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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ARC Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl

crown of coral and pearlTitle: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author:
 Mara Rutherford
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 432
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Solid world-building and original ideas
Recommended Readers: Those wanting to give a new author and a new fantasy a chance
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review—and sorry it’s a tad bit late.

Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford is definitely a book I’m conflicted by. I certainly didn’t dislike reading it, but I didn’t fall in love with it, either. It’s got a great plot setup that mostly needs more character polish. I was in sync with the book’s pacing as I read, but after looking back at the full summary it boasts, I would not be surprised if other people have a dissimilar experience. The summary reveals a lot of the plot, and if you read it thoroughly beforehand, you may start to get impatient for new things to happen and actual surprises to be revealed. Speaking of, here’s a bit of that summary, so perhaps read with caution.

The daughters of Varenia, a small village constructed on the ocean, are prized for their beauty above all. The only thing that rivals their beauty is the value of the blood pearls, which the Varenians harvest and sell to the kingdom of Ilara in exchange for food, water, and other living necessities. However, the blood pearls are becoming scarce, the waters are over-fished, and it’s almost time for Ilara to choose a Varenian daughter to marry the Crown Prince. Because of the scar on her face, Nor knows that her twin sister Zadie will be chosen, but after harm befalls her, Nor is sent in her stead. Forced to live as her sister, Nor believes she will still find the freedom in Ilara that she never knew in Varenia along with a way to intercede for her home. Yet her betrothed, Prince Ceren, is as cold as his underground mountain palace, and Nor finds herself caught in a web of politics involving the royal family and her people—while harboring feelings for Ceren’s brother, Prince Talin, she should not have.

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ARC Review: House of Salt and Sorrows

house of salt and sorrowsTitle: House of Salt and Sorrows
Author:
 Erin A. Craig
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 416
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Fairytale retelling, spooky AF
Recommended Readers: Fans of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and ghost stories
Rating: ★★★★☆

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

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig is a haunting debut that pulls no punches, and I hope Craig is so proud of it because I certainly am! This book delivered everything I had wanted out of The Wicked Deep–a maritime setting, a spooky mystery, and murder most foul–and cranked everything up to eleven.

The novel opens with a funeral. Annaleigh Thaumas is once again returning one of her sisters to the Salt after she mysteriously plunged to her death. Three others have been returned to the sea, and she, her father, and her seven remaining sisters have been steeped in mourning for years. That changes when her father’s new bride announces she’s pregnant. Thus, the Highmoor estate does what it never has before: it moves on.

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Book Review: We Set the Dark on Fire

we set the dark on fireTitle: We Set the Dark on Fire
Author:
 Tehlor Kay Mejia
Genre: Young Adult
Version: Hardcover
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Latinx characters and WLW romance
Recommended Readers: Gosh, everyone!
Rating: ★★★★★

I was recommended to read this by a friend just in time for Pride month, and I was so incredibly blown away by it!

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia is one of those rare YA books that is set in a fictional land, but there’s no real magic or sci-fi/fantasy elements to speak of. Rather, it mirrors our own world and the issues we face—particularly those of Latinx people in the context of American immigration—but at a more dystopian-level. Though, I regret to say, this dystopia and the current state of America is almost on the exact same wavelength. That’s…worrisome and depressing.

Our story follows Daniela “Dani” Vargas in the fictional island country of Medio. A myth about the sun god selecting two wives for his own, making the sea god and his people their eternal enemy, is the basis for Medio’s rampant political corruption and class divide. Dani’s parents once risked everything to cross the wall dividing the two islands and acquire forged identification papers so Dani could enroll at the Medio School for Girls. Now, she is graduating as the top Primera in her class, destined to run her future husband’s household and guaranteed a life of luxury.

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Book Review: Spin the Dawn

spin the dawn
Title:
 Spin the Dawn
Author:
 Elizabeth Lim
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Chinese-based culture and diverse cast
Recommended Readers: Anyone looking for diverse, magical stories; also fashion!
Rating: ★★★★☆

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

I was ecstatic to get Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim because the cover is utterly gorgeous (seriously, look at it, I weep) and the story sounded so intriguing!

