A Court of Wings and Ruin Review

A Court of Wings and Ruin Review

By  Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Print Length: 699 pages

Release Year: 2017

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.44

Available on Amazon, B&N, and Libby

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all. (Goodreads)

While I totally love the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, A Court of Wings and Ruin was honestly the hardest for me to get through. I initially began reading it early in the year only to put it down around chapter thirty-something. Later in the year, I picked it back up, this time with the intent of finishing it. I don’t think it was an issue of as to whether I was going to finish it, but when. With Maas’ writing, I tend to get so utterly engulfed in what’s going on that I sometimes have to set the book down solely to recover emotionally from the events of the story. And let me tell you, A Court of Wings and Ruin is an intense read that had me going through a rollercoaster of emotions. By the end of the book, I had laughed and sobbed. It was simply… a lot. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses is one of those series that is book bad and good in ways that are almost impossible for me to articulate. You can spend a lot of time picking them apart, but you can spend just as much time praising them. Really, I can’t tell you where this series is for you, because of how polarizing it is. All I can say is that its 1000% for me. 

Read the first book, if you enjoy it, or at the very least have mixed feeling read the second. If you like the second you are guaranteed to like the third.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Objective Ratings

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Goblin King Review

Goblin King Review

By Kara Barbieri

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Print Length: 320 pages

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Release Date: November 17, 2020

Available on Amazon and B&N

Special thanks to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for providing me with an ARC.

The Hunt is over, but the War has just begun.

Against all odds, Janneke has survived the Hunt for the Stag–but all good things come with a cost. Lydian might be dead, but he took the Stag with him. Janneke now holds the mantle, while Soren, now her equal in every way, has become the new Erlking. Janneke’s powers as the new Stag has brought along haunting visions of a world thrown into chaos and the ghost of Lydian taunts her with the riddles he spoke of when he was alive.

When Janneke discovers the truth of Lydian and his madness, she’s forced to see her tormentor in a different light for the first time. The world they know is dying and Lydian may have been the only person with the key to saving it. (Goodreads)

Goblin King is a worthy sequel to White Stag. The book follows a very similar format of its predecessor, Goblin King includes a fair amount of action, but is ultimately an examination of emotion and healing. This book is much more character-driven than many other fantasy books. Still, it excels at integrating fantastical elements in a story that is ultimately the story of a young woman healing. 

The plot of the book is considerably formulaic and is very reminiscent of the first book. The characters head out on a grand journey with high stakes, they get quite beaten up, but they ultimately pull through. The action is entertaining enough, but the story isn’t really about the sheer brutality of goblin-kind. Barbieri presents a fantastical book about healing from significant trauma, heavily inspired by her own struggles. For readers who’ve gone through similar struggles, there is a specific power in being able to see yourself reflected in a powerful character such as the protagonist Janneke.

The writing overall is very well done. There is evident growth in the authors writing since her first book, and this book, while not having quite the bite as the first, is the better written of the two. The plot is straightforward and well-paced, and the underlying message is just as evident. 

For those who have read White Stag, and those who are fans of Norse Mythology, this is a worthwhile read. There is a handful of trigger warnings, so be sure to research that beforehand. As mentioned above, this book is heavily about healing and maybe an intensely emotional read for some.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rent a Boyfriend Review, Thoughts, and Fan Art (Book Tour)

Rent a Boyfriend Review, Thoughts, and Fan Art (Book Tour)

By Gloria Chao

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Print Length: 320 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary 

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.0

Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.

Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.

When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.

But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything? (Goodreads)

Special thanks to Simon Pulse and Hear Our Voices Book Tour for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review and participation in this tour. 

An emotional ride through the darker aspects of Asain culture in the United States, and the rift it can create between generations. Rent a Boyfriend follows the lengths a young woman would go to protect herself from a future she doesn’t want. In the process of doing so, she learns exactly what she wants, and what she has to do to have. This book is about sacrifice and how in excess it does more harm than good. Illustrating the importance of communication, and the battle to find stable ground among the generations. It’s an emotional ride, the ends with a breath of relief.

