Top Ten Tuesday #315

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, I finally got some good news on a temp job at Cambridge’s vaccination centre so I’m really happy about that. I’m still applying for journalism jobs but it’s so nice to finally have some good job news after the past year.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so that means another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week is another cover one, apparently this year is the year of cover posts for me! Anyway, this week’s cover topic is Books With Nature on The Cover, and I’ve tried to avoid floral covers as much as possible since I already shared a lot of those for my Spring Book Covers post. So here we go, Books With Nature on The Cover:

  1. Rule of Wolves-Leigh Bardugo
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I have to admit the Rule of Wolves cover wasn’t quite what I was expecting, I was expecting wolves, not a tree to be the centrepiece of the cover. This picture also doesn’t really do the cover justice as it’s much more vibrant than this in real life, it’s silver and red which is very striking, this picture kind of makes it look a dull grey. I still think it’s a really cool cover though and I especially love the little animal details in the corner with the wolf, the fox (!!!), the eagle and then I think maybe a dragon of some sort at the top. It’s definitely a very nature filled cover, so perfect for this prompt.

2. The Raven Boys-Maggie Stiefvater

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You’ll be seeing a lot of bird themed covers in this list because apparently they are very popular! I love the whole Raven Cycle series cover, the art style with the watercolour drawings is so lovely. I love how much detail there is on this cover as well, the swirls on the wings that kind of look like eyes, the little red section that looks like a heart, it’s all so beautifully done and it looks like such a lifelike bird as well.

3. Paper and Fire-Rachel Caine

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The UK editions of the Great Library series all have some kind of animal themed design on the front, the first book has a butterfly, this one is a bird, the third has a lion, the fourth a dragon and the fifth a dog. This one is my favourite though, I think the bird (which I want to say is either a crow or a raven) is really striking, and I love the colours in the cover.

4. A Thousand Perfect Notes-CG Drews

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I love this one because it’s really unique, the idea of the just one butterfly wing as the design is not something I’ve really seen before. I love the colours, the way the light pink fades into the darker red and black at the tips of the wings, and it’s super cool how if you have two copies and you put the front and back covers together, it makes a whole butterfly.

5. An Enchantment of Ravens-Margaret Rogerson

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I may not have been that keen on the actual book but I definitely can’t deny that this cover is beautiful. The autumnal colours come through really well, suiting the story and I love how the bird blends beautifully into the cover.

6. The Surface Breaks-Louise O’Neill

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I’ve heard some not so great stuff about this book from my friend which was a little disappointing as I was really looking forward to reading it, but I can’t deny the cover is striking, and there’s plenty of ocean creatures in there with the fish and starfish.

7. Blanca & Roja-Anna-Marie McLemore

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I’m not a fan of swans, but I can’t deny that this cover is striking! I love how the two swans are nestled together and that you could almost miss the second one if you weren’t looking closely.

8. Because You Love To Hate Me-Anthology with multiple authors

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Okay so I lied, I do have a couple of floral covers for this one. The colour is definitely what stands out for me on this one, bright pink is not a cover choice I tend to see often. I love how the flower looks kind of metallic, the combination of both delicate and sharp is really well done.

9. Uprooted-Naomi Novik

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I wish I’d enjoyed this book more because everyone else seems to love it, but unfortunately I wasn’t a massive fan. However it definitely fits the nature theme with the rose and the trees. It’s not my favourite of the covers on this list though.

10. The Hunger Games Trilogy-Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games books were an obvious choice for this theme, since birds play a pretty large part in the story and on the covers. They’ve had many different covers for this series, but my favourites are still the original covers that the copies I read had, I love the really minimal design, I think it really suits the books and the pop of colour from the mockingjay symbols on a black background works really well.

So there we go, those are my Nature book covers! What do you think? Which of these was your favourite cover? Have you read any of these books? Did you enjoy them? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Book Titles That Are Complete Sentences, and I have to admit, I’m a little stumped by this topic, so I’m going to look into it but if I can’t come up with any then I’ll just dig in the archives for something else.

Top Ten Tuesday #314

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, I’m up in Stirling for the next three weeks on holiday with my family so it will be nice being somewhere other than at home for a while!

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so that means another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s is a fairly straightforward one, Ten Most Recent Reads, though I have to admit, I’ve not read as many books this year as I would have liked to as I’ve been in an extended reading slump since January and haven’t actually finished an awful lot of books, so a few of these will be from the end of last year. But here we go, my Ten Most Recent Reads:

  1. The Unbound-VE Schwab-Current read

I’d hoped to have finished this by the time I did this post but unfortunately I seem to have stalled at around Chapter 24. I don’t know how much of it is my reading slump and how much is the book but I’m not enjoying it as much as I would normally enjoy a Schwab book.

2. Olive, Mabel & Me-Andrew Cotter-Finished 14th April

One of my favourite reads of this year, I loved listening to Andrew Cotter talk about his adventures with his Labradors, a fun, short listen was exactly what I needed after finishing a lengthy audiobook.

3. Lore-Alexandra Bracken-Finished 31st March

I was really looking forward to this one and unfortunately felt quite let down by it. It was complicated and confusing with flat characters and far too much violent misogyny. Such a shame because I usually love Greek mythology based books so much and it sounded so promising.

4. The Silvered Serpents-Roshani Chokshi-Finished 9th March

The Gilded Wolves was one of my favourite books of last year, so I was a little disappointed that I didn’t love The Silvered Serpents quite as much. It was very slow paced, and the plot was fairly thin on the ground, the fact that I already loved the characters was the saving grace of this book. I’m still looking forward to The Bronzed Beasts and I hope it is better for me than this one was.

5. The Midnight Library-Matt Haig-Finished 31st January

The concept for The Midnight Library was great. The execution? Somewhat lacking. It was quite slow for such a short book and I found the characterisation of Nora fairly flat, plus the world building around The Midnight Library was more minimal than I would have liked. The ending also really annoyed me because it felt super predictable.

