Adult Books, Diverse Books

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake – ARC Review

Thank you to Tor Books for this arc in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation.

Enter the latest round of six: Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona, unwilling halves of an unfathomable whole, who exert uncanny control over every element of physicality. Reina Mori, a naturalist, who can intuit the language of life itself. Parisa Kamali, a telepath who can traverse the depths of the subconscious, navigating worlds inside the human mind. Callum Nova, an empath easily mistaken for a manipulative illusionist, who can influence the intimate workings of a person’s inner self. Finally, there is Tristan Caine, who can see through illusions to a new structure of reality—an ability so rare that neither he nor his peers can fully grasp its implications.

When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they will have one year to qualify for initiation, during which time they will be permitted preliminary access to the Society’s archives and judged based on their contributions to various subjects of impossibility: time and space, luck and thought, life and death. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. The six potential initiates will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves to be the best among their rivals, most of them will.

Most of them.

This book blew my mind! Every single time I thought I knew what was happening a plot twist came and left me reeling! This book is very character driven and we get to see the point of views of all six characters. Each and every character is absolute chaos and I love them all so much. My favourites however are Nico and Libby, I absolutely loved their dynamic.

No one here is good. Knowledge is carnage. You can’t have it without sacrifice.

This book follows six people who have some incredible abilities as well as being some of the smartest minds on the planet. I loved every single one of them, they’re all so unique and each have their own story within the main story of them fighting for a spot to be part of the society. They each have their own strength and weaknesses and they have to learn to work together despite not trusting each other. When they get to the decision of who is going to be eliminated it was so interesting to see it from each of their point of views.

Really there was nothing more dangerous than a woman who knew her own worth.

Libby was one of my favourites because although she is incredibly smart and very capable, she has anxiety which shows in how she is constantly needing to prove herself and the way she fidgets all the time and it was so relatable. Nico is so caring and loyal to his friends and I loved seeing his friendship with Gideon. I also loved Parisa and how confident and smart she is and uses everything to her advantage even the fact that she incredibly beautiful which always makes others underestimate her. Tristan’s ability was also really interesting and one of my favourite scenes is of him and Libby working together to protect the library. Callum was one who I didn’t like until the end which honestly surprised me.

Either you believe you’re worthy or you don’t, end of story.

Right from the beginning I was completely hooked and stayed up late at night to read just one more chapter because I just needed to know everything! Every time I thought I had figured things out, I was left reeling because I did not in fact figure things out and it was such a wild ride! There is a lot of science in this and when I’m reading I felt like I was sitting in class with them listening to the smart kids talk about advanced science that had me feeling like I was not as smart as school had convinced me I was.

But princesses can be monstrous at times

I loved reading this book and the interactions between the characters especially Nico and Libby and their bickering but also knowing each other so well. The last part of the book were we finally start to see all the pieces fitting together and figuring out what everything has been leading up to was so satisfying and it had me screaming. Then we get to the end which was intense and an absolute wild ride and now I am dying in anticipation for the sequel because I need to know what will happen next.

Diverse Books, YA Books

The Righteous by Renee Ahdieh – ARC Review

Thank you to Hodderscape and Netgalley for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Pippa Montrose is tired of losing everything she loves. When her best friend Celine disappears under mysterious circumstances, Pippa resolves to find her, even if the journey takes her into the dangerous world of the fae, where she might find more than she bargained for in the charismatic Arjun Desai.

This is the third book in The Beautiful Quartet and each book just keeps getting better and better! These books can be read in any order but I do recommend reading them in the order they are released to get a rich experience.

I absolutely adored this book and I was so happy to see that we would get to see Arjun and Pippa’s point of view as they were my favourite side characters in the first two books. We also see more of Celine, Bastian, Michael and Emilie from the first two books.

Each book expands the world of The Beautiful more and more and in this book we get to spend a lot more time in the world of the fey, we see how they live and how different they are from the human world and we see their politics and the rising tensions between the summer and winter courts. It was so interesting to see this world though I did miss the New Orleans and especially the court of lions. Maybe we will see them again in the next book.

Love was for the foolish. And Arjun Desai was no fool.

This book has a marriage of convenience, only one bed scene and multiple interactions between Arjun and Pippa where he calls her a term of endearment in Urdu and she doesn’t understand! Every time he did I would just have a big goofy grin on my face because it was the sweetest thing ever! I loved the dynamic between Pippa and Arjun so much and how well they compliment each other. How they understand each other so well in such a short time and the secret pining for each other almost killed me! They notice the smallest things about each other like how Arjun promises to not let her ever go hungry in their marriage vows when she reveals that she often went hungry growing up.

Conquering a man’s country does not mean you have conquered his soul.

I loved their development throughout the book and one of the things I loved most was that Arjun was not afraid to call Pippa out on her colonialist thinking and her white privilege and Pippa took the time to listen, apologise and learn from it. We do see this discussion happen throughout the series and it is so well done.

