The Silvered Serpents ARC Review

The Silvered Serpents

Number of pages: 416

Rating (out of five stars): 5

Release Date: September 22, 2020

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

Hi. I made a grave mistake reading The Silvered Serpents so early because now I need book 3 to be in my hands, and that’s not happening for at least another year. I do have a brief extra disclaimer that I am on the street team for this series, and I did receive the e-ARC I read through being on the street (the publisher originally rejected me on Netgalley). This does not affect my thoughts on this book. I genuinely loved The Silvered Serpents book. Also, mild spoiler warning for The Gilded Wolves.

If you happened to be around me while I was reading this book, you might have noticed that I either had my hand over my mouth or I was clenching and unclenching my fist (particularly while reading Séverin’s chapters). There was no in between. Since the very foreboding prologue I was hooked and either distressed or ready to knock some sense into my favourite disaster nerds (but mostly Séverin).

Speaking of my favourite disaster nerds, they go through and grow so much throughout The Silvered Serpents. There were so many moments where I got to (internally because I read most of this on the bus) celebrate how bad*** Laila is, wish the group had listened to Hypnos, and cheer on Enrique and Zofia as they figured stuff out. These characters have my heart and feel so real.

I particularly liked seeing how what happened to Tristan affected all of them. Tristan was maybe my least favourite character in The Gilded Wolves, but seeing all of them deal with what happened broke me. There was one point where I had to stop reading because I was going to cry in public.

One of my favourite things about this series is that it combines math, myth, history, and magic, which is honestly my entire field of interest. Like in no other series do I get to get excited about them (I think) talking about epsilon in a math context after they discussed the muses from Greek mythology. My nerd heart is so happy because this series is somehow up my (very niche) alley.

The writing is magical as always. You can always expect gorgeous writing from Roshani Chokshi’s books though, so it’s hardly a surprise at this point. One of my favourite moments was when one of the characters defined writers and it felt like 100% something Roshani Chokshi would write (I referenced this in my Twitter thread of me live-tweeting the book, but I don’t think it made sense without knowing what I was talking about).

I think understood the world a little better in this one. Not that I didn’t understand it in book one, it’s just that I feel like I have a way better grasp on what forging is. There’s a new (I think) type of forging introduced, and I think it really helped me understand forging better than I did last December.

The Silvered Serpents is filled with massive reveals that I mostly didn’t see coming. The hints are there, but oh my god did this book ever have me on the edge of my seat. There were some parts of ending in particular that I was able to guess, but still made me sob on the bus. To quote my initial Goodreads review, how dare this book stab a penknife into my heart (I really want someone to get this reference and yell at me for it).

Overall, I loved The Silvered Serpents, earning it all the stars (really 5 stars out of 5).

Ruthless Gods ARC Review

Ruthless Gods

Number of pages: 544

Rating (out of five stars): 4.5 stars

Release Date: April 7th, 2020

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

You know your review is late when you finished the book you had an ARC of by reading the Owlcrate special edition that sat at your parents’ house for months. Yikes. It’s also been so long since I’ve written a review that I’ve forgotten how to write them, so we’ll see how this goes.

Ruthless Gods is very different from Wicked Saints, which I can say with confidence despite remembering nothing about Wicked Saints. Ruthless Gods is a lot slower than Wicked Saints. Both still made my heart pound, but Ruthless Gods was more that quiet kind of addicting where you’re not desperate to keep reading, but your thoughts keep travelling back to thinking about the book, and I love books like that.

I also kind of love that I have so many questions still. There are things brought up that we never fully get answers to, and it’s making me desperate for book 3. In fact, the withholding of information was just as well done as the reveals and betrayals, and both were excellent.

Something else that is so well done about Ruthless Gods is the magic system. It’s so interesting and compllex (content warnings for self-harm and eye horror. Read with caution). On top of the magic system being so fascinating, the world-building in this series continues to be incredible. Kalyazin and Tranavia feel like they could be real places (though I’m not sure you would want to visit).

The cast grows a little in Ruthless Gods, but all the characters still feel developed and like they’re their own people. I especially like learning more about Parijahan (I’ve heard in passing there are some problems with the rep in relation to the Akolans in the first book, but I can’t personally speak on it), and meeting Katya was so much fun.

Speaking of the characters, I really like the main romance, and I feel very guilty about it. This is an enemies to lovers romance, and it’s not healthy (aka don’t try this at home kids), but I am very invested in it. There’s also another relationship in Ruthless Gods I’m really happy about, but I’m not sure I would call that one healthy either. It does have some really sweet moments, though.