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming a master tailor, but despite her skill and vision, women are forbidden from taking such a role in A’landi. After misfortune befalls her family, leaving them more destitute than they’ve ever been, Maia also has the opportunity to jump at her chance: a royal messenger has summoned her father, a once renowned tailor, to court. Posing as her brother Keton, Maia travels to court as a boy to take part in a grand competition. If she can prove her mettle against eleven other tailors, she will become the Imperial Tailor. If she can’t, she and her family will be out of options outside of marrying her off—that is, if she isn’t discovered as a girl and put to death first.

However, treachery from her fellow competitors lurks around every corner, and the court enchanter, Edan, seems to peer straight through her disguise. And then the final challenge arrives, one that has previously been impossible to fulfill. To appease the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, Maia must embark on a journey to find the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of the stars and craft three dresses from them. But these dresses were never supposed to exist, so what will it mean for Maia and the kingdom if she actually succeeds?

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abc book challenge

The ABC Book Challenge – L

Hey, everyone! I’m finally back with another ABC Book Challenge post. I decided to do this to add more variety to the blog and also because it looked incredibly fun (and so far, it is!). Once again, thank you to Sofii @A Book. A Thought. for introducing this tag to me, and for her support. You should definitely check out her blog if you haven’t already!

Here’s the challenge: Every week (though I have not strictly been following this, haaaa), I’ll have a post sharing my most favorite titles as well as those on my current TBR list that start with the corresponding letter. (For weird letters like Q, X, and Z, I might have to bend the rules a little and just have those letters somewhere in the title, but we’ll see.)

This week is the letter L!

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Book Review: King of Scars

king of scarsTitle: King of Scars
Author:
 Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: Hardback
Page Count: 514
Publisher: Imprint
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Spin-off duology, exploring more with previously established characters
Recommended Readers: Fans of both Six of Crows and the Grishaverse trilogy–especially those that wanted more from the latter
Rating: ★★★★★

I was able to finally get to Leigh Bardugo’s King of Scars, and I’m so happy I did because she took my low but timidly hopeful expectations and delivered on them in the most delicious, agonizingly slow way.

Here, we follow Nikolai Lantsov, the king of Ravka, who is trying to keep his country from falling once again into a war with enemies surrounded on all sides, balancing the threads of power along with finding ways to protect his people. Perhaps his greatest challenge, however, is to discover a way to be rid of the dark magic the defeated Darkling left within him, turning him at night into a monstrous creature devoid of reason or thought. Grisha Squaller Zoya Nazyalensky must also find a way to protect king and country no matter what the cost, even if that means sacrificing Nikolai for the sake of her people. Meanwhile, Nina Zenick is undercover on a mission in Fjerda. Deep in enemy territory, she is seeking to bury her past and find meaning in the future by saving as many Grisha as possible.

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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: Wicked Saints

wicked saints
Title:
 Wicked Saints
Author:
 Emily A. Duncan
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Version: Hardcover
Page Count: 385
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: Dark, gothic atmosphere with no punches pulled, villain romance, diverse cast
Recommended Readers: No moral purists allowed
Rating: ★★★★★

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

Before we get started, note that Duncan used 99% real Eastern European names within her novel, and that is absolutely awesome that she didn’t dilute these names and the culture just because the names are “hard to pronounce.” More like, a lot of us aren’t used to them because of how often Western societies have forced people with these names to change them, so I’m very happy to see them here. For those curious, Duncan uploaded a handy pronunciation guide on her Twitter that I absolutely referenced while reading.

The countries Kalyazin and Tranavia have been locked in a holy war for centuries. On one side are clerics who derive their magic from praying to their patron deity; on the other side are blood mages who have rejected the gods. As the war shifts in Tranavia’s favor, Nadezhda “Nadya” Lapteva finds she’s the last cleric left in Kalyazin, but instead of only hearing the voice of her patron goddess, she hears all of them, an unheard of feat. When her monastery is attacked by the High Prince of Tranavia, she is forced to flee, becoming entangled in a plot with two foreign Akolans and a rogue Tranavian that could turn the tide of the war.

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