Tag Archives: YA Fantasy

Quick Take: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (#1) by Leigh Bardugo
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I have heard a lot of hype around Wonder Woman: Warbringer and I decided to give wonder womanthe book a try! I heard a lot of great reviews around how this book redefines the Wonder Woman storyline and how this story really highlights the power of female friendships. I also had just watched the new Wonder Woman this past Thanksgiving, which I very much enjoyed…so I was excited to get into this!

That all being said, I definitely enjoyed this retelling of young Wonder Woman. First of all, I absolutely love Leigh Bardugo’s writing and I thought she did a great job painting the island of the Amazon women and creating this story with twists and turns. Secondly, I loved how diverse the cast of this story was – it was such a refreshing change of pace! One of our main protagonists was not only a female, but a biracial female with an affinity for the STEM field. My heart sung!!! I am so grateful to Leigh Bardugo for not only giving us a YA book with a diverse cast, but rewriting a story that is normally riddled with white/European characters. Lastly, I did love how one of the overarching themes of the book was mercyor at least that’s how I read this book. I loved how the protagonists of this book not only embodied the idea of “mercy”, but how that didn’t take away from their fierceness or their power. The women in this book didn’t need to be overly caring or overly aggressive, and I loved how realistic this made real strong women.

Now…why didn’t I give this more than 3-stars? While I did enjoy the strong theme of female friendships in this book, I didn’t think that it was this huge overarching theme. I actually didn’t think it was the strongest aspect of the book. I was definitely a bit let-down by this, but that definitely didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. I definitely had fun with this book and will most definitely continue with the new DC Icons series with other DC characters!

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Christina’s Favorites of 2017!!

2017

2017…oof, what a year. Let’s just leave it at that, kay? Now to focus back on books! Many books have been read by us as a collective this year. Between the three of us, we have read…105 books!!! Here we are to share with you some of our favorites from this past year!! These are not in any specific order for any of us, just as a heads up!

Christina 

  1. I’m going to cheat a little with my first book and go with the Six of Crows duology. These were the first two books that I read this past year and I was so glad that I finally got around to this duology!! This was a fantastic duology filled with a fast-paced plot, incredibly dynamic characters and a fascinatingly immersive world. I loved it!!
  2. My second pick is going to be none other than Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Another one of the first books that I’ve read this year and this is definitely the book that has had the most last impact. A debut author and I am hoping to definitely see more from Yaa Gyasi. This was a most beautiful multigenerational book following two Ghanian sisters. This book explored blackness in such a unique way through the most beautiful storytelling.
  3. My third book is in similar vein with my second book, and that is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas…another beautiful book written by a debut author!! This was a moving YA book inspired by the “Black Lives Matter” movement. This was a difficult book to read as it tells the BLM story from the perspective of a young black girl, which just makes it even more heartbreaking. This is such an important book and I believe that EVERYONE should read this book…and ASAP.
  4. My fourth pick came to me at quite the surprise when I read it earlier in the year. And that is Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Now, Cassandra Clare’s books have been my longtime guilty pleasure reads, as they are slightly ridiculous and just pack full of YA tropes. However, her newest trilogy (The Dark Artifices) is beyond anything that I had expected to read from Cassandra Clare. It is evident that her writing and storytelling have become so much more sophisticated and I believe Cassandra Clare to be a YA author that believes in not sugar-coating books for a younger audience. She used this book as an opportunity to address some real world issues and I applaud her for doing so.
  5. My fifth and final pick for this list is going to be none other than Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. As someone with OCD, I have always appreciated John Green’s openness and his candor about his own experiences with OCD. It has always given me something to relate to and connect with in media, since I have not seen OCD represented either accurately or respectively. What this meant for this book was a most painful, heartbreaking and accurate portrayal of OCD. This was a difficult book for me to read, but I am so glad that it exists in the world and I am incredibly grateful to John Green for being continuously open and raising awareness on this issue.

I like to think that I had a pretty good reading year and I hope y’all did too!!! 🙂

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Quick Take: Three Dark Crowns

Three Dark Crowns (#1) by Kendare Blake
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23207027Let me start this review by saying how defeating it feels to pick up a book that you’ve been anticipating for a long time, finally get to it, and then you just feel oh so let down. Unfortunately, this is what happened with me and “Three Dark Crowns” by Kendare Blake. Le sigh…

This book has all the makings of a book that I would normally really, really enjoy!!
1. The sisters each with different magical abilities – an elemental, a naturalist and a poisoner.
2. A fight to the death for the crown.
3. Badass female protagonists.
4. Heavy political intrigue.

Literally, these are all the elements that an author needs to include to draw me in! Unfortunately, this not only didn’t live up to the hype for me, but I just found it so painfully slow. It wasn’t even that the world-building was taking too long or the political story line was too dense…I just found it boring for the first 75% of the book!

The book switches between the three sisters POV’s and occasional pans over to some key side characters, as well. I do find the different communities very interesting and the world set up was fantastic, but I found that the character development of each sister was so lacking. I don’t know if it’s because we’re not really supposed to feel connected to any of them…but you would think that if the three sisters are supposed to duke it out for the throne, you’d want to build each one up to gain a following, right?

Not only were the sisters’ development not really present, we focused so heavily on the side characters, most of which I didn’t like anyways! I definitely enjoyed reading from Jules’ perspective and she is definitely my current favorite character. Everyone else either felt so bland or were just so deplorable that I couldn’t relate.

The last 25% definitely picked up pretty quickly, which also meant that (to me) the climax built too quickly and then wrapped up too quickly. I really wished that she expanded the last 25% as that was what I was wanting the entire book.

This is a 4-book series and I am going to give the second book a try because of the last 25% of the book. It definitely sets up with way more potential for the rest of the books to be better and more action-packed, which was what I was hoping for with this first one.

