Queen of Volts (The Shadow Game #3)

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Book: Queen of Volts (The Shadow Game #3)

Author: Amanda Foody

Published By: HQ Young Adult

Publication Date: 1st September (okay, but the UK paperback doesn’t actually release till next Thursday, so technically it’s still coming out before a version of the book does!).

BECHDEL TEST: PASS-Lola and Arabella (The Bargainer) talk about Enne.

Content Warnings: Extreme violence, death, grief, attempted suicide/suicidal ideation, PTSD, toxic and abusive relationships (with a parent and a romantic partner), addiction, emetophobia (Can I just thank Amanda Foody for having these easily accessible on her website? Made my job SO MUCH EASIER).

Thank you to Netgalley and HQ Young Adult for allowing me to read this book early, this in no way affected my opinion of it.

King of Fools, the second book in The Shadow Game trilogy was one of my favourite books of last year, so naturally Queen of Volts was one of my most anticipated releases of this year. I don’t want to say I was disappointed, because there was a lot to love in this book, and I did ultimately find it a satisfying finale but it didn’t quite live up to the heights of King of Fools for me.

SPOILER ALERT: This review will contain unavoidable spoilers from the previous Shadow Game books. If you have not read Ace of Shades, or King of Fools, stop reading now.

Return to the City of Sin, where the final game is about to begin…and winning will demand the ultimate sacrifice.

Only days after a corrupt election and brutal street war, one last bloodthirsty game has begun. The players? The twenty-two most powerful, notorious people in New Reynes.

After realizing they have no choice but to play, Enne Scordata and Levi Glaisyer are desperate to forge new alliances and bargain for their safety. But while Levi offers false smiles and an even falser peace to the city’s politicians, Enne must face a world where her true Mizer identity has been revealed…and any misstep could turn deadly.

Meanwhile, a far more dangerous opponent has appeared on the board, one plucked right from the most gruesome legends of New Reynes. As the game takes its final, vicious turn, Levi and Enne must decide once and for all whether to be partners or enemies.

Because in a game for survival, there are only losers…

And monsters. 

I’m going to start with my biggest bugbears from this book, because though there was definitely a lot to love about this book, the two big issues were the things that brought the book’s rating down for me.

First off, SO MANY POVS. TOO MANY POVS. There are five different POV characters in this book, and whilst I do understand why Foody did it this way, it makes the story somewhat difficult to follow. It did get easier as the book went along, but I still found myself having to flick back and forth because it had been so long since a particular character’s POV, I’d forgotten what they were doing. I did really like having Sophia and Lola’s POVs, because I love the characters, but I think having five POVs made things more confusing than they needed to be. The final book is also very late in the game (bad pun, sorry) to be adding a lot of new POVs.

And then we have the pacing…..ah the pacing. Pacing seems to be my old nemesis (I’m actually going to be doing a discussion post about it soon) and this book was definitely lacking. I was expecting a high speed, action packed finale, and we do get there, but it takes A WHILE. There’s a lot of talking and plotting and planning and not all that much doing for the first few hundred pages of the book and I definitely feel like some of that could have been trimmed because it did take a while for me to really get into the story. I was expecting the Game to be a lot more violent than it ended up being (even though there are some rather gruesome death) but the main characters are so unwilling to kill each other that everything remains at a standstill for longer than I’d like! (clearly I’m too used to reading violent fantasy books when I complain about not enough violence).

I did really enjoy the writing style, Amanda Foody has a great way of making you feel like you’re in the setting without ever getting into purple prose territory, which I love.

I also really appreciated that Foody showed her characters struggling to deal with the trauma that they’d faced in the previous books. A certain death in King of Fools has a big impact on all of the main characters and I’m glad she didn’t just brush past it and actually explored the fallout from it because so often books don’t. Enne’s PTSD and her issues with guns after the last book was particularly well done.

I was a little confused by the omerta logic in this book, Foody is usually pretty good at her worldbuilding but there are definitely some holes here, as a big plot point is that Harrison’s omertas will die if he does, but there are characters in the book that should have died in the previous book if that logic was true.

The Bargainer is a big part of this final book and she was definitely very interesting, though I kind of wish we’d learned more about the awful things she’d done in the past!

So Enne and Levi continue being their extremely frustrating selves in this book, and though their issues do make sense considering what happened at the end of the last book, there’s only so much back and forth I can take before it feels stale. They don’t really work through any of their issues really and it’s hard to believe they’ll ever be completely happy together when they spend a decent proportion of this book barely trusting each other. Honestly my feelings on them haven’t really changed from the last book, they have great chemistry but the angst makes them hard to root for as a couple.

I really liked Sophia’s arc, a lot of her arc in this book is about uncovering her lost memories and finding out about her past and that definitely had a really satisfying conclusion.

There’s a LOT of great reveals in this book for things that have been hinted at since the start of the series (Enne’s heritage, the origin of the Shadow Game, Lourdes, Enne and Levi’s hallway dream etc) and there’s a lot of stuff that really ties back to the first book in the series which I loved (despite being a terrible planner when it comes to my own books!).

I love the chapter separators in this book, it’s split into twenty two parts, and each one is named after a card in Bryce’s game, that little attention detail is great. The little quotes from New Reynes’ papers as well were a lovely touch. It also has a map (and I do love a map!).

Levi and Tock’s little heart to hearts were a real highlight of this book, as I felt the friendship moments kind of went by the wayside as there’s a lot of focus on the romances? Grace and Enne also have some lovely moments together, which makes up for the fact that Enne and Lola are at each other’s throats for most of the book. I kind of wish Grace had got a POV at some point in the series (though there were already enough in this book and I do understand why she didn’t get one) as I really loved her! She’s definitely the voice of reason that Enne desperately needs!

Speaking of Lola, her arc in this book I imagine will probably be one of the most polarising, because she definitely makes a lot of questionable decisions, but I think her arc made a lot of sense as she’s always been trying to find her place in the Game when she doesn’t really consider herself a player and a lot of her story is reconciling that and trying to work out her place in the world. I do wish she and Enne hadn’t been on the outs for so long, but it definitely make sense why they would be.

