Review: Red School (Part 2)

Title: Red School (Part 2)
Author: Victoria Aveyard, Soman Chainani, Joel Gennari (illustrator)
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: N/A
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: December 2, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Fantasy titans Victoria Aveyard and Soman Chainani team up in a two-part graphic novel event! Featuring your favourite characters from ‘Red Queen’ and ‘The School for Good and Evil’ series.

Review:

The characters from Red Queen and the School for Good and Evil are still fighting a plague at the school. Mare, Maven, Cal, Agatha, Sophie, and Tedros must find a way to get to the School Master’s Tower and get the magical Storian pen to stop the virus that is infecting everyone at the school.

This was a great conclusion to the Red School graphic novels. There were some more cameos of characters from the novels that appeared at the heart of the problem. I would recommend reading at least the first book of the Red Queen series and The School for Good and Evil series before reading this one because the action begins right away without much of an introduction to the characters.

These comics were such a fun collaboration. It was exciting to see characters from two great series come together in this short adventure.

I hope there are more collaborations between these characters or other series in the future.

What to read next:

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Other books in the series:

Have you read Red School (Part 2)? What did you think of it?

Review: Hall of Smoke

Title: Hall of Smoke
Author: H.M. Long
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Titan Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: January 19, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

An epic fantasy featuring warrior priestesses and fickle gods at war

Hessa is an Eangi: a warrior priestess of the Goddess of War, with the power to turn an enemy’s bones to dust with a scream. Banished for disobeying her goddess’s command to murder a traveller, she prays for forgiveness alone on a mountainside.

While she is gone, raiders raze her village and obliterate the Eangi priesthood. Grieving and alone, Hessa – the last Eangi – must find the traveller, atone for her weakness and secure her place with her loved ones in the High Halls. As clans from the north and legionaries from the south tear through her homeland, slaughtering everyone in their path, Hessa strives to win back her goddess’ favour. 

Beset by zealot soldiers, deceitful gods, and newly-awakened demons at every turn, Hessa burns her path towards redemption and revenge. But her journey reveals a harrowing truth: the gods are dying and the High Halls of the afterlife are fading. Soon Hessa’s trust in her goddess weakens with every unheeded prayer.

Thrust into a battle between the gods of the Old World and the New, Hessa realizes there is far more on the line than securing a life beyond her own death. Bigger, older powers slumber beneath the surface of her world. And they’re about to wake up.

Review:

Hessa is an Eangi, a warrior princess of Eang the Goddess of War. Hessa was instructed by Eang to kill a traveller to her town. When he arrives and Hessa doesn’t kill him, she is banished from the town. But while she’s gone, her home is invaded and her family and friends are killed. Hessa must try to regain her goddess’s trust while also avenging her people.

This was an incredibly detailed fantasy world. I was drawn into the world right away, and I was rooting for Hessa. The story started out with just a couple of characters being introduced in the story so that the reader can get comfortable in this story.

There were a lot of characters to keep track of by the end of the story, and their names were similar so I found it confusing. There were multiple layers of gods as well as the characters in their world. Hessa went through many different groups on her journey, so she met recurring characters along the way. If these characters had names that weren’t so similar, it would have been easier to keep them straight.

This was a great fantasy debut.

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Lost Queen by Signe Pike

Have you read Hall of Smoke? What did you think of it?

Review: The Lives of Saints [audiobook]

Title: The Lives of Saints
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Short Stories, Audiobook
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Audiobook
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Enter the world of the Grishaverse and Shadow and Bone, soon to be a Netflix original series!

Dive into the epic world of international bestselling author Leigh Bardugo with this beautifully illustrated replica of The Lives of Saints, the Istorii Sankt’ya, featuring tales of saints drawn from the beloved novels and beyond. Out of the pages of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, from the hands of Alina Starkov to yours, the Istorii Sankt’ya is a magical keepsake from the Grishaverse.

