Bookish Things · Reviews

ARC Review: For The Wolf – Hannah Whitten

Synopsis:

The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.

Review:

Thank you NetGalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK for an e-copy of this book.

This book is quite complex to review. 

First of all, if you are expecting a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, this is not it. The main character’s name is Red, she wears a red hood and she is promised to the Wolf – who is not a wolf. And that’s the extent the retelling will go. I was surprised to recognise elements from The Beauty and The Beast, which, for some reason, keeps being the favourite fairy tale of all the writers and an infinite source of inspiration (screams into the wild: that’s enough!). 

Well, bummer. This was a first point deduction to this story. 

Another point deduction was the rather confusing introduction and info dump in the beginning, mixed with a super detailed description of the Wilderwood. Further down in the story, I am sorry to say, it didn’t get easier to grasp. 

Red was a very weird character, who I couldn’t relate to. In the beginning of the story she has given up and accepted her destiny as a sacrifice for the Wolf. There are a series of quite dark chapters, including the creepy ceremony where she is prepared to be sent as an offer, and I was quite intrigued by the premises. I was able to turn a blind eye on the confusing settings, and I was ready for the ride but it didn’t get better. Once she finally enters the Wilderwoods and meets the Wolf she makes it quite clear she is there to stay and she doesn’t want to go. You are supposed to understand Red’s motivation to stay based on a short account of a very traumatic experience she and her sister Neve went through. One night they get drunk and enter the Wilderwood, you are given hints that something terrible happened, other than Red getting a spiritual and magical connection with the enchanted woods. The reader is given few details of that terrible event, chapter after chapter, after chapter… and then it’s the middle of the book and you still don’t know what the heck happened and why Red is so reluctant to go back. 

I mean, you get to understand the full picture only when you are too far into the story, so it is difficult to fully get Red’s actions or stubborn behaviour. Instead, she just comes across as an immature and petulant child. And on top of that, you have a repetitive plot – so much blood spilt – and a magic system more and more puzzling. 

Another thing that made me cringe was the swearing. I have no problems with swearing in general, but an s-word here and there further prevented me from taking the dramatic tones of the story seriously – or whatever these characters were saying. 

The romance was bemusing. How the writer managed to do insta-love and slow-burn at the same time is a mystery. Anyway, it wasn’t even justifiable, because falling in love with someone just because he is broody (or because he constantly smells of coffee) is not enough for me (also he is not a wolf as promised). 

I don’t think this book should be categorised as YA but it’s not even adult, probably something in the middle. I have to admit, it was a bit of a struggle to finish it, I almost DNF’ed at 40%. The pace of the story was too repetitive, the characters not fully developed and it just didn’t work for me. It saddens to say this – sigh. This was another highly awaited release of the summer, which didn’t live up to the hype.

Bookish Things · Reviews

Review: Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite – Zoraida Córdova & Natalie C. Parker

Synopsis:

Eleven fresh vampire stories from young adult fiction’s leading voices!

In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out―and going out for their first kill―and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.

Welcome to the evolution of the vampire―and a revolution on the page.

Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley.

Review:

Thank you Titan Books & NetGalley for an e-arc copy of this book.

The main reason I wanted to read this book was the fantastic array of writers who collaborated and were involved in this anthology. 

I don’t usually read a collection of stories. I knew though what I was getting into and this book was just that, short stories about vampires from different perspectives and flavours. But even if I knew these were going to be short stories, I still felt like almost every single one of them lacked sturdy conclusions or resolutions. The majority of these stories really left me dry, underwhelmed and often seeking a second chapter. 

Each story tries to focus on a specific thematic around vampires, such as how you become a vampire, the first kill, the blood lust and so on. Despite talking about one of the most fascinating creatures of the night, I can’t say those stories gave me the chills. Not that I was expecting a horror book, but they were all bland. 

My favourite story was definitely Samira Ahmed’s one – A Guidebook For The Newly Sired Desi Vampire. It was hilarious, it really made me laugh out loud. I loved how she managed to connect being a vampire with colonialism, integrating various elements of the Hindu culture. 

