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

ARC REVIEW: The Heart Principle – Helen Hoang

ARC provided by Berkley through NetGalley.

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.

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ARC REVIEW: Portrait of a Scotsman – Evie Dunmore

ARC provided by Berkley through NetGalley.

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.

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BOOK REVIEW: Gods & Monsters – Shelby Mahurin

Title: Gods & Monsters (Serpent & Dove #3)
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Rating: ★★★★

After the disappointment of Blood & Honey, I went into this book with a fair bit of apprehension. I’ll be honest that I started reading without any sort of expectations, and because of that I found myself pleasantly surprised when I realized I was really enjoying the book. Gods & Monsters brought back everything readers loved about the first book–the fast-paced plot, action, romantic tension and angst, high stakes and magical battles–and in doing so became the perfect conclusion to this trilogy!

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BOOK REVIEW: The Prison Healer – Lynette Noni ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½

Title: The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer #1)
Author: Lynette Noni
Rating: ★★★★½

First Realm Breaker, and now The Prison Healer. These two books are single handedly restoring my faith and enjoyment in YA Fantasy. I had absolutely no expectations going into this. It was never a book on my radar, but I kept seeing positive reviews of it on Goodreads and decided to take a chance and request a hold at my library. Best decision ever.

Kiva has been imprisoned in the notoriously dangerous Zalindov prison since she was child. Now working as the prison’s healer, she goes about her life trying to survive one day at a day while holding out hope that her family will come for her.

The Prison Healer is a fast-paced, compelling story that had me flying through the pages. The story is full of political intrigue, uprisings, and survival. The plot was extremely well constructed and I was so impressed by all the small connections between different elements and reveals. Although there’s only one setting throughout the book–Zalindov prison–the world was very well developed. There’s also magic system that begins to come in play midway through the book and I thought its subtle introduction was smartly written.

All of the characters are likable and compelling. Kiva is our protagonist and I absolutely loved her determination, caring nature, and practical mind. She made an excellent heroine and I am so excited about her path in the next book. The Prison Healer also has a cast of side characters important to the story and I have not one bad word about any of them.

The ending of The Prison Healer had me shook. I had about ten different predictions of where the direction of the next book would go and not a single one predicted that twist. The ending is actually the second major twist int he story and the fact that I was completely bamboozled by both is what made the book even more enjoyable as I love being caught off guard!

The Prison Healer deserves all of the hype it has been getting. Political intrigue, rebellions, magical tournaments, and a strong female lead at the center of it all makes this book a truly excellent story. Highly recommend for an fan of YA Fantasy or looking for a fun, fast-paced read!