REVIEW #77 | ERAGON by Christopher Paolini (The Inheritance Cycle #1)

Review for "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini
Review for “Eragon” by Christopher Paolini
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
Eragon — Christopher Paolini

Title: Eragon

Author: Christopher Paolini

Series or Standalone?: The Inheritance Cycle #1

Pub. Date: April 2005

Synopsis (via StoryGraph):

One boy…
One dragon…
A world of adventure.

When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.

Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and tge advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds.

Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands.

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • fantasy violence
  • gore
  • character death
  • fatphobia
  • torture
  • massacre
  • imprisonment
  • beheading
  • attempted rape (inferred)
  • ableism
  • grief

Representation:

  • N/A


1/5 stars

I don’t even know where to start. My god.

For those of you that don’t know, Eragon is a YA fantasy novel that follows a 15-year-old boy Eragon and the dragon Saphira whose egg he finds in the forest near his house. When mysterious creatures called the Ra’zac destroy his home and kill his uncle, Eragon and Saphira go on a quest with storyteller Brom to hunt them down.

Let me be blunt: this books is one of the worst I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot. For starters, the writing is almost impossible to read through. Yes, I understand Paolini was a teen when he wrote it, but I’m quite certain his editor wasn’t (assuming he had one). So like. They could’ve made it so much better. The reader doesn’t need an adjective or adverb every three words to understand what is going on in the story, and they definitely don’t need every single detail spelled out for them. On top of that, I had the feeling that Paolini was trying to write like some sort of pretentious classic literary author, but it did not work whatsoever. Instead of wanting to submerge myself into the story, the writing pulled me out of it so many times, I just started to skim for most of it.

The same can be said for the dialogue. It was written as if the author was trying to pull off Tolkien’s or some other “classic” high fantasy author’s style of dialogue, but at the end of the day, it just sounded like a rip-off. I just couldn’t get behind the writing whatsoever.

Second of all, the world-building. I just…what the fuck was that? Having Brom (or any other character, for that matter) monologue to Eragon about any world-building of importance — dragons, Riders, Galbatorix, etc. — is. not. world-building. It was boring and tedious, and it makes the reader want to skim. Two or three or four pages of a character talking to the ~naive protagonist~ is definitely not needed, and if the reader actually needed the content of the monologue, the author should have figured out some other way to include it that wasn’t info-dumping. Taking a five minute break to tell the reader the entire history of the world through Eragon’s perspective isn’t world-building, either! Please, I beg, find another way.

And now…the characters. The characters, the characters, the characters. I cannot put into words how utterly underdeveloped and boring these characters are. Let’s start with Eragon, the most Gary Stu protagonist ever to Gary Stu. Learns sword fighting quickly, learns magic even quicker (and is then somehow able to manipulate it to do basically whatever he wants). The other characters around him are practically there only to give him Important Life Lessons. He’s the perfect protagonist with the perfect morals because all he wants to do is avenge his uncle and go home…or something. Let’s ignore how his morals make no sense — “why would you kill a slaver who sells human beings for a living? He wasn’t armed!” — and that he totally crushes over a random elf girl he saved from prison even though she’s in a coma with no clue where she is or who he is. Oh! And on top of that, he later questions said elf girl why she is on the battlefield with everyone instead of fleeing with the women and children when she beat him in a sword fight twenty pages earlier. I think this was yet another way for Paolini to show that Eragon ~cares about her~, but it was….pretty sexist and ridiculous, lol.

And speaking of Arya… Y’all. If there’s one thing I hate more than the “I went through traumatic things, and ✨ it made me stronger ✨” trope with woman/girl characters, it’s mixing it with the fact that there are no solid, re-occurring woman/girl characters until three quarters of the way through the novel. On top of that (…as if this book wasn’t bad enough), Arya doesn’t even count until about 90% of the way through the book because she was comatose for the majority of the time the reader knows her. And Eragon’s out here getting a crush on her without even knowing her name or if she’d even live.

