Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Wicked Saints.jpg

ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

“Blood and blood and bone. Magic and monsters and tragic power.”

Listen, no one is as shocked or disappointed by this rating (★★) as I am. But, with female characters like Jude Duarte, Vasya Petrovna, and Inej Ghafa, I couldn’t give this book a higher rating. Before we get into why I didn’t love Wicked Saints the way I’d hoped, let’s start with what it’s about.

Nadya is a cleric, but unlike other clerics *refrains from making a bad not-like-other-girls joke* can communicate with not one, but all the gods and use her prayer beads to call upon their powers. Within the first few pages of the book, the monastery Nadya was raised in is under attack by Serefin—blood mage and the crown prince of an enemy country—and so Nadya must flee the only life she’s known with the hopes of her country’s future resting on her shoulders. While on the run, Nadya teams up with a group of rebels, led by Malachiasz, another powerful blood mage to end the war.

“You must make a choice, little bird. Do you continue on with your wings clipped or do you fly?”

Promising, right? I’d thought so too. I was so excited for this book, like, who-needs-to-study-for-midterms-when-I-can-devour-this-book excited. In all honesty, I’m a little afraid to post this review because there’s been an unbelievable amount of hype surrounding this book, and that’s why I’ve put off writing this, but it’s 2019 and YA readers deserve better. We deserve female characters who are allowed to have both agency and a romantic relationship, not one or the other.

My biggest issue with Wicked Saints is Nadya. This isn’t Nadya’s book, it’s Malachiasz’s. The book promises a strong and powerful female character who is determined to vanquish her enemies, the tagline is even “let them fear her,” but Nadya doesn’t do anything. While she does have arguments with Malachiasz and is steadfast in her beliefs for a bit—I’ll get more into this when I discuss the handling of religious discourse, which I did think was very well done—there comes a point when she doesn’t make any decisions of her own, simply going along with Malachiasz’s plans and listening to whatever he says.

I’m so tired of being promised strong female characters only to have them forsake agency as soon as a romantic subplot is introduced. Nadya has such an amazing power, one she learns has much more potential than even she had known, and yet, she’s reduced to the love interest in her own story as soon as she has a romance. Friends, when I say she doesn’t do anything, I mean anything. She can’t even kill someone in a fight to the death, Malachiasz has to do it for her. And she constantly forgives him for everything, only standing up for herself to a point before literally going weak at the knees.

It truly feels as though Nadya is a side character in Malachiasz’s story, and it makes me so sad because I thought we’d finally reached a point where female characters are allowed to have agency and romantic relationships, not one or the other. With iconic lines such as Inej Ghafa’s, “She would fight for him, but she could not heal him. She would not waste her life trying,” and female characters such as Jude Duarte who can kiss a boy, plot with him to steal a kingdom, and then betray him in order to do so, I can’t support stories that make female characters choose between the two, and worse, be reduced to one dimensionality as soon as they enter a romantic relationship. I’ve seen discussion online about Wicked Saints dismantling tropes, but for me it relied heavily on tropes without questioning or subverting them.

“Don’t be a martyr. We have no use for yet another saint.”

With everything I didn’t like about the book, I will say the braiding of religion, magic, and politics was extremely well done and handled carefully and respectfully. Wicked Saints starts a really great and important dialogue about questioning our beliefs, opening our minds to others, and thinking/deciding for ourselves instead of simply following the things we’re taught. It’s the kind of YA book that is truly written for teenagers because it has the conversations they should be reading about—without passing judgement or shying away from the various arguments. While reading, I kept going back and forth between who I agreed with, who I wanted Nadya to agree with, and how I wanted the characters to find a middle ground.

However, while thematically the magic system worked well because of how it related to religion and politics, I will say, on a practical level, it did fall apart at the end. I’m a stickler when it comes to magic systems, and in particular, well-built magic systems with rules and consequences for broken rules. I’ve seen a lot of comparisons between Wicked Saints and Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, and while I do see similarities, those books have a highly structured magic system where we know the rules, limitations, and what happens when the boundaries of magic are pushed too far. Wicked Saints, on the other hand, does a good job of building the magic system and its rules throughout the book, but everything we learned about it collapses in the end in order for certain plot points to occur. I’ve reread the ending multiple times and am still confused, and in all honesty, it almost feels lazy? As though the rules that had been previously established suddenly didn’t matter because certain plot points needed to happen. This is definitely something I’m finicky about and other readers won’t mind, but I’m a very logic driven reader and love well-structured magic systems, so I was disappointed with how the ending events transpired.

