Review: Iron Widow (Iron Widow #1)

Title: Iron Widow (Iron Widow #1)
Author: Xiran Jay Zhao
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Penguin Teen
Source: Tandem Collective
Format: Paperback
Release Date: September 21, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. 

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​ 

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.


Eighteen-year-old Zetian volunteers to be a concubine-pilot to avenge her sister’s death. Females act as concubine-pilots to assist the male pilots in controlling giant transforming robots as they battle aliens. When Zetian kills the pilot who killed her sister easily, she’s given the title of Iron Widow. She’s paired up with Li Shimin, an infamous and dangerous pilot. Zetian wants to use her new power as the Iron Widow to figure out why they live in a misogynistic society that is willing to sacrifice women. 

I reread this book with the Tandem Readalong to refresh my memory of it before the sequel comes out. The sequel, Heavenly Tyrant, is scheduled to come out in April 2024. I’m so glad I had the chance to reread this book. It’s such a powerful story about challenging gender stereotypes and norms. Iron Widow ended with a bang that makes me wish the sequel was coming out sooner. I can’t wait to read it next year!

I highly recommend reading Iron Widow if you haven’t yet!

Thank you Tandem Collective and Penguin Random Canada for sending me a copy of this book. 

Content warnings: death of sibling, death of parents, sexual assault (off page), alcohol abuse, physical abuse, torture

What to read next:

The Witch King (The Witch King #1) by H.E. Edgmon

Have you read Iron Widow? What did you think of it?


Review: Doctor Who: Origins

Title: Doctor Who: Origins
Author: Jody Houser, Roberta Ingranata
Genre: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Publisher: Titan Comics
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 10, 2023
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

This latest Doctor Who graphic novel brings a fresh new take on the beloved time-traveler, with a brand-new never-before-seen adventure!

An epic adventure with the traveling Time Lord, this graphic novel is the explosive new story that reveals the very early years of the Doctor. Past, present and future all collide in a Doctor Who tale that’s out of this world!

Bursting straight out of the long-running hit television series, this Doctor Who collection continues the time-traveling tales of the Doctor and friends.

Buy it, read it, then travel back in time to read it for the first time all over again…!


The Fugitive Doctor makes her debut in this graphic novel about the Doctor’s early years. She has to explore different worlds where Time Lords are living. However, this mission takes a dark turn that the Doctor isn’t expecting. She must find a way to solve the problems while saving the Time Lords at the same time. 

The Fugitive Doctor comes before the First Doctor from the TV series. There was a small cameo from the First Doctor that gave the timeline for when this story takes place. This Doctor had a distinctive personality, who did things her own way, while also holding onto the integrity of the character. It was a good story, but I would have liked to see more about the origins of this version of the Doctor and where she came from. 

This was a great Doctor Who graphic novel! 

Thank you Titan Comics for providing a digital copy of this book.

What to read next:

Doctor Who: Alternating Current by Jody Houser

Other books in the series:

  • Doctor Who: Alternating Current
  • Doctor Who: Missy
  • Doctor Who: Empire of the Wolf

Have you read Doctor Who: Origins? What did you think of it?

Review: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1)

Title: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1)
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: June 5, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwaba young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.


Kate Harker will do anything to get her father’s attention so he will bring her back home, including burning down her school’s chapel. Her father brings her back to the divided city of Verity where he allows the monsters to roam free and has humans pay for his protection. Meanwhile, August Flynn is the “son” of the ruler of the other half of the city. August is a monster, with the power to steal a soul with a violin song. When the Flynn family find out that Kate will be attending school in the city, they send August to masquerade as a student and get close to her. However, power is shifting in their city. When Kate’s life is put in danger, August has to put his secret at risk to figure out who is trying to kill them. 

This was such a thrilling and suspenseful story. It was an original and complex world. A lot of the rules and history of the world weren’t described until halfway through the story. I would have liked to learn that earlier so I could really understand the world. I still really enjoyed this story!

This Savage Song is a great story! I can’t wait to read the sequel!

What to read next:

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

Other books in the series:

  • Our Dark Duet

Have you read This Savage Song? What did you think of it?

