Content/Trigger Warnings:Chronic pain, abandonment, anxiety, domestic abuse, minor talk of imposter syndrome
“Bravery wasn’t an identity, so much as a choice.”
I feel like my heart might combust from how much I loved this book. Setting this book down, only when I needed sleep. I mainly picked this book up because of the representation in this book, but I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with this book so hard. My first Talia Hibbert book and I’m completely hooked!
Get A Life Chloe Brown is an ownvoices story about a a main character named Chloe Brown, a plus-sized Black woman who has fibromyalgia and chronic pain. After having a near death accident, Chloe has decided that it’s high time she gets a life. Thus, her ‘Get a Life’ bucket list was born! So she packs up and moves to an apartment complex. The complex is the perfect fresh start to her ‘Get a Life’ bucket list, but there’s just one problem… his name is Red Morgan. Leaving the past behind him, Red just wants to start over and heal from the aftermath of his past abusive relationship. He’s handsome, charming, and the superintendent of his best friend’s apartment complex building. Everyone seems to love him, everyone except Chloe. Then one day, fate makes their paths cross in the unlikeliest way (with one cat stuck up in a tree) and soon they’ve worked out a deal. Chloe will build Red a website and in exchange, he helps her with her ‘Get a Life’ list.
I loved Chloe Brown as a main character! Not only is she’s so brilliantly smart, but she’s brave, sassy, and such a nerdy gamer girl! It was impossible for me not to love her especially as the female love interest. But the main reason I took such an interest in wanting to read this book was the chronic illness and pain representation. I’ve mentioned this a few times, but I do live with chronic pain and chronic illness. Seeing the way the author handled chronic pain and chronic illness in this book with Chloe, it’s so spot on. I haven’t really read any books that have really show how people living with chronic pain and illness live day to day, how they feel, and the reality of how it impacts relationships. I felt so scene and every time something would happen with Chloe, it hit me in all the soft spots of my heart.
“When she was sick and tired of being sick and tired, she clung to moments like this : The first shower after a flare-up.
Bliss should be held on to with both hands.”
Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the plus-sized representation in this book? As a plus-sized reader, I loved the way the author took time to really show Chloe is confident in her body size, how she’s desired by the love interest by her curves, but I think the most important thing I really loved about this book is zero moments of Chloe’s size holding her back or impacting her negatively. I adored how the author handled the plus-sized representation and this is probably going to be one of my favorite plus-sized representations in romance, thus far!
If you’re a lover of enemies to lovers relationships, then you’re going to love this book. I think enemies to lovers is one of my favorite tropes and Hibbert executes it so well. When I say it was near impossible to put this down because of the banter, the chemistry, and the misunderstandings, it was so good. Also, I loved the way it took a cat being stuck in a tree for them to start getting closer. The best way to really hook me, include any situation with a cat. That’s all you need to know.
I also really loved Red’s character. He’s very much a “bad boy”, but the way the author wrote him just stole my heart. He’s a complete cinnamon roll who takes great care about Chloe’s limitations. He’s never possessive or has a toxic demeanor about him, despite him coming off as intimidating and the hardships he’s experienced. He’s charming, respectful and he still visits his mother to check in on her. My heart! Plus, the banter he shares with Chloe and his nickname for her, all the love arrows in my soul!
“You were hurt, and you reacted. You were in an unhealthy situation in more ways than one, and you panicked and cleansed everything with fire. Don’t dismiss your emotions and your self-protection as just a fucked-up decision. Don’t reduce something so complex and real and important to nothing.”
I also want to take a moment to talk about the fact that Red’s character is healing and rebuilding after the trauma of his past abusive relationship. As someone who has survived many traumas, the way Red will have moments where he remembers the past or how he’ll compare Chloe to his ex, it’s all very accurate and well represented. What I loved most was how it not only addresses that the abuser in the relationship was Red’s ex-girlfriend (even more so since those relationships often get overlooked), but also that it shows that while someone can hurt you to the point of feeling broken in all the ways, someone can come along and help heal you from that. I also liked how the author included a flashback scene as well to show that domestic abuse can sometimes overlap into PTSD territory.
And of course, this wouldn’t be one of my true reviews if I didn’t talk about the family dynamic. I loved how Chloe’s family is so close and how they all try to look out for one another. I loved how Eve and Dani check in on Chloe, try to spend time with her, and just have that usual sisterly banter. I also loved how Chloe sought out wisdom from her grandmother, Gigi, for advice on love. Something about the elderly giving their wisdom to the younger generations just always melts my heart. And I loved how we see the family come together at the end. It really fills my heart with so much warmth to see the family dynamics in the book.
Overall, if you couldn’t tell, I’m head over heels for this book. I can’t wait to continue this series especially since there’s nothing but good things being said about the next book in the series. I had such a wonderful experience reading Talia’s book that it has me hooked on wanting to look into more of her books. If you were thinking about trying this series out, let me tell you, it’s worth it. It’s so, so worth it and I have no doubt you’ll love these characters as much as I do.
“Love is certainly never safe, but it’s absolutely worth it.”
Content/Trigger Warnings:Incurred racism, alcoholism, mentions of human experimentation, public execution, descriptions of graphic injuries, colonization, mentions of fertility issues, chronic fear, anxiety and panic attacks
“But they don’t know that rebels are made in the worst of circumstances, and even death can’t stop them. Us.”
I’ve been putting this review off for so long. Normally, I know exactly what I want to say and write, but… this book, this powerful, beautifully written book has my thoughts turned into scrambled eggs. I loved it. I loved every second of it. I could barely put this down and when I did, I was thinking about this book all over again. My reading experience was also different. I listened to this on audiobook and read it at the same time with my physical copy. Friends, I don’t have the words to describe all the emotions, all my thoughts, but I hope that somewhere within this review, you’ll be able to understand my love and affection for this book.
Our story takes place during the Ilori invasion, an alien race that has declared Earth it’s new vacationing spot. Janelle or Ellie Baker handles this in an entirely different manner than most people do. Her whole life she’s lived in a dangerous, unsafe world for her and her loved ones, but now it’s just different circumstances. But her situation is just as dangerous as she runs a secret library to help her fellow prison-mates even though she knows the penalty, if she were caught, would mean death. M0R1s or Morris is a lab made Ilori who was raised to be emotionless, but still manages to fall in love with music. Then one fateful day, Morris discovers a secret library and soon crosses path with Ellie. With their love for literature and music, they’ll put everything on the line in a deadly world to enjoy the things they love, the company of one another, and somehow find a way to save humanity from the invasion.
