if you haven’t watched it, get on it now – it is hilarious!) by the brilliant character Leslie Knope. She describes it as “only the best day of the year” and rightly so, because this is a day for us ladies to celebrate our amazing female friends. 

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So to celebrate both, I’ve decided to split my Top Ten into Top Five Books With The Best Female Friendships in celebration of Galentine’s Day and Top Five Romance Books on my TBR List for Valentine’s Day. Without further ado then…

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Top Five Books With The Best Female Friendships

1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – Feyre, Amren and Morrigan are basically squad goals. 🙂 I love how fiercely loyal and supportive they are of each other. I adore how they have really distinct personalities and are really strong characters but at the same time can be really girly with each other – especially Mor and Feyre. 

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Cath and Regan are the ultimate roomies! One of my favourite things about their friendship is how Regan gets that Cath isn’t as confident as her but whilst she encourages Cath out of her shell she never pushes too hard or too far. Exactly the definition of a great friend!

3. The Lunar Chronicles by Melissa Meyer – again the ladies in this series are the definition of squad goals! I love that they’re all totally different personalities and ages but still really close friends. Plus they have each other’s back through thick and thin, even when they’re planets apart…

4. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Nina and Inej are my spirit animals. I adore how they understand each other without words, and get each other’s fears and aspirations – all the deep stuff – whilst at the same time encourage each other to eat to their heart’s content (well eat to Nina’s heart’s content) and laugh about it. Eating + Friends = perfection.

5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – this one is slightly different as it’s more the bond between sisters which is so hard to find in YA. This classic has it all though, and from the first time I read it, it rang so true because I can see me and my sisters in the Bennets. Lizzie and Jane are so supportive of each other and Lizzie is so fiercely protective of Jane that I can’t but help feel an affinity towards her!

Top Five Romance Books on my TBR List

6. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – I recently read Everything, Everything and thought it was an amazingly original story. I’m looking forward to reading Yoon’s latest book, and if Everything, Everything was anything to go on, I’m expecting an equally amazing romance!

7. Vendetta by Catherine Doyle – I went to an event recently with Catherine Doyle on the panel, and honestly cannot tell you why I’ve not read this book already. It’s Romeo and Juliet but with a mafia twist – what more could you possibly ask for?! 

8. Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt – I’m sooo looking forward to reading this because I’ve never seen conventions be the setting for a YA book. I’m saving it until YALC (my first YALC – I know, shameful) because I want to get the full experience when I finally read this!

9. Dusk by Eve Edwards – This has been wholeheartedly recommended to me by time and time again my little sister as a timeless romance. I’ve not read very many war books, so I think a romance might be the way to ease me into the genre, especially if it comes as highly recommended as this one!

10. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson – Morgan Matson is something of YA contemporary romance royalty and her books always sound so intriguing and genuine. I’ve heard great things about Second Chance Summer so I’m trying to get around to some of her newer books!

Which YA books are in your top five for female friendships? What romance books are in your TBR pile? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love recommendations!

Teaser Tuesday (#1)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading, with the idea of sharing two “teaser” sentences from the book you’re currently reading! It’s a great way to find out what’s being read around the blogosphere and find some gems to add to your TBR list (not that most of us need help on that front…!)

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Publication Date: 31 January 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton (UK) 

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Series: Caraval (Book #1)

Scarlett always saw flashes of colour attached to her strongest emotions, and for an instant goldenrod desire lit up inside her. Briefly, Scarlett let herself imagine what it would be like to go to Legend’s private isle, to play the game and win the wish. 

What are you reading at the moment? Drop me a comment below and share your teaser! 🙂

ARC Review: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

Release Date: 9 February 2017 (UK) by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Series: Untitled (#1)

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Goodreads | Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads: It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods–only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and other like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not in any way influence my views on the book.

Review: Well The Edge of Everything surpassed my expectations! And that was partly to do with the fact that I’m an idiot and, having read the Netgalley blurb, thought this was a contemporary (realistic) romance?? I did not clock at all that this was a fantasy until quite a few pages in… But when I did, an already promising start just improved 10x over. The story itself is an intriguing one, not much good comes from having a boyfriend literally from hell it turns out (!) It took a while for me to get the gist of the Lowlands but when I did I was totally immersed in the star-crossed lovers’ fate and the thrilling ride that Zoe and X embarked on to save themselves and stay together.

