Below | Review // A frigid read to turn your thoughts!

Greetings readers!

Last year I read The Demon Race by Alexandria Warwick, which turned out to be an amazing read! It actually made me cry! So I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to read Warwick’s new book, Below!

Below by Alexandria Warwick

Below (North #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Feb 4th, 2020
Publisher: Wolf Publishing
Goodreads

From the author of The Demon Race comes a YA dark fantasy series inspired by Inuit mythology.

In the heart of the frigid North, there lives a demon known as the Face Stealer. Eyes, nose, mouth—nothing and no one is safe. Once he returns to his lair, or wherever it is he dwells, no one ever sees those faces again.

When tragedy strikes, Apaay embarks on a perilous journey to find her sister’s face—yet becomes trapped in a labyrinth ruled by a sinister girl named Yuki. The girl offers Apaay a deal: find her sister’s face hidden within the labyrinth, and she will be set free. But the labyrinth, and those who inhabit it, is not as it seems. Especially Numiak: darkly beautiful, powerful, whose motives are not yet clear.

With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister’s face in hand. But in Yuki’s harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive.

Yuki only plays the games she wins.

*I was provided an advanced copy by the author* 

The Likes

I really enjoyed reading from Apaay’s POV. I thought she was such an interesting character. She was someone who was always striving to be enough but finding herself continuing to let down those she wanted to impress the most. She had so much heart and love that she didn’t see just how spectacular she truly was.

I’m not very familiar with Inuit mythology, but I definitely want to know more after reading this book. I was definitely hesitant about reading this book because as far as I am concerned the author is not of Inuit descent (I may be wrong). However from what I read, I think the book is well researched and the use of magic and myth is very interesting. The Face Stealer was definitely my favourite character and the actual depiction of the effects of his powers was scary to think about as much as it was enthralling to read about! I also loved to hate Yuki! A villain in the form of a child with knowledge that extends generations, so so wicked!

I thought the story was very unique. It is a tale of sisterly love and self-discovery. There were so many moments of heartbreak and suffering, so be aware that this book definitely packs the punches and pulls the heartstrings!

The ending was satisfactory and yet not at the same time. And not in a bad way per se. I was very much pleased with the direction the story took at the end there, but I was also left wanting a lot more!!!

The Questionable

The pace is what really got me. The story is quite slow and quite repetitive. It is not exactly the fastest quest narrative because there are a lot of stalled moments. There are not many action scenes and the thrilling ones don’t last very long. A lot of the book takes a big focus on the mental and psychological state of Apaay as she goes through these devastating trials in her life, which was actually very interesting to read about. I had just hoped for a quicker movement and flow of the story.


Overall, this was a good story. It is definitely unique and something I have never read before. It is a story of sisterly love, of proving ones-self and myth all set in the cold, deep north. While the pace is slow, the psychological and emotional journey of Apaay is surely one to interest many!

Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars 

Recommend: Yes, especially since Apaay is such a great character!

Let me know what you think! What books have you read where you get deep into the minds of the characters? Are you more plot-driven or character-driven?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Gods of Jade and Shadow | Review // In which I try to express myself as eloquently as possible

Greetings readers!

Many, many moons ago I saw the announcement for this book and stars bloomed into my eyes! A Mayan mythological extravaganza set in 1920s Mexico! I was overly excited but I also agonized over the fact that I would have to wait so long for it to finally fall into my hands.

And here we are today. (Well I actually read it about a week ago) But today is the day the review is actually going up!

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Gods of Jade and Shadow
via Goodreads

Pub Date: July 23rd, 2019
Publisher: Del Rey
Price: $35.00 CAD
Goodreads

The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.


Buy It!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon


The Likes

The Characters

Casiopea has to be the most raw, daring and incredibly real character I have ever read. As much as I like to believe that I find all characters believable there is always something inexplicably fictional about them that prevents that wholehearted belief, but there was something different about Casiopea. Reading about her felt trans-formative to the point where I was her at one point.  And perhaps this is all credit to Moreno-Garcia’s talent for writing because I 100% felt like I was in Mexico during the 20s living her life. That being said Casiopea was an angry, adventure-seeking, weary, courageous and witty character. I loved everything about her, from her bone-deep resentment of her family situation to her free-spirited, no shit-taking confidence. She was as about dynamic as one could get, constantly re-evaluating herself, the life she has lived, the one she is living and the one she dreams to live. Her coming-of-age story is an unforgettable one no doubt.

