Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (9/29/20)–The Black Kids

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Just a heads up before I begin, and probably one that’ll apply for the next few months. Now that I’ve been in school for a month, my schedule and workload are both getting more demanding, and so I won’t be able to post quite as much. This week in particular, I probably won’t be able to post much after this review–partly due to the slew of exams and quizzes I have later this week, but I’m also going to be gone for a few days. I’ll probably still be able to visit everyone else’s posts, but my posting schedule will be a bit more lethargic–Goodreads Mondays, Book Review Tuesdays, my Weekly Updates, and sometimes Top 5 Saturdays can probably be expected, but other than that, I won’t post as much per week. So just a heads up.

Now, back to our scheduled program…

I don’t read much historical fiction, but The Black Kids was such a stunning novel! All at once relevant to our past and our present, this book is brimming heart and the universal (I hope) desire for justice and equality in marginalized communities.

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Black Kids | Book by Christina Hammonds Reed | Official Publisher Page  | Simon & Schuster

The Black Kids–Christina Hammonds Reed

1992. Ashley Bennett’s life has been a sheltered one, nearly finished with high school and hanging out with her friends in Los Angeles. Her older sister took up the cause of advocating for racial justice years ago, but Ashley always preferred to stay on the sidelines.

But as riots begin to spread across the country after the brutal beating of Rodney King, she tries to continue to live her life as she always has, staying on the sidelines, not caring what goes on around her. Her friends have begun to isolate themselves from her, and she accidentally spreads a rumor about a classmate that could make or break his future. Ashley soon realizes that the world is bigger than the bubble she’s confined herself to–and that unity is the key to righting her personal wrongs.

I Cant Breathe Black Lives Matter GIF by Digital Pratik - Find & Share on  GIPHY

Historical fiction isn’t a genre that I readily pick up, most of the time. But instances like these remind me of the sheer possibility of the genre, to not just tell a story about our past, but to inspire change and to encourage readers to better examine themselves and the world around them. I’m glad to say that The Black Kids was one of these great novels–brimming with heart and with a message that will resonate for decades to come.

At the time I’m writing this review, it’s been about a month and a half since The Black Kids‘ release (August 4), and I must say, what better time than this to publish a novel like this one? Even though it’s set almost 30 years in our past, the themes of racial justice and police brutality resonate as though this book was set a year ago. (Which…okay, it’s absolutely disgusting that police brutality, racism, and everything related to that is still rampant today, but what I’m trying to say is that it’s timely and brilliantly timed.) Whether or not readers experienced the Rodney King riots or felt its repercussions, its sure to inspire a wide range of the audience.

The Black Kids boasts a dynamic cast of characters, and even better, no shortage of great character development, mostly on Ashley’s part. Her transformation from someone so sheltered to someone who genuinely cares about the world around her was beautiful to see, and Reed’s heartfelt writing fleshed it out even more so. There’s some relatable themes of letting go of toxic friendships and finding those who you truly connected with, which is something that I connected with the most.

On the subject of her writing, Reed’s prosed managed to be simultaneously authentic and poetic, a mix of brutal realities and immersive language that made me feel as though I was living in the novel. I’m not a 90’s kid, but I loved all the little music and pop culture references that were slipped in there as well.

All in all, The Black Kids boasts nearly all the hallmarks of a good historical fiction–facing the harsh realities from a fresh perspective, but making you feel immersed and invested in the setting and characters as though they were from the present day. 4 stars!

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The Black Kids appears to be a standalone, and it’s Christina Hammonds Reed’s debut novel. (I can’t wait to see what else she writes in the future!)

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (9/22/20)–TRUEL1F3 (Lifelike, #3)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles, and happy Autumn Equinox! 🍁

Two reviews of trilogy finales in one week? I’m in rare form…

Anyway, this is the last of my birthday book haul that I’ll be reviewing. TRUEL1F3 was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and with this novel, I can clearly say that Jay Kristoff has never once disappointed me (though I’ve yet to read The Nevernight Chronicle…) The Lifelike trilogy was a sci-fi series to be reckoned with, and it all came together for a third book that surpassed both books 1 and 2–and made me feel ALL the feels, trust me.

WARNING: This review likely contains spoilers for LIFEL1K3 and DEV1AT3, so if you haven’t read them and intend to, tread lightly!

My review of LIFEL1K3

My review of DEV1AT3

(Would you look at that…my review for book one was almost exactly a year ago…) :,)

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: TRUEL1F3 (Truelife) (LIFEL1K3 Book 3) eBook: Kristoff, Jay:  Kindle Store

TRUEL1F3 (Lifelike, #3)–Jay Kristoff

My copy, ft. LIFEL1K3, my guitar amp, and K-2SO

Once, Eve and Lemon Fresh were the best of friends. But war and love, family and fate have torn them apart. Now, the destiny of the entire Yousay is in their hands.

