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Review: The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Thank you to Tor for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: The Atlas Six

Author: Olivie Blake

Year Published: 2021

Summary (click for dropdown)

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake is the runaway TikTok must-read fantasy novel of the year. If you loved Ninth House and A Deadly Education, you’ll love this. Originally a self-published sensation, this edition has been fully edited and revised.

Secrets. Betrayal. Seduction.
Welcome to the Alexandrian Society.

When the world’s best magicians are offered an extraordinary opportunity, saying yes is easy. Each could join the secretive Alexandrian Society, whose custodians guard lost knowledge from ancient civilizations. Their members enjoy a lifetime of power and prestige. Yet each decade, only six practitioners are invited – to fill five places.

Contenders Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona are inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds. Parisa Kamali is a telepath, who sees the mind’s deepest secrets. Reina Mori is a naturalist who can perceive and understand the flow of life itself. And Callum Nova is an empath, who can manipulate the desires of others. Finally there’s Tristan Caine, whose powers mystify even himself.

Following recruitment by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they travel to the Society’s London headquarters. Here, each must study and innovate within esoteric subject areas. And if they can prove themselves, over the course of a year, they’ll survive. Most of them.


  • Plot: 1/5
  • Characters: 1/5
  • Writing: 1/5
  • Overall: 1/5

I wish I could just write ‘a whole lot of pretentious nonsense’ and hit post but I know it’s unfair to say such things without any explanation so that’s what I’m here to do! It’s rare for me to dislike a book with such passion. This is an extremely popular book so clearly something it about it appeals to other people, but none of it appealed to me.

The Atlas Six is fantasy dark academia with the premise of the six most talented and promising medeians (which are just university educated magicians) in the world being invited to join the elite Alexandrian Society. The catch is, there are only five places. Being in this society unlocks all the doors to power. Apparently, it’s a society trying to be the ‘caretakers of knowledge’ and do good in the world but in the book all we see them do is hoard knowledge like a dragon hoards gold. They have all these rare and ancient texts, books on any subject that could cross your mind and they just sit on it being high and mighty. It felt like the book wanted to discuss the idea that it’s dangerous when a group of people control knowledge distribution because knowledge is power. But on the other hand, sometimes knowledge is dangerous in the wrong hands but what gives someone the right to decide who has access to what? I don’t think it did a particularly good job of exploring this idea though. There was another group opposing the Society which popped up a couple of times to say what they’re doing is wrong but beyond that the main characters barely questioned the way the Society works, they were too busy being obsessed about themselves and their powers.

The point of view shifted between the six main characters- I found them all obnoxious. The experience was pretty much just, “Oh no, it’s another Parisa chapter”. At the beginning I thought Reina was interesting, she had the ability to make plants grow, but I feel like she made barely any impact in the story compared to the others. I found Libby plain annoying, and Nico was alright, but I didn’t really care about him. They both could physically manipulate their surroundings. I will say I did like Libby and Nico’s dynamic because they were competing and supposedly hated each other but also knew each other better than anyone else and trusted each other the most. But like everything else in this book, it didn’t really go anywhere. Callum was just supremely obnoxious; he was able to manipulate people’s emotions and I feel like he was just too arrogant for his own good. Tristan probably left the biggest impression on me only because I liked his journey of understanding his powers. Parisa was such a nightmare and I feel like she was hogging a big chunk of the chapters. She was a telepath and extremely beautiful (as we kept being reminded) and she uses her powers to seduce people, sleep with them and take advantage of/ manipulate them. I’m not saying that’s wrong but with telepathy the sky’s the limit, there’s so much more she could be doing with it and isn’t. We just have to endure chapters and chapters of Parisa thinking she’s the coolest, smartest person in the whole world who’s oh so beautiful and it’s exhausting. The relationships between the characters also felt very shallow.

Reading this book feels like jumping between the minds of six self-absorbed, annoying, chosen one wannabes and it’s extremely frustrating. I can’t believe I managed to read the book until the end. It was trying so hard to have edgy, morally grey characters and ended up with a bunch on unlikeable, arrogant people drunk on their own power. 

Most of this book was just sophisticated rambling, fancy words and pretty sounding writing and if you actually stop and think about the meaning of these words or what they’re adding to the wider development of the characters or story you’ll quickly realise that there is none. The characters also have a lot of long, pretentious conversations trying to sound all dramatic and philosophical but it’s really just nonsense and empty words.

This was a part I highlighted on my kindle when I was reading, it’s about Libby’s dead sister. I think it illustrates my point about the writing style pretty well. I remember when I was in high school I used to always use the word ‘juxtaposition’ when I wanted to sound extra fancy for no reason and I feel like that’s also what the author was doing. Bear in mind, the entire book is written like this and it gets frustrating very quickly.

“It was such an uncanny juxtaposition, so acutely timed: the familiar sliver of youthful ennui (ambivalence in a strapless dress) and the empty chair next to her parents.”

Here’s another example of what I mean (I just picked a random page of the book for this). 

Callum rose to his feet with a nod. “What are we celebrating?”

“Our fragile mortality,” Tristan said. “The inevitability that we will descend into chaos and dust.”

It felt like the author decided if she used enough long words and complicated sentences, she would fool the reader into thinking it was a smart book with a deeper meaning for smart people to understand when the book had no plot. 

Yes, the book really didn’t have a plot. Barely anything interesting actually happened, it was mainly the characters playing mind games with each other and being full of themselves. For some reason I was holding out for an amazing plot twist that would save the whole book and give everything that happened some meaning. Then the plot twist came and it was far from amazing- it was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. I don’t want to go into spoilers, but I felt extremely cheated as instead of giving the book meaning, the ending made the book even more meaningless than it already was.