6. Seasons of War-Derek Landy-Finished 9th January

I was SO DISAPPOINTED. I love Skulduggery Pleasant so much, and this was such a let down. It was so slow, it had too many weird tangential subplots & the writing was weaker than it has been in other books. I did appreciate the focus on Val’s mental health journey because that isn’t featured enough in fantasy books, but that was one of the few good aspects in an otherwise very messy book.

7. Kingdom of The Wicked-Keri Mansicalco-Finished 31st December

In a running theme of this list apparently, I was a little disappointed with this book. It was a super hyped release and it ended up being fairly underwhelming for me? It was very slow paced, the world building was weak and I found Emilia kind of bland as a main character. I loved the concept for the book but I didn’t think the execution lived up to it.

8. Good Omens-Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman-Finished 17th December

UGH I WAS SO SAD ABOUT THIS ONE. I loved the TV miniseries, I thought it was so fun and the book? Not so much. The plot was confusing and difficult to follow, it relied on a lot of racist, sexist and homophobic stereotypes for its humour and the pacing was super off. Definitely recommend the TV show more for this one.

9. The Book of Two Ways-Jodi Picoult-Finished 12th December

I love Jodi Picoult books but this one wasn’t her best. The premise was great, kind of like a Sliding Doors deal, but I felt overloaded with all the technical information and there were too many subplots to the story, so it felt like the plot lacked focus. I also found it difficult to like or connect to Dawn which made it hard to enjoy the book.

10. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin-Roseanne A. Brown-Finished 26th November

I feel like all I’ve done is complain about the books I’ve read in this list, so let’s end up on a happier note: I really enjoyed this one! There were a few pacing issues (unusually for me, fast pacing rather than slow!) and the magic system was slightly confusing but I really loved the characters and the plot was generally exciting and engaging, I’m looking forward to the sequel coming out later this year.

So there we go, those were my ten most recent reads. It’s been a pretty slow and underwhelming reading year so far for me, so I really hope that changes soon! How much have you read this year? Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next Tuesday with another Top Ten Tuesday, this time we’ll be talking about Books With Nature on The Cover, so another cover topic for you all (hey you got a brief break from it this week!).

Book Vs Movie: Shadow and Bone

Hi everyone! In a surprise to exactly no one, today’s Book Vs Movie is actually a Book Vs TV as I’ll be talking about Netflix’s adaptation of Shadow and Bone (and to a limited extent Six of Crows) as like many of you I’m sure, I binged it over the past weekend.

Book Thoughts:

So the show largely focuses on the characters of Six of Crows rather than the plot of the book (since Shadow and Bone is set several years before and the show combines the Crows into the Shadow and Bone plot) but I’ll talk about my thoughts on both. I read Six of Crows before Shadow & Bone, in 2017, and I really enjoyed it, I loved the characters and the world and though the story had its pacing problems, it was still a really engaging read.

Shadow and Bone on the other hand, I felt a little more lukewarm about. It’s clear that Bardugo has improved a lot since her debut, and whilst Shadow and Bone wasn’t a bad book, it felt a lot like all the other fantasy books which were published at the same time. Alina wasn’t as fun a protagonist as the Crows and like Six of Crows, it was kind of slow to get going and the payoff wasn’t as good.

Here are my full reviews of both books if you want to see my more detailed thoughts:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/14/shadow-and-bone-shadow-and-bone-1-review/
Shadow and Bone (TV Series 2021– ) - IMDb

TV Thoughts:

I was a little worried when I heard that they were going to adapt Six of Crows and Shadow and Bone together, as I couldn’t really see how they were going to overlap the two stories, given that Six of Crows takes place in a different part of the world and takes place several years after the end of the events of the Grisha trilogy. I have to say though, I was really pleasantly surprised! I thought the crossover worked well, having the Crows integrated into the Shadow and Bone story made me enjoy it more than I did in the book and the way they did it made a lot of sense (having the Crows be on a job to “steal” Alina). The Nina and Matthias story didn’t fit quite as naturally, I understand why they wanted to have their backstory in the first series, but if you hadn’t read the book, then I imagine you’d be wondering why the show kept cutting to the pair of them. I loved the cast, I thought they all did a really good job with their characters (Jesper, Nina and The Darkling were particular standouts to me, but I loved everyone). I actually wish they’d had a couple more episodes as I think things were rushed a little in the last two episodes! It was clear though that the creators really loved the books, and were faithful to them and the characters whilst also doing something new which I loved.

TV or Book Judgement:

This is a really tough one because there are a few things I would have liked to see more of from the Crows’ backstories, but as the series is mostly based on Shadow and Bone, I would say I enjoyed the TV series more! I think having the Crows integrated into the Shadow and Bone story really lifted it up for me, and that Jessie Mei Li and Archie Renaux as Alina and Mal made me like both characters more than I did in the book. Also Ben Barnes as The Darkling? Perfection. I really hope they get many more seasons of the show, because I can’t wait to see Nikolai and I would love to see the Crows’ stories from the books on screen.

That’s it for this month’s Book Vs Movie, I will be back next month with another Book Vs TV, talking about Good Omens and its TV adaptation.

Top Ten Tuesday #313

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, I had lunch out with a friend on Friday, which was so lovely and I had my first riding lesson back since lockdown on Saturday, so overall a very good weekend for me. I also binge-watched Shadow and Bone, and I really enjoyed it. I’ll have more thoughts for you in my Book Vs Movie post about it later in the week, but for now all I’ll say is that I think they did a good job with it and I hope the show gets many more seasons!

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so I’m back with another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. I’m going completely off piste this week as I did the favourite animals in books topic a few years ago & I don’t think my list has massively changed since then. So instead, inspired by talking about differences in UK and US covers in my post last week, I decided to do a UK vs US book covers post. I will freely admit, that I’m probably quite biased towards UK covers as they are what I’m used to, but I did try to get some US covers I liked better in there as well. So here we go, with Which Cover Did It Better, UK or US?

  1. Ink and Bone-Rachel Caine

Winner: UK cover

These are both nice covers and to be honest, the US cover probably gives more of an idea of what the story is about, but for my personal preference, I prefer the UK cover. I like the colours better, I think the butterfly design is gorgeous and I love the way that you can see the book pages hiding within the butterfly wings.

2. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue-VE Schwab

Winner: UK Cover

Again the US cover’s constellation of stars has a more direct connection to the book, as they represent Addie’s freckles but I just think the UK cover is prettier. It’s more colourful, and I love the little forget-me-not flowers. The US cover is more minimalistic, which is unusual, as it’s normally the other way around (the UK having more minimal covers than the US).

3. The Daevabad Trilogy-S.A Chakraborty

UK covers

US covers

Winner: UK covers

Again both sets of covers are pretty, but I prefer the designs of the UK covers, I think the colours and patterns are nicer and I particularly love the deep purple of The Empire of Gold cover. I also think they look better together as a set.

4. Caraval-Stephanie Garber

Winner: UK cover

Again, I like both and I may be slightly biased to the UK covers for this series as they have the very pretty hidden covers, but even discarding that, I like the UK cover better here. I love how the background is kind of like a starburst and I think the combination of the black cover with the splash of red and gold works really well. I also prefer the typeface on the UK cover.

5. Spin The Dawn-Elizabeth Lim

Winner: US cover

Finally one for the US. I do think the UK cover is pretty, but it looks more like a children’s book cover rather than a YA one, whereas the US one looks more like it’s aimed for the target audience. I also think you get more what the book is about in the US cover, with the dress being the focus, it’s clear that it’s about the tailoring competition whereas the UK cover isn’t so clear.

6. Kingdom of Ash-Sarah J Maas

Winner: US cover

The UK again went more minimal on the Throne of Glass covers than the US, with a white background rather than a coloured one and for most of the books I didn’t mind, but for this one, I think the colour gives it the edge as the actual design is largely the same. The US one just looks more striking with the golden background, as opposed to the white background on the UK cover.

7. Call Down The Hawk-Maggie Stiefvater

Winner: UK Cover

It wasn’t even a contest for me with this one, I think the UK cover is much nicer. The colours are much nicer and though the design is similar, I much prefer the watercolour style of the UK cover to the more computerised style of the US one. I’m really sad that the UK cover of Mister Impossible is the same as the US one except in paperback because I honestly hate the cover for that one!

8. The Girl From Everywhere-Heidi Heilig

Winner: UK cover

Again this one is a no-brainer, the US cover is ugly! I hate the typeface, the design is boring and there’s not much colour. The UK cover is far more eye-catching, bright and colourful, with a much prettier design.

9. Rebel of The Sands-Alwyn Hamilton

Winner: UK cover

I have freely admitted how much I dislike people on book covers, so it’s probably not a surprise that I prefer the UK cover to the US one here. The colours and the design on the UK cover are for me, much prettier than the US one.

10. Salt To The Sea-Ruta Sepetys

Winner: UK cover

I’ll admit, I do think the UK cover looks like it’s aimed at a younger audience, but in terms of what I prefer from covers, I like it better. I’ve always been more of an illustrated cover person than a stock photo cover person.

11. Circe-Madeline Miller

Winner: UK cover

Another no brainer for me, the UK one is prettier! I don’t know why they went for such a boring design for the US cover, but it looks so dull, whereas the UK cover has a much more elaborate and gorgeous design.

12. Ariadne-Jennifer Saint

Winner: UK cover

This is a very similar case to Circe’s cover, the US went for a fairly minimalist design, whereas the UK cover is far more striking. I also think that the UK cover looks more Ancient Greek in style, with the mosaic style mazes around the outside and the Greek style figure of Ariadne. I also really love the blue and gold colours, I think they’re very striking.

13. City of Spells-Alexandra Christo

Winner: UK cover

I will admit to being somewhat biased towards the cover I have, and I don’t actually think the US cover is bad, in actual fact I quite like it, but the red of the UK cover just stands out more to me. I love the black silhouette of the city as well, and the way that the vine design twines around the outer edges of the cover, I think it’s a more visually interesting design than the US cover.

14. The Court of Miracles-Kester Grant

Winner: UK cover

The colours are definitely what stuck out for me on the UK cover, the gold and blue are incredibly striking. The US cover definitely has it’s good points as well, I think it gets across the contrast between luxury and ruin quite well, but from a personal standpoint, again I just really like illustrated covers!

15. Moxie-Jennifer Mathieu

Winner: US cover

I do love pink, but the design for the US cover is much better. It looks like it could be the cover of the zine in the book, and I think feels more for its intended audience whereas the UK cover seems like it’s aimed at a younger audience.

Final scores:

UK: 12

US: 3

Sorry, US, I’m afraid in this round the UK covers trounced you soundly!

I want to hear your thoughts! Which of these covers would you have chosen (it’s totally okay if you don’t agree with me!)? Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? Which is your favourite cover? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back with another Top Ten Tuesday next week, with my Ten Most Recent Reads (so you can all see how bad of a reading slump I’ve been in this year!).

Lore Review (Audiobook)

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Book: Lore

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Narrator: Fryda Wolff

BECHDEL TEST: Uncertain (didn’t really keep track! Find it super hard to on audio).

Content Warnings: Blood depiction, murder, loss of loved ones, graphic torture depictions (some to children), graphic violence, gore, sexual assault, grief depiction, PTSD, child abuse, threat of paedophilia, threat of rape, implied paedophilia, slavery, talk of cancer (leukaemia), child cancer (mention of chemo, radiation & stem cell transplants), mention of heart attack, mention of cancer recurrence, bombings, explosions, brief mentions of suicide, war themes, sexism, loss of a limb, drowning, injury, discussions of child marriage, animal attack, fire/burning, sacrifice & self-sacrifice.

As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, I love Greek mythology, I’ve been interested in it since I was a kid (actually pre Percy Jackson!) so naturally when I saw Lore, which was described as Greek mythology meets The Hunger Games (one of my favourite books) I was immediately hooked. Sadly, I didn’t find that the final product lived up to the inventive premise: it was confused in a lot of places, somehow managed to be both too fast and too slow at the same time and I didn’t feel massively invested in any of the characters. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.