Lemon has been captured by the BioMaas swarm, who are convinced that her Deviate genes hold the key to turning the tides of war in their favor. A rift has come between Eve and her Lifelike siblings, who are bent on unleashing a computer virus–one that will free every android and robot in the Yousay from the programming given to them by the humans. And despite everything that has come between them, joining forces once more may be what tips the balance between salvation and annihilation.

star wars GIFs - Primo GIF - Latest Animated GIFs

The simplest way for a book to get me choked up? Separate some of the main cast over the course of a book or two, and let them have a happy, tearful reunion after both parties thought the other was dead. (See The Battle for WondLa, “Frankenweenie,” etc.) It’s the little things, man, it’s the little things.

I was itching to find out what happens to my beloved gang of misfits ever since finishing DEV1AT3 about a year back, but I truly didn’t expect the absolute masterpiece that book 3 would bring. TRUEL1F3 brings back every stellar aspect about the previous two novels, and brings them all together in a blazing fireworks display of a trilogy ender. I laughed, I cried, my eyes bugged out of my head…this novel made me run the emotional gamut, but in the best way possible.

In this end to the trilogy, Kristoff introduces a whole plethora of catastrophic twists and new aspects, especially to the post-apocalyptic android mythos, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The various family ties–be it true family or found family–are explored even more in depth. Even though it’s been nearly a year since finishing book 2, I was fully invested in everybody within the first few pages. (Also, the little recap/glossary/whatever you’d like to call it helped.) All of the varied, multifaceted cast had their time to shine, and shine they did, until the very last page.

Lemon and Cricket are still my favorites, and they were as wonderful as ever in this final book. Solomon and Abe are up there too, but…I’m thinking that Kristoff had a bit *too* much fun playing with our feelings in their department. (No spoilers, but…yikes, can anybody in this book get a rest? Jeez…) There’s no shortage of fascinating themes, from the morally gray to the role of AI in our lives. I loved the plotline with the virus–not only did it make for some great action, there’s some seriously tense psychological business that results from it as well. (Remember what I said about Kristoff having a bit too much fun?)

TRUL1F3 took me a little longer to read because I was still adjusting to online school, but that doesn’t mean that every page was positively action-packed. The tension is higher than ever, and Kristoff’s lush and fast-paced writing never fails to throw you right smack in the middle of the action, making you feel as if you’ve fallen into the Yousay yourself. The worldbuilding was as detailed and immersive as ever, making for a final book that I won’t forget anytime soon.

All of these elements made for a trilogy ender that I ate up every last page. It chokes me up to say goodbye to Eve, Lem, Cricket, and all the rest, but the Lifelike trilogy is one that I’ll never forget. 5 stars!

Leia Rey Hug.gif GIF by Streamlabs | Gfycat
Too many Star Wars gifs? Never…

TRUEL1F3 is the final book in the Lifelike trilogy, preceded by LIFEL1K3 and DEV1AT3. Jay Kristoff is also the author of The Nevernight Chronicle, the Lotus Wars trilogy, and the forthcoming Empire of the Vampire (all of which are on my TBR). He has also co-authored The Illuminae Files and The Aurora Cycle with Amie Kaufman.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (9/15/20)–The Burning Kingdoms (The Smoke Thieves, #3)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! I blatantly refuse to believe that we’re actually halfway through September…nope…

Sorry that this review’s coming a little later than you all are probably used to; I had a ton of homework to do this afternoon, but I’ve got it all done for today, so here I am now! Better late than never, I suppose.

I’ve been following and loving Sally Green’s Smoke Thieves trilogy for about a year, gobbling up books 1 and 2 in weeks flat. It’s one of the most immersive, detailed, and gripping fantasies that I’ve ever read, and now that I’ve read book 3, I can say it’s true for all three books. The Burning Kingdoms came out just under a month ago (August 25), and I was able to snag it a few days after its release when I promptly blew the contents of my bookstore gift card. In short? The Burning Kingdoms was a perfect end to a near perfect series.

WARNING: This review likely contains spoilers for books 1 and 2, The Smoke Thieves and The Demon World, so I suggest you tread lightly if you intend to read them and haven’t yet!

Click here for my review of book 1!

Click here for my review of book 2!

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Burning Kingdoms by Sally Green: 9780425290279 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

The Burning Kingdoms (The Smoke Thieves, #3)–Sally Green

My copy ft. part of my backyard

Catherine, Tash, Ambrose, Edyon, and March dedicated their lives to halt the impending war in its tracks. But despite their efforts, war has come, and it could cost them their lives–and the lives of their nations.

King Aloysius has unleashed his invincible boy army, powered by demon smoke, across all who dare cross his path. There, March finds an opportunity to reunite with Edyon, his beloved, after a betrayal saw them torn apart and him banished. Edyon grapples with his newfound power as the heir to the throne of Calidonia, and Tash must find her way out of the demon world.

Meanwhile, Catherine must grapple with the fate of her country and her secret addiction, while Ambrose is determined to win back her heart at all costs. Their paths will collide in order to avert this great war–but will they make it out alive?

