After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.
A flying demon feeding on human energies.
A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.
And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.
The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates. She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight. (Goodreads)
In the past year, I have read a number of Arthurian retellings and its quite easy for me to say that Legendborn is by far my favourite. It was practically unputdownable as it lead me through an emotional rollercoaster ride of sadness, anger, joy, and love. I found myself being so deeply involved in this book that I had to occasionally set it aside to absorb the plot and to calm the intense emotions I’d find myself feeling, mirroring that of characters in the book. I read a lot— like 110+ books by mid-September a lot— and this book was far and way one of the best books I’ve read this year.
Legenborn boasts a well-crafted world with well-crafted characters and will make you feel everything from deep rage to unbridled joy. The protagonist, Bree Matthews, is truly a protagonist we’ve needed as she is the definition of black girl magic. She’s powerful, emotional, and unyielding; a literal force to be reckoned with. But even with great, unexpected power, she is one of the most relatable protagonist’s I’ve read in a while.
Did I mention this book made me cry multiple times? Cause it did.
Deonn flawlessly follows the beats of modern action-thrillers and presents us while a wholly entertaining twist on classic legends. Legendborn is a book for everyone. Those who love fantasy, those who love action, those who love romance, and those who love mystery. A lot of the struggles depicted in this book are very real, and the themes important. Legenborn highlights one’s roots, where one comes from and how their history affects them. It teaches about grief, and how it can hold us back but also propel us forward.
We really need this book. I can’t tell you how important it’s become to me, and how monumental it will be in the lives of others. You need this book. So does your friend. And you’re mom.
I don’t give out many five stars, or in this case five hearts. Five heart books are books I love so much I keep a physical copy in my personal library, which currently holds 44 books. This year, of the 116 books I’ve read (as of writing this) I have given 18 of those books five hearts. Legenborn will be the newest addition to my collection.
Special thanks to Foxtales Press for providing me with an ARC.
Ketsueki would give anything to find out why her mentor Akikumo, the last wolf in Japan, abandoned her. He left her with other kitsune at the Inari Shrine, but she doesn’t fit in. And now the other kitsune are bullying her and saying Akikumo is dead.
After causing trouble for the hundredth time, the Inari, instead of punishing her, has given Ketsueki a task: she must find out what happened to Akikumo. She quickly agrees, not realizing the delinquent son of the shrine’s head priest must accompany her.
Will Ketsueki be able to make peace with a human? Or will her years of resentment make this partnership impossible? (Goodreads)
Okay, let’s start with the positives of this book: the cover is absolutely gorgeous. It was what brought me into this, at least the primary thing that did. The second was the concept, it’s an interesting concept, one I’d generally be interested in reading.
The only thing was… this book is bad. Like, really bad. It was almost a herculean task to get through this one. The writing was very inconsistent and the writing told much more than showed. The sentences were stifled by their poor grammar usage and the excessive use of Japanese words throughout this English book. That wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, especially with words that are commonly used in English, such as katana, but words that otherwise would have been translated if this was a translated piece were left in this book. Words with easy translations, such as “baka.”
Honestly, this book reads like a bad anime fan-fiction. The book definitely seems to romanticize Japanese culture in a short-sighted matter. This book just isn’t worth the time.
F. C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi delves into the story of Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom–born Avatar. The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but also founded the secretive Dai Li, which led to the corruption, decline, and fall of her own nation. The first of two novels based on Kyoshi, The Rise of Kyoshi maps her journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice who is still feared and admired centuries after she became the Avatar. (Goodreads)
If you haven’t heard of this book, or only have recently, don’t worry. I don’t blame you. Personally I found this book late 2019 while browsing the Young Adult section of Barnes and Noble. At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes, then I was kicking myself– ashamed to not have known of its existence. I bought the book then and there, knowing it was a must-have for my collection.
I’ve read this book twice now and was even at my local B&N bright and early for the recent release of the sequel The Shadow of Kyoshi. I thoroughly enjoyed this book both times I read it and definitely see myself reading it many more times (much like the way I rewatch Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.) With every read, I notice more and more details that add to this vibrant world and its lore. I find myself falling deeper in love with a series that already has a permanent place in my heart.
The Rise of Kyoshi is a must-read for fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender as it more closely examines the fan favourite past life of Aang. As mentioned above, it only adds to the rich lore of this world, expanding on its histories and people. It includes themes not thoroughly explored in previous instalments in the franchise and in many ways is more accessible than the comics (which, if possible, I recommend looking into as well.)
The only downside to this book lies in the action. At times it seems a bit slow and the fighting described is difficult to understand and subsequently follow. When it comes to the descriptions of bending, I find myself being lax on the author. As a writer myself, I can’t help but imagine how difficult it must have been to describe something so well-suited for more visual formats.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book. I can’t recommend it enough. Like, really, go get this book because you don’t know what you’re missing out on.
