Book Review

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction + Mythology + Fantasy
Length: 352 pages
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: July 23rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

A SWEET STORY.

This was my Book of the Month YA pick for September!

I thought this was a nice read, and I thought the writing was gorgeous. It was very whimsical and had a magical fairy-tale vibe to it that I enjoyed. What I struggled with was the pacing. This book is slooooow. Everything happens in slow motion and the story takes a bit to pick up and get going.

The concept of all of these magical doors to other worlds across Earth was stellar. I loved that idea and wish I could have explored even more of the worlds! We only got a taste of a few and I thought they would play a deeper part in the story as a whole. It was all very dream-like and I loved the bits of magic that were added in to help January along her way. Being a word-worker sounds like the coolest job ever.

There’s a big focus on reconnecting a lost family and this was the solid bones of the novel. I found this moving and was hoping that January was going to get her happy ending. I wasn’t sure how part of the story was going to weave into the mix, but after the small plot twist it all started making sense. I appreciated her tenacity to find her parents and have them in her life again.

I wish the villain had a bigger back-story. I definitely thought he was interesting and it took me a bit to catch on to what he was trying to accomplish. I felt he played a good role and added a bit of creepiness to the story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fantasy
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: a few kisses, nights spent together with pretty much no detail (I barely realized that it was implied they did have sex)
  • Violence: beating of an animal, having someone wrongly sent to an asylum, psychological abuse/manipulation, gun violence, colonialism
  • Trigger warnings: throughout the book are multiple instances of racism and sexism

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BOTM

Special Announcement: September BOTM YA Book Picks (And what I chose this month!)

This post may contain referral/affiliate links. If you buy something, I may earn a commission.

Howdy! We have school’s back in session, the air maybe getting a touch cooler, and Hobby Lobby already making sure you have your Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas supplies READY.

But a new month also means new BOTM YA books! I am excited about this months picks (I’ve even read one of them already) and can’t wait for my book to get here. Check out below the options and if you’re interested please make sure you to use the link below!

Book of the Month YA

Fantasy:

The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

I received an eARC through Netgalley, find my review here!

The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.


Contemporary Romance:

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

After a year of college, Pablo is working at his local twenty-four-hour deli, selling overpriced snacks to brownstone yuppies. He’s dodging calls from the student loan office and he has no idea what his next move is.

Leanna Smart’s life so far has been nothing but success. Age eight: Disney Mouseketeer; Age fifteen: first #1 single on the US pop chart; Age seventeen, *tenth* #1 single; and now, at Age nineteen…life is a queasy blur of private planes, weird hotel rooms, and strangers asking for selfies on the street.

When Leanna and Pab randomly meet at 4:00 a.m. in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn, they both know they can’t be together forever. So, they keep things on the down-low and off Instagram for as long as they can. But it takes about three seconds before the world finds out…


Historical Fantasy:

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (Debut!)

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.


Contemporary Fiction:

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

Told in two distinct and irresistible voices, Junauda Petrus’s bold and lyrical debut is the story of two black girls from very different backgrounds finding love and happiness in a world that seems determined to deny them both.

Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she’s going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. Audre’s grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won’t lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. “America have dey spirits too, believe me,” she tells Audre.

Minneapolis. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels–about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that’s plagued her all summer. Mabel’s reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner. 

Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it’s Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.

Junauda Petrus’s debut brilliantly captures the distinctly lush and lyrical voices of Mabel and Audre as they conjure a love that is stronger than hatred, prison, and death and as vast as the blackness between the stars.


Contemporary Romance:

Frankly in Love by David Yoon (Debut!)

High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.

My pick for September is: The Ten Thousand Doors of January! I hadn’t even heard about it until reading over the options for this month and it sounds like a great pick. I’m going to be reading it with a friend and we’re both excited to check out this debut.

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Book Review

Book Review: Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + mystery
Length: 296 pages
Author: William Ritter
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

I’ve found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I’ve known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality . . .

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural. First, members of a particularly vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens. A day later, their owner is found murdered, with a single mysterious puncture wound to her neck. Then, in nearby Gad’s Valley, dinosaur bones from a recent dig go missing, and an unidentifiable beast attacks animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Policeman Charlie Cane, exiled from New Fiddleham to the valley, calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer. 

I ENJOY ANYTHING THAT REFERENCES DINOSAURS.

I am hooked by anything that references paleontology. The fact that Abigail comes from a family with a paleontologist, and she herself loves the field only made me more excited when this book had that as its main focus.

