Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Review: The Curse of Saints by Kate Dramis

Has she been sent to save the realm or destroy it?

As Spymaster to the Queen, Aya's blood oath ensures she protects those she fights alongside - including Will, the Queen's Enforcer and Aya's bitter rival.

When rumors of dark magic rise in a nearby kingdom, both are sent to investigate.

But when Aya's power acts beyond her gods-given affinity, she risks being turned into a weapon in a war she doesn't know how to win.

And when her relationship with Will unexpectedly shifts, neither know the danger that will follow . . .

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📌  Publication date: 11/05/2023
📌  Disclaimer: I received an e-arc for review from the publisher

I didn't get off to the best start with The Curse of Saints. The opening was cliche and I attempted to get past it quite a few times, to the point where I thought it might even be a DNF. However, I eventually came back to it and pushed through. 

The author has been promoting the book for it's enemies to lovers trope, so I wasn't expecting much in terms of the plot. So, it's ironic then that that is what actually ended up being the bit that had me hooked. Like the court politics and betrayals? So good!

It's mostly told from Aya's and Will's POV, and if I'm being honest I was pretty neutral about them both. It's the occasional third POV we get, from the prince of another kingdom, that I found compelling. The only complaint I have about his POV is that when describing his mum and sister he mentions the word 'curves' which I found awkward...

I've seen people complain about books marketed as enemies to lovers not actually delivering. If you're one of those people then this is the book for you as it definitely reads like a true enemies to lovers romance. I mean, the knife to throat fans will eat this up. Unfortunately, I was indifferent to the romance. Which is a shame as I do love a good romance in my fantasy. One thing that annoyed me and made me roll my eyes was how Will kept saying love every time he said Aya's name. It would have been fine every now and then, but this was too much. 

Romance aside, I can't wait to see where the story goes next. 


Wednesday, 15 February 2023

Review: One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig

 Elspeth Spindle needs more than luck to stay safe in the eerie, mist-locked kingdom of Blunder—she needs a monster. She calls him the Nightmare, an ancient, mercurial spirit trapped in her head. He protects her. He keeps her secrets.

But nothing comes for free, especially magic.

When Elspeth meets a mysterious highwayman on the forest road, her life takes a drastic turn. Thrust into a world of shadow and deception, she joins a dangerous quest to cure Blunder from the dark magic infecting it. And the highwayman? He just so happens to be the King’s nephew, Captain of the most dangerous men in Blunder…and guilty of high treason.

Together they must gather twelve Providence Cards—the keys to the cure. But as the stakes heighten and their undeniable attraction intensifies, Elspeth is forced to face her darkest sec
ret yet: the Nightmare is slowly taking over her mind. And she might not be able to stop him.

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📌 Disclaimer: I received an e-arc for review from the publisher

You know when you go into a book with no expectations and you end up really enjoying it? That's what happened to me with One Dark Window. It's a dark and atmospheric adult fantasy with YA crossover appeal. The perfect read for autumn/winter read, paired with your favourite hot beverage. I found Elspeth to be a compelling and layered main character, and the romance between her and Raven was perfectly paced and developed. The plot had me glued to my kindle from start to finish, there was never a dull moment. The ending had me both worried and eager to read the sequel to see what happens next. 


Friday, 3 February 2023

Review: These Infinite Threads by Tahereh Mafi

Alizeh is the heir to the Jinn throne and fulfills a long-foretold prophecy of a Jinn sovereign destined to free her people from the half-lives they’ve been forced to live under the rule of humans.

Kamran is the heir to the human throne, and he’s being pressured to marry before he becomes king. When he falls in love with Alizeh and subsequently learns her true identity, he must question everything he’s been taught about Jinn and their future in his kingdom. 

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📌 Publication date: 02/02/2023
📌 Disclaimer: I received an e-arc from the publisher for review

I'm sure all bookworms can agree that the greatest feeling, after finishing a sequel you've been eagerly anticipating, is when it leaves you feeling thoroughly satisfied. One of the best things about this series is the main character, Alizeh. I just adore her so much. She's kind, compassionate, and strong willed. It's been a while since I've loved a main character quite as much as her. Plot wise, this picks up exactly where book one ended. There is a lot of exploring and set up, which leaves room for an action packed follow up. The secondary characters were great, from Omid and Hazan to (unexpectedly) Miss Huda. 

