5 stars · Fantasy · series · young adult

The Rise of Kyoshi: an AMAZING original story in the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe

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The Rise of Kyoshi

author : f.c. yee

pages : [hardcover] 442

favorite character : kyoshi

memorable quote :

What you do when no one is guiding you determines who you are.

summary :

F. C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi delves into the story of Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom–born Avatar. The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but also founded the secretive Dai Li, which led to the corruption, decline, and fall of her own nation. The first of two novels based on Kyoshi, The Rise of Kyoshi maps her journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice who is still feared and admired centuries after she became the Avatar.

review :

The Avatar universe continues to be one of the best things ever created.

When I first heard they were telling Kyoshi’s story in books, I was so excited because Avatar is one of the few franchises I think has done well in the transition between mediums. Usually, when you read an adaptation of something that appeared on film or television, it’s . . . lacking. But the Avatar: The Last Airbender comics are stunning, and I expected this book to be no different. I was right!

The Rise of Kyoshi is everything I could ever want and everything younger me needed. When I think back to the thirteen year old watching the show as it aired on my television–back before I could record anything so I’d need to rush to the screen once the time came–she would have loved this book as much as I do. She might have figured out some important things about herself a little faster. She would have been overjoyed, able to relate to freaking Avatar Kyoshi, aka one of the most badass characters I think has ever existed.

This book is so well-written. I love how it managed to capture the feel of the TV series with funny moments, a great crew built around Kyoshi, and also terribly poignant, heartfelt moments. Not to mention terrible violence and danger. Can’t have the Avatar’s job be too easy.

Kyoshi’s character arc in The Rise of Kyoshi is fascinating and unique in that viewers of the series will already know who she is when she’s older. At the beginning of this book, we see an uncertain teenager who’s actually pretty certain she isn’t the Avatar. I loved seeing her growth in this book and was jazzed when I realized this wasn’t a standalone–we’re getting an entire Kyoshi series! I can’t wait to see what’ll come in book two, which is releasing soon. Watching Kyoshi grow, evolve, make all the mistakes typical in a coming-of-age novel–it’s incredibly refreshing, real, and relatable, which is what Avatar is all about. The Rise of Kyoshi has the same heart as the series, and I can’t recommend it enough. I literally can’t stop thinking about it.

If you’re an Avatar fan, or even if you haven’t watched the show and are just looking for an incredible book to read, pick up The Rise of Kyoshi. You won’t regret it.

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · fiction · young adult

Foul is Fair: I LOVE THIS BOOK

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Foul is Fair

author : hannah capin

pages : [hardcover] 336

favorite character : elle

summary :

Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.

review :

This book is badass. Foul is Fair is brutal and beautiful.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from Wednesday Books in exchange for my honest review. Yes, this book doesn’t come out until February. Yes, I started reading this as soon as I got my hands on it because I couldn’t resist the urge to find out what Foul is Fair is all about.

Before page one, content and trigger warnings are printed for readers. I hope that Foul is Fair is setting a precedent, because this is something that is so important to include. Wednesday Books might be starting one of the best trends to happen in literature.

Elle goes to a party. Something terrible happens at the party. Elle begins to call herself Jade. Jade plots her revenge.

Foul is Fair is truly a revenge fantasy for girls who are tired with boys getting away with their crimes. It is dark, it certainly doesn’t hold back, it screams and attacks for every girl out there who’s ever been kept silent. It certainly isn’t like anything I’ve ever read before.

It does require a little suspension of disbelief. This book is a retelling of Macbeth (which, I’ve just realized, isn’t mentioned in the book summary?) and if you keep thinking about it within that context, you’re fine. However, the book does take place over the span of three weeks (at most) so if you think of it within a contemporary context, it makes less sense. It happens so fast. If there had just been a few chapters in the middle that said Jade wormed her way into the lives of her enemies over even a few months, it would have been infinitely more believable.