What’s even better is what the dinosaur turned out to be! I loved the intrigue and mystery surrounding the whole case itself. Kept me guessing and even set up for the next book which I appreciated.

I am still laughing out loud at Jackaby and his antics and phrases. He has some good moments and I love his character! He’s actually funny and so often it’s not done well. I love his dynamic with Abigail and that they seem to appreciate each other (even when they are both terrible at showing it). They are a dynamic duo and Abigail can hold her own which makes her character even more lovable.

Not to mention the cute romance brewing between her and Charlie. It’s nothing in your face. It’s this nice background love story that you are cheering for, but not flipping pages just to read about them. I like where things are headed for them and that they seem to understand each other and what it would take to be together.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + mystery + historical
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: ancient creatures eating people, murder, most violence is because of creature attacks

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Book Review

Book Review: Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA historical fantasy romance
Length: 464 pages
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 4th, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The powerful third book in Robin LaFever’s critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins series perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Kristin Cashore, and Victoria Aveyard leaves Annith with a desperate decision to make that not only affects the future of Brittany, but the destiny of the god of Death Himself. 

In the powerful third book in Robin LaFever’s critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins series, tensions between Brittany and Frace continue to rise as Annith watches her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.
    Combining romance, action, and political intrigue, Mortal Heart delivers a breathtaking conclusion to the war between Brittany and France…for now. 

TAGLINE

As the final book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy I was expecting a bigger finale. Unfortunately I feel like this was essentially the same book as the others.

The plot was still exactly the same. Annith is the final assassin from the convent to get intertwined with the duchess trying to save Brittany from France. A lot of the same issues are re-hashed as they were previously. A few side plots were added in to add some edge, but I have this story twice before already, I was hoping for something new.

I did really like Annith. I thought her character growth was strong. She finally started standing up for herself and demanding the answers she deserved. While it made some of her choices rash, it also showed her strength in her decisions.

Her love story with the knight was along the same lines of the previous two installments. While it did have a noticeable difference, it was easy to see that coming. I loved their banter and interactions every time they were together. I would have loved even more of them!

Some of the plot was obvious to fill in the blanks, there was one moment where I was like oohhhhh because I actually did not see that coming. It brought Annith’s story to a close and I was happy to have all the answers I wanted too.

All of these books expertly wove politics, history and religion. I liked seeing how each aspect affected characters and showed what they valued most. This book wraps everything up and I feel pleased with how things were tied together. I got my happy ending which is what I’m always after!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fantasy romance
  • Romance: a few kisses, one tiny-detailed fade to black love scene
  • Language: none
  • Violence: arrows, knives, poison

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Book Review

Book Review: The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1) by Roshani Chokshi

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Historical Fantasy
Length: 388 pages
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: January 15th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.

WENT IN NERVOUS, WALKED OUT HAPPY.

I feel like the hype for this book was ALL OVER THE PLACE. I couldn’t scroll down my Instagram feed without seeing a photo and hearing about the hype. And because of that I instead let myself sit on it for a few months. Then, my library got a digital copy, nobody had it checked out so I gave it a chance. This turned out sooo much better than I thought and I found myself really loving it overall.

I was enraptured from the beginning with the historical aspects of everything. I LOVE HISTORICAL FANTASIES. It combines my two favorite genres into spell-binding stories. The setting was (Paris – 1889) unique from most books I’ve read. A lot of research went into this. So much research that at times I felt it was a bit dense. I couldn’t wrap my head around all of the mathematics problems throughout. The historical pieces were easy to follow, but hard to grasp all together. There was an intense amount of information thrown at you about how the world worked. It was substantially more than I bargained for which is why I settled on four stars. I didn’t think it needed everything it presented to still be stellar. Even more so, I still have no idea how the magic system fully works.

With all of those complications the way it was woven it was really cool. I was amazed at how the characters, organizations, and the world itself were put together. So while a bit of an enigma, also super fascinating and impressive. This was my first Chokshi book and I’m glad this was the one I picked up!

The characters though, what an amazing, diverse, witty group. I was nervous going in having heard that it’s similar to Leigh Bardugo’s, Six of Crows. Yes, the similarities are there, but each member of this family is vastly different. The representation in this book was incredible! It made the book stand out [in the best way]. I intensely loved watching all of their interactions with each other. This book was focused more on the heist and these friendships rather than relationships (but don’t you worry, some of that is in there too!). Fantastic banter that would make me smile and moments where I wanted to hug everyone brought this home for me.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses, some tension, & remembering some dalliances
  • Violence: poison, physical, mental (through magic)
  • Trigger warnings: bullying, racism, child abuse

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