ARC Review: The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

Hey there, bookworms and dragons! I loved The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi SO MUCH that when I heard the sequel, The Silvered Serpents, was available on NetGalley I knew I had to request it. When I was approved, I involuntarily screamed and flailed a bit. It was great. It did take me a bit of time to read the book though, simply because I had already started my semester so I read as much as possible during what I’ve started referring to as “stolen time.”

I didn’t note down any trigger or content warnings while reading this one, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there. If you’ve read The Silvered Serpents and noticed something that might need a trigger or content warning, please let me know in the comments or anonymously via this form. Without further ado, let’s jump right into this review!

The characters I got to know and love while reading The Gilded Wolves are all back, but they’ve grown and changed so much that for some of them reading The Silvered Serpents was like getting to know them for the first time all over again. Each of the returning characters still receive beautiful development throughout this story. I especially enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Delphine’s character and past. There are also a few new characters that joined the cast in The Silvered Serpents who are each developed beautifully. Each of the characters’ story arcs wind seamlessly and beautifully into each other and the development of each of them is masterfully done.

The rules of the world in which this series takes place was built up beautifully in The Gilded Wolves, so it wasn’t surprising not to see any building up of the world itself in The Silvered Serpents. Instead, the world building is put into the new possibilities and locations explored through the story. Roshani Chokshi is masterful in her world building and this book was no exception. She manages to build up the world in the reader’s mind piece by piece without being info-dumpy at all, allowing for a smooth and fully immersive experience.

The Silvered Serpents picks up shortly after The Gilded Wolves left off. There is no explanation at the beginning of the book before the story begins its first arc as I have seen the second book in some other series do and I really enjoyed that about it. No space in the story is left for explaining the previous events of the series beyond the major events that are still weighing on some of the characters. While some of the story flows smoothly, following my expectations while I was reading, there were some parts of the story that left me surprised–both pleasantly and unpleasantly. There are plenty of twists and turns throughout the story, some meant for the reader and some meant for the characters, and each of them build on each other beautifully. The only complaint I could possibly have is HOLY CLIFFHANGER, BATMAN!

Roshani Chokshi has definitely maintained her status as an auto-purchase author with The Silvered Serpents. Even so, I had a lot of trouble deciding what rating to give this book. In the end, I decided to wait until after I finished writing and editing this review to help me process my thoughts and feelings about this book. I’d like the next book now, please and thank you. 🙂

Overall, I rate The Gilded Wolves 4 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it! Add it on Goodreads and preorder your copy so you can enjoy it when it’s released on 22 September 2020.

Roshani Chokshi has been an auto-purchase author for me ever since I read The Star-Touched Queen. Her writing style is incredibly immersive. It reminds me of music in that it flows beautifully off the page, creating incredibly vivid mental images. Who are some of your auto-purchase authors and why do you love them?

Blog Tour: The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth

Hi there, bookworms and dragons! It’s been quite a while since I was able to participate in a blog tour, but when this one was sent out as an option I knew I had to make the time for it. Keep on reading for my full review, a bookish soundtrack, information on where you can go to get your hands on a copy of The Falling in Love Montage, and a tour-wide giveaway! But first, let’s have a look at the Goodreads synopsis…

Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight or happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name and not in a case home with early onset dementia. A condition that Saoirse may one day turn out to have inherited. So she’s not looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point in igniting any romantic sparks if she’s bound to burn out.

But after a chance encounter at an end-of-term house party, Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.

Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole: They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters actually fall in love… for real.

How could I possibly pass up the opportunity to read what is so obviously the book I need to read while in quarantine? Exactly. I could not.

My Review

I went into The Falling in Love Montage without really having any expectations. I thought it might be a light and fluffy flf story and… I was wrong. It’s not light and fluffy at all, but it manages to remain hopeful through all its anxiety and teen angst. While I’m sure I noted a content warning while reading, I can’t seem to find my notes so if you’ve read it and noticed one, please let me know in the comments or anonymously via this page.

It’s obvious from the cover and description that this book is a flf contemporary story and I was so excited for that. The characters are all very complex and well developed. I could easily have had a full conversation with each of them or all of them together as a group. I really like how every person was developed through the lens of how Saoirse experiences them so, while I was able to form my own opinion of them based on their actions, I also got to see very vividly how Saoirse thinks and feels about them.