The end of Ruthless Gods gave me chills, and then later that night I had nightmares. Ruthless Gods leans harder into the horror than Wicked Saints, so be warned. Also, here’s another warning that if eye stuff bothers you, I don’t recommend reading this book. It’s very unsettling.

Overall, I really enjoyed Ruthless Gods, earning it 4.5 stars out of 5.

For the Lover of Books is 5!

Hello. Long time, no post. I haven’t been on WordPress since Dec 31st (my Of Curses and Kisses review was scheduled). I’m also (maybe permanently) off Twitter and (definitely temporarily) off Instagram at the moment for mental health reasons, so it’s safe to say I’m not very present online right now.

It’s also safe to say that it’s really weird to celebrate For the Lover of Books turning 5, and not just because the last time I wrote something for this blog it was still 2019. I can’t believe I started this blog 5 years ago.  I started this blog as a fresh start and something to do after finishing grade 10. I wanted to practice my writing. I wanted an outlet for all my strong opinions. And yet this blog gave me so much more than that. I’ve met some incredible people through this blog. I’ve had some incredible opportunities through this blog, from street teams, to reading ARCs, to blog tours, to so much more I’m probably forgetting.

I’m a completely different person from when I started this blog. I was a very angry and lonely person at the end of grade 10. I didn’t know I had depression and social anxiety when I started this blog (though this blog did help me figure that out). Not only am I a much happier person now, but I’ve also (mildly) figured out the mental health stuff (go me!).

But it’s not just my mood that’s changed over 5 years. I graduated high school in the last 5 years. I’m headed into my 4th year of university in September. I’m a legal adult, which I wasn’t when I started this blog. I got my first real job after starting this blog, and now I work at a bookstore (when it can open again and I can sign a new contract). My family has gotten our first dog since I started this blog. I’ve flown overseas and seen the country my grandmother grew up in since I started this blog. There’s probably so much I’m missing, because 5 years is such a long time.

And I’ve been absent for a (long) while and not very active on the platforms I was “on” until recently. And For the Lover of Books is probably still shutting down by the end of the year (if I ever manage to read and review the ARCs I still have to get to), but this blog has been in my life for 5 years, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

So Happy Birthday, For the Lover of Books! There many not be 5 more years in your future, but I’m so incredibly thankful you were there for the last 5.

 


Because of my lack of online presence, I’m not too up to date on the news, but I do know that Black lives matter regardless of if it’s a trending topic. Here’s a resource that will take you to ways to help the cause, because we need to do better. To my fellow Canadians, please know that racism is a big problem here too, and it always has been. To my fellow white people, please learn, watch and listen, and keep doing that for the rest of your life, but absolutely do not ask Black people to educate you. If you have access to this blog, you have access to Google.

Trans lives (and especially Black trans lives) also matter, regardless of what a popular children’s book author has to say about it. Trans women are women. Trans men are men. People of other identities that fall under the trans umbrella are exactly who they say they are. End of discussion.

If you’re still online places, please keep sharing resources on social media if you can. If you’re not (like me), please continue to educate yourself. We’re never done learning.

Take care of yourselves,

Moira ❤

 

Of Curses and Kisses ARC Review

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Number of pages:  384

Rating (out of five stars): 2.5

Release Date: February 18, 2020

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

Extra disclaimer: I am a part of Sandhya Menon’s street team. I was provided with a copy for review before I requested it on Netgalley (the first version was hard for me to read).

I feel terrible writing this review, but ultimately I don’t think Of Curses and Kisses was for me. I’m so sad. I don’t think this review will be very long, but I’m going to try to get out my thoughts as best I can.

The one thing I immediately liked about this book was Grey. He is the exact sarcastic and broody brand of character I love. His whole character is also an attack on teenage me.

Jaya, however, I struggled with. I kept waiting for her to grow as a person, but she never really did. Well, I guess she sort of did, but it all happened very fast.

Speaking of everything happening very fast, I felt like things were a little rushed. Like Jaya spent the so much of the book trying to convince DE to do something (with DE pushing back on the idea), and then at one point DE just agrees with her and that’s the end of that. A new conflict is also introduced 88% of the way through the book, and it somehow ends in a happily every after. It was a major thing, so it really shouldn’t have been resolved by the end. There’s a whole bunch of similar instances in this book that makes me wish more time had been taken to flesh these things out.

