The Damned – Renee Ahdieh

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Published Date – 07/07/2020

This story follows on from Renee Ahdieh’s first book ‘The Beautiful’. Bastein has awoken cursed and immortal. A treaty has been broken, and his life as he knows it, is about to change forever. Celine has paid the highest price though, and attempts a life without Bastien, but her dreams terrorise her and keep her awake at night. But what do they mean? She is also about to learn the truth about herself and her past…

Firstly, thank you to NetGalley & Hodder & Stoughton for allowing me to read an ARC of The Damned!

I wasn’t too optimistic about reading this book to begin with after not really enjoying ‘The Beautiful’, but I can definitely say I was pleasantly surprised! This book had a lot of what the first lacked, suspense, mystery, and action.

The book begins exactly where the last ended, with Bastien coming back around – and Celine, gone. It’s unclear whether Bastien will survive his transition, and they can only hope!

I just felt like there was so much more to this than ‘The Beautiful’. It was fast paced, and had me keep wanting more and more from it! I enjoyed how the vampire characters were explored more, and that it was more about the vampire side of the story.

There’s a bit of romance in this, but not nearly enough to be considered cringey *cough* TWILIGHT.

I also like how there’s more to Celine’s story in this book too, I felt like in the last she was a little ‘wishy washy’ and quite a flat character. In ‘The Damned’ Celine’s past is explored and things come to light that make sense, and make the story that much more interesting. Especially as it turns out that her bloodline is a known enemy to vampires. And I think this will make it an interesting story for the next book, if there is to be one. There is still a lot of unanswered questions that I’d like answers to, and I feel as though the story could definitely go on, as it was kind of a ‘cliff-hanger’ ending!

Now I’m all for lots of different characters in a book, and I LOVE reading from the perspectives of them, but when reading like ten characters thoughts it gets a bit much. I felt as though sometimes it was unnecessary for certain parts to be included, and at times it got confusing working out who was who, who was good, who was bad…

I do also think that the story perhaps dragged just a little longer than I felt it necessary, but overall I did enjoy the book. And based on this one alone, I look forward to reading the next in the series!

Such A Fun Age – Kiley Reid

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At the beginning of the book Emira is approached by a supermarket security officer and is accused of ‘kidnapping’ the white child that she is babysitting, Briar. Following on from this comes a chain of events that change Emira’s life in the long run. After this explosive beginning, Alix her employer, makes it her mission to set things right, and make Emira feel more like family. But does this work? Or does it just make Emira feel more alien to her employer and her family? Emira then meets someone who is from Alix’s past, which brings up what you could call ‘childhood-trauma’ for Alix. Emira comes to a lot of realisations throughout this story, and learns how hard it is to be a black woman living in America and how easy it is for people to be racist without even meaning to!

This was another book club read for the lovely Words, Wine & Wit Book Club – click on the link to be directed to the Facebook page!

There are so so many points that I enjoyed throughout this story, and it’s hard to pinpoint anything bad – especially with it being about a life and culture that realistically, I know absolutely nothing about! Therefore, who would I be to comment on the story of a black woman, written by a black woman, when I am in fact a white woman?

I loved Emira and Briars relationship throughout the book, it was so wholesome, and for me it’s got to be one of the best parts of the book. Their connection was so lovely, Emira was almost like a big sister to Briar with the way Briar looked up to her!

I also found the portrayal of Alix to be done quite well, in that us as white people sometimes are racist without meaning to be. Some of the things that Alix says and does throughout the story are done in such a derogatory way, but she’s also clueless she is doing it, and I think some white people do the same. People do this by acting like they are ‘walking on eggshells’ around people of colour, and it is unnecessary. Alix does this a lot within the book, and like Emira, us as readers can see right through Alix, even when she can’t herself.

Another character that becomes an accessory to racism is Kelly. In my opinion, I do not like him as a character, and didn’t from the minute he was introduced. It is later discovered that Kelly actually fetishizes black women, and only dates them. This is also seen as racism, as black women are made to feel like objects by white men. I personally don’t understand how people fetishize people from their skin colour/ethnicity, because I myself don’t date people for their ethnicity, but rather their personalities. But it is so common nowadays for this to happen, and white women are the same in that some white women will also fetishize black men. This is only touched on lightly with Kelly, so I think I would like to have this delved into a little deeper perhaps.

Overall I highly rate this book to absolutely ANYONE, and I feel as though it’s an important read. I know things now that I most definitely didn’t before reading this, and I think others will feel the same! Lets be sure to educate ourselves consistently and do our bit for all people of colour in the world!

Have you read this? – Let me know your thoughts!

