REVIEW #75 | THE SILVERED SERPENTS by Roshani Chokshi (The Gilded Wolves #2) (eARC)

Review: "Silvered Serpents" by Roshani Chokshi
Review: “The Silvered Serpents” by Roshani Chokshi
The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)
The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

Title: The Silvered Serpents

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Series or Standalone?: The Gilded Wolves #2

Pub. Date: 22 September 2020

Synopsis:

Returning to the dark and glamorous 19th century world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with another riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever in The Silvered Serpents.

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 rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into the 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.

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • blood and gore
  • character death
  • racism
  • xenophobia
  • anti-semitism
  • violence
  • dismemberment

Representation:

  • Jewish autistic girl MC
  • Indian girl MC
  • bi/pan Filipino Spanish MC
  • queer boy MC
  • Algerian French MC

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5

4.5/5 stars

*I obtained an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

So after The Gilded Wolves, why did Roshani have to go so hard in The Silvered Serpents? Is wanting the gang to have a happy ending too much to ask for?

The Silvered Serpents begins a few months after The Gilded Wolves ends, with Séverin and the others making their way to Russia in order to look for The Divine Lyrics, a book that is told to have unimaginable power. However, they all have to deal with their own demons and insecurities on top of the possibly absolutely dangerous mission they’ve partaken on.

I loved seeing all the characters again, especially their interactions with one another! They all (mostly) still love and trust one another, except for Séverin. This book was 400-some pages of everyone side-eyeing him, and (not gonna lie) I kinda lived for it. And his character development! I absolutely cannot wait to see what comes of him in the third book. As for everyone else, I absolutely adored them all and their angst. Let me tell you, there was a lot of angst. But it was refreshing to see in a published book and not just in fanfic!

The plot itself was super interesting, too. I don’t want to say too much about it in fear of revealing too much (and also because I can’t remember much due to my goldfish memory), but it kept me entranced the whole time I was reading. Though that might be because I’m not very smart with figuring things out in books, so I could just be easily entertained with heist books, but still. I am a simple person: is it a heist book? Automatic four star minimum.

Seriously, though, if you haven’t picked up this book or The Gilded Wolves, I seriously recommend it! There is rich world-building, lovely (morally grey) characters, and a few relationships you’d die for.

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REVIEW #70 | THE SUN DOWN MOTEL by Simone St. James (Mini Review)

The Sun Down Motel

Title: The Sun Down Motel

Author: Simone St. James

Series or Standalone?: Standalone

Pub. Date: 18 February 2020

Synopsis:

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • death
  • murder
  • blood and gore
  • rape/sexual assault (not graphic)

Representation:

  • Black woman side character

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

  • when Carly’s mother passes away, she decides to move to New York to figure out her aunt’s murder/disappearance. She ends up working at the same motel her aunt did right before she went missing; cue the haunted motel vibes
  • it was more mystery than horror, but I didn’t mind all that much (and I usually don’t read mysteries)
  • but dear lord, the romance was….not needed. I didn’t care for it one bit and thought that there wasn’t a huge connection between the MC and the LI
  • I really liked the ending, though! I thought it was a great twist, and I didn’t see it coming (but I like to think I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to plot twists, lol)
  • I don’t remember a ton about the characters (the horror of writing a review a month after reading the book), but I remember being invested in Viv (Carly’s aunt) and Carly’s stories and how they ended; I wasn’t let down in that regard
  • do keep in mind that there’s some anti-ace sentiment near the end of the book, where a character mentions that girls “have to have” sex at some point, which…nah. They don’t. Not everyone needs or wants to have sex
  • anyway, overall, I was pretty happy with this book, and I may look into the author’s other works

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REVIEW #60 | RUIN OF STARS by Linsey Miller (Mask of Shadows #2)

Title: Ruin of Stars

Author: Linsey Miller

Series or Standalone?: Mask of Shadows #2

Publishing Date: 28 August 2018

Synopsis (Goodreads):

“The thrilling conclusion to the Mask of Shadows duology that weaves a tale of magic, shadows, and most importantly, revenge.

