ARC Review: Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) by Lev Rosen

Title: Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts)
Author: Lev A C Rosen
Publication Date: February 7th 2019
Publisher: Penguin
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Penguin India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: My first time getting it in the butt was kind of weird. I think it's going to be weird for everyone's first time, though.
Meet Jack Rothman. He's seventeen and loves partying, makeup and boys - sometimes all at the same time. His sex life makes him the hot topic for the high school gossip machine. But who cares? Like Jack always says, 'it could be worse'.
He doesn't actually expect that to come true.
But after Jack starts writing an online sex advice column, the mysterious love letters he's been getting take a turn for the creepy. Jack's secret admirer knows everything: where he's hanging out, who he's sleeping with, who his mum is dating. They claim they love Jack, but not his unashamedly queer lifestyle. They need him to curb his sexuality, or they'll force him.
As the pressure mounts, Jack must unmask his stalker before their obsession becomes genuinely dangerous...
I’ve had Jack on my TBR pile for a while now. It sounded like a much-needed queer book and I knew that I would enjoy this one right from the first page.

Here’s the thing - Jack of Hearts is a unique novel for me because I ABSOLUTELY LOVED the characters, (especially Jack, Ben, Jenna and Jack’s mom) their voices, Jack’s column and everybody’s fiercely inclusive and open attitudes but I HATED the mystery element to the book.

I could not stress the importance of reading this book enough to ALL TEENAGERS or anyone who is discovering sex and has questions, has questions about certain sexual practices and how to have an open, enjoyable sex life BUT OH GOD I HATED THE MYSTERY.

I hated ‘Pinky,’ and how Jack gave in to the blackmail and I HATED the conclusion to it all because WHY? WHAT WAS THE POINT? WHY? WHY? WHY? It was probably the MOST CONFUSING AND DISSATISFYING ENDING I’VE EVER REACHED IN A MYSTERY (not that I enjoyed finding out whodunnit process much either.)


I’ve spoken to a lot of people who said they loved this purely because they like character-driven stories. I prefer stories that are an equal combination of plot and character, and usually, love or hate them both together. In think case, I LOVED THE CHARACTERS but HATED the mystery element of the plot. In fact, I finished this book DAYS ago and I still can’t understand THE POINT OF HAVING ALL THAT IN THE BOOK AT ALL. It was not fleshed out properly, I didn’t understand the person’s motivations at the end, I didn’t understand why Jack didn’t just TELL PEOPLE when the blackmail got bad and OH GOD WHY?

I would have honestly given this book 10/5 stars if the mystery wasn’t there, but when I think about Jack of Hearts and other parts, it’s all I can see now.

THIS BOOK HAD THE POTENTIAL TO BE EXCELLENT, BUT FAILED AT THE MYSTERY AND MADE IT ALL MEDIOCRE.

To sum up:
-          BRILLIANT CHARACTERS
-          MUST READ FOR ALL TEENAGERS
-          I LOVE JACK
-          AND HIS MOM, JENNA AND BEN
-          I LOVE THE COLUMN
-          I HATE THE MYSTERY. BE WARNED. IT IS TERRIBLE, ESPECIALLY THE ENDING.


Lev A.C. Rosen
LEV AC ROSEN is the author of books for all ages. Two for adults: All Men of Genius (Amazon Best of the Month, Audie Award Finalist) and Depth (Amazon Best of the Year, Shamus Award Finalist, Kirkus Best Science Fiction for April). Two middle-grade books: Woundabout (illustrated by his brother, Ellis Rosen), and The Memory Wall. His first Young Adult Novel, Jack of Hearts (and other parts) is forthcoming in 2018. His books have been sold around the world and translated into different languages as well as being featured on many best of the year lists, and nominated for awards. 
What are some of the best contemporary novels you've read?
Have you read Jack of Hearts (And other parts?) What did you think of it?
 

A Wicked Ending // REVIEW: The Wicked King by Holly Black

Title: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2)
Author: Holly Black
Publication Date: January 8th, 2019
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 2/3 of the Folk of the Air Trilogy
I Got A Copy Through: HarperCollins India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: "You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
The first lesson is to make yourself strong."

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world

I AM IN SHOCK. HOLY CRAP. 

I have been attempting to write my review for The Wicked King for the last WEEK (well, in the middle of other work) trying to capture my shock, amazement, heart-break and overall awe of this series, and I have been failing spectacularly. 

