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.
I’ve been looking forward to reading Quan’s story for a long time, and while I really enjoyed reading it, there was just something missing that kept it from being a winner. The Heart Principle was more of an emotional read than the previous two, but it still contained the light-hearted, romantic charm of the rest of the series.
Portrait of a Scotsman was not my favorite book in the series, but it was still as fun a read as its predecessors. Evie Dunmore continues to weave a story full of plucky heroines, slow-burn romance, and themes of feminism.
My favorite aspect of this book was the romance (duh). Lucian and Hattie do not start out on good footing, and it really only gets worse before it begins to get better. I’m a sucker for the angst that arrives along with slow-burn and hostility-to-love romances and I was served a wonderful helping of it in Portrait of a Scotsman. I really loved following Lucian and Hattie’s journey together as they begun to understand one another better and deeper feelings developed.
Title: The Devil Makes Three Author: Tori Bovalino Rating: ★★★★½
Thank you to Page Street Kids for providing me with an ARC through NetGalley!
The Devil Makes Three promised dark academia and demons, and I am more than happy to report that it delivered on that promise! The eerie, atmospheric setting, descriptive writing, and compelling characters all come together to form a very impressive and thrilling read.
Tess is spending her summer working as the library assistant at her new boarding school. There she meets Eliot, a privileged posh student, and circumstances give her no other option than to allow him access to the off-limits grimoires hidden beneath the library. When the two of them accidentally release a demon, they must work together to save themselves and their loved ones.
The aesthetic of The Devil Makes Three is absolutely perfect. Tori Bovalino manages to seamlessly blend elements of contemporary, paranormal, and horror together to create a haunting story that can best be described as dark and creepy. The vivid storytelling makes it exceedingly easy to find yourself transported into the story.
The Devil Makes Three will give you chills, in all the right ways. This book is perfect for readers who enjoy dark academia, battling demonic powers, and eerie settings.
Title: A Dragonbird in the Fern Author: Laura Rueckert Rating: ★★½
ARC provided by Flux through NetGalley.
The premise of A Dragonbird in the Fern sounds amazing and I was really looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, a majority of the story fell flat and therefore it didn’t end up meeting my expectations.
The book has such an interesting plot: Princess Jiara must marry her deceased sister’s fiancé, the king of foreign country, meanwhile attempting to figure out who murdered her sister. Like, could that synopsis sound any cooler? The biggest issue is that a lot of the story didn’t feel fully fleshed out. The characters felt pretty one dimensional and could have used some more development. Plotwise, nothing really happens until the last quarter and by then it became predictable and a little rushed.
A Dragonbird in the Fern had such potential but fell pretty flat. There were still aspects that I enjoyed in the book, such as Jiara and Raffar’s relationship and the language barrier, but for the most part it was predictable and forgettable.