Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

29346927★★★★

I did not expect this book to be as good as it was. I put off reading it, thinking it was just another typical YA fantasy, but the characters won my heart in the end. The plot, although not action-packed, made me want to keep reading, and the setting was fantastic.

Zivah and Dineas are both under the rule of the Amparan empire. Zivah’s people of Dara are peaceful, and acquiesce to the empire’s demands, but after Dara’s healers failed to cure the empire’s soldiers after an outbreak of the deadly rose plague, their village is put under the spotlight. Now rosemarked from contracting the plague, Zivah is unable to practice her art of healing that she has trained so hard for. Meanwhile, Dineas has just escaped from the Amparan prison and is reunited with his people, the Monyars. He wishes vengeance for the brutalities done on him, and a way to stop the Amparans from conquering his people. A chance encounter between Dineas and Zivah spawns a plan that could bring the empire to its knees, if the pair can play their cards right. Read More »

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The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

34050917★★★★★

Enchanting and bewitching, the Girl in the Tower does not disappoint. Arden transports readers back into the snow filled world of Rus’, this time into the heart of the capital with its snow-capped rooftops and burning wood stoves. With its vivid descriptions, enthralling plot, and beautiful prose, this book cements the series as one of my all-time favorites.

After the events of the first book, Vasya disguises herself as a boy and sets off from her village to become a traveler and to see the world. But Vasya soon finds that the world is a dangerous place. When she saves three girls from the Tar Tar barbarians, Vasya unintentionally catches the Princes’ eye, and is whisked off to the capital, where her siblings Sasha and Olga reside. Her reputation hangs by a thread, for if anyone discovers who she really is, the repercussions for her and her family would be dire. And strange events are happening behind the kremlin bound gates of the city, which may bring in a whole new enemy. Read More »

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

36325370★★★★★

The Bear and this Nightingale blew me away. Be transported into the frigid Russian wilderness, where creatures of fairytales breathe and frost demons wander the woods. Gather around the warmth of the hearth, around the crackling flame, and hear the story of Vasilisa, the girl marked by the winter king.

The atmosphere and setting of this book was magical. The way Arden writes every word and strings them into sentences and build them into pages is enthralling. Her descriptions are vivid, and made the setting come to life. Set in a village on the edge of the woods, in a place where the snow almost never melts, the role of nature plays a key role in both the plot and the setting. Creatures like the domovi, which are the household spirits that protects the inhabitants, and the lake spirit added a mystical quality and dimension. Throughout the pages, I could see the glint of sunlight on frost, feel my breath mist the air, and look out to a landscape of white. A warm house with a roaring flame never felt so good. This book utterly immersed me into a whole new world that I was eager to be lost in. Read More »

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

33784362★★

This is not my favorite Graudin novel. I only picked this up because I LOVED Wolf by Wolf, but I didn’t enjoy Invictus. The setting wasn’t developed enough, I didn’t feel any attachment to the characters, and although the plot was ambitious, it was a tad overwhelming.

This book is set in the future when people have discovered time travel. Our lead Faraway shows promise to become a time traveller, but after failing his exams due to an unknown glitch, he becomes a smuggler of ancient relics for the black market. He and his crew are very successful, until they attempt a heist on the Titanic, where this mysterious girl named Eliot thwarts their plans. Eliot blackmails them into joining their crew, and despite their mistrust of her, it’s clear there’s something more going on, and only she has the answers. Read More »

Wicked like a Wildfire by Lana Popović

32051720★★

The cover really says a lot about this book. Look at it. Isn’t it pretty? Whimsical? Magical? But also almost too flowery, without substance? That was the case exactly. Wicked Like a Wildfire had good characters and plot, but it was overpowered by the slow, lingering, and beautiful prose.

Iris and Malina are sisters with an overbearing mother, and because of the powers of beauty they possess, they must lay low in the small town in Montenegro. Iris wants to live, not just survive under the smothering rules, but when their mother collapses into a state between life and death, the sisters realize that their mother’s warnings may have been correct. As they dig deeper into the mystery, they uncover secrets about their family and their powers that they never could’ve imagined. Read More »

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

29749085★★★★★

I’ve never paid much attention to superheroes. Sure, I knew their names and stuff, but I’d never read their comics, or watched their movies. To me, they were unrealistic and egotistical, a tall tale blown out of proportion. Their struggles weren’t relatable or suspenseful, because we knew that everything will always turn out ok. After all, they’re heroes, right?

This book made me rethink most of my previous opinions. Diana is portrayed as human, with doubts, fears, and insecurities beneath the exterior. She’s an outsider with the Amazons, as she never earned the right to the island. Her struggle to belong with her Amazon sisters was relatable with situations we’ve felt belittled for reasons outside of our control. As the story progresses and Diana is led away from the island and into the human realm, she proves herself again and again through her actions and courage. Her friendships with other characters were balanced and respected. Bardugo does a great job shaping her into someone powerful, but believable. Read More »

Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy by Ameriie

31450752★★

I’ll be real, I only read this because I saw that one of my favorite author’s, V.E. Schwab, was featured here. Villains intrigue me, with their determination and disregard for moral obstacles and whatnot. So I was like, hey, this could be a pretty cool book. But although there are a few gems here, other stories are just plain weird. If you want to read this, I’d suggest The Sea Witch by Marissa Meyer, Beautiful Venom by Cindy Pon, and Death Knell by Victoria Schwab. The rest were enjoyable enough, and there were a some high school dramas that just made me laugh. This was interesting enough, but not very memorable.