The other thing Duncan really nails is atmosphere. It’s clear she not only has a love and appreciation for Russian and Polish culture, but also did her research. The setting descriptions were hauntingly beautiful with snow and iron spires and architectural descriptions that left me drooling. The world is so vivid and rich with lore, geography, history, and religious canons that created an immersive reading experience. The world building was easily one of my favorite things about the book and was done with such care and precision, even the languages being artfully constructed, and this is a world I didn’t want to leave.

“He was a liar and she wanted his truths.”

Overall, I did have a lot of issues with the book, but I also flew through it. I like to think of it as candy—easy to gobble down quickly, but not necessarily the best thing for you and your teeth and stomach may hurt a little after. A big reason why I was so disappointed by Wicked Saints was because of how it was marketed. I’d expected an epic story on par with the works of Holly Black and Leigh Bardugo, and it simply didn’t deliver. I will say though, the sexual tension is peak and there’s enough angst in here to rival your emo years, so if you love all those things and Slavic lore and aren’t expecting a masterpiece, life-altering book, go forth and conquer—I hope you love it more than I did!

“This act—the pressure of his lips against hers, and the heat that flooded her veins—this was heresy.”

Preorder Wicked Saints

*All quotes are taken from a bound manuscript and are subject to change upon publication*

Trigger warning: self-harm and parental abuse

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Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle

“In the land of Ingary where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of the three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.” 

Charming. Whimsical. Timeless. Howl’s Moving Castle is a story about a girl named Sophie who is the eldest of three in a land in which to be the eldest of three means to fail miserably if she were to go out into the world and seek her fortune. One day, Sophie accidentally incurs the wrath of The Witch of the Waste and gets turned into an old woman. With nowhere else to go, Sophie goes to the wizard Howl’s castle and strikes a deal with a fire demon to break the curse on her, and in exchange, she’ll break his contract with Howl.

“That’s why I love spiders. ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.’”

This is a book for everyone, and no matter how old or how young, you will get something out of it, and the meaning will change each time you read it. It is one of those rare books that will follow you throughout the course of your life and mean something different to you depending upon where you are at life. Sophie’s courage and spunk, Howl’s charm and complexity, Calcifer’s wit and devotion, Michael’s love and perseverance culminate into a magical story that truly continues to live and breathe even after the last page has been read.

“I think we ought to live happily ever after.”

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Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Always and Forever Lara Jean.jpg

1.)  To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before ★★★★
2.)  P.S. I Still Love You ★★★

“One day all of this will be proof, proof that we were here, proof that we loved each other. It’s the guarantee that no matter what happens to us in the future, this time was ours.” 

Some books just give you that warm and fuzzy feeling that has you crying happy tears almost every page. Well, that’s this book. I feel an intense need to redo high school because I’m having some serious regret about never writing love letters and having them sent out into the world (where can I find my Peter Kavinsky???) But in all seriousness, this book still maintained the same sweet, fun, and lightheartedness that made me fall in love with the series, while also tackling real life themes of choosing a school, the uncertainty of the future post-high school, and saying goodbye that most YA stays away from.

Lara Jean and Peter are in the midst of senior year—a year of uncertainty about the future, of goodbyes, of last chances, and of change. But Lara Jean doesn’t like change. So what should she do when the future she’s always imagined for herself suddenly isn’t a possibility and the two paths laid out before her will require she follow either her head or her heart?

“I guess that’s part of growing up, too—saying goodbye to the things you used to love.”

I’m way past my high school days, but this book took me back to my senior year, and now we’re going to get personal for a second so I can tell you why this book resonated with me so much. I always thought I was going to pursue musical theatre (for some reason high school Lindsay thought she was talented enough to make it on Broadway) and when I say pursue, I mean working on audition songs and monologues with my vocal and acting coach and only looking at BFA programs. But I realized in the fall of my senior year that I simply wasn’t talented enough, and it wasn’t going to work out. Every school I’d looked at and planned on applying to was geared toward musical theatre—there were no backup options, or at least there were none I actually wanted to go to. Except one. But it was also a reach school. I applied early decision, having fallen in love when I visited and just had that gut feeling it was the school for me. I didn’t get in. I’d gone from being certain about everything to certain about nothing. I was more scared and anxious about my future than I’d ever been, and like Lara Jean, I don’t do well with change or uncertainty.

