Review: The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2) by Roshani Chokshi

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They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost ― one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumoured to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job. 


RATING: ☆★☆

              When it came out a year ago, The Gilded Wolves was a fresh, welcome addition to the YA Fantasy yarn. I pleasurably devoured it, and was really looking forward to reading the sequel and folding myself once again between the characters and their tragedy, lose myself in the beauty of their voices—and have many of my questions answered. Unfortunately, the burst of excitement that flamed in my heart when I picked up this book was quickly swallowed up by disappointment. Continue reading “Review: The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2) by Roshani Chokshi”

Review: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

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From Stonewall and Lambda Award-winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.


RATING: ☆★☆★☆

It is so intoxicating to be so clearly seen by someone else. To look at each other across a gap that had once felt unbridgeable and feel like your whole life is being brought into sharp focus by that moment, a perfect pocket of stillness. Even if that someone else is a book. A book that gives language for the things churning restlessly in your throat, so many little buzzing words that you can’t release and can’t swallow. A book that helps you build the kind of vocabulary that makes you feel less alone.

Continue reading “Review: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender”

Review: A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1) by Arkady Martine

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SYNOPSIS:

Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.

Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan’s unceasing expansion—all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret—one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life—or rescue it from annihilation.


RATING: ☆★☆★☆

              On rare occasions—and when you’re very lucky—you stumble upon a book that awakens a dimension of you that you had not known existed. A story that feels like an unlocking, or a becoming, like something inside you is shifting into a new and strange place—piecing itself together or breaking apart or both. It’s a wonderful feeling: to find a story that you can carry within you so powerfully it sears through your bones, and expands in your chest, and winds itself so tightly around your being it becomes an inextricable part of you.

Continue reading “Review: A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1) by Arkady Martine”

Review: Lobizona (Wolves of No World #1) by Romina Garber

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Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.


RATING: ☆★☆

The beginning of “Lobizona” is nightmarish.

Manuela Azul’s life is laden with eggshells, and she walked on tremulously, fraying a little more every time she had to put on her mirrored sunglasses to hide the unnatural bright yellow engulfing her eyes from the whites to the irises, the dread and fear rising through the cracks. The possibility of being snapped up by ICE, or of her father’s past catching up to her first, is always there, hovering in the air like an axe. Her whole life, Manu had waited for them to find her and her mother. She never doubted that they would.

And then they did. Continue reading “Review: Lobizona (Wolves of No World #1) by Romina Garber”

Review: The City We Became (Great Cities #1) by N.K. Jemisin

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SYNOPSIS:

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.


RATING: ☆★☆

New York might be born in the world only to be shown right out of it.

Early in “The City We Became”, New York’s human avatar, a young queer Black man living in the streets, tries to salvage the City, to hold the breaking jar, keep his fingers over the cracks, but a battle with the Enemy—who sent forth the police as its harbingers—had worn him to little more than edges. He is weak and unsteady as moonlight on water, and the City was a candle that might burn out if he waited too long. 

Continue reading “Review: The City We Became (Great Cities #1) by N.K. Jemisin”

Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

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There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster. 


RATING: ☆★☆

               The story of the Shah’s twin sister came to the people of Atashar as most rumors do, as a drifting set of jokes and have-you-heards that combined and recombined themselves slowly into a single tale: a poisonous girl with the blood of a div moving in her veins, a burden to her family, living in the shadows, cursed and reviled.

               But unlike most rumors, this one is true.

Continue reading “Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust”

Review: Silver in the Wood (The Greenhollow Duology #1) by Emily Tesh

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There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads.

When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past—both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart.


RATING: ☆★☆★

                 “Silver in the Woods” stirred up a nest of longing inside me, and when I finished it, a wild desire gripped me to walk into the woods—to walk and walk until I found someplace quiet and silent and still where all my misery is turned into smoke, like fog wicked away by the sun.

Continue reading “Review: Silver in the Wood (The Greenhollow Duology #1) by Emily Tesh”

Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

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A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.


RATING: ☆★☆★☆

Oh, to be a French girl who knelt in the woods, on the eve of a wedding she did not want, and prayed for freedom to a god—or a devil?—who only answers after the dark, and he made her a deal that will grow to be like a thorn in her, a goad: she will live forever, but she will be forgotten by everyone she meets, always slipping, like a thought, out of reach. An eternity of flitting from one place to another, never feeling quite at home anywhere, and from one person to another, leaving behind only the phantom feel of her touch, and the faint memory of seven freckles dotting her cheeks, like a scattering of stars…

That is, until a boy born with a broken heart says, “I remember you”, and it feels like a prayer. Like a crack in the mortar of her curse.

Continue reading “Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab”

Review: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

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SYNOPSIS:

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.


RATING: ☆★☆★

It is hard to describe the space that yawned open in the life of Camino Rios and Yahaira Rios after their father died in a flight crash. It is harder still to describe the truths he left behind, cutting swift and deep, like a knife: Camino and Yahaira are sisters who, for sixteen years, hadn’t known of each other’s existence. Continue reading “Review: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo”

Women with Swords in Books

There is just… something about a woman with a sword.

Her grip tight, unfaltering, on the hilt of her silvered sword, hanging from a broad and battered belt, hands quick as lightening snatching the sword from its sheath, facing her enemies, girded and braced, sword up against the coming blows, or aimed at tearing flesh, the enemy undone before her, kneeling and begging for mercy, the point of  the sword placed gently under their chin, blood drying thick on her wrist-

Alright. Okay. I got distracted there for a second. Point is: I love women with swords. So without further ado, here are 10 book recommendations with women and… swords.

Continue reading “Women with Swords in Books”