Fireborn by Aisling Fowler – A Review #ultimateblogtour

Hi! Today’s my stop on TheWriteReads tour for Fireborn by Aisling Fowler.

Fireborn by Aisling Fowler
  • Publication date: September 30th 2021
  • Publisher: Harper Collins
  • Genre: MG Fantasy

Lyra. Lucy. Percy. Once in a generation, a hero emerges whose story enthralls readers worldwide.

Fireborn is an epic quest, perfect for fans of the His Dark Materials and The School for Good and Evil series, that will spin readers into a magical world like no other—and introduce them to an unforgettable new heroine named Twelve.

Ember is full of monsters.

Twelve gave up her name and identity to train in the art of hunting them—so she says. The truth is much more deadly: she trains to take revenge on those who took her family from her.

But when Twelve’s new home is attacked, she’ll find herself on an unexpected journey, where her hidden past is inescapably intertwined with her destiny—and the very fate of her world.

First of all, a big thank you to Dave at TheWriteReads, the publisher and the author for organising this tour and providing me with an earc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I love middle grade fantasy. There’s just something about those stories that make the reading experience magical, cosy and fun. I also understand that when something doesn’t quite work for me in them it’s because I am not the target demographic for those books. I think that is the case with Fireborn.

There are many things I appreciated in this book. For one, I think the premise was very interesting. It’s what sold me on it in the first place. It sounded like heaps of fun and exactly what I look for in MG fantasy.

I thought the world building was fascinating, but a bit too ambitious. I feel has it been simplified, it would’ve worked better, because for the sheer amount of plot, action and back story vs. descriptions, we just didn’t get enough info about the world and why things were the way they were. Instead, we got big paragraphs describing different creatures, which felt info dumpy. I would 100% appreciate those more as an extra to an already fully developed world I loved, rather than one I’m just discovering.

Found family trope is one of my favourites, and I really love a mentor/unlikely guardian trope and both of those are in some form present in Fireborn. The problem was… I didn’t like or care about any of the characters. Twelve, our main protagonist, wasn’t likeable or relatable and very little changed about her throughout the book. The other characters in the book didn’t get enough “screen time” for me to form any actual opinions.

I am definitely in the minority here. I do believe I’m the only person who rated this lower than 4 stars. So, please don’t base your opinion on mine and if Fireborn sounds like something you feel you’d enjoy definitely give it a go. It’s fast paced and full of adventure – it was just not for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Thank you for reading. Follow the Fireborn and TheWriteReads hashtags on Twitter to find all the other glowing reviews. I’ll speak to you all soon!

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas – A Review

Hello! I am back to posting (I am trying to get myself organised, I swear) with another review. So without much fluff, let’s just get right into it.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
  • Publication date: 12th January 2021
  • Publisher: Walker Books
  • Genre: Contemporary

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.

After reading THUG and On The Come Up, I knew I loved Angie Thomas. I guess I just didn’t quite realise how much. Concrete Rose was one of my most anticipated releases this year, I KNEW it would be exceptionally written, I KNEW it’d be poignant and yet somehow it really surprised me.

Maverick was a really great character in THUG. He was smart, responsible and a great parent to his children. Seeing him at 17, being ANYTHING but that was really interesting and added a lot of depth to the character. Teenage Mav gets himself into so many bad situations, one after another, I don’t think I would’ve felt in any way bad for him have I not known his better side already. Before the age of 18 he gets mixed up with a gang, fails high schools and impregnates not one but two girls. But we also catch a glimpse of the Maverick we know from The Hate You Give when we see him with Seven.

As always, the writing was impeccable. Angie Thomas has a very distinct voice and heaps and heaps of talent. Her stories feel real and authentic, and Concrete Rose is no different. The book, like Thomas’ other books, talks about what growing up Black is like in America. It doesn’t shy away from important subjects, like teenage pregnancy, gang violence, death, grief, drugs, toxic masculinity especially towards Black men and many other. There are so many quotable passages in the book, with my favourite being

“Son, one of the biggest lies ever told is that black men don’t feel emotions. Guess it’s easier not to see us as human when you think we’re heartless. Fact of the matter is, we feel things. Hurt, pain, sadness, all of it. We got a right to show them feelings as much as anybody else.”

Although Concrete Rose is fairly light on the plot, Maverick, his development, and the supporting characters really make up for it and keep the pacing steady. The book is a very quick read, even though having read THUG most readers know the ending and the some of the events leading to it. The lack of mystery doesn’t ruin the experience one bit.

