Review: Gates of Thread and Stone

Review: Gates of Thread and Stone

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

The Labyrinth has been humanity’s home for a long as Kai could remember. Despite the damp and discomfort, it is home. That is until her adopted brother, Reev, disappears and keeping her head down isn’t an option anymore. Kai must come to terms with her ability to manipulate time and unravel her past before she loses her future.  

I really enjoyed this a lot more than I expected! I had some initial shortcomings maybe because the title put me off a lot, but I genuinely had a good time reading this.

The fantasy world was substantial. I guess I would’ve liked more on the creation of gargoyles, but the world is rather exciting and inventive. Humanity lives inside this walled off city now named Ninurta, with fractions of communities of differing wealth. We slowly learn throughout the book about the use of magic, how it destroyed the world we once knew, and how it manifests in different beings.  It’s sort of post-apocalyptic with a magical twist. I really enjoyed that fact that it’s given to us in paces because the amount that is needed to create this world, it just wouldn’t have been right to info-dump it all.

I really enjoyed Kai as a protagonist. She’s very headstrong, and I liked that she was very sure about what she wanted from the get-go and was very adamant that nothing was going to get in her way. I really loved Avan as well. Maybe not as a love interest but as a friend to Kai, who you can clearly see these two cared for each other and were willing to anything to keep each other safe. Their friendship was delightful, and I was expecting it to be held more platonic, but the romance wasn’t as bad as it could’ve gone nor did it dominate and overtake the actual plot.

The twist that comes towards the end had me thoroughly shocked. I was initially confused because I genuinely was not expecting the way the plot just shifts so suddenly into something we weren’t necessarily informed about. The ending was a complete 360 from the original set up. But the twist did introduce some new characters that I am indeed very interested in and brought some of the secondary characters to the forefront again. I’m reading the sequel as I’m writing this and I enjoy how the story is progressing from here.  

I listened to the audiobook, though I did swap to the e-book on chapters where it wasn’t available, I think the audiobook made the reading experience more enjoyable. I really loved the voice actor for the book who did an outstanding job at not only bring Kai’s story to life but gave a real warmth to the secondary characters.

Overall, Gates of Thread and Stone was pretty solid and fun to read. It isn’t jumping to the top of my favourites list, but it is a contender. The world and story were amusing and exciting that I do have high hopes for how this series will play out in the end.


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Review: Internment

Review: Internment

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

*I received a copy via the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Set in a horrifying future, where the United States has forced all Muslim American citizens into an internment camp, seventeen-year-old Layla must find help inside and out to lead a revolution against the camp’s cruel director.

I engulfed this book. Really. I started reading at 11 pm and didn’t put my phone down until I checked the time when I was done, and it was 2 am. Internment is timely to our ongoing xenophobic climate where a Muslim ban like the one in this book isn’t as fictional as people would think. Muslims are rounded up, their books are burnt, and their bodies are coded. Layla and her family are swiftly rounded up in California, but she refuses to let herself be hidden away like this. She begins to lash out but quickly learns that resistance is death in the eyes of the camp director.

I loved Layla so much. Despite her fears, she carries on, even though she has no idea what she’s doing and everything she does know can come crashing down in seconds if the Director discovers her plans.

Internment focuses on the younger generation, and how they all band together to fight the injustice, they’re experiencing. Layla quickly makes friends, and they all work together to bring attention to their situation and put an end to the unfair treatment within the camps and bring an end to them. Their friendships are one of the book’s main strength. Even when they’re divided into the camp, with the Director doing the most to make them turn on each other, they rise together to uplift everyone’s voices.

The book shines the most when it brings awareness of how this has happened before, and how turning away from history can only bring devastating actions. Layla recalls her history lessons of WWII and Japanese internment and shows how easy oppressive entities can enact destructive acts on marginalised communities.

I’m not sure how to put this into words, but it felt somewhat incomplete? Like the world felt lacking. All we know is that a full-on Muslim ban has been enacted where they must be home by a particular time, they are unable to work, and even Layla’s father’s literature was being burned at book burnings. It was all too frightening to read knowing easily true this can come. The book is marketed as a “fifteen minutes into the future” so I assume our current knowledge is supposed to fill the gaps, but I wished there was more to it. I hoped there was more detail to certain things like the camp and motivation behind secondary characters. There are certain characters who I don’t think they get the right amount of time to understand them. And because of this, certain aspects do come across as comical.

