The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

I saw a lot of buzz from this book on booktube last year and then I read Flame in the Mist and felt like I had to read this series because I really liked Ahdieh’s writing, so I was preemptively excited. And whilst it didn’t quite live up to the hype this was still an enjoyable read.

content warning: whilst I wouldn’t consider their sexual relationship as rape, it could be trigger if you are a victim of sexual abuse, death, uhhhh I’ve forgotten what else there is but if you’re interested and have a trigger, message me and I’ll look into it for you!

Every time the Caliph, Khalid, takes a new wife she is found dead the next morning. Shazi decides that she will be the next bride after her best friend is killed, in a move that she plans to use to take vengeance. To put off getting killed Shazi tells the Caliph a story every night. But there is more than meets the eye with Khalid and slowly Shazi begins to discover that he isn’t the murderous brute she believed him to be.

The best part of this for me is the world building and the writing. The writing itself isn’t poetic, flowery or anything like that, it’s pretty to the point but it was sooo easy to read, and I read it so quickly that I had to read the novellas and take the second book out from the library immediately. The characters are super fleshed out as well. Shazi is a kickass lead who I loved reading from, Khalid is super dark and interesting and whilst I’m mixed about how I feel about him as a romantic leadI loved reading about him and his inner turmoils. I also just loved Jalal, he’s the perfect side character, who cares about the good of everyone involved.

I honestly don’t know how to explain my feelings about the romance in this book. It could be described as insta-love as it happens over the span of a few weeks, but because there is so much happening it feels like longer. On top of all that you have the weird way they have entered the relationship, knowing full well that every woman he has married has died. They have sex a few times before romance even happens, and for both of them it’s very much like procedural, they do it because they feel like they have to, it’s never romanticised at this point. There’s even a point where he asks if she wants to have sex and she’s like “we’ve done it before”, but he still asks. I just have very confused feelings. I was very wary of the sexual relationship before the romantic relationship that I have flagged every time they had sex prior to beginning to like each other, so again if you need warnings or anything let me know and I’ll read over these pages to make sure what’s involved.

One thing I would say is that if the story this is based on is a story you grew up knowing you might not want to read this as Fadwa told me that it’s changed a lot from the original story and what she’d heard about it she didn’t like so just bear that in mind.

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Winter by Marissa Meyer

As this is the 4th book in the series this will be brief.

It took me a long time to get to Winter as it is SUCH a long book, and I think it suffered from that. I enjoyed it but not to the same extent as Cinder. There was a lot of time where it just felt a bit too drawn out.

I loved the ending of this book, it tied the series together so well. As much as it’s a cheesy happy ending it left me super content because when you have a series like this where there are so many characters that you start to get very fond of.

I’m glad I finally got around to finishing this series, especially finishing this book as I feel like I have a sense of accomplishment because it’s so long.

At times it did feel like some of the characters were being too smart, like they just knew what to do and what to plan but thats a big theme in YA to be honest.

I’m not really sure about the portrayal of Winter. I feel like it could be quite offensive to people who are mentally diverse.

All in all I’m glad to finish this series but it could’ve been tied together a bit faster in this book.

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The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

I don’t know if there is much for me to say about this book that I haven’t previously said about the novels in this series.

This was a solid finish for the series and I think tied up a few ends of this series to feel like it ended but left some loose too so that you know there is more of the story to tell in the following series in this world.

This whole book is mainly focussed on battles and whilst they were super fast paced and I felt like I was totally in the scene I did occasionally feel like they were a bit too fast paced and things were over quickly. I imagine this is because it’s a middle grade book and Riordan didn’t want to get too bogged down in the details but sometimes I just wanted a little bit more.

I really enjoyed the end of this novel. There was a lot of ways it could have gone that I don’t think I’d have liked but it didn’t. So much came together in such a wonderful way and it made me happy that I finally read the series after having it on my shelf for so damn long.

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Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Princess Rhiannon Ta’an is about to become the Empress, but the night before her coronation someone tries to assassinate her. The rest of the world thinks she is dead but knowing her life is in danger she goes into hiding letting the world continue to think this as she figures out who tried to kill her. Alyosha is framed for the murder and also has to go on the run.

I really liked the dual POVs, we all know that multiple POVs can sometimes not work out and you end up hating on of them but this wasn’t the case with this book. Both characters were good to read from and Belleza wrote the chapters really well that every time the POV switched it was on a cliffhanger so you couldn’t put it down. It made the reading experience really fun.

The book is short-ish. I’m used to books of this genre being long, sometimes unnecessarily. Even though it is short it doesn’t feel like it, like it doesn’t feel like it’s going super fast and skipping details and it felt like it told the story it needed to tell and didn’t draw anything out.

