Mini Reviews: Follow Me Back, None of the Above, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World, The Hundredth Queen, The Library of Fates

Posted August 24, 2017 by Inge in Reviews / 1 Comment

by Aditi Khorana
Published by Razorbill Mini Reviews: Follow Me Back, None of the Above, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World, The Hundredth Queen, The Library of FatesFollow Me Back (Follow Me Back, #1) by A.V. Geiger
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on June 6th 2017
Pages: 368

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts.

One StarOne StarOne Star

I’m sad that I can’t give Follow You Back a higher score, because the story had all the ingredients for a great rating – epistolary parts, a main character with agoraphobia, and a sense of doom hanging over both protagonists. But there were several things that bothered me.

First of all, the way Tessa’s agoraphobia was treated. I mean, I just felt sorry for her. Her boyfriend was a condescending jerk who didn’t understand anything; her psychiatrist must have gotten her PhD for free with a jar of Nutella; and her mother was unsupportive and got angry when things didn’t go her way. It’s amazing Tessa didn’t fall further into her hole.

I didn’t particularly cared for Eric Thorn, either. I understood his fear for violent fans, especially after a colleague was murdered by a rabid fan not too long ago. But I also got the sense that he felt himself above his fans, that they were inferior little gnats he wanted to flick away. And I hate that attitude in celebrities because fans are a big part of why they get so popular in the first place. This was also a really unfortunate portrayal of fandom – yes, the squealing fans are the loudest, but they do not make up an entire fandom. Most of us are respectful.

Ultimately, this was a really quick read, and I really did enjoy the stalker/mystery vibe the whole story gave off. And after that ending, I honestly don’t know what to believe, so I may look out for the sequel (even though I thought this was going to be a standalone, but that’s fine). But it wasn’t my favourite.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy


Mini Reviews: Follow Me Back, None of the Above, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World, The Hundredth Queen, The Library of FatesNone of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 7th 2015
Pages: 352

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex... and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

When I started None of the Above, I went in blindly, because I couldn’t for the life of me remember what the book was about. The beginning was kind of generic, like a carbon copy of every YA contemporary out there, and I was worried this was going to be a disappointment. I’m pleased to say that it was not.

Once Krissy’s intersex diagnosis came along, I couldn’t stop reading. Even though I’m supportive of the LGBTQIA community, I had never read an intersex book, and I didn’t know a lot about it, either. So on that note, None of the Abovewas a really informative and educative read. I actually learned a lot about the condition and what it entails.

“If there’s one thing I learned from my dad leaving my mom, it’s that love isn’t a choice. You fall for the person, not their chromosomes.”

Aside from that, it was also a very human book. When Krissy’s diagnosis is revealed to the whole school, we see a perfect example of human nature and its instinct to use ignorance as an excuse to be vile and cruel. While the entire book is an emotional rollercoaster, this part really tore at my heartstrings – call me naïve, but I often find it difficult to fathom how vicious a human being can be.

Despite the more serious subjects, this book was a quick and easy read, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to identify with an intersex character, seeking information, or wanting a capitivating story.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy


Mini Reviews: Follow Me Back, None of the Above, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World, The Hundredth Queen, The Library of FatesThe Wild Woman's Guide to Traveling the World by Kristin Rockaway
Published by Center Street on June 6th 2017
Pages: 352

Fans of Sophie Kinsella and The Devil Wears Prada will love this smart, sexy debut novel of wanderlust.

Objectively, Sophie is a success: she's got a coveted job at a top consulting firm, a Manhattan apartment, and a passport full of stamps. It isn't quite what she dreamed of when she was a teenager dog-earing pages in exotic travel guides, but it's secure. Then her best friend bails just hours after they arrive in Hong Kong for a girls' trip, and Sophie falls for Carson, a free spirited, globetrotting American artist. He begs her to join him on his haphazard journey, but she chooses responsibility and her five-year plan.

Back in New York, that plan feels less and less appealing. As Sophie recalls the dreams she's suppressed, the brief international jaunts she sneaks in between business trips no longer feel like enough. Carson isn't ready to let her go either, but as they try to figure out their relationship, Sophie realizes she may have to pursue her passions with or without him.