These tales include miracles and martyrdoms from familiar saints like Sankta Lizabeta of the Roses and Sankt Ilya in Chains, to the strange and obscure stories of Sankta Ursula, Sankta Maradi, and the Starless Saint.

This beautiful collection includes stunning full-color illustrations of each story.

Review:

The Lives of Saints is a collection of short stories from the Grishaverse. Each story tells the origin story of a saint in that series. This book was actually mentioned in the Grishaverse books, so it was like reading a book that the characters have read too.

This audiobook was short at just over two hours long. The narrators were great. There were two narrators that alternated between chapters. The male narrator was Ben Barnes, who is one of the stars of the upcoming Shadow and Bone show. This is a great way to connect this new book to the upcoming show.

I’d love to see a physical copy of this book one day because it is supposed to have beautiful illustrations. I highly recommend this audiobook!

Thank you Macmillan Audio for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Lives of Saints? What did you think of it?

Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1)

Title: A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Hope warms the coldest night.

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. 

Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

Review:

Feyre, Rhys, and their friends are rebuilding the Night Court. They’re excited for the upcoming Winter Solstice, which will be the first one in the Night Court for Feyre and her sisters. They each have to buy gifts to prepare for the celebration, while Feyre also tries to find her place in the Night Court.

This novella is set after A Court of Wings and Ruin. Since it comes between that book and the next one that was just published (A Court of Silver Flames), there wasn’t much that happened in this story. It couldn’t continue the action of the previous book or begin the action of the next one. It gave a nice view everyday life in the Night Court, but there wasn’t any real plot.

Each chapter alternated perspectives. Only Feyre’s and Rhys’s chapters were told from their first person points of view. The other chapters that were focused on other characters were told by a third person narrator. These two different narration styles were jarring to read and slowed the rhythm of the story. The next book is written in third person, which is probably why this one was a mix of third person and first person perspectives, but I would have preferred it to be consistent in this story.

This novella was a little disappointing because it didn’t have a real plot or give new information, but it was nice to return to the world of this series.

What to read next:

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

Other books in the series:

Have you read A Court of Frost and Starlight? What did you think of it?

Review: Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2)

Title: Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: December 6, 2011
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

Review:

The Shadowhunters of London still are not safe as the Clave wants to remove Charlotte as the head of the London Institute. To save her position, they must hunt down the Magister. Will, Jem, and Tessa have to visit the homes of other Shadowhunters to find the secrets to bring down the Magister. Tessa now knows she can’t trust her brother, but she may not be able to trust some of the other Shadowhunters either.

This series has quickly become one of my favourites. The characters are well developed and have many layers. I like that there are hints of a plot line given early, which ends up developing into an important part later in the book or the series.

There were some shocking twists, but I didn’t find the ending to be as much of a cliffhanger as the first one. There were some secrets that began in the first book and were unraveled in this one. Even though some parts of the story were solved by the end, there are plenty of questions I need answered in another book.

I also love the Victorian literature included in the book. Each chapter opens with a short passage of poetry. Tessa and Will communicate through sharing books. Books are an important part of my life, so I can relate to a character who loves books.

This is such a great series!

What to read next:

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Other books in the series:

Have you read Clockwork Prince? What did you think of it?

Review: The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother)

Title: The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother)
Author: David Levithan
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author David Levithan takes young readers on a twisting journey through truth, reality, and fantasy and belief.

Aidan disappeared for six days. Six agonizing days of searches and police and questions and constant vigils. Then, just as suddenly as he vanished, Aidan reappears. Where has he been? The story he tells is simply. . . impossible. But it’s the story Aidan is sticking to.

His brother, Lucas, wants to believe him. But Lucas is aware of what other people, including their parents, are saying: that Aidan is making it all up to disguise the fact that he ran away.

When the kids in school hear Aidan’s story, they taunt him. But still Aidan clings to his story. And as he becomes more of an outcast, Lucas becomes more and more concerned. Being on Aidan’s side would mean believing in the impossible. But how can you believe in the impossible when everything and everybody is telling you not to?