The writing is so incredibly beautiful–enough to make me not really care about the timeline. Which is saying a lot, because usually I rail against insta-love, even in retellings. Hannah Capin has the kind of writing that is *chef kiss* delicious. I want to read anything she’s ever written or will write; I want to sink into these beautiful words that talk about such dark themes. You all know I’m not the biggest fan of books set in a contemporary world. I feel like Hannah Capin could write about anything, she’s so good. Maybe this also plays into why I didn’t mind the rushed timeline so much; as a reader, you’re so in tune with Jade’s thoughts that you understand her completely. Her motivations. Her fears, that she tries to hide from even herself.

I’m sorry so many of you are going to have to wait so long to read this book, because I want to discuss it with all of you right now. It’s unique. It’s amazing to see this badass girl pulling all the strings. And it’s very satisfying. Foul is Fair is fairly brilliant.

5/5 stars

 

 

 

4 stars · Fantasy · young adult

ACE OF SHADES: give me the sequel now

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Ace of Shades

The Shadow Game #1

author : amanda foody

pages : [hardcover] 411

memorable quote :

She was a pistol wrapped up in silk. She was a blade disguised as a girl.

favorite character : levi

summary :

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, Enne has only one lead: the name Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless Mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

review :

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO boy I wish I’d read this book ages ago when it first came on my radar (and especially when my gorgeous beautiful wonderful friend gifted it to me). ACE OF SHADES is so completely unique, and fun, and also terrifying, so basically you’ll love it.

The book is told in dual POV between Enne and Levi, who are both absolute messes and stress me out a lot even though I love them. Enne is new to the city, trying to find her mother and manage not to die in a place that tends to chew up any outsiders who wander in. Levi is a street lord struggling to support his gang and also trying not to die. They team up: Levi will help Enne find her mother, and Enne will pay him for the trouble. They just don’t expect the search to take so long, or for things between them to get so complicated.

I think what I loved most about ACE OF SHADES is that the characters feel so real. They’re imperfect, constantly making mistakes, pissing each other off, and doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons. I never had any doubt about their motivations, and for me, I’m weak for character-driven novels. I like being able to get inside their heads and see their world from their perspective. ACE OF SHADES is interesting because at times when Enne and Levi have the same goal, they’ve grown up with such differing experiences that getting to see each POV was interesting. I liked comparing their thoughts, to their actions, to the dangerous consequences.

I also love a good setting. New Reynes is a city I kept picturing as Las Vegas except, I guess, a little dirtier and magical (?). Everyone in ACE OF SHADES has abilities/affinities that they’re very good at because of their bloodline, which I guess isn’t really magic but if you’re THAT good at something . . . It’s magic. And it just added another interesting layer to the puzzle that makes up this book.

It wasn’t complicated to follow the rules of this world, because the worldbuilding was done *chef’s kiss* beautifully. There was no info-dumping!!! I hate it so much when authors pause the action to overexplain every little piece about the world; I loved how we get to explore the intricacies of the city and their society through Enne and Levi. We see things as they show them to us. It’s perfect.

Honestly, if you’re looking for a unique book filled with interesting characters and an ending that will make you immediately want the sequel . . . here it is. Don’t make the same mistake I did and take so long to pick up ACE OF SHADES. No need to gamble with your own happiness . . . hehe. 🙂

4/5 stars

 

4 stars · Fantasy · series · young adult

We Hunt the Flame = hot hot hot

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We Hunt the Flame

Sands of Arawiya #1

author : hafsah faizal

pages : [hardcover] 472

memorable quote :

We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.

favorite character : altair

summary :

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

review :

We Hunt the Flame is one of those books where I’m torn between why didn’t I read this sooner and why did I read this now when I need to wait so long for a sequel. The world-building is spectacular. The characters are wonderful, flawed, and cunning. I love a good plot that revolves around a deadly quest. All of these elements come together to form a book that’s exceptionally unique.

Or maybe it just tricked me into falling in love with two of the main characters so I just had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next.

We Hunt the Flame is told in dual POV. Zafira lives in a place where people are dying because there’s no magic, except for the magical winter spread by the impassable forest encroaching on her village. Nasir lives in wealth, but suffers because of his line of work: assassination. The two have very different goals when they meet on their quests: Zafira wants to return magic and save everyone. Nasir knows he needs to kill her.