🌠 Janelle akaEllie – Plus sized, 17-year-old Black teenager, who’s also pansexual and demi-ace, with anxiety and a secret library. She’s fierce, strong, and brave, though not in the most obvious way. Her strength and rebellion are more subtle, until she’s forced to run for her life.
🌠 M0R1s akaMorris – Lab-made Ilori, who’s demi-ace, with a deep love and appreciation for humanity. A true cinnamon roll who only wants peace. Though he tries to hide it, he’s an Ilori who feels the depths of emotions and gets so overwhelmed by those feelings that he doesn’t know what to do with them.
The first thing you need to understand is that I don’t usually enjoy sci-fi, but oh, oh did I fall in love with this book. The world building was absolutely beautifully chilling. There were often times as I was reading that it felt like I was there, experiencing it, feeling the weight of the situation, and yes, I cried a few times. When I read sci-fi books like this, it makes me wonder why I’m so quick to pass up a sci-fi book that isn’t Star Wars related. I can’t emphasize how powerful the writing is and how there are so many moments that will punch you in the gut, but it’s all woven together so gorgeously. The author also delivers such in-depth detail about the aliens and the information is given to us when we need it, there’s no sense of information down pours. And I loved how there was a cast system setup among the Ilori. I really appreciated the amount of detail that went into the two casts, the True Ilori and the lab-made Ilori.
What really surprised me was the fact that this is a standalone. I briefly mentioned that I was really hoping for a second book especially the way the ending had concluded, kind of sets things up for a second book, if the author wanted to. Despite that, I was shocked to find out it was a standalone because so much was done within the pages of this book. Alechia explores social issues drawing comparisons from the way the alien occupation treats humans and the systematic racism Black people face in our society today (which if you read this right now with everything happening in the world, there will probably be a lot that hits really hard for many readers, so please make sure you practice self-care). It’s powerful and emotional, and it’s so very important.
“If we get separated and you have to choose between life and joining us, choose life, okay? Live. Live for us. Breathe for us. Survive for us.”
I think what I loved most was the way literature and music brought Ellie and Morris closer together. But most importantly, anyone who reads this book will be able to tell this is a love letter to the arts, more specifically music and literature. I have always said since I was very young that arts have the ability to bridge gaps between people, between countries, and cultures. I still stand by that statement today. My heart can’t help but growing warm and fuzzy from the amount of love radiating from the pages for music and books. The fact that music and books in this book truly show that these tools can spread hope to one another, fill in the spaces between us as people, and even guide us to love.
Then we have that ending. It knocked me right out of the park. I think this will be a love it or hate it type of ending for many readers. Obviously, I loved it and I was constantly holding my breath. I’m not going to lie, I was ready to throw the book across the room and I may have gripped it so tight that pages crinkled a few times while reading those last few chapters, but it all felt worth it. It wrapped up in a way I never expected, it left me wanting more, and honestly, I mentioned this already, it felt like the ending was left open enough where this book could have a sequel (I’m still holding out hope that this turns into a duology instead of a standalone). I would even settle for a spin-off series, a mini series, something because I truly can’t believe this is the end of the adventure for our main characters.
“If music is a story, it comes alive with love. The more love it has, the more likely the story will never end.”
Overall, it’s so hard for me to say that this book is over. I truly fell in love with everything within this book. There were times where I thought about Mass Effect, times where I was thinking of a girl with Ellie’s personality (the one that got away), and so many times I reflected on the little things. You want to know what it’s like to listen to Crashing Cars by Snow Patrol and Heroes by David Bowie for hours on repeat while laying on the floor after finishing this book, reflecting and recapping everything happening in the world, go read this book and find out because that’s what I did. Do I recommend this book? Absol-freaking-lutely!
Content/Trigger Warnings:Death, murder, graphic violence & injuries, grief, loss of a loved one, death of a animal, war themes, threats of torture, and much more!
“All souls have a destiny. Some are simply brighter than others.”
It’s no secret that I fell in love with Julie Kagawa and her captivating writing in 2019 when I first read Shadow of the Fox. I loved it so much that I knew from the moment I read the first page that I would be continuing the series. And I’m so glad that I did! Book Two had so many surprises, a lot of tension, and many question on how the end game will conclude. Needless to say, book two was everything I wanted and more!
Just when she thought it couldn’t get any worse, Hakaimono has returned and Tatsumi is gone. After saving Master Jiro, everything seems to have taken a turn for the worst. Our band of heroes now knows Yumeko’s biggest secret, Hakaimono has been unleash into the world, and they seem further away from completely their goal then they ever could have imagined. Despite the challenges they face, they will continue to travel and fight side by side. But in the shadows, a dark presence is rising and will stop at nothing to have all pieces of the Dragon Scroll.
👹 Yumeko – Raised by monks in the Temple of the Silent Winds, half kitsune, who is a lot better at illusions than she gives herself credit to. Soon she finds her life thrown into chaos as her only home is ripped away from her by the destruction of an army of demons. Now she will embark on a quest to a hidden temple to bring half of the ancient scroll to safety.
👹 Tatsumi – Samurai/Shanobi of the Shadow Clan, one of the most feared and deadliest warriors and demon slayers ever, even though he is very young. Wielding the blade of Hakaimono, a sword sealed with one of the most deadliest demon generals of his time, Kamigoroshi, Tatsumi is constantly tested with how strong his will is. Sent on a mission by his clan to retrieve a piece of the ancient scroll by any means, instead he finds Yumeko and makes a promise to deliver her to the hidden temple in exchange for the scroll. Only now, Tatsumi has been completely taken over by Hakaimono because love can make even the most disciplined person crumble.
👹 Suki – Bits and pieces of her were sprinkled throughout the first book, but now we see her playing a roll in this book as well. Daughter of a celebrated flute maker, Suki is shipped off to work as the new maid for the favored concubine of the emperor to live a better life than running his shop. Suki was turned into a sacrifice, now a spirit that continues to cling to the mortal world, only she’ll play a much larger role than she ever imagined.
👹 Seigetsu – We meet Seigetsu in the first book when he first encounters Yumeko and saves her from a terrible situation. Now, we see him playing a bigger role in book two. He’s still a mysterious person, but we now come to know that he’s a master of shogi and is able to know about events in the future with his companion, Taka.
