Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst

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I first heard of this book because of the outrage over its Kirkus review alluding to the fact that the MC’s bisexuality is undermined by the fact that she falls in love with a guy. As a queer woman in a m/f marriage, this made me immediately put this book on my to-read list.

It took a while but I finally did it! I finished this book.

(But I almost didn’t.)

Here’s what I loved about it. It starts off with a beautiful portrayal of an f/f relationship in a really intriguing world full of gods and magic. As it continues, we are taken on a journey and get to see so much as we follow two characters falling in love. It had everything I love about fantasy and more.

And yet, as I got to the 40% mark I started skimming. First sentences, then paragraphs, then entire PAGES. Something about it just made me want to know what happens but not how? I don’t know. I felt disconnected from the writing, which has never happened to me before. It’s like even though it was in first person, it felt like an omniscient narrator telling us about days and weeks passing and I just kind of wanted more connection.

I did end up finishing it, and I’m glad I did. I think it’s just personal preference that the writing style wasn’t for me, even though the story itself was. I’m going to check out Of Fire and Stars and see if it’s a little better.

Overall, a good story and a great addition to queer fantasy we need so much more of.

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The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

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This book. Why is the second one not out yet? Whyyyyyyyy??? I need it! I must have it right nooow.

When I started reading it I thought it was a sort of gender-reverse Aladdin. A thief finds a djinn while a prince sneaks around among the people. Of course there’s so much more to it that has nothing to do with Aladdin, but that’s what drew me in. And boy was it good.

First things first: this is an adult fantasy. That means it’s written to be a challenging and thought-provoking read. Many reviewers on Goodreads found it boring, the writing too descriptive and complicated, but to me it was perfect. I was transported into this world and I was hungry to see all the things the author was willing to show me. I am beyond thankful for the history and beauty that I got to experience.

And the characters. By God the characters. There were no cookie-cutter cliches in this book. Not one. Every character felt so real, so flawed, I didn’t know who to root for. There were no ‘bad guys’ and half the time I wasn’t sure if there were ‘good guys’ either. Everyone had their own ideals and motivations, and I couldn’t blame them for it.

The longer I read the more I started to fear that the book will end too soon. I had to keep going, I even stayed up late because I HAD to know what happened at a certain point. I’m still in shock at the finale.

Overall, a fantastic book that’s sure to make a fantastic trilogy. This was introduction that ended with a bang, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us next.

Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

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Zera’s heart is in a glass jar belonging to a witch, and the only way to get it back and reclaim her freedom is to exchange it with a prince’s.

You know what sucks? When a book could have a name that perfectly embodies it but it can’t because it’s already taken and a bestseller (*cough Heartless cough*) so it has to take on a really weird long winded one instead (like Bring Me Their Hearts, when really it’s just one heart?). Honestly, Entangled should have just gone with The Heartless, but I can see why they didn’t. It just sucks.

Anyway, after reading the beautiful-but-super-bleak Cruel Prince, I wanted something light and sassy, and this book was IT. It pushes all the right buttons of traditional tropes in all the fun ways and I enjoyed it immensely. It had an interesting blend between magic and tech, and I really loved the characters. Everyone had their own goals and took significant plot-defining steps towards them, which is something rare to see with secondary characters in YA. Also queer and disabled rep – yes please!

I will definitely be picking up the next book, though since this was an ARC (thanks Netgalley!) it’s going to be a while before it comes out. Overall, I loved it and I’m excited for more!

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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She’s looking around the forest, as though if she can prove it isn’t magic, then nothing else is, either. Which is stupid. All forests are magic.

This book. It hurt in all the ways.

This my first Holly Black book and I’ve seen so much hype for it that I decided to jump on the bandwagon. I mean, I love the fey and YA fantasy so how could I not?

There was so much I loved about it. The fey world and human world mashup was amazing. All the different races and their nuances and magic. The rules and foods and enchantments. I just could not get enough. I loved the writing, and the twists, and overall it was a great book.

However…I don’t know if I’ll be picking up the next one.

Despite all the things I loved about it, I read YA fantasy because to me, it’s escapism. It feels good, like I’ve lived alongside it with the characters.

But in this book? Nothing felt good. It was just so damn bleak. All the relationships between the characters were strained, if not full on disdain/hate. When the few good things were happening, I knew they were lies/manipulations. Every chapter I had a bad feeling that something was going to get worse – and it always did. I mean come on, not ONE real positive friendship in the whole book.

This is just a personal thing, though. I know tons of people love to GET ALL THE FEELS, even if they’re depressing. However, that’s not me. I have enough of that in real life to spend my time being sad in my imaginary life. It’s why fairy-tales are my jam. I can count on them to bring me the hope and warm fuzzies at the end, despite the war/sacrifice/death in the middle. I’m currently reading Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf and that’s WAY more up my alley than this one.

Overall, I’m glad I read it just to have it under my belt, and I would recommend it for readers who like YA teen drama but with fey high school instead of human.

Everless by Sara Holland

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I couldn’t help loving this book. For me, it was Feyre from ACOTAR transported to a fantasy-style In Time (the Justin Timberlake movie) and it was so cool. There was a ton of mystery and intriguing characters and twists I didn’t see coming.

And the writing – I loved the writing! It kills me when I go on Goodreads after reading a book I loved and see that the low reviews cite writing as a negative. Not just because I disagree, but because it shows to me that no matter how I write my books, half the readers will find my prose insufferable. And it hurts. It makes me not want to write. I know you can’t please everyone, but when it comes to ‘this is amazing!’ and ‘this is terrible!’ there has to be some sort of middle ground, right?

Apparently not.

Anyway, this book had your standard enemies-to-lovers trope, which I didn’t mind because the guy wasn’t actually an asshole. It’s true that this is my favorite genre and so I’m biased, but if YA fantasy is your jam, you’ll enjoy this book.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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I have three words for this book: suspension of disbelief.

As long as you have that (and like the genre) you’ll enjoy it.

I liked the story itself. I liked the writing, and the characters, and the world. That cover is amazing too. I liked the love triangle and the surprising amount of deaths throughout. Most of the things that bothered other reviewers on Goodreads I didn’t mind.

However, throughout the whole thing I just could not believe that Mare could tell the world that she didn’t know she was Silver blooded for her entire life. Like…do periods not exist in that world? And then they kept putting her in positions where she was about to bleed? I just…I had to force myself NOT to think about it to enjoy the book.

And then there’s Silvers who can control minds. Do they not have safeguards against those kinds of powers? You know, in case one of them KILLS ANYONE THEY WANT? There’s no freaking way those people would be allowed in positions of power like that.  In ACOTAR I could believe it because there was a way to fight the control. But here? It’s just silly to let these guys roam free and manipulate whoever they want.

I understand that there has to be some things you just have to take as is, and when my disbelief is set aside it’s actually an enjoyable read. I won’t be picking up the next one, but I’m glad I read this book to get a better feel for good antagonists.

Overall it was a good read that I’m glad to have finally crossed off my shelf.

The Genius Plague by David Walton

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I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since I saw the author’s AMA on Reddit. I’m not a huge sci-fi reader, but the premise was too intriguing to pass up: a fungi infection can make you super-smart, but it also takes over your mind and affects your actions to ensure its survival. It’s a symbiotic relationship, except for the fact that you can’t control how you feel about things like killing people when they want to give you antifungals.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable read. It played out like any apocalypse movie, where you just don’t ask questions and enjoy it for what it is. Action and thrills and *insert charismatic white male actor* protagonist you can’t not like. A fun book that brings up some really interesting concepts.

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