Another story that stands out is In Kind by Kayla Whaley, probably because it was the only story that gave me some creeps and maintained a good consistency within its nature of being a short story. 

I still appreciated the original idea behind this project, of exploring vampire stories from an OwnVoices rep’s perspective. However, if I have to provide a review of all the stories together, they generally felt inconclusive. I liked that between chapters you get an interesting discussion about a specific theme of the story and offers an open dialogue. In general, it is a fast read but some stories didn’t keep my attention.

Bookish Things · Reviews

ARC Review: These Hollow Vows – Lexi Ryan

Synopsis:

From New York Times best-selling author Lexi Ryan, Cruel Prince meets A Court of Thorns and Roses in this sexy, action-packed fantasy about a girl who is caught between two treacherous faerie courts and their dangerously seductive princes.

Brie hates the Fae and refuses to have anything to do with them, even if that means starving on the street. But when her sister is sold to the sadistic king of the Unseelie court to pay a debt, she’ll do whatever it takes to get her back—including making a deal with the king himself to steal three magical relics from the Seelie court.

Gaining unfettered access to the Seelie court is easier said than done. Brie’s only choice is to pose as a potential bride for Prince Ronan, and she soon finds herself falling for him. Unwilling to let her heart distract her, she accepts help from a band of Unseelie misfits with their own secret agenda. As Brie spends time with their mysterious leader, Finn, she struggles to resist his seductive charm.

Caught between two dangerous courts, Brie must decide who to trust with her loyalty. And with her heart.

Review:

Thank you Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for an e-arc of this book.

This book was a massive surprise, I really didn’t expect to love it so much.

These Hollow Vows tell you the story of Brie. Brie has no means to survive, other than stealing here and there for her and for her sister, to try to make their way out of debts. But when her sister is sold to the evil Fae of the Unseelie court, she will do everything to save her. Even if she has to pretend she wants to get married to the prince of the Seelie Fae, even if she is forced to make a deal with the evil King of the Unseelie court. Brie finds herself caught up with the politics between these two courts and working side by side with a group of rebels.  

For the first time, I found myself agreeing with the synopsis, this story is perfect for ACOTAR and The Cruel Prince fans. Dare I say, it has the potential to become ACOTAR readers’ next obsession. The only difference is that it has a few Cinderella influences and then there is a love triangle, which is exquisitely executed. The plot per se is already fast-paced and intriguing, but I have to admit, the love triangle made this book really difficult to put down because you keep wondering who Brie should trust, who is lying and who is just another Tamlin-tool. The writing is brilliant and the plot doesn’t give you a moment of break. 

Overall the story has similarities with ACOTAR, and some parts were easy to predict and I knew that person was a jerk and he couldn’t be trusted. Still, the plot never failed to surprise me. There are a lot of things happening towards the end I couldn’t see it coming at all. In a few chapters, the writer manages to put all the pieces together, make your jaw drop with all the secrets and revelations, and stab you in the back and leave you dry…  I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book.

The world building and the magic system are flawless. Everything is explored and explained well enough to give the reader a clear idea of how diverse the Fae courts are compared to the human world, together with their history and relationships. On top of that, the writer created a great range of characters, fully developed, with all their backstories and complex personalities. The main character as well, Brie, is strong and determined, you root for her every step and turn. It has been a while since I last had the pleasure of following a character growth that actually makes sense, according to the events of the plot.

While it is marked as YA, I wouldn’t be too shocked if it moves into the NA genre for certain thematic of slavery and human sacrifices, the politics of the Unseelie court are dark and brutal, but also because of a specific scene in the story, which was quite “steamy”, and for what will happen to Brie in the second book. Anyway, this was absolutely perfect, haha, which is why this review is short. I am a massive fan of Sarah J. Maas and this book is worth the comparison and the hype. The last time I had such a that-was-a-great-book vibe was for ACOMAF. 

Gosh, it’s so difficult to write a review without spoilers, and I can’t wait for this book to be officially out so I can fangirl about it with the book community. 

