Tower Of Dawn – Sarah J Maas LTTP

LTTP - Tower Of Dawn by Sarah J Maas
LTTP – Tower Of Dawn by Sarah J Maas

I did not want to read this. Full disclosure, I was never a fan of Chaol which is probably putting it lightly. I didn’t enjoy his romance with Celaena. I didn’t enjoy his P.O.V’s and in the books leading up to Tower of Dawn I was disliking him more and more. Yet for some maddening reason this was not set as a side story novella type, this was considered part of the main series for Throne of Glass. So, begrudgingly, the completionist in me was obligated to read it before I started Kingdom of Ash. And the thought of reading about a Chaol centered story sounded so painfully uninteresting to me that I avoided it for months – simultaneously putting off reading the series finale, which I had been looking forward to, in the process. To only add to my procrastination was the fact that the second P.O.V character was Nesryn who at that point I felt equally uninterested in.

So, I finally got around to it and then I finally got to that series finale (review later). Did I end up enjoying it? Yes. Did I enjoy having the knowledge from TOD while reading KOA? Yes. Did I find Chaol a redeemed and less dislikable character in the end? Surprisingly, yes. Was TOD necessary for the series reading itself? Not really. It really should have been a novella rather than part of the series.

But here’s what made the read worth it in the end for me:

Yrene Towers. A new culture and parts of the world of Throne of Glass which filled in a lot of gaps and made, in my opinion, a good addition to enrich the world and history. Yrene Towers and Chaol as a couple and the building of their relationship. And the way everything was tied together in the end and with the series story at large.

I thought reading this would be a chore that would add little to the series but I was gladly proven wrong. Sarah J Maas seems to have this uncanny ability to weave some magically addictive stories that apparently I can’t get enough of.

(I won’t get into everything people find offensive about Maas’s writing as I often find these opinions overly sensitive or the importance of which I feel is overly exaggerated. It’s a YA fantasy that is going to focus heavily on lusty, angsty, romance. So, forewarning, in case 5 books in you hadn’t picked up on these things; if certain representations, characterisations or descriptive sex scenes that focus heavily on “manhood” offend you to the point of rage – this is probably not your cup of tea.)

Highlights:

  • I miraculously stopped disliking Chaol’s character. A great showcase towards Maas’s character building ability. I even have a bit of a soft spot for him after this book.
  • Yrene and Chaol’s relationship and romance building was so good for me. I definitely got Celaena and Rowan vibes. The slow, hard building of a relationship and all the tension and the dynamics that make the characters likable together.
  • The new culture, new part of the world and the new revelations were the main things driving me to push through the boring (other than the romance between Yrene and Chaol).
  • Yrene Towers whose perspective and backstory I really enjoyed.

Lowlights:

  • Some characters were just not interesting for me (Nesryn) so I found myself annoyed at the sight of a chapter with those P.O.V’s. There were some exceptions toward the end where that P.O.V story line goes into finding out some very interesting details about the series plot – but did I care about her family and romantic life and very slow but extremely obvious dwindle of her romantic relationship with Chaol? No. In short – A lot of boring chapters that were ineffective at making me care.
  • Overwhelming amount of information dump at first.
  • The length of Chaol’s healing process and the length of the entire story when the main goals are to heal Chaol and get the Khagan and 6 heirs to lend their armies to war against Erawan.
  • I am so charactered out by this point in the series that I really don’t care about the Khagan and the 6 heirs, whose names I can no longer recall. Honestly a lot of the characters in TOG as a whole can feel a bit interchangeable once those characters start dropping onto the page from all directions.

3/5 – A totally unnecessary “part of the series” that was surprisingly good at redeeming Chaol and making me fall in love with another character but so, so long.

How It Feels To Float – Helena Fox Quick Review

How It Feels To Float - Helena Fox Quick Review How It Feels To Float – Helena Fox Quick Review

How It Feels To Float – Helena Fox Quick Review

How it feels to float is an emotionally tense, intimate and poetically vivid experience of a teenage girl dealing with friendships, sexuality, loss, grief and hereditary mental illness. At its core it’s a heartbreakingly relatable journey that touches on the growing pains of teenage-hood and trauma, and displays the downward spiral and coming to terms with mental health. Written with grace and believability, Biz is a complicated character with complicated yet wonderful relationships. The chapters are short and quick. The read throughout is a mix of touching groundedness and somewhat disorienting surrealism. I was reminded throughout of the feelings evoked during reads of some of Kathleen Glasgow’s books with similar themes, and like Kathleen, Fox has a stunning way with words and conveying pain.

