The Storm Crow ARC Review

the storm crow

Number of pages:  352

Rating (out of five stars): 5

Release Date: July 9th, 2019

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

This is the book I’ve been searching for my whole life. This book is everything I wanted from a book as a teen and barely missed having. Like I both have so many words and not enough words for how much this book means to me and how much I loved it.

I never thought I would actually get a YA fantasy book with a MC who struggles with depression. I love mental health fiction because it’s relatable to me as someone who struggles with depression, but contemporary has never been my genre. So having the same level of rep in a fantasy about magical crows brings tears to my eyes.

That’s the thing. I related to Thia so hard. Not just because of her depression. She has trouble controlling her emotions. She cares so much that despite being smart, she sometimes thinks with her heart before thinking with her head. She’s loyal and determined. It’s kind of weird to say the usual stuff I say when I love a character, like that I’ll protect them and that they are my new children because she felt so similar to me. And I got to see her, a girl with depression, be a bad*** and fight for what she believes in.

Her depression also doesn’t magically go away. It’s there throughout the whole book. She doesn’t start getting stuff done and is cured; she recognizes that this is a battle she’s going to have to fight for the rest of her life.

I’ve had the complaint in the past that using terms like anxiety and depression in fantasy books takes me out of the story, but I genuinely burst into tears when Thia told her sister that she was depressed in plain terms. I take back what I said about those other books. Having the rep on the page in words, rather than just descriptions means so much.

The romance was interesting. I liked the love interest as a person, but I was kind of hoping the love interest would be not him so hard that I wasn’t okay with it until I skipped ahead to the last few pages and accepted my fate. He’s a nice guy and is probably better for Thia in the long run (plus he has a kitten), but like the banter with the other guy was so good, and you could tell he was really trying. I know Thia doesn’t like  him in that way, but I can’t help it. Like I actively celebrated at the slightest suggestion that the love interest was not being entirely truthful with her.

I loved seeing Thia’s friendship with Kiva. It was nice to know Thia had a strong support network. It was also nice to see how their friendship ultimately came before some of the other relationships they formed throughout the book. Strong female friendships always get a yes from me.

When I was a kid, every book I read was like watching a movie in my head. As I got older, it didn’t really work like that for me anymore. Well, it worked like that with The Storm Crow. I could picture everything, and it was amazing. I was already so hooked while reading, but there was the added bonus of needing to see more of this world. In particular, I can still see the thing I pictured at the end of the prologue in my head about a week after finishing the book.

Speaking of the world-building, it was absolutely incredible. There was everything from myths, to a coherent magic system, to the politics and histories of nations, and it just came together so beautifully. I haven’t had a chance to go through it yet, but the back of the e-ARC has even more information about the different nations, and I can’t wait to nerd out over it.

I am practically bursting with theories from both while I was reading and afterwards. I was wrong about a lot, but I think that says more about my investment in the story than anything. I’m normally pretty good at predictions because I’ve read so much YA fantasy, so I always love when a books get me invested enough to confuse me.

Overall, The Storm Crow was everything I wanted it to be (and I went in with way too high expectations). It has therefore earned 5 out of 5 stars and a place on my bookshelf as my current all-time favourite book.

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The Devouring Gray Book Review

The Devouring Gray.jpg

Number of pages:  368

Rating (out of five stars): 5

When I first finished this book, I decided it wasn’t a full 5 star read, but that it was really close to one. However, I haven’t been able to get this book out of my head since, and considering the only issue I had with it is one I’ve been having with every book I’ve read since May, I’m going to blame it on depression and call it a day (you may have noticed I’ve been saying this in most of reviews lately).

Firstly, I need to make in known I’m offended that this book has not gotten more love. Like I know there were a lot of other hyped books that came out on the same day as The Devouring Gray, but way more people need to read this.

This book is so atmospheric. I think it would make the perfect fall/Halloween read because it’s so magically creepy. The creepy alternate world monster, looming forest, cult, resurrected cat, and more will do that I guess. There’s also the added bonus that this book is gorgeously designed to perfectly fit the words inside.

Back on the resurrected cat, content warning for gruesome animal death. The cat comes back to life, but it’s a bit sickening to read the descriptions of it’s broken body, and that’s compared to the gruesome human deaths in this book.

I could not stop thinking about this book while reading, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. It’s one of those quietly addicting books and I love those. You know the ones that worm their way into your heads and stick around. The Devouring Gray was one of those books for me.

