Lovely War by Julie Berry

Lovely War
by Julie Berry

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Date: 2019
Pages: 480
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Days to Read: 7
Purchase Locations: Amazon and Kindle Audible Book Depository Booktopia Dymocks QBD

A sweeping, multi-layered romance with a divine twist, by the Printz Honor-winning author of The Passion of Dolssa, set in the perilous days of World Wars I and II.

It’s 1917, and World War I is at its zenith when Hazel and James first catch sight of each other at a London party. She’s a shy and talented pianist; he’s a newly minted soldier with dreams of becoming an architect. When they fall in love, it’s immediate and deep–and cut short when James is shipped off to the killing fields.

Aubrey Edwards is also headed toward the trenches. A gifted musician who’s played Carnegie Hall, he’s a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-African-American regiment being sent to Europe to help end the Great War. Love is the last thing on his mind. But that’s before he meets Colette Fournier, a Belgian chanteuse who’s already survived unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.

Thirty years after these four lovers’ fates collide, the Greek goddess Aphrodite tells their stories to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II. She seeks to answer the age-old question: Why are Love and War eternally drawn to one another? But her quest for a conclusion that will satisfy her jealous husband uncovers a multi-threaded tale of prejudice, trauma, and music and reveals that War is no match for the power of Love.

Julie Berry is an American Author who has written 12 books so far in her career, with The Lovely War being her most recent release.

The Lovely War follows our wondrous Greek Gods, namely Aphrodite, Aries and Hephaestus as Aphrodite defends herself as she and Aries are put on trial for their affair. To defend herself Aphrodite tells two stories of love from the first world war. Throughout which we begin to see the world and the god of Love does.

The way that Julie Berry tells the stories of these for characters doesn’t make it feel like a historical fiction. Most of my previous experience with historical fiction has been dry and difficult for me to feel engaged in. As I saw reading ‘The Lovely War’ I felt transported back to the story of the first world war and the experiences of these characters. I was utterly invested in the outcome of their lives.

Hazel and James’s love story was one that I was wholeheartedly invested in. The Character were well written and had so much dimension and depth. You could really see how their characters change and develop through the war and what that does to a person and their connections within society.

Aphrodite as a narrator was an aspect of the book that I found really interesting. Looking and the relationship between love and war from the perspective of love was something I hadn’t seen before. I really enjoyed that the narrator was a character and seeing the little additions and notes the character makes throughout the story.

I’m not sure if this qualifies as a “dislike” but I felt that I was so invested in the story that when the main four characters we follow were treated badly I was really sad. I really didn’t like the racism that was clear in the times of the first world war, but I feel like that’s more of my own issue.

Overall, ‘The Lovely War’ is a transformative book that sends the reader back in time as they listen to a tale weaved by a god. The experience is one that can make someone appreciate the love that they have in their own lives.

Plot: 8.5/10
Ease of reading: 8/10
Character Development: 8/10
World Building: 8/10
Quality of Writing: 7/10
Overall: 4.5/5

One of us is Lying by Karen McManus

One of us is Lying
By Karen McManus


Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date: 2017
Pages: 361
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre:  Mystery
Days to Read: 2
Purchase Locations: Amazon and Kindle Audible Book Depository Booktopia Dymocks QBD

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
AndSimon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Throughout One of Us is Lying we follow the perspective of multiple different characters. We begin with a Breakfast Clubesque set up with out protagonists in detention. All from different walks of life. We have all the classics from stereotypical groups. As the book progresses we move quickly from a heart warming 80’s movie to an intense murder mystery. It really put a twist on the classic high school story.

As we learn more about each of characters as a reader I began to make predictions about the whole ‘Who done it?’ situation. I was definitely not correct in these, eventually I did predict some of the twist, which I will not divulge here at all, but I believe at this point I think most people would would figure it out before me.

It was interesting to see the growth in the characters and that throughout this difficult time where they are suspected of murder as well as having more personal information divulged to the members of their high school. All the characters show growth… that I love.