👹 Hakaimono – The sealed within his own sword, Kamigoroshi, Hakaimono was one of the deadliest demon generals of his time. And now he’s finally on the rise after he’s possessed Tatsumi’s body.
👹 Reika – The priestess from the Sun Clan’s territory. Agreed to come along with Yumeko and the others to find Mast Jiro, and save him from whatever trouble he would be in. Now, she travels to ensure the piece of the Dragon Scroll is delivered to the Steel Feather Temple.
👹 Master Jiro – Head priest of the temple in Sun Clan territory. Ended up being taken captive in the first book. Now he travels with Yumeko, Reika, and the others to lead the way to the Steel Feather Temple.
👹 Okame – Often referred to as Ronin, but is actually the sweetest and a damn good shot in archery. Originally a bandit, but changed his tune after Yumeko showed him kindness, compassion, and understanding. Having nothing better to do, he decides to join the team. He’s snarky, witty, and secretly a cinnamon role.
👹 Daisuke – A noble who was once as a great samurai who fought fighters for passage on a bridge, but after meeting Tatsumi, he was unable to fulfill the greatest battle of all. Now, he travels with this unlikely group of friends. Even after finding out Yumeko is a kisune, he still swears his sword to her and promises to protect her as she travels to the Steel Feather Temple. He’s also a complete romantic and is sweet on one of the traveling companions.
I love these characters with every fiber in my being. Even Hakaimono has a piece of my heart and I know he’s one of the deadliest demon generals, but… I just love him and despite it all, I bet he’s a secret cinnamon roll (probably not, but one can hope). Every part with these characters is just fantastic, including when we flash from the three povs. Each pov was executed so well and no matter who’s perspective we were in, as the reader, we get to see the full picture with all the side characters.
Speaking of the characters, Daisuke and Okame threw me for a loop! They couldn’t be more different from each other, but they both shine in their own ways. However, I never realized how well their conversations between one another melt together so well. And their scenes together are so good. There’s warmth, there’s tension, they challenge each other, and they’re just an all around good time!
We also branch away from the Tatsumi perspective and instead get Hakaimono. Now that was a wild ride. I’ll admit, I was secretly hoping Kagawa would take this series it there and have Hakaimono take full control of Tatsumi’s body, but the way she made Hakaimono’s point of view so enthralling, we love to see it. We also see what Tatsumi is like since Hakaimono has taken over his body. When Yumeko goes to find Tatsumi’s soul in the dream world, we see how much Tatsumi has suffered. That was the moment, the moment I realized I want Tatsumi to be happy and to watch him flourish into everything he could be outside of his clan.
“But then, he let out a breath, and it seemed to release all the fear, uncertainty, horror and doubt of the past nightmare. He crushed me to his chest, clinging to me like a lifeline, like I was his sanity and he was afraid I would abandon him.”
I also loved how we see Yumeko really come into her kitsune side. Yumeko clings to her humanity in this series, but in Soul of the Sword, her character development is fantastic. In the first book, Yumeko was very timid and didn’t use her powers that often. In this book, that isn’t the case. Yumeko does whatever she can to keep her friends safe, she learns how powerful and deadly her powers can be, and she uses them to save Tatsumi. I have no doubt that in the final book we’ll see her be taken to a whole new height as she’s forced to use ever ounce of kitsune magic to protect her loved ones and the entire country.
Also, how dare Kagawa give us an ending like that! I think I choked on my drink several times reading the last handful chapters. I knew things were going to get really intense, but I never thought it would go the way that it did. This is probably one of my favorite endings in any series I’ve read so far. True blessings for such high stakes and surprises. And I’ll admit that there were a few parts I should have seen coming, but I was so wrapped up in all the chaos and Tatsumi/Hakaimono that I was hardly registering anything else.
I truly loved everything about this book and I don’t want to reveal too much especially if you haven’t read the first book yet. However, if you were expecting this book to follow the romance between Tatsumi and Yumeko, then you’re going to be disappointed. The romance has never been the main focus of this series, but it’s a key factor in the story-line. I went in knowing that it wasn’t focused on the romance and I still loved it so much. I still have questions I want answers to! Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romance, but the story-line, plot, and world building is so good that it doesn’t matter to me if there’s a romance or not. If you think you need the romance to keep you motivated to read this book, the romance is still there, but it’s not so heavily focused or even as obvious as it was in book one.
“My master used to say, sometimes a whisper is all that is required to calm a storm, but when words fail, sometimes you need the thunder.”
Overall, I have heard the good and bad about this book, but I still fell in love with it just like the first book. I loved the world building, I see every ounce of Japanese mythology that went into this, and I just really, really love this series. If you haven’t picked this series up then let me tell you that you should. Even if you’re not much of a fantasy reader, I believe any kind of reader can find something that they’ll really love and appreciate in this series.
ARC was provided by NetGalley & Wednesday Books in exchanged for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date(August 25th, 2020)
Content/Trigger Warnings:Alcohol and drinking, mind manipulation, controlling/possessive behavior, trauma, misogyny, mentions of blood and injury, missing persons, grief/loss, death of a parent
“For in the world of magic, a woman’s place lies in the quiet shadows of labor magic, the encouraged path. The safer one. Because the ones who dare most often disappear.”
Dearest friends, with this being one of my anticipated release for 2020, I wanted nothing more than to love this book with every fiber of my soul. The question is, did I fall in love with this book? Yes, yes I did! It captivated my attention from the very first page and left me craving more. It’s no surprise that Where Dreams Descend has made it onto my top books of 2020! I am in love with this book, Janella’s writing, and I can’t wait for all of you to pick this book up!
Kallia has been a showgirl at Hellfire House for most of her life. With a deep bond with the head of the club, Jack, and everything at her finger tips, how could she possibly want anything more? Until a flyer lands in her possession about a competition happening in Glorian where magicians compete to be the next headliner for the Conquering Circus. With an everlasting dream, powerful magic, and an ambitious desire, Kallia will start to uncover all the lies and manipulation keeping her caged at Hellfire House. When she finally flees Jack, she’ll learn just how dangerous Glorian really is for a magician especially as her fellow competitors start to disappear and everything she’s longed for is threatened.
♠️ Kallia – The Star, our main heroine, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost. Truly proud of her powers, how hard she’s worked, with a dream to one day preform in Glorian. A cinnamon roll in every way, trying to break free from the chains and cage Hellfire House placed upon her.
