The Gilded Wolves ARC Review

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Number of pages: 464

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 5

Release Date: January 15th, 2019

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

It didn’t manage to make me cry, but it did manage to slowly break my heart, so that’s something. I’m not really sure if I’m okay, and I probably shouldn’t be writing this right after finishing it, but I’m doing it anyway because I make good choices.

Speaking of not making good choices, prepare to meet the main cast who are all just trying their best. And their best barely keeps them alive throughout most of this. Still, I love them all so much. I just want to give them all a hug and protect them forever. If anything happens to Enrique or Hypnos in particular I’m going to riot, but they’re all still such complex (and very broken) characters.

If I were to compare The Gilded Wolves to another book it would definitely be Six of Crows. There is a heist, a diverse crew of 6, plus a bunch of other similarities that are **super spoilery**. The only thing I will say is that The Gilded Wolves is sort of like Six of Crows’ more glamourous and less broody cousin in that it isn’t quite as gritty. I still definitely recommend it if you’re in need of something to fill the Six of Crows shaped hole in your heart, but keep in mind they’re not the same book; they’re just similar.

Speaking of Six of Crows, The Gilded Wolves had a similar kind of unconscious effect on me. Less in a I cannot stop thinking about this book (though that happens to be case at the moment because I’m theorizing) way, more in a I was reading it and completely got lost in it to the point where when my dad set down diner I looked up in confusion.

The Gilded Wolves also fed my love of history and math (don’t worry, everything to do with numbers is well explained if you aren’t a huge fan of math). My love ancient history and mythology knows no bounds, so the many references to it made me very happy. I will say that if you aren’t a big history/mythology person that some of the references might not make complete sense. I could see things mentioned and pass over them because I had prior knowledge of those things, so it didn’t affect me personally.  However, the part I see there being a potential issue with is that while these things are explained to an extent, you might feel like you don’t fully understand what’s going on without any prior knowledge.

I did not expect that twist at the end, and now my mind is reeling. What does this mean for so many things? I picked up on some stuff and figured out the meaning of the honeybee, the bone clock thing, and something else that even when spoken about vaguely is spoilery well before the text made the reveal, but that’s probably because I watch way too much Murdoch Mysteries. All this is to say I need book 2 right now, followed closely by book 3.

Overall, The Gilded Wolves spoke to the nerd in me and I love it for it, earning it 5 out of 5 stars.

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Strange Grace ARC Review

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Number of pages: 400

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 1

Release Date: September 18th, 2018

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

I’ve had my eye on Strange Grace for months, so when I saw it was available to request on Netgalley, I had to request it. Well… at least I don’t have to preorder it anymore.

The weird thing about this book is that despite not liking a single thing about it, I still want to give it 2 stars at the very least. And I skim read the last 35% of it to the point where skim reading is a very loose description of what I did.

This is also the first instance where the formatting of the e-ARC was so frustrating that I’m mentioning it in my review. The kindle version was so hard to read that I had to switch to reading it on the Bluefire reader app. This would have been fine (albeit frustrating for updating Goodreads on my progress), but there are no chapters in this book, so you just have to scroll endlessly to find where you left off. There were also random incomplete sentences in red in the kindle version. The whole thing was a mess.

I found the writing made me feel very detached from the story and the characters. The writing style is trying to be atmospheric, but it ended up causing me to stop reading to try and figure out if the metaphors used even remotely made sense. The two that stood out to me focused on sunsets. I won’t share the exact quotes because I read an uncorrected proof, but one of them was along the lines of ‘the air changed from pink to orange’, and it took me several reads of the sentence and about 20 extra minutes of confusion to figure out it was describing the setting of the sun. Feel free to let me know in the comments if I’m just dumb for not being able to figure this out in a normal amount of time.

