Review: Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery

anne of green gablesMarilla and Matthew Cuthbert are in for a big surprise. They are waiting for an orphan boy to help with the work at Green Gables – but a skinny, red-haired girl turns up instead. Feisty and full of spirit, Anne Shirley charms her way into the Cuthberts’ affection with her vivid imagination and constant chatter. It’s not long before Anne finds herself in trouble, but soon it becomes impossible for the Cuthberts to imagine life without ‘their’ Anne – and for the people of Avonlea to recall what it was like before this wildly creative little girl whirled into town.

Rating: 4/5

A charming, utterly delightful tale that I somehow overlooked in my childhood, but which I’m so glad I finally got around to reading.

The book tells the tale of exuberant orphan Anne, who finds a home with the brother and sister Cuthberts on their farm at Green Gables. The story spans the time between ages 11 and 16, from when Anne arrives as an extremely chatty and strange red-headed child, to when she has matured vastly and has just finished her teaching college examinations.

At some points, Anne’s impulsiveness and imaginative exploits have the potential to get on one’s nerves, but it somehow never does. She’s just so damn earnest. It’s wonderful to see her growing up, and the terrible but funny mishaps that she lands herself in. It’s also great to see all the gruff characters just warming up to her irrepressible spirit.

Considering the time in which the novel was written, I was expecting quite a lot of sexism but was pleasantly surprised by what I found – Anne sees no problem with the idea of female preachers (which outrages some people in the town), the girls are proven to be just as academically excellent as the boys, competing for university scholarships, and some of the activities that are seen by the older generation as wildly inappropriate for young ladies to engage in is completely accepted by these younger ones.

Even the religious aspect was well done – Anne fights back about how religion is ‘supposed’ to be, and finds it in nature and everyday moments, viewing it as something that does not need to be practiced in a specific way – it’s all in the intentions.

Finally, the some of the imagery from Anne’s imagination is utterly glorious in its simplicity, such as:

Do you think amethysts can be the souls of good violets? 

Overall, a lovely story of growing up and maturing, without losing that inner spark of magic. Will definitely be reading the sequels

5 Alternate Takes on YA Love Triangles

love triangles

Most of us loathe the dreaded love triangle, which appears particularly prevalent in YA fiction. Inspired by some discussions I’ve seen on Twitter this week, here are my top 5 alternate takes on a love triangle that would make it much more palatable to me!

1. The boy is the one in the middle for a change. Ah, the agony of his feels as he is forced to choose between the mysterious new girl and his attractive childhood best friend… *snorts*

2. A love triangle when one of the suitors is like “You know what? I’m out.” They get tired of being strung along, and decide that if the MC is not going to make a decision, then they’re bowing out for their own self-preservation.

3. LGBQTA protagonists in the dreaded triangle of lurve. For instance, a bi girl torn between a princess who runs a secret spy ring and a dashing knight with a tragic backstory! Yeahhhh! Authors, there’s a whole damn alphabet at your disposal.

4. A … one sided triangle? That doesn’t sound right! (Mathematically, that would just be a line!) I’m referring to instances where it’s not two people in love with the same person, but person X in love with person Y who doesn’t return X’s feelings and is actually in serious feels for person Z. Capiche?

5. And, my favourite scenario of all: the two competing dudes realize that all their posturing and growling at each other for the heroine’s attention is ACTUALLY to hide the fact that they like each other very very much so they shack up and become happy gay farmers while the heroine goes on to slay dragons and conquer the world, single and damn happy about it, thank you very much.


All three of the protagonists decide to screw society’s expectations, and form a very happy, very supportive polyamorous relationship. WOOT!

What about you, lovely readers? Any other configurations you think I should have included?

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh

the wrath and the dawnEvery dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Rating: 3.5/5

On one hand, this was a pretty enthralling, compelling story with magical elements, but on the other, it required me to ignore some gaping logical holes in order to enjoy it. In this case, I sat back and was prepared to overlook some of the flaws for the sake of entertainment – it really depends on my mood at the time whether I choose to do this or not – and I’m aware that it makes me a bit of a fickle reader.