Everything also felt very stilted and awkward. I think it was a stylistic choice because it mostly happened in Jaya’s chapters, but it didn’t make it any easier to read. Eventually it started affecting other characters who were much more “chill” than Jaya when the book started feeling more rushed as well, which made for many bits of dialogue that felt like things no one would actually say. It was jarring.

In terms of retellings, Of Curses and Kisses felt like it was more animated Disney Beauty and the Beast inspired than anything. It also isn’t really a retelling. I would say it’s more inspired by the fairytale.

Overall Of Curses and Kisses unfortunately wasn’t for me, earning it 2.5 stars out of 5.

2019 Year in Review + Announcement

Quick general content warnings for depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, and various other mental health related stuff. Please take care of yourself while reading.

This was originally going to be a review of every year in this decade. In fact, I was in the middle of writing about 2019 (after having written about all the previous years) when I made the decision to not do that. Writing about all the stuff that happened to me was cathartic,  but it wasn’t productive, and it certainly doesn’t need to be on the internet. I don’t want to return to the anger and pain of those previous years of the decade, even if there were some amazing moments in between.

This decade contained a lot of hurt, and I was a very angry person who was in desperate need of a hug or a wake up call. My wake up call came in the form of 2018. This decade contains all of the worst moments of my life, but 2018 in particular broke me. My beloved cat who had been my everything passed away in March, and I had to figure out how to keep going without the one thing that had been there for me for 5 years. I also got hit with the worst depressive episode of my life that lasted from late October 2018 to March 2019. I was pushing back against suicidal thoughts daily, and it got so bad that I couldn’t listen to my music (one of my coping methods) anymore because it was too dark and doing more harm than good. I couldn’t talk about this last year in my 2018 year in review because compiling all this would have broken me further, but it’s relevant to this year’s story. I’m in tears writing about it now.

With that much needed context, let’s see what this year brought me.

2019 started out really rough. As I said earlier, I was very deeply depressed until the end of March. I was missing class and overworking myself, and it was terrible.

In January I began working on a cross stitch design inspired by The Gilded Wolves. I’m a part of the street team for the series, and watching all these talented people create so many amazing things made me want to do so as well. The problem was I am a terrible artist (though I want to learn how to be less terrible), but my aunt did teach me how to cross stitch when I was around 13. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my 2nd and 3rd ever cross stitch pieces, inspired by The Gilded Wolves and The Devouring Gray respectively, but I’ll put the pictures below (The Gilded Wolves one was free-hand, while I made a pattern for The Devouring Gray one).

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I gave up on being a math major in 2019, and finally realized that it was okay to not be good at some things. 2019 was actually a huge year of growth for me. After that long period of depression, I realized I didn’t want to be angry and sad anymore. I wanted to be the happy person I was at work. I wanted to be the happy person I was while walking with headphones in, absorbing the music. I wanted kindness to be my first reaction, not defensive anger. I wanted to be as happily animated as I was when talking about things I loved all the time.

So I started working on it. If I wanted to be happy, I had to start respecting myself enough to not just take the treatment I received from people in my life just because they were blood or the only ones willing to speak to me. I finally realized that if my only response would be defensive anger brushed aside, maybe it wasn’t worth the effort or the pain it caused me to be so angry all the time.

Before that happened, I discovered Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) through listening to Spell Check (a podcast where 6 YA authors play D&D), and it quickly became my new obsession. I didn’t understand what any of the terms meant at first, but it was just another form of storytelling and it called to me. I loved rooting for the characters, and I loved the idea that you could live or die on a dice role. I used to love making up complicated fantasy games as a little kid, and I’d never been anything but a giant nerd at heart with a flair for the dramatic, so I think I’d finally found the thing that had been missing (this is why if you’ve spoken to me in the last 4 months, D&D is the only thing I talk about).

Listening to Spell Check every Wednesday (and eventually watching campaign 1 of Critical Role after one of the authors who’s a part of Spell Check tweeted about it) made me want to learn to play. I joined WARP (Western (my university) Association of Role Players) and joined my first campaign this school year. I love it so much. My half-elf rogue Rhea is both my precious child and the bane of my existence (she’s kind of a dick, but if anyone says anything bad about her I will fight them). It’s so nice to get to pretend to be someone else every week. Rhea doesn’t overthink everything like I do (thanks anxiety), and she’s way calmer than I am. It’s nice to be in someone else’s head for a while, even if it takes all my spoons for the day to play the game (thanks social anxiety). Plus, now I get to waste all my money on pretty D&D dice. I love it so much that instead of doing my next bookish cross stitch (King of Fools inspired, as voted on by Twitter), I made a cross stitch inspired by the campaign (Pictured below. Six of Crows pillow for scale).