Going on to the other characters… Brom was the “wise old teacher with a mysterious past” trope, and that was it. Saphira starts out interesting, but turns into the “wise old dragon” trope real fast for ~plot purposes~ so that got boring quick. Murtagh was somewhat intriguing, but Paolini doesn’t understand subtle foreshadowing, which kinda ruined his character. Angela and Solembum were actually pretty interesting characters, and I hope they stay around. They made this whole ordeal…somewhat tolerable, I guess.

But I think what gets me the most about the characters…well, there’s a couple things. One, specifically regarding Eragon, but it could pertain to basically everyone else: there’s little to no character development. Sure, Eragon (…pretty effortlessly…) learns magic and fighting and all, but he never seems to learn from his mistakes throughout the book. The other characters are constantly left to pick up after him. Even with a certain character’s death, I…didn’t feel like it really changed Eragon as a character. Sure, he says that he’s sad about said death, but because the connection didn’t seem to be there to begin with, his thoughts/feelings/actions read as extremely shallow.

I think most of it boils down to the fact that, at the end of the day, the characters are so incredibly flat. They don’t inspire any positive connection or emotions within me, and because of that I didn’t see any connections between the characters. Even between Eragon, Brom, and Saphira, the relationship/connection just seemed…fake? manufactured? The reader is told that they care about one another (at the most — sometimes, not even that), but they aren’t often given any evidence that such a deep connection exists at any meaningful level. The fact that these three major characters have such little connection with one another was extremely frustrating to read, and I really wanted to DNF.

But yeah, this book was…horrible, lmao. The writing was bad, the world-building was dry, and the character development was non-existent. And yet I am forcing myself to read the rest of the series because I own them…y’all better thank me for this, and keep your eyes out for the rant reviews for the rest of the series in the coming months ✨

Kait | sixcrowsbooks

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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.

Kait | sixcrowsbooks

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LIST #18 | Books on My Physical TBR, pt. 1 YA SFF

Hey there, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well and staying safe right now when things are as hectic as could be. I’ve been wanting to do different kinds of posts outside of just reviews because I found myself in a bit of a rut. So I figured why not do one about the books on my physical TBR? And here we are, a new mini-series! I differentiate between my physical TBR and general TBR because the former is the TBR for books that I already own, and the latter is just books that I want to get around to reading. I own a number of backlist books, so I figured this would be a fun series so y’all can see books that maybe you haven’t seen in a while (or at all!). Part one is on my YA sci-fi and fantasy collection!

Shadow and Bone (Shadow and Bone, #1)
Siege and Storm (Shadow and Bone, #2)

Shadow and Bone & Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

  • bought these a few years ago, still haven’t read them
  • ready to hate both Mal and the Darkling, and I can’t wait
  • not ready for the mid-2000s YA fantasy style of writing though, lmao

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch, #1)
  • I’ve heard so many great things!
  • I need an anti-hero/morally grey MC again, it’s been a while
  • Kate from YaTitaKate on YouTube also did a drunk review of The Bone Witch which, uh, definitely made me want to read it more now, lol. Maybe next month!
Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire #1)

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

  • the themes…the t h e m e s
  • another that I have to read soon!
  • well, that, and the sequel
Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle, #1)
Eldest (The Inheritance Cycle, #2)
Brisingr (The Inheritance Cycle, #3)

Eragon & Eldest & Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

  • am I ready to roast this hodgepodge of well-known SFF media? Yes. But will I enjoy roasting it? Also yes
  • I actually tried the audiobook sometime last year or the year before, and wow, that was the worst audiobook experience I’ve had in my life. So. Physical book it is
A Living Nightmare (Cirque Du Freak, #1)
The Vampire's Assistant (Cirque Du Freak, #2)
Tunnels of Blood (Cirque Du Freak, #3)

A Living Nightmare & The Vampire’s Assistant & Tunnels of Blood by Darren Shan

  • cue the nostalgia: ya know how a bunch of people had Harry Potter and Twilight growing up, which really solidified their love of reading? Well, Cirque du Freak is, essentially, my Harry Potter or Twilight
  • I’m a bit nervous it won’t be as good as I remember it, but to be fair, there has been ten years or more since I first read it
The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning, #1)