It also had my heart racing the whole time. The atmosphere and the fact that the characters don’t really know what’s happening/ what to do and are trying to figure it out made for the perfect suspenseful read.

I loved all the characters. Violet, Harper, Isaac, Justin, and May are my new babies and I will protect them at all costs. I’m especially a fan of Violet and Isaac, but that doesn’t mean I liked the others any less. (Someone explain to me why everyone hates Justin) They all have their issue to work through, but the main thing is that they care about their town (and each other). I have a feeling Christine Lynn Herman is going to put them through more pain in the sequel, and I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet.

I loved the messy relationship dynamics in this. It’s not even just romantic relationships that are messy. The-who-should-I-trust/be-friends-with dynamics are equally messy and complex. I would also like it known that I probably ship Violet and Justin’s moms the hardest out of all the potential relationships.

Overall, I loved The Devouring Gray, earning it 5 out of 5 stars

We Hunt the Flame Book Review

We Hunt the Flame.jpg

Number of pages:  480

Rating (out of five stars): 4.25

This book is the first physical book I’ve read since October, so yay for that. It also happens to be a magical book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Time flew by whenever I picked up We Hunt the Flame. I would sit down to read and then look up 2 hours later having felt like only 5 minutes had past. I was hooked and it was magical.

I think the characters were really well done. They felt very human and flawed and I feel like equal attention was paid to all the characters. I especially liked seeing the dynamics that developed between the members of the Zumra.

The only issue I had with the characters was that I liked, but didn’t absolutely love them. I think this is a me (and my depression) issue because I’ve been feeling like this with every book I’ve read in the past couple months. I also got really upset when certain things happened, so I really think it’s a me issue.

One thing that I has to do with the characters that I absolutely loved (and am about to nerd out about) was how Hafsah Faizal wrote the perspectives of Zafira and Nasir. I’m not sure how well I’m going to be able to explain this (so bear with me), but their chapters were written in such a way that you got to see their similarities and differences perfectly. This is in everything from the first lines of their chapters to finding out their names both mean victorious to other moments that I can’t really share. I remember there was one point where it was super obvious and I just started geeking out about it at like 12 am. It’s times like these when I remember why I’m an English major.

This is an ancient Arabia inspired fantasy book, so it does contain Arabic. As a person who doesn’t speak Arabic, I think everything was well defined in-text or you could figure it out within the context of the text. However, if you’re nervous about not being able to figure it out, the author has put a glossary and pronunciation guide up on her website.

The one tiny (and non-mental health related) gripe I do have is that the dialogue felt awkward at times. There were a bunch of sentences that I read over 4 times and still could not convince myself a real person would say what that character had said. It took me out of the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed We Hunt the Flame and I’m anxiously awaiting the sequel, earning it 4.25 stars out of 5.

Slayer ARC Review

Slayer.jpg

Number of pages:  404

Rating (out of five stars): 4.75

Release Date: January 8th, 2019

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

Kiersten White is one of my favourite authors, so you can imagine how ecstatic I was to get approved for an ARC of one of her books on Netgalley. You can also imagine how much shame I feel for taking so long to review it.

I’ve only watched 4 ½ episodes of Buffy, so I didn’t have this big attachment to the show going in. I’ve seen fans of the show go either way on this one, so if you’re a major fan I highly recommend reading some reviews from reviewers you trust who are also fans of the show.

Because I had no previous attachment to the show, it took me until 18% of the way through to really get invested in the story. There were a lot of “I should recognize this name but don’t” moments, but it didn’t end up mattering that much once the story got going because I was hooked after that. You don’t actually need to have seen any episodes of Buffy to read Slayer.

The characters were all really complex. I know this because I spent half the book wanting to stab them, and half the book sympathizing with them (not all at the same time of course). In particular, I both hated and loved Artemis depending on what was happening.

I did really love Nina, though. She made some… interesting choices, sure, but based on my Goodreads updates I just wanted to protect her and give her a hug.

I remember the action scenes being great. And by I remember, I mean I have a note from right after I finished Slayer (in January) that says exactly that and nothing else. I can remember what happened in them, but I can’t for the life of me remember what made them so great. I guess you’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out.

The same goes for my last point, which just says “Oh my god that ending”. Apparently the ending was really something because not only does my Goodreads review read “Holy !!!!” (at least before I post this one there), but I also have a couple updates for the end of the book that show how blown away I was. Let this be a lesson to you to not wait too long to write your reviews.

Overall, I really loved Slayer, earning it 4.75 stars out of 5.

