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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Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

Edit 22/03/2017: So I really loved this book at the time but it has been pointed out today that the romance in it could be taken as a romance between a Jewish girl and a Nazi, whilst I personally didn’t feel like Luka was a Nazi as he seemed to mostly get by in life not taking an interest in anything and is completely unaware of all of the politics, this doesn’t mean he was completely innocent. Here is a thread on twitter: I’m sorry if you went onto read this series/book after reading my review and were hurt by it. I’m a white, non religious person so I wasn’t aware when reading this of possible triggers, which I’m sorry about, I fucked up in not relaying this in my original review.

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

Gosh this book. I don’t honestly know where to start with my review for this. I was completely blown away. I liked Wolf by Wolf but it just felt like there was something missing stopping me from loving it completely. Then this book happened.

There were so many twists and turns in this book, I had no idea what was going to happen next. Between the discoveries about the Nazi Government now knowing that they’ve been using skin shifters and never knowing who to trust I felt like I couldn’t breathe when I was reading this. I read it so quickly, I could not put it down.

I love Luka so much, I already had a soft spot for him after the first book but then this book showed a whole new side of him, a soft, trusting side. When he learns that the Nazis experimented on kids he goes from being indifferent about the government to being disgusted with them and himself for not knowing this was going on. He shows so much development.

The characterisation was so on point. When characters did stupid things I found myself practically screaming at the page, but it wasn’t stupid stupid, it was believable stupid. They were human and had flaws but they worked in every situation.

I won’t spoil anything I try not to do spoiler reviews unless I really need to talk about something but my God did the end of this book rip up my heart, throw it on the floor and stomp on it. I still get sad thinking about it.

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Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

Read this book.

I love Ruta Sepetys’ writing and this book didn’t disappoint. I was hit really hard by it. She knows how to write really horrible thing that actually happened in real life from a teenagers perspective without making them seem like an oblivious idiot.

Similar to Salt to the Sea this focuses on a little talked about part of the second world war: eastern europeans being deported from their homes to work in labour camps in Russia. Lina and her family are taken from Lithuania and placed in a camp in Siberia after a horrible long journey in a train car.

You could really feel the horrors of everything happening when reading this book, feel for the characters whose lives were completely unraveled. I just felt so sad reading this, knowing that this happened to real life people.

I connected to the characters far better than Salt to the Sea. Maybe because it was in one perspective I don’t know. Everyone felt so human, it didn’t feel like I was reading a novel it felt real, the characters spoke how I imagined they would, they reacted in both bad and good ways, there was nothing fake.

Sepetys’ research ethic is unparalleled, I love how much work she puts into it and making sure she thanks everyone who spoke to her.

My one gripe with this book was that I wish there was more about their lives after everything had happened. I wanted to see what their lives were like continuing after going through everything.

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Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys

I’m a huge history nerd, I studied the first and second world wars and the time between the wars often in school so I feel like I know a lot about nazism and the way Europe was rocked by the war, however I didn’t study the end of the war and what happened in the Europe after the fall of the Nazis and the rise of the communists. I feel like it’s something that’s often glazed over, I know most people hadn’t heard of the disaster in this book despite it being a larger scale than that of the Titanic.

Salt to the Sea follows 4 different young people during the fall of Nazi Germany in Poland needing to escape before the Russians take over. That’s it summed up simply but it’s so much more than that.

I really enjoyed this book, I didn’t quite love it but that was because I didn’t feel like I really connected to the characters until about halfway through.

You could really feel how well researched Sepetys was before reading this. Even without the pages at the end detailing what she did in order to find out everything possible from different perspectives, it came across in every word. Unless you’ve been there it can be incredibly hard to write the devastation of wars and the displacement of so many people but I felt like Sepetys got as close to it as possible for someone who wasn’t involved.

The chapters alternate each characters point of view and I think this was part of my disconnection problem, it didn’t really give me enough time to grow used to their voice and their characterisation. Of course, it’s important to show different sides of the story, as we have a soldier working on the big boat, a Prussian, a Lithuanian and a Pole, it highlighted the different struggles and the differing survival instincts. Personally I didn’t really see the point of the soldier’s POV until much later on in the story as he was just speaking gibberish really for most of it.

Another small part of me was a bit let down by the ending and felt like it was a kind of cop out, but this isn’t a huge complaint from me.

I do want to read another book by Sepetys as I enjoyed er writing style and I love that she’s willing to research and write about little known events in history. It’s incredible how such disastrous things can just be completely ignored, and quite scary really.


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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire S√°enz

As a person who is part of the lgbt+ community and who also loves to read lgbt+ literature I always pay special attention to books within that “genre” (I don’t really agree with calling lgbt a genre but it is so). Aristotle and Dante was a book that I saw get a lot of talk and a lot of hype and has been on my tbr since probably about 2014.

Aristotle and Dante is a book about teenage angst and finding yourself. It’s a book about being a loner, being confused over your sexual orientation, and trying to figure out who your parents are.

I honestly felt like this book would’ve worked miles better as a film, I really enjoyed reading it but it reads so much more like a screen play than a book. There’s so much speech in it and just random short chapters that at times it just felt a bit disjointed and could’ve done with some sort of segway or montage or something like that instead of just a chapter about how Ari didn’t do anything for days.

I adored Dante, Ari not so much. He felt just really irritating and horrible at times. I would’ve much preferred to read from Dante’s POV but I think then I would’ve just loathed Ari. At least from Ari’s POV I could kind of understand and empathise with some of the obnoxious things he did.