I will be honest, there were a few players, like Delaney, who I’d actually forgotten who they were because there are SO MANY CHARACTERS IN THIS SERIES.

The treatment of Enne by the Chancellor (Fenice sucks) and the other politicians vs Levi was a little jarring, though I don’t know if Foody intended on making a comparison with how powerful men and women are treated. Still, Enne seems to bear the brunt of the punishment, even though orb-makers are almost as feared as Mizers and Levi is just as much of a criminal as she is which didn’t seem very fair to me!

As with the other books in the series, this book continues to have a diverse cast of characters with POC rep, LGBTQ+ rep (most of the main cast is LGBTQ+) and some disability rep (Lola loses her hearing in one ear after an injury).

Harvey, who was barely featured in King of Fools becomes a major player here as his relationship with Bryce. I have to admit, I didn’t think Bryce as a villain was as well drawn as Vianca Augustine, but I did appreciate how Foody showed the toxic relationship between Bryce and Harvey in this book and how Harvey grew throughout the book to realise that he deserved better than Bryce. I was never really sure what side Harvey was on throughout the book, but that kept things interesting! It was also a really nice surprise to see Harvey and Narinder growing close in this book as that was something I wasn’t expecting.

There’s quite a few time skips throughout this book and as with King of Fools, I still found them slightly jarring and it wasn’t always immediately clear when they’d happened.

There’s one very brief sex scene between Enne and Levi, and between Harvey and Bryce. I was really glad that Foody emphasised consent in the scene between Enne and Levi (though there is a moment earlier in the book when Enne kisses Levi without his consent, not great). The fact that Levi mentioned he hadn’t been with a woman before so casually and that in no way negated his bisexuality and wasn’t at all judged was really great.

There’s a really great scene in The House of Shadows later in the book, I can’t say too much about it because it would be spoilery, but I loved how important Enne and Levi’s hallway ended up being!

The ending was very full circle, I thought Foody did a pretty good job of concluding everyone’s story and I loved how everything in the end circled back to the first book, it felt like a very completed arc (though obviously I hope that Amanda Foody does more books in this world at some point!).

Overall, this was a decent series finale but failed to live up to the heights of the second book, for me at least!

My Rating: 3.5/5

My next review will either be of Meagan Spooner’s Sherwood, or Susan Dennard’s Bloodwitch, depending on which one I finish first.





Quarterly Rewind (June-September ’20) edition

Hi everyone! I’ve actually had a reasonably okay summer, sure it wasn’t exactly what I’d thought (missing out on YALC was definitely a big disappointment) but I managed to make the best of it, I was able to see my friends a few times, I had a really nice birthday, I was able to go back to riding and we even got up to Scotland for a few weeks. I’m very worried about the potential new changes to our restrictions though, the idea of not being able to see my friends for another extended period of time is honestly quite terrifying. But anyway, enough with the doom and gloom, it was the Autumn Equinox yesterday, so that means it’s time to wrap up Northern hemisphere Summer (or Summer 2.0 if you will) here on the blog and look forward (as much as I can look forward to anything in the current state of things) to Autumn. This post will cover 20th June-21st September:

Image From This Summer:

For the first time in months I actually have new photos to share! This is me at Kenilworth Castle on my birthday a couple of weeks ago.

Favourite Quote From A Book You Read This Summer:

“Most women suffer thorns for the sake of the flowers, but we who wield power adorn ourselves with flowers to hide the sting of our thorns” -King of Scars, Leigh Bardugo

This kind of reminds me of a very similar quote from Stalking Jack The Ripper about flowers and thorns, but it’s still one that I really like, I think flowers and thorns are a pretty good metaphor for the relationship between women and power and our perceptions of them.

This Summer In One Word:

Decent (I can’t go as far as good, but decent for 2020, is like amazing for any other year!).

Most Popular Review of The Summer:

I read 12 books this summer and reviewed 11 (one was a novella that I didn’t feel I had enough to say about to review). Unsurprisingly given the level of hype surrounding it, the most popular of these was the Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes:


Top Two Books I Read This Summer:

This summer was kind of a mixed bag again, I read some really great books and some not so great ones. There were three that stood out above the rest to me and it was really tricky to choose between them, but in the end I went for these two:

  1. A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder-Holly Jackson

My most recent read, an unexpected delight of a thriller that actually surprised me from beginning to end! I look forward to seeing what happens with Ravi and Pip in the second book, when I get it.

2. Cinderella Is Dead-Kalynn Bayron

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy a Cinderella retelling so much since it’s not usually one of my favourite fairytales, but Kalynn Bayron put a great spin on hers and I ended up really loving it.

TV I’m Looking Forward To Watching This Autumn

Again, I’ve not got a massive amount planned this autumn, and considering that everything I do have planned could go out the window due to the restrictions changing, I’m again going to share the TV I’m planning on watching, since that is literally the only thing I can be certain about at the moment!

  1. Strictly Come Dancing-The fact that Strictly is actually happening at all this year is pretty incredible and I think we could all use an extra dose of sparkle and joy in the months to come, so I’m certainly looking forward to the pick me up that Strictly provides.
  2. The Great British Bake-Off-It started yesterday and really just in time, I could definitely use the comfort that watching people getting stressed over making the perfect cake provides!
  3. The Crown-The fourth series of The Crown arrives in November and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing all of the Charles/Diana drama play out on screen.
  4. Ghosts-The BBC’s wacky sitcom started its second series last night and ghosts from different eras doing ridiculous things is definitely the kind of content I need in these stressful times.
  5. Travels With My Father-The latest of Jack Whitehall’s series travelling around with his dad dropped yesterday and again, it’s just the sort of comforting viewing that I could use right now.

Three New Obsessions This Summer:

  1. folklore-Are we at all surprised that I’m obsessed with Taylor Swift’s new album? If you are, then you can’t have been following me for all that long! betty definitely still holds the top spot, but I definitely find the other songs moving around a lot the more I listen to them.
  2. Mrs America-I really enjoyed watching this drama about the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment over the summer, it was something I didn’t know much about before and I definitely learned a lot (and yes, I looked up the actual history, this history nerd never takes the TV show version of reality at face value!).
  3. Lucifer Season 5, Part 1-My mum and I watched the first half of Lucifer’s season 5 episodes over a few days after they came out in August and all I can say is that I desperately want Part 2 now!