I Did A Bad Thing GIFs | Tenor
– Every single one of the main characters at some point in this book

Admit it: everybody–yes, everybody–who has ever dyed their hair has done the exact same thing as Geratan–dye it, put on a hat, and then dramatically rip it off in front of everybody. The only proper way to reveal your new hair color, if you ask me.

All of my fellow book bloggers and readers know the feeling that comes along with finishing the final book in a series. It’s like reuniting with an old friend, only to have them leave you. No matter what, though, their memory will live on in you forever.

That’s the feeling that finishing a great series gives you, and certainly the one that The Burning Kingdoms gave me. This entire series is criminally underrated, a true force to be reckoned with in the world of YA fantasy, and I’m delighted to say that book 3 is no exception!

The Burning Kingdoms is definitely one of those books where you’re just being dragged along with the character’s bad decisions–five POVs, five times the grave mistakes! (Quite a lot of “March, no–” “MARCH YES” going on). However, it isn’t to the point where you’re internally groaning in frustration, because it propels quite a lot of action, and provides for character development in all five.

As always, I loved seeing how the relationships between the characters developed. March is still my favorite of the bunch, but I had such a blast getting back into all five of their heads and exploring their internal conflicts. Green does such a masterful job of writing both authentic characters, but genuine development for them as well.

The immersive and detailed worldbuilding and politics were as sharp as ever, making for a novel that I could imagine nearly every detail of. There’s plenty of action and drama to spare, and I enjoyed every page. The Burning Kingdoms is a finale that truly has something for everyone–and delivers on every possible aspect.

All in all, a beautiful end to an underrated and immersive fantasy. 4.5 stars!

GIF by ABC Network - Find & Share on GIPHY
Me @ this series

The Burning Kingdoms is the final book in Sally Green’s Smoke Thieves trilogy, preceded by The Smoke Thieves (book 1) and The Demon World (book 2).

Today (September 15) is also the start of National Latinx Heritage Month, so sometime this week, I’ll also be posting a list of Latinx YA reads to celebrate. Stay tuned! 🙂

Today’s song:

Brain: oh, so math is boring you?

Me: yep, you got that right

Brain: so why don’t I get this REALLY DEPRESSING song stuck in your head–

Me: WAIT NO

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (9/8/20)–Cinderella is Dead

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

It’s been a bit of a chaotic day for me–I couldn’t get into one of my zoom meetings for one of my classes, and it’s snowing. The latter is deeeeefinitely kind of worrying–here in Colorado, it usually doesn’t start to snow until mid to late October, and persists until late May.

IT’S THE SECOND WEEK OF SEPTEMBER. Yep, friendly reminder that climate change isn’t just global warming, but unpredictable weather patterns like this. Climate change is still very real, folks.

Anyway, I’ll step off that soapbox for a minute…only to get right back onto another one.

Ever since I found out about it in May, Cinderella is Dead was one of my most anticipated releases of this summer. A Black, sapphic protagonist, a multiracial wlw relationship, and a dystopian society based on the tale of Cinderella? I was FASCINATED. And while this novel did deliver in the aforementioned aspects, it was dragged down by the poor execution of nearly everything else.

Prepare for a rant review, folks…

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Cinderella Is Dead (9781547603879): Bayron, Kalynn: Books

Cinderella is Dead–Kalynn Bayron

Everybody knows the tale of Cinderella, the dismissed orphan who was visited by a fairy godmother and lived happily ever after with the dashing Prince Charming. But do you know what happened 200 years later?

In Sophia Grimmins’ world, the tale of Cinderella is now the backbone of every tradition in town. Every year, all of the eligible girls must attend the Annual Ball, to be picked and chosen by the men. But for as long as she can remember, Sophia has never wanted a man–she’s wanted a woman. She flees the ball with her life, only to find herself in the tomb of Cinderella herself. There, she finds Constance, the last surviving descendant of Cinderella, who seeks to help bring down the patriarchal kingdom. Sophia and Constance join forces, and sparks soon fly between them–but the truths they thought about Cinderella are far from true…

Seriously Disappointed GIF by The Resident on FOX - Find & Share on GIPHY
My range of emotions through the course of this book

Let me be perfectly honest: it truly pains me to give this book such a low rating. It’s such a joy to see #OwnVoices books outside contemporary and historical fiction with POC/LGBTQ+ leads, and we certainly need more of those out in the world. But even though Cinderella is Dead boasted great representation all around, it failed to meet my expectations in almost every other aspect.

I’ll start off with the good before the bad: representation! This dystopian fantasy is absolutely an #OwnVoices book, with a Black, lesbian protagonist, a lesbian love interest, and a gay side character who has a semi-prominent role. Throughout the book, there’s themes of contradicting patriarchal tradition, abuse, and misogyny, and it’s always wonderful to see a sapphic couple kicking sexist butt, so that’s always a win. But even then…Sophia wasn’t a very distinct character. I struggle to find any traits that would make her much of an individual, other than the desire to smash the patriarchy. (Don’t we all, though? Can’t go wrong with that.) I liked Constance a little bit better, but their relationship felt very rushed and glossed over. And the themes I just talked about it? They felt very forced, relying more on telling than showing. There wasn’t very much subtlety or creativity in the ways that they were tackled, making the commentary…almost not worth it. I appreciate Bayron’s attempt to discuss these issues, but there are so many ways that they could have been handled better.

