‘Black Lotus’ Review

‘Black Lotus’ Review

The Black Lotus by Claire Warner is a YA fantasy novel following protagonists Justin and Melissa as they uncover secrets in the English court of 1752.

Warner’s story shows great creative potential, but the execution falls flat, pulled down by cliche characters and repetitive writing.

One of the central issues of the book — the first in the “Night Flower” series — is Melissa struggling with the idea of an arranged marriage while simultaneously dealing with her debut season in court. Warner explicitly resurfaces the issue countless times, when it is already evident in Melissa’s dialogue and actions. Melissa’s family is sympathetic to her feelings, but the conversation about her rights as a woman never ventures beyond complaining.

In the same glossed-over way, Justin and Melissa fall into a love-at-first-sight relationship; they continually mention their deep feelings, but never delve into what those feelings actually mean.

They’re the typical characters to fall in this supposedly passionate and inexplicable way: the fiery young woman, who is upset at her situation and just cannot seem to fit into her role, and the mysterious, handsome rake (every character in “The Black Lotus” has apparently agreed to repeatedly call Justin “a gamester and a cad”) with a bad reputation. It makes their dialogue effortless, sure, but that’s about it; Justin and Melissa’s characters don’t affect the plot in any natural way, and they hardly inspire any curiosity from the reader.

Warner’s description’s of decadent court life are rich and elaborate, moving the story along more than any other element of the book. They are just exotic enough to hint at the fantasy to come, a subtlety that Warner would do well to expand into the other elements of “The Black Lotus.”

I don’t doubt that Warner’s name could be among other celebrated YA authors before long, but this book bears all the marks of a debut, and does not wear them well.

XX. Shelby Jo

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March Book Review

March was another month full of travel, so I got plenty of reading in; hopefully my streak won’t end now I’m back to my normal, boring life.

#1) The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons – I loved the story of this book (even some of the cheesier bits!) but the almost elementary voice just kept it dragging on and on.

#2) The Star-Touched Queen by Roshki Chokrati – There were parts of this book, mostly the mythology and the poetry, that I loved and wish were better woven into the story, because the plot felt flat and confusing when combined with the more artistic elements of the book.

#3) A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir – This book started out very slowly, and I was afraid that it would suffer from sophomore book syndrome, but it really picked up once the individual plot threads came together in the narrative.

#4) The Young Elites by Marie Lu – The story here was interesting, and certainly had potential, but the syntax was so repetitive and the voice didn’t seem well thought out.

#5) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – This book was pretty incredible; I could hardly believe it when I found out it was Sepetys’ debut novel. It truly speaks to the power of historical fiction.

XX. Shelby Jo

January Book Review

January Book Review

January was wild y’all. But, I spent half the month on trains, planes, and buses, so I got a lot of reading in!

1). Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books, so you can understand why I waited to read the sequel. All in all, I didn’t get the point of this book. The voice was interesting, but the plot was aimless and didn’t add anything to the first book.

2). Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris – This is the first Sedaris work I have ever read, and it was underwhelming. The connections in the essays were insightful, but the tone was not always engaging.

3). A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab – Okay, I didn’t love A Darker Shade of Magic, but I loved A Gathering of Shadows. It’s one of the best “middle books” I have ever read; it was gripping and unique, but still successfully set up the final installment in the series.

4). Going Bovine by Libba Bray – I despise books about teenagers dying, but this was fantastic. Complete with less than thrilling sex and the world being saved by pop music, I could not ask for a better teenage odyssey.

5). Atlantia by Allie Condie – I honestly don’t know what this was. It was like three books combined into one, with terrible pacing and confusing characters.

XX. Shelby Jo

 

December Book Review

December Book Review

Congratulations, you survived 2016! (Unless you are an infant who learned to read and use the internet in the past 10 days, but I guess that’s an achievement, too.)

I read a total of 42 new books this year, which is close enough to my goal to satisfy me, because I re-read some and read plenty of comics, too. I’m not going to do a year in review this year, but in general, 2016 was good to me. It seems like it was rough for a lot of people, but, even though I can’t brag about a super fun year or anything, 2016 was full of massive change and achievements for me, and I will celebrate that over stagnation any day.