Hun-Kamé, Lord of Xibalba is most definitely my second favourite character of this whole lot! Moreno-Garcia’s take on the personality of a this Mayan god is definitely similar to what I pictured, but then she gave it that twist. That gut-wrenching twist that brings down the stoic, distant divine figure and like Casiopea makes him far much more real and tangible. He goes through quite a journey and transformation too which, alongside Casiopea’s, means that things get dangerous, murky and most certainly bloody.

Other characters…Should I mention Martín? Must I mention him? Is he worth my mention? He is not. He shouldn’t even really be in the “like” section. But I will say that I loved that Moreno-Garcia explored his mind too and the inner workings of his deep-set tyranny.

The World-Building

Mexico in the 20s was a wild time, as I’m sure it was elsewhere in the world. There was the inconsequential influence of American and European trends and fashion, but there was also the already established Mexican way of life. There was the once non-disputed authority of the Church being challenged by the state. There was (and still is the) colourism and racism manifested within the people separating neighbour from neighbour and family member from family member. All of which were touched upon in this amazing novel.

I loved that we got to see how starkly different life could be in different places of the time. There was the tiny, suffocating, strict streets of the pueblo. Then there was the fun yet dangerous paths of Mexico City. We even get to the flashy, high life of America for a bit.

But the best part had to be the Underworld. It just was. Trust me. It is a haunting type of beauty that really had me wanting to go there while simultaneously never, ever wanting to go there.

The Writing

There is just something about Moreno-Garcia’s prose that always gets me. Maybe it’s the information that she sneaks in here and there that enriches the story’s detail. Maybe it’s the wittiness of her characters that always had me cracking up. Maybe its the way that she most definitely made this feel like a fairy tale and yet still the most serious tale ever told. I don’t know what it is and I’m not making any sense so it leaves only one logical answer: magic. It’s magic.

There is a great amount of adventure to be had. It does have a quest narrative after all! The stakes are high, the challenges are messy, there is more than one Mayan god of death so you can definitely plan on some havoc coming from them! The action and intensity were perfect. The pacing was just right, speeding up when we needed to move and slowing down when we needed those sweet moments!  And it’s chalked full of myth and legend, with a glossary at the back so you don’t get lost at any point in turn!

THE DIVINE INTERVENTION PLOT. THIS BOOK IS THE EMBODIMENT OF THAT PLOT. YOU GUYS KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE IT WHEN THE GODS COME OUT TO PLAY AND MESS UP EVERYTHING.  It is truly wonderful.

There was a slow burn romance that literally tore me to pieces. And that’s all I’ll say on that.

And the ending. The ending. The ending. The ending. T H E   E N D I N G.

The Questionable

There are no questions to be had. The book is amazing.


Overall, I loved this book. It lived up to my very high standards and I think it shattered them. If you are one who gravitates towards historical fiction, this is for you. If you love fantasy, this book is for you. If you love fairy tales, then this is for you! If you want an incredibly well-written story with incredibly complex characters that is also full of danger, suspense and magic, then this is the book for you!!!!!!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: Of course I do!

Let me know what you think! Have you had the chance to read this one yet? Are looking forward to picking it up? Did I convince you to pick it up today? Please read this book. 

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Queen of Ruin | Review // A Solid Sequel!

Greetings readers!

Here I am with a long overdue review! Last year I had the lovely opportunity to read Grace and Fury and I am so fortunate to have been able to read the sequel this year! I really enjoyed myself  in the first book and I am proud to say that the sequel did not disappoint!

Queen of Ruin by Tracy Banghart

Queen of Ruin (Grace and Fury, #2)
via Goodreads

Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pub Date: July 2nd, 2019
Price: $24.99 CAD
Goodreads

A fierce sequel full of sisterhood, heart pounding action, betrayal, and intrigue in the royal court in a series that “breathes new life into the feminist story of oppression and resistance” (Publisher’s Weekly).

Banished by Asa at the end of Grace and Fury, Nomi and Malachi find themselves powerless and headed towards their all-but-certain deaths. Now that Asa sits on the throne, he will stop at nothing to make sure Malachi never sets foot in the palace again. Their only hope is to find Nomi’s sister, Serina, on the prison island of Mount Ruin. But when Nomi and Malachi arrive, it is not the island of conquered, broken women that they expected. It is an island in the grip of revolution, and Serina–polite, submissive Serina–is its leader.

