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

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

 

 

Again, But Better – Christine Riccio Full Review

Again, but better cover
Again, but Better – Christine Riccio Full Review

Author – Christine Riccio

Publisher – Wednesday Books

Publish date – 7th May 2019

Genre – YA

POV – First person, Present tense

Rating – 3/5

Summary

From one of the most followed booktubers today, comes Again, but Better, a story about second chances, discovering yourself, and being brave enough to try again.

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal — but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that? 

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change — there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure! 

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart. 

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic – the possibilities are endless.”

Full Review

(Avoid spoilers – read the Quick Review)

 

A semester abroad in London is 20 year old Shane’s chance to fix her college mistakes. Binging Netflix, remaining friendless and unkissed, Shane is unsatisfied with her choices in life. London is her chance to push herself out of her bubble. A redo. But the reality of turning around her life is a difficult and complicated journey. One that will take all her will, some personal growth and a dash of magic.

Again, but Better is Christine all over from the moment it begins. Told in very personal first person, present tense, the plot follows Shane in 2011 as she goes to London on a semester abroad and spans through years of her life journey. All of it giving a sense of nostalgia and reminding me of myself in my teenage years.

The book is told in a slice of life style following Shane day to day through school, work etc on a loop and it could be a little mundane at times. Some parts of the book I really just wanted to flip past until something new happened, though, I think, Christine did well spicing things up and keeping things relatively tight. Another minor downside I saw with the plot was its sometimes obviously formulaic nature. There were times where it was blatant that something was being set up and I found myself guessing the why’s and resulting events before it was played out in the book.

Just when you start to feel deflated in the plot Christine utilizes a well used time skip. Things are fresh as we catch up with Shane again, and though she’s still thinking about Pilot in 2017 and still not following her dreams of writing, she has evolved somewhat from the 20 year old we first met at the beginning of the book. And then the time travel. God was it cathartic to see Shane regain that lost time and opportunity, that chance at her lost love and lost dreams.

The magic/fantastical element felt a bit, you know, so this is here and works, whatever, onto the romance! But its not really about the magic,so I sort of forgive the lack of details there.

The themes of self discovery, first love and self love were discussed with an authentic quality and progressed through the growth of characters. I could really feel for Shane through her struggle of figuring out what she could do with her life and struggling to give her passion of writing any legitimacy in the eyes of her parents who expect her to have a stable career and future. Her social anxiety and self doubt a running theme for most people. I appreciated that despite the magical redo, there was no quick fix. Everything she wanted to accomplish took work and continuing to push herself out there, and we see that, even if it didn’t all result in immediate success.

Shane (and I almost wrote Christine) is funny, insecure, naive, a little dramatic and a dash clumsy though in a way that resonated as endearing and relatable. Pilot is charming though he has some legitimate faults. The romance is sweet, warm, a little goofy (in a good way). I was quite convinced and taken with their chemistry.

I had no major qualms with the slight/but not really/but definite emotional cheating. Relationships and people are complicated, these things happen and I am the last person that’s going to berate an author for not creating picture perfect characters who either only make palatable mistakes or are made to be positive role models and influences rather than just fictional characters who in ways reflect us and the sometimes shitty choices we make.

Besides which I found Shane to be a positive influence anyway, if that’s what you’re looking for in a book. I was surprised by her growth and her ability to think of herself and her own life, needs, aspirations and relationships outside of her romance with Pilot. That feels sad to say but YA characters can be a little overly involved in their romances. It was a wonderfully surprising growth in the character that emphasized living life first for yourself.

I will say though that personally I found Pilot a little difficult to like at points. Some of his actions toward Shane and his girlfriend felt cold, a little cowardly and a little indecisive. Still, 16 year old me would be into Pilot. 28 year old me was put off.

The rest of the characters were interesting and a diverse group (perhaps for the sake of being diverse) but since so much of the plot does end up being romance and Shane’s issues with herself and her parents, we don’t see them develop or too much of them at all.

For a debut I felt like the book was decently written. I was prepared for and dreading disappointment but I, well, wasn’t. There was an authenticity and bright, engaging feel to the whole book that screamed Christine, and if you’re a fan of Christine that’s a plus. The ending is positive and fluffy and feel-good. Everything wraps up nicely, and I was left contented and entertained. While there were some minor hindrances for me on the way to that end, ( I have to mention the over-stuffing of pop culture references that felt a little ‘how many of Christine’s favorite books, shows, musicians and authors can we mention in every chapter?’) I have to hand it to her, the girl can write a decent book. I am already anticipating her future works and improvements.

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

– 3/5 A charming slice of life with a dash of magic.

Buy it – Again, but better