Reviews

Haunting- The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

Overall enjoyment: 3/5

World building: 2/5

Characterization: 3/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary: When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.

Review

I have confused feelings about this. I feel like I misinterpreted the summary and so had an unrealistic expectation for this book. This book is all from August’s point of view and while Jack does have an elaborate hallucinatory fantasy world that is not really the focus nor in my opinion is the quest. The focus is August’s attachment to Jack and how Jack’s hallucinations not only deeply affect Jack, but also deeply effect August. This was hard book to read, not because it was poorly written, but because it is so well written. This is not a book that makes mental illness look pretty. This book that looks at what the reality of untreated mental illness and it’s hard. This is not a light, fluffy book this is a bit of a wake up call for everyone who doesn’t get it, myself included.

World building. I’m going to be honest. There is next to none. We get a brief description here and there of the surroundings. We’re in our modern world. Jack’s fantasy world is briefly explained. I think this was done very intentionally though. None of the stuff I just mentioned was meant to be the focus of this story and it could’ve taken away from the impact of the real message if too much time had been spent on it. It is a rare day that I will say that minimum world building was a good move for a book, but I think this was an intentional move and I think it was for the benefit of the book.

Characters. Oh, August and Jack. I hurt for them. There are some background characters, but they’re not much worth mentioning. I hurt for the characters, but they were personally hard for me to connect with. I think Jack is a bully and I say that because I think he was that way before his hallucinations really started and August isn’t described as super likable either. However, I think again it was intentional and actually a good part of the characterization. These two have been neglected and the only thing holding them both up are each other. That doesn’t always create a healthy relationship. I would say they both have very distinct voices that stay consistent throughout the entirety of the book.

Diversity. Both August and Jack are bisexual. Jack also has a hallucinatory disease for most of the book. I haven’t read many books with mental illness rep so it was nice to see even though it was hard to read.

Overall, I think the book was very well written. Ancrum does an amazing job. It was so hard to read though and while that was the point of the book I can’t say it was one of my favorites. If you want a book with flawed, hurting characters that gives a realistic view on what serious mental illness looks like I think you could really enjoy this book. If your looking for something more focused on fantasy or escapism this is not something I would recommend.

Reviews

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

World building: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Diversity: 5/5

Goodreads summary:

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good. 

Review:

So, I’ve been excited about this book for awhile. Magic as a virus rather than a cool mystical force? I was sold. I’ve had the book for a week or two before finishing up my previous book in order to get started on this book. This book didn’t disappoint and I can’t wait for the sequel! This is definitely a relevant book for the current culture of the USA.

The characters. What I think I love most about Lee’s characters is they all have backstories. We might not have fully gotten all of them in this book, but we’ve gotten hints of them. These characters have had it rough maybe not in all the same ways, but they all have reasons for being the way that they are. Let’s start with Noam. I adore Noam. He reminds me of a student I use to have. He’s young and he’s got big ideas and he’s willing to put himself on the line to accomplish what he sees as needing to be done. A+ character. Then we have Dara. We don’t necessarily get a ton of information about him until the end, but I still like him. He’s been in this whole mess of the plot since he was young and he’s got some serious stuff going on. Then, there’s Lehrer. Wow, this dude. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll leave it at that. If you want characters with sad backstories then you’re going to enjoy this. The one thing I was a little bit disappointed about was Noam and Dara. I wanted more build-up and interaction between them where they weren’t at each other’s throats. The ending with them was amazing, but I’m just not quite sure how they got to that level with each other.

Worldbuilding. This is a dystopian futuristic world with hints of fantasy. I initial started reading this book with the assumption that it was more of a fantasy novel, but it’s definitely more speculative fiction. There’s lots of elements that tie into what elements are currently happening in our own world which I personally enjoyed; especially, in regards to immigrants legal or otherwise. It’s hard to describe without going into too much detail, but Lee took the time to craft an interesting, dark history for her world that really spoke to me.

Diversity. It’s everywhere and I love it! Lee via twitter says Dara is Persian. Noam is a bi man whose half Jewish, half Colombian. There are other characters with other elements of diversity throughout the novel that you’ll find out about as you read, but this is probably the book with the best inter-sectional diversity that I’ve read so far. Major props.

If interested you can buy The Fever King by Victoria Lee here.


Have you read this book? Does it sound interesting? What do you think? Is it on your TBR?

ARC, Reviews

ARC Review – Wild Country by Anne Bishop

Overview

Overall Enjoyment: 4/5

Characterization: 3.5/5

World building 4/5

Diversity 2.5/5

Personal Summary: The 7th book is The Other series.