One of my favourite things about these books is how we get fae and vampires but they’re people of colour and their cultures are shown in their courts. It was so nice to be able to see that in the story especially when we usually see fae and vampires they are always white but now we get to see people of colour and ourselves in the story.

Men had been given access to power all their lives. It was their so called birthright. Maybe it was time for them to see what a woman could do.

We also see more of Celine and Bastian in this book and it’s so interesting to see how Celine is the one who is drawn to power and Bastian doesn’t want it. Bastian has always had power, but Celine hasn’t and now she realises she can have that freedom and choice she is often denied because she is a woman. The ongoing discussions around women and how the patriarchal society pushed them down and caged them in certain roles is one I have loved seeing throughout the books. We also see how the patriarchy hurts men too, like Bastian and how he must unlearn so many toxic ideas.

We get a few chapters from Michael’s point of view too in this book and let me just tell you that I completely and entirely hate this man. He has nothing but the audacity and if Celine doesn’t slap him, I will. In the first two books I was indifferent towards him but now we see how entitled he feels and how he puts blame on others instead of taking responsibility and it infuriated me.

The writing and the story is absolutely incredible and had me completely and entirely hooked to the point where I was up late at night to read just one more chapter. The tension that built up slowly throughout the book and then chaos ensued at the end with the ending being left on a cliffhanger left me screaming. And a cameo from one of Renee’s previous books that left me shook and so incredibly happy to see!

I need everyone to go read these books because they are incredible and deserve all the love.

Non Fiction Books

The Muslim Problem: Why We’re Wrong About Islam and Why It Matters by Tawseef Khan – ARC Review

Thank you to Atlantic Books for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review. I was tentatively looking forward to reading this but this book was such a disappointment.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Why are Muslim men portrayed as inherently violent? Does the veil violate women’s rights? Is Islam stopping Muslims from integrating?

Across western societies, Muslims are more misunderstood than any other minority. But what does it mean to believe in Islam today, to have forged your beliefs and identity in the shadow of 9/11 and the War on Terror? Exploding stereotypes from both inside and outside the faith, The Muslim Problem shows that while we may think we know all about Islam we are often wrong about even the most basic facts.

The synopsis sounds like this would be a great read with a nuanced discussion however this was not what this book was. It started with talking about how Muslims celebrate Christmas and just got worse from there. It took me months to get through this book because I had to keep putting it down because it made me so mad.

The only decent thing in this book was discussing the political history which has led to the increase in Islamophobia and violence against Muslims. I actually liked how he wrote about this and truly the only good part of each chapter was this discussion. If you are going to read this book just read these parts.

I for the life of me cannot understand how he so easily insulted scholars and spoke about the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) and repeatedly stated that using common sense is enough to understand the Quran. It really isn’t because this is how people twist the words, they have no real education in any of this and go about deciding for themselves what the Quran says. He also didn’t speak to actual scholars regarding these issues, only speaking to activists isn’t enough. They have not dedicated years to understanding the Quran and the Prophet (pbuh) teachings. Especially as our first language is English we cannot truly understand the Quran unless we can read and understand Arabic which I don’t think a lot of us are. Honestly by the end of the book I was so incredibly mad about all the misinformation about Islam and the way the author dismissed and belittled over a thousand year of Islamic scholarship.

Starting the first chapter with the claim that Muslims integrate because they celebrate Christmas left me with a sense of dread as to what the rest of the book will hold because I shouldn’t have to celebrate another religions, religious festival to be considered as integrated into society. This is assimilation, the irony is that he actually discusses assimilation in a later chapter yet doesn’t see how this is also assimilation. Also saying that he laughed at scholars who have explained why we don’t celebrate Christmas, and called it inane remarks is not the progressive thinking that you think it is.

I completely lost all faith in this book when he started to say how hadith are unreliable and came after the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) saying that they were oppressive and unreliable. Truly I don’t know where he found this because the ones he specifically mentioned are known for their reliability and standing up for justice.

There was also an undertone that is incredibly problematic which was regarding “conservative Muslims” and how they were an issue. He even grouped Islamophobes and them together as if they are the same. Just because someone chooses to practice Islam in a way that you aren’t comfortable with that doesn’t make them wrong or bad. There are parts of Islam that aren’t completely compatible with the western culture and you know what that is okay. You can’t change or water down Islam and claim that this is the correct thing and look down on others. There was several instances of humble bragging that had me rolling my eyes too and I just…it’s safe to say that I did not enjoy this book, at all.

I am tired of books being published that have so much misinformation or written in a way that makes Islam palatable to non-Muslims because what is even the point of these books. If you are going to write about Islamic beliefs and integral parts of the faith then at least go speak to the actual scholars about it.

