The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

The Lost for Words Bookshop: A NovelRating: 

Synopsis2Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never, ever show you.

Into her hiding place – the bookstore where she works – come a poet, a lover, and three suspicious deliveries.

Someone has found out about her mysterious past. Will Loveday survive her own heartbreaking secrets?

My review Loveday Cardew isn’t exactly great at small talk, and prefers to keep people at a distance. The only person who she probably considers something close to a friend and makes an effort to show that she cares about is her employer – Archie – who gives her a job at a time when she was still in the foster care system and was hoping to get out of as soon as possible.

The story is told in three timelines – most of it is in present but there are two smaller past timelines which gives us an insight about two significant phases of her life that has shaped much of her current cynicism and anxieties – her childhood and an abusive relationship. When she meets Nathan – a magician by day and poet/poetry slam organizer by night – she is happier and starts believing the prospects of a new relationship and an easier time at connecting with people again. But a series of suspicious deliveries – books belonging to her parents – at the bookshop – makes her wonder whether a person’s past can truly ever be put behind.

This book is delightful if you are a bibliophile!!! It is strewn with references to all kinds of books from different genres – especially classics. The book timelines are divided into different sections and named after genres – for example: poetry, crime, travel, history and so on. Poetry ends up playing a very important part in the story as Nathan and Loveday end up meeting and performing at poetry slam often. In fact, there are quite a few free-verse poems in the book.

Another aspect of this book that I thoroughly enjoyed was reading about the “inner-working” of a second-hand bookshop. There is a lot of “sorting and shelving the books” paragraphs and I never got tired of reading them. I found it sooo interesting because I guess it is something I have always wondered about .. how are all the books collected and sifted through and put on sale at a second-hand bookshop? It is always a hotchpotch collection of books from different genres – varying from coffee table books to first-edition collectibles and they have to price them, decide what can be cataloged for sale on their website, and what can be sold at throwaway prices.

One running theme with books featuring local bookstores is how it is almost always never really a profitable business and lucrative career option and the people in it do it just for the love for books. It is the same with Archie and Loveday too. Archie is independently wealthy so he doesn’t really depend on this for a livelihood. For Loveday, this was her first chance at being independent and leaving the foster care system behind. But, she never really envisions doing anything else. She could have tried to explore some other career options and study further after completing her A-Levels but she doesn’t. As we know more about her, we see how books went from being something that she associated with happy memories at her childhood home to something that became some sort of a coping mechanism after she lost much of that childhood.

There is a lot to love about this book even if you don’t care much about the whole “bookish” aspect of it. It handles grieving for everything lost and forgiveness to move past that loss sooo well. Forgiveness is messy and grey. Burdening kids with the onus to forgive quickly and make sense of something that even adults struggle with is not fair. I loved how that lesson was underscored so vehemently.

The themes addressed in this book reminded me of Little Big Love by Katy Regan except that I felt more satisfied with the way this book concluded.




Five features I would love to see on Goodreads!!!

I have been quite active on Goodreads for a while now. There is so much to love about this site – all the options for shelving, the giveaways, integrations with online stores, and just being able to share your opinions as quick reviews without the pressure of putting together a “well-constructed” review.

But, hey, I have been using it for over three years, and there have been times when I have thought “Hmm, it would be nice if …. was available”

So, here are some features I would love to see being implemented on GR in the near future:

  1. The Half-Star ratings: I think this comes up as a common gripe among the users because it is just so frustrating when you have to round off a 3 and a half stars to a 4 or a 3. Or pretty much, any half-star rating. Especially, when you have those “The book was sooo good… but that ending tho..” kind of books when you really don’t want to take off an entire rating star icon .
  2. Amazon integration for reviews: It would be great if reviews from GR are posted directly on Amazon! While I don’t mind posting it twice (it takes only a second or two to copy-paste!!), I feel this would be a pretty, uh, logical feature to implement. Goodreads is used as much as a publicity medium, as it is for sharing bookish convo and recs. Unlike Amazon, Goodreads allows you to post reviews as soon as the book is listed on the site. This allows all the readers who have got hold of ARC copies to post reviews and recommend the book. But, the downside is that there is a huge difference in the number of reviews posted on Amazon on Goodreads. It isn’t that people don’t have accounts on both sites. But the ARCs are sent out in advance – sometimes almost a year before its release. People read and post reviews on their blogs and GR but aren’t able to do the same on Amazon till the book releases. So, quite a few end up forgetting to copy-paste the review on Amazon a few months later. I am assuming this is, on some level, frustrating for the authors too because, finally, it is the number of Amazon reviews that tangibly reflects on the book’s prospects (?)
  3. Shelving: Yes, I know we can create shelves but it would be nice if GR considers adding two more shelves to the existing (three) default shelves:  a) DNF shelf- because there are so many books that we readers give up on halfway through and would want to just take a note of it and review it anyways or maybe go through the list of DNFed books later. It is not a genre-specific “shelf-type” so I think that itself makes it a good case to consider for a default shelf . b) Giveaways shelf: because, well, it is something GR recommends when you win a giveaway so I have wondered why doesn’t GR create it automatically on winning your first GR giveaway? Or, present the user with a prompt window asking them whether they want a shelf to be created? (so that they have a choice to decline). goodreadsmail
  4. WYSIWYG Editor: Well, I am not talking about hundreds of font colors and styles; but, how about one with the options that are currently available? – the five main ones would do : Bold, Italics, Underline, Blockquote and (since we are talking about reviews and GR-enabled options) Spoilers.
  5. Review order: This is always a bit of a mess!! When I want to see reviews in the order of the date when they are posted, I mean REVIEWS and not RATINGS!!!! I wish there was a way to filter and sort them separately!


Well, these are some features I would love to see on GR! I am sure a lot more have crept into my mind in the past year that I am not able recall right now… Is it just me or have you guys wished to see any of these features on the site? I know the half-star rating is a pretty popular request and has been discussed about plenty of times so far!!!

[ARC Review] Little Big Love by Katy Regan

Little Big Love by Katy ReganRating: 

Synopsis2About a Boy meets Parenthood in this smart, big-hearted love story about a family for whom everything changed one night, a decade ago, and the young boy who unites them all.

Told through the eyes of Zac, Juliet, and grandfather Mick, Little Big Love is a layered, heartfelt, utterly satisfying story about family, love, and the secrets that can define who we are.

My review It is hard to say what this is book is primarily about. Is it about a 10-year old who is wise beyond his years, when ideally.. he shouldn’t be? Or is it about a woman who takes years to process the events of a fateful night where she loses both her brother and husband? Or is it about a parent who is carrying the weight of the events that lead to him losing his son? I think this book is primarily about processing grief and the time it takes to forgive people who are responsible for it. Sometimes, the time that it takes is enough to hold a lifetime in a limbo and alter it in a way that makes it so hard to undo.

Told through three PoVs, this story is about a single mother trying to raise her son the best she can. So, when she realizes her son is getting bullied in school for being obese, it is like someone suddenly held a mirror in front of her, where she sees her fragility. There is a thin line between fat-shaming and addressing it .. and this book handles it pretty well. My favorite moments were when Juliet (who has taken to stress-eating in the past few years) and Zac start making lifestyle changes together – by taking up running and incorporating dietary changes.

I went into this book expecting a “quest to find missing dad” by a ten-year old, but it was so much more. I think having a ten-year old as the main character was a great idea – the impact of watching such young kids be so heartless was quite something. So was the impact that Teagan, Zac’s best friend, made by helping Zac so selflessly and devoid of any kind of jealousy. I mean, her own dad did a runner just a year ago.

On the flipside, the fact that it was a “search party” headed by ten year olds meant that a lot of the events unfolded way too .. plainly. It didn’t help that the big reveal was quite easy to guess. After so much of the book dwelling on how Juliet’s family found it difficult to forgive some events, the ending could have been more .. drawn out. I thought the writing didn’t hit all the right spots in terms of emotional payoffs.

Nevertheless, it was a great debut, and wonderful addition to middle-grade fiction about family, friendship and parenthood.


Book Marketing Blurbs that Need to Disappear

I read a couple of books this past week, and while I didn’t find them terrible, I didn’t find them aligning with my expectations either. Expectations set because of the marketing blurbs.