The downside is that books like these can be emotionally draining investments of time. Some relationships at the end were left “messy” in some sense – not outright resolved and the first couple of chapters felt a little odd to get into. Beyond those first chapters though the capturing writing style Fox uses and the slow unwinding of Biz makes it difficult not to see the story to its end.

4/5 – A book to experience for its poetic yet nuanced and raw depiction of mental illness and grief.

Buy it – How It Feels To Float

I Know You – Annabel Kantaria Full Review

I Know You - Annabel Kantaria
I Know You – Annabel Kantaria

Author – Annabel Kantaria

Publisher – Crooked Lane Books

Publish date – 11th June 2019

Genre – Psychological/Domestic Thriller

POV – First person, Past tense

Rating – 3/5

Summary

You trust me. 

You shouldn’t. 

That picture you just posted on Instagram? I’ve seen it.
The location you tagged? I’ve been there.

You haven’t been careful enough, have you?
Because I know all about you.

But when I meet you, I won’t tell you that.
I’ll pretend. Just like you do.

You’ll like me though. You’ll trust me enough to let me into your life.

And then I’ll destroy it.

I Know You – Annabel Kantaria Full Review

(Spoilers – I did try to keep as much of the details out as possible to avoid giving away too much but if you want to avoid spoilers read the Quick Review)

Taylor is pregnant and mostly alone in London due to her husbands work schedule. They moved for a fresh start. But the past isn’t quite finished with them yet. And Taylor is more vulnerable than she knows.

Told in tense, first person, I Know You was a fast yet somehow simultaneously meandering story that combined psychological and domestic thriller elements. Friendship, marriage, betrayal and a character driven plot, the book immediately felt like the makings of something I could easily love.

To its credit, it did a lot right. The chapters were short and flew by. The mysteries (who was the stalker, the stalked, who could and could not be trusted) had me realigning my theories again and again. The illustration of our complacency in our use of social media and how easily those private bits of detail could slip into the wrong hands and be used for ill intent had me majorly intrigued. The eerie stalker P.O.V Chapters hinting at the potential victim and at their potential identity so deliciously drawn out. And the tension built up and up and up, with little release.

But then… it goes on for too long without much actually happening, and once the ball really gets rolling it seems to veer onto an extremely sharp cliff that surprisingly, disappointingly, is a very short drop. The end is abrupt. The reveal feels a bit like cheating. The side characters all end up seeming like red herrings, only in the story for the purpose of throwing off the reader which doesn’t matter anyway because following any of the threads in the story wouldn’t have brought you to the true identity of the villain. Because other than the fact that we know Taylor’s husband is a cheating, lying, untrustworthy asshole there was nothing that really hinted at the conclusion other than the information placed in our laps at the last minute to tie it all together. It remained in the realm of possibility that in hind sight seems like a perfectly reasonable conclusion but really there was nothing of it in the book until it needed to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book. But it wasn’t the kind of pay off I had hoped for. Not to mention that for a character driven book, this particular cast was, to me, mostly unlikable, untrustworthy or I found difficult to understand. Caroline was basically a rich bitch who happened to have lost a child. Sarah had absolutely no boundaries and flirted excessively with Taylor’s husband. Anna was aloof, unreliable and consistently hot and cold. Simon was lonely and kind of creepy with the lines he kept crossing with Taylor. And Taylor was constantly desperate, annoyingly passive and kind of weirdly stalkerish herself.

And the villains motivations… ugh. The story really boiled down to loneliness, jealousy, shitty relationships, betrayals and babies. And the fact that everyone wants Taylor’s husband was so incredibly frustrating.

It sounds like I hated it but for the most part I really think I enjoyed it. It was just the wrapping up of it all that left me feeling disappointed. I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting – Perhaps more interesting play between the dynamics of characters, characters who played a role that did more than provide spaces for readers to place their suspicions. a more embedded and more thoroughly interesting and satisfying answer to all the mystery. A villain that was just a bit more than a jealous, hysterical person, something perhaps a little more different to what I seem to find over and over again in domestic/psychological thrillers involving two leading women.

What I keep getting are premises that seem promising and end up with big reveals that come out of no where purely to catch people entirely off guard, characters that are terribly unlikable or worse uninteresting and mostly there to just antagonize the main character and women fighting over men.

