The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1) by Marie Lu

The Young Elites Book Review

The Young Elites Blurb

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

My Review of The Young Elites

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)The Young Elites by Marie Lu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I did like the style of writing here, but sometimes it became clunky and awkward and a lot of the dialogue is verging on cheesy. Teren Santoro keeps making speeches to the public that remind me of Prince Humperdink

Prince Humperdink

The stuff about the alignments to different aspects, fear, passion etc wasn’t very well handled. For example, when she is attracted to someone she feels her alignment to passion stir. Erm, wouldn’t everyone? Again it came across a bit cheesy and like Marie Lu felt she had to throw it in every so often because otherwise it wasn’t really explained.

The world building was minimal. There were impressions of a rich world with many different cultures, and even more exciting – flying animal / dragon creatures. We never see or experience any of it though! Possibly because Adelina has led a sheltered life and is made very self-obsessed by her problems, but even when she is venturing around a new city and visits the market place we get a very sketchy view of it. No sights or smells are brought to life for us.

I liked that it’s a different kind of story though. Adelina isn’t a perfect heroine type, she’s kinda selfish and vengeful and wants to be the one in charge with everyone doing what she tells them to. In fact, there are no good people / bad people in this book, everyone is a bit of both. I think this kept the story interesting when it could easily have been bland.

The powers of the Elites were varied and interesting. I’d have liked to have seen more of the other characters. They were glossed over in the story with only glimpses here and there of what their personalities were and what they are capable of. Their friendship with Adelina were minimal at best, even though it becomes important to the story.

I will be reading the next one, I think things could get very interesting now and I want to see what happens next. Does Adelina become a villain or an anti-hero? How far can she push her powers? Will we see more Malfettos with powers? And that epilogue!

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The Young Elites
The Young Elites
Marie Lu
Young Adult Fantasy
October 7th 2014
355

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

stories for Punjabi widows

Description

Nikki is a modern young Punjabi woman, who has spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from her community and living an independent (read: western) life. But after the death of her father leaves her family in financial straits, she takes a job as a creative writing teacher for a group of aging widows at her temple and discovers that the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just a few greying hairs.

These are women who have lived in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands their whole lives, being dutiful, raising children and going to temple. They may not have a great grasp of English but what they do have is a wealth of stories and fantasies that they are no longer afraid to share with the other women in the group.

As Nikki realises that she must keep the illicit nature of the class secret from the Brothers—a group of highly conservative young men who have started policing the morals of the temple and the wider community—she starts to help these women voice their desires, and also begins to uncover the truth about the sudden recent death of a young Sikh woman.

My Review

Erotic Stories for Punjabi WidowsErotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nikki doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. She quit her law degree and is now working in a pub. Looking for a way to earn a bit of money she takes a job to teach a storytelling class for widows at a temple in Southall.

At first, Nikki is dismissive of her students, expecting them to be dull and timid. She thinks that she can get them to tell stories that she can then create a book from – it felt almost as though she set out to exploit them.

She soon finds out that most of the women in the class don’t know how to read and write, and her job is actually to teach them. Not only that, her students were pushed into signing up and resent being taught as though they were children. They quickly hijack Nikki’s class, and turn it into the storytelling class it was meant to be, but with a twist. They want to tell erotic stories!

I found it hard to get into at first. A lot of characters are introduced, conversations wander, everything feels vague and the students are hard to tell apart from each other. Nikki feels bland and her personality doesn’t come across very strongly. Her class is quickly taken away from her and she is pushed around by her students and her work mates.

It settled down after the first 40% or so, and I found myself engrossed in the story. The students’ personalities start to emerge and I could see that they were a group of lively, smart women all with their own views on life. Their conversations were so funny! I loved reading their life stories.

The erotic stories are wonderful little gems dotted throughout the book. The widows say they can get away with telling them because they are forgotten and ignored by their community. No one pays them attention, they are expected to fade into the background.

Still, they have to keep what they are doing secret. A group of young men known as The Brother’s patrol the community watching the women to make sure they are behaving properly.

That brings in a darker theme to the book. Nikki’s boss at the temple Kulwinder starts to become suspicious of what they are doing in the class and they are in danger of being found out. And something has happened to Kulwinder’s daughter Maya that everyone keeps hinting at but no one will explain to Nikki.