There were a few characters that I did not like! One in particular, a side character was genuinely the worst person ever and I hated him,to the point where I thought it might ruin the book for me! Luckily, it didn’t and I decided to stick through to the end.

The end of this story is FIRE. I’ve recently discovered that as a reader I love a great plot twist or plot development, i eat them up!

The overall premise of ‘One of Us is Lying’ combines some of my favorite things, I love anything breakfast club themed as well as stories that keep me on the edge of my seat. This is definitely a tale that will stay with me.

Plot: 7/10
Ease of reading: 8/10
Character Development: 7.5/10
World Building: 6/10
Quality of Writing: 7/10
Overall: 4/5

Netflix Book Tag

I saw this Tag over on Kristin Kraves Books Blog and as I love Netflix and books I thought this was a great Tag.

Finished Red. White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston the day of writing this post! So good!

All three of these books I’ve read based on recommendations from BookTubers and Bookstagramers who have similar tastes to me. All of them I absolutely love.

I’ve read both Harry Potter series and the Twilight Saga and I haven’t read House of Earth and Blood and Chain of Gold.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lmony Snicket is a series that although not meant to be conventionally funny is exceptionally witty!

Constantine, the priest from ‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ by Katherine Arden. Honestly the biggest drama King I’ve ever read, he drove me mental as a character.

There are so many series that I want to reread its crazy!

The Forest Feast is a vegetarian recipe book that also contains some absolutely stunning photos and can double as a gorgous coffee table book!

The entire Throne of Glass series is utterly action packed!

I tag:

The Reading Fairy

Bionic Bookworm

Novels and Notions

The Critiquing Chemist

The Gender Secret by Bella Forrest

The Gender Secret
by Bella Forrest
#2 in the Gender Game Series

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Date: 2016
Pages: 411
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre:  Dystopian
Days to Read: 2
Purchase Locations: Amazon and Kindle Audible Book Depository Booktopia

Gliding over the treacherous Green in a shaky aircraft that she has no idea how to land, Violet Bates is still in shock. The harrowing events of the previous night play over in her mind as she asks herself question after question.

Why did Lee Desmond Bertrand behave the way he did?

What is the truth about the mysterious silver egg stowed beneath her seat?

What happened to Viggo and where is her brother? Is either of them still alive?

When Violet manages to reach the toxic ground alive, she has landed in a world of unimaginable danger. She has barely time to catch her breath before she is sucked into a perilous journey at breakneck speed – to uncover secrets guarded for centuries and find the only two people that matter.

The Gender Secret follows the events that occured at the end of The Gender Game. We follow Viggo and Violet in the wake of the dramatic cliffhanger we were left on at the end of the first book as well as unravelling some epic betrayals.

The ideas that are examined throughout the the first two books explore gender diferentiation, stereotypes and how the world would look if we it were divided into two cities/countries run by each gender. It was interesting to see how the prejudice grow throughout the stories and how they are ingrained in each culture.

Violet and Viggo as characters are both morally questionable and as a reader I can say that it definitely made them more interesting to read about. They have already developed so much from the events in the first book that I felt more interested in where their stories we heading.

The Setting of The Green, Matrus and Patrus – which I take to be a post apocolyptic USA – allows the reader to really exeperience the dystopian nature. The Greens descriptions of toxicity and the creatures affected by it gives ‘The Wilder Girls’ and ‘Annihilation’ vibes that allows the reader to see the severity of being out there and experiencing that wilderness.

The developments in the plot of the Gender Secret develop the world exponentially from the Gender Game. We begin to see the implications of a world divided by gender.

There are many ethical questions that are raised throughout be beginning of this series that cause questions about what it would mean for our world if something became more evident. This gives readers an experience that fuels many feelings and thoughts as well as promoting discussion.