I’m not sure there’s any book out there featuring enemies to lovers that I’m not destined to fall for.

The supporting cast is great too (including my husband, Altair) although it seems like almost every character speaks fluent sarcasm. I enjoyed this for the most part, but sometimes it becomes hard to determine who’s talking when all of their dialogue ends up being very similar. I liked that everyone had very different (sometimes hidden and mysterious) motivations, making the plot even more complicated. I love it when YA has layers, intrigue inserted over all of the action and romance.

The one negative I have to say about this book is that sometimes the transitions in the plot are a little too jarring. If anything, I think We Hunt the Flame could have benefited from being slightly longer. There were some scene transitions (and even some points within the same scene) where something would happen and I would be left wondering how the heck we as the reader had gotten there. It’s fine to provide less information during chaotic/action-filled scenes, but there was never any backtracking that explained what we’d missed, when everything had a chance to calm down. I know I always talk about how I detest info-dumping but at some points it felt like this book did the opposite and withheld some information. Unfortunately I can’t give any specific examples without spoilers, and I did enjoy this book so . . . you’ll just need to read it for yourself and then we can discuss.

I liked where this book ended and how the setup is coming together for book two. I think it’ll be interesting–I think especially with all of the groundwork this book has done, there won’t really be as many moments of confusion for me as this story continues. It seems like we might get other points of view in the rest of the series too, which I wholeheartedly welcome. Let me into their heads! Give me all of their secrets! Well, not all of them. We’ve come so far and yet there’s still so much mystery wrapped around some of these characters.

If you’re a YA fantasy fan, definitely check out We Hunt the Flame. It’s exactly the right combo of familiar, beloved YA tropes with a unique storyline. It sort of subverts the whole chosen one narrative by having more reluctant (and angry, stabby) main characters. And truthfully, it’s a lot of fun!

4/5 stars

 

 

1 star · science fiction · young adult

The XY: well . . . I read it

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The XY

author : virginia bergin

summary :

She’s been taught to fear him.
He’s been taught to fear her.
What if they’re both wrong?

In River’s world, XYs are a relic of the past, along with things like war and violence. Thanks to the Global Agreements, River’s life is simple, safe, and peaceful…until she comes across a body in the road one day. A body that is definitely male, definitely still alive.

River isn’t prepared for this. There’s nothing in the Agreements about how to deal with an XY. Yet one lies before her, sick, suffering, and at her mercy.

River can kill him, or she can save him. Either way, nothing will ever be the same.

review :

I have too many thoughts on this book and most of them are not great, so I’ll start with the positives.

The concept was interesting. It hooked me, made me want to read to see where the author would go with it. In The XY, a plague wiped out most of the people on Earth with an XY chromosome, which changes everything. A few generations later, a teen girl finds an XY, a boy, and doesn’t understand what he is or how he’s alive in the outside world. And nothing afterward happens the way you’d think it would.

The problem, or one of them, with the XY is that it has a rather optimist view of women. I’m a feminist, which means believing in equality, and this book is surprisingly hard-hitting when it comes to the gender binary, considering all people born with XY chromosomes after the plague are kept apart from all of society so they won’t die. The book assumes that without these XYs, everything would be . . . Not perfect, but definitely an idealized world. It seems to take the idea that most terrible things in the world happened because of men (which is valid, as historically men have been the ones in positions of power to make these decisions) but then takes it farther. Aggression, suspicion, jealousy, violence–those are all XY traits, in this book. It’s like no woman would ever be selfish or radical or explosive.

The main character knows what dolls are, but she doesn’t know what video games are because those are an XY thing (and only for the very old women, the last generation to live before the plague, and I guess they only like those things because of . . . XY influence?? I don’t know). There’s a whole parody on International Women’s Day because the world in this book has the same but for men, and the main character repeatedly says that spending even one day on the topic is a waste of time. It’s a little too on the nose and enraging.

