4.5 star, YA

Review: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.



Today I review yet another popular one that has been a long time coming: The Gilded Wolves! Always nice to see that it is a BIPOC author putting out these amazing stories. This book was once again suggested to me by our very own Andge, and she was definitely right in predicting that I would enjoy it. She actually rated it 5 Drink Me Potions. I would be inclined to agree, but I had a couple of small issues holding me back, some of which will be discussed below.

The Gilded Wolves is a story that revolves around what is essentially a heist. But there really is so much more. The story is told through many POVs, and is basically comprised of the team that Séverin (our “main” protagonist) has put together into his employ. Each has their own unique skills to add to his quests. If this sounds a lot like Six of Crows to you, you’re right! I found many parallels, though I felt that this story had even more, and as such I enjoyed it more. The Gilded Wolves also features many historical and fantastical elements, which I thought were executed well. The main magic involved in this story is known as Forging, and is fueled by a mystical Babel Fragment (all biblical references intended).

The plot was quite excellent. I am always a fan of heists: watching all the pieces move simultaneously for the final execution of all the moving parts to attain a goal. Each individual(ish) story line was interesting and moved well, and we really got to see every character’s POV. Not everything goes smoothly and according to plan, which is a sign of something well-written. I’m not personally a fan of when things that are pre-meditated go 100% according to plan – it’s a little bit too unrealistic for me. I found the plot in this novel to have great depth and complexity, which I found to be very satisfying.

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discussion

Let’s Talk Bookish – Pets/Children & Books

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where they discuss certain topics, share their opinions, and spread the love by visiting each others’ posts.

SEPTEMBER 10: PETS/CHILDREN & BOOKS (DANI)
Prompts: Having physical books can be fantastic, but it can also be scary to have them damaged. If you have pets or children what is your experience with them and your books? Has your child ever torn pages out of a treasured classic? Has your puppy ever chewed on a limited edition? Cat claws in a leather bound? How do you protect books from destruction?

Such an interesting topic today, talking about the actual physicality of books. I feel like most(?) book readers will relate to how I feel, since I am one of those must-keep-in-mint-condition kind of people with their beloved books.

Especially if the book is one of my favourite stories, or if the cover is super aesthetically pleasing – that’s when my anxiety for its perfection really peaks. If it’s a book that I don’t really care about, sure I won’t be damaging it (of course), but neither would I be as heartbroken if it were to be damaged. The ironic thing is because I like a book, I’ll tend to take it places with me to read, into danger zones such as the kitchen table.

Technically I haven’t really had problems with pets or children with my books, as I would tend to keep my prized possessions away from them. However, I do remember once lending a book (my favourite book!) to someone in grade 8 (so…children?), who proceded to go to the bahamas with it and absolutely wreck my book. It was in near perfect condition going in, and the spine was bent, the pages were wrinkled, the cover was absolutely destroyed upon getting it back. You can imagine how upset I was, or you may even be cringing from the second-hand shock!

So luckily I haven’t really had to endure destruction from those I can’t really blame. I myself barely try to crack open the spine and keep the pages as pristine as possible these days when reading books. Especially this day and age where the book is as much about the content as it is looking on my shelf (precious bookshelf real estate!).

I even prefer softcover books, which are definitely more susceptible to damage, so I definitely try to keep them safe. I usually try to keep my dust covers aside for my hardcovers (that’s how they’re supposed to be used right?), but for softcover it’s definitely more difficult to read comfortably yet keep the book in good condition.

But I’d like to hear what other crazy techniques people have to keep their books looking brand new. If you have any tips and tricks, please do let me know in the comments below!


3.5 star, adult, buddy review

Buddy Review: Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

Maybe you don’t know your neighbors as well as you thought you did . . .

“This is a very difficult letter to write. I hope you will not hate us too much. . . My son broke into your home recently while you were out.”

In a quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York, a teenager has been sneaking into houses–and into the owners’ computers as well–learning their secrets, and maybe sharing some of them, too.