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Context: Steven is a peasant we forced to take us somewhere in a boat we owe money to (but we’re never going to pay him), and we’re in the middle of a war between the left side (under the sun king (who is very bad)) and the right side (under the rose king (who is the lesser of two evils)). Caelynn is our ranger, Fable is one of our bards, Peter is our fighter, Rhea is our rogue (<3), gNim is our other bard, and Reed is our cleric.

I’ve been working on loving myself (or changing the parts I don’t love) these past few months, and as a result I’ve been the happiest I’ve been all decade. I haven’t looked in the mirror and worried if I’m skinny enough in months, and I’ve been having so much fun accepting myself as the disaster I am. I am so happy, and it feels so good. I never want to let this feeling go. This doesn’t mean I don’t have depression anymore. I’m in the middle or a very minor episode right now (it’s mostly effecting my sleep schedule), but I think part of the reason it’s not as bad is because of the work I’ve done.

I also still love my job at the bookstore on campus, of course. If you told me I would get to work in a bookstore surrounded by some of the best people as my coworkers, I wouldn’t have believed you. Even though my tongue trips over my words at cash all the time (thanks social anxiety), and certain large groups of students refuse to listen to us when we answer their questions, I love my job so much and I’d be loath to give it up.

That’s pretty much it for my 2019. Despite the fact that I’ll be ringing in the new year alone in my bedroom scream-singing along to Weightless by All Time Low, I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time and I can’t wait to see what 2020 will bring.

Announcement

You may have noticed that this blog has been largely abandoned since I started university in fall 2017. For the Lover of Books has been my greatest source of pride for the past 4 years, but it’s gotten to the point where I only post the occasional ARC review and then don’t post for months. It’s time to let this blog go.

I have a bunch of review commitments I made before making this decision, so For the Lover of Books will see the occasional post until about June 2020, but after that I will no longer be posting on this blog. I think I’m going to keep it up for memory’s sake (and keep my WordPress account alive so I can comment on blog posts by the amazing people I follow (which I regretfully haven’t done in a long time)), but For the Lover of Books will be no more. I’m also still going to be tracking my reading (maybe writing the occasional review) on Goodreads, and my Twitter and Instagram will still be full of bookish thoughts (though I might change my handles considering they’re related to this blog).

I want to say the decision to shut down For the Lover of Books, my baby of over 4 years, was hard, but it wasn’t. Over the last few years, my priorities have started to shift. I’ve been trying my hand at writing a book for the first time, and a bunch of other non-bookish stuff (like D&D) have started taking up my time. My blog has started to be my 5th or 6th priority.

ARCs have also started to make reading less fun for me. All this stress over trying to read something on a deadline (and then missing it entirely) has caused many reading slumps over the years, and I just want reading to be fun again. Getting to read books early has been an amazing opportunity for me, but I just can’t do it anymore with how busy I am.

I want to say a huge thank you to the entire online bookish community. Thank you for welcoming a lonely 16 year old girl in 2015 with open arms. I have met so many amazing people I never would have met through this blog, and I cannot thank you enough. I will always be grateful to all of you and this blog. Thank you!

Along with my thanks, I do want to quickly mention that I’m holding an international giveaway on Twitter for an Owlcrate box full of bookish swag (not just from Owlcrate). Just retweet this tweet to enter (no need to follow me or anything). I had to turn off notifications for the tweet (and Twitter in general temporarily) because the response has been overwhelming, so I might miss some stuff on Twitter for a bit (the buzzing of my phone kept me up all night)

Happy 2020 everyone! I hope you have an amazing new year, and thank you for everything!

Moira

 

Songs from the Deep ARC Review

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Number of pages:  304

Rating (out of five stars): 1

Release Date: November 5, 2019

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

Mild spoilers ahead; proceed with caution

Have you ever read a book because the protagonist shares your weird name? Well now I have, and I can say with certainty that it was not worth it. I mean there were other reasons why I chose to request this book (ex the sirens), but it was mostly because of the name thing. I am also very late to reviewing this because school, but what else is new at this point.