Betrayal, grief, and violence have changed both sisters, and the women of Mount Ruin have their sights set on revenge beyond the confines of their island prison. They plan to sweep across the entire kingdom, issuing in a new age of freedom for all. But first they’ll have to get rid of Asa, and only Nomi knows how.

Separated once again, this time by choice, Nomi and Serina must forge their own paths as they aim to tear down the world they know, and build something better in its place.

The stakes are higher and the battles bolder in Tracy Banghart’s unputdownable sequel to Grace and Fury.


Buy It!

Indigo Chapters | Amazon


*Many thanks to Hachette Canada for providing me with an ARC*

The Likes

Serina was a really fun character to read about. She’s still dealing with how to be a leader on this island full of women when she’s been trained to submit for so long. It’s a struggle for her to find that sense of being in charge when she’s never even felt like she was in charge of her own self. I also loved how she put some of that grace training to work and that this book didn’t dump on “being a lady”.

Nomi was always fun to follow. She is just so fierce and determined and passionate. Qualities that she had been told to keep down and out of sight because they do not become of a woman, but after all she’s been through, the betrayal she has faced, she works hard in this sequel to make up for it.

Others… There were so many great characters in this book. You get to know a bit more about Val and the crown Prince, whose stories were a little flat before, but this time we get into some of the nitty gritty of their lives.

The plot was fast paced and always had that cliff hanger bit at the end of a chapters that would keep me totally sucked into the story. The trials that these sisters go through are truly heartbreaking, but I loved reading about how their different strengths helped them in different times.

The action and intensity were so spot on. I have to say that the final battle scene was classic and made me feel like a warrior myself!

The sisterhood was there and even though they get separated for a while the connection between these two MCs is stronger than ever because they have the hope of meeting again. And the sister-love stretched beyond Nomi and Serina, there is sisterhood and female friendship across the characters in this book as they come together to fight against their oppressors and society that have brought them down.

The Questionable

I just wasn’t fully on board with how the politics of it all was resolved. I mean I liked that they weren’t fully resolved and there were still questions to be had, but I felt like there was room for more…


Overall, this was a very good sequel! It held a lot more action scenes, and the feminist agenda was still there. The incredible sisterhood and girl power was a wonderful experience that I think lots of readers will enjoy!

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Recommend: Yes!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this one yet? Are you looking forward to reading it? What are your favourite sisterhood books?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Stripped | Review // Stepping out of my reading comfort zone!

Greetings readers!

Today we are stepping away from the YA world and jumping head first into the land of New Adult Romance.

You right now probably: WHat???? Rendz reading pure romance??? How???

And you are correct in questioning me because we all know I like romance as a subplot and not the whole plot! But when I got a reach out email about supporting Latinx romance writers I was all like “Well now I have to read it!” So that’s exactly how I talked myself into reading a book starring a school teacher and a male stripper. Yup.

Stripped by Zoey Castile

Stripped (Happy Endings, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Aug 28th, 2018
Publisher: Kensington
Goodreads

Skilled, sculpted, and sexy, the men of adult entertainment are the kind of guys a woman reserves for her fantasies, not her reality. But is there more to these professional hotties than meets the eye?…

The day Robyn Flores meets Zac Fallon is one of those days. You know, when you’re already late for work. Mostly because you haven’t really slept since your best friend abandoned you for her fiancé and her exponentially better life. The kind of day you drag yourself to the cleaners to pick up your laundry, only to discover you’ve got the wrong bag—Star Spangled sequined thong, anyone? So Robyn is definitely not ready for the ridiculously gorgeous guy at her front door, except that they have each other’s clothes. But then, is any woman ever ready to meet the love of her life?

There’s just one problem: Zac Fallon is not the love of Robyn’s life. Zac knows, despite the all-too-intimate dinner they share, he doesn’t have a shot at her. Because the next time Zac sees Robyn, he’s front and center of the male revue headlining her best friend’s bachelorette party. So much for wooing the pretty schoolteacher, much less impressing her old-fashioned family, with his upstanding lifestyle. Now he’s only got one way to win his dream girl. It’s gonna be the steamiest, most irresistible seduction she’s ever seen. And this time it will be no act…


Buy It!

