REVIEW: Temper

Thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC.


Layne Fargo’s debut novel, Temper, is a thrill ride of obsession, passion, and what it means to be devoted to art more than well-being. Pitched in an email from NetGalley as something fans of the Darren Aronofsky film, Black Swan, would love, I figured I would give it a try and request. For the first time in a stupidly long time, I have been presented with a book that is exactly what I was told it would and so, so much more.

For fear of giving away any good stuff, I will make a lot of this vague, but the story follows two points of view, one from Kira and the other from Joanna. Kira is an actress fighting to make ends meet while she strives for her big break. Joanna is one of he two people behind one of the larger theatre companies in Chicago looking for what she truly wants. The one thing that ties these two together is a script written by an unknown author and the man who plays the lead, Malcolm Mercer.

When I say this book is like Black Swan, I am only talking about the aspect of passion, and striving for that perfection while being allowed to feel and move through a scene, through a performance as though it could be reality. That is really where the comparison ends and it because a dance of psychological warfare between unmovable forces. This is where I would compare it to the play adaptation of Venus in Fur (my favourite show of all time).

The way every character moves around the others is so complex as they all become intertwined to the point of being knotted in each others’ faces is hypnotic. The layers so carefully worked that even the predictable is set up as though that was the purpose of the moment. I saw the ending coming a mile away – the principle of Chekhov’s Gun is very real here – but I didn’t care because that didn’t change how beautifully executed it was. It’s a cyclical story of desperation and egos and arrogance while also one of desire, love, jealousy, and what it means to be obsessed with perfection.

I almost hate the degree these characters had me obsessing over them, but it has been a long time since a character like Malcolm Mercer has had my little queer heart racing. Even Kira had me wishing I was her more than once, while I’ve felt Joanna’s pain so viscerally it almost made me want to cry. I know these people, I want to be these people, I am afraid of these people, and I love all of it.

I know I am absolutely gushing without giving much substance here but this is a book I highly recommend going into as blind as possible. Don’t read the reviews on GoodReads. Skim the synopsis on the back. Pick this up and let it eat you whole. You won’t regret it.

REVIEW: Red, White, and Royal Blue

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an eARC of the book.


One of my most anticipated reads of the year and so far my favourite read of the year, Casey McQuiston’s debut novel, Red, White & Royal Blue, follows an enemies to lovers romance plot between the son of the first female President of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz, and the second born Prince of England, Prince Henry of Wales. While being a romance novel first, the story also tackles some poignant socio-political issues in the US as well as the stagnant traditions of English royalty and is so much more than “a simple romance novel”.

Right from the start I loved Alex. He’s constantly moving, thinking, feeling, and being a hilariously obnoxious little prick and the way he thinks about this just felt so alive. He feels real despite the circumstances of the story. Henry came more to life the further I got into the story but it didn’t take long for him to grow on my either. Even the more secondary main characters like Nora, June, Pez, and Bea feel like good friends with how warmly they’re written.

There was a decent amount of suspension of belief in this one, but it didn’t matter. While it covered the impending doom of the GOP, it still felt hopeful. From a political view (and despite my being very much Canadian), it felt like there was still hope that humanity isn’t all terrible and there are still people fighting the good fight for those who need and deserve a better life than the one the current real-world majority is trying to deny them. There are young people and “adultier” adults who are doing their damnedest to make the world a better place and this book is a reminder of that wrapped up in a queer romance screaming to the world to chose the life you want not the one everyone is tell you to choose.

The sexual content in the book was incredibly well done, giving readers a little more than just a “fade too black” without being too explicit either. And given the content, I was really happy to be reading about characters in their 20s rather than 17- or 18-year-olds like usual. The world needs more queer stories that aren’t about barely legal high schoolers/college freshmen.

While this book may look like it is targeted towards teens, the novel is definitely more of a new adult title in terms of content and even reading level. That being said, this is definitely an important book to read and I would easily recommend it to anyone looking for a hopeful story like this that spares us the violent homophobia that often borders on sympathy/suffering porn I see in a lot of queer stories.

All in all, this is so far my top read of the year and I’m so excited for everyone to bear witness to this wild ride of a political romance.

REVIEW: The Song Rising

With January comes the final instalment of #countdowntopriory on Instagram, and damn was I excited to get into The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon!

After the ridiculous cliffhanger at the end of The Mime Order, I was thrilled that the third book of the series picked up right where things left off. Paige is now the Underqueen and doing her absolute best to keep things in order with the syndicate as well as the Ranthen, but sadly her best isn’t quite enough.

What go to me the most is that everyone seems to forget that Paige is only 19-years-old and forget the pressure she is under. Not to mention that they’re all lucky she’s not dealing with any violent symptoms of post-concussion syndrome or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (aka. fancy words for the brain related injuries that have led many sports player to murder). Seriously, this poor girl either has a skull made of iron or head injuries don’t super matter in 2049. Regardless, I really feel for her character here.

