Book Review: The Silvered Serpents

Title: The Silvered Serpents
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Version: ebook – ARC
Page Count: 416
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Add To-Read on: GoodReadsStoryGraph
Notable Notables: POC, LGBTQ+, and autistic characters
Recommended Readers: Lovers of character-driven, fantasy adventures set in the real world (19th century)
Rating: ★★★★★

Thank you to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

What a dramatic and tragic return! Roshani Chokshi has taken everything that made The Gilded Wolves fun and intriguing and added so much more for The Silvered Serpents. It’s not perfect, of course, but it’s an easy 4.25 stars from me because I felt swept away from the first page. Everything here is richer. The world, the magic system, the stakes, the consequences, the characters, oh my, the characters.

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Book Review: Nyxia Uprising

nyxia uprisingTitle: Nyxia Uprising
Author:
 Scott Reintgen
Genre: Young Adult/Sci-Fi
Version: Hardcover
Page Count: 368
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC characters, LGBTQA+ characters, Social class struggles
Recommended Readers: Fans of space adventures and high stakes
Rating: ★★★★★

No, it’s over! Why??? Hats off to Scott Reintgen for delivering not only one of the best sci-fi trilogies in YA but also one of the best trilogies period with the Nyxia Triad. Like the others, Nyxia Uprising does not disappoint, and in fact it might rival the first book as being my favorite. I didn’t think that was going to be possible, but Reintgen did it!

Since this is the final book, I’m not going to be offering a synopsis since it will spoil the others, and I want people to go into this trilogy with fresh, eager eyes like I did. Nyxia Uprising especially contains the right balance of character, action, grit, heart, and heartbreak that begs to be experienced. Part of me wishes I could go back and read it all over from the beginning, not knowing what’s coming, and the best way I can do that is to recommend it to everyone I know.

If you’re looking for a fun space adventure with a diverse cast and thoughtful prose, the Nyxia Triad is it. If you’re looking for a “fuck corporations, pro-middle class” narrative, here you go. If you’re looking for a group of down-trodden kids with their own motives, goals, and dreams who grow in adversity, rivalry, collaboration, and friendship into a found family, look no further. If you love exploring gray morality and trying to make the right and/or strategic choices in the face of survival, you’re welcome.

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ARC Review: Pet

petTitle: Pet
Author:
 Akwaeke Emezi
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 208
Publisher: Make Me a World
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC cast, LGBTQA+ characters
Recommended Readers: Everyone!
Rating: ★★★★★

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

From its distinctive prose to its powerful message, Pet by Akwaeke Emezi is a compelling novel that asks us to be watchful of monsters, especially those that look, act, and smile just like us.

Our story follows Jam, who was born in a world without monsters. During her parents’ youth, the world finally got tired of the political corruption and social degradation, and said enough. Now, the city of Lucille teaches its children that there are no more monsters, that angels—ordinary people who rose to the challenge of saving the world—got rid of the monsters for good, through rehabilitation or otherwise. However, Jam’s understanding of this world is shaken when Pet, a creature with horns, feathers, and claws, emerges from one of her mother’s paintings, claiming it has come to hunt a monster. Jam has to work with Pet to uncover the monster, but she is torn with indecision when she learns it is located in her best friend Redemption’s house—and that none of the adults in her world want to believe that monsters still exist right in front of them.

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Book Review: Blood Heir

blood heir

Title: Blood Heir
Author:
 Amélie Wen Zhao
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 496
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Anastasia retelling, POC characters
Recommended Readers: Fans of fantasy and X-Men
Rating: ★★★★★

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Please note: this is a review of the original ARC before the subsequent pull and re-publication of the novel.

Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao follows Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess of the Cyrilian Empire, who is presumed dead and in hiding after being framed for the murder of her father, the Emperor. To clear her name and find the real killer, Ana enlists the help of notorious con man Ramson Quicktongue, who has dark ambitions of his own. However, Ramson’s ulterior motives aren’t Ana’s only concern. She is an Affinite, a person with a particular gift at controlling the world around them, but Ana’s affinity isn’t earth, wind, the mind, or even flesh—it’s blood, and it comes with deadly intent. As Ana learns more about the dark side of her country—particularly how rampant the human trafficking trade for Affinites truly is—she must face what she is willing to do to change it, including embracing herself and her own power.

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Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone

Title: Children of Blood and Bone
Author:
 Tomi Adeyemi
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: Hardcover
Page Count: 531
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Nigerian-based mythology, all-black cast of characters
Recommended Readers: Anyone looking for diversity and beginner fantasy
Rating: ★★★☆☆

You know, for once, I’m giving a rating that absolutely kills me to give. But you gotta be honest about your feelings, right? I just wasn’t blown away by Children of Blood and Bone. I liked parts of it, but definitely not all of it.