Reading Always and Forever Lara Jean now made me wish I’d had it with me when I was going through my senior year, because Jenny Han is able to capture the fear and uncertainty of not knowing what your future holds, the teenage need to romanticize and perfect our last moments of high school, and yet also the magic of having all these possibilities up for the taking, if you follow your heart and are brave enough to take them.

“Never say no when you really want to say yes.”

Always and Forever Lara Jean managed to recapture everything I loved about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (yes, including Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship) while adding a maturity to it that the first two books lacked. Lara Jean is growing up, she has grown up, and her story will forever hold a very special place in my heart, but this book especially.

“At college, when people ask us how we met, how will we answer them? The short story is, we grew up together. But that’s more Josh’s and my story. High school sweet-hearts? That’s Peter and Gen’s story. So what’s ours, then? I suppose I’ll say it all started with a love letter.”

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The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower

1.)  The Bear and the Nightingale ★★★★★

She was the wind, the clouds gathering in the smoky sky, the thick snow of deep winter. She was nothing. She was everything.”

Haunting. Dark. Lyrical. Magical. The Girl in the Tower contains everything I loved about The Bear and the Nightingale while allowing the characters to grow, the world to expand, and the story to deepen.

Picking up shortly after the events of The Bear and the Nightingale, Vasya is left with two options: join a convent or marry. Either choice leaves her confined within physical walls and the inescapable walls of her society. And so, Vasya chooses not to decide, disguising herself as a boy to live a life on the road as a traveler.

“Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory of the other: of a life left unchosen. Decide as seems best, one course or the other; each way will have its bitter with its sweet.”

I simply don’t have the words to describe how much I adore this book and this series. Katherine Arden uses beautiful language and draws from both historical and fantastical Russia to create a haunting story of bravery, fear, family, the roles of women in society, and what it means to challenge those roles.

My love for Vasya only grew in this story as she tried to carve her own path every time those around her tried to place her in a metaphorical and physical tower. While she still has her reckless spirit and courage that I adored in The Bear and the Nightingale, loss, age, and understanding have made her wiser. What I love most about Vasya isn’t that she is fearless— it is that she is courageous and strong even when she is scared; it is that we see her bravery falter and then watch her stand taller. Vasya has become my favorite female character of all time, and she is the kind of protagonist I want young readers to look up to.

“That love of maidens for monsters, that does not fade with time.”

Of course, I could not finish this review without talking of Morozko—the frost demon and the winter king who has my heart. I didn’t think it was possible, but I love him even more in this book than I did in the first as we begin to truly understand him and his position. Without giving anything away, I’ll say this: Morozko broke my heart and brought me to tears in a way that a fictional character has not done in a long time, if ever.

“You cannot love and be immortal.”

If you loved The Bear and the Nightingale, then you’ll love The Girl in the Tower perhaps even more. It maintains all of its strengths from the first book, particularly the atmosphere, while adding new layers to these beloved characters and introducing a new storyline where the stakes are raised.

“Think of me sometimes,’ he returned. ‘When the snowdrops have bloomed and the snow has melted.’”

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The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

The Language of Thorns

“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.” 

When Leigh Bardugo does dark, she does it masterfully with nastiness, twists, romance, and sometimes a glimmer of hopeThe Language of Thorns is a collection of fairytales from the Grishaverse. But leave behind any expectations you may have about fairytales, heroes, villains, princes, and monsters because Leigh Bardugo will shatter them.

“You know how the stories go. Interesting things only happen to pretty girls; you will be home by sunset.”

Going into this jewel of a book, I thought I would know how the tales would end—with shining princes, damsels saved, monsters slain, and wicked step-mothers foiled. But Leigh Bardugo draws inspiration from tales we know and love: Hansel and Gretel, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and The Ugly Duckling to name a few, and subverts our expectations. Leigh Bardgo manipulates language in the most beautiful way and challenges her readers’ beliefs.

“There is no pain like the pain of transformation.”

Each of these tales is dark, rich, and haunting in their own ways. They are universal with characters, stories, and lessons that will stay with the reader long after the final page has been turned. My personal favorites were “Ayama and the Thorn Wood,” “The Soldier Prince”, and “When Water Sang Fire,” but each of these tales was wonderful.

This collection was especially delightful for fans of the Grishaverse. I could imagine characters I loved from the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology growing up with these tales.

“This is the problem with making a thing forbidden. It does nothing but build an ache in the heart.”