Bookish Things · Reviews

Review: Of Beast and Beauty – Chanda Hahn

Synopsis:

Something evil this way comes.
7 Vengeful Sisters
7 Fairytale Kingdoms
7 Daughters of Eville

Everyone dreams of marrying a prince—except for me. I am nothing more than a pawn in my adoptive mother’s diabolical plot against the seven kingdoms.I was the chosen tool, her sharpened blade that would cut the deepest into the heart of the Kingdom of Baist. But like all deadly weapons, my wedding is two-edged sword that could cost me my soul.

For I am Rosalie, one of the adopted daughters of Lady Eville, and it is my duty to enter into a loveless and hate-filled marriage with the narcissistic Crown Prince of Baist. My choices and heart are not my own to give. Yet even in the thick of dire situations, beastly vengeance can give way to beautiful attraction. 

Review:

Attention, small spoiler ahead – but I will give you a warning.

Well, I guess this is my unpopular opinion #193938488… I can see that this book has high ratings on Goodreads, but I can’t share the same feelings. 

The story is not really a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, as there are very few elements from the original story. There is the curse and a beast in the story and that’s pretty much the extent this retelling goes to. Rosalie is forced to marry the Prince of Baist, Xander, by her mother who is trying to get her revenge on the seven kingdoms (what revenge, mmh, not sure). Xander was actually going to marry the love of his life, a marriage that would have brought stability to the kingdom. The marriage is cancelled on the day and he marries Rosalie instead as her mother Lady Eville makes a deal with the king. And so, Rosalie finds a very reluctant husband and a court who see her as an evil witch, and she has to endure abuse every day while trying to uncover the mystery of a terrifying beast that roams in the kingdom.

Let me say first that, unfortunately, I had a massive issue finding Rosalie relatable. She is constantly bullied and a victim of abusive behaviour. She keeps complaining about how everybody hates her and the nasty rumours about her being an evil witch, daughter of the devil and so on, but realistically she doesn’t do anything about it. I mean if you keep acting like a witch (and I didn’t mean witch), that’s what you get. All she does is keep deceiving people and throwing compelling spells whenever things don’t go her way. 

The other massive problem I had with this story is the depiction of a very unhealthy and abusive marriage between Xander and Rosalie. 

I do enjoy reading an enemies-to-lovers story but the development of this relationship was completely inexistent. It was more of an enemies-just-enemies thing.  And then in the end it was completely forced with very unexpected couple developments. The problem was that Xander acted like this massive offensive tool and a jerk to Rosalie for a big chunk of the story. There was never a hint of romance between them. —- SPOILERS STARTS HERE —- So when in the end they declared love to each other (and she was also pregnant), it just felt very wrong. —- END OF SPOILERS —- I initially thought that probably the writer didn’t intend to have a romance developed between the two main characters because nothing was happening, and I admit I thought about giving up halfway. 

Anyway, it’s not that type of marriage you want to promote

Overall, the plot was unnecessarily confusing, and, towards the end, too many things were happening, so I couldn’t follow what was happening. I didn’t fully understand why Rosalie was forced into this marriage and what her mother was trying to avenge. I couldn’t even understand the extent of her magic and why she seems to have all the powers in the world and at the same time be so useless to find the beast. 

It’s a massive shame because this book is part of a series where every daughter of Lady Evella will have a part in this plot of revenge, and every book will be a retelling, so I appreciate the original idea. However, because no explanation has been given in the story, I assume that you need to read all the books, so this is not really a standalone you can just pick up. This book was a flat read, with so many things dumped in the story, mostly in the last 10% of the story, for which we don’t get an explanation.

Sigh. This was one of the most disappointing retellings ever.

Bookish Things · Reviews

Blog Tour: Bluemantle – Karen Langston

Hello Fellow Readers,

I hope you are doing well.

Today I am so excited to share my review of Bluemantle for the Bluemantle Blog Tour organised by Random Things Tours.

Synopsis:

LIVE MUSIC IS OUTLAWED.