All of the Cinderella mythos had SO MUCH potential, from the punchy title to the concept itself. It was still reasonably spine-chilling in execution, but other than the fact that the tale has been weaved into the world’s operating system, the worldbuilding was…wait a minute…[picks up a telescope] wait a minute, where’d it go? A little help here?

…okay, that was probably harsh, but it was RIDDLED with holes.

Coming Lets Go GIF by The Detour - Find & Share on GIPHY
Me @ the worldbuilding

[spreads out a sheet of paper] Okay, let’s see. We’ve got a country ruled by a monarchy, with some forests around it, presumably. It’s hinted that it’s a bit more antiquated technology-wise, but we don’t get any sense of where society has gone as far as technology, transportation, all of that. There’s a little bit of evidence to suggest that magic exists, but the only wielder we know of is the Fairy Godmother. (So is there some sort of ban on magic? Has nobody else been able to find it? Who knows…) The character’s names range from ones that were popular in the 19th century to those in the 21st century, but most of them fall into the latter. (ex. Liv, Isla, Sophia) So…wait, what? It’s been a good two and a half weeks since I’ve read Cinderella is Dead, and I STILL have no idea what’s going on there. I NEED ANSWERS. PLEASE. THIS IS A MESS.

Confused Screaming | Filthy Frank | Know Your Meme

The worldbuilding is my main criticism, but other than that, my issues are a little more nit-picky. Things like Sophia having very few defining traits (if any) and the telling method of tackling the issues, the villains had very lackluster, overdone motives and no redeemable qualities to speak of. The dialogue also had a tendency to be overly stiff, and nobody had a distinct voice.

Again, I feel so bad for giving this book such a low rating. #OwnVoices books are so pertinent and important in this day and age, but…there are so many better ones that you could be reading than this one. I could chalk this rating up to my high expectations, but other than the representation and concept, Cinderella is Dead was such a mess. Amazing concept, terrible execution. 2.5 stars, but the half star is likely just for seeing a multiracial wlw couple smashing the patriarchy. [sad harmonica noises]

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Cinderella is Dead is Kalynn Bayron’s YA debut, but she has several other adult and nonfiction works. Cinderella is Dead is likely a standalone, but I’ve heard a rumor about spin-offs set in the same universe, but I haven’t been able to confirm their validity.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! I promise that the next reviews I write will be more positive. Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (9/1/20)–On a Sunbeam

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! I can’t believe it’s already September! All the better, the sooner we get 2020 over with, the better…

But to take your mind off of everything, here’s a review of my most recent 5-star read! I had piled most of Tillie Walden’s graphic novels on my TBR a year or two ago, but after a family friend mentioned Are You Listening?, I looked for everything on my library. On a Sunbeam was available, and I jumped at the chance to check it out. Though I had high expectations, I didn’t expect for it to be such an emotional and atmospheric graphic novel.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: On a Sunbeam (9781250178138): Walden, Tillie: Books

On a Sunbeam–Tillie Walden

My library copy ft. Abe Sapien and a crystal, because I NEEDED to make all that lovely teal pop

Mia has her reasons for joining the crew of the Sunbeam. It’s an easy job–hopping through the galaxy and restoring structures of all kinds to their original glory. But Mia isn’t here for the money–not completely, anyway.

Her main objective? Find Grace, her long-lost love who she was separated from five years ago. When a job lands Mia and the rest of the crew on Grace’s secretive homeworld, she jumps at the chance to reunite with her girlfriend. But will the rest of the crew be willing to go to such lengths?

Tillie Walden on | Aesthetic art, Art drawings, Cool art
Art by Tillie Walden

On a Sunbeam is the comic equivalent of a Radiohead song; hauntingly beautiful and atmospheric, with a story that will never truly leave your mind. It is “Motion Picture Soundtrack,” it is “Sail to the Moon,” it is “Videotape,” and it is very nearly everything I could ever want in a graphic novel.

I’m not normally a fan of more simplistic art styles like Walden’s, but she makes it work in all the best ways. The character’s facial features are simple, but are able to show such a wide range of expression. There’s so much detail and care put into the backgrounds and settings, with carefully picked color schemes that make for an immersive, lived-in sci-fi world. I kid you not, both the desktop wallpaper of my laptop and the home screen of my phone are both panels from On a Sunbeam now. That’s how much I loved it.

The design of the vast reaches of Walden’s universe is beautifully atmospheric, a sci-fi with a fantastical twist. Each planet that the crew visits is so unique, and I ADORE the design of all of the ships–all inspired by fish! What’s not to love?

On a Sunbeam is a Beautiful Love Story in Space | A Place to Hang Your Cape
WHERE. CAN. I. BUY. ONE.