Review: Dead Flip

Title: Dead Flip
Author: Sara Farizan
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Thomas Allen and Son
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: August 30, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Edge-of-your-seat YA horror perfect for fans of Stranger Things
Growing up, Cori, Maz, and Sam were inseparable best friends, sharing their love for Halloween, arcade games, and one another. Now it’s 1992, Sam has been missing for five years, and Cori and Maz aren’t speaking anymore. How could they be, when Cori is sure Sam is dead and Maz thinks he may have been kidnapped by a supernatural pinball machine?
These days, all Maz wants to do is party, buy CDs at Sam Goody, and run away from his past. Meanwhile, Cori is a homecoming queen, hiding her abiding love of horror movies and her queer self under the bubblegum veneer of a high school queen bee. But when Sam returns—still twelve years old while his best friends are now seventeen—Maz and Cori are thrown back together to solve the mystery of what really happened to Sam the night he went missing. Beneath the surface of that mystery lurk secrets the friends never told one another, then and now. And Sam’s is the darkest of all . . .
Award-winning author of If You Could Be Mine and Here to StaySara Farizan delivers edge-of-your-seat terror as well as her trademark referential humor, witty narration, and insightful characters.


Cori, Maz, and Sam were inseparable friends growing up. Now, it’s 1992, and Sam has been missing for five years. In that time, Cori and Maz have drifted apart. One day when Maz is jogging, he runs into twelve-year-old Sam, who has returned, looking exactly like he did when he went missing. Maz and Cori have to figure out what happened to Sam that night, and how he has changed since then. 

This book is perfect for fans of Stranger Things! There were so many nods to the show. There were even some parts that reminded me of the latest season of Stranger Things, even though this book was written before that aired. 

This story was creepy and mysterious, but the ending made sense. It would probably appeal to a variety of age groups, since the characters are in middle school in some chapters, but in high school for most of the book. The story ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, so there could be a sequel. I would love to find out what happens next!

Fans of Stranger Things should check out this fun and creepy story!

Thank you Thomas Allen and Son for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Whispering Pines by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski

Have you read Dead Flip? What did you think of it?

Review: Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match

Title: Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match
Author: Sally Thorne
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction
Publisher: Avon Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: September 6, 2022
Rating: ★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

From USA Today bestselling author of The Hating Game Sally Thorne comes something a little unexpected… a historical rom-com that imagines Victor Frankenstein’s sheltered younger sister, and her attempts to create the perfect man. 

For generations, every Frankenstein has found their true love and equal, unlocking lifetimes of blissful wedded adventure. Clever, pretty (and odd) Angelika Frankenstein has run out of suitors and fears she may become the exception to this family rule. When assisting in her brother Victor’s ground-breaking experiment to bring a reassembled man back to life, she realizes that having an agreeable gentleman convalescing in the guest suite might be a chance to let a man get to know the real her. For the first time, Angelika embarks upon a project that is all her own.

When her handsome scientific miracle sits up on the lab table, her hopes for an instant romantic connection are thrown into disarray. Her resurrected beau (named Will for the moment) has total amnesia and is solely focused on uncovering his true identity. Trying to ignore their heart-pounding chemistry, Angelika reluctantly joins the investigation into his past, hoping it will bring them closer. But when a second suitor emerges to aid their quest, Angelika wonders if she was too hasty inventing a solution. Perhaps fate is not something that can be influenced in a laboratory? Or is Will (or whatever his name is!) her dream man, tailored for her in every way? And can he survive what was done to him in the name of science, and love?

Filled with carriages, candlesticks, and corpses, Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match is the spooky-season reimagining of the well-known classic that reminds us to never judge a man by his cadaver! 


Angelika Frankenstein is the assistant to her brother Victor in all of his experiments. When he wants to bring a man back to life, Angelika joins in on the fun. She hasn’t been able to find an appropriate suitor and now she’s run out of men in her town, so she decides to choose her own corpse to bring back to life. However, the man who she revives is more focused on figuring out his identity from before he died than being her husband. Though he is her perfect match, Angelika does everything she can to help him discover his former life. 