King of Fools ARC Review

King of Fools.jpg

Number of pages: 602

Rating (out of five stars): 4.5

Release Date: April 30th, 2019

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

Well now I’m heartbroken, which means this was an improvement on Ace of Shades. How dare King of Fools do that!

Let’s start with the characters. I loved seeing Enne’s growth in King of Fools. She isn’t just a finishing school lady anymore, she’s a lady criminal who knows how to survive in the City of Sin. She’s still the same Enne to some extent, but she’s made of stronger stuff and isn’t afraid to show her worth. I loved her even more here.

Jac my sweet boy got to be a main character. He got to matter as a player in the game like he desperately wanted to. His chapters broke my heart and made me smile. You got to see him struggle with his past addiction and see his strength that doesn’t have to do with his talent. His relationship with Sophia (one of my new favourite characters) was also the sweetest, That’s where I’m going to leave that because spoiler free review *grumbles*, but if you have read King of Fools feel free to dm me online so we can scream together.

I didn’t really care for Levi in this one, but maybe that was because he was making all the wrong choices all of the time. He was definitely my least favourite of the POV characters. I just don’t think his plotline was that interesting. It was cool to see the Irons thriving *is possibly biased as I was on the Irons on the street team*, but I think Enne and Jac were definitely the characters to follow in this one.

I wish we got more of the Spirits. Like there are 5 named members (unless we’re also counting Roy), plus a ton of cats, and we only really get to know one new character. Like I loved Grace, Lola, and Enne, but how many girls are even in the Spirits. Is it more than 12? Is it less than that? We know they’re the smallest gang, but what does that even mean? I get that we don’t know everyone in the Scarhands, Irons, Doves, or Orphan Guild, but a major part of Enne’s plotline was building this girl gang, and we went from a source of income idea and 3 members to an undetermined amount of people and them thriving. I feel like we’ll get to see more of them in book 3, but we should have seen more of them in this book.

Another issue I had with King of Fools was that while I appreciated the attempt to recap the first book, it really wasn’t successful. The first two chapters were very “info-dumpy” because of it in my opinion. Afterwards I was hooked right away, but I had so much trouble with those first few chapters. This is a personal issue (and a reason why I was dumb to not reread Ace of Shades before I read this one), but I also felt the recap reminded us of the really big and memorable parts of Ace, but didn’t do a great job mentioning the stuff that was less memorable that was actually referenced throughout King of Fools.

Still, King of Fools was a wild ride. I was completely engrossed by the story. Oh my did this 600 page beast ever fly by (when I got a chance to read it). It also had me screaming at it, and debating whether or not I dared stop reading in order to scream about it on Goodreads. Continuing reading won out for the most part. Like I never make notes on the kindle app, but I did with King of Fools because I needed to express my feeling on what was going on, but I didn’t want to stop reading.

Overall, King of Fools was a fantastic sequel, earning it 4.5 stars out of 5.


As a sort of sidenote, I’ve been super passively online lately, so please bear with me. I am super late with a bunch of reviews, I have tags to catch up on from last summer, and I have an overflow of physical books threatening to drown me. This month is also consistently not good for me because of depression triggers and all that fun stuff. I’m so sorry. I’m trying really hard to get my life together. Hopefully I’ll be back more regularly soon. I miss this blog so much.

Wicked Saints ARC Review|Wicked Saints Blog Tour

Hello! Today I’m bringing you a review as a part of the blog tour for Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan. I was so excited I nearly burst into tears when I got an email from the publisher asking if I would be interested in being a part of the blog tour, so without further ado, let’s get on with the post.

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Buy it here!

In case you haven’t heard of Wicked Saints before now, here’s a little bit more about the book:

“Prepare for a snow-frosted, blood-drenched fairy tale where the monsters steal your heart and love
ends up being the nightmare.” – Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-
Touched Queen
A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.
A prince in danger must decide who to trust.
A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.
Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.
In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world
of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between
dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something
Dark and Holy trilogy.
“This book destroyed me and I adored it.”- Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author
of Caraval

Praise for Wicked Saints:
“Prepare for a snow frosted, blood drenched fairy tale where the monsters steal your heart and love ends up being the nightmare. Utterly absorbing.” – Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author
of The Star-Touched Queen

“Full of blood and monsters and magic—this book destroyed me and I adored it. Emily is a wicked storyteller, she’s not afraid to hurt her characters or her readers. If you’ve ever fallen in love with a villain you will fall hard for this book”- Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