In summary, I really didn’t enjoy The Atlas Six and I don’t understand why it has gotten so much hype (I’m starting not to trust books that have gained popularity from TikTok) and it’s really not something that I would recommend.

If you have read The Atlas Six do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: The Red Palace by June Hur

Thank you to Feiwel & Friends for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: The Red Palace

Author: June Hur

Year Published: 2022

Summary (click here)

Joseon (Korea), 1758. There are few options available to illegitimate daughters in the capital city, but through hard work and study, eighteen-year-old Hyeon has earned a position as a palace nurse. All she wants is to keep her head down, do a good job, and perhaps finally win her estranged father’s approval.

But Hyeon is suddenly thrust into the dark and dangerous world of court politics when someone murders four women in a single night, and the prime suspect is Hyeon’s closest friend and mentor. Determined to prove her beloved teacher’s innocence, Hyeon launches her own secret investigation.

In her hunt for the truth, she encounters Eojin, a young police inspector also searching for the killer. When evidence begins to point to the Crown Prince himself as the murderer, Hyeon and Eojin must work together to search the darkest corners of the palace to uncover the deadly secrets behind the bloodshed.

June Hur, critically acclaimed author of The Silence of Bones and The Forest of Stolen Girls, returns with The Red Palace—a third evocative, atmospheric historical mystery perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Kerri Maniscalco.


Content Warnings: graphic depiction of murder, mentions of torture

  • Plot: 4/5
  • Characters: 4.5/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 4/5

The Red Palace was an engaging young adult historical mystery set in 18th century Korea that kept me hooked throughout with a romance so sweet it will give you a cavity. I didn’t really know what to expect from it because I don’t usually read mysteries but I enjoyed it so much and now I definitely want to read June Hur’s other books.

The bloody palace full of spies and secrets where people either lost their lives or their humanity was the perfect backdrop for a murder mystery. It created this unwaveringly tense atmosphere that had me on edge the entire time.

What made it even more interesting was reading the author’s note and finding out The Red Palace is based loosely on the death of Crown Prince Jangheon (Crown Prince Sado). Reading more about his tragic story added a new dimension to the story for me and I love it when I reading a book leads me to read about a topic further and learn something new. In fact June Hur wrote a whole newsletter about this and it’s an interesting read I’d recommend you check out. The main character, Hyeon, was a uinyeo (a female nurse/ physician who treated women during the Joseon dynasty of Korea) and I also liked getting an idea of what medical practice was like at that time.

It really struck me in a sad way how for a historical book the themes of violence against women with little justice for them and the lack of accountability for those in power felt so relevant to our society today. 

I found Hyeon to be really impressive. She was determined, smart and most importantly extremely adaptive in high pressure situations- she really knew how to think on her feet. I feel like her insecurities linked to feeling like she could never make her father proud no matter how excellent she was and tying her worth to her position in the palace would be relatable to a lot of people. That’s why I loved the growth she had in realising she defines her own worth and beginning to seek out the things that will truly make her happy instead of doing things just to receive praise and validation from others even if it puts her wellbeing at risk, I think it’s a good message to take away.

Hyeon’s relationship with her mother improved a lot over the course of the book and was one of the most interesting aspects of the book for me. I do wish this relationship was developed a bit better because the change in Hyeon’s mother seemed very sudden. I think the issue is the dissonance between the way Hyeon described her mother and her mother’s actual actions during the book and the reader is expected to read between the lines a bit too much.

The romance was so cute I am obsessed about Hyeon and Eojin I could read about them for hours without getting bored because they are just EVERYTHING. The slow development of trust and warmth between them was so beautiful and I love how thoughtful Eojin was. For example, when they ate together he gave her all the best bits of meat from his soup. I think it’s the little thoughtful things that make the most difference and that was what Eojin was all about.

I liked how the mystery unfolded in a satisfying way that all made sense. The only thing that annoyed me was how whenever Hyeon approached someone for information no matter who they were they just seemed to tell her everything she needed to know just like that, a lot of the time it felt too easy. I felt like her investigation realistically would have had more resistance and obstacles.

Overall, I would highly recommend The Red Palace and if you have read it and are desperate for more you can read the bonus epilogue which is truly the most adorable thing I have read in my life!

Have you read The Red Palace? What did you think? And are there any other historical mysteries you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!

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Review of The Theft of Sunlight

Thank you to HarperTeen for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: The Theft of Sunlight

⬇️ Summary (click for dropdown)

I did not choose this fate. But I will not walk away from it.

Children have been disappearing from across Menaiya for longer than Amraeya ni Ansarim can remember. When her friend’s sister is snatched, Rae knows she can’t look away any longer – even if that means seeking answers from the royal court, where her country upbringing and clubfoot will only invite ridicule.

Yet the court holds its share of surprises. There she discovers an ally in the foreign princess, who recruits her as an attendant. Armed with the princess’s support, Rae seeks answers in the dark city streets, finding unexpected help in a rough-around-the-edges street thief with secrets of his own. But treachery runs deep, and the more Rae uncovers, the more she endangers the kingdom itself. 

Author: Intisar Khanani

Year Published: 2021

Content Warnings: physical and emotional abuse, ableism, child slavery, human trafficking

  • Plot: 5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5

The Theft of Sunlight is the companion novel to Thorn that focuses on a new main character called Amraeya (or Rae for short). When I read Thorn last year I was very impressed with pretty much everything about it and I was even more impressed when this book had everything I liked about Thorn but was even better!