I loved the premise of this book, but it wasn’t executed as well as I expected. The romance between Angelika and Will, her creation, was stilted and forced. One minute they would be kissing, and the next minute he would tell her why they couldn’t be together. This happened over and over again, so it was tiring to read. 

The other characters tried to be quirky but I didn’t feel that they stood out on their own. Some of the side characters didn’t really serve a purpose to move the plot forward. Those storylines could have been cut shorter to make the story more concise. 

Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match wasn’t what I hoped it would be. 

Thank you HarperCollins Canada for giving me a copy of this book.

Have you read Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match? What did you think of it?

Review: Cake Eater

Title: Cake Eater
Author: Allyson Dahlin
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Once Upon a Book Club Box
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: August 9, 2022
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

She has a million followers on social media.

She uses her fashion-forward eye to pick the perfect angle and filter on every photo.

She’s iconic.

She’s a trend-setter.

She’s Marie Antoinette, the year is 3070, and she’s arrived in the Franc Kingdom to marry the prince, secure an alliance, and rake in likes from her fans.

Versailles is not the perfect palace Marie’s seen on The Apps. Her life is a maze of pointless rules, and the court watches her every move for mistakes. Her shy husband Louis is more interested in horses and computer-hacking than producing heirs. Versailles seems like a dream full of neon-lit statues, handsome android soldiers, and parties till dawn. Under the surface, it’s a creepy den of secrets: surveillance in Marie’s bedroom, censored news feeds, disappearing courtiers.

When Marie and Louis become king and queen long before they’re ready to rule, any efforts to aid their suffering subjects are stamped out by the mega-corporations of the First Estate. Between riots in Paris and image-wrecking social media firestorms, Marie can’t afford to lose her head. Using her social media savvy and Louis’ hacking knowledge, they try to fix their reputations and change their kingdom for the better, but the royals may find it’s already too late. They’re ruling over the end of an era.


In the year 3070, social media influencer Marie Antoinette is sent to the Franc Kingdom to marry the dauphin Louis. Versailles is not what she expected from what she saw on the Apps. She isn’t able to do the same kinds of social media promotion like she could at home. Her new husband is more interested in working on technology than being with his new wife. Marie is under constant surveillance, but she doesn’t know who’s watching. On top of all that, there are riots in the streets for reasons that are kept from Marie and the rest of the Royal family. Marie and Louis have to work together using their technology knowledge to save their kingdom. 

This was a fun reimagining of Marie Antoinette in the future. The comparisons of technology and the things that the first Marie Antoinette did in her life were clever. One of the main themes in this story was how history can repeat itself. I think that’s so apparent today, when things that are happening in the world today are reminiscent of historical events. 

The only issue I had with this book was the year it was set. It was set in the distant future of 3070, over 1000 years from today. This world was quite similar to ours with the same technology and similar social media sites. Thinking back to 1000 years in the past, our world is completely different from then, so I don’t think the world in 1000 years in the future will be that similar. We probably can’t even imagine the types of technology that will be around then, just like the people 1000 years ago couldn’t imagine our technology now. 

Cake Eater is a fun sci-fi reimagining of Marie Antoinette

What to read next:

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Have you read Cake Eater? What did you think of it?

Review: Blood Like Fate (Blood Like Magic #2)

Title: Blood Like Fate (Blood Like Magic #2)
Author: Liselle Sambury
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: August 9, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Voya fights to save her witch community from a terrible future.

Voya Thomas may have passed her Calling to become a full-fledged witch, but the cost was higher than she’d ever imagined.

Her grandmother is gone.
Her cousin hates her.
And her family doesn’t believe that she has what it takes to lead them.

What’s more, Voya can’t let go of her feelings for Luc, sponsor son of the genius billionaire Justin Tremblay—the man that Luc believes Voya killed. Consequently, Luc wants nothing to do with her. Even her own ancestors seem to have lost faith in her. Every day Voya begs for their guidance, but her calls go unanswered.

As Voya struggles to convince everyone—herself included—that she can be a good Matriarch, she has a vision of a terrifying, deadly future. A vision that would spell the end of the Toronto witches. With a newfound sense of purpose, Voya must do whatever it takes to bring her shattered community together and stop what’s coming for them before it’s too late.