Now, I understand the need of using snippets of early “professional reviews” and author blurbs. But some of them are just so.. overused these days that I wish they would just .. disappear.

Note: I am talking only about the bylines used to publicize the book before its release. It is different than readers forming their own opinions later (which can be them agreeing to whatever the book was pitched as before release). 

  1. The WidowThe Next Gone Girl. This is at the top of my list because literally every psych thriller is pitched as the Next Gone Girl these days. Or the “Next Gone Girl and The Next Girl on the Train” (The GotT was probably pitched as the The Next Gone Girl in the first place). Not every thriller featuring a lonely woman in a dysfunctional marriage has to be similar to the next GG. What made GG stand out was a twisted marital relationship set against the backdrop of a “typical” case of a missing person. Amy and Nick were interesting to read about because it was a constant battle of wits between them . They fought nasty. Didn’t matter that the outcome was always one-sided. But the bottomline is – they were never passive characters. I expected The Widow to be something along those lines (and I don’t mean a similar story)… While the book itself was quite engrossing, Jean and Glen just made for a dull couple to read about.
  2. Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles, #1)<Book 1> meets <Book 2> or <Classic 1> meets <Classic 2> Comparing a book with two books – that by itself is enough pressure to live upto. But, what if you are calling your book as a blend of two well known classics from different genres? For example, Song of Blood and Stone is described as “Romeo and Juliet meets Return of the King” .  WHYYY??? I enjoyed the book but it is neither an epic romance nor does it have a world as fleshed out as one would expect from a high fantasy. I would love it if this kind of marketing – calling it a cross between two well-known popular books – has more thought put into it. It is great if the book actually fits the description, but otherwise pretty disappointing for the readers.
  3. “….world reminiscent of Harry Potter” – Or a “Middle Grade Harry Potter” Or a     “<insert country name> Harry Potter” –  I love Harry Potter and I do get the temptation of labeling every book featuring a 11 or 12 year old discovering magic as the Next Harry Potter. But I feel, it kind of holds the book to a very, “recognizable standard” of what the general fantasy world should contain? I mean, what if it is a much different book despite some similar elements. And, maybe, a better book in its own right? As such, I find it very difficult NOT to compare fantasy books with HP.  This just makes it even harder to “move on”.
  4.  “Fans of John Green” or “Fans of TFIOS” for every “Cancer Story” .  I loved TFIOS despite its flaws. I am not a fan of some of the similar stories (pitched for “fans of TFIOS”) that followed though. Showing a couple in love and romanticizing cancer isn’t the sum total of TFIOS.
  5. One Word Blurbs – Stupendous! Fabulous! Fantastic! Fantabulous! Stupendofabulous!!!


Is there any kind of book blurb you are fed up of? Or have you always had positive reading experiences after picking a book based on the blurb? Do let me know in the comments!!!


[ARC Review]Five reasons why:LSD packs in a punch !!!

Firstly, a HUGE happy book birthday (in advance) to Helena Hill’s Long Steady Distance which releases tomorrow. I won an e-ARC of this book and just finished reading it yesterday. It was definitely one of my most satisfying novella-length reads (PDF Version – 150+ pages), in recent months. And, I might be speaking a bit early, but I think this would also make it to my year-end list of favorite book covers. Check out the illustrator’s ( Mhaladie: Elizabeth Julien Coyne) profile on  Twitter and on her Tumblr and on her website.

Also, check out the author’s website , twitter account, and the book’s Goodreads and Amazon pages.

Here’s five reasons why you should check this book out:

long-steady-distance-final-cover 1) It is set in high-school and against the backdrop of the year-long track and cross-country racing competitions. My knowledge of inter-school track-n-field competitions’ schedules and routines is literally zilch. But, the author provides such a lovely window into their daily lives, that you don’t really mind feeling occasionally lost about who’s timing how much in which race.

2) Through Sophie, who is biracial and from the “poorer” part of the city”, it does bring in issues of race and classism, but the story never becomes “about” race or class differences. It is resolutely focused on Emily and Sophie figuring out their feelings for each other before giving a thought (or “defining”/”labelling”) to what that means.

