Because You Love to Hate Me – Book Review

becauseyoulovetohateme

Title: Because You Love to Hate Me
Edited by: Ameriie
Authors: Renée Ahdieh, Ameriie, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, Nicola Yoon (In collaboration with 13 Booktubers)
Paperback: 339 pages
Published: July 24th 2017 by Bloomsbury Children’s
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): 

Leave it to the heroes to save the world—villains just want to rule the world.

In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains’ points of view.

These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like “Medusa,” “Sherlock Holmes”, and “Jack and the Beanstalk” provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains’ acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage—and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on. No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again!

So in case you’ve skipped the summary, this is a collection of short stories rather than a full-length novel. I don’t tend to read many anthologies of stories, if I’m being honest. The last one was My True Love Gave to Me in…2015? Maybe?

It’s been a while.

The thing that dragged me in was the mention of villains.
I love villains.
As in, I-love-them-so-much-they’re-the-focus-of-my-media-coursework-research-essay.
I love them.

So imagine my absolute excitement at picking THIS up. (The excitement intensified tenfold when I actually recognized a couple of the author’s names). The format is interesting – we get the story, followed by the prompt given by the BookTuber to the author, followed by an essay by the BookTuber.

I’m just gonna jump in and do a mini-review on each one, so here goes!

The Blood of Imuriv
Renée Andieh
Rating: 2/5 stars
Prompt from Christine Riccio (PolandbananasBOOKS): The Grandson of an Evil, Matriarchal Dictator Who Tried to Rule over the Universe Wants to Follow in Her Footsteps and Accidentally Loses His Temper, Killing His Sibling in a Game of Chess

This was a fairly disappointing start to the anthology. I don’t know if it’s just that I didn’t get it. The worldbuilding was fairly good, given how short the story was. It just felt very two dimensional to me, and it was near impossible to connect with either character. Not my favourite contribution.

Jack
Ameriie
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Prompt from Tina Burke (The Lushables): “Jack and the Beanstalk” Meets Phalaris of Agrigento

This story was better than the first; it certainly held some level of shock factor for me. The protagonist was well-written, and I was stunned by the conclusion. Talk about unreliable narrator! It could be that Jack and the Beanstalk just doesn’t interest me – a decent story, but it doesn’t stand out as such.

Gwen and Art and Lance
Soman Chainani
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Prompt from Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes): A Modern Day Mash-Up of the King Arthur Legend and Persephone-Hades Myth

Okay, so I should probably start by admitting that Soman Chainani is one of my favourite authors. This story did not disappoint – the format is clever, and the plot line is good. My main issue was, with my tendency to skim read, that I missed which character was saying what. and had to re-read a few bits Aside from that, I did really enjoy this one.

Shirley and Jim
Susan Dennard
Rating: 5/5 stars
Prompt from Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia): A Young Moriarty

This was one of my favourite stories in the anthology. I’m not a huge fan of gender-flipped Sherlock Holmes, and to be honest, I think it may have worked better with a male Sherlock, but I just…really, really love teenage Moriarty. Villains with intellect are my favourite kind, even more so than the ones I can empathize with, so this story was right up my alley.

The Blessing of Little Wants
Sarah Enni
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Prompt from Sophia Lee (thebookbasement): A Dark Sorcerer’s Motives for Seeking Immortality or Omnipotence

I…don’t think I fully understood this one. I found myself having to go back and re-read the same passage to try and grasp what was actually going on. There was some shock factor, but if I’m being honest, I’d kinda figured out what was going on and it felt a little cliché.

The Sea Witch
Marissa Meyer
Rating: 4/5 stars
Prompt from Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe): What if the Sea Witch Had Previously Been in the Little Mermaid’s Shoes but Decided to Kill the Love Interest and Turn Back into a Mermaid Instead?

Yes. This was dark, it was passionate and it was full of betrayal. I could have read a whole book about this character, and a part of me kinda wants to know how many other mermaids she tricked after this story ends. This is another villain that you just understand. You can’t help but empathize with her.

Beautiful Venom
Cindy Pon
Rating: 5/5 stars
Prompt from Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes): Medusa. Go!

Another favourite. I’ve long viewed Medusa as a victim, as opposed to a villain, and this story illustrated her story so beautifully. It also draws attention to victim blaming, and it is horrific in the story; but it’s applicable to our own society. I also like the fact that the author put an Asian twist on the tale; diversity is important!