“As one of the Queen’s elite assassins, Sal finally has the power, prestige, and permission to hunt down the lords who killed their family. But Sal still has to figure out who the culprits are. They must enlist the help of some old friends and enemies while ignoring a growing distaste for the queen and that the charming Elise is being held prisoner by her father.

“But there’s something terribly wrong in the north. Talk of the return of shadows, missing children, and magic abounds. As Sal takes out the people responsible for their ruined homeland, Sal learns secrets and truths that can’t be forgotten.”

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • blood and gore
  • violence
  • misgendering
  • character death

Representation:

  • genderfluid main character
  • bisexual love interest
  • aromantic side character
  • trans man side character
  • non-binary side character
  • sapphic character(s)
  • multiple characters of color, including mixed race characters

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

I thought that Ruin of Stars was a wonderful sequel and finale of the duology. Compared to Mask of Shadows, this book hits fast and hard, pulling no punches. I think I like it just a tad bit better than the first book!

After the events of Mask of Shadows, Sal is tasked with hunting down the nobles that were responsible for killing their family. Along with that, the tension also begins to rise at the Queen’s court as insiders are looking shadier every day.

I’m going to be honest, I finished this book about a month ago, and I kinda forgot what exactly happens outside of the fact that I really liked it, lol. But!! I do remember that I absolutely loved these characters, forever and ever. The reader learns more about Amethyst and Emerald and sees them interact more with Sal as an equal. You also learn more about Ruby, which is probably one of the best parts. Also! Multiple non-binary characters!! I literally did a little happy dance when I found this out as I was reading. There is also a trans side character as well.

I will say that I thought Sal and Elise’s conflict was pretty “meh”. I nearly hit my head against the wall because how thick did Elise have to be to not believe what Sal was saying until it was nearly too late? She didn’t have issues with anything else, but this one thing had to be insurmountable for her. She wasn’t my favorite character in Mask of Shadows, so I knew she wasn’t going to be my fav in this book either, but still. Thinking about it more, I understand what the author was trying to get at, but I thought it fell a bit short.

The writing itself is pretty good, though! It is very fast-paced, and I thought it was easy to fly through. The action never seems to stop, which took a bit getting used to compared to the the first book of the series (which I thought was a bit slower in terms of action). On top of that, there is so much talk about marginalized people and simply living in a society that doesn’t even want you to exist, let alone be visible and thriving. I really appreciate that aspect of the novel, and I wish I could have more of it.

But yeah, while I wasn’t a huge fan of Elise in this book, I thought that Ruin of Stars was a good book overall, and I would still definitely recommend this book (and the duology in general)!

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REVIEW #48 | “An Enchantment of Ravens” by Margaret Rogerson

Title: “An Enchantment of Ravens”

Author: Margaret Rogerson

Pages (hardcover): 300 pages

Original Publishing Date: 26 September 2017

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

“Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

“Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.”

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • self-harm (for blood magic)
  • blood and gore
  • violence
  • kidnapping

Representation in the novel:

  • N/A

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

Hi, this book made me a Margaret Rogerson stan, and I do not even like faerie books usually. There is just soemthing about it that made me intrigued and want to keep reading.

Starting out, An Enchantment of Ravens follows Isobel, a human girl who paints portraits for the fae population around her in exchange for charms for her family to live easier. Faeries cannot create things by way of “human” means: they cannot cook/bake, paint, write, or anything of the sort, so they pay humands to do it for them. Isobel is a popular artist in faerie circles, and she soon has royalty knocking at her door: Rook, the autumn prince. When she places human emotion into his portrait — something generally seen as weak — he forces her to go with him to the court to answer for her “crime.”

Can I just say that I love Isobel and Rook? Not even as a couple, but as their own characters. Isobel knows of faeries’ conniving ways, and she tries her best to use that to her advantage to help her family. However, at points, it is still obvious that she is only a teenager, and I love that. She is witty, but she still slips up sometimes. Rook is an ass, and I love him for it. Well, okay, I did not like him in the beginning of the adventures, but he grew on me, and he ended up being one of my favorite characters of all time.