A lot of the premise of the book focuses on how women in the new world wouldn’t recognize an XY because they can’t comprehend what a man looks like. I’ve never seen a unicorn but I can sure comprehend what it looks like. Even older women who lived before the plague don’t know what an XY looks like?? The world still has access to the internet, to all sorts of communication. They can watch old videos and movies and access pictures. The MC doesn’t watch these because she can’t relate to them. They aren’t realistic. It’s like . . . Suddenly everyone in society has no interest in any entertainment. The MC looks down on her friend, the only person around who appreciates literature. It’s understandable for them not to look for entertainment in a survival situation, but this isn’t one. They’re society is fully functioning. The MC has plenty of time to sit around and feel sorry for herself.

The book tried to be trans-inclusive in its language which was refreshing. It consistently mentioned that this was a genetic plague, so it would refer to killing all the XYs instead of referring to killing all men. There was a vague mention once that people could continue dressing/identifying the way they’d like after the plague, which was never mentioned again and was sort of thrown out the window once it was apparent that no XXs the MC, River, knew identified themselves as trans. It seems like no one in their world understands it as anything but distinctly male and female.

Which . . . For a world where women are the only ones left, you would think we could get some F/F rep. Instead there are like the blandest female relationships here so nothing could be misconstrued and if it is interpreted as a relationship, someone else could claim you misinterpreted it. This is when I start hitting my head against my desk.

This review has gone on too long already and I haven’t even gotten to the plot. There were plot points that were picked up for no reason and dropped out of nowhere. No consequences for anything, no cohesive storyline. The best thing is that the book should have about fifty more pages and it doesn’t. It just ends. There’s no satisfying conclusion. Please don’t keep reading, like I did, and expect actual answers. You’ll get none.

I can’t recommend this book. It’s just not very well done, and it’ll leave you more frustrated than anything else.

1/5 stars

 

 

 

Fantasy · fiction · young adult

Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly: yeah I couldn’t fly away from this one

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Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly

authors : stephen graham jones & paul tremblay

pages : [paperback] 280

summary :

This is the story of a girl who sees a boy float away one fine day. This is the story of the girl who reaches up for that boy with her hand and with her heart. This is the story of a girl who takes on the army to save a town, who goes toe-to-toe with a mad scientist.

review :

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while now because I downloaded it on Netgalley and never fit in the time to read it. Instead I found it on Hoopla recently (my love for that app never ends) and dove it.

This was a quick read. Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly is a simplistic contemporary fantasy. It opens on Mary (our narrator, and I just had to look up her name because it’s used so rarely in the book) who is at a family reunion when she spots someone she’s never seen before. A boy, who climbs a tree and starts floating up into the sky.

It’s a hoax.

Or . . . is that only what they want her to think? Strange things start happening, spreading through and taking over her town, and Mary starts investigating it because . . . I don’t know, because Floating Boy is hot?

I had a lot of problems with this book, mostly the content because it was pretty well-written. Sometimes Mary’s POV was a little confusing, because her actions don’t really match the tone and content of her thoughts. She’s fourteen, and she’s running all around independent and making mature, rational decisions while her thought process is like that of someone half her age.

Part of the subplot is that Mary has had problems with anxiety and depression, probably stemming from pressure at school, and she’s still struggling with that. I love books where mental illness is not the only plot, just part of who a character is. However, Mary vehemently resists medical help with her anxiety/depression (which are apparently so bad that she mentions several times that her friends and family are on “suicide watch” and seems to look down on them for being worried about her?). She refers to all medication as “zombie pills” and there’s never any point where she realizes that medication actually is the answer for a lot of people and that it can be a good option. I can’t stand YA books that look down on medication like that, when someone young and needing help could read it and assume they shouldn’t consider that option, or think that everyone will judge them for it.

Mary loves to judge people. She looks down on her family. She looks down on her friends. Mary is one of those girls who isn’t like other girls. She needs to explain to other people who Godzilla is, because she’s the only one she knows who has ever seen or heard of Godzilla.

Excuse me what.

I wish we’d gotten to know more about Floating Boy and his past and all, because obviously he was the most interesting part of the book. Unfortunately the explanation for everything was so convoluted that I’m still not quite sure what the answer to all of the mysteries was? It didn’t make very much sense to me, and I didn’t care to try to go back and understand.

I can’t say that I recommend this book. There are so many better options out there to read, that are full of amazing characters, and are more satisfying. This one just really missed the mark.