A frantic beetle was flitting back and forth between the panes of glass, trapped forever with the wide world in full view. X knew what it felt like to be that bug.

The Edge of Everything is one of those rare books where I could forgive the instalove and actually get behind it! Jeff Giles has crafted the characters in such a way and with so much depth that it’s almost inevitable that they would be attracted to each other and you cheer them on because they complement each other really well. I loved that Zoe is the badass, fierce and bold one in the pairing whilst X is very much the shy, naive but hopelessly in love one. I loved that the sweetest stuff between them was often unsaid/thoughts or physical gestures. 

I really warmed to Zoe – she’s dealing with some pretty horrific stuff but manages to stay strong throughout. She’s by no means perfect, and I liked that we saw this part of her. At times she’s pretty mean to her little brother but it is the way she loves fiercely and loyally whether it is her family or her friend Val that really shines through. X on the other hand is less snarky but so resilient considering how he has grown up and what he is expected to do. The fact that X is able to hold on to his ‘humanity’ having never experienced it is such a beautiful thing. Reading about their first meeting and what follows, the sweet moments and the heart wrenching really swept me up and just totally immersed me in their story.

He realised now that he didn’t know very many stories – and certainly no pleasant ones. So he told her their story. He began with her knocking him down on the ice.

I also loved how the other characters all had their own stories and personalities – whether it was Regent, Banger and Ripper in the Lowlands or Jonah, Val and Dallas (loved the dialogue between him and Zoe!) in Montana. The female characters were very badass and inspirational – with brilliantly sharp tongues! The sibling relationship between Zoe and Jonah was also interesting, especially how far she was willing to go for him, and I liked how her protectiveness brushed off on X too. In that sense, I’m really glad this is the first in a series, because I seriously need more page time for these secondary characters! 

The world building was top notch and Giles writes beautifully. The Lowlands was fascinating and I liked how some of it is recognisable and other bits totally original. Again, this book set us up with lots of questions about how the Lowlands works and I’m looking forward to discovering more in the next installment. This is the second book I’ve read in so many months where it’s set in a snowy location. Zoe’s Montana was beautifully described and the bits on caving which I’d probably usually find rather dull actually had me vividly imagining (and later googling!) chandelier-esque rock formations. The story weaves together a good mix of fantasy elements and romance and moved along at a thrilling pace.

The light, meanwhile, was dying fast. The coffin lid over Montana was getting ready to shut.

One of the things that really stuck out to me about The Edge of Everything was how Giles dealt with ‘big’ issues like morality, grief, and the afterlife but did it in a non-claustrophobic or preachy way. I found it really interesting to see how the characters dealt with different, and often uncomfortable, feelings like remorse and mercy and it was actually quite emotionally stirring. I liked that Giles does not shy away from the worst base instincts of humanity but doesn’t glorify them either – if anything he highlights the ambiguity inherent in things like morality and that was a fascinating thing to see in YA. 

The Edge of Everything is out on 9 February in the UK – it is a stunning debut, so make sure to grab yourself a copy. I am already eagerly awaiting the sequel which sadly (and worryingly!) isn’t even up on Goodreads yet (don’t leave me hanging Mr Jeff Giles!!!)

Are you looking forward to The Edge of Everything? Any recs for great urban fantasy YA? Drop me your thoughts in the comments below!

Bookish Review: Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

Published: August 2015 by Simon & Schuster

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

Goodreads | Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads: Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

Review: I read Night Owls (or The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, as it’s known in the US) for my book club but actually think it would’ve been a title I’d have picked up of my own volition. The blurb sounded really promising and as I’ve been knee-deep in fantasy these past few weeks some contemporary YA romance was looking very appealing!

Night Owls was a distinctly average book for me – a mix of good and not-so-great things. One thing that hooked me was the artist vibe which I found really interesting – I’m not in any way creative at all, and so I find myself in awe of anyone with even a hint of creative talent. I liked how diverse Jack and Bex’s artistic interests were. I had no idea cadaver drawing was even a thing and I liked that despite how male-dominated that particular field is, Bex was the one interested in it and actually it pushed her to get her talent recognised. 

