The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember – Gender Fluidity Rep Let Down by Poor Plot

I have a lot to say about this book. Thank you to netgalley and Xpresso Book Tours for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Please be aware that there is misgendering in this book and there is violence.

Tashi has to escape the capital as their life is in danger. They’re an inhabitor, which means they have a really close connection with an animal, to the point where they can inhabit the animals body. However when they go to a monastery it is quickly taken over by enemy forces and they decide to spy.

The world building was really good in the sense it had a really good religious system, which a lot of books skip over. The inhabitor part of this book was an interesting idea but the way it was written just didn’t read very well. I found it hard to distinguish between what was going on with Tashi and what was going on with the tiger.

Xian read really weirdly, he was complex but was just too complex. He didn’t know whether he was coming or going and it was just really annoying. Sometimes he came off really nice and then other times he was an absolute jerk, and I just can’t get behind him. It made it hard for me to read the scenes between him and Tashi.

Tashi is supposed to be in love with Pharo, who they ran away to the monastery with but it literally did not read like that at all. They never saw him or checked on him. And I get that it’s hard for them because they’re trying to be covert, but it barely felt like they liked him to be honest. It just felt completely underdeveloped.

Look, I think this book is super important because it has a gender fluid main character, but the plot could use a lot of work. I think this could be really good for people who are gender fluid, though I can’t speak for the representation, and I couldn’t find reviews from anyone who is gender fluid, but if you have read it and are gender fluid hmu and I’ll link to your review. C.W. also posted a review of this book and raised some issues about the Chinese coding of some of the characters so I would recommend checking that out.

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The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan – Everything’s Kicking Off

Annabeth has gone missing and it’s all kicking off. Percy and the newly awoken Thalia need to go find her with some new friends added to the mix.

I liked the change up in this novel of it not being set in the summer, it made it less repetitive. I don’t mind when novels are over the same period just a year later every time but sometimes it can get annoying.

I really enjoyed getting to know a few other demi-gods. For example we meet Thalia, Zoe and Nico who all were really well developed characters.

My one complaint with this book and generally with the PJ books as a whole up to this one is that I sometimes feel like things happen very quickly. The novels are quite short and they are made for 10-12 year olds so it’s totally fine for them to be like that. But sometimes I just wish things would last a little longer. Like some big dramatic scenes or fighting scenes are over pretty quickly, and whilst the threads are all tiedI just want more.

Overall I’m pretty happy with where this book went and I could feel the tone changing between this and the first couple. You can feel like this is the novel where you know it’s going to go pear shaped soon. Kind of like how I felt with the third Harry Potter. There was a slight change to the overall tone and I put this down and was excited to see what was going to happen next.

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Like Water by Rebecca Podos

Thank you to edelweiss and Harper Collins for sending a me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Vanni had always planned to leave her small home town that everyone else gets stuck in, but then her dad get’s diagnosed with Huntington’s, which can be passed to the next generation. So her fear of also being diagnosed stalls her in her plans so she spends her summer working at a water park and flirting around with different people.

So I really liked the exploration of being bisexual in teenagers and whilst the MC does eventually identify as being bi, I really liked that for a while there is a lot of talk of fluidity and a lot of it just kind of happens. Which felt really realistic to me, because it is such a complicated thing to go through. And I liked that it was in a majorly hispanic community as I feel like the majority of novels I’ve read with a bi MC have been very white and it was refreshing to read from another point of view.

As well as there being bisexual representation there is also a character who struggles with their gender identity, and as I am cis myself I didn’t really pick up on it properly until the end, but I think people who themselves have struggled with it would pick up on it much earlier. When I realised it was very much like “oh yeah of course”. I tried to hunt to see if any genderqueer people had reviewed it on goodreads but came up blank, and obviously I’m not going to ask people what they identify as for sake of a review. But yeah I’m cis so I can’t say if the rep is good but it felt good.

As with the genderqueer rep, I don’t have Huntington’s so I couldn’t tell you if it deals with that well but I really appreciated that it was part of the novel. It’s not a well talked about disease and it’s not as famous as things like MS.

I think the one thing that made this read not a favourite was just that I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likeable. And when I say that I don’t mean like they were all awful people and I hated reading them. They’re well developed characters and have their own driving forces. I just got annoyed with them a lot, but hey teenagers can be pretty annoying so they definitely felt realistic.

I think if you’re looking for a diverse summer contemporary with a wide range of issues this is the book for you.

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Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson & Robin Wasserman

On the whole I really liked this anthology of Simon at Shadowhunter Academy stories, spoilers if you didn’t know Simon is a shadowhunter. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about other people writing CC’s characters along with her but I think in this context it really works because it’s a different point of view to her other books and often there were little historical stories within each story that explained some lore.

The two stand outs were The Whitechapel Fiend and Born to Endless Night. I think because it mixed the stories of other characters that I knew in with Simon’s experiences. The Whitechapel Fiend really got me going because it was a little snippet into Will, Jem and Tessa’s lives after the events of Clockwork Princess and I’m always wanting more about those characters because I really fell in love with them. And Born to Endless Night is all about Magnus and Alec and it was so darn sweet that I just couldn’t deal with it.

