Saturday, February 25

Mini Reviews of Two Less Than Stellar Novels: Hold Back the Stars & Take the Key and Lock Her Up

Carys and Max have ninety minutes of air left.
None of this was supposed to happen.
But perhaps this doesn’t need to be the end…

Adrift in space with nothing to hold on to but each other, Carys and Max can’t help but look back at the well-ordered world they have left behind – at the rules they couldn’t reconcile themselves to, and a life to which they might now never return.
For in a world where love is banned, what happens when you find it?

The princess is dead. Long live the princess.
Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed…or so everyone thought.

Now Grace Blakely knows the truth: There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution—which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.

There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.

If she wins, she will inherit a throne.

And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.

I am so bummed, because my 2017 reading didn't exactly start off as wonderfully as I expected. My most awaited novels kept on disappointing me, which resulted in a tiny and short reading slump, aka the worst thing in a reader's life. I seem to have come out of it, so yay for that, but today I'm here with the two books that let me down the most spectacularly so far in 2017. I know, I'm full of positive posts, you're welcome for lifting your mood. 

by Katie Khan

Huge thanks to Netgalley and Random House UK for giving me this ARC, in exchange of an honest review.

"The problem with grand gestures and big plans is that they elevate all expectations to uncompromising levels, which only ever end in disappointment. New Year’s Eve, birthdays, graduation: nobody has a good time at an event when they’ve planned to do exactly that. It can’t live up to the hype."

  • It's a dystopain/utopian novel that concentrates on Europe, though the rest of the world is mentioned, as well, which is extra-super-rare in dystopias. Now, I don't have a problem with the US, of course, BUT IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOUR CONTINENT REPRESENTED, TOO.
  • While I honestly didn't enjoy the story or the characters, I wasn't really tempted to skim read or DNF, because Katie Khan managed to get me interested in the characters' story and I really didn't want to miss out on all the details. 
  • The characters were the absolute worst - boring, lacking original qualities and just overly unlikeable. My buddy reading partner Clare from Dual Read and I ended up coming up with the conclusion that they were all totally dead inside, as it was impossible to connect with them on any level. Seriously, I know who's going to win the worst characters award at the end of the year.
  • The romance was truly awful. I don't get what in the hell Carys and Max liked in each other??? Max was such an asshole and argh, it made me so mad that after every jerk thing he did, Carys forgave him.... WHY? He was weak and a coward, who let the system and his parents think FOR him, instead of, you know, growing up and doing the job for himself.
  • The ending really didn't work for me. It was overly confusing and, quite frankly, unnecessary to be written in such way. I know this might not make sense, but I honestly don't want to spoil it for those who want to read it. If you read it, I'm sure you get what I'm trying to say.

What a mess. Original and interesting idea that could have resulted in a beautifully written romance that'd pull on everyone's heartstrings, but alas, it was a anything but these things. Boring character arcs, badly written relationships and a story that lacked that plus that'd have made me über-interested in it.

by Ally Carter (Embassy Row #3)

“Because that's the thing about hope- you can never kill it yourself.”

I can't even with the disappointment this novel caused me. See, I was in completely love with the first book of the series, finding the characters incredibly vivid and relatable, while being 100000% engrossed in the story. Sure, the sequel was a tad bit less amazing, but middle books tend to be like that, right? SO I HAD ALL THE HOPE FOR THE THIRD, AND FINAL NOVEL. Well, I wish I hadn't because it might not have broke my heart this viciously. *cries all the tears* 

  • I guess, I'm glad everything was wrapped up? BUT IT COULD HAVE BEEN WRAPPED UP IN THE FIRST FEW PAGES. *takes calming breath*
  • That's it. 

  • Everything was freakishly unrealistic. Here's the thing - this trilogy was never realistic fiction, and I know, accept and adore that about it, but in Take the Key and Lock Her Up realistic ideas, situations, characters etc. were thrown out the window and everything was damn unbelievable. The kids - EVEN THE SMALLEST OF THEM, WHO ISN'T EVEN A YOUNG ADULT - traveled all over the world while their parents thought they were sleeping at each others' houses. HOW ARE THEIR DIPLOMAT, SMARTASS PARENTS SO DUMB??? AND WHERE DID THE MONEY THEY USED FOR THEIR TRAVELS/ACCOMMODATION COME FROM??? We'll never know.
  • I couldn't even recognize the characters I fell in love with - Jamie was barely in the picture, Gracie's friends were randomly thrown into the story here and there, so we wouldn't forget about them, Alexei was simply weird, AND GRACIE WAS UNRECOGNIZABLE. The best example is how many dumb decisions she made - in her situation she was, of course, prone to be confused, but before this book she'd NEVER trusted random people easily, and that what she did here, basically. I JUST WANTED TO SCREAM AT HER. 
  • The plot was all over the place and the pacing was totally off. There wasn't a consistent direction the main plot was heading into, so I was so confused by what the heck the author was intending with this story. The characters kept on travelling from country to country, there were new sub-plots every couple of pages, so overall, the whole thing was just a bloody, angsty mess. 
  • THE FINAL SOLUTION?? THAT WAS LITERALLY THE FIRST THING THAT CAME TO MY MIND BARELY INTO THE STORY. But then someone said it wouldn't work, yet it did work in the end. #confused

A completely unworthy final novel for one of my beloved trilogies. To sum it up, this novel consisted of messy plot, too much drama, angst and characters I couldn't recognize, because they changed so much for the worse. Why the two stars, then? For the first two books, for the story idea, perhaps, even for that cover.



  1. Aaargh. 2017 started badly for both of us. One year ago I was reveling in 5 / 4.5 / 4 star books - 12 months after and I'm barely entertained for the most part. The only difference is that none of my books were sparkling new, while yours are ARCs.

    I think we already agreed that there's no shortage of great ideas around - too bad they rarely seem to translate into equally great executions lately. Maybe some of these books are just rushed, because the publishers desperately want to get them out before the whatever-trend-they-can-be-associated-with is replaced by the next one? Also, most series would probably do better as duologies - only, the need to exploit them causes the story to extend into 3 books...or even more. Le sigh.

    Let's cry on each other's shoulder.

    1. LET'S CRY TOGETHER. It's not even that there are books I don't enjoy, rather that many of the ones that disappointed me were my much awaited novels. I HATE DISAPPOINTMENTS. Ugh.

      Yep, we did. It's always such a let down to see great ideas not live up to their potentials. :| Yep, this one in particular would have been a wonderful duology - can't believe they stretched it out.

  2. Oh that's horrible!! Sad you guys haven't had a very good reading year so far! Take the Key and Lock her up sounds really horrible?! And yes from what you say, I'm confused too! And I LOVE dystopian novels but i'm not picking up Hold back The Stars coz I HATE characters to be cardboard cutouts!

    Helpful review though :)

    1. It was really horrible! Which sucks when the first two books were SO GOOD - it should be forbidden for series to go downhill like this. *cries* Yeah, I wouldn't rec HBtS - it was really confusing and the characters were awful. Thank you!

  3. Oh no shame! I'm so sorry you didn't enjoy these as much as you could have :( At first I thought they looked really good, but after reading your reviews, I think I'll give them a miss.

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words

    1. Yeah, I don't like to tell people what not to read, but I definitely won't be recommending these two to anyone. Disappointments. :|


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