We also don’t really get a chance to get to know the characters. There is a lot of telling us about them doing stuff like walking and picking up grass, and having characters interpret the actions of other characters, but I know next to nothing about their personalities. The only things I know about the characters’ personalities is what other characters said when describing them. Sometimes that information conflicted, sometimes it didn’t, but either way I would have liked some proof that character X was actually as brave as people kept say they were.

Strange Grace doesn’t really have a plot, and it’s not exactly character driven, so I’m not really sure what to call it. The ‘story’ was so dragged out that I lost interest about 25% of the way through. At 39% stuff was actually starting to happen, but I was already done with this book by that point. At 40% I was wondering why there was so much book left (turns out there really didn’t need to be). There was a point where while all of the exciting stuff was happening in the creepy forest, instead of us seeing it all happen in real time, we got to see nothing happen from the perspective of a character who added nothing to the story. This was so we could see all the action spread out in broken flashbacks throughout the rest of the book. This book would have made a great short story, but instead it’s a full-length novel.

I already mentioned this, but there are no chapters. Instead, there are breaks with a picture of a tree, and then a bunch of short chunks from various different perspectives. Even in this book where almost nothing happens, there are perspectives included here that are entirely unnecessary to move forward with the nothing. Again, this book was very dragged-out.

One thing I found strange was there was a lot of kissing seemingly for no reason. Rhun is smiling, so he kisses Aruthur. Mairwen is standing there, so Arthur kisses her. The devil is attacking, so Mairwen kisses him (multiple times). Rhun loves Mairwen, but not in that way, but also in that way, so he kisses her. Mairwen did the thing they were all going to do, and they’re all mad at her for it, so they kiss her. Is there a romance in this book? I couldn’t tell you. The characters throw the word love around a lot, along with the random kissing. Maybe I just missed something, but the random kissing was so frequent that I don’t think I did.

I also had issues with Arthur in particular. The characters would be talking calmly, and he’d say something like ‘let’s set some people on fire’ (not an actual quote) out of nowhere, and the other characters would pretend it never happened. Like I get that the other characters have all said Arthur burns too hotly for Three Graces, but it still feels oddly out of character (despite me knowing next to nothing about him). Is he supposed to be edgy?

Overall, I was very clearly not a fan of Strange Grace, earning it 1 star out of 5.

Aru Shah and the End of Time Book Review

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Number of pages: 355

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 5

I wasn’t originally going to review this book. I figured I would read it, hopefully love it, and move on. I haven’t read a middle grade book since the fifth or sixth grade, and I’m about to be in my second year of university. I have no standard to base a review of a middle grade book off of anymore. But while I was reading this all I could think about was how much 11 year old me (who was just starting to fall in love with mythology at the time) would have absolutely loved this book, and that’s the angle I’m going to review this from.

That isn’t to say that current me didn’t love Aru Shah and the End of Time, because I absolutely adored it, but I can picture that 11 year old girl staying up past midnight to read this like she read Allie Finkle books (does anyone remember those?). I can picture that same girl so engrossed in it at lunch that the anxiety she feels about being in the same room as her cruel classmates fades away. This book would have given that girl hope she desperately needed, and she would have known she’s not the only one struggling to fit in. (As a quick aside, I am in fact in tears writing this review). And now I’m so glad this book exists for kids like me.

Aru Shah and the End of Time features Roshani Chokshi’s signature rich and beautiful writing style, though I felt like it was slightly more watered-down here than it is in her YA books. This isn’t a criticism; this book is aimed at a younger audience. Still, this book never treats its audience as though it won’t be able to comprehend some more complex language. Nothing is “dumbed-down”.

I loved all of the characters. They’re so complex and well done. Younger me would have would have wanted to be best friends with Aru and Mini (and let’s be real, I would have probably tried to talk to all of the birds I could find, hoping one of them would be my own disgraced guardian). Current me just wants to give them all a hug and protect them at all costs, especially the palace.

This book had me laughing almost every chapter, so I know younger me would have found it just as amusing (though she would have had to hide it better as to not alert her parents to the fact that she was still reading way past her bedtime).