Is it because the hype was too high and I had greater expectations going into this than I realized? I’m not sure yet.

In this debut novel, maji used to conjure great and awe-inspiring magic, each of them connected to a specific deity. However, a ruthless king came to fear them, sealing their magic away and killing them, leaving only their children alive who never came into their own power. But with the help of an ancient scroll and a crown princess gone rogue, Zélie is determined to bring magic back to the land of Orïsha and inspire her people to rise up against their oppressors.

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Book Review: Blanca & Roja

blanca and roja
Title:
 Blanca & Roja
Author:
 Anna-Marie McLemore
Genre: Young Adult/Magical Realism
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Latina protagonists, LGBTQ+ characters
Recommended Readers: Fans of magical realism and fairytale retellings
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Man, am I ever disappointed at the rating I have to give Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore. I’m certain it’s purely the result of “It’s not you, it’s me” combined with a healthy dose of “wrong book, wrong time.”

Let me preface this by saying there is nothing inherently bad about this book. In fact, McLemore’s prose masterfully captures the dream-like quality you expect of magical realism along with a dash of purple prose that maintains its beauty without being excessive.

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Book Review: Nyxia Unleashed

nyxia unleashed

Title: Nyxia Unleashed
Author:
 Scott Reintgen
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Version: ARC ebook
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC characters, Social class struggles
Recommended Readers: Fans of space adventures and high stakes
Rating: ★★★★★

First of all, thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen. Nyxia was one of my favorite book discoveries for 2017, and now I’m delighted to say that the sequel did not disappoint. In fact, I extol its virtues and the trilogy as a whole to anyone reading this. That’s how much regard and faith I have in it, so please give it a shot if you haven’t already.

Obviously, if you haven’t read Nyxia, don’t continue reading this review because there are spoilers for the first book all up in this.

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Book Review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

jemisin_hundred-thousand-kingdoms-tpTitle: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Author:
 N.K. Jemisin
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Version: Paperback
Page Count: 427
Publisher: Hachette Book Group Orbit
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC protagonist, LGBTQ+ relationships
Recommended Readers: People looking for a challenging fantasy read and those who are into their female MCs getting entangled with monster gods
Rating: ★★★★★

This is the first book I’ve read from N.K. Jemisin, who I’ve heard is a much-respected author and a legend, and now I understand why. Jemisin displays absolutely no fear in her writing, already seeming to be a master of sprezzatura when she penned the ambitious The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

Even having just finished it, I’m struggling to put all my feelings about it into words. I’ll start by saying that I initially chose it to read because I was expecting a certain Hellsing element, aka mortal woman gets involved with a half-crazed immortal being, whose hair and darkness float around him constantly.

the hundred thousand kingdoms

Happy to say, I got exactly that and still so much more! What I did not expect, however, was how much this book was going to challenge me, both as a reader and as a demonstration of how fantasy and storytelling can be told.

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Book Review: And I Darken

and i darken

Title: And I Darken
Author:
 Kiersten White
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Version: Paperback
Page Count: 512
Publisher: Ember
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Feminism, LGBT characters, POC characters
Recommended Readers: Those interested in a slow-build, female Vlad the Impaler retelling
Rating: ★★★★☆

I read And I Darken by Kiersten White with @dearjenna for our Femme Trash bookclub, and I was happily surprised by it.

The historical figure Vlad the Impaler and the Dracula legend based off him is one of my favorites, so I was worried about how changing him into a female character would go. (This is purely for selfish reasons as I have quite a crush on Vlad, vampire version mostly but historical figure, too.)

But I’m happy to report that Ladislav “Lada” Dragwlya was an incredible character, and this book was an impressive and intricate historical retelling that’s just getting started.

White’s writing style was particularly refreshing because it never once became flowery or dipped into purple prose to make the events of the novel seem more beautiful or profound than they were. Instead, White’s style is blunt but with an edge you didn’t realize had cut you until you realize the full impact of what you just read is saying:

As the baby latched on with surprising fierceness, the nurse offered her own prayer.
Let her be strong.
Let her be sly.
And let her be ugly.

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Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Title: 
An Ember in the Ashes
Author:
 Sabaa Tahir
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Fantasy
Version: Hardback
Page Count: 446
Publisher: Razorbill
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC characters
Recommended Readers: Fans of more brutal fantasy books
Rating: ★★★☆☆

 

This book review is going to be very tricky for me because my feelings for it are so mixed.

I will say that, overall, I liked it–although it took me until a bit over halfway for me to really become invested, and it certainly didn’t make any of my favorite shelves. The book also ended with enough mystery and intrigue that I’m going to be looking into its sequel whenever it comes out on paperback, but certainly not hardback as I did with this one.

That being said, I also almost put the book down twice–once because I was bored with the pace and the other because things just got to be a bit too much…

But first, the breakdown!

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