Diverse Books, YA Books

Spellhacker by M.K. England – ARC Review

Thank you to Harper 360 for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Having loved The Disasters by M.K. England earlier this year, I knew I had to read Spellhacker and I was so excited when I was sent an ARC!

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Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.
Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.
But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.

I really enjoyed this book and the wonderfully diverse characters! This is an action packed book which will take you on a wild ride! The story is set in a futuristic world with magic, which is called Maz, and advanced tech. There’s a great squad of characters, who have all been affected in some way by the magical plague and now use their skills and magical abilities to steal magic for whoever will hire them. The story starts just as they decide to take on one last heist before they go their separate ways.

One of the themes that is discussed throughout the story is about family and what is family. Diz considers her friends her family but she struggles to express how she feels. She’s afraid of losing them but she also doesn’t know how to express that to them. It was really interesting to see how she battled through her fears and insecurities and I’m sure it will be very relatable for most teens. I really loved the importance of found families and how friends can also become family. That there is more to being family than just blood.

There is really great LGBT rep and diverse relationships which I think were shown in a great nuanced way. I loved seeing how they were all accepted by each other for who they were. It’s really nice to see that in books.

This is going to be the greatest last score of all time.

The story had me on the edge of my seat, wanting to know what will happen next. I really love seeing that young people can make a change for the better in the world as it parallels our society where the youth are striving to make the world a better place to live for everyone. The natural disasters that occur in the books, why they occur and who are the most affected also parallels our world really well.

The heist they decide to pull causes them to discover secrets and puts them in danger. While on the run they have to deal with emotions and their friendships and relations. It was interesting to see how they had to work out what was going on and why their lives were in danger but also how they feel towards each other and what their future holds.

I loved seeing magic combined with tech, the world is so unique and interesting because of the magic system and how people use the magic. Some people can manipulate the maz but as it is a natural resource it isn’t available to everyone equally. Remi discusses how not having access to maz affects them and makes them feel like a part of it is missing.

The characters all so great and work so well together yet also argue with each other like teenagers would and I really loved seeing the banter between them.

If you like heist stories that are action packed and full of a great diverse squad of characters then I highly recommend reading this book!

It is out on January 21st

Fiction Books, YA Books

Romanov by Nadine Brandes – Book Review

The history of the Romanov’s has always fascinated me, most likely because of the film which I adore. So when I heard that there would be an Anastasia retelling I was super excited! And I really enjoyed reading the book!

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Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The history books say I died.
They don’t know the half of it.
Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.
Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are to either release the spell and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.
That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other

The story starts when the Romanov’s have been exiled and the last few months before they were executed. I already knew the history so I knew what would eventually happen to them and Nadine made me fall in love with her characters so it was really intense to read the first half of the story.

We see the story unfold from the point of view of Anastasia which was interesting to see as we get a different viewpoint than one that I normally see. We see her father’s abdication, exile and how the media overage looked from her point of view. She sees her father as a strong leader which is quite different to what history remembers him as. It made them more real past the history facts we know.

I spent the first half of the book on the edge of my seat knowing what was coming and yet it still devastated me. It was so much worse than I thought it would be and I really felt for Anastasia and Alexei.

I really loved how magic was woven into the story and how it affected what happens and was used as a way to explain how Anastasia could have survived. She was such a great character to read. She is feisty and outspoken and smart but she was also afraid and sometimes impatient. Alexei was another favourite character of mine, I really loved how his health conditions were part of him yet he still persevered despite all the struggles he went through.

I liked how the romance between Zash and Anastasia was slow and they were both hesitant as they were supposed to be enemies. It was left open ended too so we don’t know what exactly happened yet they were together. Even though we now know that no-one survived, it was still nice to imagine her finding a new life.

I just wish we had a little more in the ending, I just wanted more details and felt that it was a little rushed and I really wish we could have seen things from Zash’s point of view!

I think it would have brought more depth to the story seeing both sides of history.
Overall I really enjoyed reading this book! The way Nadine wove Anastasia’s story with magic was wonderful to read!

“It takes more strength and courage to forgive than it does to enact revenge”