Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

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Yes yes YES! I am SO GLAD I gave this book a chance because now I see the -point- of Inkmistress. In this book we’re thrown into a land of magic without any explanation, and without the worldbuilding I got in Inkmistress I would have been lost. Lucky for me, I read it first, and this book was such a JOY to read afterwards.

The basic premise is Denna is engaged to a prince she doesn’t care for, but his horse-taming sister is way more her style. Also there’s imminent war and magic and all that other fantasy goodness.

This is the first f/f YA fantasy with a queer but not outwardly bi main character princess I’ve seen. The romance was fantastic, and while I didn’t quite connect to Denna, I absolutely LOVED Mare (the OTHER princess). Their slow-burning romance was what made this book. Every chapter I was like YES THIS IS AWESOME. And it was. I was awesome.

We need more books like this. More fantasy aimed at teens with positive queer relationships like this. It was a good story and I’m glad it’s out there in the world. Yes, it’s your typical YA fantasy but it’s exactly what queer girls need in their life – a book where they’re represented as normal human beings. Five fiery stars!

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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.

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!

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 Princess Game by Melanie Cellier

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Every cover for this series is freaking beautiful. Just wow. I can’t get enough of them.

The story had a great twist on the original that made me read this before any of the others. The Sleeping Princess isn’t actually asleep, the curse just makes it so she acts like a dimwit instead of the intelligent young woman that she is.

Unless she’s in disguise that is.

I just loved this idea, and while I enjoyed the plot and the romance, I found myself skimming more and more until I was turning pages with barely a glance. There was just too much hanging around and talking and not enough to keep me interested. I just wanted to know what happens!

Anyway, it really was a great twist, and anyone who likes retellings would enjoy this book. I’m excited for The Little Mermaid and The Swan Princess coming out this year. Yes please!