Who is he, and what might he have uncovered? After two anonymous letters are received, whispers start to circulate, and suspicion mounts. And when a woman down the street is found murdered, the tension reaches the breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they’re telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their own secrets?

In this neighborhood, it’s not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide . . .



Welcome to our latest buddy review! Once again Andge and I have banded together to review another book, and will be providing our dual comments here! This book by Shari Lapena was a bit more of a different genre than we expected. While we have set up the review in our usual thriller format, we both found out that it wasn’t exactly the traditional type of thriller, and found it to be a hybrid between a mystery and a thriller. We will discuss more details below:

Pacing and Suspense Build-Up

Fives: I think Andge and I both agree on this, and it’s that the little synopsis given for this book is rather misleading. I was definitely under the impression that it was going to revolve around the boy and his breaking into homes. This was 100% not the case. The murder was really the whole contentious point in this story, and the source of all the drama and tension. Sweeping that aside, the pacing was very up and down. The problems and tensions that were introduced were often resolved fairly quickly thereafter. The tension wasn’t really a slow build until the end, though of course there were elements of that as well. I would say overall the book read mostly like a mystery novel, with elements of a thriller.

Andge: Yes, I’d have to agree. The pacing just didn’t work for me when we switch from one person’s perspective to another, sometimes featuring only a few paragraphs for one POV. This omniscient third person POV also made everything less mysterious in some ways since we know certain secrets before other key characters do. However, we do get to see how the revelation of such secrets unfold and that sometimes was quite juicy.

Plot Elements

Fives: This was actually probably my favourite part of the book. Though I did initially find it a bit strange how this book is a hybrid between a mystery and thriller, I did overall enjoy how it was executed. It doesn’t quite live up to the expectations of either genre (which is what I was originally expecting), but I think in its own right, it does well. There were many moving pieces in this whole story, and I felt that they were managed well. The plot was fairly intricate and though I may not have agreed with everything that happened, I think I felt like it was effectively executed.

Andge: I might be a bit pickier but this definitely was more of a mystery to me. It did read fast as it’s not a super long book, and the back and forth between POVs allows a perspective that seems to be always going somewhere. I like that we get introduced to many people within the neighborhood that knew the victim, which also gives us more viable suspects to potentially weed through. I can see the craftsmanship in the story elements, but sometimes it just didn’t fit together as well as I had expected from a bestseller like Shari.

Characters

Fives: Most of the characters were relatable and appropriately suspicious. Andge and I definitely had a hard time predicting what would happen in this book. We threw many possibilities out there but let’s just say we were not too convinced by anything we suggested. But the characters were all individually well-crafted to be unique and a meaningful part of the novel, with very few throwaways and at least some meaning in (almost) every character, I felt that the overall design was good.

Andge: What Fives said. Best not to give too many secrets away, hmm? But guessing in mysteries based on the people introduced, whether in large or small, is always my favorite part.

Ending

Fives: I wasn’t terribly convinced by this ending. I thought it was appropriate and did make enough sense at the end, but I wasn’t super impressed. If any of you remember our review on Don’t Look for Me, I found it to be a very similar situation where yes the ending was quite the surprise, but was it meaningful and impactful? Perhaps not. I wouldn’t say it was a bad ending, but I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I was hoping I would.

Andge: I’ll say I didn’t see the ending coming until near the end, and there were definitely parts that felt a little random like I couldn’t grasp this was happening. It’s not my favourite ending, that’s for sure. We also have a little tidbit thrown out at the absolute end that leaves me wondering why that was the chosen way to close out the book. But maybe that’s what some people enjoy, so who’s to say?


And that’s a wrap everyone! If there’s any other books that you’d want to recommend for the both of us to review together, please continue to let us know in the comments below. Otherwise, stay tuned for the next buddy read. Another Kate Quinn may be on the horizon…stay tuned!