Overall, despite my own personal shortcomings with this book, I still found it gripping and authentic. Can I say how much Ahmed has improved from her debut? She’s definitely an author to watch everyone! A gripping narrative about the internment of Muslims and Layla’s journey to understanding and combating xenophobia and racism. A brilliant book for younger readers and I definitely recommended reading this book.


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Review: Opposite of Always

Review: Opposite of Always

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

*I received a copy via the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Jack meets Kate. They bond over their love for cereals and films. Jack falls in love, and it should be happily ever after. That is until Kate dies, and Jack returns to moments just before he meets Kate, again. Here, Jack faces multiple choices as he’s continuously thrown back to the past when Kate dies. He aims to stop Kate from dying, but that doesn’t come without consequences. And the choices he makes turns deadly elsewhere, and he has to figure out what he’s willing to let go to save everyone he loves.

Opposite of Always took a while to grow on me. I knew it was going to become a bit repetitive, considering the plot, but Reynold’s debut was a sweet coming-of-age story with a fun time travelling twist.

After meeting Kate at a party, Jack embarks on an adorable romance which is cut short and restarts itself when Kate dies. He sees this as a second chance, another chance to save Kate, but every time he changes something to help Kate, some even more drastic happens in the result of it.  Each return to the past has devastating impacts if Jack’s not careful. And because of this, the plot builds very slowly, but I found that Opposite of Always was more charming than I had expected.

The dialogue is witty and fun, especially with Jack and his peers. His relationship with his family was dynamic and nuanced. Jack is very loveable, and a well-rounded character. His voice is genuine and real. As well as Kate, something new is revealed about her with every loop. The plot mainly revolves around Jack’s choices and the consequences to said choices, and it was interesting to see how drastic the decisions ended up and how they differed from previous times based on small choices that seem insignificant.

Overall, an exciting novel about choices and living. Opposite of Always is charming, witty and fun. Contemporary isn’t really up my alley, but I definitely recommend.


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Review: The Other Half of Happiness

Review: The Other Half of Happiness

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

*Spoilers ahead for The Other Half and Sofia Khan*

The Other Half starts when Sofia Khan ends, Sofia marrying her next-door neighbour, Conall, in Pakistan and continues straight from there. I was hopeful after reading Sofia Khan, the first didn’t really do much for me, and I was hoping its sequel would improve the overall story much more.

What I liked most about this novel was seeing it transition from Single Sofia to Married Sofia, and how marriage brings about a whole new journey no one is really prepared for, and Sofia indeed isn’t. Sofia’s mother’s arc was interesting, and I was pleased to see her get engaged, and be happy again, but again even that fell through. The humour is still great, and it carries through the novel, even when the plot disappoints. And the writing style, the journal-type notes Sofia leaves for herself is really witty and fun to read.

Everything just felt off from the second it started. Sofia leaves London to help in Pakistan, once she’s there she’s stuck, and there’s little explanation as to why she’s no longer needed. Keeping her stuck gave way to her deciding to write another book, this time about her marriage with Conall, which she writes to his dissatisfaction. (How will anyone want to read a book on your marriage when your husband doesn’t even want it???) And from there, it’s a cycle of bad decisions that don’t make sense.

Miscommunication is critical in this novel, and it is so frustrating how a lot of this novel’s issues would be fixed if they just talked. Conall with his past, Sofia with her current frustrations, and just everyone in general, just sent like one text, they wouldn’t be in the issue they’re all currently in. The characters all seem to be somewhat different than in the first novel like, as a reader, I could barely recognise them from the first book. Conall, especially, after its revealed he was newly divorced after abandoning his first wife and child, who is suffering from cancer.

Overall, the (current) duology was a fun, quick, and easy read. The overall story was too frustrating for me to read since I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book, the second does a bit better to improve my mood of the entire series so far. I don’t want to sound so negative of this series, and  I can see so many other people loving it, but it wasn’t 100% for me.