Five Most Popular Blog Posts This Summer:

My top two most popular blog posts this time are both reviews which was a nice surprise, it’s nice to see some of my reviews getting a bit more love!

  1. Crooked Kingdom Review

I posted this one in 2018, so it’s nice to have seen some renewed interest for it in the last few months!


2. Ninth House Review

Evidently, there are a lot of Leigh Bardugo fans among my followers as this was one of my most popular posts in my last Quarterly Rewind as well!


3. TTT #273

This Top Ten Tuesday was all about Authors That I’d Like To See At Next Year’s YALC and I’m not surprised it was really popular as I know a lot of other book bloggers missed having YALC this year as much as I did, so it was nice to share the love and look forward to (hopefully) YALC next year.


4. TTT #274

I was talking about the Longest Books on My TBR for this Top Ten Tuesday and was very heartened to see in the comments that I am not the only one who is intimidated by very long books! I have read exactly zero of these books since I did that post, so nothing has changed there!


5. TTT #281

This was my topic from last week, cover topics always do really well for me, I should do them more often really! It was a cover freebie and I talked about my favourite covers of 2020 as this year has blessed us with a lot of really beautiful books.


Four Posts I Enjoyed On Other Blogs This Summer:

  1. CW did an amazing post on The Quiet Pond about reading romance as a demisexual and demiromantic reader which I found really insightful and eye opening.

Reading Romance While Demisexual

2. I’m sure most of you have probably already seen Becky Albertalli’s heartfelt coming out letter on Medium. I have to admit, I’ve actually not read Becky’s books but I’ve seen a lot of the discourse around her in the last few years and it sucks that she felt she had to come out because so many people just assumed she was straight.

View at Medium.com

3. This is a video rather than a blog post and it technically comes under last month’s time period but as I didn’t share it then, I wanted to share it now. Nic Stone did a series of videos talking about race and I found this one with Jodi Picoult particularly informative.

4. I read this article in The Atlantic about how the coronavirus pandemic is changing attitudes towards people who are childfree and as someone who doesn’t want kids, I found it quite an interesting read.


Five Shows That I Enjoyed This Summer:

I did do more this summer but it was mostly pretty casual hangouts with friends, so I thought I’d share the best things I watched once again (I’ll know this pandemic is over when I can once again come up with five exciting things I’ve done to fill this section once more!).

  1. Lucifer Season 5 Part 1

As I mentioned earlier in this post, I really enjoyed Lucifer’s first instalment of Season 5 episodes, the show really has gone from strength to strength since it moved to Netflix (and I loved it before) and I can’t wait to see how the second half of Season 5 turns out!

2. Mrs America

Another one I mentioned earlier in this post, I really enjoyed watching the miniseries Mrs America back in July. The acting’s brilliant, the costumes are great and I learned a lot that I didn’t know before.

3. All Creatures Great and Small

I never saw the original series based on James Herriot’s books, since it came out in the 70’s, but I’ve been really enjoying Channel 5’s remake! My dad used to read James Herriot’s books to me when I was a kid, and this series has been just the comfort I’ve needed recently!

4. Parks and Recreation

On my sister’s recommendation, I ended up watching the whole of Parks and Recreation over August and though I struggled with the initial seasons, I ended up really enjoying it!

5. Hamilton

A highlight of the year has been Hamilton being on Disney+ and it definitely lived up to expectations!

Six Songs I Listened To Way Too Often This Summer:

  1. betty-Taylor Swift

Of course my favourite song from folklore has had a fair few listens at this point! Her ACM performance of the song was also a delightful treat.

2. the last great american dynasty-Taylor Swift

Probably my second most played song from folklore thus far.

3. mad woman-Taylor Swift

I told you I’d been listening to folklore a lot!

4. The Negative-Waitress

The Waitress soundtrack is one of my favourites, so naturally it comes up a lot on my shuffle and this early number from the show is a great one.

5. It Only Takes A Taste-Waitress

This is such a cute duet.

6. Crazy Rolling-Moulin Rouge (Broadway)

I love this mashup more and more every time I listen to it!

So there we go, that was my Northern Hemisphere Summer! What have you enjoyed most on my blog this summer (or winter if you’re in the southern hemisphere)? What have you been up to? Let me know in the comments!



Top Ten Tuesday #282


Hey everyone! I hope you’ve all had a nice week since I last did one of these, I had a great couple of days with my friends over the weekend which was really nice. The Great British Bake-Off is also starting tonight which is really just perfect timing, as with everything that has been going on in 2020, I could definitely use the comfort that Bake-Off provides!

Anyway, as it’s Tuesday, I have another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week is another of our annual TBR topics, so I’ll be sharing my Autumn TBR. I did pretty well on my Summer TBR, I read 8 out of the 12 books on my list, and have almost finished the ninth. I have another pretty ambitious TBR for the Autumn, but since I’ve been reading a lot this year, especially since the lockdown, I feel good about having a slightly bigger TBR:

  1. Sherwood-Meagan Spooner

My September #RockMyTBR book, which I’m reading currently. I’m not as far through as I’d like given that I only have eight days of September left, but I’m hoping I’ll have finished it by the end of next week. It’s been okay so far, but I can’t say I’m loving it.

2. Tunnel of Bones (Cassidy Blake #2)-VE Schwab

My October #RockMyTBR book, I really enjoyed City of Ghosts when I read it back in May and so I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of adventures Cassidy gets up to in this next book, particularly as it takes place in Paris!

3. Assassin’s Apprentice-Robin Hobb

My November #RockMyTBR book, I’ve never read any of Robin Hobb’s books and I know that female authors are still woefully underrepresented in adult SFF, so I definitely like reading those books where I can find them.

4. Seasons of War (Skulduggery Pleasant #13)-Derek Landy

I’ve been meaning to read this one since it was released back in April, but it’s quite a chunky book and I’ve been reading a lot of those recently, so I just haven’t got around to it! I’m definitely making this one a priority for October though, since Tunnel of Bones is only very short.

5. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue-VE Schwab

AHHHH! MY MOST ANTICIPATED READ OF THE YEAR. This is going to be my next Netgalley read and I’ll be starting it either tonight or tomorrow as I’m almost done with Queen of Volts.

6. The Book of Two Ways-Jodi Picoult

Another one of my Netgalley reads (I have quite a few October releases on my TBR, I got a little bit request happy) and I’m super excited for this one as well, as I love Jodi Picoult’s books and it sounds super interesting, kind of like Sliding Doors.

7. Kingdom of The Wicked-Keri Maniscalco

I’ve been reading a lot of Keri Maniscalco recently, having read the Stalking Jack The Ripper series from September of last year to February of this year. I’m super excited for her latest book, it’s a historical witch hunt set in Italy and it sounds so good!

8. These Violent Delights-Chloe Gong

The final one of my current crop of Netgalley releases (thankfully this one comes out in November, three October releases is more than enough!). I’m not usually one for Romeo and Juliet, but this retelling sounds AMAZING: set in 1926 Shanghai with rival gangs and dangerous monsters? YES PLEASE.

9. Where Dreams Descend-Janella Angeles

My copy of this book is finally arriving tomorrow, and I’m super excited! Phantom of The Opera meets Moulin Rouge sounds right up my street and I can’t wait to meet Kallia and all the other performers.

10. Sorcery of Thorns-Margaret Rogerson

My December #RockMyTBR book, I wasn’t a massive fan of Rogerson’s debut but I’ve heard much better things about her second book. I love anything library related, so I’m hoping this one will work much better for me than An Enchantment of Ravens.

11. The Nobleman’s Guide To Scandal and Shipwrecks-Mackenzi Lee

This was on my Spring TBR, but the release date was moved from May to December, so it’s moved over to this TBR.

12. Bloodwitch-Susan Dennard

My current audiobook read, I’m a little over a quarter of the way through. I am enjoying it, although I’m still struggling with all of the different POVs!

So that’s it, my Autumn TBR. I usually only go for 10 books but as I’ve been reading a lot more, I figured it was okay to stretch a little, I’m actually expecting to read far more than 12 books, as I’ve been averaging around 5 books a month since April. What books are on your Autumn TBR? Have you read any of these? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with another TTT, this time we’ll be talking Favourite Book Quotes, and to narrow it down a little, I’ll be going with my Favourite Book Quotes From Books I Read In 2020.

A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder (A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder #1)

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Book: A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder (A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder #1)

Author: Holly Jackson

BECHDEL TEST: PASS-Pip, Lauren and Cara have a conversation at the beginning of the book which doesn’t revolve around boys.

Content Warnings: Animal death, mentions of sexual assault, drug dealing, drink spiking, mentions of suicide, kidnapping and imprisonment, racism, mentions of revenge porn, student/teacher relationship, past parental death, past car accident, violence

This is one of those books that definitely feels like it’s been everywhere since it’s release, heck even before, I remember it being super hyped up at YALC back in 2018 where they were giving away the proofs with the end pages ripped out. It was sitting on my shelf for over a year and I was always a little nervous of reading it because of the hype (and the fact that YA thrillers have a tendency to underwhelm me) but thankfully, this one ended up being really good! It’s going to be a super difficult one to review without heading into spoilery territory, but I’ll do my best.

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

As I said before, I’ve had mixed luck with YA thrillers before, largely because I never seem to find them all that thrilling? I loved Dangerous Girls but ever since I read that one, I’ve not been able to find anything that surprised me as much! Thankfully, A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder was refreshing in terms of what I’ve come to expect from YA thrillers, it really surprised me, I didn’t work out who did it until right before the end and it was really well plotted and thought out. I had a suspect in mind from pretty early on and I was totally wrong!

The entire premise does require a little suspension of disbelief, given that if her supervisor had followed up with her AT ALL during the course of her project, she would have realised that she’d had contact with the families involved in the case (the conditions on which she was allowed to do the project strictly prohibited her from doing so) and her project would have been stopped. Also as someone who has had to do an ethics review for my Uni final project, I highly doubt that Pip’s topic would have made it through an ethics review given that it covers a fairly recent murder investigation. But then it wouldn’t be any fun if it was completely true to reality now would it?

I also want to note that as a journalist, Pip violates A LOT of ethical (and legal) boundaries in this book which is something I probably wouldn’t have noticed before my degree but after you’ve done a whole module on media law, it’s pretty difficult not to notice! Again, doesn’t really impact on the fun of the story, just something I wanted to note!

The use of multimedia throughout this book was really well done, I loved how she integrated Pip’s production logs and interviews, maps, diary pages, text messages, it really gave the story an extra layer and it was fun to follow all of Pip’s “workings out” along with the main body of the story.

I will however say that the switching between first and third person (first in Pip’s production logs and interviews, third in the main story) was a bit jarring and I would have preferred if Holly Jackson had kept to one kind of perspective throughout. Personally I felt the first person voice was stronger than the third person but then I do prefer first person narration anyway, so that might be my bias talking!

I enjoyed the main characters, I thought Ravi was really sweet and charming and funny. Pip was also a lot of fun, she’s smart and super determined and honestly I have no idea how she didn’t drop down of exhaustion because carrying out a murder investigation whilst getting all her schoolwork done seemed a near impossible task! She did frustrate me a lot at certain points in the book though, when she insisted on throwing herself into danger with no help!

The side characters could have done with a little more fleshing out though, I get it, there were a lot of characters, but it would have been nice if Pip’s friends and some of the murder suspects could have been fleshed out a little more.

I really enjoyed the platonic friendship between Ravi and Pip, it was so refreshing because it’s still annoyingly rare in YA books, so I’m not going to lie, I was a little miffed when it ended up turning romantic (sorry for the slight spoiler, but I need to rant about this) because their friendship was so lovely and NOT EVERY MALE/FEMALE PAIRING IN A BOOK NEEDS TO BE ROMANTIC. PLATONIC PARTNERS IN MURDER SOLVING IS GOOD TOO.

There were some discussions of prejudice and racism and how that played into the original murder investigation, I’m not really in a place to say how well this was done being a white woman (the author is also a white woman) so I’d recommend checking out reviews from POC, particularly Indian reviewers (Ravi is British-Indian) for their thoughts. As well as Ravi, Pip’s stepfather is Nigerian and her half-brother is biracial.