Beyond the beautiful artwork, On a Sunbeam boasts a tender romance that spans across the stars. It alternates between the past and present fluidly without any confusion, and through both, you come to love the whole cast of characters. And speaking of that cast–there is diversity aplenty here! In the group of main characters, there is not one but two multiracial wlw relationships (including Mia and Grace). Most of the Sunbeam crew is POC (Black, Latinx, etc.), and there’s also a nonbinary character who plays a crucial role. There’s also several background wlw relationships and…not a single man in sight? I simultaneously love that but also recognize that it raises a few questions. Walden makes her cast effortlessly diverse, making On a Sunbeam a tale for the ages.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…FOUND FAMILY VIBES! The chemistry between Mia and the rest of the crew is impeccable, and I can’t help but adore every single character we come across. Grace was wonderful as well. They were all so distinct, and I managed to love every single one of them.

All in all, On a Sunbeam is a graphic novel that hits all the right spots, whether it be in the worldbuilding, the art, or the characters. Seriously, if you haven’t already read it, you are missing out. 5 stars!

Orson Krennic Star Wars GIF - OrsonKrennic StarWars ItsBeautiful - Discover  & Share GIFs

On a Sunbeam is a standalone, but Tillie Walden has several other graphic novels out, including Are You Listening?, I Love This Part, The End of Summer, A City Inside, and her graphic memoir, Spinning.

Today’s song:

Also, because this was in a meme that brought immeasureable joy to this grim year…

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (8/25/20)–The Good for Nothings

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

This book came on my radar via Edelweiss over the summer, and I bought it on my kindle before my trip to Vail, right around its release date. I’d seen it garner comparisons to Guardians of the Galaxy, The Lunar Chronicles, and the Aurora Cycle, so naturally, I was ITCHING to read it. Sadly, it lived up to none of its comparisons–but that certainly doesn’t mean that it wasn’t fun.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: The Good for Nothings (9781250311252): Banas, Danielle ...

The Good for Nothings–Daniella Banas

Cora Saros belongs to one of the most formidable crime families in the galaxy. Her role? The family disappointment. A heist gone awry lands her in prison, without any hope and with the eyes of all her family on her. Her only way out of the mess she’s in is through a deal with the shady prison warden–if she retrieves a long lost relic rumored to grant immortality, he’ll wipe her records.

With the help of Elio, her robot companion with a knack for baking cookies, Wren, a chipper pickpocket, and Anders, a warrior with a tough exterior, Cora sets off to clear her name–but soon realizes that she’s in over her head. Will she and her crew be able to live up to the task?

funny-guardians-of-the-galaxy-gif-3 - The Marvel Report

Imagine a mashup of Guardians of the Galaxy and Indiana Jones. Add in some of the charm of Heart of Iron and the Lunar Chronicles, and make all of the characters secretly ENFPs. Mix it all together, and you’ve got The Good for Nothings. But although all of the books and films that I mentioned should have made something I would love with every inch of my body, it was…decent, for me. Not bad, but not spectacular, for me.

I’ve mentioned GotG twice already, so I’ll attempt to make this quick: this novel certainly drew a lot from it, but with varying degrees of success. On one hand, it succeeded in making a classic, irreverent found-family sci-fi, filled with great treasures, banter, and reluctant friendships. But there were some portions that seemed to rip it off almost to a T–remember the “nothing goes over my head, my reflexes are too fast, I would catch it” scene with Drax, anyone?

Guardians Of The Galaxy Gotg Edit GIF | Guardians of the galaxy ...

Even though it’s been a solid four years since I’ve seen that movie, it was easy to see that Banas ripped off this gag with lines of Anders’ dialogue. Several times, too. I’m all for drawing inspiration from media, but don’t…y’know, borderline plagiarize it. As much as I love that scene, it fell flat for me with The Good for Nothings.

Now, onto my favorite part…found family! Though it’s not nearly as well-executed as, say, Aurora Rising or the Honors trilogy, I still liked some of the chemistry between Cora, Wren, Elio, and Anders. I wasn’t overly attached to any of them, but they were decent characters. All of them had moments of being funny or lovable. However…well, remember how I said in the first part of the review to make all of them secretly ENFPs? Now, nothing against ENFPs, but at their cores, all four of the main characters had the same personality. On the surface level, they had a few distinguishing traits to their names (Wren is cheerful, Anders is secretive and tough, etc.), as we got to know them better, their personalities were startlingly similar to one another.

With that aside, I’d say that The Good for Nothings was entertaining, if nothing else. The writing was decent, and the humor fell flat more often than not, but the world-building had moments of being fascinating, and I liked all of the different settings that Cora and the rest of the gang got thrown into. It’s a very light-hearted and feel-good novel, so if you’re looking for something to take your mind off the state of things (which I’m sure a lot of you are), The Good for Nothings would be a great pick for you.

Overall, a YA sci-fi that leaned too much on some of the material that it may have been based off of, but was still a fun, feel-good novel at heart. 3 stars!

