3 Mini Book Reviews

AND I DARKEN - Kiersten White
Published: 2016 by Delacorte Press
Pages: 498.
Genres: Young adult / romance / historical fiction /
Triggers/Content Advisory: Infrequent sexual innuendo / frequent brutal violence
Format: eBook.
Source: Borrowed.

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets. Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion. But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

Gosh oh gosh. I was expecting to love this book but WOW did I not. At. All.

It's extremely boring and slow. Everything drags and the politics are way too much. I desperately wanted to DNF it, but I have my own stupid policy that I'm not allowed to DNF a book (I just can't stand not finishing something. Lol). The plot is also a mess, and the pacing is totally ridiculous.
I also don't like White's writing style. I'm not saying it's bad, but it's definitely not for me. It gets very repetitive, as well.

However, the history is fascinating. I like the richness of the Ottoman world, and I especially like how creative White is with her gender-swapped retelling.
But it's still not enough to redeem the book.

The characters are boring. I do find Radu and Lada's relationship compelling, but their characters annoy me. I enjoyed watching Lada frequently win against the boys and get in some awesome girl power, but I still find her character irritating.
All the secondary characters are yawn-worthy and easily forgettable.


IF BIRDS FLY BACK - Carlie Sorosiak
Published: 2017 - by Macmillan Children's Books
Pages: 352.
Genres: Young adult / romance / contemporary /
Triggers/Content Advisory: Mild sexual innuendos.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Won.
Linny has been living life in black and white since her sister Grace ran away, and she's scared that Grace might never come back. When Linny witnesses the return to Miami of a cult movie star long presumed dead, she is certain it's a sign. Surely Álvaro Herrera, of all people, can tell her why people come back - and how to bring her sister home? Sebastian has come to Miami seeking his father, a man whose name he's only just learned. An aspiring astrophysicist, he can tell Linny how many galaxies there are, how much plutonium weighs and how likely she is to be struck by a meteorite. But none of the theories he knows are enough to answer his own questions about why his father abandoned him, and why it left him in pieces. As Sebastian and Linny converge around the mystery of Álvaro's disappearance - and return - their planets start to collide. Linny's life is about to become technicolor, but finding the answers to her questions might mean losing everything that matters.

This story is so cute. It's deeper than your average contemporary, and incredibly original and creative.  The dialogue is fun, the characters quirky, eccentric, and unique, and their relationships complicated. I love how friendship and family are as much themes as is the romance. It's great.
The humour is brilliant. The characters are so sassy and sarcastic, it's absolutely delightful and at the same time outrageous. I love it.

My only criticisms are that the plot frequently takes very unrealistic turns, and I struggled to lose myself in the story. It lacks that "spark" that makes contemporaries the kind of books you just want to rush back to and continue reading.  For example, there are scenes where I know I'd usually be crying, but for some reason, in this book, I didn't. I wasn't even close to crying.
I miss that connection.


Published: 2011 - by Hodder & Stoughton 
Pages: 418.
Genres: Young adult / romance / fantasy / paranormal 
Triggers/Content Advisory: Sexual innuendos / Fantasy violence 
Format: Paperback.
Source: Library. 
"Errand requiring immediate attention. Come. The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things. When Brimstone called, she always came." In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole. Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

At the start, I liked it. But then Akiva came into the plot and things went downhill.

I like the prose - it's stunning - but the more I read, the more it got repetitive and melodramatic. Thus by the end I wasn't so keen on it. The plot is quite slow, too, and I was bored for a lot of the time. The pacing is also extremely uneven.
The story is very imaginative and weird. I like that, but it also gets confusing. At the end of the book I had so many questions and not once did the book answer them. I think there are a lot of loopholes (which, thanks brain, I can't recall at this very moment BUT THERE ARE SOME, I KNOW) and that annoys me.

Th characters are interesting, but severely underdeveloped. Akiva is boring as heck, and Karou's potential is wasted because she's flat. BUT I FREAKIN' LOVE ZUANNA. I COULD READ A WHOLE BOOK ABOUT ZUANNA. She's so funny, sassy, and full of personality, and her conversations with Karou are ABSOLUTE GOLD. If the book was about their friendship then YES I'D READ IT. But Karou's romance with Akiva is flippin' boring. 

Hope you enjoyed these reviews! Have you read these books? What did you think of them? 

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