I liked that Pip actually had a present family in this, granted, she does keep them out of the loop in most of the stuff she does, but they are definitely around and there for her when she needs them.

The chapters were nice and short, and though it was a little slow to start (the opening chapters are mainly establishing Pip’s relationships/the murder suspects), once it got going it definitely didn’t let up!

I wanted to briefly bring up one scene that made me feel quite uncomfortable because I think it’s important to talk about: Pip is at a party (as part of the investigation) and she is interviewing a lead, who is super creepy towards her (honestly the whole time I was screaming at her to get out of the situation because it was so clearly off) and he ends up kissing her without her consent. The whole scene made me really uncomfortable and I don’t think it was really necessary to the book to have that happen to Pip.

Also unnecessary to the book? ANIMAL DEATH. NOPE. BIG NOPE. Honestly I very nearly did nope out at that point, because it’s just not something I can really deal with. I’m glad I did finish because it’s a good book, but just a pre-warning to other animal lovers out there.

I wasn’t a massive fan of the epilogue, it all felt kind of abrupt and unfinished and there were a few more loose ends than I would have liked, though I suppose there is a sequel, so hopefully some of those get resolved there!

Overall, this was a super fun, fast paced murder mystery and I’m looking forward to seeing what the author has in store for the next book!

My Rating: 4/5

My next review will be of my latest Netgalley read, Queen of Volts, the final book in the Shadow Game trilogy by Amanda Foody.

Top Ten Tuesday #281


Hi everyone! Thanks for the birthday wishes on my post last week, I had a lovely day out on Saturday, Kenilworth Castle was beautiful and thankfully it was a really nice day, if it had been raining, it would not have been the best choice!

Anyway, as it’s Tuesday, I have another Top Ten Tuesday for you courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week we have a Cover Freebie, so I’ve chosen to share my Favourite Book Covers of 2020. Here we go:

  1. 45044785

The Silvered Serpents-Roshani Chokshi

HOW GORGEOUS IS THIS COVER THOUGH? I thought The Gilded Wolves was pretty, but this one takes the cake! It comes out next week and I can’t wait to see how pretty it looks next to The Gilded Wolves.

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Where Dreams Descend-Janella Angeles

This cover definitely lives up to the Phantom of The Opera/Moulin Rouge comparison! The OwlCrate one is just as beautiful as well. My Waterstones order of this one still hasn’t arrived but I’m hoping it will soon.

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue-VE Schwab

VE Schwab always gets the most gorgeous covers and Addie is no exception (the US cover is beautiful as well). It’s my most anticipated read of the year and I’m starting on the Netgalley ARC once I’m done with Queen of Volts, I can’t wait!

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The Empire of Gold-SA Chakraborty

This series has brilliant covers as well, and I really love the deep purple colour of this one, almost makes me wish I had the hardcover edition (though I would never be able to fit it on my shelves).

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The Court of Miracles-Kester Grant

This cover is so beautiful, it really makes me wish I’d liked the book more! The naked cover is glorious as well. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy the story as much as I’d hoped but at least I can appreciate the beautiful cover.

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Queen of Volts-Amanda Foody

I used the US cover for this as I much prefer the deep purple to the green of the UK one, not that it much matters since I’m reading the Netgalley ARC anyway. I’m almost at the end of this one and though it was a slow starter, it’s building to a very exciting climax.

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The Forest of Ghosts and Bones-Lisa Lueddecke

I love how simple this cover is, the light green with the little illustrations, it’s really lovely! This one sounds really cool too, a fantasy based on Hungarian myths? Yes please!

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I think this one is beautifully done, especially the bird at the bottom of her face, I really love that part. The minimalist colours are gorgeous as well and I love how all the different blues blend together.

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Incendiary-Zoraida Cordova

The colours and patterns on this one are just glorious, I can’t wait to see what the UK cover looks like for the second book!

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House of Earth and Blood-Sarah J Maas

I used the tour edition for this one rather than the regular one because I feel like the regular one has a little bit too much going on (for me personally) and I prefer the more simplistic look of the tour edition.

So there we go, my favourite book covers from this year! How about you? What have been some of your favourite book covers of 2020? Let me know in the comments!

I will be back for another Top Ten Tuesday next week, it’s time for our annual Autumn TBR topic, and I always love doing the TBR topics so it should be a fun one.


Top Ten Tuesday #280


Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these. It’s my birthday on Saturday, and though obviously it’s going to be a little different than I expected this year, I still have a nice day planned with my family so hopefully it will be a fun day.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday and time for another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week we were meant to be talking Books For Our Younger Self but since that’s basically a duplicate of a topic we did in April, I’m instead taking an old topic from the archives and doing Side Characters That Should Have Their Own Books. It’s also my 280th topic this week! Cannot believe I’ve done so many! So here we go:

  1. Lourdes Alfero-The Shadow Game trilogy-Amanda Foody

It’s clear from the books that Lourdes has had some adventures in her life (particularly after some reveals in Queen of Volts which would be massive spoilers to share) so I definitely think a book about her in her younger years, pre-Enne, maybe just before the Revolution might be a really interesting read.

2. Vianca Augustine-The Shadow Game trilogy-Amanda Foody

Yes, okay, I know that’s two from the same series, but anyone who’s read these books, you can’t tell me you wouldn’t want to read a Vianca book? I’m sure there is plenty of material to be mined from Vianca’s life pre-series and would definitely be up for reading a prequel about her.

3. Hayden Upchurch-Unwind Dystology-Neal Shusterman

I’m not really sure what kind of book about Hayden I’d like, I don’t know if we really know enough about his life pre the series to do a prequel, but I’d quite like a story about his life post-series? We get a little glimpse in Unbound of what he and Grace were doing, but I’d definitely read more short stories, or even a full length novel if it was the right story about Hayden because he’s one of the most fun characters in the Unwind series.

4. Jane Warner-The Enigma Game-Elizabeth Wein

Jane definitely has more stories to tell from what we hear about her during the Enigma Game and I would love to read more about her life as a performer, what she did before the war, basically anything about her life before we meet her in The Enigma Game, I would probably read!

