Category: Four stars

Angel: Why you should never judge a book by its cover- or blurb, or title, or concept, or…

Angel: Why you should never judge a book by its cover- or blurb, or title, or concept, or…

★★★★☆

(4.5 stars)

I thrift-shop trawl at least once a week, usually on my way to work in the morning, and to my surprise I found two new angel books two days in a row- Angel and Halo (next to read). After pretending I didn’t have literally 15+ physical books in my to-read pile, I bought them and promptly joked with my friends. I have two new bad angel books to read, I said. Ha, won’t these chunky monstrosities hurt me? What sort of fun, silly reviews can I concoct? You know, the normal things.

Problem: I loved this book. Quite early on I realized this book is not what it looks like- or, uh, feels like? What at base glance seems like every other YA para-ro where the girl has secret powers and the guy is so gorgeous is actually one of the best angel books I’ve ever read. This book inspired me. I thought about this book. I think I can’t wait to pick up the rest of the trilogy. I’m serious- the bar might be low, but Angel inexplicably sores.

Continue reading “Angel: Why you should never judge a book by its cover- or blurb, or title, or concept, or…”

The Iron Queen goes nowhere new and I’m okay with that

The Iron Queen goes nowhere new and I’m okay with that

★★★★☆

(4 stars)

One of the scariest things for me about reading books I enjoy is how little I have to say about them. The Iron Fey did not begin this way, but by book three I feel I’m running out of talking points. This is not a good or a bad thing, there’s simply not a lot to discuss, especially as there’s no real ‘developments’. The plot in these books moves exactly where you expect it to, with no real push or pull suggesting anything else. If I’d made a bullet list of what I expected to happen in this book, I’d have gotten every mark correct.

Still, there’s no denying these are also great books. Yes, predictability can be a curse, but it works for this series. It’s a popcorn book, a blockbuster event which lacks a certain substance but does nothing ‘wrong’. The world of wild fae mythos and original iron fey is fun, the monsters and ideas around them are fun, the action and battles and powers are… fun. This is a book where metal beetles march forward on the battlefield crewed by musketeer fey, where Puck throws balls of fur which turn into full size grizzly bears, and where, again, a fairly regular housecat is invulnerable to danger and every immortal being appears to owe him a minor debt.

These books do not need to be edgy, twisty, dark messes. They work just as they are- cliche romance bordered by great concepts, worlds, and creatures, where the ordinary teen ends up being queen and all the bad guys are vanquished forever.

Continue reading “The Iron Queen goes nowhere new and I’m okay with that”

The Fandom Rising completes an excellent duology you’ve been missing out on

The Fandom Rising completes an excellent duology you’ve been missing out on

★★★★☆

(4.5 stars)

Back when I read The Fandom in February, I was genuinely surprised how engaging it was: a dark thriller based on fandom meta and dystopias. I was also intrigued to learn there would be a sequel at all. It feels very much like a one-off story- three friends who are brought into the world of a popular dystopian YA series which has become ‘real’ by the collective belief of the fandom around it, and how they must escape from the cruel reality of this once fictitious world.

At the end of The Fandom, Violet, Alice, and Katie awake from the week long coma they entered while they were transported to the world of The Gallows Dance, though Violet’s brother died in that world, trapping him in a coma. Violet and Alice have collaborated to write a sequel to The Gallows Dance- The Gallows Song- which was published by the publicity of their comic-con coma incident and Alice’s huge online following with her fanfic. Though none of the girls remember what actually happened while they were in their comas, they felt obliged to end the cycle of misery the world of the Gallows Dance was trapped in, writing a sequel full of hope and change- as well as writing Nate in as a new character.

However, trouble is coming to the living world of the Gallows Dance, allowing Violet to regain her memories. She also realizes that as Nate exists as a book character, he lives in the other world- and traveling back there might be her only chance to wake her brother from his year long coma. Especially now that their parents plan to turn off his life support in just a week.

Continue reading “The Fandom Rising completes an excellent duology you’ve been missing out on”

To be honest, Holly Black’s Tithe wants what The Iron Fey has

To be honest, Holly Black’s Tithe wants what The Iron Fey has

★★★★☆

(4.5 stars)

There’s only a mild chance this high rating is influenced by how many bad books I’d read before it.