2/5 stars

 

 

3 stars · Fantasy · young adult

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake: slow start for the first in a series

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Three Dark Crowns

Three Dark Crowns #1

author : kendare blake

pages : [hardcover] 398

summary :

When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

review :

Three Dark Crowns is a book that’s been on my radar for a while. I’ve loved Kendare Blake’s books in the past, so I knew the writing would be solid and the plot summary intrigued me. Somehow it all sort of fell apart in the execution.

While this is the first book of a series, it sort of read like a very long, overextended prologue. Basically setting up the characters for the real action and political intrigue, Three Dark Crowns offers us . . . not much of real substance. We are already aware of the driving force of the novel: there are triplets who must kill each other and the surviving girl will become the next queen. We know that intensity will begin at this ceremony after their birthday. Except that ceremony doesn’t take place until the very, very end of this book.

Why do we linger so much on the characters beforehand? I’m not sure, because there isn’t much that couldn’t have been explained in a few clever flashbacks. The relationships between the characters as well as their adoptive families are in no way unexpected or overly complex. Mostly it’s them meandering around thinking about the future and complaining about things that they can’t currently do, while I was left wondering why I couldn’t be taken to a point in the plot closer to when they could do them.

Maybe this slow pacing is what made it impossible for the plot twists to work: there was nothing surprising about this book. The grand reveal was something that felt obvious after the opening chapters, and left me disappointed that I was right when I had been hoping I was being misled.

Still, the writing is excellent. It makes me think that maybe book two will be great, now that everything is finally set into its place. I’ll probably read the sequel eventually, and hope that the series keeps improving upon itself.

3/5 stars

2 stars · Fantasy · young adult

Black Wings Beating by Alex London: so many birds

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Black Wings Beating

Skybound #1

author : alex london

pages : [hardcover] 432

summary :

The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists.

Brysen strives to be a great falconer–while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She’s nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe.

Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he’s long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother’s future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.

review :

I really really really REALLY wanted to like this book but in the end, it simply wasn’t for me.

Black Wings Beating is about . . . birds. Okay. I should have realized that. I went in knowing very little because that’s my favorite thing to do. I knew I’d read one of the author’s books before and absolutely loved it, and I knew there was LGBTQ+ rep which there needs to be more of in fantasy, so I was ALL IN. But . . . Birds.

At first I couldn’t quite comprehend how a society that seems to be literally always on the brink of annihilation/starvation would be obsessed with capturing and selling different birds. Hawks, falcons, eagles. Even those who are seen as wealthy in this world . . . I mean, how many birds do you need to buy?? It seems like everyone is only ever walking around with one. Where are all these other birds going??!! And if EVERYONE in the village is capturing birds as often as possible, how is the population not nearly entirely dwindled in the wild? Why do none of these people try to breed them in captivity if they wanted more birds?

So many questions that aren’t really important.

I was also a little thrown by the setting. Most of the book takes place in this village nestled in the mountains. The people go into the mountains to hunt their birds or use their birds to hunt for bigger birds. BIRDS. Anyway. Whenever someone is on a mountain they seem to be able to see . . . All of the people climbing the mountain below them. I’m not sure if you’ve been on a mountain before, but if you aren’t in an area where there are few trees and it’s mostly sheer ground, you’re not going to . . . easily spot who’s climbing up below you, and also see who they are and how fast they’re going. WHAT IS HAPPENING.

BUT, most of my problems stemmed from one of the two narrators of the book. Brysen is an idiot. I don’t know if we’re supposed to feel badly for him because he’s always trying hard and stuff. But the plot LITERALLY ONLY MOVES FORWARD after he does something dumb. He never learns from his decisions. He never stops making mistakes. Even in his POV he’s surprised himself by how selfish he’s being, and how that affects the people around them. But THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES. I know that this is only the first book, but I’ll be darned if a character arc can’t start in book one.