An absolute highlight of this book is the romance. Young-adult books have a tendency to fall victim to insta-love, and while there was immediate chemistry between the two romantic interest it wasn’t insta-love. Their love is visibly flawed and organic, making it a breath of fresh air. You see both of their sides, the feelings and thoughts that dictate their actions and the whole thing just makes sense. You root for them, not only because of their chemistry but because of their realness. The organic nature of the romance is this book is truly one of the best I’ve ever read. 

I often found myself mad reading this book, not at the book itself but at characters within it. Chao does an amazing job showing the rift between Chloe and her family, and how truly detrimental their situation is. All the emotions Chloe goes through you can feel yourself and it seriously hurts. I think it’s a universal struggle, wanting your parents to be happy, but what they want for you isn’t exactly what you want for yourself. While I come from a culture considerably different, it wasn’t hard to find parallels between my experiences and that of Chloe and Drew. 

This is a powerful book, that just so happen to have a happy ending. The way there is rocky but worth it. There is so much to be learned from as well, making this book an easy recommendation. This is a must-read.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thoughts While Reading

  1. I was fascinated by the idea of “Rent for Your ‘Rents” and found myself wondering how such a business would work. Especially for female operatives, if there is such a thing.
  2. Hongbo made me utterly angry, I used many choice words in my notes related to him. 
  3. The misogyny surprised me, but not that much after I thought about it. I related to it, actually. I really felt Chloe’s pain. 
  4. I struggled alongside Drew with some of his decisions. The wants to help people and the moral struggle of living a lie. 
  5. I learned some things about a culture that’s always fascinated me. And I continue to have a deep appreciation for many aspects of it.
  6. I loved the sheep, they’re so cute. When I can’t sleep I’m going yo start counting sheep.
  7. I took the time to sit and contemplate what  I would do if I was in Chloe’s place. It actually made me sad what I found out about myself. But at the same time, I’m not surprised. 
  8. I lost count of how many times this book gave me flashbacks to similar situations I’ve found myself in.

Fan Art

A Deal with the Elf King Review

A Deal with the Elf King Review

By Elise Kova

Publisher: Silver Wing Press

Print Length: 338 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, New Adult

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.99

Available on Amazon

Special thanks to Elise Kova for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The elves come for two things: war and wives. In both cases, they come for death.

Three-thousand years ago, humans were hunted by powerful races with wild magic until the treaty was formed. Now, for centuries, the elves have taken a young woman from Luella’s village to be their Human Queen.

To be chosen is seen as a mark of death by the townsfolk. A mark nineteen-year-old Luella is grateful to have escaped as a girl. Instead, she’s dedicated her life to studying herbology and becoming the town’s only healer.

That is, until the Elf King unexpectedly arrives… for her.

Everything Luella had thought she’d known about her life, and herself, was a lie. Taken to a land filled with wild magic, Luella is forced to be the new queen to a cold yet blisteringly handsome Elf King. Once there, she learns about a dying world that only she can save.

The magical land of Midscape pulls on one corner of her heart, her home and people tug on another… but what will truly break her is a passion she never wanted. (Goodreads)

My heart is not okay.

I’m at a point in my reading journey that if you tell me a book even vaguely resembles A Court of Thorns and Roses, I’ll shamelessly pick it up. When I saw Elise Kova, who is one of my most favourite writers, was coming out with a book with the words “[…] for fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses[…]” I was ecstatic. 

And when the opportunity arose for me to apply for an ARC… well, can you blame me? And let me tell you, I devoured it. Devoured it. I literally had to delay this review for two days cause I needed to recover from reading this book emotionally. 