Let’s just dive right in because this is a 1 star review and I read this book almost 2 months ago (so I remember nothing). As I mentioned above, I was interested in the siren element of this book. Sirens aren’t a huge thing in YA, but growing up as a huge mythology nerd they were always sort of interesting to me. Too bad the sirens in this book don’t really do anything. I mean, they stare angrily a few times and attack the love interest once, but other than that the exist solely for villain motivation, I guess?

Related is my gripe about this book being anti-climatic. Moira keeps referencing this secret she’s keeping from Jude that will make him hate her, but when we finally find out what this secret is it has little to do with her, and all to do with two adult males making a decision. I’m not saying what happened isn’t tragic, but I am saying it was blown way out of proportions. The whole time I was reading I figured Moira was half-siren or something (which would have been cool, made the sirens more useful, and created a sense of urgency and a real conflict between her and our love interest), but it turns out the big twist was way less interesting.

Also anti-climatic was the villain reveal, where the obvious villain throughout the entire book is revealed to be the murderer when Moira overhears him speaking openly with his accomplice about committing the murder. I’m pretty sure this was supposed to be a murder mystery, but sure, just hand our heroes the answer. They sure couldn’t figure it out themselves. I mean, they got their first lead 43% into the book, and they didn’t even follow it.

Speaking of things this book pretended to be but wasn’t, it was weirdly historical at some points but then not historical for the most part. When I started reading Songs from the Deep, I had no idea it was supposed to be vaguely historical until I reached a sentence that was structured in a way modern sentences aren’t. It would have been fine (but a little odd) if the book had kept it up for the rest of the book, but it was almost like it would forget it was supposed to be a historical fantasy and then remember again in short bursts. It made for an odd reading experience.

I said in one of my Goodreads updates I would keep track of the amount of times I rolled my eyes in the last half of the book, and I rolled my eyes a total of 11 times. This book was just so profoundly not for me, and I would have DNFed it had it not been an ARC. Overall, Songs from the Deep gets a 1 star out of 5 from me.

Books That Aren’t Six of Crows

When I came up with the idea for this post a month ago I was feeling really annoyed. I like to read those daily updates from your Goodreads friends emails because I never check my feed on there. One day, one of my Goodreads friends had a review for a book completely unrelated to Six of Crows, upset that it wasn’t like Six of Crows. And this isn’t new and doesn’t pertain to only this Goodreads friend. There are so many books where the top reviews on Goodreads are along the lines of “Because of Six of Crows, I’ll read anything with ‘crow’ in the title”.

This frustrates me because a lot of these books are nothing like Six of Crows. In our search to find a book that is exactly like Six of Crows (but not exactly like Six of Crows because then it’s a “cheep knockoff of Six of Crows”, even if it was published/ written before Six of Crows was published), we are harming completely unrelated books by setting people up to expect Six of Crows when the books are about different things.

So I’ve compiled a short list of books I’ve read that aren’t Six of Crows, but have been compared to Six of Crows. These can pretty much fit into two categories: multiple POV and have ‘crow’ in the title. Despite this list being only 6 books long, I’ve split them up into these categories.

Multiple POV (+ some other similarities)

the gilded wolves

I have to start with the book that caused massive controversy for not being Six of Crows, but also being too similar to Six of Crows. I’m a part of the problem on this one. I’ve recommended The Gilded Wolves as a book you might like if you liked Six of Crows. I read Six of Crows without reading The Grisha Trilogy, so I had trouble with the magic system initially and compared that to my initial struggle with forging (the magic sytsem in the Gilded Wolves). The Gilded Wolves also has a “let’s use our skills to steal a thing” plot line, though it’s more of a treasure hunt where they use knowledge of history, myth, math, and science to solve puzzles and steal the thing. I’ll even give you that Séverin and Kaz are similar (though I’m happy to argue all the ways they aren’t)

The problem is that they aren’t the same book. Not in the slightest. The Gilded Wolves is written by an author of colour and delves into some stuff like colonialism, being biracial (and “white passing” vs not). Meanwhile, Six of Crows has disabled rep and discussions of trauma. One isn’t better than the other, but they delve into fundamentally different things.

One of the most frustrating things about this is the comparison of Laila and Inej, who are very different characters who happen to both be brown.  Laila is the mom friend working hard to take care of her friends. She bakes, she likes fancy dresses, and she’s dealing very closely with her own mortality. Inej on the other hand is dealing very closely with the trauma that comes from what happened to her, and while her friendships with the other dregs (particularly Jesper and Nina) brings a smile to my face, she tends to mostly keep to herself. Laila and Inej are both fierce and amazing, but in different ways.

