Review: Of Dreams and Rust

17558151Of Dreams and Rust
by Sarah Fine

★★★★☆

Of Dreams and Rust is the incredibly bittersweet, fast-paced sequel to Of Metal and Wishes. It picks up a year after the end of the last novel. Wen is now working in Gochan 2, the war machine factory, and overhears a rumour that leads her to believe Melik’s life is in danger and so she leaves the safety and familiarity of her father and Bo to warn him. When they finally reunite however, he’s not the same person she knew a year ago and she begins to question betraying her own people for the sake of his.

It is not a happy realization. It does not bring me any pleasure, not even the savage, animal kind. I thought my own people were the villains, but now I see the truth: all of us are villains. The Noor are just as bad, just as bloodthirsty, just as willing to cause suffering and death. If they had war machines, they would use them. When they have the ability to hurt, they do.”

Never fear however! Despite all the obstacles keeping them apart, Melik and Wen’s relationship is just as heartwarming as ever, if not more! Although I couldn’t blame Wen at the beginning for believing the worst of Melik – I mean come on, if someone threw down decapitated pinkies at my feet, I’d probably have good reason to think he had killed them too! But of course Melik proves his love to be loyal and true, using his super intense gazes that just melt me from across the pages and an ultra-protective but not overbearing attitude that I seriously could not get enough of – I find that often in YA and NA we get a lot of alpha-male personas that are swoony on paper but whom I’d never want to have a relationship with in real life, but Melik is a whole ‘nother story. He would be protective of Wen but he respected her as a person who was capable of actually making a change. (Wen, you lucky, lucky duck.)

‘I am not Itanyai, Ghost. I am Noor and we value our women for what they can do.’ He gestures to the group that will journey into the hills, some of whom are female. ‘We do not shackle them the way you do. They may not fight at the front line, but they are strong, and they do fight.’ “

I also love that Fine didn’t shy away from the grittiness of war and its profound effects on character development. Melik did whatever he had to in order to survive and fight for his people, even if it came at the cost of his conscience. I think I respected him a lot more because of the actions he took and how the war forced him, and Sinan as well, to grow beyond their years. So clearly, nothing but love for the Red One!

As the novel progressed however, I found myself missing that intense social division that Fine wove into Of Metal and Wishes. It seemed to me that this book was just so focused on the romance that it lost some of the intensity of the plot being carried over from the first novel in the series. (Not that I can complain too much, Melik and Wen did have me swooning left, right and centre after all…) The end especially left me without a sense of closure – years and years of social oppression ended with a single battle and a treaty? Where was the political strife? The glaring tensions between the Itanyai and the Noor? Not only did I find it a little unlikely that the Itanyai would even propose this but I WANTED MORE. I wanted dirty, gritty politics, I wanted a face-off between the leaders of the Noor and the Itanyai. I wanted all the Noor to unify and rise up as a whole against the injustices they’ve faced. The final battle felt like a triumph for Wen, Melik and the village of Dagchocuk when I wanted it to belong to an entire people.

Overall though, I have nothing but love for this series. It’s been a wild rollercoaster of emotions, with both tears and laughter alike. Fine has this raw, emotional writing style and wonderfully complex characters that never fail to hook me in and never let me go, even long after I’ve read the last words.

sheryl

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Review: Crimson Bound

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Crimson Bound
by Rosamund Hodge
★★★ ½

I really, really wanted to love this book. I’m actually kind of angry at myself for not liking it as much as I wanted to. There were so many incredible elements of this novel – from the powerful writing, to the sheer emotion and the tingling eeriness that I’ve come to expect from Hodge – but in the end, while I definitely enjoyed it, I didn’t feel as utterly captivated as I did while reading Cruel Beauty.

I think most of this lack of engrossment came from my inability to connect with the main characters. For me, if I have difficulty connecting with the main characters right off the bat, I’m unable to really get into and appreciate the rest of the novel. Which is one of the reasons why I’m so upset – honestly, I think if I loved Rachelle and Armand as much as I did Nyx and Ignifex, this book would’ve been an out-of-this-world favourite for me. But it’s not as if Hodge didn’t give me enough opportunities to connect with Rachelle –

Every day for the last three years, she had thought she deserved to die. She still didn’t want to. She wanted to live with every filthy desperate scrap of her heart.”

 She’s utterly complex, both viciously dark and haunted by her past yet still unbroken and fighting to save the people she loves. However, in the end, I just couldn’t get past the bitter self-hatred and self-pity that she puts herself through. I understood it and my heart went out to her for the horrific things she experienced but I just couldn’t read it over so many times.

Armand was also a character I had difficulty liking. There was nothing wrong with him necessarily – other than being a bit predictable, but I couldn’t find anything spectacular about him either.

The writing on the other hand, was absolutely dazzling. The descriptions of the Château de Lune made me swoon with giddy delight while the Great Forest made me sit up straighter and hold my book tighter with anticipation every time it came into play. The back story with Zisa and Tyr was enthralling, both bone chilling and heartbreaking, a combination that Hodge employs perfectly. Usually I’m not a huge fan of a story within a story but I couldn’t get enough of this one!

“Zisa would have gladly lost hands and feet and eyes and tongue for her brother. But she knew that if she waited for him to pick up the sword, he would refuse and die beside her, and his death was the one thing she could not endure. So she picked up the sword and cut off his right hand.”

All in all, I enjoyed reading Crimson Bound and loved the darkness it lent to the beloved Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale but I just wanted something more out of the characters!

sheryl

Review: Of Metal and Wishes

Of Metal and Wishes 
by Sarah Fine

★★★★☆

Of Metal and Wishes is a profoundly poignant, bittersweet retelling of The Phantom of the Opera that I suspect will stay on my mind for many, many nights to come (or until the sequel, Of Dreams and Rust releases for which I am counting down the days!).