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

  • got this for my 12th or 13th birthday, but uhhh never actually read it
  • excited to get into it, but I don’t have a clue on what it’s about, lol
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)
The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)

The Dream Thieves & Blue Lily, Lily Blue & The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

  • I am ready to be absolutely bodied by the rest of this series and then never touch it again
  • I got them all from my library’s book sale for super cheap, so that’s pretty rad, too!
Tarnished Are the Stars

Tarnished are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

  • my most recent YA SFF buy from a couple months ago
  • bit of an impulse buy because I usually don’t buy new releases, but I couldn’t resist a queer YA sci-fi with that kind of cover

And those are all of the YA SFF books on my physical TBR. Let me know if you liked any of these, or what YA SFF books you own that you haven’t gotten around to yet!

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REVIEW #65 | THE BLACK VEINS by Ashia Monet (eARC) (Dead Magic #1)

Title: The Black Veins

Author: Ashia Monet

Series or Standalone?: Dead Magic #1

Publishing Date: 17 July 2019

Synopsis (Goodreads):

“In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip—and it’s the “no-love-interest”, found family adventure you’ve been searching for.

“Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?

“She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.

“Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.”

Trigger/Content warnings (copy and pasted directly from the novel) [Note: they usually aren’t this specific with chapters, but like I said, I’m taking it directly from the book’s content warning section]:

  • discussion of deceased parents and siblings; potential parent/family death
  • description of mild bloodshed in violent scenes
  • mention of drugs/drug use (specifically marijuana)
  • gun use
  • supernatural horror in the form of monsters, primarily found in Chapters 6, 12, and 25
  • car accident in chapter 19
  • discussion of anxiety disorders/panic disorders, primarily found in Chapters 22, 23, and 25
  • racial n-word slur, ending in -a, found in Chapter 21
  • mild anxiety attack in Chapter 25

Representation (drawn from the author’s handy-dandy Twitter thread):

  • Black bisexual girl protagonist with anxiety
  • Chinese/British mixed girl side character who will (eventually) identify as questioning (she identifies as straight in The Black Veins)
  • Puerto Rican boy side character that will (eventually) come to identify as demisexual, demiromantic, and only attracted to boys
  • Black straight girl side character
  • Black bisexual boy side character
  • white ace trans boy side character
  • white non-binary/agender side character that uses they/them pronouns

⭐⭐⭐⭐
4/5 stars

*I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review*

(We’ll just…ignore the fact that I’m a half a year late with this review. Ha…haha…)

I didn’t know I needed this wild, magical road trip book until I was done with it. Y’all, it was so good!!

The Black Veins follows Blythe, a Black bisexual girl who is also, coincidentally, a Guardian, a person who has control over one of the several different branches of magic. When her family is kidnapped and her family-owned coffeeshop is destroyed, Blythe is heartbroken. She decides, however, to follow them across the country in order to get them back. But she can’t do this alone. She has to go on a road trip to find the other Guardians in order to be strong enough to take on the people who kidnapped her family.

So, like. I don’t really read a lot of urban fantasy now. Most of the ones I know about are those adult urban fantasy series that are basically police procedurals with magic/magical creatures and sex, and they never caught my eye. But The Black Veins??? Was so much fun???

Seriously, I think one of the best parts about this novel was how fun it was. You have seven teens (or, well, mostly teens since Dan’s, like, twelve) that are eventually all travelling together. They are wildly different from one another, but they just seem to click, ya know? There were so many lines and jokes throughout the story that had me laughing outloud because the humor is just so spot-on. Ashia Monet, being a millenial (or Gen Z? I dunno, around that age range, lol) herself, does our kind of humor so well, and it worked. There were also some serious moments for sure, and they were given their time to be serious, which I appreciated. But, man, that humor… I was honestly not expecting that.

Also, damn, those characters??? Those characters!! I literally loved all of them. First of all, just look at that representation list. Five out of seven of the main cast are characters of color, and all but two are part of the LGBTQ+ community. That alone makes me so happy because their existence is never questioned. They’re bi? Cool. They’re trans and/or non-binary? Dope. They find out that they’re questioning later on? Awesome. In the end (definitely not in the beginning for all of them, lol), they support one another no matter what, and I that found family trope is just…so wonderful. I love it so much, and I think Ashia does an amazing job of creating and building these relationships in such an organic way. To me, it is definitely one of her strengths.