Michelle from Magical Reads has and excellent discussion post on this comparison that I highly recommend checking out.

Ace of Shades

I think Six of Crows was a comp title for Ace of Shades, which is fine because publishers use Six of Crows as a comp title all the time and it’s mostly inaccurate. The problem was that being on the street team I saw so many people continue to push the Six of Crows angle, and they’re really not alike. Like they both have crime and chapters from multiple morally grey characters, but that’s pretty much it.

Beneath the Citadel

I can’t remember if it was just that I compared this to Six of Crows, Six of Crows was a comp title, or if I saw someone else compare the two, but Beneath the Citadel has definitely been compared to Six of Crows. There is sort of a heist, but it goes really poorly. This is actually more of a “let’s take down the corrupt government kind of book”. I’d more recommend it to fans of There Will Come A Darkness than Six of Crows.

There Will Come a Darkness (The Age of Darkness, #1)

Speaking of There Will Come A Darkness, I saw so many people compare it to Six of Crows (mostly on Twitter) that I went in assuming the five characters joined together to stop the age of darkness, and one of them betrayed the others. That’s not what book is about at all. The story lines are more separate with some connections and interactions among the 5 POV characters. It’s a really good book, but as with the others on this list, it is not like Six of Crows.

Books With ‘Crow’ in the Title

the storm crow

I don’t know about you, but a book about a girl with depression who wants to ride magical crows and is trying to take down the country trying to take over her own doesn’t sound like Six of Crows at all. And yet I’ve seen so many people only express interest in this book because the ‘crow” in the title reminds them of Six of Crows. Then they get disappointed that a book that never pretended to be like Six of Crows isn’t like Six of Crows. The Storm Crow is my all-time favourite book, so I get extra angry every time I see a review like this because this book deserves so much better.

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The title The Merciful Crow has to do with how the cast Fie is a part of mercifully kills plague victims because her cast is immune to the plague, but that hasn’t stopped people from associating this book with Six of Crows for no reason. This book is basically a journey book, which is very different from a book about a heist.


Is there a book comparison that really bothers you?

Toil & Trouble Book Review

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Number of pages: 405

Rating (out of five stars): 3

I never have much luck with anthologies, but I love reading them anyway. They’re a great way to find new authors and read different author’s takes on similar things. I read Toil & Trouble in September, and as I like to review each story as I read, this review has basically been written since then. The rating above is the average rating between all the stories. But without further ado, let’s get on with my thoughts.

Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia

4 stars

I wasn’t really into this at first, but it was heartbreaking and sweet at the same time. I think the way Luna’s magic worked was really interesting, and though I understand nothing about astrology, I really liked seeing her magic be star based.

 

Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer

2 stars

This tried. It really did. But it also really wasn’t good. There wasn’t much of a story to it, what little there was of a story was uninteresting, the writing was trying really hard to emulate the style of the time the story is set, but it doesn’t do a very good job, and the format of just having large paragraphs of text between trial dialogue did not work.

 

The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe

3.5 stars

I wanted to like this more because it feels right up my alley, but I just didn’t. There’s nothing “wrong” with it by any means. It just didn’t hit me the way I wanted it to.

 

Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith

2 stars

I’m not sure I understand the magic, or what made this a story that someone thought needed to be told. Even when something happened it felt like nothing was happening. Maybe I just don’t get along with Lindsay Smith’s writing, but this one gets a no from me.

 

The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert

3 stars

Not enough witches. It actually felt like a severely shortened contemporary book with a slight magical element rather than a short story. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but it wasn’t bad.

 

The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar

1 star

I didn’t like this one so much that I bumped up my rating for 2 of the previous stories. At first I was going to recommend it to younger teen readers, but then it started preaching the sort of stuff my professors would say, which was very odd. It does have a sort of “friendship is the most magical thing out there” sort of message you find in TV directed at young kids, but it’s inconsistent.

 

The writing tries really hard to be beautiful and flowery, but it just felt forced and confusing. Like I still don’t understand what the title refers to.

 

Speaking of getting confused, partway through the magic started to feel like a metaphor for the magical qualities of art, but then it seemed like there was actually magic being used. I still don’t understand why they’re sometimes animals, I don’t understand the bone place (or whatever it was called), and I’m not even sure I know what happened.