What did I like about this book? The LGBTQ+ rep was refreshing, because it wasn’t a plot point. It’s integrated well into the story and the setting. There was a good portion of the book, maybe 3/4 of the way through, when I was very intrigued and wanted to keep reading. Except a lot of the interesting bits of this book gave way to VERY violent things which . . . I’m not really against on the whole but didn’t feel necessary, here.

I don’t think I’ll end up reading the sequel. I don’t think I’ll be recommending this book. It was definitely unique, but the setting, story, and characters weren’t for me.

2/5 stars

 

 

 

5 stars · fiction · young adult

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue: the bi rep we deserve

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Montague Siblings #1

author : mackenzi lee

pages : [hardcover] 513

favorite character : monty

memorable quote :

God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed from having words instead of friends.

summary :

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

review :

Maybe I should have saved this read for 20-bi-teen, because next year I’m determined to fill my reading goals with excellent bisexual representation, but I finally bought this one and I couldn’t resist. I think I held out for a week because I decided to just read the first chapter and instead read the entire book in 3 days. And what a glorious weekend it was.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is amazing. I want to whisper sweet nothings to it but Monty, the main character, would probably be better at that. He’s the kind of bi mess I’ve literally been waiting for. I’ve done my waiting, in Azkaban, and this beautiful book is my reward.

As with so many books lately I went into this knowing next to nothing, just the way I like it. I knew it was historical fiction. I lived on the promise of good rep. My friend told me that she loved this book and I decided to trust her. The moral of both my story and Monty’s is to trust your friends, sometimes.

I mean, sure. Did Monty give me secondhand anxiety? Yes. Were there times I just wanted to grab his shoulders and shake some sense into him? Absolutely. Did I shriek at some parts of the story and probably make my family ever regret knowing me? Of course! See, on top of the disasters that extend from Monty, there’s an adventure and a half going on that puts everyone’s lives and reputations on the line.

Most of the time I had the feeling that these people would rather die than lose their reputations. (Cue the Hermione voice: “Or worse . . . Expelled.)

But I couldn’t get enough of it. These are characters that make you love them while you also want to shove them together and force them to behave. It’s funny but also sort of makes you want to cry. Monty is easily one of my favorite characters now–and if you give him a chance I’m still he’ll be one of yours.

5/5 stars

Me when I started this book:

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aka: I worry that the rep will be disappointing, quickly see that I had nothing to worry about, and then Monty does so many things that make me feel secondhand anxiety

Me when the book ended:

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aka: we all need to learn a little from Monty’s story and also I loved him so much I wasn’t ready for it to be over

My feelings about Monty:

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aka: if anything happens to him they’ll have to get through me first

Fantasy · series · young adult

This Savage Song: so you say you want to read about an attractive violinist


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This Savage Song

Monsters of Verity #1

author : victoria schwab

pages : [paperback] 468

favorite character : august

memorable quote :

I mean, most people want to escape. Get out of their heads. Out of their lives. Stories are the easiest way to do that.

summary :

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwaba young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

review :

Part of me loves to read books years after their release. On my own time, with no rush, so I can fall right into the story.

The other half of me wonders why I didn’t read this years ago.

Okay. It was partly because I thought this was a contemporary book, and I don’t normally read contemporary. I KNOW. You’re thinking, Kayla, read a summary some day why don’t you. I don’t know how it got in my brain that this was, like, a light romance between some girl and a musician. Maybe because the cover looks like a contemporary?

I’M HERE TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. This is definitely a fantasy, sort of dystopian fantasy (but not in the overdone, mid-2000s sort of way). This Savage Song is beautiful. The story is told in two points of view and at first there was that thing happening where I preferred reading one over the other. Then we got to know the characters, their pasts and motivations, and I fell for both of them. Hard.

This Savage Song is one of those fantasies where the less you knowing going into it, the better, because the world-building here is so great that you don’t need to know anything in advance. Sure, I would die within a day if I lived in this place, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to imagine it.

Also, this book is a little . . terrifying. And I loved it. And I realized that I need more slightly horrifying protagonists in my life, who are really pure cinnamon roll characters underneath. That dynamic will never get old.

All said, I can’t recommend this book enough. I finally got around to it because of a friend’s recommendation, so let me be that friend to you: Read. It. Now.

5/5 stars