BUT, to put a cap on 2016, here is my December book review!

1). How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon – This book was some how interesting and boring at the same time. I understand that it’s very relevant and necessary, but at the same time the actual writing and plot felt somewhat aimless. I probably wouldn’t have finished it if I wasn’t reading an audiobook version.

2). Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Just know that the characters in this book fall right into my favorite category of character in the world, so I was bound to be picky. But, I didn’t love Six of Crows like the rest of the YA world. It was incredibly fun and a great team-up episode, but it lacked a “something more,” a consequence or meaning, that could have made it great.

3). The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh – OK. O-K-A-Y. We all know how I feel about The Wrath and the Dawn, right? WELL. I didn’t realize that The Rose and The Dagger was the final book in the series (I have a history or not doing research on things I read, see The Passenger Incident), so I was broken by the amazing and unexpected conclusion. The plot took a few detours on the way there, but it was a strong conclusion to the characters and world. ALSO: Dance party for the championship of Young People Knowing What They Want! ALSO ALSO: Title game on point, here. Seriously.

4). Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – Wowza, Crooked Kingdom completely delivered in the area – shall we call it righteous comeuppance? –  that Six of Crows lacked! I loved this book way more because the stakes were higher, but the plot was very erratic and didn’t make a lot of sense. Thankfully, that was passable because the characters remained true.

5). Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton – This was just a really fun read. Fantastic world-building, adventure, and a truly badass heroine. I hope the depth of this series continues to develop because it has a lot of potential.

XX. Shelby Jo

October Book Review

Alright, I’m all caught up! …Now I have to come up with new content, yikes…

#1). Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo – I don’t know if I can deal with this series anymore. I can’t deal with another love story, or love triangle. Damn the interesting world-building that keeps bringing me back! *shakes fist*

#2). The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima – This was a solid ending to the series. The characters finally clarified their motives, but the book was way too long.

#3). Wink Poppy Midnight by April Geneviere Tucholke – I really wanted to like this book, because it was so close to brilliant, but it was still slightly lacking. I’m not sure what it needed, but I think the lack of punctuation made the voices too similar and “surface level,” and really distanced me from the story.

#4). The Wrath and the Dawn  by Renée Ahdieh – I read this so. fast. omg. It was incredibly engaging; finally a book that lives up to the hype! The writing was a little too wordy for me; I think Ahdieh failed somewhat with the “show-don’t-tell” rule, but amazing all in all. (ALSO: A feasible love triangle! Finally! If Shazi messes this up, I’m going to be very upset.)

November is also shaping up to be a great reading month, hence me feeling good enough about my life to return to blogging. Stay tuned, plenty of things coming your way!

XX. Shelby Jo

Summer Book Review

Happens at la-ast!

Surprise, surprise, I’m back. Here are some catch-up, mini reviews of all of the books I read over the summer.

#1). Pardon Me by James Roberts – This was a self-published book I read in exchange for an honest review. You can find the book on Amazon, and check out my review here.

#2). The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan – Finally, a Riordan book with a new plot arc; I thought this book was delightfully entertaining and showed far more potential than any of Riordan’s other recent work.

#3). An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – This book was engaging and fast-paced, and the world-building was so, so interesting, but I low-key hate both of the main characters. *Sorry*

#4). The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury – I was so confused by this book. I don’t even know what it was about. Love triangles and unloving parents and undeserved fate – what else is new?

#5). The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer – Laxmi Hariharan – This was a self-published book I read in exchange for an honest review. You can find the book on Amazon, and check out my review here.

#6). Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy – Reedy is such a good writer. This book flowed gorgeously, and wove in multiple themes, but ended with the plot feeling somewhat incomplete.

#7). Sketches of the Wigwam by Mack Moyer – This was a self-published book I read in exchange for an honest review. You can find the book on Amazon, and check out my review here.

#8). The Young World by Chris Weitz – I found this book funny more than anything else; it tried so hard to be aware and progressive that it became practically ridiculous.

I’m glad to get that all off my chest! Of course, I am behind on my goal, but I will make up as much as I can over the next two months and be happy with whatever I manage to accomplish.

XX. Shelby Jo