I have so much love and respect for Rae. She was strong but not in the way I’m used to seeing in fantasy novels- her strength lay in her empathy, loyalty and moral fibre and it was refreshing to read about such a character. 

The plot drew me in from the very start and dragged me deeper and deeper into the depths of its mysteries. It never gave too much away but maintained a steady trickle of breadcrumbs and breakthroughs that kept me hooked up until the very last page. There were twists that I saw coming but they were so well built up to and executed that it didn’t feel predictable or boring in the slightest. I also felt that there was a very good balance of softer, emotional scenes and dramatic, action-packed, confrontational scenes that it never felt too slow paced or too overwhelming. AND THE CLIFFHANGER!!! The book ended on a cliffhanger which I usually find very frustrating but it felt like a fitting conclusion and I can only hope that we get a sequel so that I can find out what happens next!

In the acknowledgements Khanani mentions that the slavery in The Theft of Sunlight is modelled on modern day human trafficking and I definitely saw a lot of real life parallels in the book. Every day children were ‘snatched’ without a trace, transported and sold into slavery and everyone lived in fear- it was extremely chilling to read about. It made me so sad reading about the grief of families who had lost their children, not knowing their fates or whether they were even alive- especially knowing that there are countless real families living with that sorrow all over the world. 

What was most chilling was how those in power were either completely oblivious of the problem, willingly in denial of it or trying to cover it up. I shared in Rae’s shock and disgust at the utter disregard shown by those who were wealthy and privileged simply because it wasn’t affecting them even though they had resources and power that could help so many but sadly, I also wasn’t that surprised at all because it’s the precise attitude that so many in powerful, privileged positions in our world have.

The Theft of Sunlight was an impressive and refreshing read, balancing high stakes and mystery with softness and emotion that I highly recommend!

Is Thorn or The Theft of Sunlight on your tbr? Let me know in the comments!

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Epic Fantasy at its Finest: Review of The Jasmine Throne

Thank you to Orbit Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: The Jasmine Throne (Burning Kingdoms #1)

Author: Tasha Suri

Year Published: 2021

⬇️ Summary 

Author of Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne, beginning a new trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and epics of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess’s traitor brother.

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.

But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.


  • Plot: 4/5
  • Characters: 4.5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Overall: 4/5

Before picking up this book I hadn’t read an epic adult fantasy that takes place on such a large scale in a long time and I really missed it so you can imagine how delighted I was when The Jasmine Throne delivered in every way possible. I adore Tasha Suri’s writing (her other book, Empire of Sand, is one of my all time favourites) and she deftly wove together a story of resistance, magic, duplicity and sapphic yearning that utterly captivated me.

The story was very slow paced and took its time to build the detailed, vivid world and set up the plot and while I think this was necessary I still struggled at times to get through it. In hindsight, think this was because I wasn’t in the right mindset at the time to read such a book and I think it’s important to be aware of this so that you read it when you are in the mood for a gradual, immersive read and have the time and capacity to properly enjoy it. It’s important to note that with the way this book ends it seems like the sequel will be incredibly action packed and intense so I’m definitely looking forward to that!

The two main characters were Priya, a maidservant haunted by her past, and Malini, a princess who had been imprisoned by her brother the emperor. I loved how their relationship slowly developed and deepened into something gentle, mature and founded on profound mutual understanding. When I say slowly I mean slowly. For the majority of the book they feel drawn to each other but don’t go beyond that, however when they finally do it is extremely satisfying and works with the story (waterfall scene!!!).

Both Priya and Malini have so many facets to them but most people around them only perceived or accepted the facets palatable to them. What I liked most about their relationship was how they accepted all of the facets of each other- even the more monstrous ones

Another aspect of the story I liked was how it portrayed different types of strong women making a place for themselves in a patriarchal society and refusing to conform to the paths prescribed to them by men. Priya had powerful magic and incredible physical prowess yet she was also nurturing and gentle. I loved how she refused to sacrifice her humanity for power and made it a source of strength for her where others thought it a weakness. Malini was smart, ruthless and resourceful yet her brother saw her capability as a threat that needed to be burned at a pyre. Her refusal to burn led her on a journey to come into her own and seize power for herself as opposed to power derived from the men around her.

I also loved Bhumika, I thought she was the most interesting character in the book. While her husband, the regent, thought her to be ignorant and docile she had actually quietly accumulated a network of servants and guards loyal to her and wielded more power than him. I found it interesting how she exploited her husband’s belittlement of women to her advantage.

The story was mainly told from Priya and Malini’s perspectives but it did regularly incorporate the perspectives of other characters. This meant that overall there were about ten different POVs and it truly is a testament to Suri’s writing skill that she managed to make it work. Usually when I read multi POV fantasy novels there’s that one character whose perspective I just don’t care about but that wasn’t the case here; every perspective that was introduced engaged me and made me more immersed in the story while carrying the narrative forwards.

The Jasmine Throne was an intricate read exploring themes of resistance against imperialism and misogyny and full of nuanced characters and messy, complicated relationships. I would definitely recommend it and am very excited to read the sequel. Tasha Suri is an amazing writer and I can’t wait to see what she does next!

Have you read The Jasmine Throne? Is it on your tbr? Let me know in the comments!

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We Find Ourselves in the Sea: Review of The Ones We’re Meant to Find (Blog Tour)

Hello! Today I am so excited to bring my stop on the blog tour for The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He as I’m a member of her street team (Hesina’s Imperial Court)! For more information check out the launch post here!

Review:

Thank you to Roaring Brook Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: The Ones We’re Meant to Find

*Click here for all the buy links*

Author: Joan He

Year Published: 2021

Summary (click for dropdown)

One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars meets Black Mirror, with a dash of Studio Ghibli.

Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay. Determined to find her, Cee devotes her days to building a boat from junk parts scavenged inland, doing everything in her power to survive until the day she gets off the island and reunites with her sister.

In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara is also living a life of isolation. The eco-city she calls home is one of eight levitating around the world, built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.

Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But as the public decries her stance, she starts to second guess herself and decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own. 


  • Plot: 4/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Writing: 4.5/5
  • Overall: 4.5/5

The Ones We’re Meant to Find was an atmospheric and twisty read that brought together science fiction and climate fiction in a dystopian world– with Studio Ghibli vibes for extra spice.

Reading this book was a unique experience that had its ups and downs and at the end I felt a strange mix of awe, poignancy and bewilderment that left me mulling over the story for days afterwards. The Ones We’re Meant to Find is something special, the sort of book that stays with you, lingering in the corners of your mind. I don’t think I was as emotionally invested as I wanted to be but I appreciated the depth and scope of the story, the nuanced characters and subversion of the usual tropes. 

At the beginning of the book I was very, very confused and had no idea what was going on but as I progressed I realised that was how I was supposed to feel. The book is structured in a way that confuses you in the start as you grapple to understand this ravaged dystopian world and the characters’ places in it and there is a distinct sense that something is not right but as a reader you lack the necessary information to know what that something is.

As the book progresses you are gradually given the puzzle pieces and there was a point where I had a giant OHH! moment because I finally had enough pieces to make sense of it all. If you don’t like books that have convoluted plots and never spell anything out explicitly to the reader then this is definitely not for you. But I would also say if you start reading and feel disheartened because you don’t understand what is happening I would advise you to keep going because it all comes together eventually and it does so beautifully

“Alone is an island. It’s an uncrossable sea, being too far from another soul, whereas lonely is being too close, in the same house yet separated by walls because we choose to be”

The story focused on Cee and Kasey and switched between their vastly different perspectives. Cee was passionate, lively and determined and her chapters were full of hope and pain and longing. On the other hand, Kasey was a genius who was logical and very emotionally detached. She often wondered why she was different to everyone else, why she felt less, reacted less, became less attached to others… felt less human.

I loved how He emphasised the contrast between them by writing Cee’s perspective in the first person and Kasey’s in the third. Cee was likeable in a very conventional way that I think most people would relate to but Kasey’s character was refreshing and different to what we normally see in YA fiction. She wasn’t what anyone would usually describe as likeable but I think a lot of people will be able too see themselves in her too. 

The book was set in an Earth poisoned by humans beyond repair and plagued with extreme weather and devastating natural disasters, the only refuge being eco cities that floated in the sky. The book questioned if humanity deserved to be saved if it had brought its own demise upon itself. If it was more important to live freely or live in a way that preserved our planet. If it was fair that innocent people had to suffer for the destructive, polluting acts of others. It served as a chilling reminder that our greed and unsustainable lifestyles are pushing the planet over the brink.

At a personal level, the book explored the bond between two sisters that not even the ocean or hundreds of years could sever. The relationship between Kasey and her sister was rocky at times and they had very different perspectives on life but I loved how their unconditional love for each other shone through with every decision they made.

There is so much more that I want to say about this book that I can’t in this review because it would spoil the most important parts. The best way to go into the book is with absolutely no idea what it’s about beyond the little information provided in the summary so that the plot twists and turns have the maximum impact. The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a story brimming with profound emotion that spills over the pages, straight into your heart. I definitely recommend it!

About the author:

Joan He was born and raised in Philadelphia but still will, on occasion, lose her way. At a young age, she received classical instruction in oil painting before discovering that storytelling was her favorite form of expression. She studied Psychology and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Pennsylvania and currently writes from a desk overlooking the Delaware River. Descendant of the Crane is her debut young adult fantasy. Her next novel, The Ones We’re Meant to Find, will be forthcoming from Macmillan on May 4th, 2021.

Tour schedule:

Monday, April 26

Tiffany | Sara | Carina | Anthony

Tuesday, April 27th

Chloe | Avery | Jenni

Wednesday, April 28

Lauren | Bella | Charvi

Thursday, April 29

Iza | Shenwei | Ace

Friday, April 30

Stella | Lexie | Kristi | Finn

Saturday, May 1

Umairah(me!!!) | Justice

Sunday, May 2

Sarah | Fin | Ming

Monday, May 3

Julith | Cathy | Adrienne | Victoria

Tuesday, May 4

Leeann | Isabelle | Asher

Wednesday, May 5

Trinity | Jenna | Jasmin

Thursday, May 6

Katie | Sophie | Ceillie

Friday, May 7

Althea | Lili | Alessa | Paola

What did you think of The Ones We’re Meant to Find? What are your favourite climate fiction books? Let me know in the comments!

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A Gift and a Curse: Review of Reaper of Souls

Thank you to HarperTeen for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: Reaper of Souls

Summary (click for dropdown)

After so many years yearning for the gift of magic, Arrah has the one thing she’s always wanted—at a terrible price. Now the last surviving witchdoctor, she’s been left to pick up the shattered pieces of a family that betrayed her, a kingdom in shambles, and long-buried secrets about who she is.

Desperate not to repeat her mother’s mistakes, Arrah must return to the tribal lands to search for help from the remnants of her parents’ people. But the Demon King’s shadow looms closer than she thinks. And as Arrah struggles to unravel her connection to him, defeating him begins to seem more and more impossible—if it’s something she can bring herself to do at all.

Set in a richly imagined world inspired by spine-tingling tales of voodoo and folk magic, Kingdom of Souls was lauded as “masterful” by School Library Journal in a starred review. This explosively epic sequel will have readers racing to the can’t-miss conclusion.

