Fantasy · Fiction · Historical · Paranormal · Romance · Young Adult

Chain of Gold

Title: Chain of Gold

Author: Cassandra Clare

Page Count: 672

Series: The Last Hours, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: March 3, 2020 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Format: eBook

Review: The more I read books by Cassandra Clare, the more I draw similarities between her style and the style of Sarah J. Maas. Both write sagas with lengthy tomes that are riddled with relationship angst. Both have predictable plot formulas they follow, and they always manage to pair off nearly every character into a romantic relationship. Clare in particular really has a penchant for relationship triangles and drama, and it seems that she repackages her storylines with different characters and settings. Despite this, I find some comfort in knowing what I am getting into when I pick up one of her books, and I often find myself enjoying them. In some ways it is just mindlessly pleasant reading. The Shadowhunter world is very engrossing, regardless of how many different ways the same story is presented to me. I find that in general I like her historical fiction series more than her contemporary ones. I don’t know how historically accurate her settings are, but the afterword in this book implies that she does put a little research into her craft. I’ll definitely keep reading when the next book is published, if only because the covers in this series are so dang gorgeous.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Fantasy · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

Malice

Title: Malice

Author: Heather Walter

Page Count: 496

Series: Unknown

Publishing Date/Publisher: April 13, 2021 by Del Ray

Format: eBook

Review: I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that I love a good villain origin story, and this is certainly that. It explores the evolution of the tormented becoming the tormentor as the line between “good” and “evil” blurs into non-existence. The author was very clever in how she twisted various elements of Sleeping Beauty adaptations into her story, and by the end, you could fully empathize with Alyce and her descent into darkness. This is a character who really has nothing left to lose, and it is tragic to watch her become the monster that everyone says she is. It really makes you reflect on the power of love, and how it has the capability to both redeem and destroy. It’s frightening to think that one choice can determine which.

My only real criticism of this book is that although the author did a fantastic job building Alyce’s character, Aurora’s character felt a bit flat. I would have liked to see more character development for her because I think it would have added more dimension to her relationship with Alyce.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Contemporary · Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

The Magic Fish

Title: The Magic Fish

Author: Trung Le Nguyen

Page Count: 256

Series: Unknown

Publishing Date/Publisher: October 13, 2020 by Random House Graphic

Format: eBook

Review: It is rare for me to read a graphic novel, and even more rare for me to review one. In this case, however, I felt a review was entirely necessary because I was so impressed by the creator’s work. Nguyen managed to convey both time and place entirely through the use of color and wardrobe – a feat that allowed him to seamlessly weave together the present, the past, and the fantastical into one cohesive story. Just…wow.

Another thing I rarely do is save quotes from books, but I couldn’t help but screenshot the line, “They’re only stories. They’ll change when they need to.” I don’t know why, but this little epiphany completely blew my mind and changed the way I now look at retellings and adaptions of classic stories. I also think it sums up this graphic novel fairly well. At it’s core, it’s about a family who communicates through stories when they cannot find the words to express something important to one another. I have always believed in the power of stories, and the execution of this message is just played out so beautifully in this format.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold

Fantasy · Fiction · Mystery · Paranormal · Young Adult

Elatsoe

Title: Elatsoe

Author: Darcie Little Badger

Performer: Kinsale Hueston

Length: 9 hr, 1 min

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 22, 2020 by Dreamscape Media, LLC

Format: eAudiobook

Review: I personally did not find this book to be a thrilling read, however, I will most certainly be recommending it to young readers. Aside from a few curse words scattered here and there, it is actually a pretty “clean” book. It read more like middle grade fiction, despite the fact our amateur sleuth is an older teenager. Because the main protagonist, Elatsoe, is asexual, there is no romantic angle whatsoever. The setting is interesting and would likely appeal to young readers – kind of a re-imagined United States where the paranormal is considered normal. All things considered, I think I probably would have enjoyed this book a lot more if I had read it as a pre-teen.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Contemporary · Fiction · Romance

The Intimacy Experiment

Title: The Intimacy Experiment

Author: Rosie Danan

Page Count: 336

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: April 6, 2021 by Berkley Books

Format: eBook

Review: All. The. Feeeeelz. This is the romance I didn’t know I needed after reading The Roommate (which I also thoroughly enjoyed). And darn it, Rosie, if you didn’t make me fall in love with these characters. This romance has a refreshingly wholesome quality given the fact it is about a red hot relationship between a former porn star and a rabbi. This isn’t to say it doesn’t have it’s fair share of smut, but it is really more about all the ways intimacy is more than just sex. This book also tackles a lot of the social issues touched upon in The Roommate, and shows them from another angle.