This book is diverse and so well built. The cultures are super well constructed, there’s religion, different planets, different politics.

For a debut novel I’m impressed and I’m excited to read the sequel and see how Belleza’s writing progresses.

I really did like this novel and it did live up to the hype. It wasn’t a favourite and I think that’s just because it didn’t have that wow factor that I need from a fantasy/sci-fi Book.

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Peter Darling by Austin Chant

This book is so important. Content warning for: character death, transphobia, and I think other stuff but I read this a while ago and can’t remember exactly.

Peter left Neverland to return to real life and grow up as Wendy Darling. However this has only made him realise how strongly he identifies as a man. Things have changed in Neverland without him, for the better, but Peter just wants things to be the same way they were before.

Now I enjoy a good fairytale retelling but man was I so happy to see this one. I was never a huge fan of Peter Pan, I always thought the original was just a spoilt baby but this was so much different. The idea of Neverland being a place where you could be who you are with no fear of judgement felt so much more magical to me.

What I really liked about this novel was that Chant characterised Peter in a similar way to the original, aka a whiney baby, but gave him such a backstory and made him much more likeable because of that back story. You can understand why he does the silly stuff he does. He’s still stuck in the past because he just wants to go back to when he felt happy in himself and because the world has changed without him he thinks it needs to go back to how it was for him to be happy.

The characterisation of Hook was really interesting. I feel like we don’t get to know much about him in the original (which I haven’t read in a very long time) but with this one he’s just really different after the passing of time.

The parts of the novel that was flashbacks to Peter’s life in the real world were absolutely heart breaking. Knowing that he had been in a world where he could be himself and then choosing to go back to real life and finding how awful it was in comparison absolutely killed me. So bear in mind if that’s something you are sensitive to tread carefully with this book.

I can’t talk about the representation as I am cis, but it was own voices so I feel confident that it is good rep.

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This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab – My first Schwab!

This was my first Schwab book (I know wtf Kirsty) and it did not disappoint.

Verity is a city where monsters are real, if you want protection from these monsters you have to pay Harker to keep an eye on you. Harker’s daughter Kate is returning to the city after being kicked out from yet another school. August is sent to spy on her in her new school but after an attempt is made on Kate’s life a whole system of corruption is discovered by the pair and they must run to protect themselves.

The world is so beautifully constructed in this book I felt like I really could imagine everything perfectly. It’s made me so much more excited to read more of Schwab’s work.

Monsters in this world are the products of sinful/bad actions by humans. This is probably one of the most interesting concepts I have ever read, and the type of characters that it has bred. I think it’s a bit of a spoiler but August is born after a truly horrible event and as a character he truly bears the brunt of that. He feels guilty for even existing and is unlike the majority of monsters does not want to ever use his powers. I just adored August to be honest. He was a little bean that I just wanted to tuck into bed.

I loved Kate and August and the absolute polar opposites they are that were kind of forced to work together. Whilst August was a big softie, Kate has a huge attitude. Her father is basically the big thug of the city and Kate is trying to live up to that, which was a bit cliche but hey ho. I loved that they weren’t romantically linked. There doesn’t always have to be romance in YA!

It was a little slow to begin with but the amount of world building involved made this necessary and once I really got into it I couldn’t put it down.

I’m excited to read the conclusion of this series, however I have heard it’s heartbreaking so I’m a bit worried.

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – The Conclusion to End All Conclusions

I really don’t know how to talk about this book. Because it killed me. First of all, CW for starving, violence, death and addiction. This review will of course have spoilers for Six of Crows.

I was worried going into this because a lot of people had problems with the pacing, but thankfully I didn’t at all. Everything flowed so wonderfully. I had no idea what was going to happen next. I can’t believe the amount of twists Leigh put into this story that I had no idea were coming. I’m normally pretty good at guessing what happens next, but not with this book.

The character development is truly amazing in this. There is no loss of plot for the sake of characters. Honestly, I just felt so stressed out the whole book and thats a test to Bardugo’s skill in creating characters that I cared about. I was permanently worried about every single character. Not even just worried about deaths but about how anything was going to harm their emotional wellbeing. They’re all my kids who I hold close to my heart. I don’t know how it’s possible to create a character like Kaz Brekker. He’s so ridiculously multifaceted that I almost can’t bear it. I can’t help but love him even though he’s an evil genius.

After Six of Crows, Nina is addicted to Parem and something I absolutely adored in this book was the normalisation of addiction through this. Addiction is often shown in a bad light or treated like it’s something someone will eventually get over which is definitely not the case. People who are addicted to something will always be addicted and they’re still people, they’re not bad because they’re addicted and Bardugo really showed this through Nina.

