Posted in Reviews

THE MEMORY OF BABEL by Christelle Dabos

4/5 Stars

I really enjoyed the third installment of the Mirror Visitor Quartet! I won’t get into too much detail to not spoil any of the earlier books, but long story short: you should read this series, especially if you’re a fan of YA fantasy!!!

The Memory of Babel was a fun follow-up to The ​Missing of Clairdelune, particularly in terms of Ophelia and Thorn’s character and relationship development. They were really the stars of the book for me and I always looked forward to their scenes together. While I quite enjoyed the way the first two books focused on the Pole, this book exposed the reader to an all new setting. Dabos once again shows her great knack for worldbuilding as she explored all the unique and intricate customs of Babel.

I was expecting a bit more of an expansion of the setting beyond Babel since the early chapters seemed to indicate that there would be more travel between the other Arks that we haven’t gotten a chance to see yet. But hopefully this will be something we will get to see in the grand finale!

I also felt like I didn’t grow as attached to the new characters as I did with the cast of characters from the previous two books. One of my favorite scenes was in the beginning when Ophelia reunited with Archibald and her other friends from the Pole after three long years apart… only for her to split up from them and not see them again for the rest of the book. So I can’t wait to see what’ll happen in the next book where all these forces Dabos has set up will come together for a dramatic conclusion!

Comparable titles:
Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

***I received an e-ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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GROWN by Tiffany D. Jackson

5/5 Stars!

Wow, this book was absolutely chilling!

Grown is an utterly addicting contemporary YA thriller about a teenage girl named Enchanted Jones and her toxic relationship with famous singer Korey Fields… who is found dead, alone in a room with blood on Enchanted’s hands. A thriller from start to finish, Jackson uses flashbacks to show the descent of Enchanted and Korey’s relationship from what she thought was a dream mentorship to its reality as an abusive nightmare.

Enchanted was such a compelling character. Her hope and aspirations were so inspiring, which made me root for her so much. Even though the reader knows from the start that her road with Korey will end in the worst possible way, you want so badly for her to achieve her dreams of stardom like she imagines.

Jackson’s writing is really unique and I have felt stunned after finishing each book I’ve read from her. I really recommend her as a standout YA contemporary writer, especially as one who features diverse characters at the forefront of her timely, relevant stories.

It’s important to note that this book includes very sensitive subject matter and includes content warnings at the start of the book, which I thought was a really apt way to caution readers of potential triggers before diving in. So I would definitely recommend you read through the warnings before you begin!

Comparable titles:
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Whisper Network by Chandler Baker
Shackled by Tom Leveen

***I received an e-ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Reviews

WE HUNT THE FLAME by Hafsah Faizal

5/5 Stars

I LOVED We Hunt the Flame!!!!

I can’t believe it took me so long to finally pick this up because I adored every second of it. At the same time, though, I’m kind of glad because this means I won’t have to wait as long for the sequel!

A quick listing of some of the high points of the novel for me:

Dynamic, memorable characters: check
Slow-burn romance: check
Interesting magic system: check
Fun relationships between the characters: check

Basically, what isn’t there to love?

Don’t get me wrong, some of the plot elements could have gone wrong. I tend to find the pacing of fantasy adventure novels that take place over a long journey to be a bit slow and sometimes rambly. And while this one had some side quests and smaller obstacles along the way, they all seemed super important for the end goal and allowed the protagonists to experience further character development.

To get a bit more specific, I really enjoyed the way this story embraced darkness and explored the main characters’, Zafira and Nasir, inner selves and insecurities to portray them as complex, believable characters. The setting was also richly detailed and totally transformed me into the story.

Pick this one up! What are you waiting for??

Comparable Titles:
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Posted in Blog Tour, Reviews

A GOLDEN FURY by Samantha Cohoe

3/5 Stars

I’m feeling a bit conflicted about this one!

A Golden Fury follows 17-year-old budding alchemist Thea Hope in French Revolution-era Europe. She has a toxic, complicated relationship with her mother, a renowned alchemist who views her more as her apprentice than her daughter. As they work on forging the infamous Philosopher’s Stone, an unprecedented danger greets them and Thea must branch out on her own to save her mother. She goes to Oxford to seek help from her father, who hadn’t known she existed, but finds that this familial bond is also lacking in trust, driving her to create the Stone on her own.

I found Thea’s journey toward independence to be quite interesting. She found that she could not rely on her family, nor the other few people she placed her trust in over the years. With such a burden on her shoulders, Thea stands out as an inspirational character who was easy to root for.