Kova is definitely a master of making her readers overwhelmed with anticipation. She is one of the few authors that can have me so enraptured that I forget to breathe. I don’t know how many times I had to take a break, even over the smallest developments. This book, in particular, throws you headfirst into the story, not giving you time to prepare for the coming events. You know how the book ends, but the journey is what makes it worth it. Kova is undeniably talented when it comes to making you fall in love with her characters quickly, making it impossible to complain about the predictive nature of her writing. It’s one thing to know what is going to happen, but another to actually watch it unfold with all the excellent character development and swoon-worthy relationship development. 

Picking up this book, you can tell A Deal with the Elf King is a passion project. As a writer and reader, you can feel the love that went into this story. It was written as an escape and subsequently worked very well in letting the reader escape as well. This book, while having essential themes, A Deal with the Elf King, manages to be a feel-good read; something you can snuggle under the blankets and escape with. 

I’m inclined to call it a guilty pleasure, but the thing is: I’m not guilty whatsoever. 

Ms. Kova, if you happen to stumble upon this, let me tell you: if you write it I’m buying it. 

And you should too. There really isn’t anything to complain about with this book. As mentioned, the romance is absolutely swoon-worthy, and the magical world-building is fun and does its job well. These books aren’t hard to read, and that’s what makes it so wonderful. All the fun of fantasy without the overwhelming amounts of world-building information. 

I truly recommend checking out this book, whether it be for a little escapism, or just to have something to read. And while you’re at it, check out other works by the author as well.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Faithless Hawk Review

The Faithless Hawk Review

By Margaret Owen

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company

Print Length: 400 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.43

Available on Amazon, B&N, Libby (availability may vary by region)

As the new chieftain of the Crows, Fie knows better than to expect a royal to keep his word. Still she’s hopeful that Prince Jasimir will fulfill his oath to protect her fellow Crows. But then black smoke fills the sky, signaling the death of King Surimir and the beginning of Queen Rhusana’s ruthless bid for the throne.

Queen Rhusana wins popular support by waging a brutal campaign against the Crows, blaming them for the poisonous plague that wracks the nation.

A desperate Fie clings onto a prophecy that a long-forgotten god will return and provide a cure to the plague. Fie must team up with old friends? and an old flame? to track down a dead god and save her people. (Goodreads)

Special thanks to Henry Holt for providing with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Faithless Hawk is the conclusion to one of the best duologies I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read the first book in the duology, The Merciful Crow,  you should definitely do so as it is one of the most unique and well done young adults books I’ve read in a long while. This series is a good entry point for many fantasy readers, as it definitely teaches you to keep track of certain details; because while the books look short they are packed with world-building. For those who have read The Merciful Crow you may even find yourself needing to revisit it before, or after, reading its sequel. There is so much that can be missed, that I’m sure when I pick up this series again I’ll discover something I didn’t the first time. 

The writing continues to be exceptional, and a true experience to read as the stylization enhances the reading experience. The characters, the world, all of its is so well realized that it’s hard to believe this story fits into two relatively thin books. When I read the first book I noticed there was definitely a heavy focus on world-building, and while this book achieves a lot in that realm, this sequel definitely takes its time to further delve into its characters. I found myself much more emotionally invested in what happened to the characters and certain events held more weight as a result. It’d be interesting to see if this changes how I view the characters in the first book when I get a chance to reread it (if you haven’t already noticed, I definitely plan on rereading this series.)

While reading, its easy to become absolutely engrossed in what is happening, the book is quite hard to put down. I recommend for readers looking for a shorter fantasy series, this one 100 times! You really won’t regret it. And for younger readers, or those who just aren’t used to fantasy this book is definitely a good gateway book into the broader genre.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My Hero Academia Vol. 1 Review

My Hero Academia Vol. 1 Review

By Kohei Horikoshi

Publisher: Viz Media

Print Length: 192 pages

Release Year: 2015

Genre: Fantasy Manga/ Comic

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.49

Available on Amazon and B&N

What would the world be like if 80 percent of the population manifested superpowers called “Quirks” at age four? Heroes and villains would be battling it out everywhere! Being a hero would mean learning to use your power, but where would you go to study? The Hero Academy of course! But what would you do if you were one of the 20 percent who were born Quirkless?