Death Knell
Victoria Schwab
Rating: 5/5 stars
Prompt from Jesse George (JessetheReader): Hades Wakes Up after Being Unconscious at the Bottom of a Well in Ireland

Okay so I lied.
This one is my favourite. The writing is lyrical, it’s seductive, it embraces you. It’s the first time whilst reading this anthology that I had to put it down and whisper “Damn.” because it was just so beautiful. Check out the anthology for this story alone. (Also, I have to add, I love that prompt so much.)

Marigold
Samantha Shannon
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Prompt from Regan Perusse (PeruseProject): Erl-Queen Retelling in Nineteenth Century London

This one deals with how women were (and still are) made submissive. I did almost feel sorry for the narrator – then we hit the end of the story. It’s fair to say I want to punch him more than any other character in this anthology.

You, You, It’s All About You
Adam Silvera
Rating: 5/5 stars
Prompt from Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl): A Female Teen Crime Lord Concealed by a Mask

Again, very much up my alley, the protagonist reminded me in a sense of Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows. It’s dark, it’s twisted, and it makes the stomach churn just a smidge. I have no idea whether I want to root for the protagonist, but the amorality is just fascinating. (Also there is a plot twist. The twistiest twist. It’s great.)

Julian Breaks Every Rule
Andrew Smith
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Prompt from Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07): A Psychopath in a Futuristic Setting

Originally I rated this at a 2 out of 5 stars, mostly because my only lasting memory of this story is an image that legitimately made me want to throw up. Then I re-read it and remembered – this is possibly one of the wittiest contributions to the anthology. The narrative voice is distinctive and the very last line of the story made me go “Daaaaamn.”

Indigo and Shade
April Genevieve Tucholke
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Prompt from Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels): Beauty and the Beast: Suitor’s Revenge

Holy hell. A Gaston POV that doesn’t make me want to punch him? Yes please! (Okay, so maybe I wanted to slap him just a little bit because he is so narcissistic, but to be fair, it actually put a smile on my face). The plot twist was a tad obvious and it was kinda clear where the story was headed…but I enjoyed it all the same.

Sera
Nicola Yoon
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Prompt from Steph Sinclair and Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery): Gender-Flipped God of War

I do not remember much of this story. Probably because I was skimming by this point. I like the change over of POV; the story wouldn’t be complete without it. Good story all-round, just not exactly memorable.

The essays after each story were interesting enough – my favourite was definitely “Dear Sasha, the 411 for Villains” by Sasha Alsberg. They do add to the stories, I’ll agree, although they’re not essential to enjoy each piece on its own.

A strong collection! More pieces that I liked than those I didn’t! Check it out! Tell me what you thought! Woot!

Holly xx

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King’s Cage – Book Review

kingscage

Title: King’s Cage
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Paperback: 507 pages
Published: 9th February 2017 by Orion Publishing
My Rating: 3/5

Summary (from Goodreads): In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

So you’re probably quite shocked that I continued with this series, despite my intense dislike of book two.

As much as I hate to admit it, I kinda want to read War Storm. Somehow, this book has drawn me back into Aveyard’s world and reignited an interest in the series. Now I’m not gonna lie – I would not have read this had my friend not lent it to me. Glass Sword was underwhelming at best and I would happily have never gone back to it.

But I’m glad she handed me the book.

It is a vast improvement on book two and I feel as though the author took criticisms from it into account when writing this one; namely Mare and the writing style of fight scenes.

Mare develops in this book. Yes, she is irritating and no, she’s not one of my favourite characters, but she is tolerable. In this book she finally discovers the power of actually forming friendships and not secluding herself. She begins to stand back on her own two feet, more like the Mare at the beginning of Red Queen.

We also get a treat in that there are multiple narrators. There are chapters from Cameron and Evangeline’s points of view, both of whom I love.

The novel kind of splits into two halves; the half with Cameron’s points of view, and the half with Evangeline’s points of view. Or, the half where Mare is in Maven’s ‘cage’, and the half where she is back with the Scarlet Guard. The multiple narrators provide a window to where Mare isn’t and what’s going on on the other end.

Cameron, despite being impulsive and hot-headed, is likable (And she angsts a lot less than Mare, thank the lord). She has powers and a brother to save, even if she fixates on it more than anything else. As a character she grows throughout her chapters, growing up a lot and gaining control of herself.

Evangeline might just be my favourite character. She has her flaws, and is inherently selfish, but she is human. She has emotions and I caught myself sympathizing with her towards the end of the novel.

Aside from the three narrators, a lot of other characters evolved in this book, and I am hugely relieved that Farley has come back to herself. She faded a lot in book two, but she’s back to being the badass we know and love. (Even whilst heavily pregnant. God, I love this woman.)