The Beautiful – Renee Ahdieh

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Set in 1872, New Orleans, there’s a mysterious killer lurking in the shadows – and wherever Celine goes, chaos follows. Who the killer is, is a mystery to all, and Celine decides it’s best for her to stay well away from her loved ones after her friends are involved in a fatal moment. In the other part of town is Bastien and his family of vampires, and they very much want to know who this killer is, as is causing absolute Mayhem in their town. When Celine and Bastien finally cross paths they do what they can to keep themselves and their families safe. The thing to ask is, is the killer someone closer to home than they thought? Are they right under their noses?

I read this book as I got accepted for The Damned which is the sequel, which I shall be reviewing next so keep your eyes peeled!

This is the first fantasy I have read in a long time after reading thrillers and more contemporary fiction, so it was like reading something I’ve never read before! I enjoyed how the perspectives change between Celine, Bastien and the unknown killer. Getting an inside on the killers mind was very interesting – but also frustrating at the same time as you just want to know who he is! When the murders happen, they are very much blood and gore, but without going into too much detail if you know what I mean? So I would definitely recommend this for younger readers/those of you who enjoy YA fantasy series.

Unfortunately for me there was a few negative points that I feel I should mention in my review – as always I try to keep it entirely honest without the risk of coming across as brutal or harmful! So please do remember these are my views and mine only, there has been no other input on this other than from myself! Just because I only rated it two stars, does not mean you may not rate it five stars yourself! I will always recommend the book regardless – so to any readers, reviews and authors – please do not be disheartened by my reviews – it just means that the book just wasn’t for me!

My main points that I disliked was that I felt that although there were multiple murders throughout, it wasn’t until the final 10% that it really GRIPPED me. There wasn’t much action for me, or at least not enough for me to feel like I should keep going! But for the sake of my review for The Damned I felt like I must, so that I knew how the story continues and whether it connects well with each other!
I also feel like it lacked romance, I expected an all-consuming, passionate romance/love story but that just isn’t what I felt like I got, so I will say I was slightly disappointed in that.

I won’t elaborate too much as I want you to have a read for yourselves and see what you think! I have seen many, many readers who really enjoyed this, so again, please do not be disheartened that it just wasn’t for me! I value all readers and authors and their books – so whilst my reviews may not be what you hoped for, it doesn’t mean I won’t necessarily read any of that authors future work!

Let me know what your thoughts are if you’ve read this!

We Are Bound by Stars – Kesia Lupo

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Publish Date – 09/07/2020

We Are Bound by Stars is the follow on to We Are Blood And Thunder, the story follows Livio, who is destined for great things. He is destined for a life he has worked so hard to stay away from, but it is time for him to inherit the family legacy. The story also follows Beatrice, who is one of three sisters, who are all mask-makers. It isn’t until an assassin cause great problems for both Beatrice and Livio, that the two finally meet. There is great tragedy in both of their lives, but can they stop what caused it?

So firstly, thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for allowing me to read the ARC for the above book.

The story has the same kind of feels for me as the last one, although this is a sequel, I think that it can be read without having read We Are Blood and Thunder. I don’t feel as though their is really a link at all between the two, apart from the relations between Constance & Livio. So it isn’t entirely necessary to read the first beforehand, but it does make sense when the character Constance is mentioned.

Again I feel like a lot lacked in the book, there wasn’t much suspense, and I felt like it was also a bit of a chore to finish and it’s not the kind of feeling anyone wants to have with a book. It just didn’t grasp my attention as much as I would have hoped, and it wasn’t a particularly fast paced book either. But also, like the last I felt like the end is incredibly rushed when it could have perhaps been delved into a little more.

I did like the relationship Beatrice has with her sisters in the book, it’s a very love hate kind of relationship, which I can completely relate to, being the oldest of my siblings, we can definitely have that in our household! And also how Beatrice was kind of the ‘black sheep’ out of the three, she wanted freedom, whereas her sisters would much rather prefer to have the easy life they currently had. The life that was CHOSE for them.

I also liked Livio as a character, where at the beginning of the book he is someone else to the world, but at home he is almost royalty and now destined to take over with the death of his cousin coming to light.

Both characters long for freedom but neither can have it, as their futures were already determined long before either were born, and I think that’s the most grasping part of the story for both characters, alongside the tragedy within Beatrice’s life as the book goes on.

It may be because it is a YA/Fantasy that I didn’t particularly enjoy it as much as I would have hoped, therefore I would probably recommend this to anyone below the age of perhaps 16? It’s definitely a book that I would have perhaps been more invested in maybe five or so years ago! I know a lot of my readers enjoy a lot of YA – so perhaps I’m even growing out of it now! Who knows? – I personally hope I haven’t!!!