My biggest problem with this book was honestly that I was confused a lot of the time! There are an awful lot of characters to follow (9 houses in the Agon, all with a lot of people in them), there were a lot of new terms to learn and very little explanation as to how everything worked, so I spent a lot of the first part of the book incredibly confused. The book sort of acts as if the readers have the same information as Lore and that we don’t really need to know how the Agon works, so it takes a while before you get any kind of explanation for what is going on, which meant in the beginning, I didn’t really know what was happening. I settled into things more during the middle, but then the breakneck speed of the events at the end meant I again lost track. I felt kind of at sea for most of the book, which is not an experience you want to have as a reader.

I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the narrator which is quite a big problem when you’re listening to an audiobook. Her actual reading voice was fine, but I didn’t like her accents for the characters: some it was difficult to tell the difference between them, so I couldn’t really follow when different people were speaking and some were just bad (her French accent for Iro for instance grated on me, and her British accent for Van was the kind of posh accent that every American show assumes that British people have. That’s not to say that accent doesn’t exist, but it definitely felt like the kind of British accent that is hammed up for an American audience!).

I liked the idea of the Agon, but I was expecting there to be more action than there was. Most of the book involves plotting and planning and sneaking around each other but with no actual conflict until the end when there was so much that it was hard to keep track of, it would have been nice if the action had been more evenly spread throughout the book and that the Agon had been a bit more dramatic.

Also I would have liked to know more behind the logistics of the Agon, for instance, this book marks the second cycle in a row that the Agon has taken place in New York, is that usual? Because the author also says that the Agon moves round different cities, so do these Hunters only take part when it’s in New York and there are other Hunters in other cities? Do all these Houses pick up and move to other cities every seven years? Are they usually based in New York? I had so many questions and felt like I got fairly few answers! How the Agon came about was also very vague, we learned that it was a punishment from Zeus for a rebellion, but we never know what the rebellion was about.

This book was definitely trying to make feminist points, by talking about how women were forgotten in Greek mythology and how the women of the Agon were treated by the men, but I think Bracken could have gone further with this as there didn’t seem to be anyone actively pushing for change within the Agon (even Lore just complained about her position without trying to do anything to change it). I also found it hard to believe that the Hunters would be so cut off from the mortal world that feminism completely passed them by? It’s been several centuries and they treat their women like they’re in Ancient Greece even though all of them would have grown up in the modern world. Like I get they are somewhat of a insular society but it seemed ridiculous to me that this generation of hunters would have the same views on women as ancestors several thousand years earlier. Basically, the violent misogyny was a bit much, and unnecessary in my opinion.

One of my other issues, aside from the violent misogyny, is that this book talks so much about female power and how women have been abused and forgotten, but LORE HAS NO FEMALE FRIENDS? I mean kind of Iro, but they’ve not been friends in a long time by the current events in the book. It just felt very wrong to me in a book which I think was attempting to have a feminist message, that the main female character has no female friends AT ALL? It’s also something I really hate just in general, that so many books with female MCs don’t allow them to have any female friends.

The classic YA drooling over boys with perfect muscles was a bit cringey for me, now obviously I’m not a teenager anymore, so not the target audience, but to be honest, I found it quite cringey even when I was a teenager. I really don’t love the general trend in YA that boys must be super muscled and attractive because I think it sets unrealistic standards for boys reading YA if all the boys they read about have “perfect abs” and look like movie stars.

I wasn’t a massive fan of the romance in this book. Usually friends to lovers is one of my favourite romantic tropes, but I didn’t feel like it was done well here. Castor and Lore haven’t seen each other in seven years, they’ve both changed a lot in that time, and barely know who the other one is now and yet suddenly they’re instantly in love after spending less than a week together? I mean I get that there might have been feelings there when they were younger, but it still seemed kind of out of the blue for them to almost instantly couple up given how much time has passed.

Speaking of the past, the flashbacks to Lore’s childhood and the last Agon were kind of clumsily integrated into the main storyline, just as something exciting was happening in the present, which took me out of the story somewhat.

I almost think Bracken crammed too much into one book, it felt like it would have been more natural if this had been a duology? I mean this entire book takes place over one week, and we have to learn all of the logistics of the Agon, Lore’s past, finding the Aegis, there was so much in here, it definitely could have used being two books rather than one.

The world building was fairly lacking, not just in terms of the Agon and the logistics of how everything worked, the relationships between the Houses etc but also just that the author seemed to assume that everyone was familiar with New York City? Like I’ve visited New York once, I could name the tourist attractions but in terms of being intimately familiar with the city? Nah. Even if you are setting your book in a real place, you can’t assume that everyone who reads it is going to be familiar with the place: if I was writing a book about London for instance, I wouldn’t assume all my readers knew London in the same way I did (and even then London is massive, people may be more familiar with certain areas than others). Basically assume that everyone has as limited a knowledge of a real world setting as they do with a fantasy one and put the same amount of effort into your world building please!

The characters weren’t all that well developed, I had high hopes for Lore in the beginning but she never really develops much beyond the surface level, “badass fighter girl” and the same went for all the other characters-like I liked Miles because he seemed sweet and funny but he doesn’t get much development beyond that.

I was expecting the Medusa myth to be more important to the plot of this one given the cover and I was kind of disappointed that it wasn’t.

There is an assault scene in this which I wish I’d known about before because I find them really hard to listen to, thankfully it wasn’t too graphic, but pre-warning for survivors who might be triggered by it.

The writing style was fine, there were some really lovely lines but overall, it wasn’t anything particularly standout or special.

I felt like the characters should have been older, really, at least they read as older to me. I mean the flashbacks has Lore doing all of this stuff when she’s supposedly ten, but she feels more like a teenager and Lore in the present feels more like she should be in her early twenties. I don’t know if this is another case of a story that’s been aged down to be considered YA, or if I just read characters as older than they are a lot, but yeah, I didn’t buy Lore as a teenager.