Not bad obama GIF on GIFER - by Kezshura

It appears that The Good for Nothings is a standalone, but Danielle Banas has two other books out: Once Upon Now and The Supervillain and Me.

Today’s song:

(Happy birthday, Jeff Tweedy!)

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (8/18/20)–The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles, #3)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

As most of you probably know, I’ve been following the Black Witch Chronicles (and loving them) since late May, after a friend’s recommendation. I saw that The Shadow Wand came out this June, and immediately put it on hold at the library after finishing book 2. Luckily, it came a LOT sooner than I expected, and I got to read it recently! But after reading it and letting it stew for about a week and a half…I have some major Thoughts. So this is likely going to be more of a rambling than a review. You have been warned.

Brace Yourself GIFs | Tenor

ALSO! This review may contain spoilers for books 1 and 2, The Black Witch and The Iron Flower, so tread lightly if you haven’t read them and intend to!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles ...

The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles, #3)–Laurie Forest

My library copy feat. a cool filter and Hobbes, one of my lovely cats

Elloren Gardner harbors a secret that could change her world forever.

She is the Black Witch of prophecy, destined to save her world of Erthia and bring glory to the Gardnerians. But under the tyrannical rule of High Priest Vogel, the truth about her is best kept hidden. Separated from Yvan, she must learn to hone her power before Vogel and his allies discover her identity. Joining forces with Lukas, the Commandor of the Mage forces and the boy she was unwillingly wandfasted to, she must control her powers and gather her allies before it’s too late.

Mixed Feelings GIFs | Tenor

Remember how I said in my review of The Iron Flower that book 2 didn’t fall into the trap of middle-book-slump? I seem to have forgotten then that the series is slated to be a series of five books, making The Shadow Wand the middle book.

And I hate to say it, but there’s some serious disappointing middle book syndrome going on here.

From the start, I feel like at least 100-150 pages could have been cut out (for clarification, The Shadow Wand clocks in at 554 pages). The first portion of the book jumps between the POVs of several, completely new characters; they show up later, and those chapters gave a little bit of backstory for them, but I don’t think entire chapters were needed to explain their backgrounds. We also get to check in on a few favorites from the previous books, including Tierney and Wynter. I liked seeing where Wynter was (because I still have a major soft spot for her, and she deserves so much better), but I…don’t know if it contributed to the story much at all. At least they’re…okay? Maybe? Sort of?

And…Forest is deeeeefinitely toying with our feelings here. The love triangle between Elloren, Lukas, and Yvan is expanded upon, but in…an interesting way. And by “interesting,” I mean “entertaining the notion that one party may or may not be dead.” We don’t see any of Yvan for the entire book, and the romantic aspects are primarily focused on Lukas. While that created an interesting dynamic between Elloren and Lukas, I feel like there could have been a bit of tension if Yvan had shown up once or twice.

For much of the book, it felt like the classic YA middle book where the Chosen One heroine (oh hey, look, another trope that this series fell into! Whoopee!) has to harness her abilities and build her army. There was quite a lot of the book that felt like a training montage, which, while I enjoy a good one every once in a while, was stretched out too long. The Shadow Wand needed a bit more tension and plot for me.

But for all that, that’s not to say that this book wasn’t entertaining. Even though we don’t see much of the wide and varied cast of the first two novels, I still love being back with Elloren and the gang. As always, Forest is a master at lush writing and worldbuilding, which shone through once more in this installment. And plus, who isn’t up for some good ol’ magic and dragons? I mean, COME ON. DRAGONS!

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Aaaaaaaand of course, it built up to one of those “it looks like everybody’s dead, but chances are they’ll all be alive and well by book 4” endings. AND NOW WE HAVE TO WAIT A YEAR TO SEE HOW IT’S RESOLVED. HOW DARE LAURIE FOREST PLAY WITH OUR FEELINGS IN SUCH A WAY…

Overall, The Shadow Wand was definitely a lower point for the series as of now, but it was still a (mostly) fun read. 3.5 stars!

Mixed Feelings GIF | Gfycat

The Shadow Wand is the third book in Forest’s Black Witch Chronicles, preceded by The Black Witch (book 1) and The Iron Flower (book 2) and succeeded by the forthcoming The Demon Tide (2021) and The Battle for Erthia (pub. date TBD). Additionally, there are two novellas set in the same universe, Wandfasted and Light Mage.

Aaaaaaand, now I have to wait a year to find out what happens…[angry screeching]

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (8/11/20)–Honor Lost (The Honors, #3)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! I hope you’re all having a lovely week, and that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.

Those who’ve managed to stick around this blog for a while know how much I’ve loved The Honors trilogy. The world of YA sci-fi–particularly space opera–is a small one, and it’s hard to come by one that has the perfect mix of elements that make for a thrilling joyride through the universe. So you can imagine how excited I was to finally get my hands on the final book in the trilogy (and it wasn’t just because I could finally talk about it with my school librarian, who read it before I did 🤣). And I’m happy to announce that Honor Lost did not disappoint!