I’m just going to go right down the line and give a quick description of the seven of them because if I go even more in-depth, this review will take ages. So, without further ado…

  • Blythe: the protagonist; super determined to get her family back, but anxious about how to do it/what’s happening to them
  • Cordelia: doesn’t take anyone’s shit; literally a hacker what the fuck; under that cold exterior, she really does care for everyone
  • Daniel: *ahem* I WILL PROTECT HIM WITH MY LIFE; just a sheltered boy who likes plants and nature and shit, and has a ~secret~
  • Antonio: sunny surfer boy is, actually, my son; just a happy dude who likes to bake and make everyone feel good
  • Storm: probably the funniest out of the seven of them (literally made me laugh out loud so many times); makes me want to know more about her
  • Caspian: listen…this boy…can I just say that I love his character development (and Daniel’s!)
  • Jay: flirty bi king we all need; I need to see more of him in the next book because his and Antonio’s interactions are something else entirely

Overall? I felt connected to the characters even with the plot being as fast as it was. While there were a few parts I was confused by or I thought were just a tad too coincidental, I thought this was a wonderful debut, and I can’t wait to see what Ashia has in store for us in the future.

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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 #59 | BELLE REVOLTE by Linsey Miller (eARC)

Title: Belle Revolte

Author: Linsey Miller

Series or Standalone?: Standalone

Publishing Date: 4 February 2020

Synopsis (Goodreads):

“Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome work.

“Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.

“Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.

“But when their nation instigates a frivolous war, Emilie and Annette must work together to help the rebellion end a war that is based on lies.”

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • gore
  • character death
  • family death (a character’s brother)

Representation:

  • biromantic asexual girl MC
  • multiple f/f relationships and lesbian (or otherwise sapphic) characters
  • trans man side character

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

*I received a copy of the novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

I read this book within a day or two, and I loved every second of it.

Belle Révolte follows two girls: Emilie, a noble girl who wants to study the noonday arts and become a physician instead of the midnight arts, and Annette, a peasant girl from a family who doesn’t want her and who wants to study the midnight arts. They end up meeting one another and, on a whim, decide to switch places. Annette pretends to Emilie and studies the midnight arts while Emilie admits herself to a school for the noonday arts. However, tension and action start to stack up quickly as the country is thrust into a war/revolution, and the girls are thrust into it as well.

First off, this magic system? Is simply amazing. It is split into a binary: the midnight arts (divination, scrying, etc.), which are traditionally used by women, and the noonday arts (divided between surgery/medicine and fighting/warfare) are traditionally used by men.

I love that Emilie is fighting tooth and nail to become a physician and prove everyone wrong with what she can do. The magic system is believed to be entirely binary: women weren’t considered strong enough to use the noonday arts, and men believed the midnight arts to be below them. However, Emilie proves throughout the novel that women can actually prove to be just as competent in the noonday arts (shocker, I know), and there is a debate that touches on both arts actually being the same side of the coin, not opposites. This magic system and the discussion about it within the novel were very intriguing, and I love this aspect.

Now, the characters… While I can’t remember names (not the novel’s fault, I am incredibly bad with keeping up with who’s who, especially when they don’t have their own POV chapter), I do remember that I loved all of the characters. I felt like I knew them, and following Annette and Emilie was a joyride in and of itself. The reader just gets to know the both of them so well, including how they don’t feel like, a lot of the time, they can’t be who they truly are in public. They are constantly fighting to be themselves in a world that doesn’t care for them, and I love that. I don’t love that they have to, but I feel connected to both of them. I understand that struggle.

On top of that??? The side characters??? I love. They are honestly so, so amazing, and that representation? *chef’s kiss* We got multiple f/f relationships, a trans man side character, and an MC who’s asexual and biromantic. I just loved how everyone was super casual about it, and the best part? While this book was gruesome and bloody and violent, none of the violence was queer antagonistic/transphobic/homophobic/etc. in nature. It was just refreshing to see.