Set in the sun-scorched city of Wydeye, the totalitarian Authority controls its citizens through fear and cultivated dependence. Live music is deemed a threat to order and is forbidden by law. Punishment for participation is severe.

Chase Newell discovers his sister is missing. His search for her leads him to the underground music Scene, with its ageless Troubadours who must risk their lives to perform in order to survive. To do this, they rely on Bluemantle.

As the Authority’s control-obsessed leader, Governor Blix, and her evil-incarnate Chief of Command, Wulfwin, step up their efforts to seize the Troubadours and destroy the Scene, the risks escalate.

While the Troubadours are forced to act, will the citizens of Wydeye wake up to Bluemantle’s invitation and find choice beyond the caves of their own making?

Review:

Thank you so much Random Things Tour for providing a copy of this book. My opinions are my own.

This book was definitely outside my comfort zone, and it was a great surprise. The synopsis really got me intrigued from the beginning, as I am a sucker for a good dystopian story. 

The story takes place in the imaginary town of Wydeye, where everything is provided and regulated by the Authority. Not much can be done under the authoritarian control of the Authority, they control everywhere you go and everything you do. One thing is absolutely forbidden, music. When Chase’s sister goes missing in a mysterious accident, he tries to investigate her disappearance on his own and ends up in the underground Scene of secret music events.

The best feature of this story is definitely the detailed description of this town and the lives of its inhabitants. Furthermore, the plot offers a POV from the Authority, which enables the reader to fully experience the roughness of this world. I found the description of punishment/torture a bit too much for me, which is the main reason why I tend to avoid adult books. However, I can’t deny that it all felt understandable considering the plot and the atmosphere (and that’s just my personal preference). 

The fact that music is forbidden was a very interesting concept. I guess we all wondered when we will be able to go to another live concert during the past year, so this story really explores that possibility and what is life without music. I also guess that, if I was more of a music fanatic I would have appreciated more the moments with the Troubadours. So, if you are a fan of rock/live music, you really can’t miss this story. 

Even then, I couldn’t really put it down. The plot was unpredictable and a few revelations in the middle really made me lose my faith and trust in every character. I couldn’t see where the story was going. In general, I felt all the characters lack strong personalities, they felt a bit flat. However, I absolutely loved the idea of the Deaf Squad and the role they played in the story, together with the Authority’s perspective, it made the story absolutely intriguing. 

It was a refreshing read from my usual fantasy, well written and super entertaining. If you are looking for a good dystopian story (and if you are into live music) you absolutely need to check this story out, it is definitely a great debut story. I guess, the writer has still lots to say about this world and about the Scene, I think she left many things “opened” on purpose, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a sequel. 

Author Bio: Karen Langston

Karen Langston is a British novelist, writing speculative and science fiction for adults. 

Karen has an MA in English from the University of Kent. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, she was a secondary school teacher of English, a senior project manager developing qualifications for professionals in the creative media industries and a self-employed property developer. She lives in Kent with her husband.

BLUEMANTLE is her first novel. 

I am a Goodreads authorhttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21057691.Karen_Langston 

I have listed BLUEMANTLE on Goodreads and it now appears on several Lists.

Facebook Author Pagehttps://www.facebook.com/karenlangstonauthor/ 

Instagram – @karenlangstonauthor 

Publication Details:

Publication date – 28th March 2021

ISBN – 9781913551599

Paperback and Ebook editions

RRP £9.99 (paperback) and £4.99 (Ebook)

Purchase the book here (no affiliate links):

Amazon

Waterstones

WHSmith

Bookish Things · Reviews

Review/Reflections: Rule of Wolves – Leigh Bardugo (with spoilers)

Synopsis:

The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.

The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.

The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.

King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.

The wolves are circling and a young king will face his greatest challenge in the explosive finale of the instant #1 New York Times-bestselling King of Scars Duology.

Review/Reflections:

Disclaimer!!

This is not really a review but some thoughts I had after reading this book. It may contain spoilers but I will give you a heads up before jumping on it. Also, if you don’t want my review to influence your reading experience, feel free to move on to another blog/review. 