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the two previous books, Honor Among Thieves and Honor Bound, so tread lightly if you have not read them and intend to!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Honor Lost (Honors) (9780062571052): Caine, Rachel ...

Honor Lost (The Honors, #3)–Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine

My library copy, feat. some more quality sci-fi

Anything that you can imagine in the universe, Zara Cole has likely fought against it. Be it human crime bosses, vengeful Leviathans, or gangs of power-hungry aliens, she, Nadim, Bea, and the rest of their ragtag crew have faced it down. But now, they may have gotten into a war that they can’t escape from.

Lifekiller, an interstellar entity bent on devouring all worlds that fall in its path, is on the hunt. And Zara and her crew are at the top of its Most Wanted list. Can her newfound family defeat this world-swallowing entity–or will they fall prey to it?

The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - Ending Scene GIF | Gfycat

Finishing a series is always bittersweet. There’s a satisfaction of knowing what happens to our beloved heroes, but it’s always followed by the lingering feeling like you’re saying goodbye to a friend. And now that the Honors trilogy has come to a close, I can say with certainty that it will always have a special place in my heart. Aguirre and Caine pull out all the stops to make a blazing firework of a final installment.

You all know how much of a sucker I am for the found family trope, and Honor Lost has made the sweetest, most tender, and lovable gang of space misfits! Besides the original crew of Zara, Nadim, and Bea, we also get to see more of Chao-Xing (absolutely iconic), Starcurrent (MY PRECIOUS CHILD), Xyll (objectively deserves better), Suncross and the rest of his crew (“Cheers, I’ll drink to that, bro”), and all the rest. They each had such distinct personalities and impeccable chemistry, making for a cast of characters that made me feel every feel in the universe.

Now, CAN WE TALK ABOUT ZARA AND BEA? At this point, I think they’re one of my favorite couples in YA sci-fi. Period. Not only do we have a sapphic, multiracial relationship, they bounce so well off of each other, and they have the most caring and beautiful relationship. I just…[happy queer tears]

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Going off of that…this is one of the only aspects I wasn’t a fan of in the novel, but how Nadim factored into the relationship. Let me make myself clear–I’m 100% fine with polyamory, but what makes this kind of odd to me is the fact that one party is…well, y’know, a sentient alien spaceship. A spaceship. There’s obviously a connection between the three of them, but I felt like it could have worked just as well if Nadim’s role was purely platonic. Then again, you’re talking to someone who’s favorite movie is The Shape of Water (and yes, I did think that *the scene* was plenty weird, but it didn’t take away from the film for me), so take that as you will. Like the aforementioned film, though, this didn’t take away from my rating of the novel, mostly because I have a major soft spot for Nadim. Gotta love him.

Even though the Lifekiller is your standard, world-devouring, overpowered sci-fi villain, Aguirre and Caine made it work–he lurks more at the edges of the novel, not truly showing up in full until the climax. Add in some past grudges from Zara, and there’s plenty of heart-pounding conflict to carry the final installment. Through it all, there’s resonant and timely themes of acceptance, family, and individuality, making for a beautiful sendoff for an unforgettable trilogy.

Overall, a thrilling and heartstring-tugging end to a sci-fi trilogy that is not to be missed. 5 stars!

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Will I include an X-Men gif in every post I make this week? Stay tuned to find out!

Honor Lost is the final book in the Honors trilogy, preceded by Honor Among Thieves (book 1) and Honor Bound (book 2). Both Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine have other works in several genres besides this trilogy.

Today’s song:

ALL RISE FOR THE COTTAGECORE NATIONAL ANTHEM

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (8/4/20)–Into the Crooked Place

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I know I’ve been focusing a lot of my reviews and memes on fantasy in the past few weeks, but I promise that I’ll put in some sci-fi and other genres soon(ish). But the novel I’m reviewing today is vastly underrated, so I thought I’d spread the word.

I was browsing Edelweiss for eARCs to request the other day, and I stumbled upon a new book by Alexandra Christo. I’d liked To Kill a Kingdom before, and I figured that I’d give her another try. As it turns out, the book that I found was a sequel, and that book 1, Into the Crooked Place, was available at my library. To my surprise, I liked it even more than TKaK–a thrilling fantasy with a lovable cast of characters!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

Into the Crooked Place–Alexandra Christo

My library copy feat. the kale plant on our front porch

In a city as filled with crime as it is with magic, four unlikely criminals must join forces to halt an unstoppable evil.

Tavia makes a living as a busker, hawking magic to whoever wants it. Wesley is a feared crime lord, and the right-hand man of a gangster who has the city of Creije tightly clenched in his fist. Saxony is an undercover agent of the resistance, working to take down the crime empire that rules over her city. Karam watches over the worst of the worst, while building her reputation as a formidable fighter.

The four are drawn together after Tavia makes a critical mistake, and a vial of dark magic falls in the wrong hands. What seems like one misstep soon turns into a web of conspiracy and the threat of a magical war.