One StarOne StarOne Star

I always love reading travel stories, so I didn’t hesitate to request The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World. I definitely had to adjust some of my expectations, though; with a title like that, I was expecting more travelling the world. Instead, I got… Hong Kong and New York. Which, granted, are both very interesting cities, and I enjoyed the touristic bits Rockaway added. I was just expecting… more. More travelling, more countries, more.

Instead of travelling, we were given a romance. Enter Carson from the very first chapter and you get a massive whopper of a romance with extra cheese. They go at it like rabbits, say “I love you” after a week, and Carson has a five-year plan with only Sophie’s name on it after two weeks. In other words, barf. This definitely could have been toned down and was my least favourite part of the story.

Like I said, the travelling bits were the best part. The story starts off in Hong Kong, which I loved reading about; those parts felt detailed and immersive. Everything fell kind of flat in the middle, but in the last third of the book, things started picking up again. I loved reading about Sophie walking around New York – I also really appreciated the touristy bits that were added. Sophie explains a lot about the city, as though you’re reading a tour guide, which was very interesting.

The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World was a fun, relatively light little novel about finding your passion and having the courage to fight for it. I loved seeing where the road took Sophie, but for me, the romance kind of ruined it.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy


Mini Reviews: Follow Me Back, None of the Above, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World, The Hundredth Queen, The Library of FatesThe Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen, #1) by Emily R. King
Published by Skyscape on June 1st 2017
Pages: 300

He wanted a warrior queen. He got a revolutionary.

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.

One StarOne Star

It’s been a few days since I’ve read The Hundredth Queen, and already I can’t remember much of it, though I can say for sure that it was like reading a summary of every single YA fantasy out there ever.

The storyline was interesting enough – Kalinda gets chosen as the rajah’s hundredth queen, the ultimate title. Though to keep that title, she’ll have to fight for it. Any of the rajah’s other queens and courtesans can challenge her to a fight to the death. On top of that, a rebellion filled with bhutas (people with elemental magic) threatens to topple the kingdom, and Kalinda may be deeper in this than she realises.

However, the storyline was ruined with an insta-lovey romance, which really grated on me. Kalinda and Deven barely had any time together before they fell hopelessly in love, and their kisses make Kalinda’s limbs float around her, making her sound like an octopus. There was also this unnecessary girl-on-girl hate (you guessed it, over a guy), and I honestly don’t understand the point of the rajah having a hundred wives and hundreds more courtesans.

I also predicted about 80% of the outcome within the first few chapters, which dampens the reading experience as well.

However, I did like the friendships Kalinda did have. Her best friend Jaya was lovely, and I also sympathised with some of the nicer women in the rajah’s court. Other than that and the general storyline, though, there was very little that made me keep reading, and I almost DNFed it at several points.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy


Mini Reviews: Follow Me Back, None of the Above, The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World, The Hundredth Queen, The Library of FatesThe Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
Published by Razorbill on July 18th 2017
Pages: 354

A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn't enough.

The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

One StarOne StarOne Star

Well, colour me confused. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure whether to recommend The Library of Fates or not.

First of all, I have to give credit where credit is due – this book is wonderfully descriptive. I loved the rich passages of scenery, and of the food – I go a little weak in the knees at a good food description, ha! So if you’re interested in the cultural aspect, this book gives you value for your worth.

The ending – more or less the last third of the book – also changed my opinion of the book drastically. What a game changer! I can’t say too much about this without giving away spoilers, but that last part really sealed the deal for me.

But to get to that great ending, you have to get through some slog. It starts out as a very typical YA novel, with a protagonist who’s betrothed to an evil ruler but in love with her childhood best friend, and then there’s that other guy she has an electric connection with… All of it felt unnecessary and “already done.” By the end of it, yes, some of these things made more sense – but you have to get there first.

So do I recommend struggling through a great deal of the book in order to get to this really wonderful storyline? I honestly can’t say. It will work for some, less for others. Up to you to decide.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy

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