The pacing felt a touch jarring in this one, but I appreciated that many chapters had real dates on them, making it easier to track the passage of time. I also really enjoyed seeing more of Maria and the other syndicate members that care about Paige and her fight against Scion. I would have liked more Warden, and do strongly believe that poor Eliza deserved more page time, but I’m sure we’ll get what we want with the next books to come. I mean, there were so many people we didn’t get to read about in this one that can only mean that their time hasn’t come just yet.

While The Mime Order is still probably my favourite so far in the series, I really enjoyed this and am happy that I stuck with the series.


It’s not too late to join in on #countdowntopriory! Check it out on Instagram via the event’s host, Sam!

REVIEW: The Mime Order

This month I participated in the Instagram #CountdownToPriory event to do a big group read of The Mime Order, sequel to Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season.

I read The Bone Season (and The Pale Dreamer) earlier this year and I had a hard time staying in the story because of the confusion I felt in regards to the voyant classifications as well as how the passage of time worked. However, despite it not being my new favourite book in the universe, I figured I liked it enough to give the second book a chance, and oh boy was it a ride.

The Mime Order takes place immediately after the previous book and throws us right back into the madness as the gangs are in upheaval in Scion. Between Paige being constantly on the run because of the rebellion against the Rephaim and all the violence itching to begin between the gangs after a suspicious murder Paige is framed for, this book felt a lot more like a crime thriller than a sci-fi series and I was definitely here for it.

The pacing was significantly better in this book, and the tension had me openly shouting at every passing chapter. I enjoyed the few new characters they introduced and although there was a strong lack of Warden for my tastes, the moments where he was present had me starting to swoon. But what got me the most in the book was Jaxon freaking Hall. If you know me, you know I almost always fall madly in love with characters that are 100% dick on the outside with just a hint of warm and gooey on the inside, so I thought from book one that Jax was going to be my bias in this book. I was so wrong. I hope that Samantha Shannon knows just how killer her writing is in regard to Jax as I have never so deeply hated a character and than love him the next page over. Truly a work of art.

The fight scenes were something to be in awe of from a writing stand point as well and though I won’t spoil the ending, it’s the first book in a while that made me shout profanity when it happened. I can’t wait to get into book three and continue the fun leading up to Samantha’s new book The Priory of the Orange Tree.


30199428Author: Samantha Shannon
Published: January 27, 2015
Pages: 528
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781632868497

Synopsis: Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London . . . As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on Paige, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take center stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

DOUBLE REVIEW: The Bone Season & The Pale Dreamer

To start off this review, I just wanted to say that the primary reason I began reading this book is because one of my bookstagram idols, Lauren of FictionTea, is always talking about how this is her favourite book of all time. Although, that being said, I probably went in with higher expectations than I should have, but it was a still a fun time.

The Bone Season begins in a futuristic London where being Clarvoyant is not only considered illegal, but also as a disease. As such, an underground crime syndicate of voyants has formed, out protagonist Paige being at the centre of one of the gangs. Very quickly, Paige’s whole life changes as she is captured by Scion – the main government – and wakes up in a hellish new city to live as a slave under the ætherial race known as the Rephiam.

I enjoyed Paige’s character a lot throughout this book, especially that she never regards herself as a damsel-in-distress but also knows when it’s time to ask for help. She’s empathetic and feels it in her heart when she hurts someone. Considering she is a character who could easily be a heartless killer, the amount of heart she has really makes me admire her. Through her eyes, you really feel for the other people around her who are suffering at the hands of the Rephiam and come to feel for them, too.

When it comes to the story, I did feel a little let down. I found that the classification of the voyant types and what that even meant to the individual people was very confusing to me and I eventually just stopped wondering what the words meant and rolled with it. It took me out of the story almost as much as the confusion of the passage of time. I also felt that the details of the uprising were rather sparse. That being said, I never stopped being interested in what was happening and I truly loved Paige so she alone kept me wanting to finish the book. I’m definitely curious about what the ending of this one will mean for her in the future and I plan on continuing the series for sure.

All in all, The Bone Season gets a 3.5 out of 5 from me. And lucky for me, the edition that I bought of this book included the prequel novella The Pale Dreamer!

~~~

With The Pale Dreamer, I liked it more than The Bone Season, and felt that it answered a several of the questions I had when reading. We get to learn more about The Seven Dials and how Paige began to fit into place as Jaxon’s mollisher. Since it is set when Paige has only been in the gang for a few weeks, there’s far more information about the kind of world she lives in as well as a more details about how the syndicate works. Not only that but we get to see more of the people she works with.

Given that the story was tight – and honestly super creepy based on the ghost story involved – and how much more detail was included, I give The Pale Dreamer a solid 4 out of 5.

I really am looking forward to getting to book two in this series. It was a rocky start, but I have come to care too much about the characters to not continue.


30199429

Author: Samantha Shannon
Published: August 20 2013
Pages: 480
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781632868480

Synopsis: 19-year-old Paige is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped. She is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.


31301423

Author: Samantha Shannon
Published: December 6 2016
Pages: 78
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781408884171

Synopsis: In the perilous heart of Scion London, a dangerous and valuable poltergeist is on the loose – and it must be caught before chaos erupts on the streets of the capital. Here, the clairvoyant underworld plays by its own rules, and rival gangs will stop at nothing to win such a magnificent prize.