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 Belles by Dhonielle Clayton | Blog Tour | Review

Synopsis

In the opulent world of Orléans, the people are born grey and damned, and only a Belle’s powers can make them beautiful. Camellia Beauregard wants to be the favourite Belle – the one chosen by the queen to tend to the royal family.

But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favourite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that her powers may be far greater – and far darker – than she ever imagined.

THE BELLES is the book Dhonielle always wanted to write, a must-read critique of the way teenage girls are taught to think about beauty and body image.

Review

CW: death, people disillusioned with their own looks, mental illness.

I really enjoyed this book. The writing style fits perfectly, a lot of the time I struggle with fantasy because the writing style is too heavy, which is fine if you have the time for it, but I don’t. This isn’t full of flowery language or huge off-shooting paragraphs, it’s straight and to the point and I loved it.

Clayton writes the novel in a way that to begin with you’re a bit confused but she slowly lets you into the world until you completely understand what it’s about and what’s going on without having a big explanation chapter or being taken out from the story to be explained to. My one problem came from this though as I felt that because of the way it was done, the pacing struggled a bit. The last half of the novel was super fast paced but the beginning didn’t have much going on. However I feel like this makes it a really good first novel in a series, I think the next book is going to be super involved and have a lot going on.

The way Clayton wrote the world I am desperate to read more about it. I want to know more about the Belles, I want to find out how the world got to be the way it is, I want to know why people are born grey and discovered how Belles and Arcana existed.

I liked Camille enough, despite growing up in an oppressive environment where you are supposed to do just what you are told she goes against the grain. The character I loved the most, however, was Sophia, she was terrifying. She’s one of the most convincing villains I’ve read in a while. She’s only a teenager but she’s so unbalanced that you literally have no idea what she’s going to do next and it’s actually really scary.

Something else that stood out to me in this novel was how seamlessly LGBT+ characters were in it. People just spoke completely off the cuff about same sex relationships. This shouldn’t be a big thing, but for fantasy this is rare and it made me happy to see that in my favourite genre.

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Thank you to Stevie Finnegan for arranging the tour!

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Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Thank you to netgalley and Orion for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year as I really enjoyed the Wolf by Wolf series from Graudin. And it didn’t disappoint.

Invictus follows a boy who was born out of time whilst his mother was travelling between centuries so he has no birth date which causes him a whole load of problems. When he doesn’t qualify to become a time traveller he takes matters into his own hands and finds a crew and a benefactor and goes time travelling himself. But then he comes upon a strange girl and his world starts unravelling… literally.

So if you are into paradoxes, time travelling and alternate universes then this is for you. At times this book was super confusing but not in a bad way, but in a way you felt a kinship with the characters. They didn’t know what was happening and I didn’t know what was happening.

I don’t really have any feelings for Far, the main character, I didn’t dislike him but I didn’t really particularly like him. What stood out for me were the side characters. They were so wonderful and well balanced. Priya was this wonderful, intelligent young woman who really was a huge driving force in my read of this novel. One thing that really stood out to me was that Priya was still very much involved in her cultural roots, this can be put to the side in futuristic novels as a lot of authors like to imagine a world where we all live irrespective of backgrounds which I personally think is a ridiculous notion. Also Graudin wrote “chai” instead of “chai tea” which just made me happy because chai tea is incorrect and just means tea tea.

Along with Priya my other favourite character was Gram, a geeky black boy who was pretty anxious and liked to keep to his technology but was an absolute sweetheart. There was an awareness I felt was obvious in this novel that Graudin knew she was writing POC time travelling and could get into some awkward and possibly racist situations, similar to Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. It can be easy for white authors to just ignore that kind of thing when writing POC characters because it isn’t something they’ve had to deal with.

My main issue with this book was the pacing. The first half was pretty slow and a bit heavy going whereas the second half was really fast paced. I don’t mind slow or fast but I’d rather have a consistent pace throughout.

I think this is a standalone novel and whilst I do love standalone novels for the lack of commitment involved compared to series, I would love to delve into this world more.

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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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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 Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

This is one of the most fun books I’ve read all year. Thank you to netgalley and Abrams Kids for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Genie is focussing on getting into college until the new kid in school, Quentin, starts telling her all these wild tales about how she’s actually a powerful mythological entity. Of course Genie is very hesitant to believe him, but soon demons start popping up and she’s pretty much forced to realise Quentin isn’t lying.

The thing that really stood out about this book was how unapologetic it was about its Chinese influence. It’s entirely based on Chinese mythology so I think it’s the kind of book Chinese readers have been waiting for for a long time. But it never feels inaccessible, not that there’s anything wrong with books that are because some books are written specifically for people of a certain grouping to read and not for everyone and that’s ok, as a white reader who doesn’t really know much about Chinese mythology this was so easy to read. It was understandable and funny and explained background really well without feeling like as a reader I was being taught.

Genie is such a bomb character. She kicks butts of these hugely powerful demons between going to class and preparing for college.

Yes this book is a bit sill but that’s the whole point. It never takes itself too seriously, I mean how serious can you get with kids fighting demons in their school uniforms. In that respect it reminded me a whole lot of Sailor Moon.

I loved that this was set in the Bay Area because it made some of the more ridiculous moments of the novel even funnier. You have the image of these school kids beating up huge demons all with this metropolitan American city by the sea as the backdrop.

If you haven’t added this book to your TBR please do so because it’s one of the better books I’ve read this year.

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The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

I saw a lot of hype on this book and my friend Den recommended it to me so I decided to pick it up. And I have seen a lot of discussion on the possibility of there being a slave/master relationship and it’s a very difficult concept in this book as there’s so much more to it than that, however if you are not a fan of a slave/master relationship be careful with this book, it isn’t exactly that type of thing but certain parts could trigger you.

Paige is a clairvoyant in London, 2059 where it is illegal to be a clairvoyant. She works for the criminal underworld as that’s all she can really do without risk of being caught, though it comes with it’s risks regardless. One day she’s unlucky enough to be on a train with a raid and gets caught. But instead of dying she is taken to Oxford, which has been the home of aliens called Rephaites for 200 years as they’ve been gradually taking more clairvoyants.

This book was super complicated, it felt like I was reading a high fantasy even though it was more sci-fi/dystopian/paranormal, but for all the different jargon and terms I had a hard time remembering what everything was. The world building is incredible an there’s so much in it that it really does feel like it’s own world and not a variance of our own world but it is a bit hard to wrap your head around at times. It did take me about half the book to figure out what the deal was, though I don’t know if that was because I was reading it in Asia or not.

Whilst I remembered the main characters easily enough there were a lot of side characters and I found it really hard to remember who each of them were. Especially once Paige had moved to Oxford.

Whilst there was no romantic relationship between Paige and her owner, Warden, in this novel I could see it being built up which kind of annoyed me because it’s not necessary to always have a relationship just because they’re the main 2 characters. Never mind the fact that their relationship is so complicated, him being her owner after all. But as you go through the novel you find out that things are even more complicated and Warden isn’t exactly like the rest of his kind. This obviously doesn’t nullify the problematicness (is that even a word?) of the relationship being in fiction with the past the world has had with slave and owner relationships. I think it’s up to you where you stand on the issue, I’ve had POC friends find it really offensive and some who have adored it.

I’m scared to jump into the next book because I’m currently not really in the mood to read it but I worry if I leave it too long I’ll forget everything that happened in this book.

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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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