In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest. Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.(Goodreads)
It’s been a while since I’ve read this book, and though my memory of it is beginning to fade I still remember it fondly. It was the first book I had read in a while that I really enjoyed, and was one of the first fantasy books I’ve enjoyed in a few years. I’ve never really been a huge fan of fantasy (until recently), but yet this book had me utterly enthralled in the world. So much so, there were times it overwhelmed me and I was forced to set the book down for a short time.
There are many great things about the book, but what made it stand out to me (other than the LGBT representation) was the exceptional world-building. I found the caste system in this book particularly interesting, with its heavy ties to species dictating the hierarchy. An allegory for race, that was inclusive and relatable to all readers. The real surprise was how well-developed and easy to understand it was upon first reading. It was easy to catch on the customs of this society without the book becoming lengthy to the point of absurdity. YA has a reputation for underdeveloped world building, the focus often put on the characters and the situation. While this book is very character heavy, it does a very good job of creating a realistic and understandable world. Not so fantastic that it’s unimaginable, but fantastic enough to allow the reader to escape the clutches of reality. The only downside is, especially at the beginning, the story seemed very info-dumpy. After reading the first few chapters I found my brain a little tired from absorbing so much. Regardless, I enjoyed the world.
The true downside of the story, for me, was the characters. They were not bad, in the sense that I enjoyed reading about them, but they were not the best. The protagonist particularly often came off as inconsistent. She constantly went back and forth between being empowering and annoying in her indecisiveness. To be entirely honest, I found her love interest far more interesting, with a backstory more prone to action and with a certain amount of finality in her decisions and fate. Lei, the protagonist, on the other hand, lacked this. And though I understand why the author chose to focus the story on her, I struggled to relate to her constantly going back and forth between deciding to try to live happily and rebel. It is not an easy decision, I understand, but her belief that she had no hope of escaping her reality made her indecisiveness all the more annoying.
Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.
With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights. (Goodreads)
Okay, I’m going to be completely honest… I’m total Maas trash. I’m absolutely in love with the A Court of Thorns and Roses series and will accept any opinions that follow. This is a series I can read over and over again.
A Court of Mist and Fury marks A Court of Thorns and Roses official departure from the retelling-realm as it pushes the series in its own unique direction. Now our protagonist is a resident of the fairy realms and we follow her as she becomes a more reliable narrator as she becomes more knowledgeable of the world around her. We watch a sort of coming-to-self story with relativity relatable internal struggles (of course, no matter how abstract you look at them some of the experiences are not relatable.)
Oh.. and Rhysand. He’s annoyingly perfect, but let’s just be real, he’s so damn loveable. He still manages to make my queer heart swoon.
You can’t talk about A Court of Mist and Fury without mentioning the covet-worthy friend circle depicted throughout. Maas does such a good job creating a diverse (albeit racially stagnant) group who are truly complementary to each other. With witty banter, realistic disagreements, and a tight knit found-family the characters are to die for. You can already tell that I love this series and at some point, I plan on writing an in-depth analysis of the original trilogy. Until them, I’m going to be (im)patiently waiting for the upcoming A Court of Silver Flames.
Special thanks to NetGalley and Andrew McMeel Publishing for providing me with an ARC.
Vamp is three hundred years old but in all that time, she has never met her match. This all changes one night in a bar when she meets a charming werewolf. FANGS chronicles the humor, sweetness, and awkwardness of meeting someone perfectly suited to you but also vastly different. (Goodreads)
A cute collection of short comics by Sarah Anderson is bound to be great, and Fangs is no exception. The comics follow the heart-warming and adorable relationship between a vampire and a werewolf and gives us glimpses into their quirky lives as well. The writing is precise and the illustrations are cute. Anderson manages to put a humorous twist on the sub-genre of supernatural romance that is deliciously dark and will make your heart squeal. If you can’t wait for Halloween this book is definitely for you!
Special thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan/Roaring Brook Press for providing me with an ARC.
Josie Pie was born to be a star. So she dropped out of high school to pursue her Broadway dreams, but after months of failed auditions, she finds herself broke, beaten-down . . . and nannying in Missoula, Montana. Lonely and directionless, Josie checks out the local bookstore, looking for the ultimate escape.
And escape she does. Literally. She falls into the plots of her books, including a bodice ripper, a dystopian thriller, a YA romance, and more, all filled with swoony co-stars who just make her yearn to repair things with the boyfriend she left behind in NYC.
As her reality begins to unravel, what starts as a welcome break from her lackluster life soon begins to feel like a stifling nightmare—but is it too late for Josie to get back to the real world? (Goodreads)
Kind of A Big Deal is a short entertaining read that plays on the idea of books being a getaway for faraway fantastical worlds. It’s a fun concept that I’m sure every reader has daydreamed about but in a book form. Though, from my point of view, this story probably would have benefitted from being released in another form, such as a television series or film. In the form of a book, the effect of being transported into all these different stories fall short as the author doesn’t do the best job distinguishing the transitions even with the use of chapter breaks.
Overall, the writing is lacklustre. The style of writing is stagnant throughout the book, which wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that some of the sections are meant to be from other fictional books. The writing is simple, which is good for a quick read but not much else.