I read the Percy Jackson books a very long time ago, so take this next paragraph with a grain of salt, but I really do think that if you enjoyed the Percy Jackson books that you will enjoy Aru Shah and the End of Time. From what I remember of the Percy Jackson books, you can definitely draw some parallels between this book and The Lightning Thief.

This shouldn’t affect your decision to read this book, but I had to mention it here because I am a huge nerd. There is a joke in this book about matrices (plural of matrix, the thing in linear algebra that helps you deal with vectors (I’m trying to keep the explanation simple)), and it made me so happy I had to mention it. Actually, this showcases that there is something in Aru Shah for people of all ages.

Overall, I loved Aru Shah and the End of Time, and I can’t wait to continue with the rest of the series as it comes out. It has therefore earned 5 out of 5 stars.

Daughter of the Burning City Book Review

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Number of pages: 384

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 4

I buddy-read this with Lynn from From Oceans Away back in January, and I never got around to reviewing it. Luckily I have all of my thoughts written out by chapter, so I’m still able to review it.

I have a very weird gripe with chapter 3 specifically. I had to reread it multiple times, and I still didn’t really understand what happened in the end. It was so strange to me, because I was starting to get into the story with the first 2 chapters, but then there was this really choppy and information filled chapter that took me out of the story. And it threw me off for a couple of chapters.

Other than chapter 3, I really didn’t have any major issues with the writing. It did keep sucking me in and then throwing me back out, which was a bit frustrating, but I think it found its groove eventually.

I really hated the love interest for the majority of the book. He was the biggest jerk to Sorina for no reason. However, as I became more suspicious of him, the more he grew on me. I like that he became a more complex and interesting character along the way. Also, according to my messages to Lynn, chapter 17 really sold me on him, but I have no memory of what happened and I didn’t ever explain why.

I thought Sorina was a bit insufferable at points. She’s a person who has lived with this sketchy traveling carnival for most of her life, but she just immediately trusts people. She shares sensitive information with people she barely knows who are already acting suspiciously, and from what I remember she isn’t too concerned about interacting with people that multiple people close to her have warned her about. I also think the fact that she has no eyes, but can see perfectly was kind of lazy. And the only explanation for why this might be is essentially ‘I dunno. Magic.’

Venera was my favourite character by far, and she was a really minor part of the story. Not only was it nice to see her and Sorina’s friendship, but it’s also mentioned that she really likes working with numbers. Can we please just have more math-loving heroines in YA? I’m so sick of seeing every contemporary character groan about Calculus and worship their English teachers. And characters in other genres all just wonder how numbers work.

I think a lot of the twists were generally done really well. There were a couple I completely didn’t see coming at all. There were a few reveals that felt really anti-climactic, such as the true role of the proprietor of Gamorrah, but I was genuinely surprised by most of them.

I did end up predicting the villain early on, but what I appreciate the most about Daughter of the Burning City is that it made me constantly doubt my prediction. I ended up being suspicious of so many characters, with so many theories for why they could have done it, that my earlier theory being correct surprised me.

Overall, I enjoyed my time reading Daughter of the Burning City, though it wasn’t perfect. It has therefore earned 4 out of 5 stars.

Isle of Blood and Stone Mini Review

Isle of Blood and Stone

Number of pages: 400

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 4

I’m not really sure what I expected from this book, but I was really pleasantly surprised by it. Isle of Blood and Stone was this really quite book that almost immediately made me smile in spite of myself.

I thought the world was really interesting. There aren’t many books that feature cartographers, and it was so interesting to hear about the different islands. I really think the author did a fantastic job with the world-building.

I also loved the writing. I had barely started trying to write my first book when I started reading this, and all I could think while reading was how I wanted my writing to look like the writing in this book.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the characters. Their characterization was well done, but I just didn’t connect to most of them (although I did really like Reyna). I actually think I was more connected to and interested in the world than the characters, which is maybe why I’ve been finding it difficult to really cohesively collect my thoughts on this book.

