Being brutally honest about books

Friday, 26 February 2016

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1)
Did not finish at 52 pages

I picked this up at my mum's library and thought it looked really cool. The start was so strong I thought it would be a great read, my first fantasy in quite a while. I was wrong.

The good

  • Nice cover and title made me pick it up
  • Strong start and intriguing prologue - who wouldn't want to keep reading a book whose first line is She'd never killed before tonight?
  • Super cool character names in the cast lists: Cleo/Cleiona, Eirene, Sabina, Mira, etc.

The bad

  • Character descriptions I seriously don't care about
  • Costume descriptions I seriously don't care about

The ugly

  • Plain bad writing. E.g.:
    Cleo despised politics mainly because she didn't understand them. But then, she didn't have to. Emilia was the heir to their father's throne. She would be the next queen, not Cleo. (Pg 51)
     Yep. That's the paragraph.
  • Telling instead of showing - e.g. we are told on pg 11 that Aron is keeping Cleo's secret. On pg 52 we are still being reminded (again, through telling, not showing) of the existence of this secret we know nothing about.
  • When hiding a character's identity as a plot device, it should be subtle, right? Not in-your-face eye-roll-worthy there's-no-believable-need-to-hide-her-identity-in-this-scene.
  • Incest. As soon as I picked up the incestuous vibe I wanted to run away from the book screaming. (I can handle icky things - guys, I'll remind you yet again that I'm a Spartacus fan - but incest is not one of them.) However, I held on for another few chapters, only to put it down again for good. I therefore don't know if this aspect gets any less gross or not.
  • And that's only the beginning. I looked up Goodreads reviews of this book, and other people have pointed out the bad worldbuilding and character development. I didn't even get that far into the book to notice, but I'm sure I would've found the same issues if I'd forced myself to keep reading.

The (extraordinarily long) summary:

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed... and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It's the eve of war.... Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realise that the heart can be more lethal than the sword....

(Don't) add it on Goodreads

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Top Ten Songs I Wish Were Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is music and books. This could be challenging, but let's go!
Watch the music video and tell me this wouldn't make a cute LGBTQ novel.
I'm imagining an epic fantasy with medieval elements, and a cold, kickarse female protagonist.

EPIC. BADARSERY. Do I even need to explain?

Possibly an urban fantasy with a dark twist.

I love reading books set in London, but they seem to romanticise the place. This song doesn't.

Either historical fiction or space opera, I can't choose which I'd prefer to read more!

The music video is fantastic, but imagine how a book would complement it...

The book I'm picturing for this song is nothing like the video. I'm thinking more of an epic fantasy series than a dystopian novel.

I love the whole aesthetic for this video, so how cool would it be as a book? Revenge is sweet, yeah?

We've all read books exactly like this theoretical one, so what's one more?

Curses & Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii by Vicky Alvear Shecter

Finished reading on: 16 February 2016

I'm experimenting with review styles, so let's see how this goes. Tell me what you think of this format.

The good

  • Gorgeous cover
  • Great for young Classics nerds and fans of Spartacus (and therefore me) – Gladiators! Roman women! Pompeii!
  • Satisfied my need to read more things set in Ancient Rome
  • Cool use of Latin (which I largely understood, thanks to Spartacus)
  • Decent writing
  • Historically accurate - the author clearly knows her stuff without showing off too much; includes interesting author’s notes about the setting
  • Learnt some new things, such as curse tablets, and that Pompeii wasn’t always a Roman town (Sulla took it from the Etruscans in 80BCE)
  • Basically, the setting is the best aspect of the book

The bad

  • The protagonists (Tag and Lucia) are tolerable, unlike a lot of YA characters, but I preferred Quintus, a main character who gets forgotten about, because I love arsehole characters
  • Written in the third person but the POV changes are unnecessarily marked
  • Having only two POVs (Tag's and Lucia's) is limiting, and I would’ve liked to read a least a chapter from each of Quintus and Cornelia’s perspectives
  • Repetitive likening of Tag’s good looks to Apollo's

The ugly

  • Plot based on the romance (booooring!)
  • More gladiator and running-from-volcanic-eruption action needed (not at the same time; that drove me nuts about the 2014 film Pompeii)
  • Ending so disappointing it knocked a whole star off my rating (I was all set to give it four stars)
  • A whole lot of characters' fates forgotten due to limited POVs - what about Cornelia, Quintus, and the gladiators and slaves?

The romance

  • Childhood friends suddenly fall in love
  • Would’ve liked to see the first move between Lucia and Tag at least another 50 pages later on (I prefer slow burn). However, I did appreciate Lucia considering the difference between love and lust this early on.
  • Love triangle avoided due to an unrequited love I’m proud to say I saw from the very start (although I had moments of doubt where I was wondering if my slash goggles were making me see things that weren’t there). The suggested solution for the trio's dilemma was on my mind since then, too.

The blurb

Two star-crossed lovers.
One city on the brink of destruction.
Tag is a medical slave, fated to spend the rest of his life healing his master's injured gladiators. But he yearns to fight in the arena himself and win the freedom to live - and love - as he wants.
Lucia is the daughter of Tag's owner, doomed by her father's greed to marry a man she doesn't love. But she's determined to follow her heart wherever it leads.
Can they find each other before the volcano destroys their whole world?

Add it on Goodreads

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Top Ten OTPs

Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week is a Valentine's Day themed freebie: Top Ten Books That Would Make Great Valentine's Day Reads (or anti-Valentine's day reads), Top Ten OTPs, Top 10 fictional crushes, top ten great love declarations in fiction, swoony quotes from books, etc. 

