Book Review: Defy the Stars

defy the stars

Title: Defy the Stars
Author:
 Claudia Gray
Genre: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Version: Hardcover
Page Count: 503
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC Protagonist
Recommended Readers: EVERYONE, especially fans of sci-fi and I, Robot
Rating: ★★★★★

The more of Claudia Gray’s work I read, the more I like her. I’ve read her Star Wars book, Lost Stars, and that was pretty good, especially since it dealt a lot with the Empire and what it means to fight for or against them.

Defy the Stars is an unrelated, original novel, and it is worlds above everything I’ve read of her so far in terms of characters, plot, and world building. I absolutely adored this book from the first page on, and once I started, I couldn’t put it down for long.

Noemi Vidal is a native soldier of the planet Genesis, which has been at war with Earth and its mechanized soldiers for decades. She’s willing to do anything, even die, to ensure her planet remains free, but secretly she wishes to explore the galaxy beyond the Genesis Gate.

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Book Review: The Hazel Wood

the hazel wood

Title: The Hazel Wood
Author:
 Melissa Albert
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Version: ARC – eBook (Uncorrected Proof)
Page Count: N/A
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Modern-day setting with fantasy elements, POC character
Recommended Readers: Those who want to take a strange, eerie journey to someplace new
Rating: ★★★★☆

Thank you, NetGalley and Flatiron Books, for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My actual review is probably closer to 3.5 stars, but I really don’t like giving half-stars, so 4 stars it is.

Alice and her mother Ella have always been on the move, dogged by bad luck wherever they go. They receive a letter that Alice’s grandmother, Althea Proserpine, an author of a cult-classic book of dark fairytales, has died at her estate, the Hazel Wood, and Ella believes their bad luck is finally over.

Alice does, too, until Ella is abducted, seemingly by figures from the Hinterland, the fictional world where Althea’s book is set. Ella leaves Alice with only one message: Stay away from the Hazel Wood.

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Book Review: Iron Cast

iron cast

Title: Iron Cast
Author:
 Destiny Soria
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
Version: Hardcover
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC characters, LGBTQ+ characters, Friendship-focused
Recommended Readers: Fans of magical realism, 1920s-era
Rating: ★★★★★

Ah, gosh, I loved this. Magical realism, 1919 setting, diverse characters, thoughtful prose. Consider me swept away!

Iron Cast is Destiny Soria’s debut, standalone novel, and I am an instant fan. The cover alone stole my breath, and the contents inside delivered, taking me to this historical yet magical Boston that I didn’t want to leave.

The novel follows the fierce friendship of two young women, Ada Navarra, the daughter of immigrants, and Corinne Wells, the daughter of an elite Boston family. Neither of them seem to have much in common besides the fact that they’re both hemopaths, or people whose blood cannot tolerate iron and who possess certain gifts. Corinne is a wordsmith who can bring people into her thrall, experiencing any emotion and memory she desires by reciting poetry, and Ada, a songsmith, does the same with her violin.

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Book Review: Ironside

Ironside

Title: Ironside
Auth
or: Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Version: Paperback
Page Count: 323
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC characters, LGBTQ+ characters
Recommended Readers: Ages 14+, Lovers of Dark Themes
Rating: ★★★★☆

 

I chose to skip Valiant, book two in this Modern Faerie Tale trilogy, because it didn’t have much bearing on the actual plot. Ironside picks up where Tithe left off, with Kaye preparing for Roiben’s coronation and Corny trying to discover how he, as a human, can become immune to faerie charms. When Kaye drunkenly declares herself to Roiben in front of his court, he gives her a seemingly impossible task to fulfill: find a faerie that can tell an untruth.

Kaye spends much of the novel separate from Roiben, attempting to solve his riddle while wrestling with her Changeling status. Meanwhile, Roiben is dealing with Fae politics, both from the Seelie Court and within his own court, which he’s chosen to rule and protect although the denizens there revolt him.

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Book Review: The Ghost Bride

the ghost bride

Title: The Ghost Bride
Author:
 Yangsze Choo
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Version: Paperback
Page Count: 384
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Chinese/Malaysian culture and mythology, POC characters
Recommended Readers: Lovers of ghost stories, love stories, and underrepresented cultures
Rating: ★★★★★

[This review was originally published on GoodReads.]

What a stunning debut novel! Once I started, I couldn’t put this one down for an instant. I even read it at work, sometimes on lunch break, sometimes not. Ssh! Don’t tell.

Yangsze Choo brings readers into the world of Chinese mythology and family politics. Anyone familiar with works such as The Tale of Genji, a Japanese classic, will instantly recognize the secrecy and intrigue that comes with being a part of a prestigious family and the advantageous relationships they make. The Chinese afterlife making a prominent appearance in the book is only an added bonus.

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Book Review: Nyxia

nyxia

Title: Nyxia
Author:
 Scott Reintgen
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Version: Hardback
Page Count: 377
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: ★★★★★

The first reason I picked this book up was actually because of the author’s note on the dust jacket:

Scott Reintgen has spent his career as a teacher of English and creative writing in diverse urban communities in North Carolina. The hardest lesson he learned was that inspiration isn’t equally accessible for everyone. So he set out to write a novel for the front-row sleepers and back-row dreamers of his classrooms. He hopes that his former students see themselves, vibrant and on the page, in characters like Emmett.

It warmed my heart and made me tear up a little.

The second reason was the premise. Emmett Atwater has been selected, along with nine other recruits, by Babel Communications to compete in a competition in space. Only eight recruits will secure spots to go down to the planet Eden to mine nyxia, a substance that’s become the most valuable material in the universe. Winners will be set financially for life while the losers get nothing.

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Book Review: Wonder Woman: Warbringer

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Title: Wonder Woman: Warbringer
Auth
or: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult, Superheroes, Sci-Fi
Version: Hardback
Page Count: 369
Publisher: Random House
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC characters, LGBTQ+ character, Feminism, Origin Retelling
Recommended Readers: Fans of Diverse Characters, DC Comics/Wonder Woman fans
Rating: ★★★★★

When I found out my favorite YA author was writing not only a DC Comics book but a Wonder Woman book, a single tear rolled down my face, and I said, “For so long I give, and now I get to receive.”

And receive, I did. Completely separate from the film that debuted earlier this year, Wonder Woman: Warbringer is another origin story for Diana of Themyscira, one that takes place even before she’s considered a true Amazon like the rest of her people but set in our modern time. Diana is considered separate from the rest of the Amazons because she was the only one actually born on their hidden, secluded island; she didn’t earn her way like the rest of them did, these women warriors who evoked the names of their female goddesses and deities before dying in battle.

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Book Review: Tithe

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Title: Tithe
Author:
 Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Version: Paperback
Page Count: 331
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC Character, LGBTQ+ Character
Recommended Readers: Ages 14+, Lovers of Dark Themes
Rating: ★★★★☆

 

What a strange but enjoyable book this was. I borrowed Tithe from my roommate because I’ve been dying for a good Fae story, one where the Fae are all unbridled passions and cruel whims and outside the realms of human morality. Because that’s what Fae are supposed to be. I’ve heard Holly Black is dubbed by fans as the Faerie Queen, so I was hoping she wouldn’t disappoint me.

I’m happy to say that, by and large, she didn’t. She gave me the Seelie and Unseelie Courts in all their ethereal beauty, perverse horrors, and glorious madness. She gave me faeries that largely regard mortals as playthings to trick and lead to ruin.

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