Well done, Rosie. A truly exhilarating romance all around. I hope to read more from you.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
half star

Contemporary · Fantasy · Fiction · Paranormal · Romance · Young Adult

Cemetery Boys

Title: Cemetery Boys

Author: Aiden Thomas

Page Count: 352

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 1, 2020 by Swoon Reads

Format: Hardcover

Review: This was a unique coming-of-age novel with a very diverse cast of characters.  My favorite elements of the book were the rich descriptions of Dia de Muertos traditions and the relationship between Julian and Yadriel.  The romance that developed between Julian and Yadriel felt very organic, and served as a great mechanism for character development.  I also loved the paranormal spin to the story, with Julian being a ghost, and thought that overall it was very creative.  

My biggest qualm about the book was the very cliché villain reveal at the end. I had hoped my predictions were wrong and that the author would surprise me, but unfortunately this was not the case. The ending also wrapped up a little too nicely in my opinion, especially given how dark a lot of the content was following the climax of the story.

Reader: Bekah

Rating:

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Fantasy · Fiction · Romance

The Witch’s Heart

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Title: The Witch’s Heart

Author: Genevieve Gornichec

Page Count: 368

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: February 9, 2021 by Ace Books

Format: eBook

Review: For people who loved Circe (*cough* me *cough* *cough*), this is a very strong readalike. The core of the story is very similar to Circe – it’s about a powerful witch living in relative isolation, who still manages to create meaningful relationships and build a family, all while struggling to stay out of the reach of wrathful gods – but the filler is quite different. The children and romantic relationships are entirely different, and the ending is quite different as well. I am a big fan of fiction rooted in mythology, and I was very pleased with this author’s take on Angrboda’s story. Not much mention is made of her in Norse mythology, aside from her being noted as Loki’s mate and the mother of his three monstrous children, so I really like seeing her story fleshed out and made whole. I am very excited to start recommending this book to readers once it is published.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Fiction · Science Fiction

The Left Hand of Darkness

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Title: The Left Hand of Darkness

Author: Ursula K. Le Guin

Performer: George Guidall

Length: 9 hr, 39 min

Series: Hainish Cycle, Book 4

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by Recorded Books

Format: eAudiobook

Review: There are a few prolific science fiction writers that I have had on my TBR list for some time, and Ursula K. Le Guin is one of them. I decided to tackle The Left Hand of Darkness because of it’s many awards and stellar reviews. Unfortunately, despite it’s many accolades, I did not personally enjoy it. I do, however, understand why it has received the praise bestowed upon it. It is a rather revolutionary work, both for the time it was written and the current time, and it is deeply philosophical….too philosophical for me. Although I do like a book that expands my thinking, I found it to be boring. Gethen as a setting sounds like my personal hell – cold and icy. The ambisexual nature of the native people was interesting, but there was not any particular character that I especially liked. The pacing of the book is hard to describe because to me it felt slow in some parts and rushed in others. All things considered, it is unlikely that I will read anymore books by Le Guin, but nevertheless I can say that I truly appreciate what she has done for the science fiction genre.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

Felix Ever After

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Title: Felix Ever After

Author: Kacen Callender

Page Count: 368

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: May 5, 2020 by Balzer + Bray

Format: Hardcover

Review: First off, can we take a minute to appreciate that cover…gorgeous! I would have picked this book up for the cover alone if it wasn’t already in my TBR pile as a Mock Printz Committee selection. In the novel, Felix is an artist with a penchant for painting self-portraits. I like to think that this would have been one of those portraits.

But anywhoo, this book was a nice coming-of-age story filled to the brim with tropes. Misunderstood teenager? check. Angsty art school students? check. Mysterious online admirer? check. Confusing feelings about an attractive best friend? check.

Tropes aren’t necessarily a strike against a novel. When done well I enjoy them, however, I can’t say that about all the tropes in this book. I thought the romance angle in particular was weak. There was a weird quasi-love triangle that I didn’t feel did justice to either of the love interests. I could have cared less if Felix ended up either or neither of them.

So in summary, do not read this book for the romance, but rather for the character arc of a trans teen achieving self-acceptance and figuring out that it is ok to not have it all figured out.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold

Fantasy · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

The Midnight Lie

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Title: The Midnight Lie

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Page Count: 358

Series: The Midnight Lie, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: March 3, 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Format: eBook

Review: I was a huge fan of Rutkoski’s Winner’s Trilogy, so I was elated when I saw this book being offered up to readers on NetGalley.  Unfortunately, as with many books I hype in my mind, it did not quite live up to expectations.  I found both the setting and the romance to be boring.  I’ve seen this plot concept played out in other books, and I did not find this particular rendition to be anything special.  For folks who are interested, there is an LGBT+ angle, but there really isn’t anything else that sets it apart in my mind from other fantasy that I have read.  Although I would like to learn more about Nirrim’s magical gifts, I don’t think I am interested enough to continue forward with this series.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star