 

The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley

2 stars

I really didn’t like the writing style of this one. It’s very stream of consciousness, which doesn’t tend to agree with me. It also kept going off on weird tangents that didn’t need to be there.

 

This is also another one where it wasn’t as witchy as I wanted it to be. Instead it was about a girl over-explaining things, and then suddenly there’s a witch hunter and she know how to stop the curse the end.

 

The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma

5 stars

Stopping reading this felt like breaking magic. This less than 20 page story is so raw and heartbreaking and beautiful and perfect. One of the best of the collection.

 

Divine are the Stars by Zoraida Córdova,  Daughters of Baba Yaga by Brenna Yovanoff, The Well Witch by Kate Hart, Beware of Girls With Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood

3 stars

Eh. I didn’t really care about these.

 

Lovespell by

4 stars

I really liked this one. It was really sweet.

 

The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord

3 stars

Turns out I forgot to write out my thoughts on this one. It was by far the longest, with multiple perspectives. I don’t know. It briefly hit me a couple of times, but not enough for it to get a better rating than 3 stars. I did read it while very tired though, so that might have had an effect.

 

Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May

3.5

I feel like I would have really liked this one had I not been exhausted while reading. It’s certainly a very powerful story that I wish I had connected to a little more. It was a really good choice for the last story of the anthology.

Spoiler-Filled ARC Review of The Girl the Sea Gave Back

The Girl the Sea Gave Back.jpg

Number of pages:  336

Rating (out of five stars): 2

Release Date: September 3rd, 2019

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

Quick disclaimer: I wrote the first 700 words or so of this review well before release, so some of this might not make sense now that this review is going up a day after release. This review was also supposed to be out before release, but I moved in to where I’m staying for school and have been working full days in between, so whoops. I’m running on anxiety and black tea.

I’m going to echo some other reviews I’ve read and say that this book would really benefit from some editing. Yes, I did read an uncorrected proof, but I’m fairly certain ARCs normally go through at least one round of edits before being sent to the printer (/being made into e-ARCs). I could always buy a finished copy and see if anything has improved, but that’s an expensive hardcover copy I would then own of a book I didn’t enjoy.

And it sucks that I didn’t enjoy it, because Sky in the Deep was an incredible surprise of a book that I loved so much. And I hate what this review is about to be. I hate it so much that I’ve been avoiding writing it for a solid week or so.

Basically, this is going to be a very nitpicky spoiler-filled ARC review, because I honestly have no idea how to give you my thoughts on this book without spoilers. I need to be able to pull examples (but not actual quotes) and talk about this book. Which is why I hate this review because I know how hard this book was to write for the author. But I’m also slightly obligated to write this review because I downloaded and read the e-ARC I got accepted for (the publisher is maybe hoping I slack on my blogger duties for this one, though)

For those who do not want to be spoiled for a book that has not been released yet (future Moira is here to say it’s been out for almost 48 hours now), the TL;DR of this review is temper your expectations. If you loved Sky, Tova and Halvard are very different from Eelyn (and in the case of Halvard, different from who they were at 8 years old).

So now I’m going to give you time to scroll away.

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Okay, so now that anyone who doesn’t want to be spoiled is gone, I’m going to start by talking about the characters.

First we have Halvard. Now I believe I called him precious in my review of Sky and said I would protect him at all costs (I am too lazy to check at the moment). But in The Girl the Sea Gave Back, I just didn’t care about him. And I should have been able to. But the problem is that his whole internal struggle about becoming the next chief just feels half-hearted after some very early in the book murder and the fact that when he gets home, they proclaim him chief, he takes part in the whole ceremony, and then comes up with this intricate battle plan on the spot under immense pressure. His whole internal struggle is him not being sure he can be a good chief, and then he just is a good chief and everything is fine.

This might have been forgivable if Tova didn’t feel like not a fully formed character. Her personality was basically “trust fate” and “I can’t stop thinking about that guy who looked at me across a field before my clan murdered a bunch of his people”.

Which gives me an easy segue into the romance. If you have also read this book, it is possible for you to be asking “what romance?” right now, because…yikes. Basically, they lock eyes across a field, she decides her fate is tied to him somehow, he tries to STRANGLE HER, he immediately trusts her when she tries to switch teams after (accidentally) helping her clan murder the previous chief as well as his father figure, they kiss for some reason, and she decides that she would rather stay with him forever than be with the family she’s been searching for for about 12 years. What?