Amazon


*I was provided a review copy by the editor in exchange for an honest review*

Context of Me:

I am probably one of the most awkward people on this planet when it comes to reading about sexy times. I mean I’ve read it before, I get red and blush but reading this was going to be different for 2 reasons. The first being that I 100% knew there would be plenty of sexy times so my face was prepared to blush. The second reason is that I told my sisters I would be reading this and the knowledge of them knowing I was reading a sexy-times book had me all kinds of colours. You know those memes about watching a movie and then all of a sudden a sexy times scene comes on and everyone looks at anything but the tv and each other??? You know that one, because basically its the same.

The Likes

The characters were interesting. I related a lot to the main character, Robyn. Her life’s story just resembled sort of where I’m headed and honestly that’s not the greatest thing, but you know it helped with relating to her. Some of the experiences with her Latinx family were really similar to my own, which was so awesome to read about. It talks a great deal about academics at one point and I was just hitting that #relate button time after time.

Now Fallon. Okay, after taking the time to get over his name (because I had a problem with it at the beginning) I enjoyed his character. He was interesting to say the least apart from his choice of career. I liked that we got to see the inner workings of his mind too and all the outside struggles that he had to deal with beyond his work. Personality wise, he is what I expected. Cocky, dirty boy with a soft heart.

Now let’s get to the romance because that’s what we are all here for!

Did I ship them? Sure.

Was it a little insta? Yeah yeah but like its cool. Actually it does take a little while for them to actually sleep together, so as a slow-burn lover I appreciated that!

On a scale of apple to firetruck, how red was I? Let’s just say my cheeks burned and I did my stupid giggle that comes out when I’m uncomfortable. That’s not to say the sexy scenes were bad, they were uh quite fun (is that a good adjective to use?). I’m a horrible judge of this, forgive me. I’ll just say that the sexy times were sexy, they are all different. I learned lots of new words. It was hot hot hot and I’m sure many people who gravitate towards the genre will find themselves enjoying the banter between Fallon and Robyn.

Now the cheese factor of this book was high. And I appreciate it because I was looking for cheese and I got the cheese and that made me happy.

Oh the DRAMA because if its one thing I live for in contemporary set books is the drama. There was good drama in this one. Lots of betrayal and awkward moments. I cringed, laughed and gasped so I’d say that the drama aspects were very successful.

The Questionable

The very ending. I just wasn’t on board with it because the realist in me came out and said “Woah, woah darlings, hold your horses there.” It didn’t spoil the whole book for me, but I just couldn’t get along with it.


Overall, for it being my first time reading a romance book it was a good experience. It’s a fast read, great characters, fun times, sexy times and a solid story. I’m glad I took a chance on it, reading out of my comfort zone is always a good thing. Next I hope to read a book that is a little bit more on the romcom side.

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Recommend: For my romance loving readers!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Do you ever read outside of your comfort zone? What romcom read would you recommend me?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Merciful Crow | Review // I didn’t know what to expect, but what I got was totally AMAZING!!!

Greetings readers!

You know when you go into reading a book and you really have no idea what to expect? I think I’ve asked this existential reader question before. From personal experience, I understand that there are two possible outcomes for something like this.

A) Either you are confused the whole way through and you have no idea what is truly going on.

OR

B) You come out pleasantly surprised and full of feeellllzzz

Thankfully after reading this book, fully unaware of anything about it, I came out more in the option B category.

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: July 30th, 2019
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Price: $25.99 CAD
Goodreads

A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?


Buy It!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon


*I read an ARC sent by Raincoast books!*

The Likes

Characters:

Fie: I’m not really a big user of the word “rad” but if I do use it I now have the perfect entity to which compare anyone or anything else’s radness. Because let me tell you Fie is 100% my definition of rad. She was an incredible character to say the least. Her family values alongside her own morals, goals and hopes were so intriguing. She would literally do anything for her fam (which Hi yes I relate to most definitely), but she also had that side of her that wished she wasn’t so part of the community she was in. I loved that this story explored how hard it was for her to be in the community she was but also be herself and defy the values that have been engraved in her so that she could save her family. I just really enjoyed reading about her journey, her struggle to accept that she wasn’t a carbon copy of every other member of her caste, but that she chose to branch out and break through the rigid class lines. That’s not to say that she doesn’t embrace her people, but through many obstacles she comes to learn that her breaking the cycle is what needs to be done.