Speaking of the ending… when I finished the book I felt like it ended too quickly, and I know I’m not the only one. I’d love to know even more of Maverick and Lisa’s lives and Starr’s backstory, so here’s to hoping we’ll get another prequel.

I don’t think the rating is any bit of a surprise – it’s an easy 5 star read!

Have you read Concrete Rose yet? What did you think?

Thanks for reading, and as always – talk soon!

July 2021 Wrap Up

Hi! I’ve been MIA for a while. Life got a bit busy, with work, house and… a new kitten! His name is Zucchini and he’s the sweetest boy in the universe, and he also takes up a lot of my time and attention.

Despite being so busy, I still managed to read a good bit in the month of July. Here’s the stats:

  • Number of books read: 15
  • Number of pages read: 3250
  • Average star rating: 3.75
  • DNF: 0
  • Physical TBR at the start of the month: 48
  • Books read: 5
  • Current TBR: 51

Dustborn by Erin Bowman

I finally finished Dustborn this month. I started reading it in May… don’t be misleaded by it, I did enjoy it. But I picked it up at the wrong time, when my reading slump was at its worst and ended up not appreciating the story enough. I also think I hyped it up in my head too much and compared it to Vengeance Road, which is one of my favourite books. All in all, it was a very solid Western with a twist.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

I honestly don’t know why I continued with this series. I didn’t like the first book and surprise, surprise, I didn’t like this one either. The characters really just don’t do anything for me and I find Nova the worst of them all. I don’t care for the clumsy romance, for cookie cutter villains and heroes… yeah, I should’ve skipped it.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

ADHD 2.0 by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., John J. Ratey, M.D.

I’ve read this book because my partner was recently diagnosed with ADHD and I wanted to learn more about it. I tend to not rate informative nonfiction, because I never know how to, but for what it’s worth, I think the book does its job!

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton

I am discovering I really enjoy short story collections where the stories connect with each other through minor characters or events. This one does just that, is set in New York during a blackout and is such a quick and cute read! I liked most of the stories, though, once again Ashley Woodfolk’s writing didn’t mesh with me.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Original by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal

This was unexpectedly good. I mean, of course I expect good stuff from Sanderson – there’s a reason why I pick up EVERYTHING by him. But I wasn’t sure where a cowritten scifi novella fit in that. It ended up being better than I expected. Fast paced, interesting, smart and sort of Blake Crouchesque – my favourite kind of scifi.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi

I thought this book would easily be a 4 or a 5 star, considering how I rated other books by Tahereh Mafi. I do love her writing, but this one just didn’t work for me. I don’t quite think the intention of it matched the tone and writing. For such a sad story, it felt jumbled up, unnecessarily dramatic just for the sake of it and uneventful… I thought it would make me emotional, but in the end it didn’t and I found it forgetful.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

Finally a YA mystery/thriller that I wasn’t totally disappointed in! I will be posting a full review at some point soon, so I won’t be going into detail, buy if you liked Sadie it might be something worth picking up!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones By Seanan McGuire

I binged the rest of this series in July and!!! Why did I wait so long? This one is probably my favourite (or one of two favourites). I loved both Jack and Jill and found the story the right amount of whimsical and… disturbing.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

While I enjoyed this one, too, I found it a bit scattered, and the weakest out of the ones I read. I did enjoy the world building, but Rini and her sense of humour… not so much.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

In an Absent Dream is my second favourite. I wish McGuire would write a full length novel about the Goblin Market. I really loved the premise of this one and all of the quirk that came with it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

I really enjoyed seeing Jack and Jill once again and continuing with their story, although not quite as much as their first one.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

Yet another quirky, whimsical story but much less dark, which is a shame. I did love the representation McGuire included with Regan being intersex.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas did it again! I loved THUG and I was dying to read about Maverick’s teens and it ended up being everything I could’ve wanted. From the writing, through the characters and their development, the plot – it was all perfection. I think I’ll post a full review of this one, soon!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Night Always Comes by Willy Vlautin

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this but whatever it was, it wasn’t what I got. I think I wanted something like Northline. And in some ways it was similar, but while Nortline was depressing, yet realistic and somehow uplifting at times, The Night Always Comes was just plain depressing. I couldn’t deal with the main character and her making the same mistake over and over, nor could I read more of her whiny mother… I probably should’ve DNFed it.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

Oh, the disappointment of this one hurt… the marketing of this book really sold it to me – I wanted and expected body horror, spooky atmosphere and mysterious main characters. None of it really delivered. I haven’t found the book to be particularly atmospheric or spooky. I couldn’t care less about the characters. The pacing was off and it made the book drag. For such a short story (just under 300 pages), it was a real slug. Full review to come.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

As you can see, I had a pretty good reading month, although I have read MANY short books. How was your July? What was your favourite of the month?