This is such a delightful and dark collection, perfect for fans of the Grishaverse and those with dark romantic hearts. Bardugo is a master writer and storyteller, and I can only hope this will be the first of many short story collections.

“We were not made to please princes.”

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The Wicked King by Holly Black

Wicked King
Arc provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

1.) The Cruel Prince ★★★★★
1.5.) The Lost Sisters ★★★★★

“We get power by taking it.”

NO WORDS.

If I thought The Cruel Prince was a wild, dark, and twisted ride, it was nothing compared to the earth-shattering, jaw-dropping, cannot breathe, experience that is The Wicked King. Yes, experience, because this book is AN EXPERIENCE. Picking up shortly after the events of The Cruel Prince, we see Jude learning the lesson that no matter how hard it is to attain power, keeping it is even harder.

“‘For a moment,’ he says, ‘I wondered if it wasn’t you shooting bolts at me.’
I make a face at him. ‘And what made you decide it wasn’t?’
He grins up at me. ‘They missed.’”

I can’t say much about the plot, because we’re pretty far from the publication date (January 8, 2019), but OH MY HIGH KING CARDAN THIS BOOK. I was unable to predict anything, and let me tell you, Holly Black is evil in the best way possible. This book went places The Cruel Prince did not dare. The political game is played at a much larger scale, with Jude truly playing the great game of kings and princes, of queens and crowns, and she’s playing for much more than survival this time—she’s playing to win.

There were truly points in this book where I had to remind myself to breathe (I’m looking at you pages 145-148). The drama, the twists, the nastiness of the world, the nastiness of the players in this game. The Wicked King is a sinfully delicious book, as tempting as Faerie Fruit, and just as rotten because I am WRECKED. THAT ENDING.

“His mouth curls into a smile. His eyes shine with wicked intent. “Look at them all, your subjects. A shame not a one knows who their true ruler is.’”

Of course I can’t end this review without talking about Jude and Cardan. Jude has my complete and utter love. As brave, and clever, and cruel as she is in The Cruel Prince, she is even more so in The Wicked King. I have never felt so much love and respect for a YA protagonist. I loved her in The Cruel Prince and have always adored her character, but she has only gotten better—or should I say worse?—in The Wicked King. As for Cardan, I thought I loved him in The Cruel Prince, but I was a sweet summer child who had not yet tasted the faerie fruit of love. He is sexier, cleverer, and wittier than ever—we really get to see a new side of him, and I’m not just referring to the tail 😉

“My sweet villain, my darling god.”

There are no words to express my undying love for The Folk of the Air books: these characters, their world, the politics, the drama, the plot twists, CHILLS. I will be in a coma until The Queen of Nothing because I cannot go on. DID I MENTION THAT ENDING?!?

“I want to tell you so many lies.”

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*All quotes were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication*

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A Court of Thorns by Sarah J. Maas

ACOTAR
*this review contains minor spoilers*

“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”

*Le sigh* I’m probably the only person in the entire world who feels this way—but I’m not ready to pack my bags and head to the Night Court. The first 70% of this book was so slow, and the only reason I didn’t DNF was because everyone kept telling me it would get better, and it did…marginally.

A loose Beauty and the Beast retelling, A Court of Thorns and Roses follows huntress Feyre as she is taken prisoner to Prythian, the fey realm, as punishment for the fey life she has stolen. A promising premise, right? Well, what we really get is a lot of angst, a lot of Feyre being useless, a lot of Tamlin being broody, and then finally, a weak and unbelievable love story.

I really wanted to like ACOTAR, I did. So many people whose opinions I value and trust love this book, but it just didn’t do it for me. I’d expected more Beauty and the Beast elements and much more faerie lore. Neither of those delivered, and I was especially disappointed by the lack of faerie lore. After just having read Holly Black’s The Wicked King, Sarah J. Maas’s faeries didn’t hold a candle. She teased us with some of their lore such as their inability to lie and vulnerability to iron, just to yank it away and say “oh never mind” when it became inconvenient to the plot. I wanted nastiness and trickery and politics and dark magic, and instead I got a lot of descriptions of fey male beauty and Feyre painting.

“I threw myself into that fire, threw myself into it, into him, and let myself burn.”

I’ll admit the end of the book became a lot more interesting once we finally got past the horrendous info-dump (I was so annoyed I didn’t pick up the book for week), but the ending was still predictable, and I’m sorry, but as soon as the giant worm was introduced in the first trial, all I could think of was the Alaskan Bull Worm from Spongebob—which dissolved me into a fit of giggles, completely eliminating any tension or suspense.