I found that the main character Wen, was not terribly remarkable. She’s likeable for sure and I found her brave and defiant but in contrast, her relationships with the people around her, namely Melik, Bo and her father, are absolutely dazzling.

I’m a sucker for forbidden romances – especially those between different classes, and Fine executed this one gorgeously. It was more than just cute, it was raw and vulnerable and reading it, I felt stripped down to my bones with sorrow and despair and quiet, poignant moments of joy. The kind of love that can transcend years and years of cultural prejudice, that stands upright against everything society  dictates – that’s the kind of romance in this novel and I loved everything about it.

I am so tired right now, and the chill has crept into my bones and made them ache. But I will not fall asleep; no, I will sit here with this boy who does not know his place, and I will be with him until our time runs out.”

Bo is perhaps the most captivating character of the novel. He’s a perfect, terrifying blend of childlike cruelness and utter loneliness but so absolutely lost that I just wanted to cry reading about his tragic past, how he feels for Wen and how absolutely fervently he dreams for the future. Seriously, I can’t help but want to give him the biggest hug ever.

I do wish however, that there could’ve been a stronger female-female relationship and a more positive portrayal of women.  I feel as if Wen gave up on her relationship with Jima far too easily, especially when she realized that Jima had been forced into prostitution after losing her job at the factory. Society and Wen’s earlier perceptions that prostitution is shameful was a bit irritating to read – especially when it was implied several times over in the novel. Similarly, I thought that Wen could’ve put more effort into her relationship with Vie.  She says that they had been friends since childhood, going to the First Holiday together every year but she never truly tries to explain her actions to Vie or to convince her that the Noor are not what they have been propagandised to be.

The writing is beautiful – as expected when the story is set in a slaughterhouse, there is a lot of gore but Fine has this way of describing it that makes the carnage more chilling than grisly or bloody which vastly heightens the atmosphere. Normally, I’m not a fan of horror or thriller  by any means but in this case,  I couldn’t get enough of the eeriness it lent to the words. I definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone looking for their next spectacular read!

sheryl

Review: Love Show

Love Show
by Audrey Bell

★★★★☆

Wow, this was one of those books that I could read over and over again and it would never fail to put a smile on my face! Love Show is a New Adult novel that centers on the romance between Hadley Arrington and Jack Diamond, two of my favourite MCs (like ever).

Hadley Arrington is a senior college student who is the Editor-in-Chief for her school’s newspaper, which basically is her life. She rooms with her gay best friend, David, and they have such a fun and honest relationship with each other.  (#realtalks everywhere)

“You have a 4.0 GPA. You are the last person in the world who needs to study. Here are some people who need to study. Me. Tara Barnes. Kim Kardashian. Miley Cyrus. You do not need to study. You need to take a nap, a Xanax, and a two-year vacation.”

On a dare from David, she kisses a stranger in the rain at tailgate. This stranger turns out to be Jack Diamond, a good-looking, laid back, vice-president of his frat house, who doesn’t have a clue what he wants to do in the future. Their chemistry together was instant, but Hadley doesn’t want to be in a relationship (with anyone – ever) so they agree on being friends with benefits. They set up a bunch of rules to follow, and over time get to know each other more and rely on each other.

He chuckled. “Dinner? Would you want to go to dinner sometime? Can I ask you out?” “Ah, look, I’m at the bookstore.” “Oh, I got it. I heard about that law. You can’t agree to go on a date with anyone when you’re at a bookstore.” “I don’t think I’m available,” I managed to say. He didn’t sound at all displeased. More than anything, he sounded amused. “Ever? You are never available for dinner? Wow.”

Hadley’s resistance to trusting other people stemmed from her six-time divorced mother who constantly craves love, and her absent career-driven father.

“It made one thing very clear to me: being afraid to be alone made you dependent on someone else. Someone you hadn’t met yet. A stranger. And a stranger was an incredibly stupid and unreliable thing to depend on.  I promised myself I would never do that. And I never did.”

This book was essentially a really good chick-flick movie, complete with all the references too. It made me laugh out loud, aww at cute moments, smile at the witty banter and tear up in the emotional parts. There was no angst or insta-love; whenever there was an argument, they communicated with each other or apologized (something people don’t seem to do in many books.. or in real life) and it was resolved. The chemistry between them was so real and genuine and their character growth in the novel was done really well. They didn’t compromise their own values but still pursued their own dreams; Hadley’s being pursing a career in war combat journalism. Although David and Hadley’s relationship was secondary, it never felt that way. Their friendship was something that was so real and heart-warming in this novel. She supported him through his rocky relationship with a jock that was still in the closet (UGH Ben…) and they stuck by each other through thick and thin. And can I just say the banter between Jack and Hadley was so on point? (it was so hard just to pick out quotes.. honestly I could copy and paste the whole book here gah)

“So, this is the library, huh?” Jack said, as we approached the building so I could work on a paper for my Arabic class. “You realize I am a library virgin, right?” I opened the door. “You need to be quiet.” “Thank you for that valuable bit of information, Hadley Arrington. I will treasure it all my life.”

Even though this was a NA book there was nothing too graphic, but it had just the right amount of steamy-ness don’t worry. 😉 Besides a couple grammar and formatting errors and the fact that this book is not available in paperback (UGH I NEED A HARD COPY PLEASE) this would be a 5 star book. Honestly, this was absolutely one of my favourite books  that has a special place in my heart so I hope you’ll give it a try! priscilla