I struggled to get a handle on Lore’s motivations as well, which made it hard for me to root for her. I almost had whiplash trying to work out exactly what she wanted, if she wanted revenge, if she just wanted out of the Agon, if she wanted power and glory, it was difficult to tell because she seemed to change her mind every ten seconds. I wouldn’t have minded if she did have multiple motivations, if it had been clear, but it wasn’t.

There was some diversity, Miles is Korean and gay, Van is Black, gay and disabled, but it all felt very surface level as neither of them were that well developed and seemed to only exist to help the white MC rather than having their own developed personalities and storylines.

I would have liked the gods’ powers to be developed more, we learn a little about them but not really enough in my opinion, it all felt kind of hand-wavy. Athena was really interesting, I was definitely suspicious of her from the beginning, but she felt kind of flat and distant and I would have liked it if she had been developed more.

There were some great twists, I didn’t predict all of them, though I had my suspicions and some took me completely off guard.

I was a bit annoyed that certain things didn’t really get a resolution, I can’t really talk about them in detail without being spoilery, but there were some storylines that were kind of dropped and unresolved by the end, which is fine in a series, but this was a standalone, I kind of expect everything to be largely resolved and I didn’t feel like it was here.

And that brings me to the most infuriating part of the book: THE ENDING. Never mind that I was super lost and couldn’t really follow what happened in the final battle, which was annoying enough, but the ending was so abrupt! It didn’t feel like there was any resolution to what happened in the book, it was all just kind of over. Like what happened to Lore and Castor? Was the Agon really over? I was just so confused and it kind of left me with a sour taste in my mouth because I just had no idea what happened.

Overall, the concept of this book had a lot of potential, but it didn’t live up to it and I reckon it could have really benefitted from being a duology because there were too many big ideas and too many characters to really do justice to in one book.

My Rating: 2.5/5

My next review will be of The Unbound by Victoria Schwab.

Top Ten Tuesday #312

Hi everyone! I hope you had a good week since I last did one of these, I had a day out in Hatfield with my friends on Saturday, which was really nice, the weather was lovely (for a change) and the grounds of Hatfield House were very nice to walk in (if a little overpriced!). I also finally finished a big job application yesterday, so I’m relieved about that!

It’s Tuesday, so I’m back with another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week we’re talking Colourful Book Covers. I wasn’t sure which way to go with this, whether to go with covers that just have one or two colours but are very bright, or ones that had a lot of colours, so I decided to go with a mix of the two. Here we go:

  1. The Girl From Everywhere-Heidi Heilig
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It’s strange that this one is so bright because the US one is really not, it’s plain black with a fairly minimalist design. That’s why I like the UK designs for this series so much more, I love how bright and lively this cover is, it feels like the ocean floor, colourful and teeming with life.

2. Phoenix Flame-Sara Holland

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This is my current read, and whilst I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m thrilled with the book (I find the main character kind of bland), I do think this cover is lovely and definitely very colourful. I also love the contrast between this book’s cover and Havenfall, where this book has very hot colours and Havenfall is definitely more cool colours.

3. Hero At The Fall-Alwyn Hamilton

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This book may have been my least favourite of the trilogy, but the cover certainly is gorgeous. I love the flames around the side and the brightness of the orange background definitely encapsulates the desert setting of this trilogy really, really well. This is another series where I think the UK covers are much nicer than the US, the US covers have stock images of people, whereas the UK covers are these more vibrant, with the foiling on the the flames and the pretty typography.

4. Seventh Heaven-Meg Cabot

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The Princess Diaries is not a series that crops up a lot on the blog, I liked them well enough when I was a teenager but they don’t really reflect my current reading taste. However, this, the seventh book in the series was perfect for this week’s topic, as it is incredibly colourful!

5. The Priory of The Orange Tree-Samantha Shannon

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I’m still in awe of how gorgeous this cover is, even two years later and with the incredibly bright orange background, I thought it was perfect for this week’s topic.

6. The Exact Opposite of Okay-Laura Steven

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The base of this cover might be white, but the design is exploding with colour and I love how each thing in the background is relevant to a part of Izzy’s story.

7. For A Muse of Fire-Heidi Heilig

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Another Heidi Heilig one on here! I love the contrast between brightness and shadow on this cover and it’s really fitting for the story as well given that the main character Jetta is a shadow puppeteer. The fantouche dragon is definitely my favourite part of this cover, it’s so well done!

8. Daughter of the Burning City-Amanda Foody

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Purple is my favourite colour and it’s not nearly a popular enough colour choice for covers as I’d like, so naturally I love this one. The little yellow touches make the deep purple of the cover stand out even more and I love the stripes on the background that look kind of like a circus tent.

9. Under Rose Tainted Skies-Louise Gornall

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This one is fairly minimalist cover, so might not be the most obvious choice for a colourful cover topic but the pink is so bright and vibrant, I couldn’t not include it! The UK publisher did three different shades of pink cover, there was a light pink one (which I think is the one I have), a medium pink one and then this incredibly bright one which I thought was really cool.

10. Call Down The Hawk-Maggie Stiefvater

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Maggie Stiefvater always gets the best covers and this one is no different, I love the watercolour style and the contrast between the fairly light pink background and the dark brown of the hawk and the yellow of I think flames rising up from the trees. All in all it’s a really lovely vibrant colour and I’m slightly disappointed by the Mister Impossible cover as it leans away from the more illustrated style that she’s had for all her other covers (at least in the UK) so far.

So there we go, those are my colourful book covers! Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? Which one of these is your favourite cover? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back with another Top Ten Tuesday next week, the topic is meant to be Animals From Books but I already did that one back in 2017 and I prefer not to repeat topics if I can help it, and this topic inspired me with an idea for another topic, so instead, I’m going to be talking US vs UK covers. I know a third cover topic in a row is a lot, but what can I say? I’m on a roll!

Top Ten Tuesday #311

Hi all! I hope you had a good week since I last did one of these, mine has been fairly quiet. I’m hoping to see my friends this weekend though, so I’m looking forward to that.