5. Legend-Caraval Trilogy-Stephanie Garber

I would love to know more about Legend pre the trilogy. I honestly don’t know what kind of story I would want to read about him, there’s so many different routes that this kind of prequel could go down: we could have a story about the very beginning of Caraval, Legend’s life pre being Legend, there are infinite avenues for exploration in Legend’s backstory to explore so I would definitely love to read a story where he is the star.

6. China Sorrows-Skulduggery Pleasant series-Derek Landy

China is one of those enigmatic, mysterious characters who you know has a very interesting past but we don’t really get all of it in the series, because she’s only a supporting character. I would definitely love if Derek Landy ever decided to do a spin-off story about China so we could find out more about her life pre-series (for someone who has never had much luck with prequels, I’m apparently very interested in learning about a lot of characters’ pre-series lives!).

7. Jaxon Hall-The Bone Season series-Samantha Shannon

Who doesn’t want a villain origin story? Jaxon has definitely got up to a lot in his life and a story with him at the centre, whether it was pre him becoming an Underlord, or maybe what he was doing whilst Paige was in Sheol I in the first book, would be very welcome!

8. Zuzana-Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy-Laini Taylor

I mean sure we have Night of Cake and Puppets, but I would love to have a full length story with Zuzana at the centre. I’m not really sure what shape I’d like it to take but I just know that any story with Zuzana as the main character would be super fun.

9. Dr Volumnia Gaul-The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes-Suzanne Collins

Yes, okay, Ballad wasn’t the greatest villain origin story ever, but I genuinely think that’s not because Snow’s origin story was a bad idea, more just that it wasn’t executed quite as well as I was hoping it would be. Still Dr Gaul was definitely an interesting villain and I would be intrigued to know more of her story.

10. Santi and Wolfe-The Great Library series-Rachel Caine

Honestly I’d be happy with a just a short story of these two being cute together? I mean I’m sure there are many interesting plots to be mined from their younger lives, how they got involved in the Library etc, but I would be very happy with a short story completely of Wolfe/Santi fluff.

So there we go, those are the Side Characters I Wish Had Their Own Books. Which side characters do you wish had their own stories? Do we share any? Let me know in the comments!

I will be back with another Top Ten Tuesday next week, we’ve been given free reign with a cover freebie, so I’m going to share my Top Ten Favourite Book Covers of 2020.

#RockMyTBR August Update (2020)

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all been doing well over the past month, wherever you are and whatever the restrictions are like in your country. Things are kind of semi-normal here which is nice, as it’s my birthday next weekend. Celebrations will obviously be pretty low key but I usually have pretty chill birthday plans anyway, I’m just happy that we’re not in full lockdown anymore and that I can actually go somewhere for my birthday!

For anyone who is new to the blog over the past month, the #RockMyTBR challenge is a challenge originated by Sarah K at The Book Traveler, which I’ve kind of adopted for myself over the past few years. The challenge is a relatively easy one, you just pick a list of backlist books from your TBR (so books not published in the same year that you’re reading them) and read them during the course of a year. I always pick 12, a book for each month, and then every month I post an update of all the books I’ve been reading. In August, I read 6 books, so slightly more than my average of five over the lockdown period, but I did have a few carry-overs from last month to finish. Here’s what I read:

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The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant:

One of my August Netgalley reads, though I did read a fair chunk of it in July. This ended up being a  massive disappointment, I was expecting a fantasy Les Mis and instead what I got was an alternate history Les Mis with some incredibly basic inaccuracies about the time period. It’s such a shame because I was really looking forward to this one. I read it from 19th June-10th August. Here is my review of it:


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The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin:

My August #RockMyTBR read. I was kind of worried about this one because I didn’t love her second book, Foul Is Fair when I read it back in February but I enjoyed her debut so much more! Basically it’s the wives of Henry VIII but in a high school setting, and it was super funny, super feminist and really challenges the expectations of what readers think they know about these historical queens. I read this one from 1st-11th August (which is pretty fast for me!). Here is my review of it:


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The Empire of Gold (Daevabad #3) by S.A. Chakraborty:

One of my audiobook reads for August, though again, I read a fair chunk of it in July. I was a little let down by this one to be honest, I enjoyed it but it took me far longer than I expected to get into it and I kind of felt it was a lot longer than it really needed to be. I loved the characters and the world though and I was relatively satisfied with the outcome of this trilogy. I read this one from 28th June-16th August (told you it was long!). Here is my review of it:



Not Even Bones (Market of Monsters #1) by Rebecca Schaeffer:

My other physical book for August, this one was chosen for me as my August Pick-It-For-Me by the Goodreads Book Club I’m in, the YA Addicted Book Club. I really enjoyed this one, a short, fast paced fantasy read, packed with morally grey characters was just what I needed after reading a lot of chunky books over July and August! I read this one from 12th-24th August. Here is my review of it:


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Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron:

My other Netgalley read for the month. I’m not usually a massive fan of Cinderella but I really enjoyed this retelling, I liked that it did something different with the fairytale and aimed to examine and smash patriarchal structures, even if it was sometimes in a quite heavy handed way. It was also awesome to see a Black, lesbian girl take centre stage in this story. I read this one from 10th August-24th August. Here is my review of it:


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Sightwitch (Witchlands #2.5) by Susan Dennard:

My other audio read for August. I really wasn’t a fan of this audiobook, yes, I suppose it was quite sweet to see how Kullen and Ryber met but I didn’t really feel I got anything out of this story and mostly found the narrative quite confusing. Honestly if I hadn’t been told I needed this to understand Bloodwitch, I probably wouldn’t have read it. I read this one from 17th August-2nd September. I decided not to do a review of it, it was pretty short and I don’t have much to say other than I didn’t like it.

So that’s what I read in August, here’s what I have coming up for September:

A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder-Holly Jackson

My current read, it’s the September Book of The Month for the YA Addicted Book Club, and was also one of the Pick It For Me suggestions I got last month. I’m really enjoying this one, it’s one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a while actually! I’m about halfway through, give or take which is pretty good considering I only started it last week.