However, my main issues with the novel involve the plotting. There was a lot of movement and travel involved in the story and I feel like it never quite found its footing in one storyline. The major motivating factor of creating the Philosopher’s Stone was a solid thread that drove the plot. But then there were a lot of characters and obstacles thrown in there that I wish were further developed.

While I appreciated the concept of alchemy in this story, I found the execution of this magic system to be a bit too ambiguous to fully enjoy. I just couldn’t quite picture what Thea was doing to make her so talented. This vagueness also messed with my understanding of alchemy’s limitations in this world. It seemed at any point anything could go wrong, so I never knew what to reasonably expect.

While there were some points that took away from my overall enjoyment of the novel, I did really like how fast-paced this story is. I enjoyed Cohoe’s writing and will likely pick up her future works!

Comparable titles:
The Falconer by Elizabeth May
The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

***Thank you to Wednesday Books for sending me an e-ARC as a part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Reviews

KIND OF A BIG DEAL by Shannon Hale

3/5 Stars

Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of this one!

I really wanted to like Kind of a Big Deal because it was one of my most anticipated reads of the fall, I had heard a lot of hype about it before its release, and hello: that cover!! The concept alone sounds like total clickbait for me: a girl literally gets sucked into the books she reads. But the execution of this plot device and the circumstances surrounding it just really didn’t do it for me.

The protagonist Josie Pie is an interesting character. She is a star performer in high school who drops out at her theater instructor’s encouragement to chase her Broadway dreams in New York City. Unable to make it in the cutthroat world of acting, she moves away for a nanny job. Now, she feels like a failure who peaked in high school.

I really liked this idea of an older YA protagonist talking about the realities of post-high school life. But, for me, Josie just wasn’t the best character to lead this story. While her background was intriguing, she came across pretty unlikeable a lot of the time. I don’t mind a protagonist being flawed (in fact, I typically prefer that), but Josie’s decision-making seemed a bit all over the place. I think I needed a better foundation for who she was in the past in order to grasp who she is now (and how far she’s fallen). The plot seemed to focus on the present day with references to important people in Josie’s lives, who we barely get to see her interact with other than in her imagination.

Plus, the way the narrative shifted between reality and Josie’s adventures in the fictional stories she read was pretty jarring. There wasn’t a lot of continuity or character development within those sections. Then, when you find out why this is happening, it just seemed so out of left field!

Anyone who knows me can attest that I love fantasy, but this really was set up like a contemporary story with just one magical element dropped in there to stir up Josie’s life, so that’s what I wanted from it as the reader. Instead, the story turned into what should have been a much larger, more complex low fantasy plot. Also, not to get into spoilers too much, but I thought Josie’s relationship with her boyfriend should have been explored much more to warrant the ending.

Comparable titles:
Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult
The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Posted in Reviews

SKYHUNTER by Marie Lu

5/5 Stars

Marie Lu has done it again, folks! This was such a fun, addictive YA read that I would absolutely recommend.

To me, Skyhunter took the spirit that made LegendWarcross, and The Young Elites so great and ran with it, while still totally holding its own as a distinct new sci-fi/fantasy series. The fast-paced, easily digestible writing style is characteristic of Lu’s voice. I also think the story works great for fans of Laini Taylor and Marissa Meyer.

The main characters Talin and Red are so complex and interesting to read about. I also really enjoyed the thread running throughout the narrative that explores Talin’s complicated relationship with her country as she balances her identities as both a Striker (fiercely loyal warriors that defend the free nation of Mara) and a refugee of the war (targets for a lot of ingrained prejudice from her peers). Throughout all the high-stakes action of the plot, Talin continually has this conversation with herself about loyalty and all the nuances that come with such a phenomenon.

While the pacing of the ending went a bit fast for me, I think this book set up a great foundation for a blossoming series/duology in the YA SFF universe. Definitely check it out!

Comparable Titles:
Renegades by Marissa Meyer
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

***As a volunteer member of the Skyhunter Street Team, I received a free e-ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Posted in Reviews

Series Review: THE CARLS by Hank Green

5/5 Stars

I recently finished this duology and was honestly so surprised by how much I LOVED it!

I’m a big sci-fi/fantasy nerd and I’ve found I really like books that are surrounded by video games and/or aliens so An Absolutely Remarkable Thing had kind of the perfect set-up for me. I loved April’s super frank voice. I felt like she had become my friend by the end of the book and I really knew her as a person. I also really recommend listening to this book as an audiobook because it really put me in the story in a transformative way by reading it in that medium!