Author: Rena Barron

Year Published: 2021

  • Plot: 3/5
  • Characters: 3.5/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 3/5

I was so excited to read Reaper of Souls as I was completely enthralled by the first book in the trilogy. I have to admit, while the book had a lot of strong points, it didn’t fully live up to my expectations and pales in comparison to Kingdom of Souls. I think my problem is that objectively it is exactly the sort of interesting, twisty book that I usually love but it just failed to engage me and all the aspects of the first book that I loved weren’t as compelling to me in this one.

In this book Arrah was a lot more mature and also much wearier and worn out by all that she had been through and all that she had yet to do. Haunted by her past actions, it was interesting to see Arrah realise that the magic she had sacrificed so much for was a double edged sword that she couldn’t trust herself to wield only for the good of others. Comparing her decisions at the end of this book to her decisions at the start of Kingdom of Souls it was clear how far she has come and how her outlook on the world has changed. The only thing that didn’t diminish for me in this book is how much I love Arrah. She wasn’t perfect, she made reckless decisions and did morally questionable things but she was also strong and loyal and in her heart she wanted the best for everyone. I like how she was at one with herself and owned her mistakes even as she often walked the fine line between hero and monster in the eyes of others.

This book was also Rudjek’s time to shine– he even had chapters from his perspective. In the previous book I felt like he was less self-assured so I liked how he stepped up in this book and came into his own, taking on leadership and initiative. I liked how the barriers between Arrah and Rudjek being together were explored and how they communicated about it but I didn’t love their relationship as much as I did in book one. As I was reading I became less and less engaged in their romance and cared less and less about whether or not they’d get to be together.

I read most of Kingdom of Souls in one sitting unable to stop and desperate to find out what would happen next. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for Reaper of Souls. For most of the book I wasn’t engaged by the plot and there were many points whilst reading where I was so close to DNFing but didn’t because I remembered how much I enjoyed the first book and convinced myself it would get better. However, near the end of the book there were some good plot twists and I think the book ended on enough of a strong point to convince me to read the final book in the trilogy when it comes out. The thing I disliked the most about the plot was Dimma and the Demon King’s story. I can’t really explain why without spoiling too much but even though it was an important part of the storyline I didn’t like the focus being taken off of Arrah and Rudjek because they were the ones I cared about.

Although it built on the same ideas as Kingdom of Souls- magic being a gift and a curse, the corrupting nature of power and love that destroys as well as heals– I liked Reaper of Souls but nowhere near as much as the first book. However, I would recommend fans of book one to give the sequel a chance because I know for a fact that there are a lot of people who enjoyed it more than I did. 

Have you read Reaper of Souls? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

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Discussion Posts · Uncategorized

10 Fantasy And Sci-fi 2021 Book Releases To Be Excited About

Hello booksicles!

After a month of not posting at all… I’m back! And hopefully, I’ll be able to blog more regularly from now on. Today, I bring you 10 of my most anticipated fantasy and sci-fi releases of 2021 (not including sequels) and what an amazing year for books 2021 is set to be. I’m extremely excited and I hope after reading this post you’ll be as excited as I am!

Rise of the Red Hand by Olivia Chadha

This sounds amazing especially because it seems like it will have a lot of social commentary and discuss climate change.

Release date: January 19th 2021

Summary:52727554

A rare, searing portrayal of the future of climate change in South Asia. A streetrat turned revolutionary and the disillusioned hacker son of a politician try to take down a ruthlessly technocratic government that sacrifices its poorest citizens to build its utopia.

The South Asian Province is split in two. Uplanders lead luxurious lives inside a climate-controlled biodome, dependent on technology and gene therapy to keep them healthy and youthful forever. Outside, the poor and forgotten scrape by with discarded black-market robotics, a society of poverty-stricken cyborgs struggling to survive in slums threatened by rising sea levels, unbreathable air, and deadly superbugs.

Ashiva works for the Red Hand, an underground network of revolutionaries fighting the government, which is run by a merciless computer algorithm that dictates every citizen’s fate. She’s a smuggler with the best robotic arm and cybernetic enhancements the slums can offer, and her cargo includes the most vulnerable of the city’s abandoned children.

When Ashiva crosses paths with the brilliant hacker Riz-Ali, a privileged Uplander who finds himself embroiled in the Red Hand’s dangerous activities, they uncover a horrifying conspiracy that the government will do anything to bury. From armed guardians kidnapping children to massive robots flattening the slums, to a pandemic that threatens to sweep through the city like wildfire, Ashiva and Riz-Ali will have to put aside their differences in order to fight the system and save the communities they love from destruction.

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The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

I love the sound of this West African inspired fantasy- especially the ‘fighting the emperor in an army of girls’ bit!

Release date: February 9th 2021

Summary:61D-I3FLNnL

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

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The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman 

A YA sci-fi that has been pitched as ‘Warcross meets Black Mirror’… what’s not to love?

Release date: April 6th 2021

Summary:54304172

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.

The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.

When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.

As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.

From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes an incisive, action-packed tale that explores big questions about technology, grief, love, and humanity.

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Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

I actually have an arc of this book which I’m hoping to read this month and I can’t wait! How can you not be excited by the prospect of this revenge-driven, Jamaican-inspired fantasy?

Release date: April 20th 2021

Summary:51813582._SY475_

Divided by their castes. United by their vengeance.

Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom—and vengeance.

Jazmyne is the queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.

Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain—except the lengths they will go to win this game.

Deadly, fierce, magnetically addictive: this Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut is a thrilling journey where dangerous magic reigns supreme and betrayal lurks beneath every word.