“This is the novel of dark theology and eldritch blood-magic that I’ve been waiting for all my life. It’s got
a world at once brutal and beautiful, filled with characters who are wounded, lovable, and ferocious enough to break your heart. A shattering, utterly satisfying read.” – Rosamund Hodge, author of Cruel Beauty and Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

“Wicked Saints is a lush, brutal, compelling fantasy that is dark, deep, and bloody—absolutely riveting! With a boy who is both man and monster, mysterious saints with uncertain motives, and a girl filled with holy magic who is just beginning to understand the full reaches of her power, this gothic jewel of a story will sink its visceral iron claws into you, never letting go until you’ve turned the last page. And truthfully, not even then -the explosive ending will haunt you for days! ” – Robin LaFevers, New York Times bestselling author of the His Fair Assassin trilogy

“Dark, bloody, and monstrously romantic. This is the villain love interest that we’ve all been waiting for.” – Margaret Rogerson, New York Times bestselling author of An Enchantment of Ravens

“Seductively dark and enchanting, Wicked Saints is a trance you won’t want to wake from. Duncan has skillfully erected a world like no other, complete with provocative magic, sinister creatures, and a plot that keeps you guessing. This spellbinding YA fantasy will bewitch readers to the very last page.” – Adrienne Young, New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep

Review:

Number of pages: 400

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

Rating (out of five stars): 5

Release Date: April 2nd, 2018

*Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

So I got really nervous when I found out my review was going to be coming out on release day… for the official blog tour. I was so excited for Wicked Saints before I even signed up for the blog tour, but if you’ve been here for a while you know that I’m frequently disappointed by books I’m super excited for because I’m a very picky reader. However, as soon as I picked Wicked Saints up I forgot all that and got lost in Kalyazin, Tranavia, and the midst of a holy war.

Oh my god this book was so good. As I said on Goodreads, my reaction after finishing this was to take in a few gasping breaths (because I had STOPPED BREATHING… MULTIPLE TIMES while reading this book), and then pull my covers over my head and just lie like that in silence. If that’s not a sign of a good book, I don’t know what is.

Unfortunately, reviews tend to require a few more substantial arguments for why you should read the book, so first let’s talk about the characters. I love my new sarcastic murder children so much. Like I will protect Nadya at all costs, and she would probably stab me for it. She’s fierce, and loyal, and she just wants to do what’s right with the power she’s been given, but she also makes mistakes along the way. I love her, and I will fight anyone who reduces her to just a love interest.

There’s also Serefin, the powerful blood mage prince who loves his country and his people, but who will also 100% ask you what drink is being served to make sure he can get drunk enough off it. And completing our trio of disasters is Malachiasz, our anxious monster boy who just wants to fix his country. They’re all just so flawed and human, and I love them so much.

There are also some amazing side characters in this books, and they genuinely all feel completely fleshed out. They don’t feel like side characters. I feel like I could probably tell you as much if not more about Ostyia (or Kacper, or Parijahan, or Rashid) as I can tell you about Malachiasz.

The romance is so well done, and my heart hurts because reasons. I’m so invested in it, and I feel super guilty for shipping it as much as I do, but it just felt so organic. It’s not insta-lovey. It doesn’t feel forced. It just sort of happens.

I’ve touched on this a little bit, but I was sucked in from start to finish. It was such a shame when I had to stop reading to actually do school work or perform basic functions. Like this book has my whole heart. I’m still screaming writing this review a week after finishing it. It also got to the point where I had roughly 15% left in the book, and I had apparently started digging my nails into my hand I was so stressed. This continued for the rest of the book, along with me screaming expletives at my phone and stopping to update Goodreads because my body needed oxygen. I don’t think I’ve ever held my breath because I was so invested in a book before.

There is a huge content warning on this book for self-harm. 2/3 main characters are blood mages, and they use a lot of blood magic. If that’s not something you can handle at this point in time, it might be best for you to sit this one out. The blood magic is an integral part of the book.

Barring that, the magic system and the world-building were so well done. If you told me Kalyazin and Tranavia were real places, I would be very concerned, but I would also totally believe you. I think the thing that really helps with that is that religion plays a major role in the book. There are a lot of YA fantasy books that have one scene where some vague ceremony is performed in some temple/church in book one, and then they just call it a day on including religion in their fantasy world (I am thinking of a specific book, but you can insert a lot of other books here). I’m not religious, but even I can tell that’s not how it works, and that’s not how it works in Wicked Saints. Instead, we have a very devout character, excerpts from books on the gods and saints, and you get to see the effect religion (or lack thereof) has on these two waring countries. You can see that it plays a part in how their countries are run, and their everyday lives.