Honestly, for me, this book is one of those you pick up for a short bit of fun. It’s a way to break up the monotony of ones TBR with a quick and relatively lighthearted contemporary that can be read in one sitting. Will you read it more than once? Likely not. Will you regret reading it? Probably not.
Special thanks to Netgalley and Macmillan/Swoon Reads for providing me with an ARC.
For the past nine years, ever since a bunch of those evil Tinkerbells abducted her mother, cursed her father, and forced her family into hiding, Bryn has devoted herself to learning everything she can about killing the Fae. Now it’s time to put those lessons to use.
Then the Court Fae finally show up, and Bryn realizes she can’t handle this on her own. Thankfully, three friends offer to help: Gwen, a kindhearted water witch; Dom, a new foster kid pulled into her world; and Jasika, a schoolmate with her own grudge against the Fae.
But trust is hard-won, and what little Bryn has gained is put to the test when she uncovers a book of Fae magic that belonged to her mother. With the Fae threat mounting every day, Bryn must choose between faith in her friends and power from a magic that could threaten her very humanity. (Goodreads)
Ironspark is a fun adventure story with action at every turn. It’s a refreshing addition to the fae-centric fantasy sub-genre of YA, with it being heavily inspired by the more traditional fairy lore. It includes some creatures we don’t often read about in modern YA fantasy, primarily due to the fact that they aren’t the ethereal beauties that are unseelie fae nor are they the complete terrors lurking in the deep forest. Additionally the depiction of magic is evidently inspired by real-life practices and the fantastical depiction we often get.
For romance lovers, this book promises a queer love triangle, and while it delivers the romance often takes the backseat to the action. Which is a bit refreshing in itself as romance tends to overshadow the overarching plot. As a result, though, the romance tends to feel less real, but this book isn’t meant to be a romance; hence in my opinion it’s action focused tendencies are warrented. Additionally, this book includes a rarely represented group, with the character Dom being canonically asexual. The way his asexuality is decribed in the book is probably one of the more realistic versions I’ve ever read and therefore am grateful for.
The book ends in such a way as to set up a sequel with the potential to have an even more riveting adventure, this time in the fae-lands. I’m interested to see more of this author’s depiction of the fairy world because of their already quite traditional rendition of the fae-folk.
Available on Amazon, B&N, and be sure to check your local library/Libby
As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.
Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.
Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling. (Goodreads)
Considering I am not super acquainted with fantasy it probably isn’t surprising that I found the concept of this book considerably unique and subsequently interesting. And though I must admit I don’t think the writing is the best, what it achieved is admirable. Aspects of the story aren’t outright told and action scenes are handled well and are easy to follow.
Arguably, poor writing can be excused due to the fact that this is the writer’s debut novel. And by no means is the writing horrible, it just shows that this writer still has some growth ahead of them and honestly don’t we all? My main problems with the story come from the characters and the fact that they often come off as two dimensional with very basic motivations. The romantic subplot comes off as undeniably forced and is unnecessary to the story. The romantic subplot could have been reduced to a platonic relationship and the dynamic between the characters would have remained largely unchanged.
For a debut novel, this book is surprisingly well-done. The author definitely has talent, though she definitely has room for growth (which makes me all the more excited for her future works. In the end, I gave this book a primarily subjective rating heavily due to my relatively low expectations with not only book but the genre. In the end, I was left with an appreciation for higher fantasy I did not prior have. Though I am curious about how my opinion will change as I become more acquainted with similar storylines.
After Re-reading in 2020
My general opinions of this book haven’t really changed, even now that I am much more acquainted with fantasy than I was a year ago. I’m looking forward to the upcoming sequel.
Bone Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.
Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.
Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.
Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die. (Goodreads)
For me, this was one of those books that you by not because you know what it’s about and curious about it, but because the title is cool and the cover is gorgeous. As I’m starting to do more and more, I went into this book not knowing what to expect, and I don’t regret it whatsoever. I ended deeply enjoying this book, and can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel.
This book plays on the whole enemies to lover trope in an interesting way. Setting up a predictable circumstance only for it twist in another direction as the book comes to a close. I found myself so emotionally involved in what was going on that every twist and turn was made so much more exciting (even in retrospect I should have seen so many of them coming).
The book includes such interesting mythologies and a magic system unique to itself. There is definitely a trigger warning for those sensitive to the literary deception of animal sacrifices, but I personally believe the author handled it quite tastefully. The system of belief is what really makes this book shine as it is quite unique and refreshing, though at times a little underdeveloped. It being underdeveloped may likely be a result of the characters own lack of understanding regarding it though, something I hope to see remedied in the sequel.
The female relationships depicted in the book was quite refreshing with its depiction of sisterhood and familial bonds. The only thing I would ask to see is this series tackle romantic relationships between two of the women, rather than all the women being depicted as heteronormitive.
For fans of young adult fantasy who want to get there hands on something new and entertaining and absolutely full of angst I recommend this book. Let me warn you though, the book is going to play with your emotions. Whether it be an annoyance with the characters or relating to them; it’s an emotional ride.