Star Touched Stories (Roshani Chokshi)

I DNFed this collection of three stories in the Star Touched Series.

 

There’s Death and Night – a prequel to The Star Touched Queen. I liked this one. I liked the romance line that we didn’t get much of in The Star Touched Queen. The writing is magical for sure.

I stopped halfway in the next short story, Poison and Gold. A sequel to A Crown of Wishes. I did not like the protagonist. Gauri just seemed very whiny. And I liked the writing but too much magical prose writing wore me down a little.

I didn’t start on Rose and Sword. I am not sure at which point this story is set in.

I 10/10 recommend Death And Night though.

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Mackenzi Lee)

I have been doubting this book for more than a year now and I feel like an idiot. This book is amazing.

I’ve been hearing amazing reviews for this for like a year now. But I’ve never been interested in fiction set in historical periods. And everyone was saying how this was a road trip and there were pirates and I was just not having it. Then I started watching Reign on Netflix. Although I have since stopped, since the death of Francis, I actually liked Reign. And I decided to pick up this book even though I was still a little apprehensive. Like what do you mean road trips? What do you mean pirates? I’ve never really read any road trip type of novels but somehow I’ve always thought I won’t like it. I won’t say this book changed my thoughts on that but this book is in it’s own league.

Plot’s about this fellow, Monty, who’s just been expelled from his prestigious school and his father has decided to send him on a Grand Tour across Europe under the guide of Mr Lockwood so that Monty can establish connections and learn out of his ‘terrible’ attributes and get some sense. Felicity (Monty’s sis) and Percy (Monty’s best friend and crush) will be joining Monty and Mr Lockwood mainly because Felicity needs to be dropped off at a school and Percy needs to be dropped off at college.

But none of that shit happens once the tour starts.

Nothing goes as planned. And there are pirates. The best part? It really is a Grand Adventure.

I loved Monty’s voice from the very first page. Monty is an insufferable hilarious jackass and I’m here for him. Felicity is such a headstrong, all-round fantastic character. Their bro x sis relationship was great to witness. Percy is such an empathetic bear that you just can’t help but adore. Monty and Percy share such a beautiful relationship – one that’s wrought with arguments but also with love.

There are so many important topics being discussed seamlessly in this book with a lot of heart. Bisexuality, feminism, misogyny, patriarchy, racism, abuse, PTSD, ignorance, disability. This book tackles all of them with a sense of reality and also with kindness.

Can’t wait for The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy!!

So let’s look at Goodreads reviews.

Issues:

  • People don’t like Monty. HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH. Well. He’s a privileged douchebag for sure and might even be ignorant on some issues. He’s selfish at times but what I like is that he gets called out on his shit. He doesn’t deny his douchy tendencies nor does he make excuses for it. And he doesn’t mean to hurt anyone either. Of course not meaning to hurt but ending up hurting someone is still terrible and needs to be addressed and it is. Monty learns from Percy and Felicity. I like his light-hearted view of life no matter what he’s been through – given what he’s been through. There were many times in the book that my heart really felt for him. In his one-sided crush thoughts, in his recognitions of his own douchiness, in his moments of PTSD when he tries so hard to completely not think about everything that’s gone wrong. Monty!!! (But in all honesty, I probs won’t hang out with him. But he’s still hilarious to read.)
  • The plot. It gets a little woah-what-where-are-you-taking-this? There was one part which I thought got dragged. Spoiler Alert: Monty steals something in the book. When you get there, you already know it’s going to be an important plot device even though Monty doesn’t know it yet. When Monty (Felicity and Percy) goes to return it to it’s owner, the owners ask them to stay over in their house. The owners are definitely hiding something and the trio want something from the owners too (at least Monty does). But all of them just live in peace for the next week or two when I’m just wondering when is shit going to go down? But there were other important issues being raised during this period of calm. So that’s good. The pirates were a welcome inclusion. I actually liked the way the plot progressed. A little extra at times but trust me, MONTY IS SO EXTRA HE DESERVES THIS PLOT. HAHAHA.
  • Trope. There is a trope I dislike being used in this book. The trope of misunderstandings due to miscommunication or the lack of it between Monty and Percy. But it was bearable because of Monty. We get into his thought process and given his character, I understand his apprehension to clear the air and his way of dealing with things. So it’s all good. I loved reading about his thoughts on his one-sided crush thoughts. Other tropes: (spoiler alert) the having stolen something and being pursued for it. And how it now becomes something important to Monty. Kept the plot going, I think it’s okay. The ending to the stolen object plot line with what happens to their pursuer and how they escape – won’t really blow your mind but it works. It’s just Monty. Monty makes this book work for me.
  • Does the book really get into the issues it’s trying to tackle? There are no right and wrong being addressed in this book. It’s really a book about experiences of different people – bisexuals, women who want more equality, people experiencing discrimination. The book does not claim to say that you are wrong for your ‘misogynistic/racist/discriminatory’ views but I think it does fairly display that these views feel wrong. And at the end of the day, Monty, Felicity and Percy are just youngsters who are trying to find their own principles based on what they know to be right and wrong vs what they feel to be right and wrong.

I say read this book. It’s a light-hearted read that deals with heavy topics in a light-hearted way.

"Under my watch," Lockwood says, "there will be no gambling, limited tobacco and absolutely no cigars."

Well, this is turning a bit not good.

 

You (Caroline Kepnes)

Ohmy.

In a nutshell in this story, we’re in the mind of Joe, a deranged stalker, who is stalking Beck. It’s written in first person but when he addresses Beck, he uses ‘you’. So this book is talking to the reader.