Thank you for reading! P.S. My blog finally surpassed 5000 views! Hooray!

June 2021 Wrap Up

Hello! I am a day late, this post was meant to go up yesterday, but… I’m unorganised. And I did think for a second of skipping this wrap up altogether because I read so little in July.

Anyway, here are the stats.

  • Number of books read: 5
  • Number of pages read: 1385
  • Average star rating: 3.1 stars
  • DNF: 1
  • Physical TBR at the start of the month: 48
  • Books read: 0
  • Current TBR: 54

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

I have very much enjoyed this whole series, including the conclusion. I wish I read the books in a bit of a closer succession, because I think I would’ve retained more info and therefore enjoyed it more. But overall, I think this installment was interesting, well paced and I like how the story ended. And maybe I would’ve rated in higher if not the romance aspect.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo

I don’t have much to say about either of these. They were just okay, but I didn’t get anything out of them. I’ve no conclusive thoughts on either.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

I have a full review of this book here.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

This has been on my tbr for the longest time, I think I’ve added it before it even came out, and I might’ve hyped it up too much for myself. I did enjoy the story and Cordova’s writing, but it did read on the younger spectrum of YA and I think I’m growing out of those stories by now. I still think that any fans of paranormal fantasy should give it a go, even though it wasn’t my absolute favourite.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

As you see, I had a pretty bad reading month. The slump hit me hard. Let’s hope July is better.

I hope you had a great June. Thanks so much for reading.

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone – A Review – TheWriteReads Tour

Hi! Today is my stop on TheWriteReads tour for Mirrorland!

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone
  • Publication date:
  • Publisher: Scribner Books
  • Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Cat lives in Los Angeles, about as far away as she can get from her estranged twin sister El and No. 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where they grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband Ross.

But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to the grand old house, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. No. 36 Westeryk Road is still full of shadowy, hidden corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues all over the house: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, where she knows the truth lies crouched and waiting…

First of all, thank you to Dave at TheWriteReads and the publisher for providing me with an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I am in the biggest reading and life slump at the moment, and honestly, reading hasn’t been much of a priority for me. But this book sounded really fun, and twisty, and I think thrillers are the best books to get one out of a reading slump, so I dived in hoping it’d do so for me.

Although the premise of this book isn’t anything special or unique, considering it is a debut novel, I thought the concept was fairly well thought out and still interesting. Domestic thrillers can be done in so many different ways, they don’t always have to be very unique in plot to offer something new.

From the get go the story was a little bit confusing. The way it is told, with the past and the present mixed together was disorienting at the start, but I definitely got used to it pretty fast. And the mystery was enough to keep me reading and engaged until about halfway through.

I felt very lukewarm towards all the characters. The mystery took over any character development, sadly, and I had no idea what to make of the main character, Cat, and as the story progressed, I liked her less and less. I have no problems with unlikeable characters, but when the whole story is full of them, it becomes a bit of an issue.

I found Mirrorland extremely atmospheric and quite well written, especially for the author’s first novel. So, although some things didn’t work for me, the writing and the uneasy feeling the book gave me, definitely made me want to read and find out more. But I do have to echo one thing that has made its rounds on everyone’s review, regarding the writing… what the hell is a Poirot?

I think, overall, Mirrorland was a mixed bag. It had things I enjoyed, and things I thought needed more attention. The book could’ve ended 20% earlier. The ending felt drawn out. But the mystery kept me reading and I did like the writing. Sadly, though, the reading slump is still very real.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Check out the Mirrorland and TheWriteReads hashtags to read other reviews of this book!

As always, thanks for reading! Talk soon!

Most Anticipated Releases of the Third Quarter of 2021

Hi! It is that time of the year again… the second quarter of 2021 is coming to an end, which means it’s time for my new releases post. These are for the months of July, August and September, and although it’s not a complete list, meaning I’m probably missing some books, they’re all the ones I’m aware of and excited to read.

