Book Review

ARC Book Review: All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary + Romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: March 1st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sabaa Tahir comes a brilliant, unforgettable, and heart-wrenching contemporary YA novel about family and forgiveness, love and loss, in a sweeping story that crosses generations and continents.

Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.

Juniper, California. Now.
Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.

Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.

When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.

From one of today’s most cherished and bestselling young adult authors comes a breathtaking novel of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness—one that’s both tragic and poignant in its tender ferocity.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

MUST READ.

I’ve sat here in a struggle to put words together enough to explain how I think this should be a required reading type of book. Filled with some things I understand, but many more I never will. This is one of those stories that we need to hear, need to acknowledge and need to learn from.

The nuanced level at which the title, All My Rage, played out on page was impeccable. I saw the rage, I felt the rage. A complex emotion that stems from many different avenues was written out again and again in raw and deep ways. This isn’t a light-hearted read by any means. Yet with the discussion of religion and love for those around us and far from us, hope still stands like a pillar in dark times.

It was visceral and full of broken-hearted people trying to rise from the ashes. I loved the main characters, Noor, Salahudin, and Misbah. Each told their own story as they wove around each other. The strength of this story is immense. The writing was captivating and the pacing made the pages fly by. I loved the ending and these characters are going to stay with me for a long time.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary + Romance
  • Language: strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: drug and alcohol addiction, mentions of repressed sexual assault, physical domestic abuse, Islamophobia, racism, death, tense exchanges with law enforcement

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Echoes and Empires (Echoes and Empires #1) by Morgan Rhodes

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: January 4th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A snarky seventeen-year-old must team up with an enigmatic criminal to cure herself of dangerous forbidden magic in the first book of a new fantasy duology from Morgan Rhodes, the New York Times bestselling author of the Falling Kingdoms series.

Josslyn Drake knows only three things about magic: it’s rare, illegal, and always deadly. So when she’s caught up in a robbery gone wrong at the Queen’s Gala and infected by a dangerous piece of magic—one that allows her to step into the memories of an infamously evil warlock—she finds herself living her worst nightmare. Joss needs the magic removed before it corrupts her soul and kills her. But in Ironport, the cost of doing magic is death, and seeking help might mean scheduling her own execution. There’s nobody she can trust.

Nobody, that is, except wanted criminal Jericho Nox, who offers her a deal: his help extracting the magic in exchange for the magic itself. And though she’s not thrilled to be working with a thief, especially one as infuriating (and infuriatingly handsome) as Jericho, Joss is desperate enough to accept.

But Jericho is nothing like Joss expects. The closer she grows with Jericho and the more she sees of the world outside her pampered life in the city, the more Joss begins to question the beliefs she’s always taken for granted—beliefs about right and wrong, about power and magic, and even about herself.

In an empire built on lies, the truth may be her greatest weapon.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

ENCHANTED.

This didn’t have the best start for me. I wasn’t vibing with the main character at all. But I also could recognize the option for some major growth and gave Josslyn the benefit of the doubt. It paid off!

Josslyn really grew on me. From high and mighty, stuck in her opinions and way to learning to listen and absorb new information to fit into a better narrative of the world around her. I liked how she found strength and called Jericho out when he needed it. Joss had so much thrown at her and many reveals that she handled well and now she’s a main character I can get behind.

I adored the beginnings of some enemies to lovers romance. The banter is top notch and I found myself smirking right alongside Jericho. The teamwork and a few quiet scenes. Yesss. The only thing missing were a few more kissing scenes. Though I imagine book two is going to bring the heat.

The plot gets kind of wild and even when I saw the reveals coming I still appreciated the set up and ingenuity. The world building is interesting and took me a minute to grasp. It’s a mix of urban fantasy + technologically advanced society + elemental magic I want more info on. A unique combination that I look forward to further exploration in the second book.

Lots of good stuff here. I just couldn’t put it down. I loved Rhodes Falling Kingdoms series and have been anxiously awaiting getting a chance to read this. Not one to miss!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical, gun violence, magical altercations, blood depiction, torture, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

Book Review: A Sky Beyond the Storm (An Ember in the Ashes #4) by Sabaa Tahir

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 528 pages
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: December 1st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Prepare for the jaw-dropping finale of Sabaa Tahir’s beloved New York Times bestselling An Ember in the Ashes fantasy series, and discover: Who will survive the storm?

Picking up just a few months after A Reaper at the Gates left off…

The long-imprisoned jinn are on the attack, wreaking bloody havoc in villages and cities alike. But for the Nightbringer, vengeance on his human foes is just the beginning.