Queen of Volts (The Shadow Game #3)-Amanda Foody

My Netgalley read for this month. It was a bit of a slow starter but the story’s really picked up now, thankfully! I’m not sure if I love this one quite as much as King yet, but there’s still a lot more to go so I’m imagining there’s a lot more action and twists to come.

Bloodwitch (The Witchlands #3)-Susan Dennard

My audiobook read for this month, I’m hoping that I enjoy this one a lot more than Sightwitch. It’s Aeduan’s book and I’ve always found him quite an interesting character, so I have high hopes for it.

Sherwood-Megan Spooner

My #RockMyTBR book for September, I’m really excited for this one as a Robin Hood retelling where Robin Hood is a woman is something I’ve been wanting to read for a while, so this book where Maid Marian takes up Robin Hood’s mantel seems right up my alley!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue-VE Schwab

I’m not expecting to finish Queen of Volts before the end of the month as it’s quite a long one (about 600 pages) but if I do, then this will be my next Netgalley read. This is possibly my most anticipated read of the year, so I’m really looking forward to finally getting stuck into it, either later this month or early next month.

I’ve gone for another ambitious TBR, but since I finished all the books on my TBR last month, I figured why not! How is everyone’s Goodreads Challenges going? I upped mine to 50 and I’m at 34 at the moment, so I’m pretty pleased, I think this year is going to be my best reading year yet (which is good because it’s certainly not going to be the best year for anything else!). Let me know in the comments how you guys are getting on!


Top Ten Tuesday #279


Hi everyone! I hope you had a good week since I last did one of these, mine was pretty quiet really.

Anyway, as it’s Tuesday, it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana At That Artsy Reader Girl. This week we’re talking Books That Made Me Hungry and honestly just rounding up this list made me want a lot of the food mentioned in these books!

  1. Heartless-Marissa Meyer

I challenge anyone who reads this book not to feel hungry while reading it. I mean Cat is always baking some new sweet treat that sounds completely delicious and I definitely came away from it with a craving for baked goods!

2. The Daevabad Trilogy-S.A. Chakraborty

So much amazing sounding food is mentioned in this book, I could feel my mouth watering at the mentions of some of the food Nahri was eating in Kingdom of Copper!

3. Percy Jackson and The Olympians-Rick Riordan

The blue chocolate chip cookies, the daily camp meals, ambrosia and nectar, bottomless drinks, it definitely seems like you will never go hungry at Camp Half-Blood! Also in the sequel series, Heroes of Olympus, at the Roman Camp, your plate will automatically fill with whatever food you want and this is a power I would like to have!

4. The Exact Opposite of Okay-Laura Steven

It’s impossible not get hungry reading this book because Izzy is constantly thinking about/talking about food (can relate). Whether it’s nachos or milkshakes or popcorn or burgers, there’s always some food related item on the page and I definitely remember feeling very hungry whilst reading.

5. Six of Crows-Leigh Bardugo

WAFFLES. Nina and her love of waffle is pretty infamous by now and I have to admit, I di get a craving for waffles on more than one occasion whilst I was reading this book.

6. Daughter of Smoke and Bone-Laini Taylor

Who didn’t wish that Poison Kitchen was a real place after reading this book? If it did exist I would definitely be there, enjoying the goulash at the coffin shaped tables! Also the number of pastries mentioned in the book…….

7. The Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins

I know it seems odd to include a book where a lot of it revolves around people not having enough food/starving during the games, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense because Katniss is always talking about food, whether it’s not having enough at it or drooling over all the lavish dishes in the Capitol.

8. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory-Roald Dahl

Honestly you’d probably have rotten teeth after a very brief time at Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, but I’d be lying if I said when I was a kid I didn’t want to try some of the weird and wonderful sweets that Roald Dahl described in his book.

9. The Crown’s Game-Evelyn Skye

LUDMILA’S BAKERY. What can I say, I’m a sucker for any kind of pastry or baked good and so many of the treats that Skye described Ludmila making sounded completely delicious.

10. The Lulu Baker Trilogy-Fiona Dunbar

This is kind of an old one that I read when I was a kid but it definitely fits the bill, the main character, Lulu Baker discovers this magical recipe book which helps her solve problems in her life.

So there we go, those are some books that have made me feel hungry over the years! Have you read any of these? What books make you hungry? Let me know in the comments!

I will be back with another Top Ten Tuesday next week, the topic is meant to be Books For My Younger Self, but I did a topic similar to that a couple of months back and I’ve already done childhood favourite books so instead I’m going to do a different topic, and talk about Side Characters I’d Like To See Get Their Own Book.

Jo Talks Books: Are Fantasy Books Getting Too Long?

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all doing well since I last did one of these, once again, I’ve struggled to come up with topics for these posts since lockdown so it’s taken till the end of the month for me to get it up. I’m hoping that coming up with ideas for these for the rest of the year will be easier but they just don’t seem to be coming as easily as they did last year.

Fantasy has always been a genre with “chunky” books, it’s not a new thing that a fantasy book could be upwards of 800-900 pages, especially for adult fantasy books which do tend to be longer than YA. However, I have been noticing over the last few years, that more and more books seem to be trending towards the longer side and far fewer “shorter” fantasy books can be found and I have to admit, it’s not a trend I love.

I can totally understand why fantasy as a genre tends towards the longer side than contemporary. There’s a lot of world building to get in there, when you’re having to explain an entirely new world to readers, it’s going to take a lot more pages than a book set in our world and as a fantasy reader (and a writer as well), I do appreciate the attention to detail that authors give their worlds and characters.

So why then, do I feel like fantasy books are getting too long? Is it me being a slower reader and getting frustrated by the time longer books now take me? I mean perhaps. But I do also feel like there has become this trend for fantasy books to be as long as authors can make them whether or not the story actually needs to be that long.

Often, a 600 odd page fantasy book will be a good 200-300 odd pages of set up and you’ll only really get the payoff in the last 200 odd pages. Time and time again, I find that the longer a fantasy book is, the more filler it tends to have before it actually gets to the good stuff. This tends to get worse the longer the book is, so if you have an 800 odd page book then you might have a good 300-400 pages before anything exciting really happens. It’s asking a lot of your readers to wade through that much buildup before actually getting to any of the real action of the book.