Review:

Twelve-year-old Aidan disappeared for six days, leaving his family and town to search for him everywhere. On the sixth day, his brother, Lucas, heard a noise in the attic and went to investigate. He found Aidan lying on the floor, claiming to have returned from a different land called Aveinieu. The problem now is that no adults believe Aidan’s story. Lucas wants to believe his brother’s story but it’s difficult to believe in an impossible story.

This story was an original take on the traditional story of children disappearing into magical lands. There are lots of stories of children who climb through portals to magic lands, such as Narnia and Wonderland. Those stories have been told, but this story tells the family’s perspective of losing the child. Time worked differently in the world Aidan disappeared to, so he was gone for six days in real time but he was in the other land for many weeks.

This story was very fast paced. Aidan returned from his disappearance fairly early in the story, and the rest of it was him trying to convince everyone of what happened to him. It was sad to see how he wasn’t believed because he was a child and it sounded like a made up story, but he insisted it was true. I’d like to believe these kinds of fantasy lands do exist on the other side of wardrobes, to keep the magic alive!

I really enjoyed this story!

Thank you Text Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel by Sheela Chari

Whispering Pines by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski

Have you read The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S.? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: The Iron Raven (The Iron Fey: Evenfall #1)

Title: The Iron Raven (The Iron Fey: Evenfall #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 9, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

You may have heard of me…

Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Prankster, joker, raven, fool… King Oberon’s right-hand jester from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The legends are many, but the truth will now be known as never before, as Puck finally tells his own story and faces a threat to the lands of Faery and the human world unlike any before.

With the Iron Queen Meghan Chase and her prince consort, Puck’s longtime rival Ash, and allies old and new by his side, Puck begins a fantastical and dangerous adventure not to be missed or forgotten.

Review:

Puck, the jester from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, tells his own story in this new book. He meets a faerie from the Forgotten, who doesn’t remember her past but is working with the Iron Queen’s son. There is a mysterious threat to their land. Along with Puck’s friend Meghan the Iron Queen, his rival Ash, and some other friends, they have to find the source of the threat.

This story is a spin off of the Iron Fey series. I haven’t read that series, but I still understood everything in the story. There were some descriptions of events from the past, which I think were from the previous books. This made it accessible to new readers, like me, but I feel like I know what happened in the other books now, so I probably won’t go back and read them.

Puck was a fun character. I’m glad he had his own story in this book. He was a funny trickster. I also liked the blend of the real world with the faerie world. Puck has been to the human world, so he would compare fae items to human items, but the other fairies didn’t know what he was talking about. These parts were really funny and unique to this story.

I really enjoyed this story! It ended with a cliffhanger, so I’m excited to see what happens in the next book.

Thank you Inkyard Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

About the author:

JULIE KAGAWA is the New York Times, USA TODAY and internationally bestselling author of The Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, The Talon Saga and the Shadow of the Fox series. Born in Sacramento, she has been a bookseller and an animal trainer and enjoys reading, painting, playing in her garden and training in martial arts. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and a plethora of pets. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Have you read The Iron Raven? What did you think of it?

Review: The Wide Starlight

Title: The Wide Starlight
Author: Nicole Lesperance
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: VIZ Media
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 16, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Hazel Wood meets The Astonishing Color of After in this dreamy, atmospheric novel that follows sixteen-year-old Eli as she tries to remember what truly happened the night her mother disappeared off a glacier in Norway under the Northern Lights.

Never whistle at the Northern Lights, the story goes, or they’ll sweep down from the sky and carry you away.

Sixteen-year-old Eline Davis knows it’s true. She was there ten years ago, on a frozen fjord in Svalbard, Norway, the night her mother whistled at the lights and then vanished.

Now Eli lives an ordinary life with her dad on Cape Cod. But when the Northern Lights are visible over the Cape for just one night, she can’t resist the possibility of seeing her mother again. So she whistles—and it works. Her mother appears, with snowy hair, frosty fingertips and a hazy story of where she’s been all these years. And she doesn’t return alone.

Along with Eli’s mother’s reappearance come strange, impossible things. Narwhals swimming in Cape Cod Bay, meteorites landing in Eli’s yard, and three shadowy princesses with ominous messages. It’s all too much, too fast, and Eli pushes her mother away. She disappears again—but this time, she leaves behind a note that will send Eli on a journey across continents, to the northern tip of the world:

Find me where I left you.

Review:

When Eline Davis was six years old, her mother brought her out to a glacier in Norway in the middle of the night. Eline was found, but her mother was never seen again. Now, ten years later, Eline lives in Cape Cod with her dad. One night, the Northern Lights appeared in Cape Cod. Eline went to the beach to see the lights and make a wish to see her mother again. Her mother appears to her, but there are also other strange appearances. A group of narwhals appear in a cove, and some mysterious princesses bring Eline strange messages. Eline knows the only way to fix this is to return to Norway and finally find her mother.

This story was a strange blend of magical realism. There were beautiful stories that Eline and her mother had written between the chapters. These stories were based on the real things that happened to them but they had fantasy elements which made me think they weren’t real. These fantasy elements were also part of the theme of mental illness. Hidden between the lines of Eline’s memories were the moments when her mother was suffering and couldn’t take care of her daughter. These were devastating stories to read about, but it shows how mental illness can affect the family of those suffering.

Though this story was about a sixteen year old girl, it had a middle grade tone. At the beginning I thought that Eline was around twelve or thirteen, but then I realized she was actually sixteen because her and her friends could drive. This story read more like a middle grade story than a young adult story.

This was a heartbreaking story.

Thank you Penguin for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Nightmare Thief by Nicole Lesperance

Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu

Have you read The Wide Starlight? What did you think of it?

Review: These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1)

Title: These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1)
Author: Chloe Gong
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: November 17, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

Review:

1926: Two rival gangs rule Shanghai: the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers. Juliette Cai is the heiress to the Scarlet Gang. She has just returned from America to resume her role in her father’s empire. Roma Montagov is the heir of the White Flowers. When members of both gangs are found with their throats torn out on the pier, Juliette and Roma have to put their past behind them and join together to investigate what is infecting the city.

Romeo and Juliet is my favourite Shakespeare play. I’ve read it many times, since my class performed it in elementary school. This story is a loose retelling. It doesn’t follow the story exactly, and there were some changes to the original story. Juliette’s and Roma’s families are rivals but they have to work together to figure out who is targeting their gangs, rather than just randomly falling in love and running away from their families.

I liked the little references to people and places from the original play. There was a character named Paul who liked Juliette. At one point, she refers to him as Paris, who was Juliet’s suitor in the play. Roma and Juliette go to a bar called Mantua, which is where Romeo was exiled to in the play. These references to the original play made me smile.

Some parts of this story were intense. The victims were literally tearing out their throats. There were creepy bugs and people being mysteriously infected with a condition that made them kill themselves. These were some disturbing scenes, but they also made the story intense and suspenseful.

This is a great fantasy adaptation of Romeo and Juliet! I can’t wait to read the next book.

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Have you read These Violent Delights? What did you think of it?

Review: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1)

Title: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length…everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world…and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

Review:

1870: Tessa Gray travelled from New York to London to find her brother after the death of their aunt. She was greeted by two women who said they were sent to retrieve her. The women, called the Dark Sisters, kept Tessa locked up until she learned how to use her secret ability, which was to transform into any person. Just before Tessa is sent to marry the mysterious Magister, she is rescued by the Shadowhunters. With their help, Tessa has to find her brother and help save everyone from the Magister.

I love historical fiction and fantasy, so this story was the perfect combination. It was actually quite creepy at the beginning, when Tessa was learning how to use her power. The setting of Victorian London had a dark atmosphere, which added to the fantasy plot.

This was such a great story. I wish I had read it sooner. I can’t wait to read the next one!

What to read next:

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare

Other books in the series:

  • Clockwork Prince
  • Clockwork Princess

Have you read Clockwork Angel? What did you think of it?