Plot: 6.5/10
Ease of reading: 5/10
Character Development: 6/10
World Building: 6.5/10
Quality of Writing: 6/10
Overall: 3.5/5

The Pretenders by Rebecca Hanover

The Pretenders
by Rebecca Hanover
#2 in the Similars duology

In this conclusion to The Similars duology, Emma must figure out who she really is, decide between two boys with the same face, and stop a dangerous plan based on revenge.

Emma is still reeling from the events of her junior year at Darkwood. Not only is her best friend, Oliver, shockingly alive, but the boy she loves—his Similar, Levi—is still on the island where he grew up, stranded with his deranged creator.

More importantly, she is grappling with who she really is. Emma can’t accept the hard truths she learned last year and refuses to share her secrets with anyone, isolating herself from her friends and Ollie.

But when more of the Similars’ creator’s plot is revealed, Emma and her friends will have to try to stop him from putting a plan into motion that could destroy everyone she loves. 

Throughout The Similars Duology we follow Emmaline as she attends the prestigious Darkwood Academy, where 6 clones have been enrolled. This enrollment fules huge human right debates and the schools dark histoty begins to come to light.

The Science Fiction nature of the series lends itself well to the discussion of human rights and whether cones carry the same rights as the originals. Looking at the different sides is interesting however the story doen’t really allow the reader to make up their own mind as to whether cloning and clones are right. There would have been a richer depth to the stoy if this had been the case.

None the less, the story of Emmaline and the clones is one that as a reader I found interesting. Emma’s development as a character within the second book was critical to the story and to making her a protagonist that readers have some connection with. The personal growth was minimal but the science fictional changes were imense, giving her the edge she needed to become a more dynamic lead.

The scientific elements were probably my most favourite part of the story. It was interesting to learn how the cloning began and the extent to which it runs. It could definitely make for an interesting human right debate. The clones were represented well with thoughts and ideas that were their own and an experience that would make anyone hope for better for them.

The plot twists that are thrown into this story definitely fit the science fiction genre. They added a much needed layer

Overall the story examines relationships, choice and serious human right issues all within the compass of a Young Adult story. Its a great start to what will surely be a wider debate in the future.

Plot: 7/10
Ease of reading: 7.5/10
Character Development: 6/10
World Building: 5/10
Quality of Writing: 7/10
Overall: 3.5/5

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Date: 2018
Pages: 984
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre:  Fantasy
Days to Read: 14
Purchase Locations: Amazon & Kindle Audible Book Depository Booktopia Dymocks QBD

The final battle is here.

Aelin Galathynius has vowed to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. The knowledge that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, but her resolve is unraveling with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, friends and allies are scattered to different fates. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever. As destinies weave together at last, all must fight if Erilea is to have any hope of salvation.

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an explosive conclusion as Aelin fights to save herself―and the promise of a better world.

Kingdom of Ash is the final book in the Throne of Glass series. We follow multiple perspectives throughout the story and travel throughout the lands of Arellia and beyond. The basics of the story (so you won’t be spoiled, dear reader) is that Aelin and her friends must go to war against Erawan, the demon lord who is taking over the continent.

Aelin has developed as a dynamic and kick ass character, she continues her growth throguhout Kingdom of Ash, becoming a beacon of strength, resiliance and empathy. I love Aelin as our leading lady. She shows what a main character should be, flawed and oh so human but willing to change. She also shows a passion for equailty among her peers and her people.

Our support cast is full of magical and mighty players in this hectic and chaotic war provide additions of much needed humor as well as showing us what is happening in other parts of this vast, expansive world.

The conclusion to this 7 book (plus one prequel book) series is in a word, epic. The setting of Arillia has changed so much over the course of the seven stories that it becomes almost like the reader is experiencing a whole new world. The description and detail really adds to this experience.

To say that Kingdom of Ash is a Tome is an understatement. The sheer mass of this books is something that I found off putting when it came to finally reading the conclusion to a series I was deeply emersed it. It was a commitment that I was anxious about making, however is not one I regret.

The Throne of Glass series as a whole includes so many great tropes. Competition is rife, Fae are many and the detail in back story and connection between past and present is made so semlessly and effectively.