It’s Tuesday, so I’m back with another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. I wasn’t really feeling this week’s topic, so I decided to go in a different direction, and instead, I’m going to be sharing Spring Book Covers with you all, as I always enjoy doing cover topics and it’s not one of the planned topics for this year, so I thought it would be fun to do. So here we go, some Spring Book Covers for your viewing pleasure:

  1. This Poison Heart-Kalynn Bayron
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This is one of my FAVOURITE 2021 book covers, it’s so gorgeous, I love how colourful it is, and of course, YES to Black girls on book covers, we love to see that. It also screams Spring, with all the flowers and vines and the green background, it’s definitely one of the most Spring-like covers I’ve ever seen.

2. The Gilded Wolves-Roshani Chokshi

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Given the role that gardens and botany play in the plot (one of the main characters is a botanist), it’s very fitting that The Gilded Wolves has a Spring themed cover, with all the leaves and the little purple flowers poking out. I love this cover, I think the colours work together beautifully and I love how the intricate gold design hints at the 19th century setting.

3. Girl, Serpent, Thorn-Melissa Bashardoust

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The lovely pink flowers intertwined with the snake on this cover definitely makes it feel very Spring-like, in the words of Miranda Priestly: florals for Spring? Groundbreaking.

4. Resist-Sarah Crossan

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Kind of ironic that this cover made the list, given that the whole premise of this duology relies on the trees dying and the world lacking in oxygen, but it does have quite a spring feel to it, with the leaves inside the dome and the combination of the red and green on the cover. I particularly love that solitary red flower breaking through the cracked earth, it’s a powerful image.

5. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue-VE Schwab

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I don’t usually consider VE Schwab’s covers to be particularly Spring-like, her books are definitely firmly in the autumnal category with her usual colour palette being red, black and white. But Addie’s cover, with the blues and lovely little forget-me-nots (perfect for this book) definitely has a more Spring feel than any of her other covers.

6. Blue Lily, Lily Blue-Maggie Stiefvater

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The third Raven Cycle book’s cover screams Spring, with the pastel hues, and the little pink and purple flowers creeping in at the edge of the design. The Raven Cycle covers are among some of my favourite book covers, I love the way each book cover looks and feels like a watercolour painting, I think it’s a really gorgeous style.

7. The Foundling-Stacey Halls

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This cover is packed full of floral designs, so naturally it seemed like a fitting choice for a Spring themed cover. I love the contrast between the flowers and the woman trapped inside a cage, I think combining those two things is a really interesting choice. It’s a really lovely cover and I look forward to reading the book.

8. Splintered-AG Howard

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I will never be a fan of people on book covers (unless it’s an illustration), but this one is strangely striking. The green with the flowers and the vines and the insects definitely give this whole cover very spring vibes and given that it’s an Alice in Wonderland retelling, it fits that cover looks quite strange and quirky.

9. Forest of Ghosts and Bones-Lisa Lueddecke

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I love the combination of the bones and the flowers on this cover, it’s such a fun juxtaposition of creepy and nature. The bones might make it seem like more of a Halloween choice but for me, with the mint green and yellows and purples, the colours feel very spring-like to me. There’s also a lot of nature with the florals and the little mushrooms, so that feels more fitting of a Spring cover.

10. Wild Beauty-Anna-Marie McLemore

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This felt like an obvious choice for a Spring cover for me given that it’s flowers everywhere and given that the story is based around gardens, it definitely seems fitting to include it on a Spring themed book list.

11. The Fair Botanists-Sara Sheridan

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If there was any book that was perfect for a list like this, it’s this one. It doesn’t come out till August, and it’s actually set in the summer, but given that it is a story based around botany, it seems perfect for a spring list. And the cover definitely fits too, with the green colours and all of the leaves and flowers on the cover.

12. Descendant of The Crane-Joan He

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Another floral cover for Spring, the lotus flowers on this cover are really gorgeous and the crane in particularly is really striking. Nature seems very front and centre on this cover which makes it perfect for this list of Spring book covers. The colour scheme is a little darker than some of the other covers on this list, but I really like that as it makes the reds on the crane and on the woman’s clothes seem even more vibrant.

So that’s it, those are my Spring Book Covers for this week. Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? Which one of these is your favourite cover? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back with another Top Ten Tuesday next week, with another cover themed topic (though a planned one this time!), and we’ll be talking about Colourful Book Covers. Honestly pretty much all the ones I’ve used this week could work for next week’s topic, but I will try and come up with some new ones for you!

Top Ten Tuesday #310

Hi all! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, and that you had a nice Easter weekend, if you celebrate.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so that means it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is Books I’d Gladly Throw In The Ocean, so it’s time to get SALTY (sorry for the terrible pun!). I honestly thought I wouldn’t have many of these, but it turns out that I have way more than I thought I did, so who’s ready for an extra long rant post. Let’s go:

  1. Glass Sword-Victoria Aveyard

I think I’d be hard pressed to find a book that made me angrier than this one. The first book was very tropey and didn’t do much that was original with those tropes but was ultimately a decent enough read. This one however: it was slow, the main character was UNBEARABLE, there was hardly any plot, the romance was rubbish and I HATED the way that girl hate was still perpetuated. I would have hurled this one in the ocean if I could.

2. Graceling-Kristin Cashore

The main character in this one made me want to throw the book in the ocean. Katsa is the kind of “strong female character” that has absolutely no emotions, and despises anything feminine and thinks that she’s above other women because she’s like this. UGH IT MAKES ME SO MAD. Female characters can be both strong and in touch with their emotions and I really hated the way that Katsa seemed to be a 1D stereotype.

3. Foul Is Fair-Hannah Capin

This one hurts me because I so wanted to love it. A feminist retelling of Macbeth should have been right up my street. However the characters in this one were all so flat that it made me angry because if the characters had been better developed I probably would have really enjoyed it.

4. Not If I Save You First-Ally Carter

This one had me seething because I love Ally Carter. Her Heist Society books are so much fun. This was not fun. NOTHING HAPPENED. It was so slow, I felt like I was waiting the entire book for something to happen, plus it was pretty badly written with incredibly corny dialogue and the romance was terribly developed.