I tried to make sense of that too. Just know that I loved her.

ON A FUN NOTE: I didn’t know exactly how to pronounce her name. I wasn’t sure if it was Fee or F-eye. SO throughout the whole book whenever I read her name in my head I would actually read Fee–Feye–Fo-Fum. How tragic.

Tavin: I tried hard to put up a brave face against him too, but I am a sucker for charmers and charm me away he did. Although we didn’t get a perspective from Tav, he does go through a lot of growth. There are prejudices to unlearn and bigotry that he has to recognize in himself and his own caste. What I really liked about him was how much heart he had and that he was willing to die so many times for others. It’s not surprising he had a self-sacrificing complex because that literally was his job. His little secret I guessed at..but was still super surprised.

Jasimir: So this relationship started out very rocky. Why? Because I did not like him for 70% of this book. Oh geez. Um. How do I even explain this. If we need to talk about growth, then Jas is one who definitely needed to grow. He needed to learn the difference between sympathy and empathy because as much as he felt sorry for those who were suffering around him he did little to make a difference or to show his compassion. AND THIS FRUSTRATED ME like it did Fie. But then we get to that 30% and he really starts to change and stops being the brat I had been calling him and that is why he is in the liked category. There is definitely still a lot to come from him, so I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we don’t revert back to the mess he was before.

The World and It’s Politics

A caste system based on different birds. Um YES. This was actually so cool. It was a harsh system no doubt and I wouldn’t exactly want to part of this world but it was an interesting take on a caste system. It is an unfair world in which the Crow Caste, Fie’s people, are treated like less than dirt, hunted to extinction, yet are so critical to aiding the other castes from a plague. Fie spoke so much truth, I was nodding my head and agreeing with her so much. The extent to which the Crows were mistreated was so mind-boggling, but you can’t help but look through history of the real world and find the parallels that run through it.

The Magic

It is in the teeth. TEETH. Owen really put magic in teeth and I am 1000% on board with this. I loved that each bird had it’s special power, I loved that the teeth could call on the power of the people who once lived but also allow the crows to relive those lives in memories. I don’t want to say much because I want you to experience the glorious magic when you read this book.

BUT THE BEST PART. I had gotten my wisdom teeth removed when I read this book so reading about bloody, magical teeth was such great irony I couldn’t help but love it more.

The Romance

Slow burn, enemies-to-lovers that shipped with my entire being. Thank you very much.

There was an abundance of diversity in terms of sexuality and gender identity. Jasimir is gay, and I’m pretty sure Tav is pansexual because he says he doesn’t care for gender. There is a non-binary side character. There are also characters of colour throughout the novel. And these are more than just quite side characters but major persons in the novel that are critical to the plot!

The Questionable

It’s a lot of walking. A lot of journeying. So the action was not the most prominent thing. I am an action kind of girl, I live for the thrill of the fictional fight. And there are plenty of action scenes still I felt like there was a lot of slow movement that had me teetering on the edge of disengagement.


 

Overall, I super duper enjoyed this one. I think the characters just did it for me. I think Fie completely won me over and I loved her story and everything to do with her. The writing was wonderful, the pace a little slow, but the overall story was a very powerful one!

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: YES! I think lots of readers will like this one!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you looking forward to reading it? What kind of bird would you want to resemble? A weird question, I know.

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Beholder | Review // It was good but also (maybe) comes with a side of cringe???

Greetings readers!

I hope you have all been having a wonderful month so far! I’m coming at you with a post that is long long overdue! Today I’m reviewing the first book I completed in June and I’m very excited to share my thoughts about it since I am sure EVERYONE is salivating over this cover!

I mean…BEHOLD THE BEHOLDER!

The Beholder by Anna Bright

The Beholder
via Goodreads

Pub Date: June 4th, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Price: $21.99 CAD
Goodreads

Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.


BUY IT!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon


*I read an ARC of this book handed over to me by a friend!*

The Likes

The Characters

The Author’s letter did not lie when she mentioned that there were going to be a lot of male characters because oh boy there were many. But let’s start with the star of this whole thing.