I felt very emotional during this whole read through and I’m sad that I’m finished it because I want to feel those feelings again, and yes I can reread but obviously I won’t be reading it for the first time.

If you have any doubts about this series, don’t because it’s just absolute magic.

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Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst – Yay F/F fantasy!!!! Boo Slow read

Denna has left her home land to get married to the man she has been betrothed to since childhood. However Denna has magic in a world that is so anti magic, and being away from home has put her in so much more danger. She needs to learn to ride a horse, leading her to spending time with the Princess Mare. But then a series of magic related killings take place.

I was in a bit of a slump when I read this. I wasn’t reading it fast enough to my liking and it just felt super sluggish. But I don’t know if that was me or if that was the book. I still enjoyed it but I feel like it took longer than it should’ve done. I will say that something about the pacing was a bit off. At times it felt like it was moving along ok and other times it was just super slow. I didn’t get that “I can’t put this down” feeling.

Whilst I did love reading a fantasy book with an f/f romance, there should definitely be more, I felt like there wasn’t enough of a burn. Obviously I knew who the romance was between so as I knew it was building, but it didn’t feel like anything was happening between the pair. It wasn’t believable for me. Maybe I personally just want more from romances in books.

The world building was great. There was heretics and illegal magic. There were different countries at war with each other and being political and everything I look for in good world building.

This is a stand-alone fantasy novel and I feel like if you’re going to do a stand-alone this is how you do it. And I’m glad it is as well because I’ve started too many series.

I felt like the characters could’ve done with a little bit more development. I think because it’s a stand-alone I couldn’t get the feel for them that I would normally get from fantasy. Denna felt a bit flimsy at times, like I wasn’t sure what she was wanting to do with herself.

In the end though, I am glad I read this because I always need more f/f in my life, especially in fantasy where it’s SO sparse.

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The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember – Gender Fluidity Rep Let Down by Poor Plot

I have a lot to say about this book. Thank you to netgalley and Xpresso Book Tours for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Please be aware that there is misgendering in this book and there is violence.

Tashi has to escape the capital as their life is in danger. They’re an inhabitor, which means they have a really close connection with an animal, to the point where they can inhabit the animals body. However when they go to a monastery it is quickly taken over by enemy forces and they decide to spy.

The world building was really good in the sense it had a really good religious system, which a lot of books skip over. The inhabitor part of this book was an interesting idea but the way it was written just didn’t read very well. I found it hard to distinguish between what was going on with Tashi and what was going on with the tiger.

Xian read really weirdly, he was complex but was just too complex. He didn’t know whether he was coming or going and it was just really annoying. Sometimes he came off really nice and then other times he was an absolute jerk, and I just can’t get behind him. It made it hard for me to read the scenes between him and Tashi.

Tashi is supposed to be in love with Pharo, who they ran away to the monastery with but it literally did not read like that at all. They never saw him or checked on him. And I get that it’s hard for them because they’re trying to be covert, but it barely felt like they liked him to be honest. It just felt completely underdeveloped.

Look, I think this book is super important because it has a gender fluid main character, but the plot could use a lot of work. I think this could be really good for people who are gender fluid, though I can’t speak for the representation, and I couldn’t find reviews from anyone who is gender fluid, but if you have read it and are gender fluid hmu and I’ll link to your review. C.W. also posted a review of this book and raised some issues about the Chinese coding of some of the characters so I would recommend checking that out.

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The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan – Everything’s Kicking Off

Annabeth has gone missing and it’s all kicking off. Percy and the newly awoken Thalia need to go find her with some new friends added to the mix.

I liked the change up in this novel of it not being set in the summer, it made it less repetitive. I don’t mind when novels are over the same period just a year later every time but sometimes it can get annoying.

I really enjoyed getting to know a few other demi-gods. For example we meet Thalia, Zoe and Nico who all were really well developed characters.

My one complaint with this book and generally with the PJ books as a whole up to this one is that I sometimes feel like things happen very quickly. The novels are quite short and they are made for 10-12 year olds so it’s totally fine for them to be like that. But sometimes I just wish things would last a little longer. Like some big dramatic scenes or fighting scenes are over pretty quickly, and whilst the threads are all tiedI just want more.

Overall I’m pretty happy with where this book went and I could feel the tone changing between this and the first couple. You can feel like this is the novel where you know it’s going to go pear shaped soon. Kind of like how I felt with the third Harry Potter. There was a slight change to the overall tone and I put this down and was excited to see what was going to happen next.

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