I’ll be honest—I didn’t know this was going to be a duology when I read the first book. I finished it and was like OKAY, that’s a bit of a rude cliffhanger, gave if 5/5 stars, then walked away and sort of forgot about the series… but then when the sequel, A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor, came out this summer, I dusted up on my knowledge of the world with a quick reread and dove right back in.

With the sequel, I really enjoyed how Green expanded on the side characters from the first book. This really felt like an ensemble cast and I grew attached to each perfectly flawed and lovable character. The main plot was so urgent and like kinda existentially scary to think about in the context of a global pandemic right now… Anyway, such an engaging read! Kind of hard not to include spoilers, but I would definitely recommend walking into this series with an open mind and letting it drift you away with fun, quirky details, lots of humor and heart, and characters that you will want to call your new best friends!

Comparable titles:
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

Posted in Reviews

SKY IN THE DEEP by Adrienne Young

4/5 Stars

This was a fun, unique concept and a super quick read for me! I have been meaning to get to Sky in the Deep for a while now and I’m happy to have finally devoured it.

I found the premise of deep-seated Viking clan rivalries to be a super fun jumping-off point. Having read a lot of stories with the enemies-to-lovers trope, I thought the plot arc was *a bit* predictable at times, but that didn’t take away from the well-developed characters and intriguing details that illuminated this world.

I also thought the ending read suuuper fast (which can be a plus or negative, depending on your reading preferences). I wish that part was fleshed out a little more. But then again, I am also totally the type of reader who loves suspenseful build-ups to big battles where you get to know all of the characters motivations and fears (which this book did a great job of showing), but not a super big fan of the actual action sequence of the battle itself.

Basically, my main takeaway was that I really enjoyed Young’s writing style and characterization, so I’m very excited to read more of her works!

Comparable titles:
Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Nemesis by Anna Banks

***I received a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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SPIN THE DAWN by Elizabeth Lim

4/5 Stars

First of all, can I just say the “Project Runway meets Mulan” comp for this book was soooo intriguing to me that I bought this book on the day it came out and I am a bit ashamed it took me a year to actually get to reading it, but also so glad that I have read it now!

This was such a fun fantasy thrill ride. I really found the main character Maia to be such a lovely, likeable person whom I was rooting for so much. Both in the competition and in her life, I just wanted her to be happy! And I think that’s just a great sign for a fun, dynamic protagonist. Plus, Elizabeth Lim’s beautiful writing style on top of this was just A+ *chef’s kiss*.

I’ve always loved stories about making clothes because I love fashion… plus competitions?? It’s like this book was made for me! I will say that I found the pacing of the book a bit jarring. I thought the tailor competition was going to be the main plot of the novel, but it only took about half the book! Then the story completely changed to something new (and exciting!), but I did feel a bit like it was two separate books squished into one. I enjoyed the high-stakes, contained nature of the competition a bit more… although, the latter portion of the novel got *super dark* and deliciously magical too. I think I will need to read the sequel to see how the ending plays out as I felt a bit like I was on uncertain ground by the end there.

All in all though, this was a great premise, with memorable characters and fun twists in the storyline that I would definitely recommend. Looking forward to the next one as well as Lim’s future works!

Comparable titles:
Torn by Rowenna Miller
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Posted in Reviews

FURYBORN by Claire Legrand

5/5 Stars

Furyborn is definitely one of my favorite reads this year. I am obsessed with this book and I can’t believe it took me this long to finally pick it up.

The book has such a great set-up for a thrilling, YA fantasy story: it’s told in two alternating points of view following amazing, badass women over a thousand years apart. The prologue sets up a prophecy of sorts, where the reader knows from the beginning how Rielle’s story will end. But then we get to follow her life leading up to this point and it’s so much dramatic irony and *ahhh* anti-hero feels. If you love dark, villainous plot points like I do, this timeline will send you to such an ideal cloud of reader bliss, let me tell you.

Then, the other storyline follows Eliana and it’s in the same world but *so much* has changed over these centuries that have passed. Eliana is so freaking cool and I love her (but I also love Rielle and like every single other character too??).

The romance is great and the twists are so unpredictable! The magic system is also super unique. There is so much I want to say but I also loved going into it not knowing much about what I was getting into and being so completely surprised. It’s a bit of a longer book but it is so worth it to set up the rich worldbuilding and what I’m sure is going to be a cinematic stage for the sequels.

I read this book literally in one day. I just couldn’t stop reading. I will definitely be picking Kingsbane very, very soon! Do yourself a favor and binge this series before the final book comes out in October.

Comparable titles:
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The Young Elites by Marie Lu

***I received a free copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.