Diverse Books, YA Books

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao – ARC Review

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

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

This book was a phenomenal read! From the first page we are thrown into this incredibly vivid world that Xiran has created and I loved every second of it. Zetian has become one of my favourite characters and I love the trio so much, they are pure chaos and I am here for it!

This is set in a world where women are considered worthless and only there to sacrifice themselves for the male pilots or to be good wives and mothers. By good I mean silent and obedient. Zetian has had enough of this and after the death of her sister she vows to get revenge and does so in the most spectacular fashion and in that moment I fell in love with her.

I loved seeing Zetian and how she battled against the  systemic injustice that women are subjected to on a daily basis and the pure rage she felt. I related to her a lot; I understand her rage. I loved how it was shown in the book and through her. She has every right to be angry but what I loved most was watching her opinions and thoughts about how to become empowered changed and grew as she learnt more and interacted with different people in different situations. How that impacted how she fought for herself and for women’s empowerment everywhere. This book is honestly such a powerful read and had me feeling all the emotions.

I especially loved her internal conflict of how can she fight for empowerment and yet love and care for a man and be vulnerable with them. Her learning it isn’t an either or situation, she can have both. There is so much depth to her character that we see more and learn more about her as the story goes on and I just need everyone to read this book.

The discussions on misogyny and patriarchy are done so incredibly well and we see just how deeply these views have impacted women in so many ways that are completely invisible to men. There’s also discussions around how the powerful and wealthy just continue to grow in wealth and the poor become poorer. Honestly there was so many interesting and nuanced discussions in the book but it didn’t take away from the plot and suspense of the story. It just added more layers to it.

I loved the mechas and the battle scenes, I would love to be able to see this in a film, I think some scenes would have some breath-taking visuals and it was all described so vividly that I could picture everything. We learn about the world through Zetain, Shimin and Yizhi who all come from different situations in life. All three characters are morally grey and despite some of the awful things they do, you can’t help but root for them. Especially as everyone seems equally monstrous.

The build up to the ending had me on the edge of my seat and the second half especially had me completely hooked and I thought I knew what was happening but the ending still left me completely shook and I was left screaming! I am ridiculously excited to read the sequel and honestly I don’t know how I’m going to wait a whole year for it.

Diverse Books, YA Books

Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta – ARC Review

Thank you to Macmillan and netgalley for sending me this arc in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to the sequel!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis from goodreads:

The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.

Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.

As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer–as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…

This book was fast paced and action packed and I really enjoyed reading! I loved both the main characters and how they both spent their lives trying to take down the oppressive system but in vastly different ways.

This book starts with Eris being captured and taken to one of Godolias prisons where she meets an unlikely ally in Sona who is a windup pilot and who helps her escape and goes with her back to the rebel base. There Sona helps the rebels and joions Eris’s team of gearbreakers to overthrow the oppressive regime that is Godolia. But can a small team of teenagers do enough to overthrow a tyrannical regime that has wealth, power and resources not available to them and then there’s also the issue that not everyone trusts Sona.

There are some incredible heart racing, action packed scenes of gearbreakers fighting and taking down the giant machines sent to kill all rebels and the descriptions are so vivid that you can truly imagine the whole scene as it happens. Then you also have the wonderful fun scenes between team mates and the family they build for themselves. The squabbling and fighting and yet they all look out for and care deeply for each other.

We also see a slow burn romance bloom between Eris and Sona and how they slowly learn to trust each other and protect each other. I am looking forward to seeing more of them in the sequel and what will happen to them especially after that ending!

This is a wonderful action packed story with a great found family who fight an oppressive regime to be able to live freely and safely.

Adult Books, Diverse Books

Prime Deceptions by Valerie Valdes – Book Review

Thank you to Orbit books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

I loved Chilling Effect and Prime Deceptions was even better! Here is my review for Chilling Effect.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra find themselves once again on the fringe of populated space—and at the center of a raging covert war. When Eva’s sister asks for help locating a missing scientist, promises of a big paycheck and a noble cause convince Eva to take the job despite lingering trust issues.

With reluctant assistance from her estranged mother, Eva and her crew follow the missing scientist’s trail across the universe, from the costume-filled halls of a never-ending convention to a dangerous bot-fighting arena. They ultimately find themselves at the last place Eva wants to see again—Garilia—where she experienced her most shameful and haunting failure.

To complete her mission and get paid, Eva must navigate a paradise embroiled in a rebellion, where massive forests and pristine beaches hide psychic creatures and pervasive surveillance technology. Can she find her quarry while avoiding the oppressive local regime, or will she be doomed to repeat past mistakes when her dark deeds come to light?

This book will take you on a wild ride and I was here for it! I actually liked that this was set over a shorter period of time and about one mission as it gave us more time to spend with Eva and the crew and see more of their relationships with each other. I love this crew so much! We also delve more into Eva’s past so we can see just how much she has changed and grown and learn more about things mentioned in Chilling Effect.

Eva is snarky and sarcastic as ever but we also see a more vulnerable side to her when she has to face the consequences of things she did in her past, things which she is not proud of and would rather forget. It made her more complex and I really liked how she navigated all the conflicting feelings she had about it. She knew what she did was wrong, she knew that there would be people who would hate her for it and not be able to forgive her for it. She doesn’t wallow in self pity though, she tries to find a way to help the people she has wronged and not make the same mistakes again. She tries to better while also accepting that she cannot change the past. It was really great to see this discussion in the book. And I really liked how it was handled.