♠️ Jack – The Master, controlling and mysterious, the enigmatic keeper of Hellfire House, and more than one lie told to keep the show going. Using manipulation and deception to keep Kallia caged at Hellfire House, protecting her from the dangers of the the outside world.
♠️ Demarco – The Magician, a mysterious man, the brooding judge with a past that won’t stop haunting him. He is a broken, soulful boy who used to be a powerful magician and now he’s the strictest one to prevent others from making the mistakes he made. Also, he’s unable to resist the pull of Kallia’s energy and her fiery passion.
I say this all the time, give me a book with morally grey characters and it’s a sure guarantee that I will fall in love with your book. Where Dreams Descends delivers just that, characters who are morally grey. No matter if they were a main character or a side character, I fell in love with so many of them and I truly can’t wait to see more of them. And while I’m talking about our lovely characters, we have to talk about Aros! Aros was a fiercely loyal character to Kallia. Despite their original interaction, I truly believe Kallia saw the true potential and all the best qualities in Aros. I never mattered if Kallia told him her secrets, he was always right by her side especially in the times where she needed him the most. He was a witty, charming, and such a soft character who delivered so much for me, as a reader.
Phantom of the Opera meets Moulin Rouge with Cinderella and Repunzel elements? Yes please! The writing style is lush with vivid descriptions, mysterious wonder, with an atmosphere so captivating, so familiar that it will hook you from the very beginning! I was in a complete trance of tension and anticipation as I submerged myself into this story line. Angeles has the kind of writing style that I love. One that catches you from the first page and makes you want to power read the whole book in one sitting. She laces her book with a story and plot laced with hints, clues, and truths that reveal just enough, but doesn’t show our author’s full hand. Leaving us, the readers, to theorize, wonder, and visualize what’s in store for us next. With so many questions unanswered and a cliffhanger of an ending, book two is bound to deliver a good time.
“It was wrong to justify what sort of hurt mattered and what didn’t. Anything that left scars came from hurt. Only now was she realizing the scars she bore and had trained herself not to see.”
I also want to talk about a lot of the content warnings in this book. Of course, please make sure you practice self-care and self-love when reading anything with content warnings. Even though there are clear elements of fantasy in this book, I want to say how accurate the representation is for being in a relationship or having a connection to someone who uses mind manipulation or essentially brainwashing as a tool to aid with their control and possessive behavior. I don’t want to go into too many details, but as someone who has lived with someone who has that kind of behavior, it’s an accurate representation. Ever emotion, every feeling Kallia feels due to the things Jack subjects her to, this is what it feels like to have that kind of presence in your life and to have them coming back after only short amounts of time from the last you saw them.
And of course, there’s the romance that blooms! This was the factor that surprised me the most. Even though it’s right in the description, it still took me by surprise and I still fell madly in love with it. I do wish we had more of it though. The romance was there, but there truly wasn’t enough for this to be labeled as a romance. So I’m hoping in the second book we’ll be seeing more of the romance elements that we’re all dying for!
Overall, I’m honestly shocked. It feels like an eternity since I read a ya fantasy that really reminded me of why I love the fantasy genre so much. Even after finishing this book, I’m still asking myself why I’m so surprised when it has so many elements that I love. This book is bound to be on so many readers’ top books for 2020. With this being one of my anticipated releases for 2020, I’m happy to say this was everything I wanted and more. If you’re looking for a darkly dramatic book that’s own voices then I can’t recommend this book enough to you!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, homophobia, minor hate crime, death of a parent, loss of a loved one, grief, talk of doxxing, talk of human trafficking, talk of child abuse, talk of slavery, police brutality, death, murder, anxiety, scenes of graphic violence (with ice wolves and the Snow Queen)
ARC was given bya dear friend.
This review is being published after the release date(March 3rd, 2020)
GoodReads Synopsis Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left desolate and encased in ice when the evil Snow Queen waged war on the powerful country. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.
Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is in hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them. Tala doesn’t mind—she has secrets of her own. Namely, that she’s a spellbreaker, someone who negates magic.
Then hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, and Avalon’s most powerful weapon, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.
Fellow readers, I find myself in the minority who have read this book and actually really liked it. I truly enjoyed many elements that this book gives and it was so easy to get sucked into the banter of the characters. And let me just say, if you’re a fan of Once Upon A Time or the graphic novel series, Fables then you’re going to find many elements that you love and enjoy in this book!
Our story follows our main characters Alex, the prince of Avalon, and his best friend Tala Warnock who team up with a group of friends to save Avalon from the forces of the Snow Queen and her relentless ways. Together they will travel through portals, defend against ogres and ice maidens, build their friendships, learn of an ever unfolding prophecy, and face off with the Snow Queen! And of course, with a cheeky firebird tagging along for the ride. Though the journey ahead will be rough, they will stop at nothing to free the kingdom of Avalon.
First thing you should know, there is a lot happening in this book especially in the first couple of chapters in this book. From family shenanigans all the way to trying to fend off ICE agents, the first handful of chapters will be the biggest part many readers might struggle through. This book is set in our modern day world, only with a twist, and you really see a lot of political issues happening in the news today such as addressing treatment of immigrants and subtle nods towards endangered species and poaching. There’s also a lot of references to events in history such as the colonization of the United States. While we have the modern day element, we also see many beloved fairytales and folklore being twisted into the modern day element. I’m talking constant references to Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat, King Arthur and the sword in the stone, talk of Briar Rose and the sleeping needle, or even Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf are all made as real people only they have a character or plot twist that is different from the many tales we all know them from. And if there’s one thing I’m hoping for, it’s maps in the final copy. I love maps and I think the idea of the author creating her own map to really help give the reader a better world view, not only of Avalon, but all the other realms stated in this book would be really amazing to see!
“Every encounter I’ve ever had with them has been less than cordial. Their objectives are anathema to Avalonian values. We have always opened our arms to the defenseless; it is not their crime to have been born in dangerous places.”
With all of that being said, the world building is thrown into a lot of information dumping which may also hinder a reader’s ability to read this book. My biggest struggle with the world building was understanding how the spelltech worked. Glyphs were also introduced into the world building as well, but that seemed easier to understand compared to spelltech, how spelltach works and what the main purpose of spelltech is supposed to be. There’s also threat level for the magic and spells which I thought was really interesting and that breakdown really puts into perspective how the magic can be handled or used. We also get an introduction to the nine types of magic and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was over excited about that part.