3) It is a sensitive portrayal of a teen’s anxieties – about coming out to their family, to friends and to the society at large. Through Emily, it also touches upon insecurities and the feeling of being a part of a facade when her mom remarries after her dad’s death. She gets a stepfather, stepsister (who she dotes on) and step-aunt/uncle/cousin/grandma. I liked how, though pretty ambivalent about her step-dad, she doesn’t lose perspective and sees that he isn’t a bad person. Just not someone she can connect with. It is these little things – like, not painting everyone or their perceptions about each other in absolute terms – that makes this book come across as so thoughtful and wise.

4) It seamlessly merges in discussions about religion v/s atheism and I love how Emily and her Mom handle their differences wrt faith. It was, well, uneasy, but mature and respectful. There is also a discussion about Christianity and verses from the Bible and how they view homosexuality. As I am not that well-informed about the religious texts, I am not sure how to comment or critique it. But I really liked the idea and just the approach of characters looking towards religion itself in order to examine and understand their own beliefs instead of not confronting it at all. (Note: The quoted verses is a very small section of the book and required in context, so you don’t have to be apprehensive about this book reading like “religious fiction”, )

5) The peripheral characters make quite an impact too. Sure, there is a usual trope-y mean girl (who influences a lot of the events that happens in the end of the book) , but most of the characters feel authentic, and though some of them just get a line or two, and make up the rest of the runners’ team, I still felt like I knew them and cared for their running scores, them beating their own personal record times and so on.

Overall impressions : Rating:A fabulous debut novel!!  Simple but engrossing and doesn’t rely on unnecessary drama to propel the love story forward. Sticks to telling the story it is intended to. Provides a great snapshot into the life of a high-school teen – her favorite subjects, teachers, passions, family and friends.



All the mildly irritating aspects about picking fantasies for your TBR list!!!!

I really like fantasies, but over the years I seem to have accumulated lots of unfinished books and series. I thought, instead of just listing them, it would be interesting to list them with reasons for ditching so many of them mid-way.

So here are some of the reasons devoting time to fantasies ends up being frustrating:Gold Divider Badass Book Reviews Ohoybc Clipart
1) When it feels like the authors went through plotting fatigue by the time they get to the penultimate book in the series! 

Image result for inheritance cycle

I felt that way when I read Brisingr. I just thought it opened up too many plots and meandering directions, so I wasn’t too interested in reading the final one.  But this is a series I would like to re-read someday and hopefully finish!

2) When you search for, and read a standalone. But, it ends up being a series!

The Diabolic (The Diabolic, #1)The Empress (The Diabolic, #2)

So, I search for and pick a standalone to read (which is like a Unicorn in fantasies these days). I love it and…. then go online and discover that the author has announced a second book. My initial reaction is positive, but then I wonder, why can’t a standalone stay that way???? Over time, I have realized I don’t do the whole “waiting for the next book in the series to read” thing too well.. because:

3) When, by the time the next book comes out, I forget the events of the previous book .

Buy from: Amazon, B&N, BAM, iBooks, Indiebound, Indigo, TargetBuy from: Amazon, B&N, BAM, iBooks, Indiebound, Indigo, Target

I feel like so much time has passed, and it is hard to invest time and re-read a 400+ page book just to refresh memory. And sometimes, it takes longer to get the next book.. especially if you are relying on your library (and you are in some gazillionth position in the Holds queue). Well, I did end up buying Wayfarer (through a B&N card gifted by a friend <3)  , and it is still lying on my bookshelf…. I loved Passenger, and so, I want to get back to the series this year.. Moreover, I think I must have forgotten most of Passenger by now, so it would be like reading a new book all over.

4) When fantasy demands uniterrupted reading time, especially if it is too rich in world-building (almost info-dumpy)

Image result for nevernightImage result for nevernight

And it is not always possible to devote such time. I find it harder to get back to fantasies, if I keep taking breaks of  a few days at a time … With the huge cast, places, timelines, magic systems… It is overwhelming trying to recollect what happened the last time I read. In comparison it is easier to get back to half-read books from most of the other genres.

Maybe I have just lost touch with… getting through heavy fantasy reads? To get past this, I have decided to set my primary reading goal this year as to: High fantasy – especially Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss books .