One of the themes throughout the story was the relationship between the crew. I loved seeing the friendship between Eva and Pink and how they looked out for each other and knew each so well but also calling each other out when they did something wrong. I loved how Eva looked out for Min and Sue and also knew how capable they were and didn’t hold them back from achieving their potential. It was also interesting seeing their dynamic compared to the strained relationship Eva has with her sister and Mum.

I loved seeing more of Eva and Vakar and honestly they are adorable! Vakar is the sweetest and an absolute cinnamon roll who will always be ther for Eva but also won’t make decisions for her even when he might not agree. Also I love that his scent changes depending on how he’s feeling and the number of times he feels bashful is adorable! Look I know he is a highly trained soldier, an elite called a wraith but he is a cinnamon roll, maybe just a deadly one. The scene where he ‘surprises’ Eva is one of my absolute favourite scenes! I loved their dynamics so much.

Of course I could not write this review and not mention Mala! My favourite psychic space cat who is an absolute diva and I am here for it! We get to see a lot more of her and her interactions with Eva were some of my favourite things ever! Her sassing Eva and Eva threatening her and Mala calling her bluff. Eva may be captain but Mala is absolutely in charge. I would read a whole book from Mala’s perspective!

I loved the ending so much, just when we think Eva and her crew finally have some time to rest, out came that plot twist which left shook! We get hints about the alien technology that no one really knows much about but we finally get a glimpse of what they are capable of in that ending and it left me needing the next book immediately.

Everyone needs to read these books they are incredible and will have you on the edge of your seat, reading late into the night. These books are full of sassy and sarcastic characters and of course a diva space cat. I loved the found family and how well they work with each other and have built such great relationships with each other.

Book Recommendations, Booksish Discussions

Heist Book Recommendations

I’m pretty sure that most of us love heist books and whenever a heist book is mentioned everyone immediately thinks of Six of Crows. While I adore that duology there are lots more incredible books with heists and I want to share some of my favourites with you all today!

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell – A heist story where the main character time travels to steal objects!

Spellhacker by M.K. England – They decide to pull one last heist which goes horribly wrong

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – Coerced into hunting down ancient artifacts with the promise of being given his inheritance that had been denied.

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes – To save her sister, Eva has to undergo a series of dangerous missions and she may have to risk everything to save her sister.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – A middle grade where Artemis decides to kidnap a fairy which leads to more heists

Nocturna by Maya Motayne – When a faceshifter is forced into stealing a legendary treasure from the palace she ends up teaming up with the Prince who has his own reasons for working with her

The Disasters by M.K. England – The only survivors after everyone is massacred and they are blamed, they have to go on a series of heists to prove their innocence

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte – A murder mystery where a thief and a messenger become entangled with finding out who murdered the queens

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson – A crew is put together to not only pull off the greatest heist in history but also takedown the Lord Ruler

These are also a few more that are on my TBR:

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

If you have any recommendations please do leave them in the comments!

2019 Round Up

Books That Disappointed Me In 2019

There were several books that I was very excited about since hearing about them and I was very disappointed by them. There were also some very hyped books that while lots of others loved, I just didn’t and as I have a lot of thoughts on some of them, some probably unpopular opinions, I thought I would share what books I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I would.

The kingdom by Jess Rothenberg – I think this book just wasn’t for me. I can’t quite explain why I didn’t enjoy it much.

Evermore by Sara Holland – I loved Everless and so I was so excited for this but it just wasn’t as good and left me feeling a bit unsatisfied.

We Are Blood and Thunder by Kesia Lupo – This felt like any other fantasy book and I got bored halfway through.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I think it’s time to admit that Laini Taylor books are just not for me. I just can’t get on with her writing style even though the story itself was quite interesting.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson – A really hyped book that while I enjoyed I didn’t love. My favourite part of the book was Silas. If there is a Silas book I would read that.

The Paper and Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie – Another book that I was excited about that after reading a few chapters I just knew it wasn’t for me.

The Dark Days Deceit by Alison Goodman – I loved the first two books and I was so excited about seeing how it would end but the story moved so slowly and not a lot happened until the very end so I wasn’t invested in the story by the time we got to the action and the plot moved forward.

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron – I am so sad I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. I was so excited for it but it just took too long for the plot to move for me and I got bored. The magic system and the world was so great though!

Alex Rider: Secret Weapon by Anthony Horowitz – I love the Alex Rider books but the short stories just felt very off character for Alex at times and I just didn’t enjoy them as much.

Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa – I loved the first book so I was sad when I got bored halfway through this. I honestly can’t remember much of what happened in it.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo – Look I have never been more upset over a book that has let me down. I waited for years for Nikolai book and this was not it! It felt like a Zoya book and while I adore her, I wanted more Nikolai. Also was not a fan of Nina’s story.

The Wicked King by Holly Black – I cannot get past the toxic relationship that is Jude and Carden.

The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee – Wow this book was problematic.

Once and Future by Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy – I feel like I read a different version of this than everyone else because this book was problematic as hell and I haven’t seen anyone mention it! From the mass genocide of Arabs (and barely a paragraph of the character coming to terms with this) to the way Arabs were spoken about beforehand. I just can’t. The story itself was a mess too.

Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman – This book was boring and predicable as hell and problematic too. Why do people ignore the token diversity when the authors are white? I was thrown by some of the token diversity in Obsidio but this was…something else.

As you can tell I have been thinking about Once & Future and Aurora Rising since I read it and I have a lot of feelings about both of these books. I’m tired of the way that people of colour are portrayed in books and especially that no one says anything on the many stages of editing and beta reading and arcs and these authors just so happen to be white.

Anyways most of the books I read while there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with them just weren’t for me aside from the few problematic books I read this year.

Any books disappointed you this year?