This book is called the Muslim problem and yet all it does is create more problems. People reading this will look at me and say why am I not celebrating Christmas and that I am not integrating. It’s awkward enough as it is to explain why I don’t want to take part in Christmas celebrations without other Muslims claiming it is absolutely fine. The fact that the reviews I’ve seen so far that praise this book is all from non-Muslims and the reviews from Muslims are all discussing the issues in this book and how it is not a great book to deal with these issues should tell you all you need to know about how reliable the information about Islam really is.

YA Books

The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni – ARC Review

Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for sending this arc in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

This story sounded so interesting and had a really intriguing storyline yet I just didn’t love it like I thought I would. I liked the story somewhat but I just didn’t love any character which made it difficult for me to really root for them despite the fact that they endure some terrible things.

The story is about a young woman who has been in prison since she was seven and mostly entirely alone and it didn’t make sense that she had no one who looked after as a child and she had so many skills including being a healer after watching her dad for a year when she was seven. Her motivations for choosing to risk her own life and suffer through the trials which are known to be horrific also didn’t make sense and it was just confusing as to why she would have such a strong motivation to do something like that. Like yes she was told to keep her alive but why is she so personally invested in it? Especially for people who kept promising to help her but never actually came.

I also had issues with the big plot twist at the end because there was zero hints throughout the book and this is something we should have had an inkling about because we literally spend the book in Kiva’s head. She knew that twist but the readers didn’t and not once is it even remotely alluded to.

The romance was also very insta love and didn’t have much depth to it especially s Kiva kept saying she didn’t like him while also thinking about him all the time. He also conveniently doesn’t get marked with the Z like every single person who is taken to the prison and especially once we find out more about him it makes sense but also convenient. He risks so much for Kiva including getting tortured despite them barely knowing each other. I just couldn’t feel invested in their relationship.

I did like Tipp and how Kiva would take care of him and that despite the awful circumstances he somehow managed to be optimistic and find joy and love. He was sweet and he needs to be protected at all costs.

The end of the story had several revelations which made the motivations of Kiva make more sense and it has intrigued me to know what will happen in the next book. Especially as it seems we will get to see more of the world as this book is set solely in the prison with some flashbacks and references. And it seems as though we will get more political intrigue which I love seeing. So I am a little intrigued to know what will happen in the next book.

Adult Books

The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon – ARC Review

Thank you to Bloomsbury publishing for the arc in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Dreamwalker Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire.

The mysterious Domino Program has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim-her former enemy-at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. Her risks promise high reward: the Parisian underworld could yield the means to escalate her rebellion to outright war.


As Scion widens its bounds and the free world trembles in its shadow, Paige must fight her own memories after her ordeal at the hands of Scion. Meanwhile, she strives to understand her bond with Arcturus, which grows stronger by the day. But there are those who know the revolution began with them-and could end with them.

I have to say I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked some parts and some not so much. I enjoyed the slow burn of Paige and Warden’s relationship. I think in this book we finally get to see their relationship develop as they have the chance to actually discuss how they feel.

I liked seeing other parts of this world and what’s happening outside of England and the characters we are introduced to and some characters we had previously met made an appearance again but I really missed Nick and Eliza. I hope we get to see them again in the next book! They were y favourite side characters and I truly think this book was weaker without them in it with Paige.

I had issues with the pacing and how slow the book was. It took me a while to get through it as I would put it down and not pick it up for days but the ending was more interesting. A lot happens at the end and I wish we could have gotten more of that instead. We get lots of revelations that have been building up in the last two books and it was interesting to get some answers of some of the mysteries and revelations of who was pulling the strings behind the scenes.

I’m still not sold on Paige and Warden as a couple though. I still think we don’t know much about Warden and how he feels and thinks outside of Paige’s perspective and it just meant that I couldn’t really connect with him despite being four books in. We get some more information about the Rephaim but they are still very much a mystery. By this point it made them less interesting as characters especially as we barely see them in the book. Also I feel a bit annoyed by the fact that some Rephaim have names like Arcturus and Terebell and yet the antagonists have PoC sounding names like Nashira and Suhail.

This book deals a lot with Paige’s recovery and how she manages after being tortured and the PTSD she has. I thought it was dealt with quite well seeing her struggle and freeze because of it. The lasting effects it had on her body physically. I really liked seeing that in the book.

When we first met Paige I really loved her and I loved how much she grew in the Mime Order but since I have felt she has become more reckless and runs head first before thinking things through which resulted in a lot of problems in this book and I just felt that someone who is supposed to be running a revolution needs to be less reckless. I think that’s why I missed Eliza and Nick a lot too because I felt they grounded her and guided her to be less reckless and think things through. The ending especially regarding Warden and how Paige dealt with it was something I wasn’t a fan of because we see them develop and yet Paige easily believes what happens at the end without questioning it until it is too late.

Overall I liked this book but I do have some issues with pacing and Paige’s arc (or seemingly lack thereof). I feel like there wasn’t a lot of progress in the book as to her goals to lead a revolution. It takes her the whole book to make the alliances necessary. I am hoping that the next book will have some more progression and we will hopefully see the characters from previous books again.