For all the ranting though the book has its moments. I really liked seeing Taylor’s husband drop all the pretenses and finally reveal his real ugly side when shit hit the fan. I loved some moments when the stalker called Taylor out on all her shit. Though I didn’t like the characters I could eventually empathize with a couple. Taylor’s isolation and desperation for friends was at times relatable. It certainly highlighted her vulnerability. I did feel for her feeling betrayed, and I still, despite all the negatives, finished the book in one sitting (for whatever that says).

*I have received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

3/5 – An intriguing, easy to consume, standard domestic thriller.

 

I Know You – Annabel Kantaria Quick Review

I Know You - Annabel Kantaria Quick Review
I Know You – Annabel Kantaria Quick Review

I Know You – Annabel Kantaria Quick Review

Author – Annabel Kantaria

Publisher – Crooked Lane Books

Publish date – 11th June 2019

Genre – Psychological/Domestic Thriller

POV – First person, Past tense

Rating – 3/5

Summary

You trust me. 

You shouldn’t. 

That picture you just posted on Instagram? I’ve seen it.
The location you tagged? I’ve been there.

You haven’t been careful enough, have you?
Because I know all about you.

But when I meet you, I won’t tell you that.
I’ll pretend. Just like you do.

You’ll like me though. You’ll trust me enough to let me into your life.

And then I’ll destroy it.

The Highlights:

  • Tense, intriguing premise
  • Short, easy to read chapters
  • Social media stalking
  • Lots of mystery and suspicion to be drawn in by
  • Stalker P.O.V chapters are eerie and at times entertaining

The Lowlights:

  • Not a lot seems to happen for a long time
  • Abrupt end
  • Out of no where reveal
  • Unlikable, uninteresting cast of characters (when most of the focus is on the characters rather than plot events)
  • Taylor’s husband is so desirable that no one can seem to stay away from him

*I have received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

3/5 – An intriguing, easy to consume, standard domestic thriller.

Full Review

How To Make Friends With The Dark – Kathleen Glasgow Quick Review

How To Make Friends With The Dark - Kathleen Glasgow Quick Review
How To Make Friends With The Dark – Kathleen Glasgow Quick Review

How To Make Friends With The Dark – Kathleen Glasgow Quick Review

16 year old Tiger is concerned about normal teenage things. Her clothes, her best friend, a boy, a dance, a kiss. Then one day, her mother dies. And she is alone. And nothing that mattered before, mattered anymore. This book is a guide to grief. What you might go through, what others go through, how it will feel in the dark, how dark and isolated it can be. How one person came to terms with it and continued life not on the other side of it but beyond the beginning. Embracing the dark and the grief that remains after it enters your life.

How To Make Friends With The Dark is a wonderfully heartbreaking, tough and hopeful book. One that I could not read in one sitting. This book requires breaks. Tigers grief is hard to be pulled into for too long. The pacing converges into this, a bit strange, cyclical or unpredictable out of the blue, but in a way that makes sense and adds realness to the story. Tiger’s mother has died and with her Tiger has lost normalcy – routine, predictability. It gets slow. You’re afloat with Tiger, you’re close to her thoughts, and all at once something is happening that feels out of her control and the the pace hurtles forward.

Kathleen Glasgow seems to know how exactly to push all m emotional buttons. She goes in on issues – death, grief, depression, suicide, sickness, abuse, addiction. Tiger gets deep, down into the dark. The new lows she reaches dealing new perspective not just to her but for me as the reader.

Highlights:

  • Strong, complicated and varied forms of female relationships.
  • Some things aren’t resolved outright, as it tends to not in life.
  • While there was a budding romance, there is no push into pursuing the previous or new which I appreciated. Tiger didn’t need a romance to take over this story. She had enough on her plate.
  • Tiger’s mom, June, wasn’t depicted as perfect. Neither was the relationship between mother and daughter before her death. June was complicated and had lived with her own life and grief and had her own faults. She wasn’t the best mother but she was Tiger’s, and her loss was devastating nonetheless.
  • Told in an effective and engaging manner where I felt that even if I didn’t relate to or particularly like a character, I could still feel for them which really highlights the honesty and empathy embedded into the book.
  • Grief didn’t feel like isolation in the end. It felt like a community. Something no one goes through truly alone. Something you won’t get past but can pull yourself up from.

Lowlights:

  • It’s not a quick or easy read. The visceral and gut-wrenching nature of it takes time.
  • The pacing at times added to the difficulty getting through the book. Sometimes mundane and repetitive and too much into Tiger’s thoughts with few events for too long.

– 4/5 Raw, dark, messy and relatable. A guide to grief.

Buy it – How To Make Friends With The Dark