I don’t think I am ever going to get back to Nevernight though.

5) When it is hard to find a fantasy book that does: 1) Not classify as dystopian in Amazon/Goodreads 2) Not comprise of a female badass teenage MC who is a special snowflake 3) Not have a Chosen One trope 4) Not have a friend-zoned best friend.

Now, I know all genres have tropes, stereotypes ‘n all, and TBH I don’t even mind these tropes most of the time.. as long as it does not have most of them in every book!!! To some extent, I feel it is also because I have stopped looking past the usual and oft-repeated “popular” recommendations on social media. So, this year, I have decided to read some of the “older” books and look into more adult fantasy recommendations in the blogosphere. Let’s see how that goes!

Gold Divider Badass Book Reviews Ohoybc Clipart

So, what is your favorite genre? Do you read lot of fantasies? Is there any genre that you had given up on but want to try with renewed enthusiasm in 2018? Hit me up with some recommendations in the comments below!!!


[ARC Review]Genesis (Project Nemesis #2) by Brendan Reichs

Genesis (Project Nemesis #2)Rating: 

Synopsis2Noah Livingston knows he is destined to survive.

The 64 members of Fire Lake’s sophomore class are trapped in a place where morals have no meaning, and zero rules apply. But Noah’s deaths have trained him–hardened him–to lead the strongest into the future . . . whatever that may be. And at any cost. 

Min Wilder knows that survival alone isn’t enough. 

Trapped in a violent world where brute force passes for leadership, it’s tempting to lay back and let everyone else fight it out. But Min’s instincts rebel against allowing others to decide who lives and who dies. She’s ready to fight for what she believes in. And against whomever might stand in her way.

My review [Contains mild spoilers from Nemesis]

It was kind of hard to gather my thoughts for this review as I kept forgetting where Nemesis ended and Genesis began. I read this immediately after Nemesis, so the lines separating the events in both the books kept blurring in my mind. Moreover, it has been a while since I finished this book.

But, oh my, this was so good! I am happy I managed to get an ARC and didn’t have to wait till March to read this. This was such a fantastic sequel and .. well … an amazing example of how you up the ante on everything, while resolving some unanswered issues too:

  1. Genesis starts off with Min and Noah pondering about everything they do know. And still don’t. I loved that Min kind of spoke for me as a reader. Spoke for all my doubts. Through the characters, the book wastes no time tackling a gaping existential plot hole of the first book – how on earth can you make a book about murders interesting when no one can really… stay dead?
  2. I found the inclusion of so many characters in the first book sort of overwhelming, But this book explains the need for such a large “book population”. New alliances are formed, old ones are broken and some just go underground. Oh, there is a lot of emphasis on strategy, vantage points, “brute force v/s brains” and the clash of personalities. Of people choosing to die instead of “sinning”.
  3. Min’s best friend – Tack avoids coming across as the generic best friend / sidekick stereotype we usually see in fantasies with the “strong female teenager” as the main character. In fact, none of the three – Min, Noah and Tack, ever come across as invincible. It is quite the opposite – All three of them – at some point or the other (or, for most of their lives) – have been shown as people bullied by others, lacking confidence, and shirking the responsibility of leading. It is something they have to learn to “fake” – the poise – in order to survive.
  4. At different points in the story, the three of them get separated from each other and re-group with different characters. I think that was such a great way to not just see them as “individuals” (instead of, as a “pack of three” – like it usually happens in fantasies”), but also let the secondary characters share the spotlight and be integral to the plot.
  5. I loved how, for the most part, Min and Noah were just stumbling around for answers. How they never came across as the Chosen One or “special snowflake” stereotype. In fact, for all the time taken to set them up as lovers/antagonists, it was two other characters who stole the show –  whose actions set up some of the concluding moments in the book.

There were a few things that could have been better. After all the violence in the book, the ending gave a “wrapped in a neat little bow” vibe. And, I feel the inclusion of so many characters diluted the effect of some of the “twists” in the book. It is hard to get “shocked” about a X,Y or Z character betraying one another if I barely remember who they were in the first place.