I know I make outstanding threats against Carden Greenbriar and this is a provocative headline, but I am overall a Holly Black ‘fan’. However, reading The Iron King (book one of the Iron Fey series) was like a good punch of breath air. Specifically, it’s worth comparing this book to Tithe, Holly Black’s YA paranormal romance from the same era. Yes, The Iron King is very much a ‘regular girl turns out to be special and fey, finds feyroyal love interest, uses trickery and special-ness to avoid finale murder by someone supposedly invincible’ story. So is Tithe.

While I think there’s plenty of fun (and merit) in dissing YA tropes and cliches, it is also true those things became common for a reason. Where many other YA books from this era fail on the same ideas and plot beats, The Iron King succeeds smoothly: The love interest(s) are not toxic, the MC has a personality, the world-building is unique and original, and the writing is solid. I really enjoyed reading The Iron King, and I expect I’ll be reading the rest of the series. It’s fun, perfectly middle-ground YA with a lot of neat faeries and characters. The world needs more all powerful sarcastic cats.

Continue reading “To be honest, Holly Black’s Tithe wants what The Iron Fey has”

Tithe is just the beta version of the rest of Holly Black’s novels

Tithe is just the beta version of the rest of Holly Black’s novels

★★★★☆

(4 stars)

I’ve enjoyed Holly Black to pick up Tithe blind, and I have to say, it was puzzling at first. People swoon over Cruel Prince and Darkest Part, but Tithe and the other Modern Faerie Tales are the awkward teenager stage between those and her beginnings in children’s fiction. Tithe often feels like it was written by a teen who just realized they could do anything they wanted in a book- there’s a lot of swearing, smoking/drinking, and sexual content right off the bat. Still, there’s a lot of likable things in this book, and a lot of the time the grime felt authentic rather than needlessly dark.

What stood out to me most by the end, however, was that this book is pretty much the same book as Darkest Part Of The Forest, which Black published 13 years later. I read and reviewed Darkest a while ago, and found it fine but not too compelling. I liked Tithe more, and there’s enough differences I couldn’t call it self-plagiarism, but the many story elements and plot points are present in both.

Continue reading “Tithe is just the beta version of the rest of Holly Black’s novels”

The Fandom is a brutal, meta take on YA dystopia

The Fandom is a brutal, meta take on YA dystopia

★★★★☆

(4 stars)

Hey, funny! I didn’t realize when I started this, but this is a good companion piece to my last review on the Manic Pixie Boy Improvement Project. Both are meta focused YA fantasies, but The Fandom is far superior. I picked this up thrift not expecting anything, but once I started reading I couldn’t put it down.

A girl and her friends accidentally end up in the world of their favorite book. Violet, her brother, and her best friend Alice know every word to the movie, every scene from the book, every detail and every thing about The Gallows Dance. When they find themselves in the world of The Gallows Dance, they find it is just… horrible, and must find a way to escape before they end up dead. Not helping matters is that they accidentally killed the heroic main character, putting the breaks on canon.

Continue reading “The Fandom is a brutal, meta take on YA dystopia”

To Kill A Kingdom is a classic example of the Dark YA genre- that doesn’t mean it isn’t great

To Kill A Kingdom is a classic example of the Dark YA genre- that doesn’t mean it isn’t great

★★★★★

(4.5 stars)

Honestly, this book always sounded really cool- I was still quite surprised to sincerely enjoy it. I don’t know, I seem to be a cynic when it comes to YA, especially the dark sub-set- writing analysis and studying it for University likely is one reason why. I even cited this book pre-reading when discussing cover and story tropes in the genre!

Yes, To Kill A Kingdom has it all in terms of what is ‘hot’: Difficult princes, dangerous leads, a spy/murdering main character, lots of royalty, a fairytale retelling, diversity, and a slight more ‘adult’ content than used to be the norm. However, none of those things- common tropes- are necessarily bad. They are just in right now. They are probably ‘in’ for a reason.

This book offers: good writing, characters, plot, romance, morality, and leads.

Continue reading “To Kill A Kingdom is a classic example of the Dark YA genre- that doesn’t mean it isn’t great”