Some of the stories were a little on the weirder side, like The Evil We Love which was about Robert Lightwood and reading the parts about him I felt very meh but it was intermingled with stuff that was going on with Simon and Izzy.

There were some pretty sad stories but it helped me understand a lot more of the politics in the world. And though I haven’t read it I’m aware that Lady Midnight deals with a lot of the political stuff so I feel like I’ve made the right decision by reading this first to prepare me.

This book also introduced a few new characters, one of the most memorable with George Lovelace. He was so loveable. He’s Scottish and I enjoyed reading him, which I don’t say often as a lot of authors really screw up Scottish characters, but he worked. He made me laugh a lot and he did actually feel Scottish. I commonly find reading characters who are supposedly Scottish just feel like the author has just thrown that in as a quirk and they don’t have traits that as a nation of people we have.

Though this is an anthology the main story of it is linear and so I’m just going to say that the end had me so upset I could see it coming but I was in denial and I don’t think I’ll forgive CC for it.

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Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Thank you to netgalley and Hodder and Stoughton for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This was also the fairyloot book for May so I was inundated with copies, but I’m not complaining. The cover for the UK paperback has just been revealed as well and I kind of need it to be honest.

After Mariko is attacked in the forest on her way to meet her future husband she assumes a disguise of a male to find out who wants her dead and why and takes up living in the forest with a band of thieves.

This was probably one of my most anticipated books of the year and whilst it wasn’t a favourite it was really good. I really liked the main characters and the world building. It felt really cohesive and Ahdieh had put a lot of thought into the world. I find this applaudable in authors when they write very different fantasy world’s but have such good world building, as I’m aware Ahdieh’s other series is more Middle Eastern in inspiration and this is East Asian/mainly Japanese inspired. The magical parts really intrigued me as we don’t get to see much of it in this novel but there is definite murmurs of it and a bit of build up.

There was some mix up with the PR with this book where some people thought it was a Mulan retelling, which it isn’t, it has some inspiration taken from Mulan and there were definitely a couple parts that I picked up on this and really enjoyed when I realised. Like the scene in Mulan where she’s bathing and the guys all come along, that makes somewhat of an appearance.

There was a lot of Japanese terms in this book but Ahdieh presented then well enough that I rarely found myself going to the glossary because her writing gave enough context for the reader to understand exactly what she meant.

At times the book did feel a little bit slow, but it wasn’t hard to read. The pacing varied a bit so some parts I flew through and some parts were a bit heavier. Now I don’t have a problem with this but I just wanted to note it.

I cannot wait for the next book because I have no idea what’s going to happen but I know there’s gonna be some wild magic stuff in it.

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The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Thank you to netgalley and Penguin Random House Children’s for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Flora Banks has no short term memory and her parents have had to leave the country to look after Flora’s dying brother. However Flora has one recent memory, and that’s of kissing Drake. So she leaves England and goes to Norway to find Drake at his uni on a tiny island in hopes that it will help return her memory.

Ugh this book. Every problematic trope you can think of to do with mental health is in it. And most trigger warnings to do with mental health you can think of are also needed. This was one of those books I somehow ended up hate reading about halfway through and I had to know the ending so kept reading it despite not liking it.

Most of the characters were just terrible people. The main love interest refused to own up to the mess he made. The best friend got so mad that she just left her best friend to fend for herself even though said best friend had a literal memory problem. And do not get me started on her parents. Her parents literally left her alone when they left the country to care for their other child, despite the fact Flora has short term memory loss and mental health problems. Which in my mind is just terrible behaviour from parents.

Even the end was such a disappointment that I wish I hadn’t read that far. Yes the writing definitely hooked me in but in the bad way. I knew what was going to happen but I just wanted to keep reading in hopes that I was wrong, but I wasn’t. The writing style is really different, it’s really repetitive but that’s because it’s told from Flora’s POV so whenever her memory reset itself she had to read notes to herself to remind her of what she was doing. I wouldn’t have had an issue with this because I understand it’s plot purpose but it was so focussed on Drake that I just rolled my eyes every time.

Another thing I really didn’t like was that this book kind of gave off the idea that pills are bad. That they turn you into a different person if you take pills for mental health reasons. I’m not sure if that’s what Barr intended but that’s what it read like to me. And I’m on anti depressants so I really hate reading that kind of thing.

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The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

This is one of the most fun books I’ve read all year. Thank you to netgalley and Abrams Kids for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Genie is focussing on getting into college until the new kid in school, Quentin, starts telling her all these wild tales about how she’s actually a powerful mythological entity. Of course Genie is very hesitant to believe him, but soon demons start popping up and she’s pretty much forced to realise Quentin isn’t lying.

