Apparently today is day 201 of the year.

164 days are remaining in this year.

I’ve also read 165 books so far this year.

It’s Saturday and I only slept 3 hours. Don’t ask.

It never gets old.

The fact that I actually manage to work proofreading and editing (and translating) texts,

while in my everyday life I write ‘vase’ instead of ‘face’ in a sentence and have to read it at least three times to notice.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


To be honest, this is a case of ‘I don’t think I’ll know if I even like this until (if) I read the sequel’.
There’s such thing as few too many twists and few too many lies.
For example, I’m not sure if I feel like all main characters changed their personalities and beliefs too abruptly for it to be believable, or if it can actually be believable in the circumstances.
(Should we really change sides so much and feel comfortable with characters who murdered and tortured under our noses?)
I feel uncomfortable to comment on any story developments, other than say that the ending is a chaos and I don’t think I enjoy where it went…unless I see it go somewhere else in a future book.
If I judge from the fact that I really don’t like ‘mind game’ books in general (as in constantly not knowing what is real and what is really going on), then I suppose I don’t like this book. But I think I need to see where it all tries to lead to just to be certain. Because right now, there are more questions than answers.
This book on its own gives too little to judge on.

There is an interesting style, and I especially enjoyed the ‘excerpts’ at the beginning of each chapter. More importantly, kudos for making it into a fantasy world ‘vaguely inspired’ by slavic cultures than actually borrowing from them more than names. I think it is an interesting and well-developed world, even if small and unhappy.
At the same time I feel there is a substantial room for improvement in terms of writing.
It’s on a simpler side, it doesn’t really grab you, it doesn’t make you feel like you can’t let yourself put the book down. And little things, like overuse of the word ‘boy’ got on my nerves sometimes.
Reading this book felt like watching its story on fast-forward. That unbalanced way of catching some random moments very clearly and just flying by the rest of events.
The action sequences were a bit hard to follow. Not really written in a way that would make it easy to see what is going on around the main character and why. Maybe this is also related to my ‘fast-forwarded’ impression.

Overall, ‘chaos’ is the most true impression of this book, and it leaves me confused. Question is, will it untangle or will it continue in the same tone and manner?



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Not His Dragon by Annie Nicholas

Not His Dragon (Not This, #1)

Not His Dragon by Annie Nicholas

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I don’t think I’ve ever became sceptical of a book as fast as with this one. Simply because, in the very first tiny paragraph, of all the possible synonyms, the author chose to use the word ‘tits’ in a sentence that only talks about spilling scalding liquid over them. I mean, there’s such thing as TPO for words, and even something like ‘bazoombas’ would be better if you’re going for style or humour…as it is it’s just vulgar. (I think there was once a book I dropped even faster, it had something like 6 f-words on the very first, but didn’t as much get sceptical as closed that book and forgot what it was)
Anyhow, that first paragraph sort of represents the quality of writing, and the quality of writing sort of matches everything about this book – mleh.
It’s not bad, but it’s not good.
It’s half-baked, average, confused, full of story elements jumping out of nowhere and going nowhere, a lot of ‘wait. and?’ moments, with a heroine that cries about being strong and independent for the fist half, then turning 180 degrees for the other and being mostly a helpless coward, the resolution for the ‘mystery’ is half silly and cheesy, half not even there.
Just a short silly book that doesn’t require you to use your brain, to read and forget.



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Yet, I believe what really grinds my gears, and prevents me from leaving this topic alone and not wasting my energy on thinking about it for 2 days already, is that if the situation was the opposite, as in, if the main characters were supposed to be from somewhere from Africa (or say Asia or Middle East), but instead white British actors were hired to play their roles, there would have been 10 times more outrage.

And then thousands of people who never even read the books would also flock to protest and express their outrage once they’d sniff it out, because how dare the tv producers not respect people’s races and cultures.

And I highly doubt the author would have been able to write her ‘proud post’ about how she thinks the cast is just right, and she never even remembered that her own main character had eyes of a specific colour. and that he is ‘right for the role in every way that matters’ (except race, because race doesn’t matter). Because she would just get stoned for that.

…In everyday circumstances, I would be among the first to say that race doesn’t matter. Because, in everyday life, I don’t really care (and, to be honest, my cognitive abilities are failing enough that sometimes I can’t tell Japanese people from foreigners when I’m outside…).

But when we talk about integrity of cultures and world settings… I think every culture and setting should be equally protected and represented as it was historically, or as it was written to be.

Caught (I wish I didn’t) ‘cast reveal’ posts for upcoming ‘Bridgerton’ series on the author’s instagram…(who, of course, also promptly had to disable comments for most of them).