I think my biggest issue with this one is Shazi’s lack of planning – the king kills a wife every morning, and you go there in some revenge fantasy, with your only option to live being that you tell such an intriguing story each night that the king cannot help but allow you to see another dawn in order for you to finish the tale? (Long confusing sentence is long and confusing.) That was your big idea? What exactly was your backup in case it didn’t work? Come now. Also, she has so many opportunities to end him but doesn’t take them, and before long Feelings Emerge and then it’s pretty much game over for the assassination attempt.

I did, however, enjoy the weaving of the story, from Shazi’s arrival to the somewhat hasty ending. As many people have mentioned, the side characters really stood out – from the take-no-shit handmaiden to the king’s cousin who isn’t afraid to poke the proverbial bear. The rich descriptions of the food, clothing and customs of the region were a gorgeous gift for the imagination. If you take The Wrath and the Dawn as an improbable fairy tale in itself, you’re in for a treat.

Review: I Am The Traitor (The Unknown Assassin #3) – Allen Zadoff

i am the traitorIn the third and final installment in the Unknown Assassin trilogy, Boy Nobody is on the run from The Program and uncovers a secret about his past that forces him to decide where his loyalties lie. 

The Program has sent Boy Nobody on countless missions, instructed to kill whichever target he was given. But now, after going rogue, he is on his own mission to rescue his friend Howard who was captured by The Program. Boy Nobody manages to free Howard as well as Tanya, a mysterious girl who was being held with him. Howard and Tanya help Boy Nobody collect information about his father, eventually revealing a dangerous secret that teaches Boy Nobody a valuable lesson — he can’t trust anyone. 

Allen Zadoff packs the third book of the Unknown Assassin series with even more action, higher stakes, and mind-blowing reveals that will leave readers riveted.

Rating: 4/5

Fantastic end to a great, action packed trilogy. Seriously, I rated the previous two instalments 5 stars, becauseI thought they were epic, and while I had a few issues with this one, it was still a fantastic read.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed in this trilogy, which I’ve mentioned previously, is that the assassin MC is actually an assassin, not some ninja who doesn’t kill people, and he has his own particular code of dodgy ethics.

It’s been great to watch Zach’s evolution from mindless machine to a more human teenage boy as he wrestles with complicated feelings about his profession and everything he’s been taught – and it’s especially wonderful to watch him navigating friendship for the first time since he was captured and indoctrinated.

I saw the one plot twist coming from a mile away, heh, but it was still fun to watch it play out. Also, there was a part that stood out as a tad weird for me – Zach is patting down a girl to make sure she doesn’t have any tracking devices, and the comment that she had the breasts of a woman, not a girl made me O______O. Firstly, girl is 15, secondly, boob size in no way correlates with age! Pssssht.

Overall though, with a mixture of pulse-pounding action, brutality and some moments of humanity and hilarity, this series is definitely one of my favourites.

Review: Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon

everything, everythingThis innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Rating: 3/5

I really enjoyed this book – it was in parts hilarious and bittersweet, but there were two major sticking points which I couldn’t overlook, unfortunately.

But let’s start with the good. I loved the development of the romance. It was super cute, and the banter was glorious, and while they’d progressed to ‘I Love You’s’ by the end of the book, the relationship had covered the span of a few months. The humour was awesome – the Bundt cake saga had me snorting with laughter. I also enjoyed Madeline’s imagination in the face of her isolation, and her attempts at positivity.

The writing, meanwhile, was highly engaging, and I pretty much devoured the book. It tackles an interesting premise, and there was some thoughtful/profound commentary on the nature of life lived in a bubble, family, and experiences that we take for granted.


1. Madeline and Olly made some dumbass decisions – with a condition as serious as hers, you do not sneak around because it COULD LITERALLY KILL HER. WTF?!

2. The plot twist, which will not reveal here, but which I thought cheapened the whole story.

Anyway, most people have adored this book, and despite my qualms, I found it to be a lovely read.

ARC received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) – Rachel Caine

ink and boneRuthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…

Rating: 4/5

I saw a couple of great reviews for this one floating around in the blogosphere, so I thought ‘hey, why not give this a try?’

And then I stayed up till 2am in the morning to finish it.

Friends, that is high praise indeed.

The book started out fairly slowly, but this is understandable, what with setting up the world building and establishing the reader in this new society where information is strictly controlled by an overarching, somewhat hegemonic and threatening institution of The Great Library of Alexandria.

But once you’re around a quarter of the way through, it’s a rollercoaster ride of pulse-pounding action and emotion till the end. The word ‘page turner’ was invented for a book like this.