We also have a lot of characters and character introductions in this book. Of course we know about Tala, Tala’s family, and Alex, but we also have the Bandersnatchers group sent to protect Alex and we also have Lola Urduja and the Katipuneros. Every single one of them is unique and brings their own personality to the table. I mostly loved everyone that was introduced especially the Bandersnatches. The banter was fantastic and you really got the sense of a found family among all of them. Throughout the book we learn bits and pieces of them including more bits on Tala’s father, Kay. What I really wanted was more Cole Nottingham, but for now I’m satisfied with the details that slowly unravel. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t secretly shipping Cole and Zoe together. They just have an electric connection that I just can’t get over.
However, with every group of characters, there will always be that one jerk who everyone ends up disliking and I hate to say that I really, really disliked Alex. That’s right, the Prince of Avalon is my most disliked character throughout this entire book. In the beginning Alex comes off as very caring and really listens to Tala, but once the firebird comes, he changes completely. Once the group is in Avalon, the entire time Alex is being rude, keeping secrets and giving everyone the cold shoulder, trying to put everyone’s safety (including his) and well being in jeopardy, he constantly lets his anger and frustration get the better of him to the point of him going off on all his travel companions and leaving Tala to clean up the aftermath or apologize in his stead, and so much more! Honestly, he has no redeeming moments and we never once see him actually take the time and effort to truly apologize to everyone.
“I don’t know if his attempts at redemption will ever outweigh his crimes. But I decided in the end he should at least be given the chance to… I think everyone deserves that much.”
And before I forget, the ending of this book… How dare the author give us an ending like that?! The ending of this book was everything that I was hoping for. There was something about it that blew me out of the water. Maybe it was Tala defending her da or maybe it was seeing the firebird and Tala’s connection to one another, or maybe, just maybe the very last page had my eye bulging out of my head and looking around for the next book. Whatever the case, the nail was hit on the head with that ending.
Overall, I am pleasantly surprised with how much I adored this book. I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous on how I was going to feel about this book. The beginning was really rough for me, but despite that, I loved so many elements from this book. I have said this a few times on social media, but this has a lot of vibes of Once Upon A Time and Fables. I definitely recommend checking those out if you really loved a lot of the elements from this book. I can’t wait to see what book two will have waiting for us!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Rin Chupeco has written obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and done many other terrible things. She now writes about ghosts and fantastic worlds but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. She is the author of The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, and the Bone Witch trilogy.
Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.
PRE-ORDER PROMO 2: From March 3rd – 31st 2020, Rin Chupeco will be hosting an Instagram giveaway for WICKED AS YOU WISH! Just post a photo of the book with the hashtag #PRETTYWICKEDASYOUWISH and every participant will receive book swag (which will only be available during promos and not for the pre-orders)!
GIVEAWAY: The publishing house is offering 4 WICKED AS YOU WISH bundles. Open internationally.
Content/Trigger Warnings: Islamophobia, racist micro-aggression, cultural appropriation, chronic illness, talk of family death, grief, trauma,phantom pain, mention of rape and sexual violence, discussion of war and war victims.
🌻 The Dates & Breakdown: July 8th:(Pages 1 – 68) Zayneb Saturday March 9 Oddity: Unpredictable Creatures July 9th: (Pages 69 – 134) Adam Tuesday March 12 Marvel: Strangers July 10th:(Pages 135 – 207) Adam Sunday March 17 Marvel: Zayneb at the Perfect Place July 11th:(Pages 208 – 276) Zayneb Tuesday Marc 19 Oddity… And Marvel: Plotters July 12th:(Pages 277 – End) 🌻
A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.
An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.
When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break. Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.
Then her path crosses with Adam’s.
Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister. Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father. Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.
Until a marvel and an oddity occurs… Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting. Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.
Do you ever walk right into a book, knowing nothing about it, but then you end up falling deeply in love with it? That’s exactly what Love from A to Z will do to you! Friends, I never expected to fall in love with this book! A book that touches a little bit too close to home and still has the gears in my head turning, thinking even days later after finishing it.
In this book, we follow a two person, point of view. We have the point of view told through Zayneb and then we have the point of view told through Adam. However, this book is so much more than just two POVs. It’s also told in the format of Marvel and Oddity entries from their own journals. Something entirely unique and different that I have yet to truly see be done in YA literature…so far! I loved this element so much in this style. It was very easy to read and follow along in the journey between our two main characters. We also receive the element of texts and emails, but they definitely get overshadowed a bit with the journal element.
“Human rights. For everyone. Because that was the only way the world made sense. When the arc of care went far and wide, it journeyed and battled to exclude none.”
I think the most important thing that needs to be said about this book is how powerful and how emotional this book will be for so many readers. This is a book that has tears, has laughter and joy, but it’s also somewhere in between, something I can’t quite put my finger on. The only word to truly describe this book is masterpiece. It’s a masterful, unsparing exploration of the distorting weight of prejudice, discrimination, racism and Islamophobia, and so much more. I completely surprised that more readers aren’t talking about this book more from how insightful and important this book truly is.
While I can’t relate too much to Zayneb’s side of things, Adam’s story was an entirely different wave. Adam’s tale is bold and illuminating tale of a young man diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The author handles Adam’s story with such respect and delicacy, gently spooling out his struggles and triumphs in the face of the disease. Reading about Adam slowly unraveling things about his diagnosis just hit me in waves. While I don’t have MS, I do have a loved one who is. Every bit of Adam talking about his mother or even about himself, it was earthquake after earthquake of emotions. I think anyone who has a loved one with MS or does have MS will be touched immensely with Adam’s journey and personal struggles.
And while I’m on the topics that touched me the most… The fact that this book normalizes stuffed plushies and blankets was a breath of fresh air. I have never read a book that has openly said these are okay things to have to bring comfort in dark times and during your personal struggles. This part part hit me like a ton of bricks! S.K. Ali has made waves with having Zayneb’s character normalize those. I can’t even begin to express what that even means, as someone who struggles with mental health. This was perfection.
“Maybe that’s what living is—recognizing the marvels and oddities around you.”
Overall, I think the best way anyone can experience this book is to go in completely blind. I think the more you know about a book, it can spoil things and I thoroughly believe this is one of those books. It’s such an emotional read and it will bring anyone reading to their needs or at least get them thinking about everything that takes place in this book. This is a book that deserves to have more readers talking about, more discussions need to happen about this book, and I definitely think more readers need to pick this book up. It’s brilliant, beautifully written and a very well developed novel. I can’t recommend this enough!