Even if it means taking down the boy she loves—who might be the mastermind behind the coming devastation.


Voya Thomas passed her Calling and now is not only a witch but the Matriarch of the family. Though she has replaced her grandmother as the leader of the family, they don’t listen to her. Her ancestors who she calls upon for advice have been ignoring her, so she doesn’t know what to do next. Then, Voya has a vision of her home burning and her entire family dying. She needs to figure out how to stop it from happening, which means returning to the boy she loves, who may be behind it all. 

Blood Like Magic was one of my favourite reads last year, and this sequel lived up to my expectations. It was easy to jump back into the story because the characters were so vivid and distinct. I particularly love the setting of Toronto, my hometown. This story doesn’t feature typical Toronto settings, like the CN Tower, but instead they visit locally known locations like Dixie Outlet Mall and Trinity Bellwoods Park. I love how this feels authentically like Toronto. 

I appreciated the blended family in this story. There extended witch families were in this story a lot more because they had to work together to protect the broader witch community. Voya’s family lives in a huge house that includes her aunts and uncles, as well as her mom, dad, and her dad’s second wife and daughter. I liked seeing this positive perspective of a healthy blended family. 

I was getting worried close to the end of the story because I didn’t think there was enough space left for the story to be complete. However, it all came together at the end. I really hope that we will revisit Voya and her family in the future because I love these characters!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua

A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth

Other books in the series:

Have you read Blood Like Fate? What did you think of it?

Review: Burn Down, Rise Up

Title: Burn Down, Rise Up
Author: Vincent Tirado
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Raincoast Books
Format: Paperback ARC
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Stranger Things meets Get Out in this Sapphic Horror debut from nonbinary, Afro-Latine author Vincent Tirado.

Mysterious disappearances.

An urban legend rumored to be responsible.

And one group of teens determined to save their city at any cost.

For over a year, the Bronx has been plagued by sudden disappearances that no one can explain. Sixteen-year-old Raquel does her best to ignore it. After all, the police only look for the white kids. But when her crush Charlize’s cousin goes missing, Raquel starts to pay attention—especially when her own mom comes down with a mysterious illness that seems linked to the disappearances.

Raquel and Charlize team up to investigate, but they soon discover that everything is tied to a terrifying urban legend called the Echo Game. The game is rumored to trap people in a sinister world underneath the city, and the rules are based on a particularly dark chapter in New York’s past. And if the friends want to save their home and everyone they love, they will have to play the game and destroy the evil at its heart—or die trying.


Fifteen-year-old Racquel has been ignoring the recent disappearances in her home of the Bronx for the last year. When Cisco, the cousin of her crush Charlize, goes missing and her mom comes down with a mysterious illness that’s linked to the disappearance, Racquel has to figure out what’s going on. Racquel and Charlize team up to play the Echo Game, which Cisco was playing when he went missing. She starts having visions of a burning version of the Bronx, which is hidden in the underground game. The game starts to blend into their reality, so they have to finish the game and make it out alive before it kills them. 

This story was so intense and hard to put down. The Echo Game was a terrifying ride through the subway, and the rules had to be followed precisely so that they wouldn’t get trapped there. The underground version of the Bronx was burning and full of the walking dead, so that added to the tension. 

The history of the Bronx was an important part of this story. I’ve never been there and I didn’t know the horrific history. The buildings were turned into slums and many were burned down in fires in the 1970s. There was even a bridge built that was too low to allow buses through so people couldn’t travel under the bridge. These were systemic problems that are still affecting them today. I appreciated that this history was woven into the narrative. 

Burn Down, Rise Up is an intense page-turner!

Thank you Raincoast Books and Sourcebooks Fire for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Survive the Dome by Kosoko Jackson

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Have you read Burn Down, Rise Up? What did you think of it?

Review: The Kindred

Title: The Kindred
Author: Alechia Dow
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 4, 2022
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

To save a galactic kingdom from revolution, Kindred mind-pairings were created to ensure each and every person would be seen and heard, no matter how rich or poor…

Joy Abara knows her place. A commoner from the lowly planet Hali, she lives a simple life—apart from the notoriety that being Kindred to the nobility’s most infamous playboy brings.