There is a very fine line between SCREAMING ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT I LOVED AND LEFT ME SHOCKED in The Wicked King and not spoiling the book for people who haven’t read it yet, while also capturing how ESSENTIAL it is for everyone to read this series and well, my review just doesn’t do it justice. Let’s try anyway:

THINGS I LOVED IN THE WICKED KING:

1. JUDE AND CARDAN (AND JUDE AND CARDAN TOGETHER): I don’t disagree that Jude and Cardan’s relationship in The Cruel Prince was a little problematic, but their dynamic changes in The Wicked King, especially in the second half of the book and I WAS LIVING FOR IT. I especially loved the power Cardan wielded in respect to the land of Faerie and his schemes and kisses were all so deliciously written. 

2. ALL THE SCHEMING: Madoc, Jude, Cardan, Nicasia, the queen of the Undersea, Balekin, Taryn and Locke were just some of the schemers in this crazy world, grabbing for power at every chance they got which led to some very interesting twists and shocking moments, all under Faeris glamour and I loved it. 

3. THE COVER: The designer in me is absolutely itching to say it because I LOVED The Wicked King cover best of all in the series. With the Queen of Nothing cover, however, I’m not so sure. I feel like it’s not the best it could be. 

4. THE ENDING: NO SPOILERS BUT I might have been screaming. I also might have been desperately turning pages, hoping there was more, but I had no such luck. Let’s just say that YOU WILL NOT SEE THE ENDING COMING AND YOU WILL LOVE IT AND IT WILL BREAK YOU. 

Would I recommend this book? YES. YES. YES. YES. Go dive in now. The Folk of the Air series has been nothing short of spectacular so far.
Holly Black
Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare), The Darkest Part of the Forest, and her new series which begins with The Cruel Prince in January 2018.

She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award, the Mythopoeic Award and a Newbery Honor. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door.
ARE YOU AS OBSESSED WITH JUDE, CARDAN AND FAERIE AS I AM?
Let's fangirl in the comments below!
 

BLOG TOUR: Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan - ARC Review


I am ABSOLUTELY THRILLED to be a part of the Wicked Saints Blog Tour. I've had my eye of Emily Duncan's debut novel for almost a year now, and when I was contacted to be a part of the blog tour, I jumped. Wicked Saints was EVERYTHING the blurb promised it would be - dark, magical, with a forbidden romance, Gods and ALL THE TWISTS. 

I was thoroughly immersed in the book and I can't wait to share my review below:

~~

Title: Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1)
Author: Emily A Duncan
Publication Date: April 2nd 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1/3 of the Something Dark and Holy trilogy
I Got A Copy Through: Macmillan INTL/ Wednesday Books
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || 
Blurb Description: A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.
A prince in danger must decide who to trust.
A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 
Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.
In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy..

THIS BOOK WAS ABSOLUTELY MARVELLOUS.

It was a dark fantasy novel, with a complicated forbidden romance, intense world-building, complicated, multi-faced characters, power and OH SO MANY TWISTS AND LIES and I loved every minute that I was immersed in Emily Duncan’s debut novel.

THINGS I LOVED ABOUT WICKED SAINTS:

1.       THE PLOT: I’m always afraid that fantasy with romance means that the romance will overshadow the plot but despite the fact that romance was a big part of Wicked Saints, the plot, the reason behind the war, the progression, the power-seeking was ALL SO WELL DONE. I was not only invested in the characters but also the story and NOW THAT I’M DONE, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF.


2.       THE GIRL, THE PRINCE, AND THE MONSTER: I LOVED Serefin, Nadya and Malachiasz as individual characters and together. I can’t start explaining them, and their growth through the book without spoilers but THEY FELT LIKE THEY WERE REAL CHARACTERS, trying to understand their purpose, with unwavering love to save their country and immense power and I loved it.


3.       THE MAGIC: By the time the end (and the moths) came, I was a little lost, but I loved every minute of discovering the different magic that existed in this world. It’s always intriguing when magic that doesn’t follow standard rules and Emily Duncan’s world was definitely different.


4.       THE ROMANCE: I think I more love how the romance developed as the two characters traveled and schemed together. They were such polar opposites, in terms of loyalty and power, and I loved seeing how Emily Duncan played with that in the book.

I feel like my review hasn’t done justice to the magnificence that is Wicked Saints. I was HOOKED at every turn, invested in the plot, the war, and the romance and totally in love with the characters. It is one of the best debut novels I’ve read in a while and I CANNOT RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH.


Emily A. Duncan
Emily A. Duncan was born and raised in Ohio and works as a youth services librarian. She received a Master’s degree in library science from Kent State University, which mostly taught her how to find obscure Slavic folklore texts through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons. She is represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Website: https://eaduncan.com/
Twitter: @glitzandshadows
Instagram: @glitzandshadows

Tumblr: http://glitzandshadows.tumblr.com/
What are some of your favourite books of the year?
Have you had a chance to read Wicked Saints? What do you think of it?