Middle school student Izuku Midoriya wants to be a hero more than anything, but he hasn’t got an ounce of power in him. With no chance of ever getting into the prestigious U.A. High School for budding heroes, his life is looking more and more like a dead end. Then an encounter with All Might, the greatest hero of them all, gives him a chance to change his destiny… (Goodreads)

My Hero Academia (also known as Bokuno Hero Academia 僕のヒーローアカデミア) is a popular Japanese manga (and anime) series created by Kohei Horikoshi and follows the trials and tribulations of a young man named Izuku Midoriya. In a world where the majority of people are born with powers called “quirks” the job of pro-Hero is given to those who chose to use their quirks in the pursuit of justice. Midoriya, a quirkless middle schooler dreams of enrolling in the Hero course at the prestigious U.A. High, the alma mater of his idol All Might. We follow as he begins his journey towards becoming the world’s number one hero and the new symbol of peace.

Volume One, which includes chapters 1-7 both introduces us to the majority of the series key characters as well as introduces you to the world and its quirk system. Following the introductions, the series goes into what might as well be its first arc, which I will call the “Deku v. Kaachan Pt. 1;” which follows the first fight between the protagonist Izuku and his rival Katsuki. The end of the manga marks the beginning of this arc. 

From what I’ve seen the main arguments against this book is that the plot and world design is considerably derivative, reviewers often citing its similarities to Marvel’s X-Men series. Though i agree that at face value this is true, I will argue that this argument is not sufficient with all things considered. Borrowing different concepts is a common practice in comics and all storytelling mediums for that matter, and as a result, what really matters is how it is executed. It is well known that the author Horikoshi is a fan of American comics, so it is reasonable to conclude that it did, in fact, influence his work, but that isn’t a bad thing. Having only read the first volume is the reason most focus more on what is evidently derivative, but that is not enough of a sample size to call the series itself that. I will simply say, if you don’t like this volume because of its similarity to other works, at least read up until the third volume. Due to this volume’s focus on character and world-building, I would say that the true story doesn’t start until the following volume. (I’d like to add that I find this series to be a good introduction to America comics to Japanese readers, and vice verse with Japanese manga and American readers.)

When it comes down to it, this volume does a good job at what it set out to do, though I believe it is probably the worst of the beginning volumes. I wouldn’t find it fair to complain much though, considering this was a very formative and challenging time for the writer who was relatively new to the fame this series would gain. Additionally, many serial writers often need some time to truly fall into rhythm with their story.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Magic Review

Magic Review

By Mike Russell 

Publisher: StrangeBooks

Print Length: 268 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: Fantasy Contemporary

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.84

Available on Amazon

Does magic exist? Charlie Watson thinks it does and he wants to tell you all about it. Before he was famous, Charlie Watson decided to write a book to share with the world everything he knew about magic. This is that book. You will discover why Charlie always wears a top hat, why his house is full of rabbits, how magic wands are made, how the universe began, and much, much more. Plus, for the first time, Charlie tells of the strange events that led him from England to the Arctic, to perform the extraordinary feat that made him famous, and he finally reveals whether that extraordinary feat was magic or whether it was just a trick. (Goodreads)

Special thanks to StrangeBooks for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Magic is the second book I’ve read by Mike Russell, and it definitely continues to perpetuate what seems to be an overarching theme of his writing: the whimsicality of otherness. His writing continues to come off as consistently surreal, as Russell is one the better surrealist writers. In Magic, he again utilises simplistic writing to vividly illustrate a dadaistic view version of the world, that at times feels a little like a fever dream.

Magic takes a magical view of the world in the most literal sense, going so far as to describe the big bang as an immense act of magic. Magic in this book is often present as a soft version of itself, for the sake of continuing the themes of otherness. There is certain humour that the softer writing style allots Russell, as he tells a story that manages to feel anything but serious. The book isn’t really meant to be serious, but for those who like to look deep to find more existential themes Russell’s work delivers. 