Also, Saoirse’s level of sass and wit? Admirable. But don’t go into this expecting to see some perfect high school girl character. She is extremely flawed, just like any real teenager (or adult for that matter) is. The book being written in first person definitely allows you to see her flaws and process them as someone on the outside while also acknowledging that she might not see them as flaws or even see them at all. She is definitely a realistic character.

Before we move on to talk about the rest of the aspects of the book, I also have to mention how awesome it was to see a plus size girl be both unapologetic and described as gorgeous? There are books out there about fat girls or with characters who are fat, but they rarely portray them as beautiful or attractive. This book does that and it was so wonderful to read.

The book is set entirely in a modern day seaside town in Ireland. The world is maybe a little less immersive than I usually like for it to be, but it was easy to visualize the places where the story takes us. The space inhabited by the characters is almost secondary, but the characters inhabiting them always seem to fill the space with their personalities and interact with the world as the story carries on. There are some aspects that someone who has never been to Ireland might have trouble understanding (I could imagine some Americans not understanding why people would insist on hanging out outside instead of inside when it’s hot) but overall, the world is developed just enough to be functional.

The story itself is lovely. It reads a lot like a romantic comedy movie, which I think is probably exactly what Ciara Smyth was going for given the theme of the book. It flows just as well from beginning to end with a plethora of drama, romance, and humor. Both Saoirse and Ruby have family members who are dealing with serious problems and the stress of this weighs on them throughout the story, moving it in perhaps different directions than it otherwise might have. It is definitely character driven and it works very well.

I really enjoyed reading The Falling in Love Montage from beginning to end. It dealt with some heavy issues while also being funny and romantic. The story wraps up very nicely at the end, leaving no loose threads hanging but making it obvious that their lives do not end at the end of the book. I’d love to see a sequel at some point but as a novel this stands well on its own.

Overall, I rate The Falling in Love Montage 4½ out of 5 bookworms. But don’t take my word for it! You can add it on Goodreads and order a copy to enjoy it for yourself from:

Bookish Soundtrack

Given that The Falling in Love Montage is thoroughly packed with movie references, it was really impossible to narrow down the number of great songs that should go into the bookish sound track. I somehow managed to do it and the following is the result. Enjoy! 🙂

About the Author

Ciara Smyth is a social work student by day, writer by night and cat enthusiast 24/7.

Her first YA novel – about memory, rom-coms and girls who like girls – will be published in Summer 2020 by Andersen Press in the UK and HarperCollins in the US.

She previously worked as a teacher and mental health trainer. She enjoys jigging (verb: to complete a jigsaw) and claims to enjoy yoga in order to cultivate a zen persona that is shattered approximately ten minutes after you meet her.

She is from the south of Ireland but has lived in Belfast for so long that her parents make fun of her Northern accent.

Giveaway

You made it to the giveaway! Woo hoo!! Not one but TWO lucky readers (US only, sorry International bookworms and dragons!) will win a finished copy of The Falling in Love Montage! *Please be aware that delays due to COVID-19 may occur in the shipping of prizes.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

Do you want to see more awesome content and have more chances to win? Of course you do and why wouldn’t you?! All you have to do is follow the tour by following this link! 💖


Thank you so much to Ciara Smyth for writing The Falling in Love Montage! Without you, this book would not exist and I would be a very sad panda. You are a rockstar!

Thank you to HarperTeen for allowing me the privilege of reading a digital galley of The Falling in Love Montage before its 9 June release (which has not affected my review in the slightest)!

Finally, thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the blog tour for The Falling in Love Montage! You always make hosting tours such a blast! (If you’re interested in being an FFBC hostwhich you totally should!just click on their logo below! 😀

ARC Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Hey there, bookworms and dragons! This one has taken some time for me to be able to write, both because I just haven’t had much time and because this book was an emotional roller coaster. I was extremely lucky to have been able to read an advance digital galley of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab from NetGalley. As always, this does not affect my review one way or another. I am including this in my Diverse Reads section as well as it contains representation for bisexuality, homosexuality, depression, and anxiety.

I’ve been sitting on this review for about a month now because I’ve been having so much trouble processing my thoughts and emotions about the book. It’s such a complicated story so it comes as no surprise that my thoughts and feelings about it are a complicated, tangled mess. As I write this, I’m still unsure of the rating I’m going to give it so I’m hoping writing out the review itself will help me figure it out. I did enjoy the book overall though so we’ll see. Content warnings that I noticed will be at the end of the review. Let’s dive in!

The characters were incredibly well developed, though there were a couple times in the story when I thought, at the time, that something went against a character’s “regular” behavior. However, later in the story I learned things about those characters that would have put those actions solidly within the realm of their “regular” behavior. The character development is artfully done, which pairs perfectly with the story itself. We’re able to get to know each of the characters individually, but also by how they are perceived by others. It’s truly a thing of beauty.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is set in a variety of locations and time periods, all of which seem to have been thoroughly researched and built up meticulously. Whether the story takes place in 1700s Paris or 2010s New York City or anywhere in between, there is almost always the feeling of being fully immersed in the world. Each different location is built up individually as if by magic–without being info dumpy at all–and the rules of the world and how the characters interact with it are laid out beautifully throughout the story parallel to the characters being developed so there is little room for confusion.

The beginning of the story seemed quite chaotic to me, going back and forth between the past and the present while still always moving forward in each of the timelines. It isn’t until around halfway through the book that it begins to become obvious that the chaos was intentional, though at that point of the story the intention itself was entirely unclear to me. However, the chaos is filled in with details that spiked my curiosity. I had a lot of trouble putting the book down so I don’t think even my “if I’m not hooked by chapter 2 I throw the whole book away” friends will have trouble enjoying this one. The story flows in such a way that puts me in mind of a rose–slowly blossoming before it explodes into bloom and leaves you in awe of its magnificence. It is complex and beautifully written.

While The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue works very well as a standalone, I would not be upset if there ends up being a book #2. The ending wrapped up all of the loose ends left from the story while also leaving me wanting to know what happens next. It’s such an amazing story. I went in with quite high expectations and came out having each of them fulfilled and surpassed. This is exactly the high level of quality I’ve come to expect from Victoria Schwab’s writing.

Overall, I rate The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue 4.5 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it! Add it on Goodreads and preorder your copy so you can enjoy it when it’s released on 6 October 2020.

I first heard about The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue because I follow Victoria Schwab on Twitter and had seen her talking about it. Are there any books you discovered because of someone you follow on social media?


Trigger/Content Warnings (TW/CW):

These are the trigger and/or content warnings that I notice while reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. As always, if you’ve read the book and noticed any TW/CWs that are not listed here, please let me know in the comments or anonymously via this form.

  • Slut shaming
  • Suicide ideation
  • Suicide attempt

Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

I got to read this book for a class I’m taking. I was really excited when I saw it on the list of choices for this module because it’s been on my TBR since before it was published. I need to write a more analytical review for the class, but I figured I could process some of that by writing a blog review so here we are. Let’s dive in. As usual, TW/CW list will be at the bottom of the post. If you noticed any reading it that I’ve left out, please let me know in the comments or via this form.

The fact that this book is a novel written in verse makes it all the more impressive to me how well the characters are each developed. Each individual character has their own personality that is fully fleshed out through the book. I really enjoyed seeing the characters come to life through Xiomara’s understanding of them. I also really enjoyed seeing Xiomara’s character being built up through her impressions of and reactions to her world. We get to see a lot of her fluctuating emotions, which I haven’t gotten to see so realistically depicted in quite a while.

The story is set in Harlem, New York and doesn’t really travel outside of Xiomara’s neighborhood. Because of this, there is a lot of opportunity for the world to be built up. I was surprised to find myself being fully immersed in it. This is the first novel in verse that has been able to do that for me and I really loved that about it. We get to process Xiomara’s world as she does–as a place that wears a reputation it has long since outgrown and a place that is comforting in its familiarity. It is obvious that she feels at home in her world and allows the reader to process it through that lens.

The story itself is beautiful. It’s a contemporary coming-of-age story, but to simplify it into those few words seems unjust. Xiomara grows so much as a person from the beginning to the end. She develops her love of poetry and her ability to write and perform it. She grows to understand her relationship with Christianity and her mother and others around her. She feels pain and anger and happiness. Elizabeth Acevedo unabashedly portrays real life as many teens experience it and shows that it is possible to achieve a happy middle–I can’t say happy ending because Xiomara’s story obviously continues after the ending of the book.

I listened to the audiobook version of The Poet X while reading it for two reasons. First, because it was narrated by the author, Elizabeth Acevedo, herself and I can never pass up listening to an audiobook the author has narrated. Second, because I’m not used to reading novels in verse. I wanted to be able to read it as it was intended to be read. Elizabeth Acevedo did an amazing job bringing her book to life. I was excited to find out that she also did the narration for her latest book, With The Fire On High, and I’m looking forward to listening to that one as well.

I really enjoyed reading and listening to The Poet X and I’m very glad I picked it from the list of possible books for my class. I ended up listening to it a second time on my commute to work because I really enjoyed it and it’s only a few hours long. I definitely will pick up anything Elizabeth Acevedo puts out from now on!

Overall, I rate The Poet X 5 out of 5 bookworms. But don’t just take my word for it! Add it on Goodreads and enjoy it for yourself!


Trigger / Content Warnings:

  • Burning of books (for censorship purposes)
  • Slut shaming
  • Sexism
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Sexual Assault
  • Physical and emotional abuse (parent to child)
  • Homophobia
  • Panic attacks

ARC Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

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Hey there, bookworms and dragons! As soon as I heard Erin Morgenstern had written another novel, I knew I needed to find out if it might be possible for me to read it ASAP. I somehow managed to get approved for this one on NetGalley. I do not know how. I was honestly expecting them to say no but HERE WE ARE. *ahem* I only noted a couple trigger/content warnings (TW/CWs for short) while reading, but I’ll add those at the very end. 🙂 Let’s dive right on into this review thingy!

I’m not sure how to talk about the characters from this one, really. I feel like I got to know the characters just enough to care about them but not enough to actually know them. We didn’t really get much backstory at all for most of the characters. My favourite character of the novel is probably Kat, which even now I find odd because I know so very little about her. I think this is part of the book’s charm, but I do wish I could be able to actually tell you more things about the characters themselves.

The Starless Sea is set partially in various times of the real world and partially in a place that exists beneath the real world and is powered by the magic of stories. I was expecting the world building to be the star of the show and I was not disappointed. It’s lush and immersive and left nothing to be desired. I fell in love with it right away.

The story itself is complicated and loops all over the place, seemingly without direction. However, about half into the book, the puzzle pieces start fitting together to form a larger picture that my thoughts still return to days after finishing it. The end did leave a loose end or two though and not in a way that speaks of a sequel, though they are obviously intentional. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

In the end I really enjoyed reading The Starless Sea, though I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I did Erin Morgenstern’s first book. I will still definitely jump at the chance to read anything new from her though so there is that.

Overall, I rate The Starless Sea 4 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it. Add it on Goodreads and enjoy it for yourself!

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As soon as I heard about The Starless Sea, I knew I wanted to read it because of how much I loved Erin Morgenstern’s first novel, The Night Circus. Are there any authors whose work you’ve read because you enjoyed a previous work of theirs?


TW/CW:

  • Hanging
  • Multiple mentions of suicide

ARC Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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Hey there, bookworms and dragons! I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to receive an ARC of Ninth House back in June. I was SUPER excited for it but also didn’t have time to read it just then with grad school and the library’s summer learning program that I had bitten off WAY too much of. I didn’t end up picking it up until last week, and then I took my time reading it instead of letting myself read it in a sitting or two.

This is mainly because I read online that it’s an ADULT novel that deals with very difficult subject matter and I’ve seen the trigger warning list being passed around so I felt like I was ready, so long as I let myself go at my own pace. I’ll say this again because it seems like people are having a really hard time understanding… Ninth House is an ADULT novel. It’s been pitched as an adult novel. It’s being marketed as an adult novel. Leigh herself has been screaming into the void that is social media that it’s an adult novel. Please stop saying it’s YA.

I’ll post the TW/CWs at the end of the review. The list was already substantial and I added to it a little. Please also keep in mind that most of the content warranting these warnings is graphically portrayed. Self care is important, y’all! That being said, let’s dive right into my review!

The characters were, for the most part, pretty well developed. This is something I’ve come to know Leigh for though so I wasn’t surprised. There were a few characters who could have easily been the same dudebro, but for the most part everyone had their own particular essence to them that made them easy to care what happened to them. Even the few instances when all I cared about was that the characters suffer, at least I cared. It’s a book full of character caring.

The majority of Ninth House takes place in New Haven, Connecticut, both on and off the Yale University campus, and takes place in the present day. The world building was particularly interesting, I thought, because the rules for the world were built up before being torn down and rebuild slightly differently over and over again. The base rules of the world remained in place though, so this worked really well for me and kept the world feeling fresh and new and a bit overwhelming, which I’m now sure was intentional.

The story did flow relatively well, though the change in perspective and timeline did throw me a little. There are headings at the beginning of each chapter that kind of help with it, but I still had a little trouble keeping track. This is also probably at least in part because it’s the end of summer and my brain is just fried toasty. Once I got a few chapters in though it was much easier so maybe I just had a slow start. Either way, the pacing is nearly perfect, though a little slow in some places. Ninth House was honestly hard to put down at times and I made myself do it anyway because I needed to pace myself while reading this one if I wanted to make it through and still be ok.

I really loved the character of Alex. She is incredibly flawed and she’s honest with herself about it. I related to her. I related to a lot of the trauma in the book. While I was a little worried going into it that some of the many things on the TW/CW list would trigger me, Ninth House ended up being a very cathartic read for me. For the longest time, I felt like it was just me who experienced things like I have. It’s a lonely thing, trauma. We learn to blame and shame ourselves into guilty, solitary silence. There are things in Ninth House that I’ve never heard people speak openly about that I have experienced. I know it’ll sound a bit ridiculous, but it was almost like Leigh was speaking directly to me through this book, telling me she sees me and I’m not alone. I can not wait to read what comes next.

Overall, I rate Ninth House 4.5 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it. Add it on Goodreads and enjoy it for yourself!

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Ninth House is Leigh Bardugo’s adult debut, though she’s already gained some notoriety with her Grishaverse series’.

Who are some of your favorite authors who write for more than one age range?


TW/CW:

  • drug use
  • overdose
  • self harm
  • sexual assault
  • forced drugging
  • drugged rape
  • filming and distribution of rape film
  • rape of a child
  • victim blaming
  • child abandonment
  • psychological abuse of a child
  • death
  • suicide
  • forced consumption of human waste
  • blackmail
  • gore
  • 1st person victim’s account of stabbing, suffocation, drowning
  • torture

Audiobook Review: King of Fools by Amanda Foody

Hey there, bookworms and dragons! I’ve thought for a loooong while about whether or not to even write this review and whether or not I could write it while sticking to my usual ‘no spoilers’ rule for myself. Turns out, I really need to write this review because it’s been nagging at me. However, it also turns out that I really can’t write this review without breaking my ‘no spoilers’ and ‘no swearing’ rules so consider this your first warning that this review contains spoilers because… it does. Like, a lot. Though, they’ll be contained to a single section near the end.

I’ll start off at least attempting to cover the usual bases I try to in all my reviews, but I already know that I’ll devolve into a spoilery semi-rant at the end. Sorry not sorry. 🤷 I’ll add a bold bit before the rant and a bold bit after the rant so you know when the spoilers begin and end.

We get to know a few new characters in this one, though I really only cared about the same ones. Enne is even more badass in this one and it’s really interesting to watch her character arc shift from the beginning to the end. Levi is still the amazing badass that he was in Ace of Shades and I still love him for it. The one character I loved even more in King of Fools than I did in Ace of Shades (if that’s possible) is Jac. I relate to him so much in that he pulled himself from addiction and struggles through his daily battle with it. I liked how Amanda Foody portrayed this on the page because it’s seemingly so very easy for people to not realize that addiction is a daily battle that often does not even come close to ending with the initial detox.

The entirety of this novel takes place in New Reynes, the City of Sin. We got to see a whole new area of the city though with the creation of Enne’s gang, which I loved so much. It is really impressive how Amanda was able to expand on the immersive quality of the city and it’s locations in this book instead of instead of simply adding a location and leaving it at that. The rules of the world are deepened and the intricate web of the gangs and their loyalties comes into greater focus. All this and she does it in a way that’s natural and smooth–truly masterful.

The story arc started out a bit…chaotic. Though, with novels like King of Fools, this is a good thing. I love starting out with things seeming scattered and completely unrelated only to come together in the end for a big picture I always feel like I aught to have seen coming but I never seem to. It’s hard to tell which of the pieces are part of the big picture and which are meant to distract from it. I really enjoyed this about it.

I listened to King of Fools while driving to Washington DC back in June. Saskia Maarleveld did an absolutely wonderful job of bringing this novel to life. She has a voice that is easy to listen to for hours on end, which is good since this was a nearly 18 hour listen. (You might think that having a voice you could listen to for hours would be a prerequisite for narrating an audiobook and to that I say HA! I wish…) Anyway, I really enjoyed the way Saskia Maarleveld brought the characters and their story to life and I look forward to hearing more of her work in the future.

And now… the spoiler and swearing filled rant.

Jac. I was just… so completely just… what the fuck. Levi is supposed to be Jac’s best friend, but he doesn’t even ask before agreeing to send Jac, an actual addict, into a drug den run by the people who sell the drug he’s addicted too. And… didn’t really even think about how that might affect Jac? Like it crossed his mind for a second but then?? How can you claim to be someone’s best friend and put them into that situation because you “think they’re strong enough”??? Fuck you.

Then, because he was put into a situation where he was forced to interact with drugs and SELL THEM TO OTHER ADDICTS, he was put into the situation where someone held power over him and nearly forced him to take a dose of the drug he’s addicted to. As in literally had the needle in his arm and was threatening to give him the dose the syringe held. This scene was incredibly triggering for me and I hated every single moment of it. In the end, I had to skip forward to the next scene.

Finally, after having gone through ALL OF THE SHIT, Jac dies to move someone else’s story forward. Yep. The one character in this entire series I actually related to and the one I cared the most about was relegated to a death to further the arc of other characters. I was so incredibly… angry. I’m still so incredibly angry. Obviously, or this rant would likely not exist.

After Jac died, the remaining chapters were… I mean, they were as well written as the rest of the novel but… I just didn’t fucking care. It was like reading about people I just didn’t care about at all doing things I didn’t care about. Anything that happened after Jac died might as well have been written in another, unrelated novel where I was entirely uninvested in any of the characters or their story. The resounding thought I had during the final chapters of this was “I just don’t care about any of this.” and it got to the point where I was so disintrested that I would have DNFed in the final chapters were it not for the fact that I had another day before my next audiobook became available.

End of spoilers.

So… at this point, whether or not I decide to read the next and final book in the series will depend entirely upon what my friends say about it after having read it. I do enjoy Amanda Foody’s writing style in general and I’ll read her other books, but as far as this series… I just don’t know that I have the energy.

Overall, I’m still unsure how to rate King of Fools so I’ve decided just not to. If you haven’t read it and are still wanting to after this spoilery rant I’ve loosely called a review, you should add it on Goodreads. I truly hope you enjoy it more than I did.


Are there any books that utterly disappointed you based on either previous books by the author/in the series or the hype surrounding them? Let’s talk about them in the comments!

ARC Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Hey there, bookworms and dragons! I was lucky enough to snag a physical arc of The Grace Year as a prize for the summer learning program at my local public library and, since my semester ended last week, I was finally able to dive into it. Trigger/Content warnings will be at the end of the post, especially since one of them is a potential spoiler for a side plotline. Let’s dive right into my review!

Character development… I’m almost sad to start the review here, but I have trouble shaking things up sometimes and characters always come first in my reviews so I’ll just say it: there was little to no character development in all of the 400+ pages of this book. I honestly have very little idea of what any of the characters look like and I had trouble caring about anyone other than the main character. Other than Tierney and maybe three other characters, everyone was horribly flat. It was disappointing, but that’s honestly the worst thing about this book so take it as you will.

The Grace Year is set in an unknown time in and near a place called the colony. It’s a world steeped in religion that has been twisted so that women have become dangerous possessions for men to own and punish as they see fit. It really reads like a cult and it was just as creepy and disturbing as it sounds. The teenage girls are sent off into the woods to live in the encampment for a year to burn through their magic, which felt similar to the concept of concentration camps but where the ones with power over the imprisoned are the other imprisoned. It was an uncomfortable world to slip into, to say the least.

The novel is very plot-driven, which works out since the plot (and most of the side plots) are really interesting. I especially love the way everything pulls together at the end into something I was not expecting. There was a bit of the plot that I think the story could have done without, but overall the plot was extremely interesting and flowed somewhat well.

What I like most about The Grace Year is how it examines human nature. It’s bold and honest and it doesn’t shy away from the darker sides of us. It highlights the power of belief. It shows humanity at it’s most caring and at it’s most violent. While I’m not sure how I feel about the ending, I definitely enjoyed reading The Grace Year enough that I had trouble putting it down. I definitely agree with the comparisons I’ve seen to The Handmaid’s Tale, Lord of the Flies, and The Hunger Games and I honestly think it’s a modern combination of the three. I hope to read more of Kim Liggett’s work in the future.

Overall, I rate The Grace Year 4 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it. Add it on Goodreads and enjoy it for yourself!


TW/CW:

  • Suicide
  • Suicide Attempt
  • Stalking
  • Stockholm syndrome
  • Blood

The Grace Year is a dystopian YA novel. What are some of your favourite stories within this genre?

Blog Tour: The Chosen by Taran Matharu

Hello there, bookworms and dragons! I’m so super excited to be posting today as part of the blog tour for The Chosen by Taran Matharu. I loved what I read of his Summoner series, so when I got the chance to read an early copy of the first book in his all new Contender series, I jumped at the chance. Keep reading for my full review! But first, what’s this book about? Well, I’m so happy you asked! Let’s have a look at the synopsis.

Introducing an epic new trilogy from Taran Matharu, author of the New York Times–bestselling Summoner series.

Throughout history, people have vanished with no explanation. A group of teenagers are about to discover why.

Cade is settling into a new boarding school, contemplating his future, when he finds himself transported to another realm. He soon discovers their new world is populated with lost remnants from the past: prehistoric creatures, ancient relics, and stranger still — people. Overwhelmed by his new surroundings, Cade has little time to adjust, for soon he and his fellow classmates are forced to become contenders in a brutal game, controlled by mysterious overlords.

But who are these beings and why did they choose these teens? Cade must prepare for battle . . . because hiding is not an option.

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My Review

As I said above, I was already really excited for The Chosen based on my enjoyment of Taran Matharu’s previous writing. But then I saw the cover and there are actual dinosaurs on it? Like, how many YA novels have dinosaurs? I can’t think of any. So I was doubly excited to dive into reading it, which I did in two sittings that would have been one if not for my own monsters. TW/CWs will be the the end of the post, so let’s dive right into my review!

The diverse cast characters are all fairly well developed. I especially loved getting to see an ownvoices Indian/mixed race rep that’s a bit different than what I’ve seen in other novels. It focuses less on the culture Cade’s family came from and more on his experience of the culture surrounding him outside of his parents’ influence. I really liked that, regardless of all of the things that happen to him, Cade still believes that people are innately good. We also get Yoshi, a Japanese American boy who does not appreciate your Mario Kart references, and Spex, a Brazilian American who could probably win Jeopardy. Sadly, there is also Finch. I have never so strongly wanted to slap someone in my entire life. To all the Finches out there: stop talking and keep your hands to yourself.

The world building is so incredibly lush and immersive. The story starts off at a “therapeutic” school (AKA military school), where Cade and the others have been sent for various reasons right up to and including murder. I could easily drop myself into the unknown location and walk around there. Though, honestly, I’d have to run because the world is hazardous to say the least. The rules of the world were intentionally held back through the story, little bits being shared as Cade stumbled upon them. I do love that mysteriously missing bits of history from Earth cropped up all over the world of the story, giving us fun little tidbits of information about them as Cade learned about them.

The Chosen is probably a good example of a plot-driven novel, I think. The story moves so fluidly that it’s hard to put down. As I said earlier, I would have finished it in a single sitting if left to my own devices. There’s so much action and that builds up to the epic action scene near the end… and, unfortunately, the huge cliffhanger. The story moves so well that I have to consider the novel unputdownable.

I enjoyed The Chosen so very much from beginning to (cliffhanger) end. The best way I can think of to describe it to those considering reading it is to say The Chosen is Jurassic Park meets The Hunger Games. I’m already hyped up for the next book of the Contender series, but I’ll have to read more of Taran Matharu’s other writing to tide me over for it.

Overall, I rate The Chosen 3.5 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it. Add it on Goodreads and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can order your copy from are:

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About the Author

Taran Matharu is the New York Times bestselling author of the Summoner series, which has been translated into 15 languages and has sold over a million copies. He was born in London in 1990 and found a passion for writing during early adolescence, beginning his first book at 9 years old.

Straight after graduating with a First Class degree in Business Administration, Taran was keen to explore a new avenue and get inside the publishing world, landing an internship in Digital Sales at Penguin Random House, from June to September 2013.

Thereafter, while taking time off to travel, Taran began to write ‘Summoner’ in November 2013 at the age of 22, taking part in ‘Nanowrimo 2013’ and sharing his work on Wattpad.com. The shared sample of the story went viral, reaching over 3 million reads in less than six months. Taran went on to launch his professional writing career, and has never looked back.

His SUMMONER series is published by Hodder Children’s (Hachette) in the UK, Australia and Commonwealth, Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan) in the US and Canada, Hachette Jeunesse in France, Heyne in Germany, Planeta in Spain, Crown in Taiwan, Record in Brazil, EKSMO in Russia, Jaguar in Poland, Ecliptic in Bulgaria, Alpress in the Czech Republic, Ithaki in Turkey, Forlaget Forar in Denmark and Unieboek in the Netherlands.