Bennett was a town wiped out the Namid’s Teeth and Claws, but it won’t stay that way for long. Humans are returning and with it the terra indigene are taking notice.

Jana wants to be a cop, Virgil has a grudge, and they’re going to have to learn to work together if they want to keep Bennett safe from humans that may have less than friendly intentions.

Note: This book can technically be read alone, but makes a lot more sense if you’ve read books 1-5.

Review

Note: I received Wild Country by Anne Bishop for free from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

First, let me say that I’m in love with the world of the others. It’s an urban fantasy like I haven’t read before and I just love it. There are many different types of werecreatures in this book and there’s so much going on. I must admit that while I did enjoy this book I will say that books 1-5, the original story line, are still very much my favorites.

Let’s start with the characters. There are so many. I loved those that I would consider the main characters. You have Jana whose always wanted to be a cop and has enough spunk to handle Virgil. I wasn’t sure at first if I’d like Virgil, but he definitely grew on me and he’s a big softy at heart. He bark is worse than his bite (usually). I particularly like his voice within the book. It gives a unique perspective that I really enjoy. Tolya, he’s basically the equivalent of a vampire, and he was kinda bland at first. He has a lot of dealings with Jesse though and it really brings out his character when he’s with her. Jesse is really great too. I loved all these characters, but there were also so many more characters. Honestly, too many characters for me. We were introduced to A LOT of characters and I don’t feel like some of them were really necessary unless there’s another book in this particular town (which I don’t believe is the case) and it left me with some questions that I never felt answered.

World building was good for an urban fantasy based novel. It’s based loosely on the world we have now only instead of humans being the dominant species the terre indigene (mostly what I would call werecreatures) are. The terre indigene are what really draws me into the story. Bishop gives them all a unique voice that I find really enjoyable.

The plot was a bit scattered to me. There was a lot going on in this book and again it was almost too much. I won’t say much on that because I don’t want to spoil things, but be ready. This book also has some western book-inspiration that I didn’t think I’d like, but actually enjoyed.

The diversity in this book. I’m unimpressed. Now, there was a gay couple and there was a neurodivergent child so let me explain why I was unimpressed. They felt forced and that they were only there to say the book had diversity. I doubt that was the author’s intent, but the diverse characters are introduced and then just kinda fade away or are in the background and never really given much attention. They had no really point in the book and I found that disappointing.

If you’d like to purchase Wild Country by Anne Bishop it’ll be released on March 5th and you can buy it here.

wonder wednesday

Wonder Wednesday: To leave a bad review or no?

Hello lovely readers! This Wednesday I’ve been wondering about bad reviews. As a lover and reviewer of books there have been books out there that I’ve hated. Sometimes it’s the poor characterization or world building, but other times I just didn’t really enjoy the book even though it was really well written. So, I’ve been wondering. Should book bloggers post their bad reviews? I ask, because though I’ve seen an occasional less than positive review on a book blog on the majority I’ve seen 4+ ratings. This could be, because like me other bloggers only read books that they feel that they’re really interested in. But, I’ve also heard murmurs of bad reviews being bad for your blog. So, I’d like to know what you think? Do you think it’s good/okay to post a bad review for a book on your blog and why?

Reviews

Sizzling- A Review of Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

World building: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Diversity: 4/5

Personal Summary: Lei is of the paper caste, completely human in a whole full of hybrids and demons. Life may not be easy, but it is the only life Lei has known. That all changes when a group of demons abducts her to take her to the palace as one of the king’s paper girls. At the palace Lei is faced with new challenges, but also finds a love that strengthens her is ways she didn’t realize were possible. Together they may just be able to defeat the king and gain their freedom.

Review

I fell completely in love with this story about five pages in. This is the first book I’ve read with an f/f pairing that I’ve really enjoyed. It was a sizzling romance my readers and it was glorious.

The world is set in a Malaysian-inspired fantasy world full of humans, hybrids, and demon. I really enjoyed this world. There were smatterings of history throughout the book that really pulled everything together, but never got to the point of overwhelming. What I think I really enjoyed were the cultural nuances of this book. This book is full of its own cultural practices and beliefs and while I can see how some of it is based on real world cultural practices it didn’t take away any of my enjoyment. If you want a non-European fantasy world this book is a really great choice.

Characterization. I had mixed feelings about this rating. Lei and Wren had great characterization. I would say most of the characters that are more than just passing characters do, but sometimes I wanted a little bit more history from some of them. Many of them have a rough back story that’s alluded to, but never fully explained that I was hoping for.

Diversity. Full of women of color and are main characters are lesbians in an Asian-inspired world. It was beautifully done.