I won't lie. The thing I was most nervous about when going into These Infinite Threads was what direction the romance would take. I wasn't a fan of the romance between Kamran and Alizeh in the This Woven Kingdom as it was too insta-lovey for me. Especially on the side of Kamran. I was more interested in getting to know Cyrus, the mysterious character we're introduced to towards the end of the first book. I mean I was already shipping them and they hardly even had any page time! Well, my wish was answered, we get to know more about him in this book as Alizeh is whisked away to his kingdom. And chapter 23. Wow, is all I'll say. Still, I have to admit that I'm scared about the next book in the series. I have no idea how the romance is going to play out, especially as Mafi did me dirty with the romance in the Shatter Me series, I just pray that's not the case here. 

These Infinite Threads was definitely was one of my favourite books of 2022. The wait for book three is going to be painful! 


Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Review: Dragonfall by L.R. Lam

Long ago, humans betrayed dragons, stealing their magic and banishing them to a dying world. Centuries later, their descendants worship dragons as gods. But the 'gods' remember, and they do not forgive.

Thief Arcady scrapes a living on the streets of Vatra. Desperate, Arcady steals a powerful artifact from the bones of the Plaguebringer, the most hated person in Lumet history. Only Arcady knows the artifact's magic holds the key to a new life among the nobles at court and a chance for revenge.

The spell connects to Everen, the last male dragon foretold to save his kind, dragging him through the Veil. Disguised as a human, Everen soon learns that to regain his true power and form and fulfil his destiny, he only needs to convince one little thief to trust him enough to bond completely–body, mind, and soul–and then kill them.

Yet the closer the two become, the greater the risk both their worlds will shatter.

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📌 Publication date: 02/05/2023
📌 Disclaimer: I received an e-arc from the publisher from review 

A fantasy book about dragons? Yes, please! 

Told from two alternating points of view, Dragonfall is one of the better dragon books I've read. For me, it's up there with The Aurelian Cycle by Rosaria Munda. Arcady's chapters are told in third person, whereas Everen's chapters are told in first person. The first person POV might not work for everyone, but it worked for me. There's also occasionally a third point of view. 

Everen is the last male dragon, prophesied to save his kind from the dying land humans banished them to. Arcady is an orphaned thief who is determined to find out the truth behind the death of the Plaguebringer. When she steals a powerful artifact her path collides with Everen's. There begins a slow burn enemies to lovers to enemies dynamic.  I admit I shipped them quite early on. I mean, the quips? The relationship development? So good!

The writing style wasn't my favourite, although I did get used to it after a while. I also felt that there was a lack of exploration into the magic system and world. Hopefully there will be more world building in the sequel. 


Saturday, 10 December 2022

Review: Five Survive by Holly Jackson

Eight hours.
Six friends.
One sniper . . .

Eighteen year old Red and her friends are on a road trip in an RV, heading to the beach for Spring Break. It’s a long drive but spirits are high. Until the RV breaks down in the middle of nowhere. There’s no mobile phone reception and nobody around to help. And as the wheels are shot out, one by one, the friends realise that this is no accident. There’s a sniper out there in the dark watching them and he knows exactly who they are. One of the group has a secret that the sniper is willing to kill for.

A game of cat-and-mouse plays out as the group desperately tries to get help and to work out which member of the group is the target. Buried secrets are forced to light in the cramped, claustrophobic setting of the RV, and tensions within the group will reach deadly levels. Not everyone will survive the night. 

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📌 Disclaimer: I received an audiobook from the publisher for review

I wanted to read Five Survive because I enjoyed Holly Jackson's debut, A Good Girl's Guide to Murder.

Five Survive is about six friends who are on their way to the beach during Spring Break. After taking a wrong turn they suddenly find themselves stranded as someone shoots out the wheels of their RV. The only way out? One of them must reveal the secret they've been hiding. 

For a story that takes place over eight hours this should have been fast paced and exciting. Unfortunately, I thought it was boring and would have struggled to get through it if I had been reading the physical book. However, I listened to it on audiobook while doing other things which helped. Although Five Survive was well narrated, I found that when I paused it the only reason I felt compelled to continue was so I could finish it, which is never a good sign.

As for the characters, although none of them stood out to me, I think they were pretty well developed considering the story takes place over a short period. Even though it was far fetched, the best part of the book and what saved it was the plot twist and ending. It leaves room for a potential sequel and I will admit that I am curious about the direction Jackson will take the story if she does decide to continue it. 


Thursday, 8 December 2022

This Books Kills by Ravena Guron

"I'll make it clear from the start: I did not kill Hugh Henry Van Boren.

I didn't even help. Well, not intentionally."