Plot: 8.5/10
Ease of reading: 4/10
Character Development: 7.5/10
World Building: 5/10
Quality of Writing: 8/10
Overall: 4.5/5

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

New Moon
By Stephenie Meyer

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Date: 2006
Pages: 563
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre:  Paranormal
Days to Read: 7
Purchase Locations: Amazon and Kindle Audible Book Depository Booktopia Dymocks QBD

I knew we were both in mortal danger. Still, in that instant, I felt well. Whole. I could feel my heart racing in my chest, the blood pulsing hot and fast through my veins again. My lungs filled deep with the sweet scent that came off his skin. It was like there had never been any hole in my chest. I was perfect – not healed, but as if there had never been a wound in the first place.

For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is even more dangerous than Bella could ever have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of one evil vampire, but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realize their troubles may be just beginning

After rereading Twilight I knew I wanted to do a complete reread of the series. It has been a lot time since I have sat down and actually reread these books and the nostalgia is real!

If you don’t know Twilight follows our main character Bella as she moves to the town of Forks to live with her dad after she decides that her mum should go with her new husband on his travels as a minor league baseball player.

Once there we are introduced to the mysterious Edward and the ever friendly Jacob.

Within the sequel ‘New Moon’ Bella is faced with hreat break and forced to move on, however instead of doing so Bella decides to embark on fixing motorbikes with Jacob. The development of the relationship between Jacob and Bella is one that I will always enjoy. Both are a little over dramatic but I was defnitely here for it when I read it in high school and I’m here for it now.

Although New Moon develops the character of Bella from the inital book, I don’t find it to be a positive development. She seems like a classic over dramatic heart broken teen, who really can’t function without thier ‘Soulmate’. It’s definitely not healthy but it is I woulf say accurate to intense teenage romance.

The setting of LaPush is one that I’ve always injoyed in both movies and books. It is such an interesting place in terms of its history and the community aspect of the peoples of the reservation. There was a developemnt of the mythology that surrounds the tribe as well as a progression from beleiving the myth to realising its reality. The scenery was definitely one that really does encaptulate me when it comes to the Twilight Saga.

Overall this reread is one that brings up so much nostaligia as a reader. I am deeply enjoying my time revisting the Twilight Saga and experiencing the characters again.

Plot: 5/10
Ease of reading: 8/10
Character Development: 6.5/10
World Building: 6/10
Quality of Writing: 6/10
Overall: 4.5/5

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

This is Where it Ends
by Marieke Nijkamp

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Date: 2016
Pages: 286
Fiction/Non-Fiction: Fiction
Genre:  Realistic Fiction
Days to Read: 2
Purchase Locations: Amazon & Kindle Book Depository Booktopia Dymocks QBD

10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.

Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Man oh man ‘This is Where it Ends’ is one hell of a realistic fiction story. Even prior to reading it I was thankful to live in Australia where in general this isn’t an issue. I was however interested in seeing how something as serious as a school shooting is portrayed in a fiction story.

I was definitely gripped by the story and began to feel invested in the characters. As a reader I found myself getting frustrated with out shooter. His irattionality and deperation to have everyone do as he says was something that made me really angry, assuming this was the authors intention it was done beautifully. I doubt a reader could pick up this book without having the same viseral dislike for the shooter.

This book definitely took my on a ride. For such a sort read I went through so many different emotions. I was saddened by the deaths of some characters as well as having the addition of tweets and texts between family members… utter heartbreak. I also felt a ton of anger towards the shooter (as we’ve noted).

‘This is Where it Ends’ is a fasyt paced read that has the reader engaged as well as educting some about the expereinces of high school students where active shooter situations are a real issue. I think this very serious topic was approched well and at an approiate level for its target audiance.

Plot: 8/10
Ease of reading: 8.5/10
Character Development: 6/10
World Building: 6/10
Quality of Writing: 7/10
Overall: 4/5