5. The Fault In Our Stars-John Green

Ah the first book I thought of when I saw this topic. HAS THIS MAN EVER MET A TEENAGER? THEY DO NOT SPEAK LIKE 40 YEAR OLD PHILOSOPHERS. I was so mad after reading this book that I wrote a 1000 word essay for my sixth form newspaper on how terrible it was. Both Hazel and Gus felt really poorly developed to me, and I thought the plot was weak.

6. The Invisible Library-Genevieve Cogman

It kills me to be putting a book about libraries on this list, but I was SO CONFUSED through the whole book. The plot was so hard to follow and I didn’t particularly connect to any of the characters, so by the end I was just confused and bored and wanted to throw the whole book out.

7. Alex and Eliza-Melissa De La Cruz

UGH THIS BOOK MADE ME SO MAD. There was a ridiculous amount of historical liberties taken with the plot and whilst I do get creative license, this book got some pretty basic and blatant stuff wrong (and yes, I am aware that Hamilton the musical also takes its fair share of historical liberties). But beside all that, the story just wasn’t good? It was slow paced, the characters felt flat and it felt like it missed the mark on the audience it was aimed for as it read much younger than YA.

8. The Fandom-Anna Day

This one was super disappointing because it had the potential to be really fun but it was poorly written, featured a lot of toxic teen girl friendships, the characters were flat, it was incredibly predictable and VERY SLOW PACED. I ended up feeling really frustrated by the end because it had the potential to be so good and it just wasn’t!

9. Lord of The Flies-William Golding

Ah school required reading, the bane of my teenage existence. In all seriousness though, Lord of The Flies is just a terrible book. It’s dull, the characters are barely developed at all and there’s way more focus on THEMES and SYMBOLISM rather than providing *gasp* a decent plot. Honestly one of the most tedious books I ever had to study at school.

10. The Court of Miracles-Kester Grant

Another one that I really wanted to love, but fell short of what I wanted. It was so confusing, there were multiple confusing time skips and the author really seemed to be rushing through the story. It also wasn’t really a fantasy which was what it was advertised as, and there were numerous historical errors. The characters were also very flat and weirdly it was actually too fast paced as we seemed to just skip through the story. It was such a shame because I think it could have been so good, but I ended up so frustrated with it.

11. The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Nighttime-Mark Haddon

What to say about this terrible book? It’s an offensive and stereotypical portrayal of a kid with autism for starters and the story just isn’t particularly good? It’s dull and fairly thin on plot and just not all that well written. Definitely one that I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on.

12. Sea Witch-Sarah Henning

Very ironic to use this one for this topic given that it’s sea based! This was meant to be a dark, villain origin story and what did I get instead? A fairly dry historical retelling of witches in the 17th or 18th century in Denmark with a slight hint of fairytale. It was so slow, the characters were underdeveloped, the world was underdeveloped and it descended into one of my least favourite tropes, girls hating other girls for no apparent reason. I would definitely leave this one at the bottom of the ocean.

13. Wintersong-S.Jae Jones

It was long, it was confusing, it was slow paced and it was more pretty words than actual substantive plot. I know some people like that, but I am not one of those people. I need things to actually be happening in my books and for 90% of Wintersong, nothing was.

14. We Are Blood and Thunder-Kesia Lupo

This book was such a SLOG. The world and magic wasn’t developed, there was barely anything happening for most of the book, the characters were underdeveloped and there was a romance with an uncomfortable age gap (16 & 23) which I was not behind. If I hadn’t been reading this for review purposes then I wouldn’t have finished it because it just wasn’t very good.

15. One Day-David Nicholls

Though not as painful as the film (please never allow Anne Hathaway to do a film where she needs to do any kind of accent EVER AGAIN, she cannot do them), One Day the book was still not a pleasant read. Neither Dexter nor Emma are particularly likeable characters and the repetitive format of them connecting on the same day every year had me bored. I never really got why the two characters liked each other since they didn’t even really seem to get along that well! It’s very hard to connect with a story where there are only really two characters, when both seem like awful people and you’re not rooting for either.

16. Stealing Snow-Danielle Paige

TWO WORDS: LOVE QUADRANGLE. QUADRANGLE. There are THREE LOVE INTERESTS for the main character in this one and that’s just ridiculous. She has no chemistry with any of them, and none of their relationships are developed at all. The characters are flat and hardly developed, as is the world, it’s just not a particularly good book and made me very mad that I wasted my time reading it.

17. Allegiant-Veronica Roth

I know what you’ll all think, that I want to throw this book in the ocean because of THAT ENDING, but weirdly that was the only part of the book that actually made sense to me? Don’t get me wrong, it’s anti-climactic and poorly done, but the actual event that makes everyone mad, wasn’t what made me mad. What made me mad was that the book was slow paced and NOTHING HAPPENED, it was such a limp squib of a trilogy ending.

18. Days of Blood and Starlight-Laini Taylor

There’s actually a particular moment I can pinpoint where this book made me want to throw it in the ocean. There’s a completely unnecessary and gratuitous attempted rape scene which made me so mad! But aside from that, the book in general is just not great: it has far too much relationship angst which I hate, the pacing was HORRIBLE, and it was just incredibly depressing as a story. The third book is still sitting on my shelf waiting to be read because I was so put off by this one but as it’s only a trilogy I would like to finish for completeness sake.

19. Slated-Teri Terry

The writing style in this one infuriated me, it was so dull and slow and she kept overusing certain words. The main character was also really dull and had hardly any personality for most of the book and it just felt like a setup book for the next one in the series, which didn’t really work as I found this one so boring that I didn’t want to continue.

20. Strange The Dreamer-Laini Taylor

I had a similar problem here as with Days of Blood and Starlight, rape is used as a plot device here, almost every main character seems to have either been raped or the product of rape without any real thought to the effect it had on them. This whole book seemed to trivialise and normalise rape for me and that made me really angry. The characters also felt bland, the world poorly developed and the plot was forsaken for the sake of a lacklustre romance.