So, if you want a fantasy book featuring a diverse setting featuring two strong and brave lesbian lovers I couldn’t recommend this book enough for you. You can purchase it here.


Have you read this book yet? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

ARC, Reviews

ARC Review- Prince of Air and Darkness by M.A. Grant

Release Date: February 25th

At a Glance

Overall: 3/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 2/5

Diversity: 2/5

Note: I received this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Personal Summary: Finn, an all American boy from a small town in Iowa, who has powers beyond his control.

Roark, the prince of the unseelie court, struggling to be true to himself under the weight of the thrown.

Roark and Finn both attend Mather’s School of Magick together and have been uneasy roommates for several years. Finn, is constantly being targeted for his powers and Roark is constantly helping him. This is both their final year at Mather’s and tensions are running high. There’s a war brewing and their growing feelings for each other could be what saves them or the very thing that destroys them both.

Review

I have mixed feelings about this book. I love the premise of the book. I was highly intrigued by the idea of Finn having a power that was a bit beyond his control. What a flaw, right? I loved the characterization of Roark and Finn. They were obviously very different people with different dialogue and tone patterns which is something a lot of books I’ve been reading recently sometimes struggle with. So, I was very pleased with that. I think their behaviors also speak well to their backgrounds and personal histories. But, the world building was sorely lacking. There’s fae and even other patheons all at Mather’s, but it didn’t really play into the story in any major way that I was hoping for. I wanted a lush fae culture that somehow managed to stay hidden in the human world with the help of magic, but if you took out the fact that Roark was a fae and made him human it wouldn’t make much of a difference to his character. He was basically a human with powers. Now, there were tiny bits of world building in the novel with the concept of the knight of the winter court. I thought that was a really interesting idea. The pacing of this book is kinda shaky, but the end of the book the plot definitely picks up and things start falling into place. I enjoyed the last part of this novel way more than I enjoyed the beginning so if you pick up this book I recommend sticking with it until the end. With a note to diversity, our main diversity in this book is the two main characters are gay, but that’s all the diversity we get. Both characters are young white males.

In conclusion, it was an enjoyable, light fantasy read with two enjoyable main characters, but if you’re looking for something new spin on the fae and/or a deep, gritty story then this is not the book for you. If you would like to check out The Prince of Air and Darkness you can find it here.


Has anyone else read this book? Is it on anyone’s TBR? What do you think?

Reviews

Heartfelt: A review – No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll

Note: I received this book free of charge through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My brief personal summary: This book is a collection of short fairy tales featuring trans and nonbinary characters.

The book as a whole. 4/5

I really enjoyed it. The author’s note was so touching and I think the hopes for this book were realized. Diversity in all types of fiction is really necessary so that we might all find ourselves and our potential in the stories we enjoy. The one thing at the beginning that threw me off was that these really are short stories/fairy tales. These are not long novels with in-depth stories and though that is made very obvious in the description this sometimes made me feel left hanging. Now, to the stories themselves

Story One: Tangled Nets 3/5

Wren was an interesting character. Xhie had obviously been through a lot with xer sister and there was a lot going on, but I just didn’t feel attached to xer.  There was some cool world exploration, but right as I wanted to know more about xer the story was over. I think my biggest thing was there was some information about the other dragons and what happened to the white dragon that while interesting would have been better used as time to explore Wren more.

Story Two: King’s Favor 3/5

I liked this one better than Tangled Nets. There’s world building, but there’s also some exploration of Caran that I enjoyed about why nee was doing what nee was doing and why nee was specifically chosen. While I felt a bit of attachment to nee I wanted more. Caran got this amazing opportunity at the end and then it was over.

Story Three: His Father’s Son 5/5

This story was all I wanted! Nocien was the first character I really felt attached to in the book and he was glorious. We got his backstory through him remembering everything in a lot more detail than I feel like the previous short stories and I was hooked. Then, there was action, a great amount of it that really hit you and then the ending! I felt like I got the complete story.

Story Four: Daughter of Kings 4/5

This one got me right in the feels. Finndis is lovely, but there’s a past that is a bit painful. We get just enough of her history to really enjoy her victory. What a great story.

Story Five: Early to Rise 3/5

The most obvious retelling of a fairy tale in the book. An interesting retelling of Sleeping Beauty. It was short, but I enjoyed it well enough

Story Six: No man of Woman Born 4/5

Innes asks some great questions about prophesies that I admit I never thought about. I love that all the details don’t seem to slow any of these characters down. I think it really speaks to most of us who have dreamed of being heroes during at least one point in our lives. What a great story to give people faith in themselves.

Story Seven: The Wish-Giver 4/5

Short, but so heartwarming.

You can purchase No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll here.