Review: Jade Fire Gold by June C. L. Tan

Synopsis:

Her destiny. His revenge.

In an empire on the brink of war . . .

Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.

Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.

When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her lethal magical abilities.

But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.

Girls of Paper and Fire meets A Song of Wraiths and Ruin in June CL Tan’s stunning debut, where ferocious action, shadowy intrigue, rich magic, and a captivating slow-burn romance collide.


Disclaimer:  I received a free Advance Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review. This does not affect my review in any way, which is honest and unbiased. Thank you to Kate Keehan at Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a copy of Jade Fire Gold

Rating: ★★★★

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Jade Fire Gold
 is an exciting, action-packed fantasy. Highly reminiscent with its vast world lore and magic system, this book will delight fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender.


I thoroughly enjoyed Jade Fire Gold. While it took me a couple of chapters from each perspective to really get into it, once I did, I needed to know how it was all going to unfold.

Ahn and Altan made for two very compelling main characters. Ahn is a peasant, who’s life is flipped upside down when she’s taken away from her adoptive grandmother and discovers she’s the Life Stealer – a powerful Tiensai (magic user) capable of draining a person’s life force and using two mystical swords to either save the world or destroy it. Straight away from the very first page, I found Ahn to be extremely likeable. Her character arc was excellent; from the first page to the last, she grows so much as a person, becoming much more confident with her magic and believing in her ability to forge her own path.

Altan, is the lost prince, who is hellbent on getting his revenge and reclaiming his throne after his family was murdered. The Zuko comparisons are right there for you to see, and it would be easy for any reader to assume that Tan had lifted him from Avatar, made a few small changes and plopped him in this book. That being said, I don’t have any complaints!

Ahn and Altan are interesting, complex characters, and Tan made it easy to root for both of them, even when at times their desires clashed.

I did feel that they both got what they (initially) wanted a bit too quickly though. Very minor spoilers ahead, but I thought Ahn adjusted to palace life quicker than she should have, and Altan got his wish from the Phoenix with seemingly little trouble. This didn’t have too much of an impact on my overall enjoyment of the book though.

I can definitely see the Zutara comparisons with Jade Fire Gold and Ahn and Altan, but unfortunately, the romance element of this book fell flat for me. I could see that the two of them were drawn to each other, but I couldn’t feel it. Their chemistry didn’t jump off the page for me.

Despite the (seemingly) character-driven nature of the book, Jade Fire Gold doesn’t skimp on the action scenes, including a nice balance of physical weapons (e.g. swords) and magic. I do wish the climax/‘final battle’ of the book had been a little stronger though, with more detail and less time-skipping, but this is just a minor thing compared with the book as a whole.

Overall, I’d recommend trying out Jade Fire Gold, especially if you’re an Avatar: The Last Airbender fan and Zutara shipper. Even if the romance falls a bit flat for you (like it did for me), you can at least appreciate the similarities and Ahn and Altan’s dynamic. Tan ended the book on a major cliffhanger, so I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel to find out what happens next.

Review: Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Synopsis:

From Stephanie Garber, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of CaravalOnce Upon a Broken Heart is the first book in a new series about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after.

Evangeline Fox was raised in her beloved father’s curiosity shop, where she grew up on legends about immortals, like the tragic Prince of Hearts. She knows his powers are mythic, his kiss is worth dying for, and that bargains with him rarely end well.

But when Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, she becomes desperate enough to offer the Prince of Hearts whatever he wants in exchange for his help to stop the wedding. The prince only asks for three kisses. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’s pledged. And he has plans for Evangeline that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy… 


Disclaimer:  I received a free digital advance reader’s copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review. This does not affect my review in any way, which is honest and unbiased. Thank you to Kate Keehan at Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a copy of Once Upon a Broken Heart

Rating: ★★

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To put it simply, Once Upon a Broken Heart is a hot mess. The premise promises a fairytale, but what Garber delivers is a confused nightmare. With an annoyingly-naïve protagonist, a one-dimensional cast of supporting characters and a truly “what the fuck”-inducing plot, this book’s only saving graces are the short chapters and fast pacing, which at times can too be a hindrance to your enjoyment and desire to rate this book higher than you actually will.