There were a couple parts of the novel that, if I didn’t already absolutely love this book, I would probably take a half-star or two off. One was a plot twist with one of the side characters. I thought it was a bit goofy and allowed everything to wrap up nicely, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment at all. The second part was the ending: at first, I wasn’t a huge fan of it because I thought it was very rushed. However, the more I thought on it, the more my mind began to change: revolutions can often take suddent turns toward the end, and that’s just what happens with the end of Belle Revolte. I think it fit the overall narrative.

But yeah, please please please pre-order/order this book or request it for your library, y’all. This was a wonderful, quick read, and I’m so glad I was able to snag it when it was under the “read now” tab on NetGalley!

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REVIEW #58 | THE GILDED WOLVES by Roshani Chokshi (The Gilded Wolves #1)

Title: The Gilded Wolves

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Series or Standalone?: The Gilded Wolves #1

Publishing Date: 15 January 2019

Synopsis (Goodreads):

“No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

“It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

“To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

“Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.”

Trigger/content warnings:

  • blood
  • child abuse/neglect/domestic abuse
  • character death
  • parental death
  • torture (non-graphic)

Representation:

  • autistic Jewish girl character
  • Indian girl character
  • bi/pan Filipino Spanish character
  • mixed-race characters

⭐⭐⭐⭐
4/5 stars

Before even starting this review, I have to say this: stop comparing this book to Six of Crows, they are nothing alike! The heists aren’t even the same, nor are the team/family dynamics! Just stop, and stop being disappointed when two books with one sliver of a theme in common are *gasp* different!

*ahem* Now that that’s done… The Gilded Wolves is a wonderful book, and I had so much fun reading it!

The synopsis/overview of the book is a bit hard to explain, but I’ll try my best. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi takes place in Paris, right around the time of the Exposition Universelle (1800s). However, an organization exists called the Order of Babel, which dabbles in magic and magical relics.

Keeping this in mind, Séverin and his crew are known to steal relics and examine them. However, one of the people in the order ends up blackmailing him and his crew in order to steal/acquire a specific relic. In order to do so, the crew must pull off a heist they’ve never done before.

Lemme tell you, I had a lot of fun reading this. It was a quick read, with the plot moving pretty steadily (for me, at least), but there was still a good amount of time spent on the characters and the relationships between each of them. And y’all!! There’s my fav trope!!! Found family! I was so excited to see how each character interacted with one another, and what each of their backstories were (though I do wish there was a bit more backstory on everyone, but! that’s what another book is for, lol). I do have to say, though, that I was a bit confused by Tristan’s motivations. It didn’t really inhibit my enjoyment of the novel, but I wished there was a clearer reason for certain things that he does throughout the novel.

Also??? Can we talk about how perfect Zofia, Hypnos, and Enrique are? I really hope that they [redacted] [redacted] because that would be absolutely lovely. I just love their interactions with one another (and everyone else’s, to be honest).

One of the downsides, though, was the world-building. I was a bit confused about what the Order of Babel actually was, and how everything fit together. I was able to piece enough of it together for it to make sense, and it might have been just because I was reading it so fast. But I felt like it could have been described in a less confusing way. However, again, it didn’t take too much away from my reading enjoyment.

Overall, while the world-building was a bit hard to follow, I still really liked The Gilded Wolves, and I can’t wait to read the e-ARC of the sequel I got via Netgalley. 🙂

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REVIEW #56 | THE STORM CROW by Kalyn Josephson (The Storm Crow #1)

Title: The Storm Crow

Author: Kalyn Josephson

Series or Standalone?: The Storm Crow #1

Publishing Date: 9 July 2019

Synopsis (Goodreads):

“In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

“That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

“But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.”

Trigger/content warnings:

  • depictions of depression
  • anxiety/panic attacks
  • self-harm (for blood magic; non-graphic)
  • death of family members
  • violence/gore
  • blood

Representation:

  • MC with depression and who struggles with the aftermath of trauma (including having panic attacks)
  • sapphic side-characters
  • gay side-character who is a man
  • m/m minor relationship
  • f/f side relationship
  • characters of color

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

Yo, who was going to tell me I was going to fall in love with this book and think about it for days after I finish it? Seriously, I adored The Storm Crow.