Miss Selah. Wow. She is me and I am her. I’m not even joking. Except for the fact that she has a very troubling family situation and a very green thumb, neither of which pertain to me. Still, personality wise, I was in a way reading about myself. The shy and reserved kind of a pushover, yet 10/10 ready to fight when enough courage is mustered. I really enjoyed reading from Selah’s perspective and going through the works of juggling political machinations and her own feelings. Those are some tricky waters to deal with. That is to say, I didn’t agree with all her decisions and I think she is a little more put together than me…because I most certainly would have thrown a bigger tantrum in this book than she did at a certain point and that’s all I’ll say.

Okay so the boyzzz. I don’t know how to go about this because it could get spoilery….

So maybe I’ll just be vague and say that they were more interesting as you spend some more time with them. At first glance they all seem a little similar but give them some time and you can see the different colours. I for one think she’ll end up with a *someone* but um I don’t wanna say who or think to much about it in case I’m wrong.

The Plot and Pace

Like I said before this really is a book about treading in the waters of international courts. This is Selah’s story of finding a way to be political and be true to herself but also about her really finding out that politics is never a fair game and people will use you to their advantage. It was a lot less Pirate-y than I was hoping. We spend some time on the sea, but not enough to say this is a Pirate title. But the cover still 100% matches the book.

As for the pace, it was fairly even. It was not fast-paced, but not incredibly slow either. There are definitely some intriguing twisty things that happen and you have to give it time to do so.

I Loved That She Brought in the Classics

Bright’s book is advertised as a Cinderella x Odyssey kind of read.  10/10 you will get that. But what they don’t tell you is that if you have a degree in English studies or you fancy yourself knowledgeable of Old English lit then you will definitely find much more to enjoy in this book! Beowulf was here. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was most definitely here. And a few more European fairy tales and legends you might not have been expecting! I thought it was GREAT. Like it’s not that obvious, but I could totally pick out the connections.

The Romance

Talking about this counts as spoilers. I’m keeping my lips locked, but the romance aspect of the book is very important to how things roll.

The Questionable

Just two things. But two major things that kinda had me at a crossroads of whether I really liked it.

The World

What? When? Where? Why? How?  So it takes place on our Earth. I know this because England, Mexico, the US and other real countries were mentioned. I was kind of uneasy with the way she explained the origins of the Asian characters because she just kept using “Asia” …unless they were from another made-up country.

Other than that, the point of the story is that we have this made up country who is basically unknown to the world. Okay fine. But then Bright brings in this made up empire that is out colonizing and terrorizing other countries. And there is a really complex story there to understand it all, but I feel like I didn’t quite get it.

Then can we talk about the time period because I don’t get it. Given the info I got from the book, this story could either be taking place right after the big movements  in colonization or a few decades after. I was very unclear about it all. Like it didn’t seem modern, but the characters dress wasn’t a good indicator either since she talked about cardigans and leggings and dresses….

I am confusion.

The Language

She calls her dad “Daddy” and I just can’t.

And I say this as a hypocrite because I, Rendz, call my father “Daddy” too.

BUT I AM 21ST CENTURY WOMAN and Selah is an honestly Idek what century woman!

She also calls her step-mother “smother” many, many times. And ummmm nope.

I know authors can choose whatever language and style they want for the voice of their characters and not every fantasy book I read has to have that distant, rich, guttural voice. But I couldn’t help but cringe at times, sorry.


Overall, this was a fun read no doubt despite my qualms with it. It is not a high fantastical, fast-paced adventure, but it is the story of a girl, forced to do lots of things against her will and tread the murky waters of political courts. It’s a romantic and mystical tale I’m sure many story and fairy tale lovers will appreciate!

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Yes! It is a story to behold! (Bad joke I know)

Let me know what you think! Have you read this yet? Did you enjoy it? How stunning do you think that cover is? What fairy tales or legends would you love to read about?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Storm Crow | Blog Tour // Review

Greetings readers!

I am so glad to be part of this blog tour for The Storm Crow, a new and highly anticipated read! Many thanks go out to Raincoast Books for inviting me to be a part of the tour and for sending over an ARC!

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: July 9th, 2019
Publisher: SourcebooksFire
Price: $25.50 CAD
Goodreads

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.