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-Tavia, probably

For such a low rating on Goodreads (3.43), I enjoyed nearly every page of Into the Crooked Place! At this point, comparing it to To Kill a Kingdom is like comparing apples and oranges–they’re both fantasies, but they’re very different novels. Either way, I enjoyed this one even more. Boasting a cast of characters with impeccable chemistry, magic, political intrigue, LGBTQ+ representation, and no shortage of witty banter, this novel is a must-read.

Into the Crooked Place is definitely a very character-driven novel, which worked well for the plot. Save for Wesley, who…okay, not gonna lie, was evident that Christo was trying far too hard to make Kaz Brekker 2: Electric Boogaloo, I adored all of the main characters. Tavia had no shortage of hilarious lines and antics, and I loved watching her character develop. Saxony was wonderful as well, but I think Karam is my favorite of the four. She reminded me a lot of a girl version of Kal from Aurora Rising, and she just warmed my heart. She and Saxony had the sweetest relationship, and they’re just [happiness noises] SO CUTE TOGETHER. So props to Christo for not only having a casual wlw relationship, but making it ADORABLE.

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They all had wonderful chemistry, and it made for a wonderful execution of the found family trope.

Like I said, it’s definitely a more character-driven novel. Though the plot was a little bit weak, it almost fully made up for it in the explorations of the individual characters. Want to get to know them? Just put them all in a near-death experience and throw them on a train and see what happens. A good third of the book occurs in a single train car, and Christo managed to make me enjoy every second of it.

The world-building left a little to be desired, but what it lacked in structure, it made up for with the individual, original elements. All the little quirks of the magic system made for an interesting read, especially…BATS. I LOVED THE LITTLE MESSENGER BATS! What can go wrong with that?

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Overall, an exciting and character-driven fantasy that wasn’t without its flaws, but a fun ride all the way. 4 stars!

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Into the Crooked Place is the first in a duology, ending with City of Spells, which comes out next March.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (7/28/20)–Serpent & Dove

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve had this one on my TBR for about a year and a half, and I finally got to read it last week after having it on hold for…a good month or so? It was one of the most hyped YA fantasies of last year, and though it wasn’t a perfect novel, I’d say that it mostly lived up to it!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Serpent & Dove eBook: Mahurin, Shelby: Kindle Store

Serpent & Dove–Shelby Mahurin

In Cesarine, witches are feared. The only thing that may be feared more, however, are the Chasseurs–the Church’s personal witch-hunters who will stop at nothing to burn their prey at the stake.

Lou is on the run, struggling to keep her powers–and her infamous witch heritage–under wraps. But after being caught by the Chasseurs, she is presented with an ultimatum: be killed for her crimes, or marry Reid, the captain of the Chasseurs. Stuck with the second option, she is forced to live with him, but she soon realizes that, despite their backgrounds, she has feelings for him–and they might even be mutual.

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Alright, right off the bat, I noticed something…

Did anyone else find it funny that we have two characters named Lou and Reid that were in a romantic relationship?

Like…

LOU REED?

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[ahem] yeah, probably just me, carry on…

Overall, Serpent & Dove was a hysterical thrill ride of a fantasy novel! Not without its flaws, to be sure, but a whole lot of fun all the same.

My main issue with the novel was the world-building. At best, it felt…very messy. The setting is clearly inspired by 18th-19th century France, and uses tidbits of French in some of the dialogue. But even though it’s a fantasy world apart from our own, the predominant religion (and the religion pushed by the Chasseurs) is Christianity? Additionally, though some of the dialogue is hilarious, it often felt…a bit too 21st century? I mean, there’s no “yeet” or “vibin'” or anything, but mostly on Lou’s part, it didn’t mesh well with the historical-inspired setting. Reid’s dialogue felt appropriately stuffy, but that definitely threw off some of my suspension of disbelief.

But that’s where most of my issues end. I LOVED the characters–they were all completely over-the-top, but IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE. From the beginning, I loved Lou and Coco–they were both wonderfully sassy and spirited, and I loved their friendship dynamic. Reid has a lovely beginning to his character arc, and honestly? I love him just as much as the others, especially since he got over some of the prejudice he held in the first part of the novel. And since I’m a total sucker for enemies-to-lovers romances, I enjoyed every bit of Lou and Reid’s relationship. Hey, opposites attract.

And with the theme of witch-burning and whatnot, Serpent & Dove not only presents messages of shedding previous prejudice, but it’s morally grey as well. There’s a great depiction of sides that are most definitely blurred when it comes to morality–and neither one can be pinned as the “hero” or the “villain.” A lot of novels get this wrong, but this managed to portray it deftly.

All in all, a simultaneously thought-provoking and gut-busting fantasy novel, with a romance to die for and no shortage of witty banter. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!

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Serpent & Dove is the first in a trilogy, which continues with the forthcoming Blood & Honey, and an untitled third book.

Today’s song:

Okay but the point at 5:26 where Jeff Tweedy starts hitting those higher notes PERFECTLY

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!