This is not always true of course, you can have longer fantasy books that are brilliantly paced: the final book in VE Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy, A Conjuring of Light, is over 600 pages and yet I flew through that book because she had the perfect balance of action and quieter moments and it never felt like I was wading through pages of filler to get to the good stuff, I was engaged from the beginning.

You can also have fantasy books that are on the shorter side (for me a short fantasy book is anything that’s under 500 pages) that feel much longer because the set up takes far too long: Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House is a prime example of that for me, it’s around 460 pages which is pretty average for a fantasy (and probably on the shorter side for an adult fantasy) but because the mystery takes so long unspool, it feels far longer than it is.

But by and large, longer fantasy books tend to follow the same pattern for me, and that is this: they always feel like they are a good 200 pages longer than they actually need to be. Sarah J Maas’ books are a really prime example of books that are long for the sake of being long rather than actually needing that space to tell the story. Take Queen of Shadows, which is probably the most egregious example of this: the protagonists in that story have two goals, which take them OVER 640 pages to complete. A good portion of that is taken up by irrelevant side plots which seem designed to just fill out the page count. Even Kingdom of Ash which can be more justified as having a longer page count as a final book in a series, definitely stretched plots over longer than they needed to be in order to pad out the book.

I had this same problem with the Daevabad trilogy this year. The Daevabad books, like many fantasy series, get longer with each instalment. However, in every single books, the build-up is stretched over far more chapters than it needed to be (in my opinion) and then the climax felt incredibly rushed because all of the exciting stuff happened at once.

I feel like there is a balance to be drawn with fantasy books to have them long enough to include all the complex world-building that needs to be there but also not so long that they feel dragged out. But there is something to be said about being able to include those details and still have a fast paced, exciting read. I know I’ve already talked about the Shades of Magic books in this post, but A Darker Shade of Magic is a brilliant example of a book that both does detailed world-building but isn’t a massive behemoth of a book, in fact, it’s less than 400 pages!

There’s this weird assumption that in fantasy, length means that a book is super detailed and has massively complicated world-building that needed 10 million pages to make sense. I mean for one thing, I would argue that if you need that much space just to explain your world to a reader then perhaps you’re making things more complicated than they need to be but also that I don’t think length has any implication on how detailed an author’s world-building is? Sure, Samantha Shannon’s Priory of The Orange Tree is both a mountain of a book and has super detailed world building. And yes, it did need to be a large book, she had four narrators and quite a large world to contend with.

But I’ve read other books with complex worlds and large casts of characters that aren’t anywhere near as long: take The Gilded Wolves as a recent example, it has five narrators (four main, Hypnos is only really the last chapter) and it has a relatively complicated world. Now I will say that I did think the world building could have been better explained and I did find it a little slow in places, but I never felt like Chokshi had dragged out the story, it definitely felt like she knew how long the story needed to be and even when things weren’t moving as fast as I’d have liked, it never felt like filler.

I do realise the incredible irony of me writing a super long post about how I think fantasy books are too long, especially when I have a tendency to be quite a rambling writer in the first place! But I think one of the benefits of coming from a journalism background is that we always have to tell a story in the most concise way possible, so if anything doesn’t serve the article, if any detail feels extraneous, it gets cut. I do feel like that’s something that can be missing from fantasy books nowadays, both adult and YA, in what sometimes seems to me at least the race to create the largest books possible. As a reader, I want to get to the good stuff. I don’t want to have to wade through 200 pages of set up before I get to it, ideally, I want to be hooked from the moment I open the book.

This was not intended to be a tirade against long books, I swear! I have loved many a book that’s been 600 pages or over, in fact some of my favourites are. If I’m going to commit to a book that long though, I want to know that the length is justified. I want to know that I’m going to feel excited and engaged all the way through. I don’t want to have to wade through 200 pages till I get to the good stuff. If your good stuff starts on page 200, then for the love of everything, just START THERE. I want to feel that every page in a book serves a purpose, that if it wasn’t there the story wouldn’t work. What this really long ramble comes down to is: I feel like in the trend toward longer and longer fantasy books has in some cases been a disservice towards storytelling because it feels from a reader perspective that length is more important than anything else.

What do you think? Are you a fan of longer books? Do you think there has been a trend towards fantasy books being too long? Let me know in the comments!

Surprise, surprise, I’m not sure what my next Jo Talks post will be about, I do have a list of ideas, but I’m going to wait and see what jumps out at me closer to the time! In the meantime, I will have my latest Top Ten Tuesday post up tomorrow.

Book Vs Movie: Divergent

Hi everyone! Sorry that I missed the post for this last month, I basically had to squeeze in too many posts at the end of July and didn’t have time to do this one! Anyway, this month I’m talking about the Divergent book and film.

Divergent (Divergent, Book 1): 1/3: Amazon.co.uk: Roth, Veronica:  9780007420421: Books

Book Thoughts:

I read Divergent about six years ago, it was one of the earliest books I reviewed for this blog actually! I enjoyed it, though I did find the plot somewhat lacking and I wasn’t thrilled by the world-building. To be honest, it was one of the first dystopians I read after The Hunger Games and I reckon that was always in the back of my mind when I was reading, which probably isn’t really fair, but oh well!

Movie Thoughts:

Divergent (Divergent, Book 1): Amazon.co.uk: Roth, Veronica: Books

It’s been a long time since I saw this, I think I went to see it not that long after I’d read the book, but I’m not sure, it definitely came out the same year I read the book though! On the whole, I enjoyed it, though I haven’t watched it in a while! It is super weird that they decided to make Four much older though and yet as far as I’m aware Tris is still meant to be 16? The age dynamic make things a little uncomfortable especially when in the book they’re only two years apart (which could easily have been solved by casting a younger actor to play Four, or by ageing Tris up because the actress is clearly not a teenager either!).

Movie or book judgement:

Difficult to say here as neither the book or the film was a favourite, but I think I’d say the book just edges it here.

That’s it for this month’s Book Vs Movie, I’ll be back with another one next month, talking about A Series Of Unfortunate Events and its screen adaptations (because yes, there are two!).