We got more Maven in this book too. Far more than in Glass Sword. And I still prefer him to his royal highness Prince Tiberias Calore, despite the fact that he’s a twisted prat. I have a feeling that he’ll develop much further in the next book.

Cal…was slightly more tolerable. And I felt a smidge of chemistry between him and Mare. Alas, I still don’t like him.
Pity.

Predictably, a ton more characters were introduced in this book. I remember about five of them (the other lightning users stick out for me). The Silver houses just get muddled in my head so I tend to skip over them.

Away from characters and onto plot, however, as I seem to have gotten sidetracked. It dragged far less than book two and was more reminiscent of Red Queen, the book that was decent. I actually engaged with this one, and I have to say real quick – this has such potential as a TV show. Just sayin’.

Writing wise, the fight scenes were such an improvement. Far clearer than whatever that prison scene in the last book was. I was absolutely captivated by the final battle, as in, I could just SEE it. Perhaps a little disappointed that we didn’t see the end of it, but what we got was well-written.

Has anyone got any thoughts? Did you like this? Or not?

Holly xx

(On a personal note, I am in straight up denial over Shade. He’s gonna come back. I can feel it.)

Reading Jar 2017

2017readingjar

Happy New Year!!!

If you’ve been around for a while, you may recall my post this time last year about my reading jar for 2016. If not, do not fret – the idea is very straightforward.

Every book I read in 2017, I wrote down on a slip of paper and put in a jar. The slip usually has the date I finished the book, a star rating and any comments I had about it.

(The comments range from actual critiques of the book to my incessant fangirling. Hey, enthusiasm is enthusiasm, right?)

I didn’t hit my target of 50 this year, instead clocking in at 43. ( I could’ve sworn Goodreads had 44 on it, and that was before I added one in that I’d forgotten. Hmmm.) Hopefully 2018 will prove to be a better year!

Without further ado – Holly’s book read in 2017:
(Any reviews will be linked)

January
1st – Faegotten, Jude Tulli (Novelette)
2nd – Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo
5th – Antigone, Roy Williams (Play)
14th – The Tempest, William Shakespeare (Play)

February
5th – Perchance to Dream, Lisa Mantchev
13th – A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J Maas
17th – A Court of Mist and Fury, Sarah J Maas
26th – The Darkest Part of the Forest, Holly Black

March
5th – The Angel Experiment, James Patterson
9th – We Come Apart, Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan
17th – Kill The Boyband, Goldy Moldavsky

April
9th – Hook, K.R Thompson
13th – Kid Got Shot, Simon Mason
19th – Atonement, Ian McEwan
22nd – The New World, Patrick Ness (Novella)
29th – A Quiet Kind of Thunder, Sara Barnard

May
11th – The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman
17th – The Call, Peadar O’Guilin
28th – Geekerella, Ashley Poston
31st – The Orchid Caper, Connie Dowell

June
2nd – A Court of Wings and Ruin, Sarah J Maas
11th – Peter Darling, Austin Chant
28th – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
30th – Holding Court, KC Held

July
2nd – Murder Most Unladylike, Robin Stevens
9th – Hush Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick
18th – Sword Art Online, Reki Kawahara
26th – The Dark Prophecy, Rick Riordan

August
8th – Oy Yew, Ana Salote
9th – Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
16th – Lord Edgware Dies, Agatha Christie

September
29th – The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
30th – Wonder Woman: Warbringer, Leigh Bardugo

October
13th – Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead, Rick Riordan
21st – A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams (Play)
26th – the princess saves herself in this one, Amanda Lovelace (Poetry)

November
29th – Am I Normal Yet?, Holly Bourne

December
11th – A Girl Called Owl, Amy Wilson
13th – Red Queen, Victoria Aveyard
15th – Glass Sword, Victoria Aveyard
19th – Feminine Gospels, Carol Ann Duffy (Poetry)
22nd – Wolf by Wolf, Ryan Graudin
31st – Blood for Blood, Ryan Graudin

And there we have it, dear readers. My 43 book of 2017.

Some stats –
Best Month: December
Worst Month: November
Average Books Per Month: 3.58
Average Book Per Week: 0.82
Favourite Books: A Court of Mist and Fury, Geekerella and Wolf by Wolf/Blood for Blood
Least Favourite Books: Hush Hush and Glass Sword

How did you guys fare this year? My target is, as always, 50 books – you can find me on Goodreads.

Happy reading, and I hope you have a brilliant 2018!

Holly xx