When it comes to the relationship between them, I was a bit weary about the insta-love that seemed prevalent in the beginning. However, I was pleasantly surprised: it was more lust/initial attraction that anything, and their relationship actually developed quite well over the novel.

The plot kept me on my toes, too. I honestly did not know what was going to happen next — once I thought I figured it all out, something else popus up to surprise me. However, it was not over the top or give me literary whiplash. Whatever happened made sense in regards to what was happening in the novel. I loved it. The pacing seemed a bit off, and the ending was a bit abrupt, but I had so much fun reading it. And the atmosphere! The world-building was amazing; the reader really gets sucked into it all. And those descriptions of all the places? Absolutely gorgeous.

Just. Y’all. I love this book so much. I wish I could have gotten a five- or ten-book series in this universe. It is phenomenal.

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REVIEWS #43 and #44 | “Honor Among Thieves” & “Honor Bound” by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

Title: “Honor Among Thieves”

Author: Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Pages (hardcover): 467 pages

Original Publishing Date: 13 February 2018

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

“Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead of moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.

“Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

“Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • drug use and abuse
  • gore
  • violence
  • blood

Representation in the novel:

  • black girl MC
  • Brazilian girl MC
  • Chinese girl side character

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

I know going into this book that sentient alien ships were a “thing” in science fiction, so I was not sure I was going to like them. But, y’all, I am a full-on Nadim supporter now: I love him with all my heart. And honestly? I love all these characters, too.

Honor Among Thieves is a young adult science fiction novel following Zara Cole, a teenaged girl living in the slums of New Detroiet. After being picked as an Honor, a person who teams up with giant sentient alien ships called Leviathan to travel space, Zara finds herself being whisked away from all she has ever known. She teams up with Beatriz, a Brazilian girl, and Nadim, the young Leviathan they are in charge of navigating. However, as more time goes by, the three realize that the Tour (their journey through space) is actually hiding things from Leviathans and human alike.

Let me just say that I love the characters. Zara is unlikable and does not trust easily. She is irritable and wants to be left alone most of the time. Nadim is the naive Leviathan on his first tour, and he wants to learn everything about humans. Bea is shy and not as confident in her abilities, but she does the best she can. They all grow throughout the novel — Zara learns to trust, Nadim learns not to be so naive, and Bea learns to be more confident in herself — and I loved being witness to it.

Tied to that, the plot kept itself moving. While the beginning was a tad slow for my taste, it did not take long to pick up. Since it has been a month or two since I read this, I cannot remember exactly what has happened, but it had me hooked. A lot of it was character-focused, I believe, which I absolutely love. But it was also fast-paced? Not quire sure how that works, but I will not question it.

And, oof, the narration. I know not everyone likes the perspective of the unlikeable “edgy” protagonists, so I would not suggest this book if you are not a fan of 1st person POV from an unlikable character’s perspective. But if you do? I think you would love it. The reader is inside Zara’s head the whole time, and it is a wonderful experience. On top of that, there are these little “intermission” chapters that are interview transcripts or journal articles/book chapters about certain things within the world. They allow the reader to have greater insight on whatever is going on, which I think is cool.

Overall? I loved Honor Among Thieves, and that is coming from someone who usually does not read science fiction.

Title: “Honor Bound”

Author: Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Pages (hardcover): 467 pages

Original Publishing Date: 19 February 2019

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

“Savvy criminal turned skilled Leviathan pilot Zara Cole finds new friends and clashes with bitter enemies in the second book of this action-packed series from New York Times bestselling authors Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre that’s perfect for fans of The 100 and The Fifth Wave.

“Zara Cole was a thief back on Earth, but she’s been recently upgraded to intergalactic fugitive. On the run after a bloody battle in a covert war that she never expected to be fighting, Zara, her co-pilot Beatriz, and their Leviathan ship Nadim barely escaped the carnage with their lives.