Joe works at a bookshop and the story starts with Beck coming into the store to buy a book. And once he sets his eyes on her, ride begins.

See I expected Joe to be deranged but what I didn’t expect was seeing how deranged everyone else was. Everyone in this book is some kind of messed up.

Let’s start with Joe doe. I swear if we didn’t have his point of view and we only had his interactions with Beck, Joe would seem so charming. Beck never really saw what was coming.

But…

Beck is her own kind of unstable. She’s such a toxic and ridiculous human. At some point, I actually felt bad for Joe, like, why do you like Beck? But of course, it is not easy to forget Joe’s capacity to do harm.

Then we have Beck’s boyfriend and friends. God. They’re all trash. But still, not a good enough reason for anyone to die.

Anyway, this book gets it’s creep on from the very second sentence where he says he doesn’t think ‘you’ – Beck – is wearing a bra. Like. You’re coming on too strong book. Hahahaha. But yea, the creeps start really fast. And he takes it really far really fast too. Following her, breaking into her apartment, stealing her handphone. Shit he just kept intensifying. From the very get-go he had no intention of just sticking to voyeurism, he wanted to be together with her.

Shit’s going shitty and then he starts to truly believe Benji (Beck’s boyfriend) is a hindrance and decides to get rid of him. I was wondering if he’d kill him or not and I mean it’s not really a surprise what he does.

So scary. People are so scary.

The second-person usage, didn’t really unsettle me. Because I know he’s talking about Beck. It’s really the first person point of view. The fact that you’re in his head is what’s yikes. And you just watch him engage in deranged activities and have deranged thoughts. He seems so human and normal at times.

But he’s also so fcuking violent and mental at the same time.

But he doesn’t see it, you know? He doesn’t see his violent tendencies and his shady voyeuristic behaviour as unacceptable. He’s breaking the law, he’s lying to police officers but he doesn’t see any wrong in it. He’s so mission-oriented and that mission is Beck.

You watch him devolve a little when he thinks he’s losing Beck, but that’s because he blames himself. And then when he thinks he’s losing Beck but thinks it’s her fault… shit.

I’d recommend this book if you’re looking for

multiple deranged stories and characters in one book.

MAJOR SPOILERS ALERT

 

Anyway when Joe decides to mess with Benji, the topic of a girl called Candace props up and how her brother was a hindrance too. This happens even before the halfway mark I believe.

And so when we learn what happened to Candace, the ending of the story is already set. This SOB has done this whole shit to another person before. He’s had practice and he got away.

I hope there’s a sequel to this where we have Joe with someone that’s matched to his abilities, smarter and more stable than him. But then again, Joe is smart enough to know not to go for anyone more stable than him.

 

City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) (Victoria Schwab)

This was an all-nighter read but because the book is quite short at 285 pages it took me around three to five hours. That’s a wide range because I was doing a lot of other things within that time.

Anyway let’s get to it.

This is a Middle Grade book. And I don’t really like/read Middle Grade but it’s Victoria Schwab!!! It started off alright. I liked Cassidy, I liked Jacob. I actually liked all the characters.

We have Cassy who can see ghosts after she almost lost her life and her best friend, Jacob, who saved her life. She can move between our world and the world of the dead but she must be careful not to get stuck in their world. Not that she enjoys going into the world of the dead, but she just has a fascination with that world. Her parents are paranormal investigators who don’t really know much about the extent of her abilities. So the story starts proper when her parents decide to go to one of the most haunted locations for their TV show….. and she gets stuck but that’s just the beginning of the terrible things about to come.

But I have an issue with this book. The stakes aren’t high. Because there’s a build-up to the worse that can happen. And then it happens, but in the very next page, the characters know the solution so they move towards achieving that solution.

But this issue doesn’t bother me that much either because… it keeps the book short and not redundantly draggy. But I would’ve loved to see the characters struggling to find a solution.

I thought the horror element was well written. It’s all middle grade and then all of a sudden it gives ‘oh… probably shouldn’t be reading this at night’ kinda vibes with the intro of the main spirit. But all good, not over the top scary.

I thought it captured parent-child relationship quite well too. I liked that aspect of the book – what Cassy thinks of her parents, of her life.

[I forgot to add: I actually like the light humour of the characters in this book. Jacob’s sarcasm is appreciated.]

As usual, Victoria Schwab’s writing style is easy to follow.

I think it set up for the second book well. We know who’s going to be the main villain in the next one. I’m looking at you Jacob.

Other issues on Goodreads reviews:

Too much explanation – The difference in the terms used in British English and American English for the same things are very blatantly explained in the book. For eg. Chips Vs Fries VS Crisps Vs biscuits(?). I think it’s fine to me. The character is finding things out for herself so it’s okay.

Took a while to get into the story – Yes. Yes. It did. The main villain spirit appears at Pg 85 and then slips out of focus until pg 200+/-. Other activities happen in between but somehow not as life-threatening. Like the set-up to each problem is good but it gets solved fairly easily. Not that it doesn’t work, it just feels less. Okay but less than what I would like. And we also have other characters being introduced and it’s fine.

The Harry Potter references – oh were there a lot. Usually I don’t like books that reference other books because what if I never read those books? Harry Potter is a world I know of and I will let it slide because the narrator of this book is Cassy herself and being a kid, I get that she’d reference her favourite thing when describing architecture. It’s fine.

Not enough depth? – Plot wise, yea. I guess it could have gone a lot more deeper and darker but that would mean longer and I think it’s good to have a short book for Middle Grade novels.

 

Read. If you like Middle Grade. Or if you’re looking for an easy-to-get-through short book.