Content/Trigger Warnings:Child trafficking, child slavery, minor section of child abduction, torture, death/loss of a loved one, grief, PTSD/trauma
“People lived because she killed.” “People died because he lived.”
Please note, that when you read this book there is no glossary in the book and not all the words are defined after they are said. 75% of this book (meaning the first two acts in the book) is with words most readers won’t understand without researching the word or going to the author’s website to look at the author’s glossary.
We Hunt the Flame is a story about two main characters; Zafira, a Hunter who has made a name for themselves and yet has a secret that could change everything, and Nasir, an assassin who has only ever delivered death to the people of the kingdom and suffered the consequences of caring too much and worse for loving someone. Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya. War is brewing on the horizon, the Arz keep closing in to consume the kingdom whole with each passing day. Sent on a quest, the hunter and assassin will come together with a group of people to track down a lost artifact that could change everything and restore magic to their world. But, they’re not the only ones searching for this artifact. A dark evil stirs in the shadows waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.
This was definitely an intriguing book, friends! I have a lot of feelings and thoughts to share with all of you with this review. It’s going to be a long one, so grab some snacks and a drink because there’s so much to break down. In the meantime, all the character art for this book can be found on the lovely and talented Arzzz’s Instagram!
I’m probably one of the few people I’ve seen who actually enjoyed this book. There were a lot of elements that made it mystical and of course, this book follows a group of people set out on a quest! I adore character groups and the wide range they offer when a book offers that dynamic. It’s probably one of my favorite things to read about especially in a fantasy book! Speaking of characters, let’s do an introduction! Also, all of these characters are snarky, witty little monsters that don’t really do much, but snipe at each other ever ten minutes and I am here for it!
“Be as victorious as the name I have given you, and bring the desert to its knees.”
🌻 Hunter of her village, hiding the fact she’s female (think Mulan) 🌻 Lost her father to the Arz and wants to avenge his death 🌻 Has a close relationship with her younger sister 🌻 Hasn’t talked to her mother in years 🌻 The only one who can walk through the Arz and return alive, untouched 🌻 Has two incredible, witty best friends, Deen and Yasmine 🌻 Hears the calling of the darkness 🌻 Has the power of a compass/navigator/tracker 🌻 The definition of stubborn and fierce 🌻 Suffers from trauma 🌻 Trust issues
“His mother used to say that a person without hope was a body without a soul.”
🌻 Prince of Death, the sultan’s assassin and crown prince of Arawiya 🌻 Zafira’s love interest 🌻 Takes everything seriously 🌻 Has a desire to rebel 🌻 Lost his mother at a young age by his own hand 🌻 Thinks he’s a monster and unlovable 🌻 The only one who can find Zafira 🌻 Hears the same calling of darkness as Zafira 🌻 Has a tattoo on his arm 🌻 Suffers from PTSD/trauma by the hand of the sultan 🌻 Also has trust issues
“If I could sell my arm to make him breathe again, I would. He did not deserve such a death.”
🌻 The sultan’s general, Altair 🌻 Bromance (on many levels) with Nasir 🌻 Huge flirt 🌻 Insanely witty 🌻 Has contacts, informants, spies everywhere 🌻 Friend of Deen 🌻 Similar personality to Zafira’s Yasmine 🌻 One of my favorite tropes: Enemies to Besties 🌻 Sultan’s favorite
“Safin are immortal, Huntress; we heal quickly and never fear old age.”
🌻 Full of wisdom and history 🌻 The glue to the whole group, Benyamin 🌻 Tattoo on his arm that means ‘truth’ 🌻 Has suffered great amounts of loss 🌻 Likes to read books in his spare time 🌻 Speaks in riddles, a lot 🌻 The type of character you’ll end up loving before you know you even love him 🌻 Dreamwalker 🌻 Immortal 🌻 Likes to keep his appearance flashy and sharp
“Kifah Darwish, sworn of the Nine to the great Calipha Ghada bint Jund of Pelusia, south of the realm.”
🌻 Fierce beyond measure 🌻 Most level headed person of the zumra 🌻 Carries around spices from her homeland 🌻 Does the hunting for the group 🌻 Banters with Altair 🌻 Watched her brother die
This is where things get interesting and very long! We Hunt the Flame is a young adult fantasy that follows two main characters and their point of views through this whole entire book. The book is actually broke down into three different acts to help section the book off with the first act setting the scene and giving the reader basic information about our main characters, the build up to the climax and establishing the zumra while still giving us details, and then the third act delivering the climax and height of everything falling apart to set things up for the next book. Each act will be broken down a little, spoiler free a little later in this review.
We Hunt the Flame is told from two point of views. We have sections that are specifically told from the Zafira and then the other sections are told from the perspective of Nasir. While I loved these two point of views, I definitely would have liked little snippets of the other characters just to have a little insight into what was running through their mind at the time especially during certain scenes. To me, it would have made things a little more interesting instead of constantly keeping it limited to Nasir and Zafira.
Okay, seriously though, this was actually an enjoyable fantasy to read. Each character has their own unique personalities, ideals, and what they want to see happen for the future of the entire kingdom, but they all have one thing in common… they want the artifact to set things right with for the people of Arawiya. Each character of this group has seen a lot of pain, suffering, and they’re all watching the kingdom fall into a deep darkness all pushed by the sultan and one mysterious shadow that’s pulling all the puppet strings. With each character in this group, you can’t help falling in love with all the unique personalities, their strengths, and their weaknesses. There are plenty moments between everyone in the group that will pull your heart strings and I’ll admit, there was more than one scene in this book that caught me crying. If I had to pick a favorite or a bias, I would say Benyamin is probably my one character I grew the most attached to throughout this book. While I love each character, individually, Benyamin is a slice of my heart and I want to protect him with my entire being.
However, let me say this, this book has some serious Assassin’s Creed vibes. Even more so when it comes to a lot Nasir’s parts. And it’s not due to him actually being an assassin! There are a lot of moments in this book that will remind anyone who has played the Assassin’s Creed Franchise of specific moments throughout various sections of the franchise. It took me a while to figure out why there were parts of this books that felt familiar and that’s why. It’s been a while since I played the games, but oh, does it remind me so much of that franchise!
