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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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

How do you write a review of a book which means so much to you?

This book is all based around a heist made by 6 teenagers in order to get a sum of money beyond their wildest dreams. The problem is, despite these kids being incredibly sneaky the place they need to break into is like Alcatraz and is apparently impossible to break into.

The characters in this book meant so much to me. You have Inej who is POC and believes in her religion without embarrassment. Kaz is like the biggest bad boy around but he has such a troubled past and he continues to be a kingpin of the underworld even though he has no family left and has a limp. Nina is also POC and she takes no shit and is such a boss character and I just felt such a connection to her. There also some same sex flirtation and a bi/pan character. They’re so diverse but I felt like I could connect to all of them even if they had a different background to me. Normally when you have a book with multiple points of view you can find yourself leaning more towards other certain characters chapters and feel like you skip some character’s chapters to get to other but I didn’t have that problem with this. I enjoyed every characters POVs, even the characters I wasn’t as fond of.

At times there was some really smart twists that Bardugo had obviously spent a lot of time planning this book. Though I have to say I felt like I guessed them before they happened but I think that was probably just me, or really good foreshadowing. I watch a lot of TV with plots and twists, and obviously you know if you’ve been following me a while that I like fantasy novels so I feel like I’m actually pretty good at guessing what’s going to happen next, more than the average reader anyway.

This book read like a teenagers Ocean’s Eleven. Everything was so planned, down to even minute details that Kaz felt like Danny Ocean. Confusing even the people who were on his side because he was just always 2 steps ahead of everything else. And because of this I really felt like the pacing was really good.

One random thing I noted to myself when readig was that I absolutely adored the descriptions of Ketterdam. I felt like I could so vividly imagine it, like the leaning buildings and the dirt filled streets. It was like a movie in my mind at times.

I don’t know if I can bring myself to read Crooked Kingdom because I don’t think I’m ready for it. But I’m also dying to read it.

I don’t need to tell you to read this book because I’m sure it’s already on every single one of your TBRs since it’s been one of the most hyped up books in YA in the past couple year’s. But it’s hyped for a reason and I hope if you were umming and ahhing about whether to buy it that my review has swung you.

 

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The Curse of the Bruel Coven by Sabrina Ramoth

Thanks to netgalley and Sabrina Ramoth for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Vivienne finds out that her mum wasn’t her actual mum after she dies and her birth mother was a witch who gave her up for adoption to protect her from the curse on her family.

I often talk about bad pacing in books, more often than not it’s too slow but this was just too fast. I had no idea what was going on half the time because it was moving so quickly. I didn’t learn much about the characters but suddenly the adventure was already beginning. Ramoth seems to have the same problem that I do when I write and that is not describing things enough and not taking the time to slow things down a bit. If you like fast paced books then this is the one for you. I just didn’t read enough character development. Because it’s so fast paced it’s definitely the kind of book to read if you are in need of a book to read quickly for a bibliothon or a challenge.

I liked the premise and the setting. Since watching AHS: Coven the idea of witches in New Orleans has always interested me. And having vampires in it made it a little bit better, I still like vampires. I liked that the MC was getting flashbacks to previous generations of her family and she had to figure out what was going on.

I wish the MC had phoned her gran because it was like “well I’ve found out she’s not my actual gran so I’m going to go find my birth mother and forget my gran exists. It just felt really rubbish to me. And on top of that the whole thing starts with her wanting to find her birth mother than her birth mother is kidnapped and we start to learn about all her extended family and there was just too many characters.

This review probably makes it sound like I didn’t like this book and honestly it was ok, I didn’t hate it, I just felt like the writing could use some work.

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Half Lost by Sally Green

This book broke my heart. I did not see what happened coming and I just didn’t know what to do with myself.

I feel like with this novel we came full circle with Nathan. In Half Bad Nathan doesn’t know who he is being half black half white and whether he’s good or bad. In Half Lost Nathan just doesn’t know who he is anymore. He’s really struggling over being the evil murderer that white witches expect him to be and just killing to survive.

There was finally the relationship that everyone was hoping for in this book but it actually kind of felt like a cop out. That being said I was reading it desperately hoping that the relationship was going to happen and that Nathan wasn’t leading the person on because he wasn’t in a good place.

There’s a huge fight at the end of this book, that’s not a spoiler it’s what you’d expect at the end of a fantasy novel but it honestly felt like there wasn’t much to the fight. It started then suddenly it was over and we were in the future.

There isn’t actually much I can say about this book without spoiling it or previous books. It wasn’t the perfect ending and there are some things I would definitely change but it was good.

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Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

Thank you to netgalley and Hachette Children’s Group for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

So Passenger was one of the first books I reviewed on my blog last year and I really liked it so when Wayfarer popped up on netgalley I was so quick to request it.

I felt like Wayfarer was definitely better than Passenger, but maybe thats because there’s a lot more of the time travelling world in it. Where the first book was getting to grips with the world and showing the reader what could happen the second book was a lot more fast paced and showed so much more of the time travelling aspect and the chases through time aspect that was originally advertised.