Jack’s graffiti was also interesting because it wasn’t your usual pre-pubescent gang tagging nor was it subversive political & social commentary art a la Banksy. It felt more personal and I liked how he chose his words and his canvases and what we learn about his motives for doing something so risky as we go along. 

Some other things that really stuck out to me were the portrayal of Bex’s family unit. I liked how close Bex, her mother, and her brother were and how realistic the single parent family setup was. Bennett does not shy away from reality and the difficulties including how both Bex and her brother had to step up and help out for them to get by. The family drama Bex experiences was also interesting to see play out especially the motives behind each character’s actions and how this impacts on the others. 

Night Owls was also surprisingly sex-positive. What really struck me was how candid Bex is about her disappointing sexual experiences so far and never feels nor is made to feel ashamed of her experience. The conversations around sex between different characters were healthy and I liked how Bennett does not use LGBT representation as a plot device.

One of the downsides for me was that many of the other characters just did not feel fleshed out enough. Even Jack who is the love interest fell a little flat for me because we were seeing it all from Bex’s swooning perspective. There was a lot of physical descriptions and I just couldn’t see the ‘person’ beyond the manic pixie dream boy aesthetic he had going on. The issues that were framed as his ‘flaws’ felt a bit of a sham to me because it wasn’t directly to do with him/his personality and felt a bit of an inconvenient cop-out that kept Jack pretty damn perfect. 

Also, the drama wasn’t the most difficult to guess or follow but it was frustrating that Bex seemed a little too slow at joining the dots, enough that when the reveals came and she was blindsided, the reaction was more facepalm and cringeworthy than anything else. The drama and obstacles to Bex and Jack skipping off into the sunset also didn’t feel very problematic to me and seemed rather easily resolved with a nice neat bow at the end.

Overall, Night Owls was a nice quick read, which didn’t stretch out the drama unnecessarily, it was easy to get behind the romance between Jack and Bex and cheer them on. But ultimately it’s not the most memorable YA contemporary romance I’ve read and didn’t offer anything new or particularly exciting for me to remember it long after I’ve read it.

Have you read Night Owls? What did you think? What are your thoughts on differently named titles in different countries/regions? Let me know your thoughts!!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which puts the spotlight on eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

We are in for a treat with YA releases in 2017 so there’ll be a few of these coming up in the next few months. 😀 One book that I’m really looking forward to is The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman! It is the second book in the Lady Helen series and is released in the UK and US in January 2017.

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The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

Publication Date: 26 January 2017 by Walker Books UK 

Genre: Historical, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Series: Lady Helen (book #2)

Synopsis: June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen to spend the summer season in Brighton so that he can train her new Reclaimer powers. However, the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work have taken hold, and his sanity is beginning to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are even higher for Helen as she struggles to become the warrior that everyone expects her to be. (Goodreads)

Why I’m looking forward to it: First of all how beautiful is that cover?! I love that Walker have stayed with the original theme (pet peeve of mine is when the covers change mid-series grr!) As much as I adore Lord Carlston, I love love love that Lady Helen gets the cover all to herself in this one (feminism ftw!) and hope this hints at a badass Lady Helen in this installment!

I read the first book earlier this year (review here) and loved it. I’m a big fan of historical YA anyway but I wasn’t sure about the fantasy element. I needn’t have worried though as I loved everything about The Dark Days Club. The characters were brilliant, and Lord Carlston was dreamy. The plot was riveting and the whole thing flowed brillianty from start to climactic finish and left me wanting more after the last page… enter The Dark Days Pact.

In this installment we follow Lady Helen as she furthers her training with Lord Carlston as a fully fledged member of the Dark Days Club. We saw Helen make some pretty momentous decisions and so it will be really great to watch her continue to break conventions of Victorian society and really come into her own as a bona-fide demon hunter. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the encounters between Lady Helen and Lord Carlston go now that he’s mentoring her whilst at the same time dealing with his own problems. Finally, the Duke of Selburn’s agenda promises to ramp up the drama even further and I’m so excited to see how it all plays out before the final book in the series is released in 2018!

Have you read The Dark Days Club? What books are you most looking forward to? Drop me a comment below!