Tag Archives: YA Fantasy

Rise Up!

Children of Blood & Bone (#1) by Tomi Adeyemi
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AAAAHHH!!!! YAAASSSS!!!! ALL. OF. THE. YAAAAASSS!!!!! 

Okay…now to get into my coherent review of this incredible book!! This was an children of blood and boneincredible fantasy read and a much needed read. This book follow Zélie Adebola, who is the descendant of Reapers, powerful magji whose magic used to flow through the land. One tragic evening, a ruthless king targeted the maji and had them all killed. Zélie will never forget that night, never forget the night that she watched her mother die at the hands of the ruthless king. The night that magic died.

As life happens, Zélie finds herself an opportunity to bring back magic, avenge her mothers’ death and bring down the evil monarchy. With her brother and the rogue princess, Zélie sets out on her journey and meets various obstacles along the way. Little does Zélie realize that she may be her own greatest obstacle.

This story is a West African inspired YA fantasy and it was a definite breath of fresh air for this fantasy reader. As a woman of color and as an avid fantasy reader, it was so refreshing and so impactful to read a fantasy story that only had people of color in the book. One of the greatest downfalls of the fantasy genre is the lack of representation, in any identity not just race. It is encouraging to see that more and more fantasy authors are integrating more layers of diversity into their stories and I am so excited to see what else is coming!

This book was beautiful, dark, fast-paced and action packed. It was a much darker than I had anticipated for a YA fantasy, and I was pleasantly surprised. Tomi Adeyemi took a risk with writing this dark and violent, yet also so filled with family, captivating mythology and strong women and I am here for that risk!! This book was beautiful and I am beating myself up for reading this book right when it came out, because now I have to wait an entire year for the next one!! 😦 If you haven’t already, please pick this up!! 😀 You will not regret it!! Now, I have a few spoiler-y filled thoughts, so if you haven’t read this yet…do not read further!!

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Series Review: “Study” Trilogy

Magic Study (#2) by Maria V. Snyder
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Fire Study (#3) by Maria V. Snyder
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I have been on a journey, much like Yelena in this trilogy and I have come out victorious! 🙂 I have been very curious about this trilogy for quite some time now and I finally just set out to satisfy the curiosity. I have already written a review about the first book in this trilogy, “Poison Study”, so check it out! In short, I found the first book in this trilogy to be quite addictive, dark, full of political intrigue and a lot of great potential about a fantastic magic system. I did find that a lot of this continued into the second book with one major issue that I’ll discuss further in the spoiler section, however I found that the third book slowed quite a bit for me which super bummed me out. I am surprised that these are marketed as YA books, and I think these could’ve done so much better marketed as Adult Fantasy books.

The things that I liked most about the series, as a whole, was the evolution of our protagonist, Yelena. Yelena definitely grew into her abilities, albeit quite slowly which was slightly frustrating at times. The other thing that I very much enjoyed about the rest of the series was the introduction of complex side characters and a dark political story line which I am always a fan of. I did feel a little let down by the final book as the first two were definitely highly addictive and fast-based, and then the third book weirdly slowed down to a point that I found it become a chore to finish. Le sigh…

If I’m understanding the series correctly, there is a spin-off trilogy that comes next which is based off of a side character from these books. I am definitely intrigued as I really liked this side character and I will probably pick them up sometime in the near future.

Now I only have a few spoiler-y things to discuss, so if you haven’t read this, stop now! 🙂 Overall, if you want a politically-based and dark fantasy trilogy, I definitely recommend trying this out!

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Series Preview: Poison Study

Poison Study (#1) by Maria V. Snyder
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I had first heard of this series years ago and was definitely intrigued by it, but never got around to picking it up. Recently, I was watching one of my favorite BookTubers, Regan17206162 from PeruseProject, and she had binged the trilogy, which peaked my interest again. I looked at my library and found this first book available via eBook, so I decided to check it out. And I am so glad that I did!! 😀

This first book was so great!! Admittedly, I did go into this book with some low expectations, but I found that this book way exceeded my low expectations!! For those of you who don’t know about this book, we follow Yelena, who is a convicted murder given a chance at a new life as the Commander’s poison taster. At the surface, this sounds like such a basic fantasy story but there were some surprising layers and complexity to the story. I had read someone’s review of this book and agree with the notion that I wished that this was an adult fantasy rather than a young adult, as I think that that would’ve added even more layers to the story.

Now I have read some mixed reviews of the rest of this series, so I am going to try to find a library copy of the second book to see how I feel about it. But, I did like this first book and it was definitely enough to intrigue me to continue on with the series. This is the first book in a fairly longer series with some overlapping series, which is my favorite thing to read! Depending on how I feel about the second book, I’ll either do a full series review or I’ll do an individual review if it flops for me.

This now concludes my spoiler-free review of this book and now I need to get into some spoiler-y thoughts because I definitely have a few of them!! 🙂

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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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