I am definitely disappointed…but I will give the second book a chance with a lot of high hopes, but if the second book doesn’t capture my attention…there’s a good chance that I won’t finish this series. Le sigh…I have had such a great reading run and then to come up to this was just so defeating!! 😥

If any of you have read this and completely disagree with me, please let me know in the comments! 🙂 I’d love to chat more about the book and maybe what I was missing when I read this first one, but it definitely wasn’t for me!

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Quick Takes: Cruel Beauty

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
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Image result for cruel beautyGoing into this, I thought I was going to end up with a completely different story than what I was left with at the final page. Cruel Beauty is about a young woman, Nyx, who trained her whole life to defeat the evil ruler of their kingdom. When she finally reaches the castle and meets the enemy, things  don’t go as planned. There’s more to Ignifex than meets the eye, and her mission must adapt.

I kept hearing how this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Though I usually find those cringe-y, I actually think this book would’ve been better off if there were more similarities. I wish it were as simple as that summary, as Beauty and the Beast, as another YA novel with a love triangle and predictable twists and turns. Because my biggest problem with this book was that it was jam packed with all this mythology.

Beauty and the Beast is fine. Mythology is fine. But trying to do both, and so heavy handedly, is trying to do too much. Anytime authors lean too much on another culture/society or whatever, it just starts to feel lazy and gimmicky. The naming, the world-building, the constant myth-referencing, just…ugh. Come on. It was like reading an allegory–am I supposed to enjoy the story, or is this some sneaky way to brush up on my history? Greco/Roman Mythology is great, but you can pull from it without being so obvious about it. The plot would have been way less clunky/cluttered that way.

So this is one of the few instances I’m not complaining about the “meh” protagonist or the love triangle or insta-love. In fact if those would have been my only critiques, I probably would have enjoyed Cruel Beauty a whole lot more.

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Oh How Strange Indeed…

Strange the Dreamer (#1) by Laini Taylorfive-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

OH. MY. GOODNESS!!!! YES! YES! ALL THE YES!! That is what this book was to me! Like, strange the dreamerall the heart eyes emojis and all the stars!!!! I have never read a Laini Taylor book, but my oh my…if this is how all of her books are, I definitely need to give her other books a go, as well!

First of all, just look at that cover!! It’s beautiful!!! 😀 Just so beautiful! And we all know how much of a sucker I am for beautiful covers! 😉

Secondly, I am going to give the quickest of synopses because a) I don’t want to give anything away and b) this book is actually quite difficult to summarize concisely. In this book, we follow Lazlo Strange, who is a librarian obsessed with the Unseen City called Weep. The City is called Weep because the original name has been forgotten by everyone, including the people who live in Weep. That is all I am going to do in terms of a synopsis.

This book was beautifully written, truly magical and so captivating. This is categorized as a YA fantasy, however…I really do think that this can appeal to anyone, despite their age. This book is written like any other adult high fantasy novel with the complex world building, that is steeped in politics magic. So, if any of this appeals to you…I highly recommend this to you! Now, onto major spoilers!! 🙂 Another apology, this one is going to be a long one – I warned you 🙂

Continue reading

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Quick Take: Windwitch

Windwitch (#2) by Susan Dennard
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windwitchI decided to do a “Quick Take” style review on this recent read of mine because it’s the second book in the series and I don’t want to risk spoiling it for anyone. I think this started as a duology, but is now expanded into a larger series which is very exciting based on this second book!

Overall, I really liked this. I thought it was leaps and bounds better than the first book, as the first book was a lot of world building. This one delved deeper into building each of the character arches and I think Susan Dennard did an incredible job balancing all of it. There were 5 main POVs that we switched around throughout the book and not once did I feel that one character’s POV was not as built out as the rest. Susan Dennard clearly took the time to give each character their due time and I am so glad that she did! I found myself connecting with characters that I wouldn’t have connected with, had I not had the background contextual information that this book gave me. Like the first book, I loved Iseult in this book and if anything, my love for her only grew!! Her character is so complex and I think she takes a very important turn in her character. I am so excited to see what she does moving forward!

The other thing that I really enjoyed about this book was the political intrigue/plot line woven through the book. Even more interesting, the politics circulated around female leaders, which was so refreshing!! It was incredible to read about strong female leaders and the double-standards that they find themselves facing in their courts of all men. I enjoyed reading about the different types of female characters as well; some more dominant than others, but all have these incredibly unique personalities that make them beautiful. I loved it!!

Overall, I really enjoyed this installation to this series. I cannot wait to continue on!! 😀

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Quick Take: Legend

Legend (#1) by Marie Lu
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legendThis will be another “Quick Take” review style, as this was a quick read for me and I don’t have a whole lot to say, other than the fact that I very much enjoyed this book! 🙂

I have heard so much about Marie Lu and her two trilogies and needless to say, I’ve always been quite intrigued. I got this on the cheap at the Amazon Bookstore in Seattle (which is now my favorite thing in the entire world!), so I thought that this was a great time to be able to read this! 🙂 And I am definitely happy that I did! This was super fast-paced and I read this in two sittings! 🙂

The first thing that I really loved about this book and was really intrigued by was the very interesting typography in this book. The typography alternated between both Day’s and June’s perspectives, which I thought was so interesting and definitely added to the overall reading experience.

My two critiques about this book were the lack of world building and the convenience-ness of part of the plot. I have heard that the next two books in this trilogy do get better and fix some of the world building issues in this first book, so I’m keeping an open mind. I also do wish that there was a little bit more work to the plot line, rather than it feeling a bit too convenient in how it all worked out.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this and will definitely be continuing with this trilogy. I will also be checking out Marie Lu’s other trilogy, as it also sounds very interesting and definitely right up my alley! 🙂

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