Overall impressions If you loved Nemesis – If you were spooked by the Guardian, daunted by the Silo and wondering whether there was more to the beta-testing, then you would love Genesis. It is gory, twisted and perfect for readers who love books with people dropping dead every other page. And yaayyy!!!! There is a third book coming!! Can’t wait!

Note: I won an ARC of this book from Amanda MacGregor. Genesis releases on March 6th , 2018


My Top 7 Favorite Reads in 2017

Well, I am glad I got this post up while it is still 2017…

(Click on the image to open the Goodreads page)

1)  StarfishLoved: Anxiety rep, the art, Kiko & Jaime, and the pretty brutal depiction of emotional abuse.

Read my review here. And check out my favorite quotes from the book here.




2) Nemesis (Project Nemesis, #1) Genesis (Project Nemesis #2)With bodies dropping left, right and center, this series has been great so far.. Makes me wanna pick up Lord of the Flies. (Genesis releases in 2018, but I was lucky to win the book in a giveaway hosted by Amanda. I might post a review sometime next year.)



3) My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies, #1)So silly and so… effortlessly humorous!!! This was a lot of fun to read! Didn’t realize how quickly the almost-500 pages just flew by! Can’t believe it was co-authored by three people… It really felt like a single “voice” behind the book.. it was that seamless….




4)The Sun Is Also a Star I wasn’t a huge fan of Everything Everything… and I am not too big on the Love-at-first-sight romances (or romances in general) … so I was surprised by how much I ended up liking this book. And all the cheesy and dreamy conversations..





5) The Storied Life of A.J. FikryA grumpy, widowed bookstore owner in an island whose life changes one day with an unexpected package arriving at his bookstore… It is hard to not love a book with such a premise!





6)A Man Called Ove Anndddd…. it is hard not to love a book about grieving curmudgeons who learn to love life again … If you loved A Storied Life of A.J Fikry, I think you will love this one too!





7) Sita: Warrior of Mithila (Ram Chandra #2)Liked this a lot more than the first book (Scion of Ikshvaku). This is the first time I am reading a series with a multi-linear narrative, and I definitely enjoyed Sita’s version better (maybe, because, I was less overwhelmed by all the world-building this time.. I could grasp it better as I was already acquainted with it..and it helps that Sita is a lot more proactive and less idealistic than Ram.. I mean, I liked Ram too, but as a reader, it was kind of hard to plough through some of the dormancy in the first book…. ) .. I have actually not read the Shiva trilogy.. so this is my first time reading Tripathi’s books… and I love what he has done with the Ramayana … especially the way he completely flipped the backstories of some characters.. while retaining most of the core ideas… I can’t wait for the next one, I am sure Raavan’s PoV is going to be the best of the lot!!!


What has been your favorite reads this year? Have you read any of the books in the list? Do let me know in the comments below!


[ARC Review] Shadowsong – Marginally better than Wintersong…

Shadowsong (Wintersong, #2)Rating:

Synopsis2Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her. 

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

My review [Contains spoilers from Wintersong]

Shadowsong starts six months after Liesl walks out of the Underground, her marriage with the Goblin King and the title of the Goblin Queen. In doing so, she disturbs the delicate balance that keeps her world secure, safe and immune to the “unholy spirits” of the world below her – As the old Laws of the Underground demands that a sacrifice be made – a sacrifice in the form of a bride for their King  – to ensure that life breathes into the world Liesl lives in. To ensure that Winter gives way to Spring.

This book is all about the slow consequences of Liesl choosing to walk out. And also about what she decides to do with her new-found knowledge of Josef being a changeling – whose life is a consequence of Liesl’s prayers when he had fallen ill as a baby. Liesl’s brother isnt meant for the world above and the only thing keeping him tethered and stopping him from joining the other changelings in the Underground is his sister’s wish and his partner’s – Francois’s – love for him.