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Review: Geekerella

Review: Geekerella

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Elle lives, breathes and blogs Starfield. But her step-mother and sisters think otherwise. So, when the opportunity to enter a cosplaying competition comes up, she takes it, she just needs to find a way to get there. Darien Freeman is an up and coming actor and playing Starfield’s Carmindor is a dream come true. He just needs to prove it. But it isn’t easy when the fandom has already shrugged off the teen actor, and a cruel blogger aims to undermine his every move. One wrong number leads to a connection none of them would’ve expected.

I was very surprised by this book, and mainly because I actually enjoyed it more than I had anticipated. I always hold “fandom” books at a distance, mostly, because I often find them cringey, outdated, and never really that representative of fandom. The title alone already had me on edge, but I adored Geekerella.

Elle was a sweet lead, who blogs about Starfield and isn’t exactly happy about Darien being cast. And like a blogger, she takes to the internet to voice her opinions. I absolutely loved how Elle experiences fandom, and it was quite real and actually relatable. As a teen, I was in Elle’s position too, but instead Starfield it was multi-fandom Tumblr. (Imagine 2013 circa Tumblr) And this is where the book shined. It was a fantastic experience that felt like my own personal ode to my own personal fangirl experience. It was incredibly relatable, the conventions, the speech. The book really encompasses the general gist of positive fandom, while also addressing negative aspects quite well.

Darien was a pure sweetheart, who really wanted to do well by Starfield, but couldn’t do so due to contractual obligations and an overdemanding dad-manager who only sees this as a career boost. I was sort of more leaning towards him parts of the story because it discusses whitewashing in film and his experiences of being a non-white actor.

Geekerella is a light romance. I really enjoyed how the story of Cinderella is retold within the context of a big movie adaptation. The romance can get little too much, but honestly, it isn’t as bad as people make it out to be in more negative reviews. A lot of people are calling it unbelievable because they interact with each other through texts. In the context of Geekerella, it’s understandable because neither make an attempt to actually see the other, not even via web calls or anything. But to say every relationship made via online media is inauthentic is a pretty shitty take, and that seems to come up a lot in reviews for this book.

Overall, it’s a pretty decent book. An adorable modern update of Cinderella set in fandom and reboots. I really enjoyed the accurate depiction of contemporary day fandom. Though mostly predictable, it’s somewhat entertaining, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I had expected.


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Review: Enchantée

Review: Enchantée

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
 * I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her sick sister while escaping the clutches of an abusive brother. Relying on her limited knowledge of magic, she transforms herself into a baroness and begins to gamble at Versailles. Quickly, she hones her skills but magic has a cost and soon she discovers leaving Versailles is much harder than it looks. 

What I loved the most about this book was how vividly Trelease painted Paris in the 18th century. As Camille transforms, she comes to face the rich who she has despised her entire life. The rich who live in luxury while families like Camille’s waste away. The world building shines through, 18th century Paris with a tinge of magic in its streets: its street fashion, printing system, hot air ballooning, and games. 

Camille is a determined and headstrong lead, driven by her situation to make a better life for herself and her sister. I really like her as a lead. She tends to get the better of herself and assumes she knows best for her sister, who rightfully calls her out on it. A terrific sibling dynamic between them. 

There are the beginnings of a good discussion with the male love interest who is biracial. (Indian and French) Both India and France see him as an outsider, and there’s a moment where she discusses his identity and how he struggles to find his place. I just wish this was considered more, he was basically a ghost for a good portion of the book.

I did struggle with the length of this book. There’s a lot of moments where you’re just going through it, part build-up as we watch Camille learn the ways of the court, part was just me as reading getting partially bored in some moments. You’re left waiting for something to happen, but it felt like it takes way too long for the actual plot to move on from Camille being introduced into the court. But once it picks up, it gets a lot more exciting, and I really enjoyed it in the end. 

Overall,  There’s a lot of small tidbits that stuck to me and mixed with the writing and plot and the way the author used real historical events that worked with the plot, it was really great. A lot will be put off by its length, but the world was something else and enjoyable to explore. I actually enjoyed this much more than I had expected.


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Content warning: abuse (physical, emotional, verbal), gambling addiction, alcoholism. 

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