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The Ones We Left Behind by Joan He

Joan He is the queen of plot twists and earth-shattering endings so I can’t wait to be destroyed by this book. And the cover is just *swoons*.

(the author has had a lot of legal issues with the publisher of her first book which incurred big legal fees so it’s even more important to preorder this book if you can to show your support)

Release date: May 4th 2021

Summary:54017953

One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars with sci-fi scope, Lost with a satisfying resolution.

Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.

STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The eco-city—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those commited to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most.

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Son of the Storm by by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

I love reading books about fantasy scholars because I can always relate to their bookishness and love of learning. And I’m intrigued about the aspect of the story that involved discovering suppressed histories!

Release date: May 11th 2021

Summary:55277030

A young scholar’s ambition threatens to reshape an empire determined to retain its might in this epic tale of violent conquest, buried histories, and forbidden magic.

In the thriving city of Bassa, Danso is a clever but disillusioned scholar who longs for a life beyond the rigid family and political obligations expected of the city’s elite. A way out presents itself when Lilong, a skin-changing warrior, shows up wounded in his barn. She comes from the Nameless Islands–which, according to Bassa lore, don’t exist–and neither should the mythical magic of ibor she wields. Now swept into a conspiracy far beyond his understanding, Danso will have to set out on a journey that reveals histories violently suppressed and magic only found in lore. 

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The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

I’ve heard this book has a most excellent enemies to lovers romance and I’m intrigued that it’s inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology

Release date: June 8th 2021

Summary:cover211725-medium

In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.

In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.

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She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan 

Everything EVERYTHING about this adult historical fantasy sounds amazing!

Release date: July 20th 2021

Summary:48727813._UY1143_SS1143_

Mulan meets The Song of Achilles in Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun, a bold, queer, and lyrical reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty from an amazing new voice in literary fantasy.

To possess the Mandate of Heaven, the female monk Zhu will do anything

“I refuse to be nothing…”

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.

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The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad

The cover of this book was released recently and I am completely and utterly in love with it… I could just frame it and stare at it all day long.

Release date: August 3rd 2021

Summary:https___culturess.com_files_image-exchange_2017_07_ie_61444

From William C. Morris Finalist Nafiza Azad comes a thrilling, feminist fantasy about a group of teenage girls endowed with special powers who must band together to save the life of the boy whose magic saved them all.

Meet the Wild Ones: girls who have been hurt, abandoned, and betrayed all their lives. It all began with Paheli, who was once betrayed by her mother and sold to a man in exchange for a favor. When Paheli escapes, she runs headlong into a boy with stars in his eyes. This boy, as battered as she is, tosses Paheli a box of stars before disappearing.

With the stars, Paheli gains access to the Between, a place of pure magic and mystery. Now, Paheli collects girls like herself and these Wild Ones use their magic to travel the world, helping the hopeless and saving others from the fates they suffered.

Then Paheli and the Wild Ones learn that the boy who gave them the stars, Taraana, is in danger. He’s on the run from powerful forces within the world of magic. But if Taraana is no longer safe and free, neither are the Wild Ones. And that…is a fate the Wild Ones refuse to accept. Ever again.

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Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan

I LOVE A GOOD DUAL POV NARRATIVE!

Release date: November 2nd 2021

Summary:51062420._SY475_

Told in a dual POV narrative reminiscent of An Ember in the Ashes, Jade Fire Gold is a YA fantasy is inspired by East Asian mythology and folk tales. Epic in scope but intimate in characterization, fans of classic fantasies by Tamora Pierce and the magical Asiatic setting of Avatar: the Last Airbender will enjoy this cinematic tale of family, revenge, and forgiveness.

In order to save her grandmother from a cult of dangerous priests, a peasant girl cursed with the power to steal souls enters a tenuous alliance with an exiled prince bent on taking back the Dragon Throne. The pair must learn to trust each other but are haunted by their pasts—and the true nature of her dark magic.

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What are you most anticipated 2021 fantasy/ sci-fi book releases? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments!

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Reviews · Uncategorized

Violent Ends: Review of These Violent Delights

Thank you to Simon Pulse for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: These Violent Delights

Summary

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Author: Chloe Gong

Year Published: 2020

Content Warnings: Blood, violence, gore, character deaths, explicit description of gouging self (not of their own volition), murder, weapon use, insects, alcohol consumption, parental abuse (from author’s website)

  • Plot: 5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5

BREAKING NEWS! Recently, sobs of anguish have been issuing from Shakespeare’s grave at random hours of the day. There is much speculation over the cause but I’ll let you in on a secret: Shakespeare’s ghost is weeping on the other side because finally, after all these years, he’s been outdone. Who by? Chloe Gong and her painfully beautiful debut, These Violent Delights.

Did my heart love till now? I think not. This book has become one of my favourite reads of all time because simply put, it is perfect in every way. It is a young adult historical novel with elements of science fiction/ fantasy that retells Romeo and Juliet in 1920s Shanghai with rival gangs, a monster and a mysterious contagion for extra spice.

I’ve read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and while I appreciate that it’s extremely well written, I very much dislike it because I just find the plot illogical (if you disagree don’t come at me these things are subjective). Luckily, These Violent Delights took everything I dislike about the original play and made it into something that I adore with all my heart- that in itself is a miracle as far as I’m concerned.

I did however enjoy being able to pick up on the many small Romeo and Juliet references scattered throughout. The author included tiny details that showed how much thought and care had gone into the retelling. A non-spoilery example would be how in the novel Juliette often says things that have double meanings to hide her true intentions which is exactly what Juliet does in Shakespeare’s play.