I thought and thought about what topic I'd pick for my list, but since I'm not a romantic at all, except when it comes to my ships, I went for the boring but hopefully relevant option. So here are my top ten OTPs, mostly from TV (again). Warning: there is little heterosexuality on this list.

1. Xena & Gabrielle (Xena: Warrior Princess)

I'm a bi girl from New Zealand who was born in the mid-late 90s. No further explanation necessary. My mum saw some pictures of these two on my phone recently and asked if they were a couple. To paraphrase, I said, "Sit down and let me tell you a thing..." 

Yeah... "subtext"...

2. Achilles & Patroclus "Patrochilles"

A love that has lasted millennia. The Iliad is an amazing story, and to anyone who thinks these two were not lovers: their ashes were mixed together! That is not a symbol of friendship! 

BTW, if you haven't already, read The Song of Achilles. Now.

3. Agron & Nasir "Nagron" (Spartacus)

I don't know how to talk about these two without having a massive fangirlish ramble so let's leave it at "they're adorable and hot together". *Spoilers* In a show where everyone dies, they survive. Wise decision, Steven DeKnight. 

Look at these adorkable cuties.

4. Gaia & Lucretia (Spartacus)

 Two beautiful, intelligent, manipulative Roman women. The hair and the costumes alone are shippable. What's brilliant about their relationship (apart from the insanely hot sex scenes *fans self* (it is an R18 show, peoples!)) is that it has a huuuge impact on Lucretia's character development. Because darker versions of characters are always better. 

Insanely hot, I tell you.

5. Piper & Alex (Orange Is the New Black)

A relationship that's totally not healthy but I love it all the same. I just want them to be together, is that too much to ask?
 Why can't they just be happy and together? At the same time.

6. Leia & Han Solo (Star Wars)

Probably my first ship, long before I knew what shipping was. I was attracted by the love-hate relationship, and I still love it every time I watch the original Star Wars trilogy. By the way, I haven't watched The Force Awakens yet, so please no spoilers! 

 Is it just me or does Leia look bored?

7. Joel & Maggie (Northern Exposure) 

Would you look at that, another love-hate relationship! Theirs is classic. They have this tension season after season and it's amazing. Too bad the last season of the show was terrible.

8. Clara Oswald & Jane Austen (Doctor Who)

This one is a little bit of a crack ship, but it has canon foundations! In the ninth series of Doctor Who, Clara has a couple of lines that suggest a romantic relationship with the writer Jane Austen. Cue the headcanons and fanfiction.

 The one line that started it all.

9. Jack & Ianto "Janto" (Torchwood)

Over the past few months I've been moving on from this show, but Janto was a huge part of my life for about 18 months and it would be wrong to leave them off this list. Their relationship is Tragic and has too many parallels with Patrochilles to keep a fangirl sane.

Caption that.

10. Alec & Magnus "Malec" (The Mortal Instruments)

Likewise, these two have similarities with Janto. I wish I'd watched Torchwood when I saw Cassandra Clare at the 2011 Readers and Writers Festival, because then I would've asked her if she based Magnus and Alec's relationship on Jack and Ianto's.

This post ended up way longer than expected. That's what happens when you let me get started on my ships. Moral of the story: don't let me do it.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Top Ten Historical Settings I Love

Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Ten Historical Settings You Love/Top Ten Historical Settings You'd Love To See or Top Ten Futuristic Books You Love/Ten Futuristic Societies I'd Love To Read in Books. I adore historical fiction, and I love reading and watching things set in these eras.

In a very loose order, these are my ten favourite historical settings:
  1. Ancient Egypt
  2. Ancient Greece 
  3. Ancient Rome
  4. Regency England
  5. French Revolution
  6. Victorian 
  7. 1920s/Prohibition
  8. Renaissance Italy (especially Venice)
  9. Medieval 
  10. Elizabethan England
I'd love to know what historical settings you guys love, as I'm always up for discovering more! Reading a book set in a new era is always interesting.

Totally Should've Book Tag

I can't remember where I saw this book tag, but it was on someone's blog that I stumbled across. Feel free to do it yourself and say I tagged you!

1. Totally should've gotten a sequel
Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle, #4)
Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle #4) by Christopher Paolini
 I know the series was long enough already, but the ending just wasn't satisfying. 

2. Totally should've had a spin off series
Adaptation (Adaptation, #1)
Adaptation by Malinda Lo
 A spin off TV series would be good. I'm imagining a cross between Torchwood and The 100.

3. An author who totally should write more books
Madeline Miller
Madeline Miller! (author of The Song of Achilles)

4. A character who totally should've ended up with someone else
City of Flowers (Stravaganza, #3)
City of Flowers (Stravaganza #3) by

5. Totally should've ended differently
Burial Rites
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
 But since it's based on a true story, it had to end that way. 

6. Totally should've had a movie franchise
Piratica (Piratica, #1)
Piratica by
The whole trilogy.

7. Totally should've had a TV show
Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore
Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by

8. Totally should've had only one point of view
Opposition (Lux, #5)
Opposition (Lux #5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

9. Totally should have a cover change
Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1)
Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
This series has many different covers, and I don't like any of them.

10. Totally should've kept the original covers
Derby Girl
Derby Girl by

11. Totally should've stopped at book one         

Fracture (Fracture, #1)
Fracture by
I'm Alexandria, a 19-year-old reader/writer/blogger from New Zealand. I love language, history, and sci-fi. Hi! I'm always around if you want to talk, which you can do via comments, the contact form, or Facebook.

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