And while we’re talking about the ending—[SPOILER] why did Feyre, a huntress, feel so unrealistically and annoyingly guilty for killing those faeries, and why does everyone love Rhysand? I wanted them both to be merciless, and instead there was a poor attempt to redeem and forgive Rhysand for some atrocious things—torturing her so she’d agree to his bargain, giving her the faerie equivalent of date rape every night, and forcing a non-consensual kiss on her. Honestly, the attempt to redeem him left a sour taste in my mouth, and it would’ve been much more fun for him to be unapologetically nasty, clever, and playing his own game. And Feyre….oh our painting, useless, love-sick Feyre. I’m not even going to start on why it bothered me so much that she was stupidly guilty and overdramatic for killing the two faeries.

“Because your human joy fascinates me—the way you experience things, in your life span, so wildly and deeply and all at once, is … entrancing.”

Contrary to how it may seem, I didn’t hate ACOTAR, and it’s not a bad book. The issue for me was how much potential was wasted. SJM teased me with action and plot—when she commits to those two things, she does them REALLY well—but she was more focused on creating a love story between Feyre and Tamlin that, quite honestly, fell flat anyway.

Overall, this book just had so much wasted potential, and SJM’s true strengths and talents as a writer were lost to a lackluster romance and idle descriptions of Feyre’s meandering. I wish this book had been everything I’d expected, and while I’ve heard A Court of Mist and Fury is much better, I won’t be rushing to pick it up anytime soon.

“I love you,’ he whispered, and kissed my brow. ‘Thorns and all.’” 

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The Changing Tide by K.A. Dowling

The Changing Tide.jpg

“She recalls the endless summers—recalls standing waist deep in the waves and waiting for a ship that never came. She has spent her entire life dreaming of escape.”

Emerala the Rouge has spent her life dreaming of the sea and escaping her life in Chancey. For in Chancey, her Cairan people are persecuted by the king and his Gold Cloaks. As the years have gone by, things have only grown worse for the Cairans. A city balancing on the edge of a sword, a girl with the power to set an ancient prophecy in motion, and newly arrived pirates set the stage for the beginning of an epic adventure.

“He is a man of the law, and justice is his duty. He thinks of the body that hung limp in the square. He thinks of his father wringing his cap in his hands, turning away. He thinks of the bear king—of the man who would-be-god—kneeling on the floor and praying for luck. Pulling up his dead wife’s flowers by the roots.
What is justice?” 

Told from multiple perspectives, The Changing Tide offers a wide cast of characters, all of whom have faced struggles that have made them the people they are today. All with their own motives, these characters become entangled in a story that is larger than each of them individually and are forced to reevaluate everything they were taught to believe and determine for themselves who they want to be.

In particular, I loved the characters of Emerala the Rouge and Captain James Byron. Emerala is brave, stubborn, passionate, and has a strong obligation to do what is right, even if it gets her into trouble—and this girl has a penchant for attracting trouble. James has such great character development. Watching his internal struggle between what he was taught to believe in and what he knows deep down is morally right was incredibly powerful and I cannot wait to see the rest of his character arc in the later installments of this series.

“You cannot change the hearts of men.”

Beautifully told, this story is fast paced and I found myself flipping through each page to learn what would happen next. Throughout the novel Dowling uses vivid descriptions to create a rich world I felt as though I were a part of while reading.

“Gold blood bleeds red.”

The Changing Tide is the beginning of a grand adventure that tackles issues of identity, prejudice, and hate that is passed down through the centuries. I cannot wait to read the next book in this series, The Forbidden City!

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The Lost Sisters by Holly Black

The Lost Sisters.JPG

Early copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

1.) The Cruel Prince ★★★★★
2.) The Wicked King ★★★★★

“I can show you a version of yourself, Taryn. One you’ve never imagined. It’s terrible to be a girl trapped in a story. But you can be more than that. You can be the teller. You can shape the story. You can make all of Faerie love you.”

Please let it be known I do not want to read another book if it isn’t part of the Folk of the Air series. Have you ever fallen so completely and utterly in love with a story you find yourself unable to focus on anything else? That all you want to do is shout at strangers about how life changing it is and you feel like you will burst because no words or actions can capture how ardently you love this story and how you are a different person having read it? That’s me with The Folk of the Air books, and more specifically, The Lost Sisters.