So that’s it for this week, a bumper list to make up for the slightly shorter one last week. Have you read any of these books? Did you enjoy them? (it’s okay if you did!) What books made your list this week? Let me know in the comments.

I’ll be back with another Top Ten Tuesday next week, the original topic is meant to be Books That Sound Like They Could Be Crayola Crayon Colours, but honestly I can’t really think of anything for that topic, so instead I’m going to do Spring Book Covers, since we did Autumnal & Wintery Book Covers last year and I really enjoyed doing those ones (after this I only needed to do summery book covers and I’ll have the whole set!).

Top Ten Tuesday #309

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all been having a good week since I last did one of these, I finally got to see my friends again yesterday for the first time in months as lockdown is finally starting to be eased in the UK and it was so fun to be together in person again after months of only being able to communicate through screens!

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so that means it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is Places In Books I’d Like To Live, which is a bit of a tricky one for me as I read mostly fantasy books and a lot of those worlds would be pretty dangerous to live in! Still I have managed to come up with a few places from books that I think I’d be happy to stay in (and less likely to die a violent death):

  1. Camp Half-Blood-Percy Jackson Universe-Rick Riordan

I wouldn’t want to go on any of the almost-certain-death quests, but just hanging around the camp seems like it would be very fun. Chilling in the mess hall with other demigods, playing Capture the Flag, laughing at my terrible archery skills….I could see myself at Camp Half-Blood.

2. Red London-Shades of Magic Trilogy-VE Schwab

This seems like the best London to be in, given that it’s the one that has all the magic. I would love to just wander the streets of Red London, going into the Night Market and tasting all the different food on offer. I would also love to attend the Essen Tasch (Element Games) as they sound really spectacular!

3. The Faraway Tree-The Faraway Tree series-Enid Blyton

I’d quite happily live in the Faraway Tree, with a very eclectic bunch of neighbours (Silky, Moonface, and the Saucepan Man: though I would definitely want to be far above Dame Washalot as I do not like getting wet) and going up the top of the tree every week to explore the different lands!

4. The Inn at Havenfall-Havenfall-Sara Holland

I’m currently reading Phoenix Flame and I think I’d quite happily live at the Inn at Havenfall, it sounds like a very nice, cosy little inn to live in and most of the time doesn’t seem to attract too much danger (barring what happens in the books of course!). It would also be cool to take part in the Peace Summit and get to meet all the delegates from Byrn and Fiordenkill and find out about their worlds.

5. Velaris-ACOMAF and ACOWAR-Sarah J Maas

The Night Court’s hidden city sounds like it would be a lovely place to live: the food for one sounds delicious & I would love to just spend my days wandering through the Artists Quarter and enjoying all the music and the artists and the dancers.

6. Henrietta-The Raven Cycle-Maggie Stiefvater

I would love to live in Henrietta and hang out with the Gangsey and go searching for ley lines and dead Welsh Kings. I’d love to spend time at 300 Fox Way and hang out in Cabeswater, and The Barns to see all of Ronan’s dreams! I also know I would spend a lot of time at Nino’s because I love pizza!

A slightly shorter list this week, but honestly, it was a real struggle to find nice places in fantasy books that I’d actually want to live in! I love reading about them, but would not want to face their near certain death I’d probably find there if I actually lived in them. Have you read in these books? Would you like to live in any of these places? Where from a book would you like to live? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back with another Top Ten Tuesday next week, we’ll be talking about Books I’d Gladly Throw In The Ocean. Thankfully I don’t have too many of these, but it’s been a while since I last did a salty post so it should be fun!

Book Vs Movie: Moxie

Hi everyone! I know, it’s been ages since I last did one of these, they kind of fell by the wayside at the end of last year/beginning of this year, but they’re back now and I’m hoping to keep up a more regular posting schedule for the rest of 2021. This month, I’m talking about Moxie, which had its Netflix adaptation released at the beginning of March.

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Book Thoughts:

I read this back in 2018, and I thought it was a fun, fast read. It’s fairly simplistic and lacks some nuance (it’s very into the whole “girl power” version of feminism) but I love how focused it was on female empowerment, I enjoyed the main character Viv and the way she grew into herself through the book and I loved how central female friendships were as they’re something I always enjoy. I did think the attempts at intersectionality were somewhat clumsy though, as it felt very surface level and the POC characters didn’t feel particularly well developed. Here is my full review of the book if you want to read more of my thoughts:

Movie Thoughts:

Moxie (film) - Wikipedia

I liked the film in general. I think it was a tad long in places, and I think the reasons for Viv starting Moxie were more fleshed out in the book: she’s shy but not quite to the extent of the movie and she already has the passion about the sexist behaviour of boys at her school being wrong, so it doesn’t seem quite as much of a 180 when she decides to start Moxie as it does in the film. The intersectionality is still a bit clumsy, the movie does try to address this issue from the book but it doesn’t always succeed at it as it often seems like the WOC in the film are there to prop up Viv rather than having much of a story of their own. It also felt a little lengthy for an adaptation of a fairly short book! I did like that the film really embraced female friendship, and I think there was more of a feel of camaraderie in the film than the book. I didn’t think the subplot with her mum’s boyfriend was as well done in the film as the book though, in the book, Viv also gets mad at her mum’s boyfriend at dinner, but it’s because he has a Republican supporting sticker on his car, so she essentially prejudges him for his political affiliations, which still isn’t great, but it made more sense than in the film where she blows up at everyone seemingly for no reason. Overall, it is an enjoyable film and a good adaptation of the book, but it does fall short in some areas.

Movie or Book Judgement:

I think I’ll go with the book for this one! It was tricky to choose, because I did like both, and both shared some of the same shortcomings, but ultimately, the fact that the reasons for Viv starting Moxie are clearer in the book put it slightly ahead of the film for me. I would still recommend the film though!

That’s it for this month’s Book Vs Movie, I’ll be back next month with a VERY EXCITING Book Vs Movie, as I’ll be talking about the Netflix adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse (the first series focuses on Shadow and Bone and the backstories of characters from Six of Crows), so I’m sure that’s one a lot of you will be excited for!