Buy It

Chapters Indigo | Amazon


The Likes

The Characters

Let’s start with Thia who was such an incredible character! I absolutely adored her. After basically witnessing the destruction of her beloved country, Thia’s grief totally overwhelms her and succumbs her to a several months long depression and it takes her a long time to call it what it is. She carried this exhausting weight with her all the time and it prevented her from being who she was before the destruction. Throughout the story and the challenges she is put through, Thia has to find a way to live on with that sadness that used to keep her under her covers. And as the story goes on, Thia really starts to shine. We get to see her spunk, her extreme curiosity and her passion. Her fears and grief are always near at hand, but she slowly starts to creep out of the darkness that she once found so comforting and confronts the world before her. The struggle is never easy and Jospehson doesn’t shy away from showing how tough it can be to hold on to hope. It’s very rare to see mental health rep in fantasy and I thought that this was an incredibly interesting take on it!

Ericen…hmmmmmmmmmmm okay. So I really liked to hate him??? And then I pitied him??? At one point he is just so terribly horrible and then things happen and other things are brought to light and it’s just a whirlwind of emotions with this guy. I don’t even know exactly what to say. I can’t say we get a completely unbiased portrait of him because the entire story is told from Thia’s POV so we don’t get to go into his mind. But he is very interesting and mysterious. And at the end there I had a lot of questions about him and I honestly don’t know what he is going to do next which is the most exciting bit.

Other characters…Are kind of spoilery if I talk about who I want to talk about. Um, but here are some I can talk about! The best friend, Kiva, was so ferocious and charming I loved her! She was a great, fiery addition to this adventure! The sister, Caliza, is also really interesting. We don’t get a lot from her, but she is in a tough situation, that by no means excuses some of the things she says to Thia, but a little empathy is required everywhere.

BUT THE VILLAIN-CHARACTER…OMG I HATE HER!!!!!!!

The World

Love. Love. Love. 

Okay, first off the ARC came with a map and an index with all the countries of the world and it was just amazingly helpful. There’s a lot happening here and not all of it is easily memorable so having those two points of reference was amazing.

Besides that, the countries and people of this world were so fascinating. The ways in which they lived and practiced and fought were pretty, pretty different. The story revolves largely around the threat of one country becoming too powerful and conquering and slaughtering only to swallow their victims into their own body.  Thia is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen to her country of Rhodaire but things get messy.

The politics of this world were very tricky. Thia gets into a very sticky and messy situation where they are trying to break her and use that depression against her. It was hard to read about sometimes because I wanted to help but there was nothing I could do obviously, so I really had to hang on during this wild ride. It’s not all black and white. There are are shades of grey that really bring a richness to the troubles of these countries.

The Magic

Giant, magical, elemental, crows. That’s it. That’s all you need to know. The index also explained the types of magic found in these birds so that was really helpful too because we get a better understanding of how Rhodaire used to function with them and why they are so pivotal to the characters. I really liked this magic system, I did. It was not exactly what I was expecting and it definitely comes with it’s surprises.

The Action and Intensity

Perfect for this high fantasy! There were lots of moments when I was screaming and yelling at the characters for making terrible decisions, but it was fun! I enjoyed myself immensely while reading this. It has an even pace with the promise of danger always looming and when it finally comes you can’t help but be surprised and completely sucker punched by it!

The ending took me a little by surprise, I was not expecting things to go down the way they did and that is always a wonderful thing because it amped up the risk!

The Romance

I’m not gonna even spend time on this. Um. What do I even say? Things happened. Then more things happened. Then some things happened too quickly and I was kind of like ??? and then OTHER things happened and I cringed out of second-hand embarrassment. So I will just say that it helped with the drama, but I refuse to get attached for *reasons.* But I think others who’ve read this might already have made an attachment. Who knows?

The Questionable

Maybe I just wanted a little more with the magic. I felt like bigger things could have been done there even though the window for it was limited. I just think that’s what’s missing for me to give it the full stars!


The Quickie Fan Art

This is a very–very–quick sketch of a certain drawing that is actually in the book. I felt inspired when I read it so I took a shot at it!

It’s most definitely not perfect and I plan on doing a much better and cohesive version of it sometime soon! But for now enjoy the quickie sketch!


Overall, I had a wonderful time reading this book! It had all the right action and suspense. Thia is an incredible character with such raw experience and heart. The politics of the world will have you nervous and the magic in awe! I am so excited to see where the sequel takes us next!

Rating: 4.85 / 5 Stars (What is even this rating, Rendz????)

Recommend: YES! Oh yes, oh yes!

Let me know what you think! Are you looking forward to reading this? Have you ever read fantasy mixed with a mental health rep before? Isn’t that cover gorgeous!?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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