At the end the pacing felt off again, everything happens in a rush. It’s all resolved very neatly, everything is tied up and ends happily. It’s positive and uplifting, but I don’t feel like it would actually happen. There’s a dark side to the book but the reality behind this feels pushed to one side in favour of a happy ending.

But at the same time, I do like that it ends positively. This is a warm and kindhearted book, I feel like Balli Kaur Jaswal really loves her characters and this shines through in her writing. The happy ending feels right for the book, and it certainly left me feeling happier!

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

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Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
Balli Kaur Jaswal
Fiction

Iron Council (New Crobuzon, #3) by China Miéville

iron Council book review

Iron Council Description

It is a time of revolts and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and rioting on the streets at home are pushing the teeming metropolis to the brink. In the midst of this turmoil, a mysterious masked figure spurs strange rebellion, while treachery and violence incubate in unexpected places.

In desperation, a small group of renegades escapes from the city and crosses strange and alien continents in the search for a lost hope, an undying legend. In the blood and violence of New Crobuzon’s most dangerous hour, there are whispers…

It is the time of the Iron Council.

My Review of Iron Council

Iron Council (New Crobuzon, #3)Iron Council by China Miéville

Although any book of China Mieville’s is always a treat, I didn’t enjoy this as much as the previous two books in the series. I think maybe it just didn’t have the same atmosphere. The first book had New Crobuzon, The Scar was set on the floating city of Armarda and both of these were rich and vivid, full of life. A lot of Iron Council is set out in the wide world, it’s almost a wild west novel, and there is no strong sense of place that China Mieville normally does so well.

The journey across the landscape was interesting and eventful, and I loved the parts set in New Crobuzon. I also liked the descriptions of all the different races and the remade, and there’s a lot of magic in this book, which is always a good thing!

I actually really enjoyed the first two-thirds of the book, but after that it gets into the heavy subjects and it gets very serious, and maybe a bit bogged down in it. The right at the end, things start happening so fast it’s hard to keep up with it all.

Iron Council is a very political novel, it’s about imperialism, corporatism, terrorism and revolution, touching on prejudice and discrimination. It’s interesting to read about and certainly made me think, but it was difficult to get through the end. I had to make myself go back to finish the last 40 pages.

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Iron Council
New Crobuzon
China Miéville
Fantasy
May 6th 2011
614

Gilded Cage by Vic James

gilded cage by vic james

Book Description

For readers of Victoria Aveyard and Kiera Cass comes a darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule—and commoners are doomed to serve.
 
NOT ALL ARE FREE.
NOT ALL ARE EQUAL.
NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED.

Our world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years.

But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.
 
Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of their noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty—but will her heart pay the price?
 
A boy dreams of revolution.
 
Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.
 
And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

My Review

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1)Gilded Cage by Vic James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well written, but there were a lot of characters and viewpoints to keep track of. Some of them were complex and well written, like Luke and Gavan, but others felt flat.

Amy especially was very two dimensional. There wasn’t much time spent in her viewpoint and there just wasn’t enough to see her personality. There was supposedly a romance starting between her and Jenner but there weren’t any signs of this building up in the (minimal) interactions between them. Amy swoons over him a bit, he shows no interest at all.

Luke was the main focus of this book though, and he is a more interesting character. We see how he develops from being a carefree teenager to starting to understand the injustice in the world and the imbalance between the skilled and the non-skilled.

The story itself doesn’t offer much that is groundbreaking or original, and it is a bit predictable, but it did keep me interested. The world building was well done with a lot of history that is drip fed to us – no big information dumps! The magic of the skilled, or the Equals as they are known, is not discussed much even amongst themselves so little is explained as to how it works. I feel like this will be explored more in the next couple of books.

There are a lot of dark moments in this, like the way the non-skilled are treated as inhuman when they’re doing their slave days, and the story of the man that became the Dog. These help to add depth and realism to the world and stop it from being childish, even though the politics are very basic.

I’m not desperate for the sequel, but I probably will read it when it’s released, I’d like to see where the story is going.

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

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Gilded Cage
Dark Gifts
Vic James
Young Adult Fantasy
January 26 2017