Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

I decided to pick this book up from the library because it’s the biggest series in terms of vampire romance. And let’s be honest, this is the trashiest of trash but when I read it I was just in the mood for it.

Wreath leads the Black Dagger Brotherhood, the oldest clan of vampires in New York, his second in command has just died after telling Wrath that he has a daughter. Now Wrath must look after this half-breed daughter as she is about to change into a vampire, but of course he bonds with her.

First of all there is violent scenes against both humans and animals so if that could trigger you be wary.

The biggest thing that jumped out to me with this book was how weird it was in terms of feminism. The writer clearly wanted to write something more forward thinking on the heterosexual relationship and gender roles front but this was written 12 years ago and you can clearly see when reading it that modern feminism has come leaps and bounds in just those 12 years. There were times I was reading this thinking “yes, right on” then a couple of sentences later there would be a thought from the MC that was degrading to other women. There was also a lot of male chauvanist scenes, which the writer would sometimes show in a bad light but then sometimes show in a good light and I found it a bit confusing. But that’s possibly just because I’ve grown so used to the way things are now and it’s weird to read something written not so long ago that is pretty different from the way things are now.

Ward has created her own niche language with this book which is fine but I did occasionally feel a bit odd about it. It’s clearly derived from some sort of Russian based language but it definitely felt off.

The most different thing for me when reading this book is that Wrath is a blind vampire. You don’t read about that often as vampires in most books are “perfect” and as soon as they are changed all disabilities become nulled. I’m not blind and J.R. Ward isn’t blind so I can’t speak for the representation of the lack of sight but it was interesting to read that’s for sure.

To be honest, with this book it was not the best writing, not the most original, the world building was just not great, and there was a lot of weird insta-love. The sex scenes felt cringey and I honestly was not attracted to Wrath at all, the way he was described had me conjuring an image of this huge mountain of flesh which some people might find attractive but I don’t. I think had my expectations been higher for this book I would’ve been thoroughly disappointed but because I knew what I was getting going into it I didn’t find it to be too terrible. I’m not interested in reading the rest of the series though as none of the side characters jumped out at me.

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Frostbite by Richelle Mead

I’ll be honest: in writing this post I can’t really remember what I thought of this book so I’ve had to look up other reviews to remind myself as I didn’t even take any notes.

So after what happened in the previous books all the Moroi are on edge as the Strigoi seem to ramping up their efforts to kill them. What else should they do but send all their heirs to a ski trip together, because that makes sense?

Rose and Dmitri’s tension only furthers in this novel as Rose tries to put her attention into another boy and Dmitri, of course, is conflicted about the whole situation. What I have to say is I’m just glad Dmitri was still trying to keep his distance, it shows that he’s aware that he has power over her due to their age gap. Rose generally annoyed me in this context as she really couldn’t wrap her head around Dmitri telling her he’s not comfortable with the age gap.

The ending was super rushed, there was so much waffle of them in the ski resort and then the ending was so sudden and it very much felt like “wait, what? Is that it?”

Lissa was also just super annoying in this book, but when is she not? She seems to only ever have eyes for her boyfriend and fails to notice that some really bad things are happening to Rose. And all the rest of the characters were quite irritating, but not inhuman. They definitely read like the teenagers they were.

All in all I’d say the character development was pretty good in this, and it felt nice to read something from this series that was new to me as the film whilst bad followed the plot pretty well of the first book so it did feel like I’d already read it. I’m actually quite intrigued to see what happens now as I feel like things are going to actually get interesting.

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A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Honestly if you loved ACOMAF don't even bother reading this because it's about 500 pages of waffle and not much else. I was so hyped up for this book when I finished ACOMAF because I had no idea what was going to happen, but then there was a lot of discussion in the community about SJM and her lack of diversity and I gradually felt less and less excited. But when the book came out and arrived at my door I was still anticipating what would happen and how it would end.

And the end was good. The last 150 pages or so were really enjoyable. It's just a shame that the majority of the book prior to that was just a lot of nothing. I love Feyre and Rhysand but there was just so much couple stuff from them that did not need to be there. I found myself rolling my eyes a lot. I feel like Maas has the kind of style that after a while begins to feel pretty repetitive. You seem to notice the same phrases used a lot and whilst it's good to have a grasp on your own style you need to find a balance.

Maas began to pair up everyone as it was coming to a close and for some reason a lot of mainstream fantasy writers do this. They can't bear to have single characters left. What I did find interesting though was that there was unrequited love from one of the guys as Mor comes out as being a lesbian at the end of the novel, or it read like that but I was a bit confused as to what she considered herself. If you consider this a spoiler fight me, people's sexualities are not spoilers. And whilst I was glad that she wasn't straight it kind of felt like Maas was doing it just for the sake of it.

There is a character in the book who is bi though he is not one of the main 6 it's still good to have representation. But I saw a lot of comments on how he as a character was too stereotypical of bi people as he slept around a lot and had threesomes and I completely understand the criticism but that doesn't mean it's not ok to be bi and sleep around. The problem is that Sarah is not bi herself or at least hasn't came out as bi so for her to have a character with that stereotype as opposite to an own voices author writing from experience is harmful.

Something I was quite glad of in this book was that Maas had clearly listened to criticism a little bit and had clarified that the Illyrians were not white and had darker skin. Obviously it's a bit too late on that front but at least it was mentioned at some point. Just a shame it was in the final book and people might have given up on the series before this point.