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Want to see more awesome The Chosen content? Of course you do! How, you ask? Simply follow the tour via the schedule in this link.


Thank you to Taran Matharu for writing this incredible novel! Without you, we definitely wouldn’t be here.

Another thank you to Feiwel and Friends for allowing me the privilege of reading an early copy of The Chosen.

And, last but certainly not least, a huge thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for organizing this blog tour and allowing me to be part of it! If you’re interested in how to become a tour host with the FFBC (and why wouldn’t you be??), click on their logo below!

TW/CWs:

  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Grief
  • Blood
  • Mentions of slavery

As always, if you read The Contender and noticed TW/CWs that are not listed here, please let me know in the comments or anonymously via this form.

Audiobook Review: The Storm Runner by J. C. Cervantes

Hello there, bookworms and dragons! I actually hadn’t planned to write a review for this one simply because I have so much writing to do for my classes, but it keeps nagging me so here we are. I picked up The Storm Runner because I’m using it for a Middle Grade book club at work and I can’t expect 8-12 year olds to read the book if I haven’t. There are a few TW/CWs, which I will add at the end of the post. Let’s dive into the review!

The characters were all fairly well developed in the way that I felt like I could have spoken with most of them, though I definitely couldn’t get into anyone’s head other than Zane’s. I think it’s because of this that I really questioned a huge choice Zane made regarding another character. It’s a pretty big plot point so in the spirit of #NoSpoilers, I’ll leave it off but I’m still scratching my head over it. Long story short, Zane was well developed but from where I was standing everyone else could have used more.

I have to recognize that I’m not the target audience of this novel though so for a 12 year old it might be just the right amount of character development. Idk but I’ll ask the kids in my club this summer and maybe I’ll remember to get back to you on it.

One thing I specifically did not like at all about the novel was one of the characters so I’m going to add it in right here. I forgot to bookmark the quote I was going to use, so I’ll just sum it up a bit. Mr. Ortiz, an adult character, constantly badgers Ms. Cab to date him despite her continued insistence that she does not want to date him. It’s made clear that she is not playing hard to get and yet he continues. What’s worse is that our main character Zane admires that persistence. While this could be taken as a kid recognizing that sometimes you have to persist to get what you want, this should not be one of those situations. Ms. Cab was not interested. Ms. Cab said she’s not interested. No means no. It bothers me especially because of the target audience being so young and the message this will be sending them.

The world has a very Mayan Percy Jackson feel in that it’s Mayan mythology laid over a contemporary setting. I think J. C. Cervantes did a really good job pulling this off. Some of the world building felt a little bit forced, but for the most part it was seamless and easy to immerse myself in. There was no info-dump but we didn’t learn the rules of the world and how it worked before Zane did so in the times when he is confused, I was as well. It added a good bit to the story and his character development as well. It was quite impressive.

The story itself flowed relatively well, though there were a few parts that were a bit slower than I was expecting, almost like we were just watching Zane go through the motions. There were a few scenes that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me and some that I actively question based on previous scenes in the story. I really enjoyed the way Zane is forced to think outside the box to move the story forward though. The Storm Runner would definitely not be the same without it. I also wish I had found a list of TW/CWs before reading the story because it would have kept me from having to pause so often to discuss with my monsters (who listened with me) why certain things are or are not okay.

Ozzie Rodriguez did an amazing job narrating! He has this way of clearly conveying so many different emotions with just his voice that I really enjoyed. I’ll definitely be looking forward to listening to more of his work.

I did enjoy listening to The Storm Runner, but I do wish I had known what I was getting into before reading it. I don’t regret picking it for my book club at work because there’s a lot to unpack and I look forward to discussing it with the kids after they’ve read it. I’ll definitely also be checking out the next book in the series.

Overall, (my monsters and) I rate The Storm Runner 4 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take our word for it. Add it on Goodreads and enjoy it for yourself!

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Do you read any Middle Grade books? What are some of your favourites?


TW/CWs:

  • death of a pet
  • psychological abuse
  • ableist language
  • internalized ableism
  • misogynism (persistent ignoring of refusal of consent)

As always, please let me know in the comments if you’ve read the book and noticed a TW/CW I should add. Or, you can tell me anonymously via this form.