As for the trope in this book, we actually get two tropes! A lot of readers are going to be focused on the ‘enemies to lovers’ trope between Nasir and Zafira. Which, I’ll admit openly, it’s really juicy. I wish we had a more moments with them because whenever they’re together, you can feel the electricity shooting between them. The build up between them is absolutely amazing, as well. When we finally get to the scene we’re all dying for, it delivers so well and it won’t disappoint. The only disappointment you’ll find is there’s not enough of it! I want more and I’m hoping the next book will give us a lot more of those intense, heated, steamy moments between Zafira and Nasir. However, our other trope is ‘enemies to besties’! I feel this trope gets overshadowed so much due to the ‘enemies to lovers trope’ in this book. Altair and Nasir don’t have the greatest relationship… in the beginning. In fact, I’m pretty sure Nasir would have shot Altair in the butt with an arrow long ago with how much Altair gets under his skin. Although, as the story blooms and grows, so does the relationship between Nasir and Altair. There are so many moments of bromance in this book and it takes Nasir a long time to realize the dear general actually cares about him to the extent of standing up for him and defending him against Zafira’s spite. These two also banter a lot and it’s absolutely hilarious and precious. If I could have a novella of just Altair and Nasir bantering at one another, I would be content for the rest of my days. With the drop of one giant information bomb, this is definitely a trope that deserves to recognized more. Also, I want to take this moment to appreciate the blooming companion ship between Altair and Kifah. While it’s not set in stone, there does seem to be a deep fondness blooming between the unlikely pair and my hopes is that our general and warrior queen will find an oasis of love between themselves!
“A thousand leagues and a thousand sands. For you, a thousand times I would defy the sun.”
Among all the good of this book, this book is far from perfect and I can understand why many readers have disliked this book or even struggled to enjoy this book to the fullest. Something to be conscious about while reading this book is that it truly does follow what a lot of ya fantasy books follow and it does hold many familiar tropes that you might be tired of reading about. It also has a very foreseeable story arc that many readers are aware.
One of the biggest things for me was the lack of a glossary in this book. While I briefly mentioned it before, I want to go into a little more depth with it. For myself, personally, the lack of a glossary was felt really hard while I read this book. I would say that about 75% of this book uses words that don’t get that added definition in the text, that will cause a language barrier for many readers. I had to get the assistance of my spouse to do some translating and they even struggled a bit with translating some of the words because of how some of the sentences were worded and it opened too many possibilities of what that specific word might mean. At the time of starting this book, I wasn’t aware there was a glossary made on the author’s website. Once someone finally told me about the glossary, it became extremely inconvenient to use the glossary. Suddenly I wasn’t just juggling a book, but I was juggling my laptop, my tablet, or even trying to keep in mind what was happening in the book while I searched the glossary on my computer. If the glossary had been put in the book from the beginning, I think more readers would be able to enjoy the language being used in this book and appreciate the way the words were used a lot more. For my experience, it was a constant struggle. The fact that you don’t see words being defined in the text until Act Three in this book, it’s frustrating and puts inconstancy into this book. So everything with the added language fell flat for the majority of the book.
Then you have the matter of pacing. This is not a fast paced book, but it’s not truly slow either. There’s a medium pace of the story build, but in a general sense, this is a steady pace. It wasn’t super slow, but it wasn’t fast either. When you hit Act Two, this is the part where you really how the pace for this book is set. Parts in this section of the book were dragged out for far too long and it’s easy to feel like the story is being dragged slowly or the story is getting muddled in unnecessary details or moments that weren’t truly needed for this book. Yet, even though there were parts dragged for too long or too much detail, the pace is still steady and it’s still easy to read.
Before anything else, there are a lot of hard hitting trigger warnings that can be extremely difficult to read about. Even for myself, there were bits where I regressed a bit and felt myself pull back from. Please make sure you know your limits and take a break from those sections. Know you limits, take care of yourself, I love you! ❤️
🌻 Act One – We meet Zafira and we meet Nasir. We also meet the Silver Witch, see glimpses of the Sultan and his way of ruling, we also meet Altair. We also get introduced to Zafira’s two closest, most trust friends, Deen and Yasmine. As the reader, we get a lot of detail in this first section, all of it to give the reader an understanding of the two main characters before Act Two begins.
🌻 Act Two – A lot happens in this section. This section makes up the bulk of the book. This is where our two main characters end up joining together. We also get introduced to Kifah and Benyamin during an action packed section. However, lots of trauma, tragedy, and a lot of dangerous, action packed moments develop. The reader gets full blown romance build up and all the bromance you could want in this section. Also, a lot of plot twists and turns, drama bombs, secrets, and all kinds of things get dropped for the reader in this section.
🌻 Act Three – This is where everything starts blowing up in chaos! This is the section that will probably leaving you feeling hollow and yelling at your book. Just so you know. This is the climax of the book. We meet the dark evil hiding in the shadows that’s pulling all the strings and I’m not going to lie, those seduction tactics were steamy! The lesson of ‘love being the fiercest power in the world’ is definitely emphasized in this section. The band of misfits really show how their loyalty and love for one another in the first chapters in this section. Once again, lots of drama bombs and secrets get dropped in this section. Also, steamy romance moments happen in this section between Nasir and Zafira. However, things fall to chaos this section and you should really keep a box of tissues near you.
“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”
Overall, for my own reading experience, I think I did enjoy the most of this book. This is book readers will either love or they’ll hate. For myself, I’m the odd one who finds herself somewhere in the middle. There were aspects that I loved and aspects I strongly disliked. In general, everything balanced itself out and I think many readers should give this book a chance. I’m eager to see how book two will unfold and what will happen next. That epilogue has me wanting more from this series and these characters!
Content/Trigger Warning: Human sacrifice, graphic death/murder,war themes, graphic violence, loss of loved ones, physical abuse, implied/talk of torture, threat of rape, talk of suicide, and there is a scene that might be hard for people with arachnophobia
“He told me that the tiniest pebble, when dropped into a pond, will leave ripples that will grow and spread in ways we cannot comprehend.”
One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos. Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.
Shadow of the Fox is an absolute blessing and Julie Kagawa has delivered a captivating book. The first chapter will leave you wondering what is about to happen next or have you saying “Just one more chapter!” Once I made the connections with Japanese mythology and legends, I was hooked and now I can’t stop talking about it. This has definitely been a book of great highlight for me and has made it’s way into my top 2019 books! And the second book in this can’t come soon enough!