I wanted to sigh, shake my head, think something in terms of ‘Well, it’s not like I really actually expected to be able to watch it anyway…’ and forget about the whole thing, but…

Unfortunately, I had been spiralling down the mental stability scale all day, and, instead, this little thing happened to be the ‘lust crumb’ that practically drove me to tears on the topic of ‘why this world has to be so idiotic and how am I supposed to live in it let me out‘, as I was falling asleep.


I started telling myself that it should be a well-known and accepted for me fact that I don’t watch (and hate) book ecranisations, so I shouldn’t have expected anything different. That, in fact, “Lord of the Rings” might be the only one I actually liked.
-> Which then led to the thought of ‘Yeahright, if they were filming it now, I bet half of hobbits would be played by actors from South America, Legolas would be played by a Chinese actor, and Arven or Eowyn (or both) by African-American women.’

I have absolutely nothing against racial diversity.

What I am against is stories and books losing their integrity. It matters.
Characters should be played by people who match what the characters were written to be.

When a white American actress plays Japanese character it is wrong and ugly.
When African actors plays a role of English Duke from early 1800s it is wrong and ugly.
When Chinese actors made to play Japanese people and speak in some broken resemblance of a language it is wrong and ugly.

When a character was written to be a person of a certain ethnicity and culture, and someone from a completely different ethnicity and culture is forced to play that character, like neither of their ethnicity and cultures even matter, it is just wrong and ugly. It just shouldn’t be.

(and complaining that there are no characters of colour in Soviet Ukraine in Chernobyl is simply idiotic. And ugly.)

The fact that, in this world, it’s fine and acceptable to say ‘A story about Georgian/Regency England? Who cares what ethnicity the actors are! Lets just bring whoever and appear be cool, inclusive, and progressive!!’ just burns my my mind like acid.

If you want to be ‘cool, inclusive, and progressive’, write a story that is written for a ethnically diverse cast of characters. Write more stories about characters from different ethnicity and make tv series based on them.
Stop ruining already existing stories.

And as someone who writes… I would sooner see all my works burn than let some tv producers decide that the integrity of my story world and characters don’t matter or mean anything. Racial diversity is important and all, but not where it’s there just to be, and stands against what the story is about.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


For the most of this book, I though I would be able to at least give this book 3 stars (1 for its events, 5 for its words, divide the sum)…but somewhere closer to the final 3rd even the writing I found compelling and interesting had turned to the worse. While most of the prose in this is very well done and indicates a talent, there is really something wrong with the way relationships between people are written here. And the closer they became, the more that ‘wrongness’ stood out for me. But that’s not my biggest issue with this book.

I wonder when we will finally move out of this fashion of YA books that all begin the same: the theme of oppression, mental or physical slavery and domination, a presence of some kind of absolutely evil/disturbing/disgusting egocentric monarch getting off on abusing others, and our hero/heroes just taking it. The genders change, the worlds change, we can be on Earth, Cosmos, or some other land; we can change favourite English cuss word to ‘daama’ and ‘elves’ to ‘safir’, but it’s still all the same overused and tired formula.
These stories may be dressed in different images and names, but they all smell exactly the same. Of some weird YA fascination with abuse, humiliation, and misery that makes me vomit a little in my mouth. And of making death and torture trivial and commonplace.

Here, once again we have out shackled heroes grinding their teeth, psychopathic antagonist monarch torturing and killing for fun (or for some great purpose and fun) (who are also exactly the same in every book), reluctant forbidden attraction, hidden destiny to change the world…
You read and 50 pages in you can pretty much tell where this will go and which of the introduced characters will end up where. Then you read on hoping the book might still surprise you and prove you wrong…and in never does. If anything, it kept getting worse the closer it got the part III of the book. The childish

‘And then his grip
began
to falter.’

the awkwardly written ill-fitted developing relationship (even when you know it was going to happen from the very beginning, the way it was written in just felt…all wrong). And then the mess of an “ending” with so much wrong there too.

I don’t read YA that much, but even I find myself very tired from seeing this same set up and bone structure everywhere. I wish one day when I get a new YA book in my mail it would really be NEW.

That said, some do it better than others and it has to be said that the writing, imagination, and world building in this book are all at least admirably good. I believe the author really possesses a keen talent with words, but (only in my personal opinion) it’s a shame that it was used to join the line of identical YA misery stories.
Because no matter how attractive your characters are, and imaginative your world setting is, what matters in the end is the following:
Did this book tell me something new?
Did reading this book bring any positive or pleasant emotions? (Did it leave me with something good?)
Does it feel like I would want to revisit/re-experience/reread this book in the future?
And for me personally, answer to all these questions is the same – No .
Because why would I want to re-experience something that didn’t bring anything good or positive into my life?

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