“Now Zara and her crew of Honors need a safe haven, far from the creatures who want to annihilate them. But they’ll have to settle for the Sliver: a wild, dangerous warren of alien criminals. The secrets of the Sliver may have the power to turn the tide of the war they left behind—but in the wrong direction.

“Soon Zara will have to make a choice: run from the ultimate evil—or stand and fight.”

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • gore
  • violence
  • character death

Representation in the novel:

  • black girl MC
  • Brazilian girl MC
  • Chinese girl side character
  • (the beginnings of a) polyamorous relationship
  • side character uses neopronouns

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

Note: This mini-review may contain small spoilers for Honor Among Thieves. Do not read past this point if you do not want to be spoiled whatsoever.

Here I was thinking, “Honor Bound won’t be better than Honor Among Thieves. Second books in a series usually pale in comparison to the first.” For once, I am so glad that I was wrong.

Honor Bound picks up right after Honor Among Thieves, with Nadim and Typhon, another Leviathan, both injured, along with four other HOnors Zara and Bea met along the way. With the two Leviathan severely injured, the Honors have few options. In the ned, they decide to go to the Sliver (and not the Silver, which I kept reading it as), a distant planet full of rogues, criminals, and thieves. There, they find something even bigger and quickly become sucked into something unexpected.

Again, characters? Absolutely love them. Of course, Zara, Beatriz, and Nadim are still around, but there are also Typhon and his Honors, as well as the two other Honors that lost their Leviathan. It was nice to see everyone’s interactions and, again, to see them develop throughout the novel. They all learn to trust one another (or at least try to), and I especially love seeing the developing trust and relationship between the Leviathans and their Honors. They trust one another explicitly, and I love seeing them all together. There also seems to be the beginnings of a polyamorous relationship between three of the characters near the end of the novel. I will not spoil it and say who, but I totally support it and hope it actually happens.

I still love the narration. Zara is just such a good character to be in the head of, and it was enjoyable to read. The reader sees her debate with herself and others because, at the end of the day, she is trying to do what she thinks is best for Nadim. And for everyone else, too, I suppose. To see that conflict was interesting, thinking about what she was like in the beginning of the first book and how she progressed to where she is now.

The plot itself was…interesting. It does not seem like a lot happens through a good 75% of the novel, but I did not mind. It was still fun to read through. However, it is kinda weird: not a lot happens, it seems like, but a lot did at the same time. I think that this was mostly due to how I read it: I had a 19-hour drive down to Florida last month, and I read it all during the ride back. I felt that this book sets up the next one nicely. However, there was a side plot including characters from Honor Among Thieves that… I am not so sure about. It was mentioned in the first book, but it did not pop back up until the last portion of Honor Bound. I can see where it would lead, and I do not think I would like it. I hope my mind is changed with the third book, though.

I loved this one, and I cannot wait for the next book. Next year cannot come fast enough!

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REVIEW #39 | “Norse Mythology” by Neil Gaiman (Audiobook)

Title: “Norse Mythology”

Author: Neil Gaiman

Length of Audiobook: 6 hours 29 minutes

Narrator: Neil Gaiman

Synopsis (from Goodreads): “Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of a giant, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.”

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • gore
  • violence
  • character death
  • [Note: There may be more — I forgot to keep track of them as I was listening]

Representation in the novel:

  • …They’re gods and goddesses, I don’t know if anything really counts or not?

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

I will admit, this was one of those audiobooks I impulsively borrowed from OverDrive because I wanted another book to read, and I am so glad it was. It was my first time with both a Gaiman book and Gaiman as a narrator, and I was floored.

Norse Mythology is exactly what it sounds like: it is a book about Norse mthology, with both the beginning of the world and the end of the world and some fun stories in between. You have the major players most people know — Odin, Thor, and Loki — along with many that people may not recognize. The sroies range from Loki’s trickery to how the end of the world comes about, and they also seem to go in a somewhat linear order.