The beginning chapters of this book are the only thing that delivers on the premise. With vivid imagery, they instantly drew me in and I could see the improvement in Garber’s writing from the six (boring) chapters I had read of Caraval. (As you can guess, that didn’t last very long). Once Upon a Broken Heart follows rose gold-haired Evangeline Fox, whose stepsister is set to marry Luc, her one true love. Believing Luc to be cursed and desperate to stop the wedding, she enlists the help of Jacks, a Fate and the Prince of Hearts. He agrees to do so under the condition that Evangeline will kiss 3 people of his choosing, but doesn’t say any more than that. Willing to do whatever it takes to stop Luc marrying Marisol, she agrees to the deal but the wedding is stopped by Jacks turning everyone to stone. It is here that Evangeline first displays her wishy-washy personality, as she regrets her actions and drinks the poison that turned the bride, groom and wedding guests to stone – thereby taking their place. 

Evangeline, as a protagonist and narrator, frustrated me endlessly. She’s insanely naïve, always trusting people she shouldn’t and wanting to help Marisol (her stepsister) when it’s very obvious that a) her sister is shady and up to no good and b) she generally has no reason to. The two of them have next to no relationship, but because Evangeline is so Wonderful and Perfect and Special Because She Has Pink Hair, of course she has to want to help. She’s also a very passive character: things happen to her, not because of her. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: “Characters are allowed to be naïve! It’s part of their growth!” or “Characters are allowed to be nice! They don’t all have to be sword-wielding assassins or (insert other character trope here)”. Trust me, I hear you, but there’s a difference between those characters and Evangeline Fox. 

The side characters – yes, including Jacks – in this book are no better. They’re all one-dimensional and flat, having one ‘unique’ aspect about them… and that’s it. I could tell you hardly anything about them. Jacks’ past with Donatella is briefly mentioned, but I wouldn’t really class that as him having personality, and I think it’s more fanservice for existing Caraval fans than anything. 

I can separate this book into two parts: Before Evangeline Drinks the Poison and After Evangeline Drinks the Poison. I enjoyed the Before part, as After Evangeline Drinks the Poison is where Stephanie Garber seems to have forgotten the novel she promised to readers, and began writing something else entirely. Ergo, the plot had gone haywire. 

The book’s plot follows no clear structure; it’s all over the place. Sure, there’s a little bit of “action” but that does nothing to redeem a story that is 99% Boring and 1% Interesting Scenes. There were numerous attempts at romantic scenes throughout the book, but Evangeline has no real chemistry with either of her potential love interests (one of them is literally cursed to be in love with her, so there’s that), so it did nothing for me and I skimmed read most of them.

Once Upon a Broken Heart took an extremely bizarre turn after the introduction of vampires. Yes, you read that correctly. Vampires. What the fuck are vampires doing in this book? It was so completely and utterly random, I was honestly thinking ‘what was Stephanie Garber on when she wrote this?’ while reading. We were given no real explanation as to why vampires were included either. It was like a complete abuse of authorial power on Garber’s part: she thought vampires were cool, so she just put them in the book, with no real thought as to the sense (or lack thereof) it would make. And trust me, it made zero sense. Unfortunately, around the last third of the book and its “plot” hinges on vampires, so there wasn’t any escaping them.

There was also a prophecy subplot, because of course there was. The prophecy in this book centres around the Valory Arch, a mysterious archway in The North which contains either treasure and secrets or deadly monsters (no one is really sure which). Evangeline, having such Main Character Energy, is the key to unlocking this arch/doorway (I get she literally IS the main character, but just roll with the punches here). I say it’s a subplot, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what was the main plot and what were subplots in this book. Garber weaved a lot of threads throughout Once Upon a Broken Heart, and they got tangled up at times. 

As a ‘minor’ complaint, a lot is told to readers and not shown. For instance, after Evangeline has just woken up from being poisoned, she is told of a Week of Terrors that unfolded after the cancelled wedding, but we’re not given any information about it. Later, through dialogue, Evangeline learns of information she needs to know to progress the plot, but it’s done in quite a heavy-handed manner. There’s a lot of it, and wasn’t done subtlety or in small pieces, like you might see elsewhere in other novels.

To give myself something positive to say about this book, I did like its short chapters and relatively fast pacing. As a slow reader, I appreciated being able to get through this book super quickly. Yes, that’s all I have to say. Moving on!

The book ends on a cliffhanger. It’s somewhat intriguing, but I certainly won’t be reading the sequel.  If for whatever reason, after reading this review, you’re still inclined to read Once Upon a Broken Heart, you might want to hold off on doing so until the sequel is out, as this will leave you with too many loose plot threads and unanswered questions – more than any book should.