Even better than the references were the clever ways Gong tweaked the plot to keep the reader guessing whether they were familiar with Romeo and Juliet or not. Because it’s a retelling, I thought I knew exactly how the plot would go but it completely inverted my expectations and left me reeling in shock.

The prose was so beautiful that I was captivated from the first sentence. It was intense and lyrical, Gong skilfully crafted vibrant, authentic atmospheres with just a few words. I adored the third person omniscient narration because it gave the story a sense of scope and grandeur. We get glimpses into the minds of so many characters and I loved that each one had their own distinct voice. It was definitely the most beautiful and experimental writing I’ve seen in a debut and Gong really pulled it off!

Juliette Cai was the heiress to the Scarlet Gang who had spent the past four years in America and come back different in many ways- only to find out Shanghai had done the same. She was smart, brave and reckless with nerves of steel and deadpan humourit was hard to not love her. Juliette Cai had so much more agency and power than Juliet Capulet and I loved to see it! She truly was a force to behold and I was cheering her on throughout. Her rage at the injustices of her world- the racism, misogyny, greed, xenophobia, lack of empathy- was palpable and it was so interesting seeing Shanghai through her eyes.

I think Juliette’s diaspora story is one that will resonate with many people. She found herself in a position where in America she was too Eastern to be accepted and when she returned to Shanghai, she was too Western to be accepted. That sense of not knowing who she was or where she truly belonged permeated her story arc.

Roma Montagov was the heir to the White Flowers. His inner conflict was so interesting because deep down inside he was soft, sensitive and dreamy hated being the heir to a gang. He wished he could just disappear with his loved ones and live a quiet life but at the same time, he was scared to relinquish the protection and privilege his position of power gave him. I loved his relationship with his younger sister, Alisa, it was so sweet. 

The main storyline of the book wasn’t focused on Juliette and Roma’s relationship but that didn’t make it any less memorable. Gong turned the original play on its head so that when they met at the start of the novel it wasn’t their first encounter because they were already exes with a complicated history full of lies and betrayal.

I loved this twist for two reasons. Firstly, because it took out the ‘insta love’ aspect that I didn’t like in Romeo and Juliet. Secondly, because it made their relationship so much more intense and dynamic. They had to get to know each other all over again, these harder and colder versions of themselves. They had to grapple with conflicting feelings of love and hate that have been festering for so many years. They weren’t children anymore and their love wasn’t romantic and innocent because the environment they were in would never allow it. Sometimes, the only way they could show their love was through painful, cruel choices. It was messy, angsty and the levels of yearning were through the roof. And the saddest part was it was through no fault of their own but as a result of the hatred and tension between the two gangs.

Their relationship was charged, unpredictable and quite honestly tragic (which is quite fitting considering the novel is a retelling of a tragedy). This picture basically sums it up (Roma would be the one with the rose, Juliette with the knife).

The side characters were all amazing and shone in their own rights. Gong’s take on Benvolio and Mercutio with Benedikt and Marshall was spot on and their relationship was so precious. Especially with Marshall, she really captured Mercutio’s dramatic, sarcastic nature perfectly. All of their scenes made me smile.

I was so glad that Juliette got some wing women too! Kathleen (who was trans!) was so kind and soft, I felt bad for her because she always took too much on and felt too much then ended up neglecting herself. I also found passionate, headstrong Rosalind to be an interesting character. Instead of taking too much on, she kept too much bottled up inside. She was so similar to Juliette it was uncanny, the only difference was that one was the heir and the other wasn’t. I loved how even though their personalities clashed they were there for each other always.

And if you found fiery Tybalt to be infuriating in Romeo and Juliet… wait until you meet Tyler. Gong really hit the nail on the head with him, capturing the same volatile nature that makes Tybalt so detestable. His arrogant nature was a façade for his weaknesses but obviously he got away with it because he was a man. While Juliette, the extremely competent heir, had to work twice as hard to prove her worth.

The world-building was immersive and detailed, it felt like a glimpse of the past. I liked how both the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers were both so distinct in their general aesthetics and in their core values and principles. 1920s Shanghai was a brilliant backdrop for the story. It was a setting full of contrasts and divisions mirroring the divisions and conflicts between the characters. Gong also seamlessly wove in a commentary on the destructive effects of imperialism and colonialism, racism and xenophobia into the narrative and setting making the story all the more relevant and hard-hitting.

I also loved the subtleties of language that the author portrayed: the characters switched between different dialects, different languages were used in different settings, words were more meaningful in one language as opposed to another. As someone who sometimes merges at least four different languages into one sentence, I appreciated it very much and it made the world feel more real and alive.

I thought the addition of the contagion and the monster was genius. It expanded on a tiny detail in the play and gave the story more urgency by increasing the stakes. It also served as a plot device exposing the ugliness, greed and apathy lying beneath Shanghai’s vibrant exterior. The monster was like a metaphor for the monstrosities of imperialism and colonialism that were ravaging Shanghai. The protagonists were given the challenge of defeating a monster without becoming one themselves.

I found it chillingly similar to real life how those in power couldn’t see how dangerous the disease was and didn’t see the need to address it. For example, both Roma and Juliette’s parents were too proud and accustomed to power to think anything could unseat it. Leaving the younger generation to pick up the pieces and find a solution.

These Violent Delights is a brilliant read that captures all the drama, humour, action and emotion of the play it retells whilst also making it more relevant and exciting for modern day readers. This is a book I would recommend to everyone (as long as you can handle the more gory aspects) that will entertain and provoke thought.