I still loved the characters they still felt true to themselves and I loved seeing Feyre grow into her powers more and feel better about herself and her place in the Night Court. I also enjoyed getting to see characters from different Courts are the previous 2 books had mainly focussed on Spring and Night. I liked getting to see the different personalities and attitudes cultivated by living in different places.

Honestly I don't think I'm going to buy the next 3 books in this series as I just don't have an interest anymore. Which makes me sad because ACOMAF was so good but oh well.

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The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

This is a retelling of Snow White where the huntsman is a dragon and Snow White is an enchantress. 

There was so much potential with this book but I just spent the majority of it bored. I normally write my reviews like a month or 2 after I finish reading because I have such a build up but also it’s good because it lets me stew things over but I genuinely can’t remember some of what happened in this book. I just feel like I was on autopilot reading it. 

The MC was just so up herself, like think Celaena Sardothien except can’t actually do any fighting but acts like she’s the best ever. 

I felt like the main villain wasn’t scary in terms of she didn’t truly feel like it she fought the MC she wouldn’t really be hard to beat. Her actual villain qualities were how evil she was and manipulative she was. 
One thing that I just felt really agitated about was that all the names for magic and places were just unnecessarily confusing and long. When you have a super long glossary you know you need to chill out with it. It’s one thing to have some weird names but ones that are literally unpronounceable is just trying too hard. 

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Where to start with this review?

I’m sure you have a vague idea of what this book is about but it’s basically about the types of people you would find in a “freak show” at an old style circus, all trapped in a time loop to save them from dying. I know sounds a bit silly right? Which is why it’s better to go into this book not knowing much about it.

However I still found myself pretty disappointed. I thought from the way people went on about this book that it would be some crazy adventure with people who were different but honestly it was just boring. There was so much set up for a very short climax. It was so slow and I just felt like parts of it went on and on. I thought it would be spookier than it was as well, it’s supposed to have a creepy feel to it but it just fell short for me.

Something that really stood out to me while reading was that no one had a distinct personality. I couldn’t remember who was who and what their peculiarity was. Everyone rolled into one on my head and I just found myself confused for a majority of the time. To me if you’re going to do a book with lots of characters they need to stand apart or just don’t bother with them. Even the more forefront characters like Enoch didn’t really register with me properly, I had to keep reminding myself what they did.

Spoilers: It really upset me that the MC ended up having a relationship with his grandads ex. Like that’s really creepy to me, anyone else?

I do think it was incredible that a bunch of photos sparked Riggs’ imagination enough to now be writing a further trilogy but I won’t be reading anymore.

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Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

Thank you to netgalley and Abrams Kids for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is set in the 20s during the time of prohibition, but that’s not the only thing banned; people who have powers to manipulate people using art are also banned.

The biggest part of this book that I liked was the sisterhood. There was no girl on girl fighting for the sake of it, the 2 MCs were really close friends and loved each other and you could feel that throughout the whole book. They had really distinct personalities and I liked them as characters, however I felt like the book maybe should’ve been told from just one perspective because they all just rolled into one and it kind of felt like more of an omniscient narrator than separate character’s points of view in a way.

I also really loved the magic system, everything was related to art, some people could do magic with music, some with painting, some with poetry which I just found really cool. Though at times they would start to use their powers at moments where I just felt like it didn’t make sense to the situation, like surely someone would’ve stopped them before it actually took hold of them. Would it not be obvious to you that someone was Iron Cast if they started just randomly singing?

The world building could have done with some work. I found myself confused a fair amount of the time about just what was really going on. It felt a bit wooly at times and I think that was partly to do with the pacing which went from being really slow to really fast that I couldn’t really concentrate wholly on what was actually going on.

There was some really good points about racism and sexism that were brought up that are often swept under the carpet in historical fiction. Just because things were different doesn’t mean people were happy to just be treated like second rate citizens because of their gender or skin colour and this book was a reminder of that. Not only was one of the MCs facing difficulties in her life due to her magic but she was also black and whilst it is set in Boston where racism wasn’t nearly as bad as places in the south there was still a clear racial divide. It also raised some thoughts on the anti-Russian sentiments in the states, which not as strong as the narrative about racism against black people it was still there and mentioned.

I’d definitely be interested in what this author will come out with next as I can tell that she’s going to improve the more she writes.

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A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

If you’ve read An Ember in the Ashes but haven’t got around to this yet I’m just going to warn you that this book features genocide. If scenes of that nature or talking about it upsets you, you should be aware before reading because it’s brutal. There’s also torture and a bunch of other possible triggers so please be aware and if you want info ask me.

Where the first book was very much about the military parts of the world and getting to know how the world worked politically, this book was about really beginning to get a feel for the magic system, through the absolute nightmare happening to the people.

I felt like I finally really got a feel for the characters in this book. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so bad for a character as I have for Helene Aquilla; she has to hunt down the boy she’s in love with so she knows he’s okay but somehow along the way figure out a way to keep her job and family in tact that doesn’t require her killing Elias. Elias has to try and figure out how to beat his mother whilst he is slowly dying. And Laia is along with him trying to just live while the rest of her race are being murdered in cold blood. This book is not your nice teen fantasy, there is so much heavy stuff going on. It took me a while to read just because I had to keep putting it down and taking a breath.

The magic system in this book was honestly so strange. Like it felt like magical realism inside a high fantasy world at times. It was dark magic that wasn’t just commonly used, it wasn’t a system I was used to. It mostly dealt with death and destruction whist was really interesting to read.

For a lot of this book I felt it was moving quite slowly but then the end happened and it just completely threw me and I needed to read it all. I’m not really sure about the pacing to be honest, but I’m now desperate to read the next book after it was left off the way it was.

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