I did predict the big reveal, but I found learning about the reasoning behind it really interesting. It was also interesting to see how the characters dealt with the person being someone close to them.

Overall, I really recommend Isle of Blood and Stone, earning it 4 out of 5 stars.

Beneath the Citadel ARC Review

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Number of pages: 480

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 4

Release Date: October 9th, 2018

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

I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t request books on a whim on Netgalley anymore. I was only going to request stuff I was really interested in because I had bad luck with books I requested solely because I was curious. And that strategy has been working out really well for me. My ARC ratings have been much higher this year than they were last year. The thing is that I requested Beneath the Citadel on a whim, and it actually worked out really well for me.

The world in this book is really interesting, and I think the author did a really good job with the world-building. The powers people can possess in this world and where those powers came from was explained well, and the government system made sense. I also think the religion in the book was well explained. The religion played a role in the story, so it was nice to see everything make sense.

I really liked our main cast of characters. They will never be my favourite cast of morally gray characters, but they all had really distinct voices. The characters having distinct voices is super important to me as a person who tends to skip chapter titles, so I was really pleased I was able to tell who’s POV I was reading from without having to go back and check.

I also think the character development was done really well. You could really see how our main cast grew over the course of the story. They all became such complex characters, and it was really interesting to watch them learn and change.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the writing. I was really invested at the beginning, but I feel like the writing lost its charm along the way. It might have been because of I sort of forgot I was reading it for a while, but I just found the writing very blunt in a way the writing in fantasy books typically isn’t.

Speaking of the writing, I found when the characters used terms that fantasy worlds don’t normally have words for that it took me out of the story. On the one had it was helpful because I can definitively say that Evander is bisexual and Alys is asexual, plus-sized, and has anxiety/panic attacks. On the other hand it was a bit jarring considering all the fantasy books I’ve read are more subtle about it because the world they’re set in doesn’t have the same terms we have.

I also feel like the last couple chapters were unnecessary. The story had ended by that point, and they just showcased where the characters were in the aftermath. I think standalones need to end having wrapped up the story, but I don’t find I need to be able to figure out how the rest of the character’s lives are going to play out.

Overall, I enjoyed Beneath the Citadel, earning it 4 stars out of 5.

A Reaper at the Gates Mini Book Review

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Number of pages: 420

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 3

I’ve been stalling from writing this review for 2 days. Maybe I’m sick of writing 3 star reviews. Maybe my brain has been weird this week. Maybe I wish I were giving this book a better rating. Maybe it’s all three. Whatever the reason is, this review is happening, so prepare for what may be my least insightful review in recent history (which is saying something).

This book isn’t a bad book. If you’re a really big fan of this series you will probably love A Reaper at the Gates. The problem for me is that I read book 2 the day it came out in August 2016, and my interest has waned since then. I just have so many series I care so much more about, and I haven’t really thought about this one for 2 years.

My one actual complaint I have is that there is so much Helene in this book. I have never liked her. Like I’m not interested in watching an adult outsmart a teenager who refuses to listen to any and all advice. The politics of this world just don’t interest me at all, and that’s basically what Helene’s chapters are filled with.

I’m also very upset about something that happens near the end, and I’m not upset about it in the good “this book destroyed me” kind of way. Why on earth would you put all of your faith in 3 random teenagers? How was that your master plan? Your champions in the race to save the world were seriously a guy who hates everything he is, a bland and horrible girl, and a quiet girl who wants no part of this. I’m trying to be super vague so I don’t spoil anyone, but I was so mad when I read that part.

I don’t really know what else to say. This is definitely an “it’s not you, it’s me” situation because my rating has nothing to do with the quality of the book (though I also didn’t pay that much attention to the technical aspects because I just didn’t care anymore). I’m giving A Reaper at the Gates 3 out of 5 stars, but I’m not sure you should put too much weight on how I feel here.