A Cute, Nerdy Romance // ARC Review: Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks

Title: Comics Will Break Your Heart
Author: Faith Erin Hicks
Publication Date: February 12th 2019
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Macmillan INTL (Thank you!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || 
Blurb Description: Miriam's family should be rich. After all, her grandfather was the co-creator of smash-hit comics series The TomorrowMen. But he sold his rights to the series to his co-creator in the 1960s for practically nothing, and now that's what Miriam has: practically nothing. And practically nothing to look forward to either-how can she afford college when her family can barely keep a roof above their heads? As if she didn't have enough to worry about, Miriam's life gets much more complicated when a cute boy shows up in town . . . and turns out to be the grandson of the man who defrauded Miriam's grandfather, and heir to the TomorrowMen fortune.

In her endearing debut novel, cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks pens a sensitive and funny Romeo and Juliet tale about modern romance, geek royalty, and what it takes to heal the long-festering scars of the past (Spoiler Alert: love). 


The minute I read the synopsis to this book, all the way last August, MY NERDY LITTLE HEART WAS OH SO CURIOUS. Two co-creators of a famous superhero comic series, whose families are stuck in years of rivalry and misunderstanding and now their GRANDCHILDREN ARE FALLING FOR EACH OTHER? Yeah, sign me up.

IN A NUTSHELL: Comics Will Break Your Heart was a feel-good PG-13 romance with a love for superheroes, comics and story-telling in the background, good secondary characters and actually present families (this actually shocked me)

THINGS I LIKED:

1.       NERDY COMICS AND SUPERHERO BACKGROUND: I mean. There was all this talk about Comic-con and the TomorrowMen Movie, original comics, trailers, art, new stories and I just felt like I BELONGED IN THIS WORLD?

2.       FAMILIES ARE ACTUALLY PRESENT: It’s become a pet peeve for me, when YA novels don’t have parents around so the plot line (AHEM: ROMANCE/ SUPERNATURAL STUFF) can advance, but I quite loved that parents were actually present in this book and were a major part of the decision-making/ motivation process between both our protagonists.


3.       UNDERSTATED ROMANCE: I liked the slow-burn romance between Miriam and Weldon. I was actually expecting it to be a hate-to-love type of romance but I ended up liking this better.

4.       DID I ALREADY SAY SUPERHEROES AND ALL THE NERDY THINGS?

THINGS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:

1.       I had a little bit of a rocky start with Comics Will Break Your Heart especially in terms of character development. At first, for the first 50 pages or so, the characters seemed underdeveloped but they did grow through this 300-page book.

2.       THE BEST FRIEND: I did not like Miriam’s best friend much. I also hated that it was assumed that she would marry her high school boyfriend without any hesitation. I mean, shouldn’t she be allowed to explore? Especially since he was a grade A JERK?

3.       NOT ENOUGH DRAMA? OR RIVALRY? I guess I was really expecting some major family rivalry. I loved how Miriam’s mom reacted to the situation like a true grown-up, but I wish there was a TAD MORE DRAMA overall, especially since the blurb promises one.

Would I recommend this book? To all you nerdy souls looking for a feel-good romance, pick up Comics Will Break Your Heart. 

Faith Erin HicksBorn in the wilds of British Columbia, the young Faith frolicked among the Sasquatch native to the province before moving to Ontario at age five. There she was homeschooled with her three brothers, and developed an unnatural passion for galloping around on horseback, though never without a proper helmet (because you only get one skull). After twenty years of suffering through Ontario’s obscenely hot summers, she migrated east and now lives beside the other ocean in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She worked in animation for a bit and now draws comics full time. She’s not sure how that happened either.

Are you a comic person? Who is your favourite superhero?
Have you read Faith Erin Hicks' Comics Will Break Your Heart? I would love to hear from you!

Utterly Spellbinding // REVIEW: The Binding by Bridget Collins

Title: The Binding
Author: Bridget Collins
Publication Date: January 10th, 2019
Publisher: Borough Press
Part of a Series?: No, A Publisher
I Got A Copy Through: HarperCollins India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Imagine you could erase grief.Imagine you could remove pain.Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret.Forever.
Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.
For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.
But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten. 
The Binding is probably the most beautiful book I’ve ever seen, both outside and under the dust jacket, and probably one of the most spellbinding books I’ve ever read.

I read this book over four flights I took over the last three days, and hated every minute that I couldn’t be reading The Binding in the middle.

ALL THE THINGS I LOVED:

1.       I loved almost every part of this book, despite its slow beginning. It took me a while to get into the story, especially before Seredith started explaining the art of binding, but there was a point where I looked up (probably in the middle of the first flight) and realized that I was invested in the story, waiting for the unraveling of secrets, hoping for the best possible ending and everyone to just be… happy.  