Also, please, don’t hate me. 

I had many feelings after finishing Rule of Wolves, mostly negative. I think I wrote this review two or three times, I continued to re-read it and tone down my thoughts. To be honest, the first draft of this review was full of very nasty and colourful comments. I feel very nervous about being fully honest about how I felt because I don’t want to gain negative comments from the loyal Bardugo fans. However, I can now say I have come to two conclusions: 

1 – So far all my 5 stars review predictions were epically wrong. Every book that I said was going to be 5 stars, turned out to be a big disappointment. Unfortunately, Rule of Wolves falls into this category. 

2 – Maybe there is some weird spell or the books I read come from a parallel universe because often I end up with a very different reading experience from the majority of readers and this is another of my unpopular opinions. 

I loved Six of Crows duology, it’s simply perfection, and I’m so excited about the Shadow and Bone adaptation I could cry, but this book killed me. While reading this story, I felt so overwhelmed by the useless amount of details and extra-complicated plot. But at the same time, I don’t even know how to explain it, this story felt absolutely rushed. I swear, after finishing I woke up with a massive headache and I didn’t want to pick up another book. 

The first problem I had with this book is that there are too many POVs and storylines that I felt were pointless, draining, and not taking me anywhere. The two most clear examples are Mayu and The Darkling. I think their presence in the book didn’t really make a massive contribution or impact on the main plot. I felt so sorry for Mayu, because she wanted to be something more, I could see the possibility of telling the stories of the Shu Han, but there was not enough space for her, but it looked more like an anchor? A plotline to explore in case Bardugo decides to write more stories of this world. But, at the end of the day, the war between Fjerda and Ravka happened and Mayu and The Darkling didn’t change the result. 

Before I continue, I think I need to make it clear that I am not a devoted fan of the Grishaverse (not as much as I am a fan of, for example, Throne of Glass), so many details from the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, SOC duology or Nikolai’s first book were not so vivid in my brain, so I concede, I may have forgotten something. However, I couldn’t help but feel all the characters we met in the past, in particular, my beloved Nikolai and Nina, were massively out of character. 

I thought this story was going to be about Nikolai, instead, it was an all-Zoya book. I don’t mind Zoya, I was really invested in her development during King of Scars, and all her potential was wasted in this book. So many details about her past and about her new power (the dragon in her) were introduced, but it was all smoke and mirrors. Nikolai was more of a sad clown and completely lost his smartass charm. 

And Nina… love of my life… when did you become so dumb? Why did you have to suffer and become a victim of poor writing? 

SPOILERS HERE:

Because here’s the thing, the whole story of Rasmus was so weak from the very beginning. It was clear from the beginning he was a prick – what a poor spy she became. And she had to pick up all the loose ends of this story, all the side storylines – Rasmus, Hanne, Matthias’s killer, Zoya being a dragon and The Apparat. And her personal story didn’t go much further. For some reason, despite the fact she found happiness in the end, I couldn’t be fully happy for her.

END OF SPOILERS. 

I need 10 minutes of meditation to continue this post. 

I am not going to talk about the Darkling – I think it’s just too heartbreaking. Such a powerful villain, absolutely wasted. I still don’t understand the purpose of bringing him back?

And I am not even going to discuss the misuse of the term “vampire” in the book (I’m still laughing) or the fact that the blight was brought in this story with no explanations, for no reason, because nothing had a meaning in this book… 

SPOILERS:

including those cameos. Which was just a massive PR stunt, in my opinion. Let’s bring back all the guys that will be in the TV show but who cares about continuity, let’s make them all OOC. Look, I missed those guys so much, but can’t we leave them happy in their books without forcing them out in a story that already is super crowded, and has no space for them and without making the ending of Lostit look like a masterpiece in comparison? 

END OF SPOILERS.

In general, it all felt like a PR stunt. Sometimes, I felt Bardugo didn’t care about these characters anymore and just wanted to be over with. At the same time, I had the impression she was leaving seeds here and there, to reap later in case the show is a massive success and she wants to attempt a Shadowhunter/Game of Thrones thing. The unclosed storylines, that dumb open ending/teaser of Six of Crows 3 suggests that, but after reading this disaster, reading a SOC 3 sounds more like reading a horror story. 