I think you’ll see a bit of a trend here, too.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Release date: July 13th

We’re kicking off the list with a sci-fi book from an author whose series I binge read at the start of the year. I love Becky Chambers’ writing and this one is a first in a new series about robots and monks!

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Release date: July 13th

On the same day, we have The Final Girl Support Group, which is a thriller about, you guessed it… final girls (for clarification, final girls is a term to describe a sole survivor of a big massacre). I haven’t read anything from Grady Hendrix yet, but this seems (very) similar to Final Girls by Riley Sager and so it sounds just up my alley.

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

Release date: July 27th

I’ve read a Shari Lapena before and it didn’t really work for me. But this one sounds really good, so I’m gonna give her another go. Not a Happy Family is a thriller about an older rich couple who gets murdered and it alludes to one of their kids being their murderer. I love a good domestic thriller.

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould

Release date: August 3rd

Yet another mystery/thriller on the list (now, do you see the theme?). This one is set in a small town in Oregon and sounds dark and supernatural. Teens go missing, two ghost hunters come back into town… I’ve seen a lot of buzz already for this one, and I can’t wait to get to it.

All’s Well by Mona Awad

Release date: August 3rd

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know much about this book, but I saw Mona Awad’s name and I was like… yup, gimme. All I know it has something to do with a Shakespeare play and… that’s all. I know I’m not selling it well to you, but I think it’s safe to say we can expect something unique and slightly weird.

(Me) Moth by Amber McBride

Release date: August 17th

(Me) Moth is a debut novel written in verse. I haven’t read many books written in verse, but the ones I have I quite enjoyed. It’s a coming of age novel about identity and first love and it sounds great.

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova

Release date: September 7th

First adult novel by Zoraida – count me in. This is magical realism, if I’m not mistaken, about a family who inherit magical gifts. I don’t think I’m very good at pitching stuff, because this is very vague, but I know deep in my bones it’s going to be good. I just know it.

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Release date: September 9th

Hawthorne Legacy is a sequel to The Inheritance Games, a book I reviewed last year as part of a blog tour and really enjoyed. It’s about a girl who inherits a big estate of a person she never knew, but before she can claim said inheritance, she has to live in a mansion for a year, with the late millionaire’s family and survive. Dun dun duuun… I thought the first book was great and I’m looking forward to continuing with the story.

All These Bodies by Kendare Blake

Release date: September 16th

I’m a bit torn. On one hand, I read Anna Dressed in Blood years ago and really disliked it. On the other hand, I loved loved LOVED Three Dark Crowns. This one seems more in the vein of Anna Dressed in Blood – it’s set in the 50s and about a 15 year old girl who’s accused of many murders and decides to confess to the sheriff’s son. I am keeping my hopes high, but staying weary.

Into the Dying Light by Katy Rose Pool

Release date: September 21st

Okay, I am getting ahead of myself, as this is book 3 in the series and I haven’t yet read book 2. I also don’t remember a great bit about book 1. What I do remember, though, is being surprised by how much I enjoyed it, though it had a few too many POVs. So before I dive into this one, I probably need a good refresher of There Will Come a Darkness. Ummm… I’m still keeping this on the list!

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

Release date: September 28th

I have seen so many people mention Ronan Lynch in their reviews of this book, and I think it might’ve swayed me slightly… Summer Sons is meant to be gothic, dark, queer and great. It deals with grief, academia and ghosts. That’s all I know, unsurprisingly. And I need it.

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

Release date: September 30th

Last, but not least, we have a new release from Tiffany D. Jackson, who is slowly becoming one of my favourite authors. It’s a bit different from what we’ve gotten from her before – it’s a psychological thriller with a haunted house! As you can see, I’m in a very specific mood this summer. This sounds great, and even better coming from Jackson.

And that is all. Are any of these on your tbr? Did I miss any exciting books? Let me know down below.

Thank you for reading, and as always I’ll speak to you soon!

Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky – Blog Tour

Hi! I haven’t done a book tour in a hot minute! …and I’m super late. Apologies, but life really got in the way. I was meant to post 3 days ago.

Today we’re talking about Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky. This is more of a first impressions post, as I haven’t finished the book yet. Let’s go.

The Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Publication date: August 3rd 2021
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Genre: Sci-fi

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . . Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade him in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers. After earth was destroyed, mankind created a fighting elite to save their species, enhanced humans such as Idris. In the silence of space they could communicate, mind-to-mind, with the enemy. Then their alien aggressors, the Architects, simply disappeared—and Idris and his kind became obsolete. Now, fifty years later, Idris and his crew have discovered something strange abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects—but are they returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy hunting for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, that many would kill to obtain.