2.       I am OBSESSED with Bridget Collins’ writing style. I loved how she created her characters,
her descriptions, and her world-building. I loved the chemistry between two certain characters (no spoilers though) and how she created their relationships. It was wonderful, immersive writing.

3.       I loved the art of binding and the world that Bridget Collins’ created in The Binding. It’s very hard to describe what it all felt like without giving away spoilers but suffice it to say that reading this book was like reading magic on a page.

4.       I loved that this wasn’t told in linear form, because it raised the ‘I’m intrigued and invested’ factor SO MUCH.

THE ONE THING I WISHED WAS BETTER:

1.       As Emmett moves from his farm to the marshes to the big city, The Binding touches upon the social implication of giving people the power to wipe someone else’s memory. It was especially interesting because I thought that Emmett and Lucian, as a binder and rich person whose family employs the services of a binder respectively, were going to take on the systemic abuse of power and money and exploitation that had come with binding for money which would have made this book unforgettable, but they didn’t. I LOVE THE STORY AS IS, but I also wish it had more in terms of a social crusade.


Would I recommend this book? ABSOLUTELY. The Binding is magical, spellbinding and captivating with fluid, immersive writing and stunning worldbuilding. I loved it and I hope you will too. 
Bridget Collins is a graduate of both university and drama school. Her first novel The Traitor Game was published to much acclaim and was both winner of the Branford Boase Award 2009 and longlisted for the 2009 Carnegie Medal. Bridget lives in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. The Binding is her first novel for adults. 

What are some of the books that pulled you into the world completely?
Send me ALL THE RECOMMENDATIONS! 
 

I Wish This Had Been Better // ARC Review: Enchantee by Gita Trelease

Title: Enchantee (Enchantee #1)
Author: Gita Trelease
Publication Date: February 21st 2019
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1/3 of the Enchantee Trilogy
I Got A Copy Through: Pan Macmillan India
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians...
When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.
But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she's playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…
I’ve been reading this book for WEEKS now and despite finishing it yesterday, I honestly don’t know what I read.

I was promised a glittering fantasy novel set against the backdrop of the French Revolution and a poor girl fighting against the aristocracy with the help of forbidden magic.

Instead, I got a 400+ page trove on gambling addiction, cheating while gambling through magic and a cast of characters that were honestly not well developed at all.  

In A Nutshell: This book could have been so much more, but it failed on all counts. 

MY (MORE ELABORATE) THOUGHTS:

1.       I AM DISAPPOINTED. I honestly thought this book would be a brilliant fantasy novel, especially after I fell in love with Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves, set a century later in Paris but I found the characters in Enchantee irritating, the purpose of the novel lost by the half-mark and the plot flimsy at best. The main character’s logic as she threw herself into situations was so half-baked that I was actually SHAKING THE BOOK as I read it as a substitute to shaking her.
 
2.       What started off as two sisters trying to make it out of poverty by using petty magic turned into a note on gambling addiction, a conspiracy that was kind of petty and not sinister because the plot of it was just so flimsy (AND THE READER DIDN’T EVEN REALLY LEARN ABOUT IT UNTIL THE LAST CHAPTER) and magic that was said to have consequences… but didn’t at the end of it all.

3.       I also felt like this book didn’t fully use the potential of being in the French Revolution. I was expecting something more with Camille and Sophie – the sisters and two main characters in the book – specifically, becoming a part of the revolution as paupers with magic who see the aristocracy for what they really are but from having nothing at all, in the next chapter they magically HAD ENOUGH MONEY TO MOVE INTO A MUCH FANCIER NEIGHBOURHOOD, PAY THREE MONTHS RENT AND IT. WAS. JUST. SO. IRRITATING. Where did economics and logic go out of the window?

4.       Let’s not forget that hot air ballooning and fundraising suddenly became a part of the novel?? I honestly did not understand it at all.


5.       All in all, I wished this book was just… better. 

Gita Trelease
Born in Sweden to Indian and Swedish parents, Gita Trelease has lived in lots of places, including New York, Paris, and a tiny town in central Italy. She attended Yale College and New York University, where she earned a Ph.D. in British literature. Before becoming a novelist, she taught classes on writing and fairy tales—some of which have seeped into this story. 

Along with her husband and son, Gita divides her time between a spooky old village in Massachusetts and the coast of Maine, where she’s still searching for a secret portal that will take her back to Versailles. 


Have you read Enchantee? What did you think of it?
What are some of your favourite historical fantasy books?
I'm always looking for more!