Going off that, this book is so unique. I never knew I needed a book about monsters, magic, and fantasy Poland and Russia before reading Wicked Saints, but now I’m sad there aren’t more books like it out there. It’s also very dark, and my inner emo is very happy about it. Dark in YA doesn’t always mean dark, but here it certainly does and I could not be happier about it.

The reveals are also so well set up that figuring them out ahead of time just feels more shocking than predictable. For example, I have a Goodreads update at 51% that just reads “Oh my god I think I just figured out a thing based on one line from our favourite idiot, Serefin. I want to scream”. I did in fact scream when it was actually revealed that I was right, because even if you figure out the reveals there are so many other implications to consider.

Overall, Wicked Saints was so well executed and gripping, and I would die to have book 2 in my hands right now. It has therefore earned 5 out of 5 stars from me.

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EMILY A. DUNCAN works as a youth services librarian. She received a Master’s degree in library science from Kent State University, which mostly taught her how to find obscure Slavic folklore texts through interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video games and dungeons and dragons. Wicked Saints is her first book. She lives in Ohio.

SOCIAL LINKS:
Website: https://eaduncan.com/
Twitter: @glitzandshadows
Instagram: @glitzandshadows
Tumblr: http://glitzandshadows.tumblr.com/

Crown of Feathers ARC Review

Crown of Feathers

Number of pages: 496

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

Rating (out of five stars): 4.75

Release Date: February 12th, 2019

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

I wished for this one on Netgalley because I had been hearing good things about it. I didn’t really know what to expect from it. As the same thing happened with Sky in the Deep, maybe this is new strategy that’s working for me. Maybe I need to go into more books just having heard good things. There was also the added bonus here of the author being Canadian *aggressively sings O Canada*, so I’m glad I liked it as much as I did because now I can pre-order a physical copy for my shelf.

This book is so good. After 3 years of doing this I’m still the worst at positive reviews, so all my brain wants me to do right now is shove the book in people’s faces and tell them to read it. But I can’t do that because not only is it December 2018 while I’m writing this, but this baby is also going right on my favourites shelf when it gets here.

The initial betrayal the synopsis mentions shook me to my core. I was so upset I had to put the book down, and I didn’t read it again for roughly 2 months (this is also because I’m a university student and my life was a living hell at that point, but it being because of the book sounds better).

I liked that there was reason behind girls not being allowed to become Phoenix Riders within this particular group of people. I didn’t particularly agree with it and neither did our main characters, but at least it made some semblance of sense.

I also liked that there wasn’t really any romance. I find that it’s always really hard to make it work logistically within girl pretends to be a boy storylines when the male love interest appears to be straight. There could have totally been something from the third POV as well, but I sort of liked how it ended with that, and I think it’s going to play into things in the sequel. There’s totally romantic tension there, and I totally ship it, but there wasn’t anything really concrete and it worked well with the story.

Looking through my Goodreads updates (of which there are 15), apparently there is an animal killing at roughly 37%. Past me notes that it isn’t too graphic, but I feel compelled to warn others who maybe aren’t able to read that sort of thing at the moment. There are also a few other animal and mythological creature deaths, but they’re more mentions that X animal has died that we knew by name. We’re dealing with battles and animal magic wielders here, so if you need to sit this one out please do.

Content warnings aside, Crown of Feathers had me hooked. I was yelling at it, squeezing it (or my phone), and I was tapping/ flipping pages like there was no tomorrow. I had so many theories flying around my brain, and that’s never really happened to me before. And when I ended up being right on one thing it didn’t feel like the book was predictable; instead it felt like I had won the lottery.

The characters were also so well done. They all felt so human. There was so much stuff like Veronyka thinking her sister was one thing, and then slowly learning that maybe she isn’t so simple, and the other POV characters learning they don’t have to just be one thing. It was fascinating to read.

The thing that removed that pesky .25 of a star was that while I found the bits of history really interesting and they really helped with the worldbuilding (which was fantastic by the way), there were a few too many instances where the characters would tell some piece of history for pages, and then the chapter would end, providing another piece of background historical information. That part just didn’t work for me.

Overall, I hope I’ve convince you to read Crown of Feathers in this review, but in case I haven’t READ THE BOOK. It has therefore earned 4.75 stars out of 5.