2.5 star

Review: Magpie by Elizabeth Day

She has almost everything. The rest she’ll take.

Single White Female meets The Perfect Nanny in this taut, psychological suspense novel about a perfect couple and their seemingly perfect roommate—that is until she threatens to destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to create.


Marisa and Jake are a perfect couple, and Kate, their new lodger, is the perfect roommate–and not just because her rent payments will give them the income they need to start trying for a baby. Except no one is perfect. Sure, Kate doesn’t seem to care much about personal boundaries and can occasionally seem overly familiar with Jake, but Marisa doesn’t let it concern her. Kate will soon be gone, and it will just be her, Jake, and their future baby.

Conceiving a baby is easier said than done, though, and Jake and Marisa’s perfect relationship is put to the test through months of fertility treatments and false starts. To make matters worse, Kate’s boundary-pushing turns into an all-out obsession–with Jake, with Marisa, and with their future child. Who is this woman? Why does she seem to know everything about Marisa and Jake?

In her quest to find out who Kate really is, Marisa might destroy everything she’s worked so hard to create: her perfect romance, her perfect family, and her perfect self. Jake doesn’t know the half of what Marisa has created and what she stands to lose. Magpie is a tense and twisting novel about mothers and children, envy and possession, and the dangers of getting everything you’ve ever dreamed of. 



I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster. All comments are my own.

Exciting premise. And a classic case where I expected there to be a lot of intrigue, and confusion between what was real and what wasn’t. Unfortunately this kind of fell flat for me, and I will divulge why further in this review.

Magpie revolves around Marisa, who has moved in with her new boyfriend Jake, and everything seems perfect with their baby coming around. However, a new lodger comes in, Kate, who is acting quite dubiously, perhaps following Marisa around and being unnecessarily nosy for being a stranger. Just who is this Kate and what does she want with their lives? That is the question that the book attempts to answer through its suspense and intrigue.

Continue reading “Review: Magpie by Elizabeth Day”
2.5 star, YA

Review: Cinder & Glass by Melissa de la Cruz

For this princess, winning the crown is no fairytale.

1682. The king sends out an invitation to all the maidens in France: their presence is requested at a number of balls and events that will be held in honor of the dashing Prince Louis, who must choose a bride. 

Cendrillon de Louvois has more grace, beauty, and charm than anyone else in France. While she was once the darling child of the king’s favorite adviser, her father’s death has turned her into the servant of her stepmother and cruel stepsisters–and at her own chateau, too!

Cendrillon–now called Cinder–manages to evade her stepmother and attend the ball, where she catches the eye of the handsome Prince Louis and his younger brother Auguste.

Even though Cendrillon has an immediate aversion to Louis, and a connection with Auguste, the only way to escape her stepmother is to compete with the other women at court for the Prince’s hand.

Soon, as Cendrillon glows closer to Auguste and dislikes the prince more and more, she will have to decide if she can bear losing the boy she loves in order to leave a life she hates.

Melissa de la Cruz takes a lush, romantic hand to this retold fairy tale classic.



I’m a hugeeee sucker for all things Cinderella. It’s my favorite fairy tale and obviously my favourite one for retellings. So you can imagine my disappointment with how Cinder & Glass turned out, especially with such a gorgeous cover.

This story is set in 1600s France in the court of King Louis XIV. I loved the inspiration to set this fairytale in a historical period instead of some completely reimagined land. The plotline was also intriguing with a competition for the prince’s hand (very reminiscent of The Selection) while secretly falling for the younger prince instead.

With all these elements that just SCREAM at me to like it, it begs the question why I didn’t end up loving this book.

It really all comes down to execution. The set up for a Cinderella tale is quite simple. The protagonist lived a happy life with her family even as her mother died when she was young as her father more than made up for it. The loss of her father and the marriage to her stepmother are the turning points in the story that truly leads to the problems she has to face.

This takes a whole section of the book to even reach, a good quarter of the book setting up the beginning of the Cinderella plot. While I appreciate getting to know a bit about the inner workings of the French court when Cendrillon moved to Versailles, was it really necessary to drag it out that long? Her stepsisters are still fairly horrid and her new stepmother just screams evil in disguise.

Then there’s the pacing. Maybe it’s not my favoured format of reading but it felt very…narrated and detached? As if the author is simply moving through time telling us of what is happening to Cendrillon instead of diving into the depths of emotion she must be facing. I wanted to FEEL and instead it was all rather clinical in execution.

My favourite part of any Cinderella tale is the romance. Yes, I’m a modern day woman who can occasionally swoon at a princely figure coming to help and believe a woman who is being oppressed by someone in power over her. But even that held its own problems here.

First, the competition wasn’t really all that big in this story? It was present but we knew from the start that Cendrillon wasn’t going into it for love as she had met Auguste a year ago and already formed a bit of an attraction to him. Her motivation led to, well, a lack of ambition and focus to win so it wasn’t really that interesting reading about her dates or the other girls she competed with.

The attraction she felt for Auguste wasn’t even consolation as the chemistry was barely there. It felt like they had developed a good friendship in the scary world of court politics but it suddenly blew into the realm of “more-than-friendship” in the blink of an eye, with only the angst that she couldn’t be with him. I wanted to believe in this romance but I really wasn’t feeling it. And that just sucks big time because what’s a Cinderella tale without the love that conquers all?