In Rhodaire, where the protagonist Thia lives, the people live and work with magical Crows who are able to use elemental magic. However, on the night of their festival, Rhodaire’s capital is attacked by the enemy country of Illucia. In the end, not only are all the Crows dead, but Thia’s mother, the queen, is as well.

Months pass, and Thia is stuck in a deep depression as her sister tries to run Rhodaire as queen. The country is in disarray as it tries to move on from the extinction of the Crows it used to depend on.

One day, though, Thia learns two things: a Storm Crow egg survived the attack by the Illucians, and she is being forced into an engagement with the Illucian prince, Ericen. Soon she is carted away to an enemy nation with only her closest friend and the Storm Crow egg as allies.

Like I said earlier, I have little to no negative thing to say about this book. The world-building was confusing for me at times (there’s a lot of name-dropping with different countries), but by the time the book ended, I think I had a good grasp about the world. Anyway, on to what I loved.

You want casual diversity? You get casual diversity. And I absolutely love it! We have Thia, who has depression and panic attacks as a result of the trauma she faced at the beginning of the book. I can’t say personally if the rep is any good, but from the standpoint of someone studying mental health, I thought the MI rep was done very well (obviously, depression symptoms vary widely from person to person, but I think this case was dealt with with love and care). On top of that, we also have sapphic and gay side characters, f/f and m/m side relationships, and characters of color.

Y’all wanna know what else? There is no homophobia. The sapphic and gay characters are just accepted for their sexuality, and if they’re bad, it isn’t because they’re queer. How rad!!

Somewhat related to that: I loved all of the characters. Usually, I latch on to a few and then feel neutral about the rest, but I genuinely enjoyed the complexity given to these characters, especially Thia, Ericen, and the Illucian queen. I felt that we got to see all of their struggles (some clearer than others), and as far as my experience goes, nobody seems one-dimensional.

One thing that I especially liked was how Thia and Ericen’s relationship unfolds. It didn’t go the way I thought it would, so I was pleasantly surprised as I was reading about what actually happens. Their relationship in particular is one of the things I’m especially interested in learning about in the sequel.

As for the writing itself, I have no qualms with it. Its fast pace kept me on my toes as I was reading, and I was able to fly through it. If memory serves me right, I finished this book in a couple days, which is fast for me.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book, and I cannot wait until the sequel is released so I can snag it up!

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MONTHLY WRAP-UP #6 | August 2018

August Wrap-UP.png

Hello, everyone! I hope August was a great month for you, both for reading, blogging, and in life in general! This post is going to be really short because, well…I only finished one book this month. And it wasn’t even a new book! So let’s dive into the one and only book that I finished in August 2018.

1. “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows

Are any of you surprised that the only book I read was my favorite book (and also the inspiration for the name of this blog)? You probably shouldn’t be, but if you are, that’s okay, too. For those of you who don’t know what Six of Crows is about, it follows six teenagers that band together to try and get somebody out of the place that is supposedly impenetrable. I really enjoy the writing, the sass between the group, and how the book delves into four of the group’s backstories.

Continue reading “MONTHLY WRAP-UP #6 | August 2018”

REVIEW #24 | “The Language of Thorns”

The Language of Thorns

Language of Thorns

Title: “Language of Thorns”

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Pages (hardcover): 281 pages

Original Publishing Date: 26 September 2017

Synopsis (from the inside flap):

“Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

“Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

“Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

“Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.”

Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:

  • blood
  • violence
  • self-harm (for magic) (The Witch of Duva and When Water Sang Fire)
  • murder
  • pedophilia(?) (The Witch of Duva)
  • cannibalism(?) (The Witch of Duva)

Representation in the novel:

  • m/m couple
  • f/f couple
  • characters of color

⭐⭐⭐⭐ .5
4.5/5 stars

Continue reading “REVIEW #24 | “The Language of Thorns””