The thing that really stood out about this book was how unapologetic it was about its Chinese influence. It’s entirely based on Chinese mythology so I think it’s the kind of book Chinese readers have been waiting for for a long time. But it never feels inaccessible, not that there’s anything wrong with books that are because some books are written specifically for people of a certain grouping to read and not for everyone and that’s ok, as a white reader who doesn’t really know much about Chinese mythology this was so easy to read. It was understandable and funny and explained background really well without feeling like as a reader I was being taught.

Genie is such a bomb character. She kicks butts of these hugely powerful demons between going to class and preparing for college.

Yes this book is a bit sill but that’s the whole point. It never takes itself too seriously, I mean how serious can you get with kids fighting demons in their school uniforms. In that respect it reminded me a whole lot of Sailor Moon.

I loved that this was set in the Bay Area because it made some of the more ridiculous moments of the novel even funnier. You have the image of these school kids beating up huge demons all with this metropolitan American city by the sea as the backdrop.

If you haven’t added this book to your TBR please do so because it’s one of the better books I’ve read this year.

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September Wrap Up | Announcement

Hey guys, how has your September been? Mine has been pretty stressful and annoying due to uni but hey ho. Based on that I’m going to announce that I’m not going to do Wednesday posts unless I get tagged or I have something I desperately need to talk about. I feel pretty stressed trying to keep up with reviews with everything going on so I’d rather focus on them as that’s kind of the point of my blog. One day I’ll finally post the rest of my holiday posts.

I went to a signing for Lindsey Kelk at the beginning of the month and she was so nice! Then I went to see Mayday Parade play their first album in full which is one of my favourite albums ever. And then I went to my second ever NFL game where I saw the Ravens play the Jaguars and it was a disaster on the Ravens front but I still got to finally see my team play after like 6 years.

I start placement on Monday, which means I go to a school and start to do the whole teaching thing in a practical sense. I won’t be teaching classes until November but I’m still pretty nervous about it.

Books I read this month:

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Bernard
Meet Cute anthology
Saga Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Truth or Dare by Non Pratt
I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Saga Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Invictus by Ryan Graudin
Team Phison by Chace Verity
Prom Queen Perfect by Clarisse David
Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans
Peter Darling by Austin Chant
I Heart Hollywood by Lindsey Kelk

Books I reviewed this month:

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Cyberlove Series by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
Rebekah Weatherspoon Round Up
Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Cheer by Mia Archer
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by MacKenzi Lee
Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Cyclone series by Courtney Milan

Books I bought this month:

The Last Piece of my Heart by Paige Toon
A Girl’s Best Friend by Lindsey Kelk
I Heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk
Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Royce Rolls by Margaret Stohl
The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee
99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan
Team Phison by Chace Verity
Transformed: San Francisco by Suzanne Falter and Jack Harvey
Late Call by Emma Hart
Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
Replica by Lauren Oliver
Linemates by Van Barrett
Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Kasie West and was really excited to read a book by her.

Caymen works in her mothers doll shop and they are struggling pretty hard with money. In walks Xander who Caymen instantly knows is rich and she wants nothing to do with him. But Xander just wants to get to know Caymen.

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t hugely into this book. It felt very white. Like the characters had such white troubles. Which sounds like a weird complaint but all the problems just felt so over complicated and pointless. It was pretty predictable as well.

I did however like Xander, the love interest. He was a sweetie and it often felt like Caymen was being horrible to him just because he’s rich and like he can’t help that. I also enjoyed that a lot of the novel was set in the doll shop that Caymen’s mum owned. Though it did make the book slightly creepier than it needed to be.

The pacing was really good, I sped through the book. Apart from the problems I had with it I did enjoy reading it. I just wanted more from it.

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Cyclone series by Courtney Milan

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Trade Me

So this has fake relationship in it and talks about what it is to be privileged. It also discusses addiction, eating disorders and stress.

Our MC is a Chinese American girl with a background of human rights issues in China as her parents fleed China to get way from incarceration which is true for many Chinese people who immigrated to America and the like. She deals with a lot of poverty and I really loved reading that because hey it’s good to read that in novels its good not to have the perfect life for the MC, obviously it’s not good that the character is in that position but it’s life. She made most of her decisions based on her background and the poverty she was in.

A character in this novel deals with a restrictive eating disorder and as I was super close to developing one a few years ago this was really important to me to read as it’s one of the lesser known EDs. But of course I’m going to say that if you have an ED trigger be careful with this book.

 

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Hold Me

First things first, this book has a trans girl MC, which is few and far between in any genre, especially in romance. As well as that it has the hate to love trope which I always adore.

Now I can’t say whether it was accurate trans rep and I tried to see if I could find some reviews by the trans reviewing community but couldn’t find any, if you have written one or aware of any please let me know!

He’s Chinese Thai with a buddhist parent and Muslim parent and he’s bi and that isn’t glossed over he talks about past affairs with both men and women. She’s latinx and into science which you know I love my STEM girls as one myself.

Some people didn’t like how childish the main characters were with each other in the beginning but I loved it and found it hilarious. And if you’re really up for some diverse romance I recommend both novels in this series. You don’t need to read Trade Me first if you’re more interested in this one but it sets the scene.

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