While I have many complaints about this book, I did enjoy the setting and managed to read this in a day as it’s not too long of a book. The lush descriptions of Versailles made me wish I could go back there again and explore it a little less rushed. It also helped that it’s still a story based on my favourite fairytale. If it was any other, I probably would’ve been tempted to DNF at any time.

I can’t say I recommend this book – something my heart hurts to say because Cinderella! – but it could’ve been worse in some ways. There’s still the fight against the evil stepmother and satisfaction gained when good triumphs over those who oppress and abuse. The idea was there, but perhaps the execution could’ve used some tweaking.

And that cover is to die for so I could just sit here all day staring at it, which would be enough.

Overall Recommendation:

Cinder & Glass fell flat as a Cinderella retelling due to its lack of emotional depth and unhurried pace through the key points we all recognize from the tale. I wanted to love this so bad because I love Cinderella but I couldn’t emotionally connect with any of the characters, even the pain Cendrillon was going through. It’s not a Cinderella story if you don’t even sympathize for her. Or fall in love with her love story.

2.5 star, YA

Review: Steelstriker by Marie Lu

Explosive action and swoon-worthy suspense collide in this riveting conclusion to the Skyhunter duet from #1 New York Times–bestselling author Marie Lu

As a Striker, Talin was taught loyalty is life. Loyalty to the Shield who watches your back, to the Strikers who risk their lives on the battlefield, and most of all, to Mara, which was once the last nation free from the Karensa Federation’s tyranny.

But Mara has fallen. And its destruction has unleashed Talin’s worst nightmare.

With her friends scattered by combat and her mother held captive by the Premier, Talin is forced to betray her fellow Strikers and her adopted homeland. She has no choice but to become the Federation’s most deadly war machine as their newest Skyhunter.

Red is no stranger to the cruelty of the Federation or the torture within its Skyhunter labs, but he knows this isn’t the end for Mara – or Talin. The link between them may be weak, but it could be Talin and Red’s only hope to salvage their past and safeguard their future.

While the fate of a broken world hangs in the balance, Talin and Red must reunite the Strikers and find their way back to each other in this smoldering sequel to Marie Lu’s Skyhunter.



That’s the thing about evil. You don’t need to be it to do it. It doesn’t have to consume all of you. It can be small. All you have to do is let it exist.

The grand conclusion to this latest duology by Marie Lu, back in dystopian fiction which was the genre that propelled her to fame, I kind of expected more from Steelstriker. Obviously the ending of book 1 left a lot hanging in the air. Yet it doesn’t move forward at a very fast pace, a characteristic I noticed even in Skyhunter.

We’ve been introduced to the Big Bad of the story, Premier Constantine, previously. Now we’re up close and personal with him as Talin has to deal with his every whim. He’s evil, let’s be clear on that, but I do love how Marie doesn’t make him so black and white for a villain. He’s covered in shades of grey for we start understanding his fears and mind more while unearthing the past that perhaps made him into the ruthless dictator he is.

Yet the plot moves so slowly. While Talin spends most of the book figuring out how to escape the Premier so she can thwart his plans for one United federation, Red and the other Strikers are on the run, making small attempts where they can to stop Constantine. It’s lots of planning, minor action, and minimal world building.

Yes, I felt there was a missed chance to have explored more about the different countries that were once independent and now forced into the federation. Talin and friends are no longer stuck in their own country because now it’s been claimed by this regime and they’ve been forced to go to the capital. But I still have no idea what these other places are or even the relevance of half these countries listed on the map since they’re hardly or never mentioned at all.

I also didn’t feel much for the romance. This is probably my fault for having read book 1 so long ago. It was such a slow burn romance where all the chemistry and tension were set up there, leaving only the aftermath and response in book 2. Since I barely remember those moments, it’s kind of hard to feel the same sense of elation at actual romance budding between Red and Talin now. I mean, they didn’t even kiss in the first book so this should be a win in my books but I felt almost nothing. Ah, I wish I could push out feelings with a button but alas that wouldn’t be very organic.

Not wanting to end off with so much negativity, I did really appreciate one thing: found family matters, especially in a world torn up by war. With so many families broken apart and even witnessing fellow comrade deaths, the ties that bring those who remain together are even more important. I loved the Strikers from day 1, this band of elite fighters who were brave and disciplined when it came to protecting those they loved against the monsters from the federation. I’m so glad some of my favorite secondary characters were back and being their lovable, courageous selves.

Marie writes this at least very well, and sums it up even better in her own words.

Goodness is friends who stick by you, even when they fear you’re lost. It’s mothers who fight for their daughters. It’s believing in something better – and taking action to make it reality. It’s love, untainted and pure.

Goodness is a garden that provides life to thousands of blooms. It does not rule. It gives.

Overall Recommendation:

Steelstriker fell a little flat when it came to pacing for what I had hoped would be an epic conclusion. Now facing the evil ruler of the federation that had destroyed their home country, Talin and her friends are separated and still trying to fight the good fight against the greatest odds stacked against them. I had hoped for more action and less internal thinking/planning so it was hard not to put it down a lot. While there were certain memorable moments, I can’t say this is among the best dystopian books I’ve read.