I thought the way the author portrayed the confusion over latent homosexual feelings was really good though I didn’t like the ending which I don’t really want to discuss because I don’t like to include spoilers in my reviews.

As someone who hasn’t read a lot of books with diverse racial characters, not out of not wanting to it’s just happened like that (if you’ve read a good book with racially diverse characters hmu), I liked reading about the Mexican community of El Paso in the 80s, it was different for me.

Honestly I felt a bit let down by this book, it was an easy read and I did like it but there was so much hype and so many 5 star reviews that I was so excited to read this and for me it didn’t live up to that hype. It was sweet and sometimes annoying but I don’t know something just didn’t click with me.

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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

This book was one of the most hyped books I’d heard of as of late so I was very glad when I managed to get my hands on a Galley of it. Thanks to netgalley and Orion Children’s Books for sending me a copy in return for an honest review.

The world of Wolf by Wolf is one where the Nazis and the axis powers won the second world war. I’m a huge fan of history and I studied the period of time from the first world war to the second world war a lot in school so this book sounded right up my street. Yael is a girl who had once been in a concentration camp and had been tested on to the point where she got an ability to change the way she looks, but she managed to escape and now is part of the resistance and she has been given the mission to kill Hitler.

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Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

I know a lot of people have a ship when it comes to this trilogy and it can be quite polarising, but I honestly could not pick between Will or Jem. There is a lot of angst in the book community over love triangles and I completely get the rage, they’re a trope that has been done to death, but when a book gets it right, it is so good and The Infernal Devices is one of these books.

I was very emotional reading this, I cried quite a few times. Not even just at sad bits but at times where I just knew things were ending and things were tying up and I just adored it. I loved how well everything tied up actually. There were loose ends but not major loose ends, enough that stuff can be mentioned in the rest of the books in this series that if you’ve read this you can pick up on them.

The Infernal Devices is by far better than The Mortal Instruments and I wish this was the one that had been adapted, though an adaption that was obviously better than TMI adaptions have been. Clare really fleshed out Magnus in this series, in a way that helps you understand how exactly he was living before he found Magnus in TMI. I’m going to read The Bane Chronicles after I read City of Heavenly Fire and I’m really excited to see how he is through every time in his life.

I won’t say much about it because obviously I don’t want to spoil anyone, and I try to post reviews that don’t contain any spoilers for the book, but the ending for this book was so perfect. For a person who didn’t really have a solid ship, the ending was exactly what I could have asked for and I was so happy about it.

All in all I adored this series, and the ending to it was just wonderful and if you’ve only ever read TMI but not TID what the hell are you doing? And if you’ve read some of TMI and didn’t enjoy it very much then try reading TID because it’s so different and so damn good.

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And I Darken by Kiersten White

Thank you to netgalley and Random House Children’s for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

To put it simply this is a historical retelling if Vlad the Impaler (also known as Vlad Dracul, the namesake of Dracula) was born a female. Lada (Vlad) and her brother Radu grow up together in Wallachia, their father clearly favouring Lada, until they get sent off to the Ottoman Empire after a lot of political moves and betrayal. This novel follows the pair as they try to build a live for themselves in their new empire with their new found friendship with the heir to the Ottoman empire: Mehmed.

I had some really mixed feelings about this book. I was disappointed in that there was a hell of a lot less impaling than I expected, but it is the first in a trilogy and I assume there will be a lot more blood in the next instalments. It felt like a first book as well, it was quite slow and it seemed to be all about the set up. However, by the end of the book I found myself desperate for the second part so I clearly ended up liking it.

I really struggled with the first half, I couldn’t really get to grips with the characters and didn’t really get what the fuss was about, but then the second half happened and everything I thought was blown out of the water. I really began to understand these characters and why they acted the way they did.

White has clearly done a lot of research; I looked up Vlad the Impaler as I read this and everything seemed to be fairly correct in terms of historical accuracy, well, as much as it could be with the whole gender bend thing.

There is a love triangle in this book but my god it’s not your typical love triangle and it really hurt my soul but I don’t want to talk about it too much because it was such a surprise to me when I noticed where things were heading and I don’t want to spoil that for anyone. The relationships between the main characters are really impacted by the triangle, especially as the grow up. The way the society in this book is also makes things so much different to the kind of love triangle that comes up in most YA books.¬†Personally, of the two siblings, I found myself leaning more towards liking Radu rather than Lada but I guess what can you expect when she’s based on a nasty piece of work.

What really made this story was the characters and the plot between what was happening with them rather than what was happening in the world they were in. There wasn’t as much action as I expected but the connections between the characters really made up for that and the ending has completely broke my heart and I don’t know if I can wait for the second part.

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Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

I started reading this just before I went on holiday, which was a mistake because I just wanted to read it all the time which was a bit of a struggle when I was doing 12 hour days at Disney and Universal.

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Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

I’d heard from quite a few people that The Infernal Devices were better than The Mortal Instruments so I was interested to see how I felt about this book and it did not disappoint. This was by far better than the first 2 books of TMI and a bit better than the third book.

Set in the same world as the Mortal Instruments but 120 years prior and in London Tessa Gray arrives in the country after losing her aunt. She was sent a ticket by her only living relative left, her brother, only to be kidnapped as soon as she arrives at the harbour.After being rescued by Shadowhunters she finds that her kidnapping was part of a much greater and sinister plan.

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