I came to care about so many of the side characters, and was DEVASTATED at what happened to my favourite. His stoicism in the face of what was about to happen was chilling and heartbreaking and it was only two lines but my soul hurt.

I loved my very gay older-couple ship. Author, I DEMAND that they make it through to the end, alive and well, to be happy gay farmers somewhere. *pets*

For book-lovers, of course, a whole story around books and people who work with them is awesome. The power dynamics are fascinating, the struggle for control and the lengths to which they will go is horrific, and the behind-the-scenes motivations and meddling is intriguing.

One thing that irked me is the MC’s puppy love for Morgan – it struck me as false and forced, somehow – I didn’t sense an inkling of chemistry.

Apart from that minor gripe, however, this was a wonderful read, with a diverse cast and plenty of adventure and emotion – from dodgy families to near death experiences, mysterious mentors and magical abilities, I am so looking forward to the sequel.

Review: Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy

dumplinSelf-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Rating: 4/5

A powerful, riotous and joyful anthem to ladies in all their shapes, sizes and personalities.

But then there was the way Callie looked me up and down. Like I was some kind of abomination. The truth is that I’m mad I felt uncomfortable to begin with, because why should I? Why should I feel bad about wanting to get into a pool or standing around in my swimsuit? Why should I feel like I need to run in and out of the water so that no one has to see the atrocity that are my thighs?

Seriously, what a fabulous read. The author articulates so many truths when it comes to how we deal with larger bodies in society, especially female ones.

The word ‘fat’ makes people uncomfortable. But when you see me, the first thing you notice is my body. And my body is fat. It’s like how I notice some girls have big boobs or shiny hair or knobby knees. Those things are okay to say. But the word ‘fat’, the one that best describes me, makes lips frown and cheeks lose their colour. But that’s me. I’m fat. It’s not a cuss word. It’s not an insult. At least it’s not when I say it. 

Willowdean is a loveable, realistically flawed character. She expects the remarks about her weight, and many times beats people to the punch. She’s sarcastic and occasionally gloomy and focused on herself. She’s grieving for her dead aunt and has a tense relationship with her beauty pageant mother. She’s also a hard worker, full of spirit, and pulls some awesome stunts.

“Willowdean,” I said. “Cashier, Dolly Parton enthusiast, and resident fat girl.” I waited for his response, but he said nothing. “I mean, I am other things, too.” 

I adored Willowdean and Bo throughout their push-pull relationship. It was heartbreaking to read her inner dialogue about not wanting him to touch her for fear of feeling her fatness. It’s one thing to appear fat, it’s another to have that reality in someones face where there’s no ignoring it. She has a strong facade and attitude about her figure, but is plagued by these insecurities. Of course, she also fears the inevitable ‘what is a guy like him doing with a girl like her?’

I won’t be ridiculed. I won’t be one-half of the couple who everyone stares at and asks, ‘How did she get him’?

It’s also a novel about friendships. The ones we’ve had since childhood, and the distance that comes when you start to grow apart and try to fight it. It’s about very unlikely friendships, where a group of misfits band together. It’s about boys who are sweet and lovely (Mitch!) but don’t make your heart flutter. It’s about saying something horrible in the heat of the moment and being too stubborn to take it back.

“Maybe I thought I deserved all the same things those other girls do…But I’m different from other girls, and even if I do deserve the same things they do, that doesn’t mean I’ll get them….”

“Nope”, says Hannah. “I call bullshit. You don’t deserve to win anything or be in any pageant until you make the effort and do the work. Maybe fat girls or girls with limps or girls with big teeth don’t usually win beauty pageants. Maybe that’s not the norm. But the only way to change that is to be present. We can’t expect the same things these other girls do until we demand it. Because no one’s lining up to give us shit, Will.”

The author perfectly captures the small Southern-town vibe, where something that seems as insignificant to us as a beauty pageant is the lifeblood of the town.

Clover City is the type of place you leave. It’s love that either sucks you in or pushes you away. There are only a few who really make it out and stay out, while the rest of us drink, procreate, and go to church, and that seems to be enough to keep us afloat. 

All in all, a brilliant, body-positive read – while the idea of fatness may be one of the main themes, the author also skilfully depicts fraught friendships and families, a ship that set my heart aflutter, the horrors of high school, and small-town life.

ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication.