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

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. ūü§∑ 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!

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!

.

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.

Audiobook Review: I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver

Hey there, bookworms and dragons! I’m still recovering from this book but as my school courses began yesterday, I wanted to go ahead and write this review while I have a little time.

I happened to see in Mason Deaver’s Instagram story that hoopla had the audiobook for I Wish You All The Best a bit more than a week early. I was SO EXCITED because I have a hoopla account via my local public library. Since this doesn’t affect first week sales and this is one of my most anticipated books of 2019, I decided to dive in head first. I’ll put the TW/CWs at the end of this post. Let’s jump right into the review!

The characters in I Wish You All The Best were so amazing. Ben De Backer is now my child and I will defend them with my life. Seriously. They’re all so well written that from the very beginning I was fully invested in everyone on the page. It is obvious that Mason Deaver put their heart and soul into these characters. The representation offered is beautiful and each character could easily walk right off the page. I especially loved seeing the slow burn between Ben and Nathan. Slow burns are my new fave.

There is one thing that I knew going into this review I would need to talk about so here we go. I went into the novel knowing that there would be amazing non-binary representation. It was just as amazing and more as what I was expecting. However, there was something else that I wasn’t expecting and it took me completely off guard. I don’t know how to share this other than to quote so….

“Touch aversion can be common in people who deal with panic attacks or people dealing with anxiety. In fact, there are some people who are just born or developed that way, like asexual or aromantic people.”

I… was not expecting this? When I got to this part of the story, I was so surprised and overwhelmed that I wept. Like full-on-ugly-cry-don’t-talk-to-me-I’m-not-fine wept. I had to pause the story and walk away for a few minutes. This book is the first time I’ve seen any rep for being touch averse, which I am. I never thought I would see that represented at all and even now I’m tearing up about it a bit.

I Wish You All The Best is a contemporary novel, which means it’s a realistic fiction set in modern times. The majority of the story takes place in Raleigh, North Carolina. I haven’t been to Raleigh, but I do live in another large city in the southern United States, so it wasn’t hard for me to get a feel for the environment. Also because of that though, I’m not the best judge of the large-scale world building. Honestly, I’m the worst at that with contemporaries anyway. But each of the locations was given enough of a description that it was immersive so do what you will with that knowledge.

The story itself is perfectly paced from beginning to end, with twists and turns at just the right moments. I would even go so far as to say that I Wish You All The Best is a work of art. I can’t say I loved every moment of it because there were parts that were meant to make the reader uncomfortable (and I was) but this is a book I’ll definitely be rereading in the future.

I Wish You All The Best was right up at the top of my most anticipated 2019 releases list. There is so much hype surrounding it. And it still manages to exceed all of the high expectations placed upon it. I can not wait to read more from Mason Deaver in the future.

Overall, I rate I Wish You All The Best 5 out of 5 bookworms. Please don’t just take my word for it. Add it on Goodreads and enjoy it for yourself.

.

I Wish You All The Best is the first book I’ve seen my touch aversion represented in. What is representation you’ve recently seen for the first time or that you’re still waiting to see?


TW/CW:

  • Queerphobia
  • Misgendering
  • Psychological abuse (parent-to-child)
  • Mention of physical abuse (parent-to-child)
  • Anxiety attack
  • Rejection from parents

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 do so anonymously via this form.

Audiobook Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Okay so it’s about midnight and I’ve just finished listening to this because “one more chapter” is a thing, even with audiobooks, and so here we are. I can’t let myself sleep without at least letting out some of the thoughts and feelings running through me right now. I will go ahead and add the TW/CWs I noticed and then we can dive right in. As always, if you’ve read the novel and you feel like I should add another one, please let me know in the comments and I’ll update the list.

  • Islamophobia
  • Xenophobia
  • Assault
  • Hate crimes
  • There is a scene that I’m not quite sure how to TW/CW for, but if you’ve read it… the scene with the sink? Let me know please.

The characters are all incredibly well developed. Maybe a little less than I would have liked on the B Team, but everyone is three-dimensional and I could have a conversation with any of them. But first and foremost, I love Shirin. I love that Shirin is allowed to be a teenager and a human and make mistakes. I love how she’s allowed to make decisions that hurt other people because she wants to protect other people. I love how she’s so real. She’s so incredibly real and I would not change her for anything.

I also feel like I would be remiss if I don’t point out the fact that it flawlessly demonstrates that no two Muslims are the same because no two humans are the same. This is such an important point that so many people often miss in real life. No minority is a monolith.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is set in a small town in the USA in 2002. That’s around a year after 9/11. As an adult in this community, it’s so easy for me to forget that many of the bloggers I interact with weren’t alive for that or certainly weren’t old enough to understand or remember it. I was about Shirin’s age then and I can only imagine what that would have been like for her. Our experiences would have been totally different. The entire novel is cast from Shirin’s perspective, so we get to see a bit of what 2002 was like for a Muslim girl then. Not that it’s really changed much at all, has it.

The story in this novel is so painful and beautiful and honest. The whole thing flowed incredibly well, with some moments slowing just long enough to make a point before speeding back up. I honestly would have finished this in one go if I hadn’t had a long weekend of cleaning and making up new games with my monsters, which I don’t regret. (Except the cleaning. I always regret the cleaning.) But, getting back to the story… the story itself gripped at me and all of my feelings and I have no idea how I’m to be expected to function tomorrow.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is narrated by Priya Ayyar. I haven’t heard her work previously, but she did a wonderful job bringing this already amazing novel to life with her voice. While she did not change the level of her voice for each of the characters, she did change the attitude with which she spoke, which is so much better in my opinion. Her voice is quite warm and calm and I could have listened to her for hours more.

Honestly, there was no way I wasn’t going to pick this one up and the audiobook hold through the library came at a perfect time. Tahereh Mafi has been a must-read author for me for a while and this book has certainly done a lot to keep it that way.¬†A Very Large Expanse of Sea is absolutely stunning. It’s #ownvoices for both Muslim American and hijabi rep. In fact, if you’re an ownvoices reviewer I’d love to link your review here if you’re comfortable with that. I definitely recommend this one for everyone’s TBR and I can not wait to read what she writes next!

Overall, I rate¬†A Very Large Expanse of Sea 5 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it. Add it on¬†Goodreads¬†and enjoy it for yourself!

Who are your must-read authors?

Audiobook Review: A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

Hello there, bookworms and dragons! I finished listening to A¬†Conjuring of Light this morning and my heart is still a bit sore but let’s dig into this review anyway because who needs sleep, amirite? I didn’t notate any TW/CWs, but I do remember thinking “I should add that to my list of TW/CWs.” A thought that was consistently followed by a lack of action, leading up to now where I know there are some TW/CWs that should be added but I’ve not got a clue what any of them are at the moment. If you’ve read the book and you noticed something that could use a TW/CW, please let me know in the comments and I’ll update the post! ūüôā

The characters are the biggest highlight for me. Lila Bard is by far my favourite, but there are so many secondary characters that I just completely love. Which is why this book hurt so damn much. I won’t spoil because I refuse to spoil but my faves… they were not safe. And neither are yours if you pick this up. I just… can’t. I’m not ready to think about them yet.

There are a few new locations added in this one and they’re all fairly immersive locations, which was awesome because of what they were. My favourite new location is definitely the floating market because WHAT EVEN. It was amazing. Nothing is really added to the world building aside from the new locations, so picking up this book before picking up the first two is just not an option world building wise, though honestly why would you pick up the last book in a trilogy before the first two? I don’t know but people are people so I feel it should be said. You know, just in case.

The story picks up pretty much right where¬†A Gathering of Shadows left off, which is excellent because of the way that novel ended. I. E. It just kinda stopped and assumed you’d continue the next story. I wasn’t happy with that ending, but this novel already being on the shelves did a lot to soften my frustration there. The ending of¬†A Conjuring of Light, however, didn’t do a whole lot better. Yes, there is an ending and, yes, most of the major threads are tied up by the time we get to it. BUT. I still have some questions and a couple of them are big. I won’t put any of them here because I am still anti-spoiler, but… There are questions. I did really enjoy the story in this one and there was so much action and such good plot twists that I had trouble not listening through work and skipping sleep for it!

I was relieved when I turned on the audiobook and learned that the narrators for this novel would be the same as the ones for A Gathering of Shadows. One thing that irritates me is when the narrator changes every single book and with the change from the first book to the second, I was worried this would happen again with this novel. As with A Gathering of Shadows, I think Kate Reading and Michael Kramer did an excellent job bringing this story to life. I look forward to hearing more of their work in the future.

All in all, I’m really happy with this novel and I’m already planning on picking up Victoria Schwab’s other work. I’m planning to listen to the digital audiobooks for her Young Adult series on my long drive later this month and I’m hoping to pick up her Villains series, but I might wait until it’s completed just in case of cliff hangers.

Overall, I rate¬†A Conjuring of Light 4 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it. Add it on¬†Goodreads¬†and enjoy it for yourself!

Audiobook Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

Hello, bookworms and dragons, and welcome to today’s episode of Kitty Is Writing A Review So She Can Let Herself Start Reading / Listening To The Next Book In A Series! That is a horribly long title and it kind of explains why we didn’t make it past the pilot… Anyway! I finished listening to the audiobook of A Gathering of Shadows today and I already have the next digital audiobook checked out from the library but I have this thing where I don’t like to start reading the next book until I’ve finished writing my review of the last one in the series I read (see the horrible title above) because it kind of blends together for me once I do that and I don’t feel like I can write a review of anything from that point on. (That is why you’ll occasionally see me review the first book or two in a series but not any of the subsequent novels.) I didn’t note any specific TW/CWs while I listened to this one and I can’t really remember any off the top of my head just now so let’s just dive right into the review.

It was really great to get back to the characters I enjoyed so much in¬†A Darker Shade of Magic just a few months later. I like that a sizable chunk of time has passed, but that it hasn’t been so much that they’ve changed a lot. I especially like seeing how things have progressed from that one major plot point in the first novel that I will not spoil but OMG. There were times during¬†A Gathering of Shadows where I just wanted to scream about the things that happen because of that thing that happened. My favorite character is still Lila Bard, though Alucard is definitely a close second. He’s such an interesting and complex character and I can’t wait to see more of him.

A Gathering of Shadows took the world I understood from the first novel and built subtly upon it, adding nuance and depth. What it did not do¬†AT ALL, however, was build up the world itself in general. If I hadn’t read the first novel, I would have had NO IDEA what was going on with the world or what its rules were, so it is definitely not a standalone novel. The new location descriptions were done in a way so as to make it an immersive experience, but the locations that received a good amount of detail in the first novel received little to no detail here.

As I said before, the story begins about four months after the first novel left off, giving the characters time to grow into and fully experience their new positions in life. I really enjoyed the addition of the tournament and I feel like that’s where a lot of the action went. I do, unfortunately, feel like¬†A Gathering of Shadows basically acts as a stepping stone between the first and third novels in this trilogy, giving just enough of a plot to let us know where the full story is going, but not really able to stand on its own story-wise at all. That was kind of disappointing for me, which I should have seen coming when Autumn told me she was disappointed by it too. Also, HUGE CLIFFHANGER WHYYYYY

There were two narrators for¬†A Gathering of Shadows: Kate Reading and Michael Kramer. Honestly, they were both adequate and I probably would like their narration a lot if it was of a different novel or series so I’ll be on the lookout for their work in the future. The problem I had with this, though, was that neither of them is Steven Crossley, who narrated¬†A Darker Shade of Magic and did so phenomenally.

I did enjoy this story and I am looking forward to finding out what happens in the final novel of this trilogy. But. I just really feel like it could have been better. Maybe it was because I had such high hopes? Maybe it was because the first novel set the expectations bar exceedingly high? Maybe it was because I’m cranky and nothing will please me at this point? I don’t know. The general feel I have for this one is “I enjoyed it but I wanted it to be better.”

Overall, I rate A Gathering of Shadows 3 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it! Add it on Goodreads and enjoy it for yourself.

Audiobook Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

After what feels like ages of having¬†A Darker Shade of Magic on my TBR (and after becoming sufficiently late to the party), I’ve finally gotten around to reading this first book in a very hyped series. I’d like to say it’s mostly because of the hype that I’ve not read this sooner, but honestly it’s more likely that my TBR has a mind of its own at this point. I didn’t mark any TW/CWs in Goodreads while I listened and I don’t remember any in particular, but if you let me know any that you noticed while reading it I’ll happily update this post! Let’s go ahead and jump right into my review.

I read something a while ago about Victoria Schwab’s writing process and how she goes into details for each of her characters, so I went into this expecting big things. I was not at all disappointed. The characters each took on their own life within the story and became so much more than just characters on a page. Victoria Schwab breathes life into them and they are all extraordinarily realistic and three-dimensional. I could easily imagine having a conversation with each and every one of them, though (for obvious reasons) I would actively avoid meeting a few.

The world with the three (or four?) Londons is very complex and layered. It is one world while also simultaneously being three worlds. It’s all so masterfully built up, layer upon layer, through the story that I was hardly conscious of my growing understanding of it until suddenly I simply did. Throughout the novel, I was thoroughly immersed in the world and the rules of it to the point that it slightly invaded my own reality, a concept both impressive and a little nerve racking.

The story itself flowed very nicely from beginning to end. There was just enough at the beginning to help me know the world and characters a bit, setting my expectations of how things would “normally” be without a metaphorical monkey wrench being thrown in before said wrench made its way into the plot. Each time I started to get comfortable or I started to think I knew how things were going to go, there would be a plot twist just big enough to throw me off and build up tension a bit. There was never a point where I thought the story wouldn’t find at least some resolution, even if that took until the end of the series to happen. I wasn’t quite expecting the end of this novel to be so fulfilling and it almost feels a little too quick? But I do like how there aren’t a lot of loose ends here and only enough to keep me interested in continuing reading the series.

Steven Crossley, who narrated A Darker Shade of Magic, did an excellent job! His voice is smooth and easy to listen to and the way he intones the story is fairly close to perfect. I also like how he not only changes his voice to encompass each character, but his intonation changes as well, bringing that extra something to the story. I really hope he is the narrator for the rest of the series and I look forward to hearing more of his work.

I’m kicking myself for accidentally returning the digital audiobook of the next book to the library. Ugh what was I thinking?! The book definitely lives up to the high expectations I had for V. E. Schwab’s writing and I am super excited to read and listen to more of her work.

Overall, I rate¬†A Darker¬†Shade of Magic 4 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it. Add it on¬†Goodreads¬†and enjoy it for yourself!

Audiobook Review: Tarnished City by Vic James

So, this one has taken me quite some time to get around to. I’m fairly certain it’s at least mostly because I only had access to the digital version of it? But I can’t say for sure. What I can say, however, is that the majority of my reading these days seems to happen via audiobook, so having access to the digital audiobook through the library was an extra push toward reading it. I didn’t note any specific TW/CWs that might be needed in Goodreads while I listened, so I’ll just try to list the ones I remember and add any that come to mind. If you’ve read¬†Tarnished City and you know of TW/CWs that aren’t listed here, please let me know and I’ll update the list!

  • War crimes
  • Public torture
  • Stockholm syndrome
  • Blood
  • Suicide
  • Death

Let’s jump right in now, shall we? The characters themselves were all relatively well developed, though not enough so that someone could pick this book up before having read the first of the series, Gilded Cage. There were quite a few new characters added and a good deal of development happened for the ones who carried over from the first book. I’m really happy with the level of detail that was given to each character here. It really helped make the novel more believable to have such three-dimensional characters wandering through its pages. I will go ahead and say it up front just in case that list of TW/CWs didn’t speak loud enough: none of your faves are safe.

The world took me a little time to dive back into and it really does dive right back in. There is a bit of world building with a couple of new locations, though one is much more impressive than the other. I think a little more could have been done for one of the locations, but given how many new places there were I don’t really hold it against Vic James that one locations was less visually stimulating for me. The world itself and the rules that operate it in the different locations present is built up incredibly and make it a relatively immersive read.