Book Tours & Cover Reveals · Bookish Things · Reviews

Blog Tour: Kate in Waiting – Becky Albertalli #TheWriteReads #UltimateBlogTour

Hello Fellow Readers,

I hope you are doing well.

Today I am so thrilled to share my review of Kate in Waiting for the #UltimateBlogTour organised by The Write Reads & Penguin.

Synopsis:

From bestselling YA rom-com queen Becky Albertalli (author of Love, Simon) comes a new novel about daring to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight in love, life and theatre.

[PRINCIPAL CAST LIST]

Kate Garfield
Anderson Walker

Best friends, and contrary to popular belief, not co-dependent. Examples:

Carpooling to and from theatre rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient.
Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment.
Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.

But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script.

Enter Stage Left: Matt Olsson

He is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.

Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship…

Review:

I received an e-copy from Penguin UK, via The Write Reads Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I think it’s official, I love everything that comes out from Becky Albertalli. Even if she publishes her grocery shopping, I would read it and I would love it (and I would buy it). I loved Kate In Waiting, it was such a lovely, sweet story.

Taking place in Roswell, Georgia, Becky tells us a story of Kate and Andy, who are like super BFFs and often end up sharing the same crush. When they both start having feeling for the new guy, Matt, their friendship is tested and Kate and Andy have to find a way to protect their precious relationship. But, when the three of them are all cast in the school musical, things get super complicated. Who will Matt choose? Will Kate and Andy still remain friends at the end of the musical? Well… you need to read this story to find out. 

Once again, music and musical are a pivotal elements to Albertalli’s storytelling and you can tell how much research she did on Once Upon A Mattress, which I didn’t even know is actually a real musical. And once again, she is so good at depicting life as a teenager with their crush and fixation on a school production. And this is why, even if the plot was predictable, it was still a lovely and sweet rom-com to read, which I devoured. 

Everything is told completely from Kate’s POV, which sometimes can come across as a bit annoying or selfish, and around her, you have this fantastic diverse cast of characters. I think sometimes I wanted to slap her, because how can she not realise her actions were hurting others, but I sort of still get that, I think I was the same as Kate at her age, not so delicate. The best character, I think, was Noah, it was impossible not to love him from the very beginning. But again, because of the first-person narrative, you don’t get to understand fully why Kate and Andy would both fall for Matt or you don’t get a clear picture of Andy’s perspective. 

I still think it was a reflection on how sometimes we just tend to categorise people under certain stereotypes and we just judge them accordingly. Again, while some people may find the whole “f-boy” talks repetitive or disturbing, I still think that this is something we all do during high school. 

In the end, the plot was not perfect, but the writing is just simply so worth it. Becky Albertalli has this talent in describing the realism of teenage crushes, when you spend hours examining every single eye movement, word, gesture… who didn’t do that? It is a sweet light story about discovering love and platonic relationships. I simply love it and if you loved her previous works, you will need to get a copy of this book.

Becky Albertalli – Bio:

Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at www.beckyalbertalli.com.

Follow her on Twitter: @beckyalbertalli

Did you enjoy this review? Pin it!

Bookish Things · Reviews

Blog Tour: The Infinity Courts – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Hello Fellow Readers,

I am so excited to take part at the blog review tour for The Infinity Courts organised by Turn The Page Tours.

Book Info:

TITLE: The Infinity Courts

AUTHOR: Akemi Dawn Bowman

PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse

RELEASE DATE: April 6th, 2021

GENRE(S): YOUNG ADULT FICTION–Fantasy, Sci-Fi

BUY A COPY HERE: BOOKSHOP.ORG

Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.

The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.

When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.

As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.

From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes an incisive, action-packed tale that explores big questions about technology, grief, love, and humanity.

Review:

Thank you Simon Pulse & Turn The Page Tours for an e-copy of this book.