Sci-fi is one of my favourite genres and I especially enjoy space operas. But it’s also the genre that is harder to get into when you’re in a reading slump. I’ve read from Tchaikovsky before, and I enjoyed his writing and ideas, and I was really excited to pick this book up.

Right off the bat it throws you into the story with little explanation, enough to keep you intrigued but not to give too much away, which makes me believe the story will be nicely paced throughout.

The cast of characters seems very diverse and interesting. I love the found family trope, it’s one of my favourites and it’s meant to be present in this story! What’s better than a group of misfits on a space ship?!

I am not far into the book (about 20%), but I already love the writing. Some sci-fi books are a bit… too dry. Not Tchaikovsky’s writing. He writes in a very accessible way for non sci-fi readers, I think.

I can’t wait to get more into the story. I’ll be sure to post a full review once I’m done.

As I’m unable to give you more of my thoughts please check out these reviews:

Tessa

Bex

Blair

And check out The Write Reads hashtags for this tour!

As always, thanks for reading. Apologies for being late. Talk soon!

May 2021 Wrap Up

Hi! Another month gone… (insert lots of talk about months flying by, as per usual). I had a strange month, it started off strong and then I completely lost steam. I still managed to read 11 books, which isn’t bad.

Let’s get into my favourite part of the post – stats! May is my birthday month (I turned 28!) so you’ll see my physical TBR shot up quite a bit.

  • Number of books read: 11
  • Number of pages read: 4573
  • Average star rating: 3.4
  • DNF: 1
  • Physical TBR at the start of the month: 37
  • Books read: 2
  • Current TBR: 48

Illusionary by Zoraida Córdova

I have a full review on here if you’d like to check it out!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

I’ve also posted a full review for this one, here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Project by Courtney Summers

I’ve seen many mixed reviews about this book, mostly comparing it to Sadie, and how it was vastly different from it. I think Summers’ writing was just as good and the story she told in The Project interesting and well done. I guess I’m in the minority here, but I really liked it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

This one is a blend of fantasy and mystery, and the mystery was what drove the plot, and I wished it was the other way around. I did like the book, but I think it would’ve benefited more from really focusing on the world building and political intrigue, and by giving us more depth, rather than mystery twists and turns. It was good, but it had the potential to be great.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells

What can I say? I love Murderbot. I kind of wish we got a full length novel, but these snippets are satisfactory for me and a great palate cleanser in between bigger books.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Sprinkle of Sorcery by Michelle Harrison

I found this second installment in the series fun, but slightly underwhelming. I usually love pirates in middle grade books, but I preferred the first books storyline and the magical elements of it. Charlie was once again my favourite Widdershin sister.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

This was a fun, if a bit predictable and formulaic read. I enjoyed the plot and found the book entertaining, but the last portion got too romance heavy for me to really enjoy it. That being said, it’s definitely just personal preference and I know many people would probably love it. I’m undecided on whether I’ll be continuing with the series for that reason.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Wicked as You Wish by Rin Chupeco

My first Rin Chupeco and sadly I didn’t enjoy it. I found the world building too much, it seems to be based off all and every fairytale AND myth the author could find. That paired up with a big cast of characters, too big to properly develop any, and it honestly turned into a bit of a disaster for me. I read it last month, and I already am struggling with remembering what it was about. Disappointing, but maybe their other books will work for me.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Serpent’s Curse by Lisa Maxwell

I honestly thought it was the last book in the series. At 75% I realised it couldn’t possibly be, because the plot was nowhere near wrapped up. I think this series is criminally underrated – rhis installment was fantastic and exciting, but I will admit I’m growing sick of the will they, won’t they romance.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

Once again, I love Murderbot. There isn’t much to say about these books, they’re bite size, fun and hilarious. I found Exit Strategy to be a bit less sarcastic and a bit more serious, though, and it made it my least favourite installment so far.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshy

I finally got my hands on this book. It’s been on my TBR since it was announced. I will be publishing a review for it soon, so I’ll leave my thoughts until then. Let me just tell you I’m intrigued but not totally sold on it just yet.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

And that is all. I’ve been wondering if you’d be interested in seeing my reading related spreads from my bullet journal in these wrap ups? Also, let me know if you’d like a full review for any of these?

How was your reading this month?

Talk soon!