The twists were truly incredible and the ending was the most exquisite form of agony. I don’t know how I will survive until the sequel comes out. I obviously won’t spoil what happens but suffice to say: these violent delights really do have violent ends.

Have you read These Violent Delights? What were your thoughts? Are there any Shakespeare retellings that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!

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A Light in the Darkness: Review of Night

Thank you to the author for providing me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: Night (North #2) 

Summary

After months in captivity, Apaay managed to escape Yuki’s labyrinth with her life. But her freedom did not come without a steep cost. When the Face Stealer, the North’s most notorious demon, calls in her blood oath, Apaay must heed his demand. Debts, after all, must be repaid.

As Apaay attempts to navigate her uprooted life, something dark slithers among the snow-dusted conifers of the North. A long-dead war is unfinished, and there are those who would see it revived. In a place where misplaced loyalty could mean her death, Apaay must look inward to repair her broken soul—for if she cannot place trust in those around her, she might find enemies are closer than they appear.

In this stunning follow-up to Below, Alexandria Warwick brings the second book in her dark and seductive North series to thrilling new heights.

Author: Alexandria Warwick

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 3.5/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 3.5/5

Night was the sequel to Below that expanded on the first book well, although it was a bit too overwhelming at times.

In this book, Apaay was out of survival mode and everything that had befallen her in the labyrinth came crashing down on her. Her trauma was explored in a raw, emotive manner, so much so that her guilt, grief and despair were almost palpable. I felt sad watching her push everyone trying to help her away and make choices that were clearly going to lead to more pain but she was in such a dark place and that was the only way she could cope.

Below was about Apaay realising her self worth and knowing that she was enough exactly the way she was. In Night, she had to learn to forgive herself and leave the past behind her. It was emotional watching her slowly see a glimmer of light in the darkness and begin to work towards it.

I was very surprised that Ila quickly became my favourite character. I loved her strength, wisdom and determination. In this book, it was her turn to go on a journey of self discovery and it was interesting to see her navigate her expanding world. I was sad that her friendship with Apaay broke down but I do understand the importance of walking away from friendships that bring nothing but pain. I still wish they could have communicated with each other more.

I think I was supposed to like the Face Stealer in this book… but I didn’t. He has had some growth, there is a better side to him and he has shown remorse for previous events but I still think he has a long way to go before I can like him as a character. His intentions were always so murky and I never knew whether to take him at face value or not (pun not intended).

It was interesting to see Apaay’s opinion of the Face Stealer shift but there were times when it hinted at a possible future romance between them and I really hope that doesn’t happen! I would hate that. There would be an unsettling power imbalance and I can’t see Apaay forgiving him enough to love him.

While Below was mostly confined to a shifting and perilous labyrinth, its sequel, Night, expanded greatly on the world. I loved the contrast between the tight, trapped atmosphere of the first book and the sense of vastness in the second as we got to learn more about the subtleties of the world. The plot was much slower paced than the first book and there is nothing wrong with that, but I didn’t like how the pace sped up rapidly near the end making the ending feel rushed and confusing.

As Apaay’s world increased the scope of the plot increased too. Suddenly, the stakes were much higher than Apaay’s mission to save her sister. The fate of nations were balancing on a knife edge and war was on the horizon. However, one of my favourite aspects of Below was how personal it was to Apaay. As I closely followed her story I became more and more invested and compelled to keep reading. The widening of the plot’s scope made me feel less engaged with the story as I had to get my head around all these new components and characters and therefore felt less connected to them all.

I understand that it was necessary for the story but it made the novel feel like a transition between the first and third upcoming book. Therefore, I enjoyed it less than the first. But because of this I am very excited to read the next book as now that the larger plot is established I think I will be more invested in the next part of the story!

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Blog Tours · Uncategorized

Blog Tour: Crowning Soul by Sahira Javaid

Hello booksicles! Today I bring you my stop on the Crowning Soul blog tour (hosted by Qamar Blog Tours) with some information about the book and mood boards!

About the book:

  • Title: Crowning Soul
  • Author: Sahira Javaid
  • Publication date: September 8th, 2020
  • Genre: YA Fantasycrowning soul cover-1696946039..jpg

Synopsis:

Be swept away in this unique fantasy debut from Sahira Javaid. A spellbinding adventure of belonging, finding hope and where the price of a soul is another soul’s fate. Perfect for the fans of InuYasha, Children of Blood and Bone and The Candle and The Flame.

Nezha Zaman considers her gift to control fire a dangerous secret. A secret that unravels when she encounters a vengeful shadow jinni in a maze garden that has been stalking her family, and knows about her power.

Weeks after seeing the demonic being, Nezha is torn from her world through her backyard pond and transported into another dimension which sought out the light inside her heart.

Nezha learns from two unicorns that the dimension is her family’s roots, and the light is a fragment of an angel’s shattered soul. The three must work together to find the soul’s shards in a land teeming with shape-shifting jinn.

If Nezha fails to stop the corrupted Iron Prince, the malevolent jinn at his side will shatter her soul next.

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Mood boards:

Here are the mood boards I made inspired by the book! They are based on three of the main characters: Nezha, Sapphire and Thunderbolt.

Nezha MoodboardThunderbolt & Sapphire Moodboard

About the author:

Sahira Javaid is a YA Fantasy writer and poetess from Ottawa who shares her poems on her Twitter page and her website. Fond of animals, nature and learning, she passes time with reading about the world around her, nature’s healing ways, chatting with friends and making others smile and laugh every time she gets. Her poetry book Crack of Dawn is available on Amazon and other online retailers.

Twitter  Website  Pinterest  Goodreads

Thank you to Qamar Blog Tours for making this possible!

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