The main thing that I really liked about this book was that we got to know Etta and Nicholas away from each other. They were very reliant on each other in the first novel and yes there was insta-love, but in this book they spend the majority of it apart. We get to see how they tick in the time travel setting without each other there.

I liked how Bracken still continued with the world building in this novel. Things were introduced slowly, but not too slowly in that you were bored, and it built on previously explained things. There were times where I was a bit confused but that might have been my concentration levels rather than the actual novel. The little parts in each time period were well developed for the short amount of novel space they had and I got a good idea of the setting of each place without being overwhelmed.

I think I would’ve liked this even more had the end been different. It was kind of satisfying because it just ended with all the ends tied together, but it kind of left me feeling a bit like “oh of course it just all came together really nicely”. I’m not going to spoil anything but if anyone else had read it and felt like this please let me know so I can discuss it.

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Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Oh my Goodness, so this was one of the first books I ever requested and was accepted for on NetGalley. I let it sit there for a while and then there was a lot of hype and I still hadn’t read it yet. Then I read it. I loved it so much. I’m white so, as I do with all novels that feature characters with a different racial background to me, I might say something wrong, if I have please let me know and I will endeavour to fix it!

So Alex is a young girl in a family of Brujas (latinx witches) and she is about to come of age and gain her full powers. Alex, however, doesn’t want to be a witch and so performs a spell at her Deathday party in attempt to rid herself of her powers, but it backfires and all her family are gone. She needs to go to the world of Limbo which isn’t quite death but isn’t life either to rescue them.

There is some really cool diversity in this because not only is it in a Latinx community, but the MCs best friend is Guyanese, a place I hadn’t really thought about in terms of the people who live there. Not only is she Guyanese but she’s also of Indian descent and learning about that led me to looking up Guyana and finding out that the population of Guyana are majority Indian descent and had I not read this book I never would have learned this, which I thought was super cool. And she’s a Hindu! Not only is there racial diversity but there’s also Bi representation which made me incredibly happy but god damn do we need more good bi representation. What I loved about it was that Alex is bi but its just a thing there’s no big reveal there’s no “coming out” she just is.

I loved the characters, they were so multifaceted. The MC starts off super bratty but through her journey she grows, she learns to accept people into her life and her secrets. Nova is very much your classic morally ambiguous guy who you don’t know much about but feel like he’s maybe a “good guy” and I found myself attracted to his character a bit. And then Rishi, the best friend is so loyal and wonderful and deserves the whole world.

The world was super fleshed out, there was good explanations of everything that was going on without taking you out of your immersion with long detail. I could imagine everything in Los Lagos with ease, the flying people, the River of Souls, everything. The writing was so well done at making you feel creeped out and nervous.

One little random thing I really liked was there was a few Spanish(?) sounding words and after they were written for the first time there was a little way to pronounce it and it made me so happy. I love when books have pronunciation guides. People always complain when there’s made up languages and names but I actually like it, it helps my immersion.

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

I loved this book. I loved the characters. I loved the writing style. I loved the world. I just loved it.

In order to save her brother’s life after he is arrested for treason Laia makes a deal with the rebellion to become a slave to spy for them so they will find him. Elias is in training to be the governments version of police but no longer believes in the cause and wants to leave but can’t due to his family. The two find their lives intertwined in more ways than they think.

I don’t understand how this is a debut. It’s so good?

I really loved the characters in this book. Every single person was so well developed, the main villain was so believable I wanted her dead. It’s hard to get me to feel like that about a villain, many have redeeming factors but the commandant didn’t have any. She’s an awful person and that’s only highlighted by the way she treats her son. I loved how Elias was a bit morally grey at times, he obviously wants to get out of the life he’s living but to begin with didn’t seem to have the ambition to do so and it was great to see him grow. He was my favourite POV to read from because not only did you have his internal struggles but you also got to see him taking part in the trials and the few fantastical elements. It made me excited to see where Tahir goes with it as I enjoyed getting to get little snippets of the magic without being overwhelmed. There was times where Laia was really naive but she grew from her errors and you could really feel her need to save her brother. She isn’t your typical “strong” female YA lead, she’s strong in her own way but she’s not a bold character, she’s not a big fighter, itwas really nice to read a character like that.

THE PACING WAS SO GOOD. It wasn’t ridiculously fast that it missed or skipped over things but it wasn’t slow. It slowed down when it needed to slow down it sped up when it needed to. I could not put it down.

There was romance but it wasn’t central the plot in anyway, it just happened and was a thing but didn’t become to the only thing that was important. Tahir could’ve made it so much more but didn’t preferring to focus on the actual story and I really respect her for that.

The world building was so good, I could perfectly imagine everything. As I previously said I loved getting to see the magic in little ways instead of being thrown in the deep end. I also really liked learning about the different lands beside the one focussed on in this novel, I can tell that in A Torch Against the Night that there is probably going to be travelling to the different lands and getting to see the cultures hinted at. There were some really horrible themes dealt with in this novel, like slavery and rape but it never once felt like Tahir was glancing over them, they were shown in a bad light and never romanticised. This world is brutal, it’s so violent but that’s part of the world.

I went to my library when I returned it and was like “so hey do you have the sequel in stock if not ORDER IT NOW”.

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