Connecting the gap between The Cruel Prince and The Wicked KingThe Lost Sisters is an e-novella told in a letter from Taryn to Jude chronicling her love affair with Locke while revealing some secrets more delicious than faerie fruit. I was nervous, to say the least. I didn’t like Taryn, nor did I really want to. Going into this story, I was ready to unsheathe my own sword and defend Jude’s honor. The last thing I’d expected was to be completely sucked into the story, crying nine pages in (over Taryn of all people!), and find myself sympathizing and rooting for her.

“You were bold and daring and breathtakingly stupid.
Be bold, be bold, but not too bold, lest that your heart’s blood should run cold.”

Told in a letter to Jude, it’d be too easy to say The Lost Sisters is Taryn’s defense. It’s so much more than that—it’s an apology, a love story, a tragedy, a story of a mortal girl trapped in a fairytale-nightmare trying to control her own story and have a semblance of power. Taryn’s narrative has a way of doing what Taryn does best: holding up a mirror to Jude. Except this time the reader has access to that mirror and we are confronted with a very uncomfortable question: why do we love Jude, but hate Taryn who has the same motivations, desires, fears, and ambitions as her and truly believes she is doing what she thinks to be best?

“I never thought it would come to anything bad for anyone but me.”

With a narrator as unreliable as Jude and with a story that delves so deeply into family dynamics, The Lost Sisters is a necessary addition to the series and completely changed my perception of Jude and Taryn’s relationship. After having read, I’m left with a much deeper appreciation of Jude and Taryn, their positions in Faerie, how they view one another in this land of monsters, and how much they ultimately love each other. Jude makes us believe Taryn is fine wherever she goes and that she’s adaptable, but Taryn is not fine, she’s arguably even more not fine than Jude is—something The Lost Sisters finally allows us to understand. I don’t necessarily agree with what Taryn did, but I get it, and after learning everything that led her to that point, I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing in her situation. Taryn might be one of the most complex and compelling characters I’ve ever encountered—her narrative is gripping and entirely un-put-downable. Locke famously tells Jude she is a story and he wants to see what she will do, but Taryn is a story too, and I want to be part of the unfolding of her tale.

Be sure to pre-order The Lost Sisters (available OCTOBER 2) if you haven’t already (https://www.thenovl.com/cruelprince), because this story is so completely entrancing and important to The Folk of the Air series!!! I’ve never been so grateful and in love with a novella before. Thank you so much Novl and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for an early copy in exchange for an honest review ♥

“‘How does it feel?’ he asked. ‘To be stuck in a fairy tale?’”

*All quotes are taken from an early copy and are subject to change upon publication*
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Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

 

Favorite Forest of a Thousand Lanterns Quotes

“I was a born a woman into this world,” she said, echoing the concubine’s words. “And I will play the game, but I won’t lose.”

“Beware, Xifeng, of magic that comes too easily. There is a price for everything, as she learned and you, too, will learn. Some magic requires blood. Other magic requires a piece of your own self and eats away at your soul.”

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The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Spoiler Free Youtube Review

 

Goodreads Review

Overall I really enjoyed this book, the world in particular. The politics were fascinating and the magic system was unique. There were some info dumps at times because there was history of the world that we needed to know, and that’s what brought down my rating. The plot twists were pretty good, albeit, a few of the minor ones were predictable.

For the characters, I really liked Dara, Ali, and Nahri. Dara and Ali were more fleshed out to me in the sense that they had more internal conflicts to overcome, but I do think Nahri is a wonderfully strong and empowering female protagonist and I enjoyed the different relationships she had with Ali and Dara (don’t worry, it’s NOT a love triangle).

There were definitely points when the plot lagged, but that didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. And as a whole I think the ending in particular sets the stage well for the next one, and I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel when it comes out!

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Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

 

1.) Shadow and Bone ★★★★
2.) Siege and Storm ★★★★

Favorite Ruin and Rising Quotes

“In this moment he was just a boy—brilliant, blessed with too much power, and burdened by eternity.”

“Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.”

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Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

 

1.) Shadow and Bone ★★★★

Favorite Siege and Storm Quotes:

“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”

” ‘Why won’t you leave me alone?’ I whispered one night as he hovered beside me while I tried to work at my desk. 
Long minutes passed. I didn’t think he would answer. I even had time to hope he might have gone, until I felt his hand on my shoulder.
‘Then I’d be alone too.’ “

StarStarStarStar

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