I don’t know about you, but I always had a very conflicted relationship with virtual assistants like Siri or Google Assistant. I rarely talk with them, but I know that there are people who rely on their phone/smartwatches too much. Imagine one day you die and, surprise surprise, the afterlife has been hacked by Siri and she is an evil queen and you will very likely end up as her slave, with no memories and no longer in control of your actions. That’s pretty messed up. This is what, in a very simplistic explanation, happens to Nami, the main character of this story, and, WOW! You are not ready to meet Nami.

On her way to a party, where her friends and her best friend/now-finally-boyfriend, are waiting for her, she stops at a convenience store, where she is murdered during a robbery. Nami dies very young, but when she wakes up in the afterlife she immediately realises something is wrong and paradise doesn’t look so peaceful at all. The residents, evil creatures that look like humans but are not humans, are ruling this world, Infinity. And Ophelia – the Siri of this world – is the ruthless queen of Infinity.

Nami finds herself involved in a plot to try to destroy Ophelia’s reign and give the humans the Infinity they deserve. However, Nami is reluctant to just accept that all Residents are just simple evil and that’s the best thing I loved about this story. How Nami constantly questions everything, she doesn’t take anything for granted and she is always trying to do the right thing. She is very stubborn, but that’s what makes her strong. 

The plot raises a lot of dilemmas that can be easily applied to our society. There is a lot of interesting discussions about race, grief, humanity and of course, our relationship with technology. I love how Nami continued to find hope at every turn. It’s a character that will grow deeper in you and you can’t help but support her through the end. 

The world-building is spectacular, super well-developed, detailed and integrated with this idea of an AI dominating the humans’ consciousness. I loved all the side-characters, in particular the various evil princes of this world, and I look forward to learning more about the other courts of Infinity in the next book. Furthermore, if you are fans of the enemy-to-lovers trope, you absolutely can’t miss this story. It’s a super slow burn romance, you see it coming but it was a joy to read.

The plot has some ups and downs, but it’s beautifully written, very easy to read and fast-paced. I loved every bit of it. The ending was shocking and it’s what makes me give this book 5 stars. I didn’t see that revelation coming at all, it killed me and I am still in pain because of it, but it was smartly executed. I can’t wait to read book two, but also I am so anxious about what’s going to happen next.

The Infinity Court is a provocative and emotional journey, it’s a brilliant blend of sci-fi and fantasy. The writer definitely brings the concept of AI taking over our world to another level, and it populates Infinity with beautiful landscapes and complex realities. This is a must-read, I can’t add anything else.

AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Akemi Dawn Bowman is a critically-acclaimed author who writes across genres. Her novels have received multiple accolades and award nominations, and her debut novel, STARFISH, was a William C. Morris Award Finalist. She has a BA in social sciences from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and currently lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She overthinks everything, including this bio. You can find Akemi on Instagram @AkemiDawnBowman.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

Up for grabs, we have TWO (2) finished copies of The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman. This giveaway will be open to US residents only and will run from April 4th to April 12th at 12 AM CST. To enter, click the link below!GIVEAWAY LINK: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d31/?

If you like this post, Pin it!

Bookish Things · Reviews

ARC Review: These Feathered Flames – Alexandra Overy

Synopsis:

A queer retelling of “The Firebird,” a Russian folktale

When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.

But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.

As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.

Review:

Thank you so much Harper360YA for an e-copy of this book!

One week after I finished this debut novel, I am still struggling to give it a proper rating, and I don’t know where I stand. 