Review: Little Thieves by Margaret Owen

Synopsis:

A scrappy maid must outsmart both palace nobles and Low Gods in a new YA fantasy by Margaret Owen, author of the Merciful Crow series.

Once upon a time, there was a horrible girl…

Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love?and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself.

The real Gisele is left a penniless nobody while Vanja uses an enchanted string of pearls to take her place. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Then, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to an untimely end: turning into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed.

Vanja has just two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and make her getaway. And with a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on Vanja’s tail, she’ll have to pull the biggest grift yet to save her own life.


Disclaimer: I received a free Advance Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review. This does not affect my review in any way, which is honest and unbiased. Huge thanks to Kate Keehan at Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a copy of Little Thieves

Rating: ★     

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Little Thieves is a masterpiece. Margaret Owen flawlessly executes this retelling of The Goose Girl with a thieving antiheroine and enthralling plot. Do NOT miss out on this book!

Without a doubt, Little Thieves is one of the best books I have EVER read. 

If you’re not interested in reading more, then you can leave with that sentiment and go and preorder this book immediately. 

If you want to read further, however, then please enjoy what I hope will be a semi-tidy collection of my thoughts and experience reading this book. 

I really can’t put into words how much I adored Vanja as a narrator. Vanja is an antiheroine and becomes the goddaughter of two Low Gods, Death and Fortune, after being given up by her mother as a child. On the surface, Vanja is cunning, bold and a little bit wicked, but beneath all of that, she had such a raw vulnerability that was so heartbreaking at times. The traumas of her past have left her unable to trust anyone but herself, so that when she finally does open up to people and begin to let them in, she wonders if it’s all a lie and they’re using her for their own purposes. I don’t want to go too much into it, but I really related to Vanja – not so much in her experiences and the actual things she’s been through, but in pieces of her view of the world and herself, and how in turn she is viewed and treated by others. I honestly can’t say I’ve related to another protagonist more than Vanja, and I’m slightly ashamed that no words will ever properly convey how much she means to me. 

The side characters are equally as brilliant. They all serve an important purpose in the overarching story and are fleshed out, instead of being one dimensional like many supporting casts often are. I especially liked Vanja’s love interest, Emeric. They had a slow burn romance and had a cat and mouse dynamic, which was particularly fun to read about. Emeric starts off being quite a ‘stiff’ character but I really enjoyed seeing him open up and come out of his shell as the story progressed.  

The plot of Little Thieves was absolutely incredible. It’s fast paced and action-packed – be prepared for a few late nights with this one, because you won’t want to put it down. I was hooked from the very beginning! This book was also unexpectedly funny, with Vanja’s wittiness making for plenty of humorous moments throughout. The world was deeply immersive, influenced by the Germanic roots of the original Goose Girl fairytale, and I could read about it forever! I certainly wouldn’t be opposed if Owen one day decided to create a whole series of fairytale retellings set in this world…

Little Thieves was a light in the darkness for me. For the first time, I truly saw myself in a protagonist, and Vanja came to me when I needed her the most. Little Thieves is incomparable and I will always be grateful to Margaret Owen for writing it. This book is not one to miss!  

October 2021 Anticipated Releases

Hi everyone!

Today I’ll be giving you my list of anticipated releases for October 2021! Some of my most anticipated books of the YEAR are coming out this month, and I’ve been lucky enough to read a few already.

As always, I’ll leave affiliate links below if any of these books interest you. Purchasing books using my links give me a very small commission, at no extra cost to you, which helps support me and this blog.

Onto the books! –

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Review: The Gilded Cage by Lynette Noni

Synopsis:

Kiva trades one cage for another when she leaves behind a deadly prison for a deceptive palace in this dark and dangerous sequel to The Prison Healer, which Sarah J. Maas called “a must-read.”

Kiva Meridan is a survivor.

She survived not only Zalindov prison, but also the deadly Trial by Ordeal. Now Kiva’s purpose goes beyond survival to vengeance. For the past ten years, her only goal was to reunite with her family and destroy the people responsible for ruining their lives. But now that she has escaped Zalindov, her mission has become more complicated than ever.

As Kiva settles into her new life in the capital, she discovers she wasn’t the only one who suffered while she was in Zalindov—her siblings and their beliefs have changed too. Soon it’s not just her enemies she’s keeping secrets from, but her own family as well.