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience. Like, really enjoyed it. Gaiman is such a good narrator: he not only has a soothing voice, but he puts so much emotion into the story. I am pretty sure I teared up a couple times, and I definitely laughed out loud at least five. I am surprised about that latter part. I thought it was all going to be serious, similar to a dry textbook on mythology, but that was not the case. While there were indeed some serious moments throughout the novel, there were plenty of scenes between Thor and lokie, as well as Loki one-liners, that had me chuckling out loud. I think this enhanced the novel immensely: without it, the reader would have a book with dry characters and not-as-engaging stories.

Moving on to the plot and characters: I liked how the short stories/chapters were arranged. The beginning and end were quite clear, but there seemed to be a bit more leeway regarding when the rest of the chapters took place. They sort of flowed from one to the other, and while a lot of them had repeating characters, the reader does not have to necessarily read the other chapters in order to understand the chapter they read at any given time. But why would you want to skip anything? I loved most, if not all, of the chapters/stories. They were engaging and action-filled. And the characters! I knew about Loki, Thor, and Odin (thanks, Marvel), but there were a lot more that I had not idea about before I read this novel. They were interesting to read about, and I loved all of their personalities.

Tl;dr: Norse mythology books are rad, and I love them. Gimme more.

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REVIEW #37 | “Sula” by Toni Morrison

Title: “Sula”

Author: Toni Morrison

Pages (paperback): 174 pages

Original Publishing Date: November 1973

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

“This rich and moving novel traces the lives of two black heroines from their close-knit childhood in a small Ohio town, through their sharply divergent paths of womanhood, to their ultimate confrontation and reconciliation.

“Nel Wright has chosen to stay in the place where she was born, to marry, raise a family, and become a pillar of the black community. Sula Peace has rejected the life Nel has embraced, escaping to college, and submerging herself in city life. When she returns to her roots, it is as a rebel and a wanton seductress. Eventually, both women must face the consequences of their choices. Together, they create an unforgettable portrait of what it means and costs to be a black woman in America.”

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • blood
  • gore
  • description of burns
  • fire

Representation in the novel:

  • cast of black characters (most, if not all, the main characters and “important” side characters are black)
  • black girl/woman main characters
  • black love interests

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

My thoughts on this book can be summed up with my last goodreads note about it.

Seriously, I do not know what to even think. As you could see from above, it is a short book, less than 200 pages, but it packs a punch. The reader becomes intersted in the characters pretty quickly; one may not exactly love them, but they are intriguing enought that one wants to see what happens next. I also really enjoy novels that not only skip years, but go through an entire lifespan, and Sula delivers as it follows Sula and Nell, the main characters. I do want to point out, though, that I was serious about not grasping everything. There is a bunch of literary merits that I missed for sure, and I do not want to say that I have a comprehensive grasp on the book.

Anyway, moving on. Sula takes place across a good portion of the 20th century in the small town of Bottom, in Ohio. Beginning in 1919, the book ends almost fifty years later, in 1965. It follows two girls, Sula and Nell, as I said earlier. They are two young childhood friends who, as they grow older, go their separate ways. However, life brings them back together years later. But is the ultimate betrayal enough to push these two women away from each other forever? Sula delves into friendship, identity, and community in a way that sucks the reader in and does not let go until they finish the very last page.

I am not going to lie: I am having a really hard time articulating myself throughout this review. I just…do not know what to say? This was a wonderful book, and it kept me interested and engaged. The writing is simply beautiful. But I do not know what made me interested in particular, if that makes sense. I think that is where reading it a second time comes in.

I dunno, bottom line is, I liked reading it; y’all should read it; and it is actually a book that is deserving of the title “classic.” We good? We good. Good day.

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REVIEW #35 | “City of Ghosts” by Victoria Schwab (Cassidy Blake #1)

Title: “City of Ghosts”

Author: Victoria Schwab

Pages (hardcover): 285 pages

Original Publishing Date: 28 August 2018

Synopsis (from the inside flap):

“Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

“When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.”

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • death
  • blood
  • drowning
  • [Note: I’m sorry, for some reason I completely forgot to keep track of CWs and rep for this book, please forgive me if I forgot something 😭]

Representation in the novel:

  • N/A (??) [Note: look at the prior note]

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

I absolutely loved City of Ghosts, and I hope Victoria Schwab continues the series soon. I usually stick to YA, but I am glad I picked it up from the library out of curiosity.

