Today I am coming at you with some reviews for some books that I read this past May!
Many thanks to the publishers for approving me for an e-ARC from Netgalley. (Yes, this is me finally posting reviews that have been sitting in my drafts for weeks!)
Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart
Pub Date: April 20th, 2021
I liked it but at the same time gosh this took a while to get through.
1. The world building was interesting, but there was so much to take in at the very beginning. The world and its conflict needed a lot of attention to know who was who and who hated who and who wanted revenge on whom. I also felt like there were lots of important aspects that were overlooked despite being quite pivotal to the plot, like The Yielding. I did not understand its purpose until about halfway through. It kept being mentioned, but we never really got to see it happen on page.
2. I really liked the characters. Usually when it comes to dual-POVs I have a favourite, but this time around I was pretty intrigued by both sides. Jazmyne the “meek ” and Iraya the “reckless” are really how I’d describe them. Other characters weren’t as fleshed out as I’d hoped and I was hoping for so much more from them. But then the ending came around and there was a complete 180 character change and I was seriously confused.
3. So this was a revenge story on multiple fronts and what can I say other than TRUST NO ONE. People were pulling alliances and betrayals left, right and center. It was good because it kept me engaged in trying to figure out who was on whose side…and what they were after.
4. I found the pacing off. It wasn’t smooth and there were some time jumps that skip over possibly exciting events which was disappointing. Instead we got a lot of repetitive secret meetings and talks. This is supposed to be a long book about witches! Give me more witchy action!
5. The magic system was cool but still needed more flesh to it too. Again it took me a while to understand how it works, and I still might be unclear about some stuff, but it does have potential. I like that it was forged from gold and how if created different power dynamics for different users. Very interesting.
6. Speaking of power, the politics were messyyy which is always my favourite thing. We have people seeking power, running from power, betraying power and its just a big mess. The race to become ruler is not simple. It crumbles relationships and leaves people in the dust (read sacrifices). And as I said this is a revenge story on many fronts and phew, ultimate power plays a big part in this. I liked that there is clear no good side or bad side. Each side has oppressed the other. Each has a hero that is villain to the other. And working together honestly seems like such a far fetch idea. I enjoyed the questions it made me ponder.
7. So it’s slow, lots of repetitive secret meetings and too many unknowns made the story drag in the beginning and middle. The third act though? Great. I wish we had gotten more of that. Things got 10x messier and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
8. The “romance” if you could call it that was not it for me. There were no interactions for the characters to truly find chemistry, they just started looking at each other at some point I guess. There are two potential romances…and well neither seem to be it for me. Who knows about later.
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
Pub Date: May 18, 2021
Publisher: Flaitron Books
This was so cute. Literal serotonin .
1. The characters were so much fun. Izumi is the living the actual fantasy of finding out you’re a princess and then dealing with the entire package. She was funny and cheeky. Her voice was simultaneously self-deprecating and very serious. And I loved Akio, serious grumps/poets are adorable.
2. The whole finding out you’re a princess plot was wonderful. Learning all the rules and then trying to meet these impossible standards is stressful and not easy. Plus being a woman means your every move is picked at! It was a strong message this book wanted to relay… although I do wish it had gone a little deeper into it.
3.Strong themes of identity and family. Izumi struggles with finding her balance as both Japanese and American. Especially growing up in a white neighbourhood with confederate and rainbow flags flying as the book says Izumi deals with many feelings of “unbelonging” that she has to work through. And then finding her place with her newfound family proves to be just as difficult. I loved exploring the relationship with her dad. They were so awkward together lol but I would have loved more moments between them.
4. The romance was sweet. A total modern princess and her guard trope?! Yes, give it to me and it GAVE. I like how Izumi acknowledges that she’s in her own enemies-to-lovers romance, but that she’s also such a romantic. I giggled every time she was like “he’s hot, but ughhh” or when she’d start fantasizing about him. That was fun. I would like to petition for a book about the mom and dad though. Thank you.
5. The whole book was evenly paced and there wasn’t too much action save for some hijinks Izumi gets into and the scandals that follow. It was pretty entertaining throughout and I wasn’t bored, but I felt like a little more drama was missing.
6. It is tagged as Princess Diaries meets Crazy Rich Asians and I think it delivers. Even without those comps, this book alone has much to say about identity, family, self-acceptance and love. They’re all messy and complicated. Even when perfection and answers are demanded, we might not have them all and that’s okay because as we grow and discover more about ourselves we learn to embrace our imperfections and unknown answers more.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
And that’s it for me! Let me know what you think! Have you read either of these? What kind of fantasy and contemporary books have you been loving as of late?