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.

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

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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.

The Storm Crow ARC Review

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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.

The Devouring Gray Book Review

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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

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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

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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

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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.