ARC REVIEW: Lakesedge – Lyndall Clipstone

ARC provided by Henry Holt and Co. through NetGalley.

Lakesedge is the latest release in this year’s trend of dark, gothic fantasy stories featuring monster boys and magic. There was a lot to like about this book: the atmospheric setting, the vivid writing, the sibling relationship and found family.

The story follows Violeta, who is fiercely protective of her brother, Arien. Arien is plagued by a dark, dangerous magic that brings nightmares to life and Leta does whatever she can to keep him safe. The bond between them was one of the best parts of the book. The sibling love between them was beautifully written and fit in perfectly with the book’s theme of family–both blood and found. I also really loved the bonds that formed between Leta, Arien, Rowan, Clover, and Florence at Lakesedge. Each of them have their own insecurities and feelings of not belonging, and yet they all fit together.

The writing was strong and did a great job invoking the gothic vibes and atmospheric setting. The magical elements were both intriguing and eerie. I did feel a sense of disconnection with the story, however, which is why I didn’t rate it higher. I wanted to absolutely love this, but it just felt like there was a spark missing.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½

BOOK REVIEW: A Fate of Wrath & Flame – K.A. Tucker

I’m officially casting A Fate of Wrath & Flame as my biggest surprise of the year because, wow, I was not expecting this book at all! K.A. Tucker is an author whose been on my radar for her contemporary romance novels (which I haven’t quite gotten to yet despite their high praise) so curiosity (and all the amazing reviews) got the best of me when I saw this and decided to give it a shot. Let me just say that A Fate of Wrath & Flame has everything you could want in a new adult fantasy book!

The enemies-to-lovers, slow-burn angsty romance between the main character and the love interest and their warring countries reminded me of The Bridge Kingdom, meanwhile the magic and vampiric elements of the world were reminiscent of reading From Blood and Ash. It’s hard not to compare this to FBAA as there are a good amount of similarities. But while I love JLA, there’s no question that FBAA leaves a lot to be desired regarding the worldbuilding and protagonist. The worldbuilding here is incredible. Honestly, one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Everything came together so nicely and organically within the descriptions. I was able to fully understand the politics, the magic system, and the history of the world without getting pages of info dumps. 

There were times where I felt like I didn’t know what was going on plot-wise, but only because the protagonist, Romeria, also had no idea what the hell was happening (understandably, given her circumstances). The feelings of confusion resolved over the course of the book as both myself and Romeria became privy to important pieces of information. And speaking of Romeria, I absolutely loved her character! She was resourceful, courageous, and fierce. Her connection with Zander was palpable and the angsty romance that develops was so freaking amazing. I’m a sucker for a good slow-burn but add some hate-to-love into the mix and we have ourselves a winning combination!

There’s a lot to enjoy in A Fate of Wrath & Flame. The characters, the worldbuilding, the plot. Everything about the book felt extremely well-written, intriguing, and fresh. I’m aching to get my hands on the next book!

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½

2022 Releases by East Asian Authors I’m Excited About

Hello everyone! This year is drawing to a close and I’m beginning to get more excited for the new releases coming out next year. I have a very Type A personality so I’ve been working on my 2022 spreadsheet since January 😂 I’m always looking to diversify my reading and I’m thrilled to see more and more POC authors with books coming out. Today I’ll be featuring 2022 new releases that are written by East Asian authors!

Continue reading “2022 Releases by East Asian Authors I’m Excited About”

ARC REVIEW: All of Us Villains – Christine Lynn Herman & Amanda Foody

ARC provided by Tor Teen through NetGalley.

For a book marketed as a bloodier The Hunger Games, it was really lacking in the maiming and killing.

The premise of All of Us Villains is good. I was captivated by the synopsis and the magical tournament aspect and all that it entails was really intriguing. I kept seeing reviews calling this dark and bloody, but I think we read different books? None of the characters acted ruthless or unapologetically maniacal enough to be considered villains like the title suggests. I also struggled with the multiple POVs, most likely because I wasn’t invested in any of the characters other than Alistair.

The pacing felt off as well. It started out pretty slow and the action doesn’t really pick up until the tournament actually begins…which is almost halfway through the book. Then once the action started, it felt like the pacing and plot were moving too fast.

All in all, I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t this. I love both these authors so I was really disappointed that I didn’t enjoy this.

⭐️ ⭐️

ARC REVIEW: Iron Widow – Xiran Jay Zhao

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ARC provided by Penguin Teen through NetGalley.

There are so many exciting elements to Iron Widow which made me really excited to read this. First of all, the tag line is Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid’s Tale loosely based on the first and only female Chinese Emperor. That alone made me immediately add this to my TBR. But also, it features mech pilots, fighting the patriarchy, and a polyamorous relationship.

“My body is mine and mine alone. I have chosen to use it for murder and vengeance. And I will succeed by any means necessary.”

Iron Widow started out strong and quickly hooked me into its story. Zetian can only be described as a badass. She’s hellbent on vengeance and is willing to do whatever she needs to to achieve those goals. She’s unapologetic and incredibly well-written. In fact, the strength of Iron Widow lies in the characters. Xiran Jay Zhao not only did a great job with writing her heroine, but the side characters as well are extremely fleshed out. 10/10 I would lay down my life for Li Shimin.

The plot throughout the book was very fast paced. It worked well for the first half of the story, but by the second half it only caused confusion. My biggest issue was that not much of the worldbuilding and science was not fully explained. Coupled with the fast pace, it felt like a whole lot was happening in the plot, but at the same time I couldn’t follow along.

“Female. That label has never done anything for me except dictate what I can or cannot do.”

I really loved the overall themes of feminism and the protogonist, Zetian. However, my brain started to get fatigued by the end of the book trying to figure out everything that was going on.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½