I had made it pretty evident in my review of Wintersong about how frustrated I was with the romance. But I really liked the revelation about Josef and also wanted to see how Liesl deals with going back to her life. So I did go into Shadowsong with some expectation and anticipation…

The plotting The world-building continues in this book; the world – in terms of myths and tales – expands – and phenomenon such as “elf-touched” and “elf-struck” are spoken about a lot more than the previous book. But, the issue I had with the book is this – though we got more of the “background” wrt. the origin of the Goblin Kings, the sacrifices required by the queens and so on… I never felt like I understood it any better.. This book introduced two new factions who have connected with the Underworld in the past within some capacity (like Liesl) which felt so unnecessary. I mean, I think atleast one could have been totally done away with… It just felt like the author introduced too many concepts.. but couldnt connect them too well..

The characters Josef is aloof with everyone and angry with Liesl. His sense of betrayal and Liesl’s hurt feelings are well-depicted and probably the best part of the book. I was also glad to see more of Kathe and Francois, and gosh, I will say it again .. Kathe deserves a better story. And Francois deserved atleast one opportunity to vent on-page about how distant Josef was. I mean, Liesl got almost two books to dwell, moan and whine.

Honestly, I quite enjoyed the first half of the book, where it focused on Liesl, Josef, Kathe and Francois. It was only in the second part where Liesl again slipped into pining for the Goblin King and pretty much indulged in constant self-flagellation for her past choices that I was reminded about how much Liesl bored me in Wintersong.

Overall impressions A different concept, with some great ideas. But they just didn’t fit too well. Too many contradictions and vague explanations about how the Laws and sacrifices are supposed to work.

If you enjoyed the first book, then I think you would really like this a lot more than I did. I found it to be a much better book than Wintersong though.

Note: I won an ARC of this book from Amanda MacGregor. Shadowsong releases on Feb 6th , 2018


Wintersong – A semi-spoilery rant.

Wintersong (Wintersong, #1) Rating:

Synopsis2All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

My reviewThis is one of those books which starts out really strong, loses steam mid-way and then splutters into such a mind-numbing conclusion (not! there is a sequel) that .. you are just left to wonder – How can a novel intended to have Music as its backbone leave you feeling so empty?

  • Liesl was annoying, the Goblin King was annoying and well.. their romance was annoying . I couldnt take anything Liesl said or felt seriously because I never got the sense that she even knew what her priorities were or where her loyalties lie… Her “love” for her family members kind of flits around.. Sometimes she has Kathe in her thoughts, sometimes it is her brother.. but most of the time.. none of them seem to matter in comparison to her new-found proximity and place in the Goblin king’s life and the “freedom” she finds Underground.. And, she remembers her parents occasionally as an afterthought…
  • And oh, dont let the synopsis fool you.. Liesl’s strength doesn’t come from the Goblin King – “musically”, “physically”, or “emotionally” – it comes after they have sex – which you might miss if you flip the pages to skim over musical or flowery metaphors. Gosh, there was something so… needy and whiny about the way Liesl craved for physical intimacy – and that too so quickly after she is practically blackmailed into being held captive.. that despite all her affirmations throughout the book that it is “her choice” to be in the relationship – I just couldn’t shrug off feeling so creeped out by their unhealthy and almost Stolkholm-Syndrome-like dynamics..
  • The writing in general is beautiful.. with a great concept.. But I just wished the book didn’t spend such a major chunk of its page time on Liesl grumbling and the Goblin King playing the most boring version of the Brooding YA Hero trope ever written.
  • The world-building is kind of confusing… and gave the impression that the author just put in a lot of pretty dressing and sparkly icing to cover up a wafer-thin setting. What could have been summarized in five sentences is spread thin throughout the book and presented very …. very….. slowly..
  • Oh, how I wish there was more of Kathe , and less of Liesl’s condescension and judgement about her… It was the most blatant .. “My sister is shallow and pretty but I am ordinary and deep and beautiful from inside” trope ever. Except that Kathe is so much more .. – that we are robbed of seeing because of – Liesl.GoblinKing.Epic.Love.Story

But, oh, I am interested in reading the sequel because the twist in the later part of the book is interesting and kind of sets up the sequel to focus on a slightly different plot. And it looks like (fingers crossed) we might get more of another love story too..

Edit: Amidst all the metaphors and flowery prose, the bit that actually had the most impact on me (maybe because I had just watched Coco) was this bit :

Image result for coco movie images This was the immortality humans were meant to have: to be remembered by those who loved us long after our bodies had crumbled to dust.