Outside the city walls, tensions are brewing from the rebels, along with whispers of a growing threat from the northern kingdoms. Kiva’s allegiances are more important than ever, but she’s beginning to question where they truly lie. To survive this time, she’ll have to navigate a complicated web of lies before both sides of the battle turn against her and she loses everything.


Disclaimer:  I received a free digital advance reader’s copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review. This does not affect my review in any way, which is honest and unbiased. Thank you to Kate Keehan at Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a copy of The Gilded Cage

Rating: ★   .5

Purchase (Affiliate Link)


The Gilded Cage is a stunning, action-packed sequel to The Prison Healer that will have you on the edge of your seat. With a signature Lynette Noni cliffhanger, this book will leave you desperate for the last instalment in this thrilling trilogy.

Continue reading “Review: The Gilded Cage by Lynette Noni”

Review: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Roshani Chokshi comes a novel set in Paris during a time of extraordinary change–one that is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous desires…

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.


Rating:      .5

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The Gilded Wolves was absolutely marvellous. I’ve seen many Six of Crows comparisons, but there’s truly nothing similar about the books besides the fact they both have group casts and heist plots. Neither of which Leigh Bardugo owns, by the way.

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Review: Fable by Adrienne Young

Synopsis:

For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive. 

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue, and adventure.


Rating: ★★★★★

Purchase (UK paperback, Affiliate Link)


A perfect seafaring adventure, Adrienne Young’s Fable is masterfully crafted with an excellent cast of characters, high-stakes plot and one of the most compelling worlds I’ve read about in a long time.

Continue reading “Review: Fable by Adrienne Young”

September 2021 Anticipated Releases

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a good August, and are ready for September (and all the new books coming out)!

I won’t waste too much time with this introduction, but I’ll quickly say that, as usual, I’ll leave affiliate links below in case you’re interested in buying any of these books! Using these links really helps me out, as I receive a tiny (and I really do mean tiny) commission when you use them, at no extra cost to you.

Let’s get onto the books!

Continue reading “September 2021 Anticipated Releases”

Review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Synopsis:

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.


Rating:    .75

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I really wanted to like Sky in the Deep more than I did. There’s nothing glaringly bad about this book — It’s fast-paced and entertaining, I just didn’t love it like I was expecting to.

Continue reading “Review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young”

Review: Forestborn by Elayne Audrey Becker

Synopsis:

TO BE BORN OF THE FOREST IS A GIFT AND A CURSE.

Rora is a shifter, as magical as all those born in the wilderness–and as feared. She uses her abilities to spy for the king, traveling under different guises and listening for signs of trouble.

When a magical illness surfaces across the kingdom, Rora uncovers a devastating truth: Finley, the young prince and her best friend, has caught it, too. His only hope is stardust, the rarest of magical elements, found deep in the wilderness where Rora grew up–and to which she swore never to return.

But for her only friend, Rora will face her past and brave the dark, magical wood, journeying with her brother and the obstinate, older prince who insists on coming. Together, they must survive sentient forests and creatures unknown, battling an ever-changing landscape while escaping human pursuers who want them dead. With illness gripping the kingdom and war on the horizon, Finley’s is not the only life that hangs in the balance.


Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book from Rob Richardson at Melia Publishing Services and the publisher, Tor Teen, in exchange for this honest review. Thank you for sending me a copy!

Rating: ★★★★★

Purchase: Blackwell’s (Affiliate Link)


Forestborn follows a shifter named Rora, who works as a spy for the human King Gerar. Over the course of her travels, she learns of a mysterious, magical illness – the Fallow Throes – which is sweeping across the kingdom. The Throes come with telltale symptoms, but there is no cure. Catch the Fallow Throes, and you’re already dead. Rora’s life is upended when she discovers her best friend and the younger Prince, Finley, is infected too. Desperate for a cure, the King asks Rora to delve deep into the Eastern wilderness in which she grew up in hopes of finding stardust – a rare, magical substance, and the only thing that has a chance of healing Finley. The only problem: she swore never to return there again, after fleeing four years ago. Willing to try anything though, to save her dearest friend, Rora agrees to the King’s request and journeys to her homeland, accompanied by her brother, Helos, and Finley’s brooding older brother, Weslyn, and the rest of the plot follows from there.

Continue reading “Review: Forestborn by Elayne Audrey Becker”