This book is a speedy read, largely due to the casual writing style. The experience of reading this book is reminiscent of the whimsy of reading a magical children’s book, only more existential. It’s a great comfort read, something that really lightens the mood; which is honestly what we need most this year. 

While I enjoyed this book very much, for purely subjective reasons, my personal rating is a little lower. This, I believe, is primarily due to personal circumstances that simply led to this book just not sitting right with me. I think that if I read under a calmer circumstance, I would have easily rated it higher, but as of late books such as this haven’t appealed to me. Regardless I’m interested in reading more by Russell in the future, as well as keeping up with the author’s releases. I recommend this book to anyone who just needs to escape for a bit in the more relaxing reading environment this book creates.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Butterfly Garden Review

The Butterfly Garden Review

By Dot Hutchinson

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Print Length: 288 pages

Release Year: 2016

Genre: Horror, Mystery

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.03

Available on Amazon

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding… (Goodreads)

My interest was immediately piqued when I read the description of this book. And, let me tell you, this book delivers! It’s a unique concept that’s well-executed. I couldn’t put this book down because I needed to know what happened next. Hutchinson does a masterful job revealing just enough to keep you interested but not too much as to alienate and overwhelm the reader. And while this book deals with some serious crimes and does not shy away from being descriptive, it’s not a very hard book to read. It reads quickly and easily without being unbearably upsetting. 

There is a certain amount of cinematic nature to the way this book is written. I could see this being an episode on a crime series or a whole series on its own. 

The only issues I had with this book is the “big reveal.” It was predictable and somewhat lacklustre. I found myself looking forward to a more scandalous ending. Of course, the ending still delivers something, but it felt incomplete. This is only the first book in a series though, and while the titular “butterflies” are not the focus of the subsequent books, they’re story continues in the background. 

Regardless I definitely recommend this book, especially for the price. It’s an entertaining read with a lot of spooky vibes, and even if you agree with my assessment of the final twist, the book is still overall entertaining as heck.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Barren Grounds Book Tour: Review, 15 Thoughts While Reading, and Fan-Art

The Barren Grounds Book Tour: Review, 15 Thoughts While Reading, and Fan-Art

By David Alexander Robertson

Publisher: Puffin Canada

Print Length: 256 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.25

Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (and always be sure to check your local library/Libby)

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Aski, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them. (Goodreads)

Special thanks to Puffin Canada and Hear Our Voices Tours for allowing me to participate in this tour.

I don’t often read middle-grade for no particular reason. There are a number of books on my TBR that actually happen to be middle-grade but for whatever reason, I’ve continually put off reading them. The Barren Grounds quickly reminded me how great these books can be, even if they’re intended for an audience much younger than myself. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and am going to get the negative out of the way by saying there is none. This is an amazing book, with amazing character development and world-building. It also serves as an introduction to indigenous culture for those who may not as familiar with it. This book had me in tears at one point, and I was so invested in the world. The books does have some similarities to the classic Chronicles of Narnia, but I personally found this much more interesting and engaging.  

I learned some new things about indigenous culture from this book that sparked an internet deep-dive into the history of many First Nations people, their beliefs and cultural practices. I found my eyes opened to a culture, that I was aware of but never truly saw. This book opens the readers to a fantasy world, yes, but it also opens a part of our world so often forgotten or overlooked. I want everyone to read this book, be moved by the story, and be inspired to learn more. I recommend reading this book, and then going out and finding out more about the beautiful stories that inspired this one. 