Illusionary by Zoraida Cordova – A Review

Hi! It’s been a while. I’ve fallen into a creative slump, and then it was my birthday (I turned 28!) so this review is a few days late.

Illusionary by Zoraida Cordova
  • Publication date: May 11th 2021
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Genre: Fantasy

Reeling from betrayal at the hands of the Whispers, Renata Convida is a girl on the run. With few options and fewer allies, she’s reluctantly joined forces with none other than Prince Castian, her most infuriating and intriguing enemy. They’re united by lofty goals: find the fabled Knife of Memory, kill the ruthless King Fernando, and bring peace to the nation. Together, Ren and Castian have a chance to save everything, if only they can set aside their complex and intense feelings for each other.

With the king’s forces on their heels at every turn, their quest across Puerto Leones and beyond leaves little room for mistakes. But the greatest danger is within Ren. The Gray, her fortress of stolen memories, has begun to crumble, threatening her grip on reality. She’ll have to control her magics–and her mind–to unlock her power and protect the Moria people once and for all.

For years, she was wielded as weapon. Now it’s her time to fight back.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Incendiary took me a while to get properly into and I really didn’t like Renata as a main character. I still enjoyed the book, especially some of the supporting characters and the world and magic system. After finishing it, I was looking forward to learning more about everything – I didn’t quite realise it was a duology. That being said, I think Illusionary wrapped up the story quite well, and it was a satisfying conclusion.

While the first book focused more on the rebellion and had Renata confused about her powers, alliances and love life, and therefore annoying, Illusionary focuses more on her character growth and the magic, which is definitely the strongest aspect of this series. It definitely made me like her more as a character – I think she grew into the person she was meant to be from the very first page, the powerful and badass woman, and she really realised where she belonged.
My favourites remain Leo and Castian, though. Honestly, if the story revolved around those 2 and Lady Nuria from the first book, I think those would easily be 5 star reads.

This book was fast paced and exciting. So much happened in this installment, but it didn’t feel rushed. We found out a lot about the world, how and why the rebellion started. It was a perfect mix of action, character development and back story. And it all led to a satisfying conclusion.

I really enjoyed Illusionary and I’m looking forward to picking up more by Zoraida Cordova in the future. I think, although YA fantasy has a lot to offer that is similar to this story in plot, this duology is definitely worth a read, as Cordova’s voice is distinctive and strong.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Will you be picking up this duology? Or have you read it already? What did you think?

Thank you for reading. Talk soon!

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon – A Review

Hi!

Happy (UK) publication date to Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon! I’m very excited to be sharing this review with you.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
  • Publication date: May 6th 2021
  • Publisher: Merky Books
  • Genre: Fantasy

Vern – seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised – flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.

But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.

To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future – outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with and audio ARC of this book in exchange for and honest review.

I’m not sure how to approach writing this review. I’ve never read anything by Solomon, I had no idea at all what to expect, apart from the short and somewhat vague blurb. I had no expectations, other than hope that I would enjoy it. The experience of reading this book surpassed all the expectations I could’ve had.

Sorrowland is not an easy book, nor a book that is for everyone. I’ve realised recently that I enjoy “weird” books – books that don’t fit a specific genre, ones that do unconventional things with the plot, narration or the characters. This is exactly what Sorrowland did. Solomon touches on so many issues in this book, and although the story itself is speculative, the issues very much apply to our real world. It is brutal, honest and talks about race, identity, sexuality, gender and so much more.

I loved the writing. After reading Sorrowland, I swiftly added all of the other books by the author to my TBR. It was lyrical, without sounding pretentious; incredibly atmospheric and beautiful, even the horrifying and brutal parts.

Vern was a really strong and interesting character. I enjoyed following her throughout the story as she learned about who she was and what Cainland did to her. I really liked her children, too, and the relationship they had. Well developed familial relationships are something I love in books, no matter the genre.

I’ve seen people complain about how slow the middle of the book was, but I couldn’t disagree more. I think Solomon paced the story really well, and it flowed naturally. It was a perfect blend of action and character development. I found the book interesting all throughout.

The only thing about Sorrowland I didn’t enjoy were the overly explicit sex scenes. They didn’t ruin it for me, and I understand why the author has put them in, but I don’t ever find them necessary, and prefer the fade to black approach.

I can’t say much more without spoiling anything about the book. I think it’s best to go into it knowing very little, and watching it unfold.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you for reading! Is Sorrowland on your TBR?

Until the next time!