Please don’t give me “but they’re fated to be together”, because they said about as many sentences to each other over the entire book as Aurora says in the entirety of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (18 lines). I don’t care if the tree on her arm matches the tree on his axe. There is no way this book should have ended with them being in love. No. Stop it.

This book also had multiple flashback chapters, which were all unnecessary. If you read Sky, you would already know or have a sense of the information presented in Halvard’s flashback chapters, but they also didn’t provide anything new on Tova’s part. I think Tova’s flashbacks actually made me more infuriated with her, because it would almost seem like she put something together, and then turns out she didn’t. Halvard’s were basically about his dad dying (info we already had from Sky), Fiske being a father figure to him (info we had from Sky), and Iri coming to stay with them (info we had from Sky). I’m all for flashbacks in books, but they have to serve a purpose other than giving us information we already have from the previous book in the series or the book itself.

Another weird thing with the writing was how Tova would have some realization about “mortals”, and my note every time was “she’s saying this as if she isn’t mortal”. This happened twice in her internal monologue (before she figured out (after seeming to figure it out well before then, but not I guess) that she died), but it happens aloud after she knows she was dead, which makes it feel like some unexplored thing. If she’s not mortal, what is she? What role will her immortality play in her romance with Halvard? Is she a god? How did she come back to life? Is she actually alive? And many more fun questions the book doesn’t answer that this whole thing poses.

My last gripe is also about the writing, and it comes down to the use of over-complicated metaphors and overuse of similes. I have a highlight on the kindle app of a line that says something along the lines of “there was a seabird in my chest” (quote is entirely from memory, but if it happens to be an exact quote it was taken from an uncorrected proof and may not be in final versions of the book), with a note that just says “what?”. While that note (that appears many times throughout the book) probably sums up my thought on this book, it most definitely sums up my thoughts on the writing. And the writing here could very well be the exact same as the writing in Sky and I jut didn’t notice because I loved that book so much and I don’t tend to notice the writing when I’m enjoying a book, but that doesn’t mean I needed a million similes that took 4+ lines of text to explain. The whole point of using figurative language is help emphasize the point you’re making, not have the reader read an essay on why it makes sense to make that comparison.

Overall, I’m super disappointed I didn’t enjoy The Girl the Sea Gave Back, but I unfortunately can’t recommend it. It has therefore earned 2 stars out of 5.

Wilder Girls Book Review

Wilder Girls.jpg

Number of pages:  353

Rating (out of five stars): 4.75

This book! This is the YA horror book I’ve been wanting every time I read YA horror books. It’s suspenseful. It’s creepy. The characters are well done. It’s so easy to suspend disbelief. It’s just so good. If this review is completely awful because I haven’t written a review since *checks unintentionally abandoned blog* July 7th, please take away that I am begging you to pick this one up.

I wasn’t originally going to read Wilder Girls because, as I’ve said on other horror reviews, horror isn’t really my thing. I’ve also been disappointed by really hyped YA horror in the past, so I was highly sceptical of all the Tweets proclaiming their love for Wilder Girls. But then I read Vicky Who Reads’ post and was so intrigued I had to pick it up.

What immediately drew me in Vicky’s post was Rory Power’s writing style. It’s super unique and blunt. I think the shortness of the sentences really helped the book keep its unsettling air and keep my heart pounding.

And it was very unsettling, and I was absolutely hooked. There was one point early on where I actually jumped while reading. The book does a really good job of keeping that unsettling feeling alive for most of the story. There were a handful of moments where it dragged a bit (hence the -0.25 stars), but for the most part this book was creepy from start to finish.

Speaking of the ending, first of all, how dare it end like that. There’s no sequel. Like that’s not allowed. Secondly, it left me with a feeling of unease that lasted a couple of weeks. That’s what I want from horror books. I want some sort of unease to stick with me. Horror’s supposed to scare you and creep you out.

The characters are so well done. They’re messy and complicated, and I felt for them almost immediately. There was also a little bit of an unreliable narrator element with one of POV characters that I though was really interesting. Of the main 3, Reese was probably my favourite. Now that I’m writing this, I’m realizing that her not having a POV works really well with her character. Ugh. This book is sooo well done!

The romance wasn’t really a huge part of the story, but it’s F/F! I believe Reese identifies as queer on the page as well, but don’t quote me on that because I read it a few weeks ago.

Overall, Wilder Girls was a fantastic read, earning it 4.75 stars out of 5.