City of Ghosts is about a young girl, Cassidy Blake, who can interact with ghosts and the Veil (where ghosts reside) after a near-death experience. Her best friend Jacob is even a ghost. Over the summer, she and her family (and Jacob!) pack up and go to Scotland. Cass’ parents are authors of paranormal books, delving in the the history and stories of haunted places, and they were given the opportunity to make a “Most Haunted Places Around the World” television show. Scotland is their first stop. Soon after they arrive, however, Cass must team up with another girl with similar paranormal abilities in order to solve a mystery of the ghost variety.

I enjoyed this books so much; I read most of it in two sittings. The narration was very fun for me. I do not remember Cass’ age, but since it is a middle grade book, I am guessing she is nothing older than 12 or 13. The narration, first person from Cassidy’s point of view, really shows her age: although she can see ghosts and interact with them, she still has this child-like quality to her (but don’t tell her I said that). She is not naive, exactly, but she still acts like a girl in middle instead of a senior in high school, for example. She is a goofy girl who loves photography and Harry Potter.

Speaking of Jacob, his friendship with Cass was wonderful. They snark back and forth with each other and are extremely close. However, like most friends, they also get into arguments every now and then. But they communicate! And apologize! Probably the best thing of all, though… From what I inferred as I was reading, there seems like there is simply a friendship between Jacob and Cass. I mean, I suppose it would be tricky to be in a romantic relationship with a ghost, but you know what I mean. They are just really good friends, and I love that.

On top of that, I pretty much liked all the other characters, too. Lara, the other girl with the same abilities as Cass, grew on me as the book continued. I am intrigued as to how her character will develop throughout the series (imagine…Cass and Lara become girlfriends, Jacob teasing them endlessly. Please and thank you.). Cassidy’s parents were also fun characters to read; I appreciate the Ghosthunters vibes.

Moving on, I thought the plot and setting were both engaging. The plot was fast-paced, and I did not want to put the book down. The setting really helped with this — I love that the first place they family travels to is named the City of Ghosts. The city is constantly given a spooky atmosphere, which is thanks to the history. I have not looked anything up, so I might be wrong, but I love how actualy history of ghost sitings and the history of Edinburgh were incorporated thrhought the book. It was interesting to read and kept things ~spoopy~. SEriously, Edinburgh has a ton of murder and blood in its history.

So, yeah, overall? I really enjoyed The City of Ghosts and cannot wait until the next book in the series comes out.

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REVIEW #29 | “Not Your Sidekick” by C.B. Lee (Sidekick Squad #1)

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Not Your Sidekick

Title: “Not Your Sidekick”

Author: C.B. Lee

Pages (paperback):

Original Publishing Date: 283 pages

Synopsis (from the back):

“Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.”

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • mild violence
  • eugenics
  • racism

Representation in the novel:

  • biracial (Chinese and Vietnamese) bisexual main character
  • trans man side/main character
  • sapphic love interest
  • f/f relationship

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

Continue reading “REVIEW #29 | “Not Your Sidekick” by C.B. Lee (Sidekick Squad #1)”

REVIEW #25 | “Catching Fire” (The Hunger Games #2) (Audiobook)

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Catching Fire

Title: “Catching Fire”

Author: Suzanne Collins

Length of Audiobook: 11 hours 41 minutes (9 CDs)

Narrator: Carolyn McCormick

Synopsis (from back of CD case):

“Katniss Everdeen continues to struggle to protect herself and her family from the Capitol in this second novel from the best-selling Hunger Games trilogy.”

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • violence
  • blood
  • character death
  • execution
  • PTSD symptoms
  • vomiting/emetophobia
  • disordered eating
  • alcoholism

Representation in the novel:

  • mental illness (PTSD)
  • disability (prosthetic limb)
  • black characters
  • non-black characters of color

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

Continue reading “REVIEW #25 | “Catching Fire” (The Hunger Games #2) (Audiobook)”