When Hugh Henry Van Boren, one of the most popular and richest kids in Jess Choudhary's school, is found dead, the student body is left reeling and wondering who the murderer could be... Jess, a student under strict instructions to keep her record clean or risk losing her scholarship, finds herself at the centre of the investigation when it's revealed that Hugh died in the exact same way as a character in a short story she wrote.

And then Jess receives an anonymous text thanking her for the inspiration.

With time running out, Jess knows if she doesn't solve this mystery she'll finally have something in common with Hugh Henry.

She'll be dead too. 

📌 Publication date: 05/01/2023
📌 Disclaimer: I received a proof from the publisher for review 

Three reasons why I was excited to read This Book Kills:
⭐ Murder mystery
⭐ Set in a boarding school
⭐ Features a British Indian main character(!)

Jess Choudhary is a scholarship student at an elite boarding school. When a rich and popular student dies, Jess receives a text from the murderer saying they were inspired by the short story she wrote for her Gifted & Talented class. With it becoming increasingly obvious that there are forces set out to block the police from fully investigating, it's up to Jess to get to the bottom of it.

What I like about This Books Kills is that it's more than just a murder mystery. It explores class, privilege, and prejudice. Being one of the few people of colour, who is also from a less affluent background, Jess is held to a different standard to the other students. She is expected to work harder, behave better, and is at risk of losing her scholarship if she steps out of line. 

As a British Indian, this is the first time I've seen myself represented in a book in this genre. I found the things Jess faced so relatable, for example, the microaggressions. Like she's asked where she's really from when she says the UK, and her skin colour is described in terms of food. Her personality too was relatable. She's quiet and awkward, enjoys reading, and prefers to blend in rather than be center of attention. I also appreciated that she was okay with who she was, and wasn't embarrassed about her background and upbringing. Plus, her relationship with her mum was heartwarming.  

As well as being an engrossing murder mystery, I really enjoyed the overarching plot of the book, from the secrets society, to the revelations about people's true nature. The plot twist was great and I honestly did not see it coming. There is a notes section in the proof copy of the book, before the killer is revealed, where you can write down your theories as to who it is, which I think is a clever idea and hope makes it into the final copy. I also want to mention that I don't normally care about the romance in mysteries, if there is one, but this one was very cute and I was rooting for Tommy and Jess from the get go.

I hope Ravena Guron plans on writing more books, because I will definitely be checking them out. 

Tuesday, 8 November 2022

Review: Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim

In the hidden desert city of Qalia, secret spice magic aw
akens affinities in those who drink the misra tea. With an affinity for iron, seventeen-year-old Imani wields a dagger like no other warrior, garnering her the reputation as the next greatest Shield for battling the dangerous djinn, ghouls, and other monsters that lurk in the sands beyond city limits.

Her reputation has been overshadowed, however, by her brother who tarnished the family name after he was discovered stealing their nation's coveted spice - a tell-tale sign of magical obsession. He disappeared soon after, believed to have died beyond the Forbidden Wastes, and leaving Imani reeling with both betrayal and grief.

But when Imani uncovers evidence her brother may be alive and spreading their nation's magic beyond the desert, she strikes a deal with the Council to find him and bring him back to Qalia before he can reveal the city's location. Accompanied by Qayn, a roguish but handsome djinni, and Taha, a powerful beastseer whose magical talents are matched only by his arrogance, they set out on their mission.

Imani will soon discover there are many secrets that lie beyond the Forbidden Wastes - and in her own heart - but will she find her brother before his betrayals endanger the fate of all of Qalia?

📌 Publication date: 24/01/2023
📌 Disclaimer: I received an e-arc from the publisher for review   

I first heard about Spice Road on Twitter, and was excited when I saw that Hodder & Stoughton would be publishing it in the UK.

Set in an Arabian inspired world, the magic system in Spice Road is interesting and unique. Imani is a stubborn main character, frustratingly so at times. However, it's a realistic portrayal of a teen, so this is more of an observation than a criticism. I loved her fierce loyalty to her siblings, and thought her sister was a well developed secondary character. 

The romance between Imani and Taha is an enemies-to-maybe-more-to-enemies type situation. I didn't find it to be compelling and am more interested in the potential second love interest, Qayn. Imani is forced to bind with Qayn -who is a djinni with a mysterious past- in order to find her brother. 

The first in a planned trilogy there is a lot of travelling and set up in Spice Road. For me, this is a 3.5 leaning towards 4 star read, I think I will enjoy the sequel more now that the foundation has been set.