At his side, Commandant Keris Veturia declares herself Empress, and calls for the heads of any and all who defy her rule. At the top of the list? The Blood Shrike and her remaining family.

Laia of Serra, now allied with the Blood Shrike, struggles to recover from the loss of the two people most important to her. Determined to stop the approaching apocalypse, she throws herself into the destruction of the Nightbringer. In the process, she awakens an ancient power that could lead her to victory–or to an unimaginable doom.

And deep in the Waiting Place, the Soul Catcher seeks only to forget the life–and love–he left behind. Yet doing so means ignoring the trail of murder left by the Nightbringer and his jinn. To uphold his oath and protect the human world from the supernatural, the Soul Catcher must look beyond the borders of his own land. He must take on a mission that could save–or destroy–all that he knows.

STUNNING FINALE.

It’s time.

It’s time you read this series.

It is beautiful, raw, strikes so many chords and is nothing short of a magnificent story.

I love these characters and how real everything feels to me because of how the writing conveys their tale. The highs and lows and everything in between drag out all of the emotions and made me sit there and hug this book afterwards. This isn’t a happy-go-lucky story. A lot of bad things do happen, but I love the infused sense of hope that something is better out on the horizon. That we’ll get there.

You’ll never find yourself bored or dragging through any of these points-of-view. The high stakes action bouncing off of angsty moments had me gripping pages to know where things were going. I feel like even the side characters got some great spotlight and I was hooked on them by the ending too. While yes, totally hate how some things went down (without a doubt had me in tears), it all still somehow worked out in the end. That’s what I love. The loss of who/this/that didn’t overshadow where everything was leading.

This entire series took me on a such a journey and I have a hard time putting into words what the closing of this final chapter meant. An Ember in the Ashes will definitely go down as one of my favorite young adult fantasy series. The amount of dedication and work that clearly went into this jaw-dropping. I’m a fan for life and can’t wait to see what Tahir writes next.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: little light
  • Romance: kisses/make-outs; some little detailed fade out scenes (still felt appropriate for YA genre)
  • Violence: depictions of war, gory and bloody murders and battle scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of multiple loved ones

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Book Review

Book Review: The Kinder Poison (The Kinder Poison #1) by Natalie Mae

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 416 pages
Author: Natalie Mae
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: June 16th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Holly Black, this enthralling fantasy adventure follows a teenage girl chosen to be the human sacrifice in a deadly game between three heirs who will do anything for the crown.

Zahru has long dreamed of leaving the kingdom of Orkena and having the kinds of adventures she’s only ever heard about in stories. But as a lowly Whisperer, her power to commune with animals means that her place is serving in the royal stables until the day her magic runs dry.

All that changes when the ailing ruler invokes the Crossing: a death-defying race across the desert, in which the first of his heirs to finish—and take the life of a human sacrifice at the journey’s end—will ascend to the throne and be granted unparalleled abilities.

With all of the kingdom abuzz, Zahru leaps at the chance to change her fate if just for a night by sneaking into the palace for a taste of the revelry. But the minor indiscretion turns into a deadly mistake when she gets caught up in a feud between the heirs and is forced to become the Crossing’s human sacrifice. Zahru is left with only one hope for survival: somehow figuring out how to overcome the most dangerous people in the world.

WOW, HERE FOR THIS.

Don’t sleep on this book guys. I picked it up on a literary whim and it turns out I loved it! It’s a pretty standard YA fantasy, but had that little something else that kept me intrigued and invested.

It was an enthralling adventure. For a mostly traveling book I didn’t feel like it took away from the sibling rivalry saga. There were enough changes in location, action scenes and quiet moments that made the whole journey come alive. I’m curious about the larger expanses of this land, but enjoyed what been initially given.

Okay, the romance. Yes, there is a tiny bit of a love triangle here. I wasn’t too phased by it though because it’s pretty clear what’s going to happen. I liked the lead-ups and steady rising chemistry between them. I found the relationship sweet by the end so I’m satisfied with it. We’ll see if book two ruins this though (why does this keep happening in sequels?!).

The magic system is still a touch undefined, but they’re a lot of cool powers running around. I liked learning more about them and how everyone fit into the nation’s hierarchy. This is something else I hope that gets expounded on in the sequel!

The ending has me gasping for some straws as to what happens next. It’s not a wild cliffhanger, I just definitely didn’t see it all coming. I like what was left open and can easily see another book for this installment (rather than thinking it should just stay as one).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs
  • Violence: murder, poison, physical, animal attacks, magic, swords/knives/arrows; not overly gory

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