The general basis of the story is the retelling of the Russian folktale of the Firebird, which is quite an innovative idea to bring into the YA fantasy scenes. It’s a story of twin sisters, and their destiny is forced by the nature of the magic of this world, one of them will become Queen, the other will obtain the powers of the Firebird. Whenever someone casts a spell, the Firebird must take a payment from whoever used the magic (which often results in losing a limb of your body or more) or the balance of the world will be at a risk. The sisters are forcibly separated at a young age until they meet again, but because of the different upbringings and experiences, the bond they used to have is now gone

This novel is prominently character-driven as it is told by Asya and Izaveta’s POV. The plot in general was a great roller-coaster, in the sense that you have lots of slow moments inside the two main characters’ heads while analysing every single action/word said by the other sister or anyone else in the story. Then you have a burst of detailed fast-action scenes and plot twist moments. But, the moments of personal introspection slow down the overall reading experience

This story gave me some “Wicked Saints” vibes, as often it talks about the deity of this world, but it doesn’t go further than that. Both saints and the purpose of the Firebird slowly lose importance within the story. All the main issues connected with this world, such as the payment system if you use magic, the imbalance of the world caused by this process or the “Fading” (the magic disappearing from this world) they all lose relevance and they are not explored further. Politics and sisters’ relationship become the main points of the story, with all these moments of personal introspections. 

I can’t say I wasn’t invested or I wasn’t enjoying the story, because I found the two main characters quite strong and with absolutely opposite personalities and traits. Izaveta is an intriguing to-be-queen character, almost a villain, so obsessed with politics and so manipulative. Furthermore, there were great revelations in the end that I didn’t see coming, so the plot and the good writing kept me intrigued

I guess, if I have to pinpoint what didn’t work for me for this story, I would say that those plot twists at the end, they were unexpected, yes, but they were dragging to a point where I wanted these mental trips to be over and I was tired of the constant drama with the sisters. The f/f relationship in the story was a welcome addition, but as per the magic system and purpose of the Firebird, unfortunately, it was not explored enough.

Here we go, I don’t know where I stand with this book. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t WOW-great either. I know it has the potential to steal many readers’ hearts but I guess it didn’t steal mine. I am saying this with a heavy heart because this novel was one of my most awaited releases of this spring. It’s just that I was not so invested in the story and considering the ending and epilogue, I am afraid I don’t feel like I want to read the sequel.

Bookish Things · Reviews

Review: The Bone Shard Daughter – Andrea Stewart

Synopsis:

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

Review:

Thank you Little, Brown Book Group UK and NetGalley for an e-copy of this book.

I started this story with no idea what to expect. I knew it’s received positive reviews so far, and I was a bit worried about the hype around this title. And after I finished reading this e-copy I wanted to do two things: one – get a hardback edition asap, two – re-read it asap. I have no idea where to start this review because I thought The Bone Shard Daughter was absolutely perfect in every aspect and absolutely amazing. As I am at a loss for words about this review, I will start by listing all the fascinating things about this story. 

I will start with the characters who are introduced one by one at the beginning of the story. You have the emperor’s daughter who is trying to gain back her memories; a smuggler who is trying to find his lost wife (after 7 years!! – argh, my heart). Then you also have a governor’s daughter and her partner, whose relationship suffers because of the politics of the governor and Emperor, and the difficult living situations of the inhabitants of the island. And finally, you have this woman, whose only purpose in life seems to be picking up mangos. You would probably think “what the heck is this story” and these characters could possibly be connected. Here’s the magic of this story, this fantastic reading experience and discovery of how these characters all come together and how they are connected. 

On the basis of it all, you have a world-building composed of moving and floating islands, and if you need to get an estimate of how to get to the next one by boat you will have to consider where the island will move to. What makes this world extra special is the magic system that dominates this world, intertwined with its history and the precarious ruling of the Emperor. Every island has imperial spies, magical beings or constructs, powered by bone shards who are supposed to protect the same people who are forced to contribute with these shards at a young age. I really thought I was about to read the weirdest story ever, but I was surprised to see how this mindblowing idea of bone shards and constructs brilliantly worked.  

The plot was unpredictable all the way to the end, I truly hated society that forced me to work and kept me away from this story. It really kept me guessing until the very end when those last three chapters felt like a blow and made me all gasp out loud. The writing was impeccable, the ending left me needing the sequel, which I can’t wait to read. And then, I can’t help, Mephi and Jovis, the most heart-wrenching friendship ever, was one of the most enjoyable things of this story. 

For whoever didn’t read The Bone Shard Daughter, I cannot recommend this book enough.