The plot itself is fast paced and flows very well. Also, holy plot twists. From the very first page, Vic James made sure I knew that nothing was what I thought it would be, even the characters, and no one is safe. The twists and turns that the story takes are highlighted through the use of multiple points of view. I’ve said before that I think using multiple point of views is like playing roulette: either you win big or you lose big but there isn’t really any gray area. With this novel, it gains so much from the multiple points of view that it can only be considered a win. Also, did I mention THE PLOT TWISTS OMG!! Also, CLIFFHANGER! *pulls out all the neon hair*

Tarnished City is narrated by a lovely person named Avita Jay, who did an absolutely lovely job of bringing this story from the page into real life. Her intonation is complimentary to Vic James’ writing style and she makes sure to bring life to everything she read. I really enjoyed her narrating style and I hope to hear more of her work in the future.

I really enjoyed¬†Tarnished City and I’m a little angry with myself for waiting so long to finally let myself read it. I love Vic James writing style, though my heart often disagrees. I definitely look forward to reading the next novel in the series and other writings from the author.

Overall, I rate Tarnished City 4 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it. Add it on¬†Goodreads¬†and enjoy it for yourself!

Audiobook Review: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

This one has been on my TBR for a while. I’ve read a few of Marissa Meyer’s other books and LOVED them. I’m a sucker for a retelling and hers are so well done. Renegades is her first novel I’ve read that was not a retelling of some other tale so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew I enjoy her writing style though so I went in with high hopes. Though I’m sitting down to write my review now, I’m still not sure how it lives up to those hopes and I’m hoping that writing this out will help me decide. I can’t remember specific TW/CWs and my Goodreads app won’t let me access my updates, so hopefully I’ll remember to add those later.

The two PoV characters were developed relatively well and I could imagine having a conversation with either of them. Some of the secondary characters felt blurry, but I still felt like I could hold a conversation with most of them. I really like that both of the main characters are kind of morally gray and how they’re each forced to confront their beliefs and goals and sharpen them a bit during the story.

The story itself takes place in a city that physically functions similar to New York City from what I can tell, though it’s set in an almost post-apocalyptic setting. The rules of the world were quickly established and built upon throughout the novel. I really like the way that Marissa Meyer did this because it felt like so much complexity went into it when so little was directly explained. The physical bits were slightly less immersive for me, but I’m not sure if that’s because of the world building or because I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should? I do remember being interrupted a few times while listening on the bus, so I can’t entirely be sure.

The story itself was pretty interesting. There were a few times that it started to feel like just another Superhero story, but then something would bend and the story would take on a whole new direction, effectively snagging my attention and pulling me completely back into the story. It kind of flowed like that through the majority of the story, though I have to say all-in-all that I enjoyed it. I really like the dual points of view and how each has something to hide from at least most of the other characters. It really added a lot to the story for me to see these two characters who are on both the same side and opposite sides of the story give their point of view.

Renegades is narrated by Rebecca Soler (who also narrated¬†The Lunar Chronicles) and Dan Bittner. I really liked that the point of view characters each had their own narrator. It really went that extra mile to give me an inner voice for each of them. I heard Rebecca Soler’s work when she narrated¬†The Lunar Chronicles and I really enjoyed what she did with that. She carried her experience over to¬†Renegades to voice Nova. I really like that she seems to consistently narrate Marissa Meyer’s books. I can’t tell you how much I dislike when there’s a different narrator for each and every book, especially when they change mid-series. I just… it’s stressful. I really feel like Dan Bittner brought out the best and worst of Adrian and I hope he stays on to narrate the next novel in the series when it is released later this year.

While I really enjoyed this one, I just can’t seem to get past the way the story flowed for me and the fact that the ending is very “TO BE CONTINUED” also known as cliffhanger-ish. I’m still definitely looking forward to the next book in the series, but I’m not sure how fast I’ll jump to read it once it’s released. I will still definitely look out for Marissa Meyer’s work, though, because in general her writing style appeals to me.

Overall, I rate Renegades 3 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it. Add it on¬†Goodreads¬†and enjoy it for yourself!

If I was a prodigy, I think I would want to be telekinetic. If you were a prodigy, what would you want your ability to be?