In case you didn’t know, this is an own voices Japanese inspired fantasy. While this book does follow three main characters, there are two minor characters to keep an eye on because they may play a bigger role in the future that we, as the readers, aren’t aware of yet. They all end up being forced to work together, while a demon army rains death and destruction.
🌻 Yumeko – Raised by monks in the Temple of the Silent Winds, half kitsune, who is a lot better at illusions than she gives herself credit to. Soon she finds her life thrown into chaos as her only home is ripped away from her by the destruction of an army of demons. Now she will embark on a quest to a hidden temple to bring half of the ancient scroll to safety.
“In this vision, I have seen blood and flames and death, demons shrieking and rivers of bones, and the world grows dark with fear. But a single fox stands above it all, untouched, a great dragon cast in her shadow. Her name is Yumeko, child of dreams, for she is our hope against the coming darkness.”
🌻 Kage – Samurai/Shanobi of the Shadow Clan, one of the most feared and deadliest warriors and demon slayers ever, even though he is very young. Wielding the blade of Hakaimono, a sword sealed with one of the most deadliest demon generals of his time, Kamigoroshi, Tatsumi is constantly tested with how strong his will is. Sent on a mission by his clan to retrieve a piece of the ancient scroll by any means, instead he finds Yumeko and makes a promise to deliver her to the hidden temple in exchange for the scroll.
“He didn’t know how to laugh, or smile, or have any fun. He didn’t know the pleasures of the simple things – laughing, dancing, finding beauty in the world.”
🌻 Lady Satomi – The wild card in this entire story! Cruel, wicked, and unpredictable, she’s a diabolical lady with an evil plan up her sleeve. She’s the emperor’s favorite concubine, but little does anyone know what she does in her free time. Sacrificing newly hired maids to her demon army, Lady Satomi is after the ancient scroll as well. Leaving a trail of blood, death, and demons in her wake.
“Lady Satomi stood a few paces away, her hair unbound and tossed by the wind, the sleeves of her red-and-black kimono fluttering like sails. Her eyes were hard, and her lips were curled in a tiny smile.”
Minor Charactersto Watch
🌻 Suki – Bits and pieces of her were sprinkled throughout this entire story. Daughter of a celebrated flute maker, Suki is shipped off to work as the new maid for the favored concubine of the emperor to live a better life than running his shop. Soon turned into a spirit, Suki keeps holding on to the realm of the living to spy on the one who caused her death. I truly believe Suki will play a much bigger role in this whole series and I can’t wait for it!
“It was raining the day Suki came to the Palace of the Sun, and it was raining the night that she died.”
🌻 Seigetsu – A mysterious person indeed. A stranger who ends up saving Yumeko from a terrible situation. Possibly a lone samurai, wields a giant sword. He does come back later on in this book and that twist was everything I needed! I have no doubt he is going to be playing a key role in future books!
“He looked powerful, with his golden eyes and giant sword; even the wind witch seemed afraid of him.”
When all of the pieces of the scroll are finally combined together, whole once more, a dragon will rise and the person who has summons it will be granted any wish their heart desires. So long as their heart and soul is pure and good, that is. Should that person be anything but pure and good, I hope you brought a wet suit because it’s going to get very messy. Many people are searching high and low for these pieces of the scroll so that they can combine them to have their wish granted. And let’s not forget, there’s a demon army running rampant trying to bring the end of the world, true apocalypse type stuff. But some people really need their wish granted. You know, for the sake of all humanity to survive.
One thing I will say about this book, if you’re not familiar with Japanese culture, history, legends and mythology ( Granted, things and creatures mentioned in this book are described) then there will be a lot of parts that might not make a lot of sense. Blessings upon Julie Kagawa because she also included a glossary at the back of the book for those who aren’t familiar with the Japanese language, as well. But sometimes, our imagination cannot measure up to the real thing or seeing a physical representation. So if you ever read this book and you have no idea what different types of yokai and demons are supposed to look like, I encourage you to look things up.
I think the biggest thing for me with this book, it feels like a slice of familiarity. Reading about this group of people traveling together remind me so much of some of my favorite anime shows like Inuyasha or Samurai Champloo or even Naruto. I always love seeing various group dynamics come together and how their personalities mesh with each other. Julie Kagawa has done a marvelous job with this. The way Yumeko and Tatsumi are together is so unique and works so well with one another, that I’m constantly craving more. Even as characters were added to their group, the way the different personalities bounced off one another was so good. I love it and I can’t wait to see how the various personalities continue to bloom and grow in Julie’s future books in this series!
Of course, at the heart of this book you will find that there is always friendship. Yumeko constantly shows us in this book that kindness and unconditional love are the two most powerful forces in the world. As you read this book, Yumeko is slowly opening Kage’s world and showing him just how truly powerful both of those are. Their dynamic will make readers go speechless. I can’t even put into words how much I adore their dynamic and how much they open each other’s world. Not to mention, this is only the beginning of a slow burn romance and I am here for every second of it! The minute these two characters crossed paths, I knew I was going to be very attached to them and they did not disappoint!
“Watching her, I found myself holding my breath, unable to look away. For just a moment, with her dark hair rippling about and her skin glowing under the lantern light, she was mesmerizing.”
The most important thing the author weaves into this book is probably the most heaviest topic, but one that isn’t often talked about. We always have a choice, there is always two paths to take. No matter our past, no matter where we come from, no matter the sins our family has made or the wrong our ancestors have done, we have a choice of making things right and to start doing good. And there is no small or big act of kindness that won’t go unnoticed. That one little act can make ripples that we can’t even see or know about. It’s never to late to apologize, right any wrongs, and forgive. Hate is a very consuming and heavy thing for the heart and soul to bear, but revenge is just as heavy.
“The future,” she said, her voice echoing over the crowd, “is an ever changing stream. Every choice, every decision we make, sends it down a different path.”
Overall, Julie Kagawa has given me a book to love and cherish for the rest of my reading days. This is the own voices Japanese fantasy I needed to wake me up and push me to get back into fantasy. I don’t think I could love the book anymore than what I already do. By the time this review is going up, the next book in this series will be releasing shortly after and I’m so ready for. The ending makes you want to keep reading and I have a thirst for needing to know. Everything this book has is simply magical and holds such an important message. I simply love this book and I don’t think I will ever be over these characters!