Duke Felix Hamdi has a plan. He will exasperate his noble family to the point that they agree to let him choose his own future and finally meet his Kindred face-to-face.

Then the royal family is assassinated, putting Felix next in line for the throne…and accused of the murders. Someone will stop at nothing until he’s dead, which means they’ll target Joy, too. Meeting in person for the first time as they steal a spacecraft and flee amid chaos might not be ideal…and neither is crash-landing on the strange backward planet called Earth. But hiding might just be the perfect way to discover the true strength of the Kindred bond and expose a scandal—and a love—that may decide the future of a galaxy.


On the distant planet of Hali, Kindreds are mind-pairings that connect two people throughout their lives, whether they are rich or poor. Joy Abara is an ordinary girl, but she’s known for being the Kindred of Duke Felix Hamdi. They are closer than two people can be. Some people marry their Kindred, but Joy and Felix can’t marry since he’s from a noble family. Despite that, they still want to meet and continue their close relationship. However, when the royal family is assassinated, Felix is next in line for the throne and he is also the prime suspect. Joy is also a target since she is so close to Felix. He finds Joy and they escape to a distant planet called Earth. They have to navigate Earth while also fleeing from the those hunting for them and learning to love each other.

This was a fun science fiction story. The idea of Kindreds was exciting and terrifying. The Kindreds had a special and unique bond. They experienced everything together, even if they had never met. They could hear each other’s thoughts and feel each other’s feelings. The downside is that they can feel each other’s pain, and potentially die if their Kindred dies. This made Joy vulnerable when Felix was in trouble and created a lot of conflict and tension.

Music was an important part of this story, just like it was in Alechia Dow’s novel The Sound of Stars. This story also featured some of the same musicians that were in that book, so they were set in the same world. I love it when there are subtle connections between books like that. The ending of this book was also open to a continuation, so I hope there will be more books set in this world.

The Kindred is an exciting new story!

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book.

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer

Have you read The Kindred? What did you think of it?

Review: The Annual Migration of Clouds

Title: The Annual Migration of Clouds
Author: Premee Mohamed
Genre: Science Fiction, Novella
Publisher: ECW Press
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 28, 2021
Rating: ★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

In post-climate disaster Alberta, a woman infected with a mysterious parasite must choose whether to pursue a rare opportunity far from home or stay and help rebuild her community.

The world is nothing like it once was: climate disasters have wracked the continent, causing food shortages, ending industry, and leaving little behind. Then came Cad, mysterious mind-altering fungi that invade the bodies of the now scattered citizenry. Reid, a young woman who carries this parasite, has been given a chance to get away – to move to one of the last remnants of pre-disaster society – but she can’t bring herself to abandon her mother and the community that relies on her.

When she’s offered a coveted place on a dangerous and profitable mission, she jumps at the opportunity to set her family up for life, but how can Reid ask people to put their trust in her when she can’t even trust her own mind?


Many years in the future, the world has faced climate disasters, resulting in food shortages and parasite diseases. Reid lives with her mom, and both of them are infected with Cad, a parasite that tries to control what they do with their bodies. When Reid is accepted to a university in one of the only preserved cities left, she’s eager to leave. Most of the people in their community are proud of Reid, but her mother is suspicious of this too-good-to-be-true offer. Reid has to figure out how to make sure her mom is taken care of while she’s gone, while also contemplating if she should leave her mom and the community.

This story has a disturbing look at what the future could look like. They didn’t have any of the conveniences we take advantage of, including available food and running water. There had been viruses that had killed people, and Reid was currently infected with a parasite. This story had a creepy possible future that could happen if we don’t look after the planet.

I predicted the way this story ended fairly early on. It was a literary style book, and it had an open ending. I didn’t get the closure that I wanted. I would have loved to see this story continue because I want to know what happens next, though I know that’s the style of the story.

The Annual Migration of Clouds is a creepy dystopia story.

Gutter Child by Jael Richardson

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Have you read The Annual Migration of Clouds? What did you think of it?