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

15 Thoughts While Reading

  1. I was glad to find that Morgan and Eli seem to have been placed in a truly caring foster home. I understand that that is not always the case, but this particular home has great potential. I also realized how much more meaning this had to me as an adult who is old enough to have children. 
  2. I learned about some First Nations dishes, which lead me to research more about the culture, particularly cuisine. 
  3. It was easy to draw immediate parallels between The Chronicles of Narnia and The Barren Grounds; which the portal to Misewa being opened through a drawing and one of the portals to Narnia being opened through a painting. 
  4. I learned about fishers. Prior to reading this book, I had never heard of such an animal. 
  5. I found myself often relating to Morgan in her feelings of disconnection to her heritage and the anger that made her feel. 
  6. I found myself contemplating the ethical conundrum that Ochek was faced with when he and the children came across Arik. And wondered what I would do in such a situation. 
  7. I noticed the allegory against colonizers in the description of the antagonist. It reminded me how truly wasteful modern society is, and how we take advantage of nature. 
  8. Robertson does a good job setting up a mystery surrounding Morgan’s origin, as well as Eli’s in a sense. I want to know more about how they got in the foster care system, and if it had to do with legitimate concerns or one’s based on discrimination and ignorance. 
  9. I was very interested in the character of Mahihkan, and wanted to know more about him. Especially whether or not his presence held more weight that I may have noticed. 
  10. With the mentions of North and South country, I became more curious about the stories that could be set in this world. So much was set up, with things only mentioned hopefully with the intent to more fully explore. 
  11. I was reminded of how beautiful the indigenous languages are with the book’s inclusion of Cree words. It makes me want to cry knowing that these languages are in danger of dying out. 
  12. Learning one of the stories behind what we call the Big Dipper was a beautiful experience and during this scene in the book, I cried quite a bit. 
  13. Morgan truly grew in this book, that was a beautiful thing to see. She and Eli found a home not only in Misewa but in each other.
  14. The way time worked in this story fascinated me, especially in the final conversation between the kids and Arik. Could they have sat there and talked for a literal eternity?
  15.  The final poem was so beautiful. I read it more than once. 

Fan Art

Portrait of character Arik

The Cup and the Prince Review

The Cup and the Prince Review

By Day Leitao

Publisher: Sparkly Wave

Print Length: 256 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Release Date: October 15, 2020

Special thanks to Sparkly Wave for providing me with an ARC.

Available for pre-order on Amazon.

One prince wants her out.

Another wants her as a pawn.

Someone wants her dead.

Zora wants to win the cup and tell them all to screw themselves.

Yes, 17-year-old Zora cheated her way into the Royal Games, but it was for a very good reason. Her ex-boyfriend thought she couldn’t attain glory on her own. Just because she was a girl. And he was the real cheater. So she took his place.

Now she’s competing for the legendary Blood Cup, representing the Dark Valley. It’s her chance to prove her worth and bring glory for her people. If she wins, of course.

But winning is far from easy. The younger prince thinks she’s a fragile damsel who doesn’t belong in the competition. Determined to eliminate her at all costs, he’s stacking the challenges against her. Zora hates him, hates him, hates him, and will do anything to prove him wrong.

The older prince is helping her, but the cost is getting Zora entangled in dangerous flirting games. Flirting, the last thing she wanted.

And then there’s someone trying to kill her. (Goodreads)

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a sucker for fantasy that promises a strong female protagonist, and this book delivered. Other than a propensity to randomly cry, Zora is a competent woman. And while her motivation is not as noble as that of other female protagonists, it is a legitimate one. After all, nothing is more dangerous than I woman scorned. 

I enjoyed the book well enough to read it through and to have an interest in a sequel, but it’s evident that this book has much more potential than what was delivered. The plot is solid, but the world wasn’t. We are introduced to a magic system that is never explained and the world with rules and laws that seem arbitrary. As a result, certain stakes just don’t hold the weight that they could. 

The major downfall of this book is over-simple writing. The writing is not that of a final book, not even a second draft really. There are many scenes that would benefit from being drawn out that just aren’t and at times the writing just seems incomplete. It’s a quick read as a result, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s just missing something. 

I enjoyed the book, I’m interested to see more. I feel like first books in YA fantasy series are allowed an amount of leeway for the author to focus on what they think is the most important thing to set up, in this case, that was the characters and plot. I’m open to a sequel in the hopes that it fleshes out this world more because there is definitely great potential.

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