ARC Review: The Fever King by Victoria Lee // an incredible debut about trauma, magic viruses and wonderfully queer kids

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the author for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary: In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Release date: March 1st

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book review - pink

★★★★✩

It’s hard to say in a sentence what The Fever King is about.

You could say it’s about Noam, a Jewish Latino bisexual teen who survives the magic virus that kills most of the population and leaves him a witching, status which grants him a spot among the people he and his family have always fought against. You could say it’s about impossible decisions and the line between right and wrong. You could say it’s about intergenerational trauma and what it does to the individual and to a community.

The Fever King is a book that will draw you in and make you care about the characters and the story. Even if you are not familiar with the genre (I would say it’s YA political fantasy/dystopia), the narrating voice of Noam guides you through the book in a way that draws from more light-hearted YA books. That is to say, Noam is a joy to read and he manages to make you smile and laugh even amidst all the stuff that goes on in the book. Sometimes I found like this could have been toned down a little, and at times I felt like the type of narrative used was more proper of a first person POV than the third person used here, but that’s just a personal preference.

I loved the magic system and the fact that, even with magic powers, people still need to know the science behind what they’re doing (eg knowing physics in order to move objects with telekinetics). That’s something I wish was more present in books with magic because it’s always so interesting to see and much better than when magic has no explanation or rules.

One of the strongest things this book has to offer are the many political themes that I don’t feel qualified enough/entitled to talk about. I encourage you to read Victoria Lee’s words about some of the themes that shape this book.

I’m not going to lie, I struggled a lot (for months!) trying to write a review, because this is such an important book and I felt so bad not giving it a full five stars. I also read an early copy and I don’t know how much the final product will be edited, but I fully plan on rereading it because the only problems I had were in the writing, which to me feels somewhat debut-y. I felt like the worldbuilding could’ve been better interwoven into the plot instead of being sometimes dumped in a big bulk. Sometimes it was tell-y instead of show-y, and I think certain *hints* were a little too obvious for my tastes.

Those are just my personal preferences though, and I don’t want anyone to think that this isn’t an incredible debut. There were so many points that made me laugh out loud and others made me SCREAM because they were some of the most evil things I’ve seen done by an author, and I mean that in the best way possible of course.

Some reasons you shouldn’t go into this book is if you’re expecting it to be about 100% good people (they’re not) and also if you don’t like gay shit. But in that case you can gently go fuck yourself and it’s your loss I guess, because e v e r y o n e in this book is wonderfully queer.

TWs: list of trigger warnings on the author’s website, plus a few I feel like I should: sickness and death of a child, mention of c.p., murder, blood, gore.

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Review: Vortex Visions by Elise Kova /// the sequel to Air Awakens we’ve all been waiting for

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the author for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary: A desperate princess, a magical traveler, and a watch that binds them together with the fate of a dying world.

Vi Solaris is the heir to an Empire she’s barely seen. Her parents sacrificed a life with her to quell a rebellion and secure peace with a political alliance. Now, three years past when her wardship should’ve ended, Vi will do anything to be reunited with her family.

The Empire is faltering beneath the burden of political infighting and a deadly plague. Yet, Vi can’t help but wonder if her inability to control her magic is the true reason her parents haven’t brought her home. Suspicion becomes reality when she unleashes powers she’s not supposed to have.

Powers that might well cost her the throne.

As Vi fights to get her magic under control, a mysterious stranger appears from across the world. He holds the keys to unlocking her full potential, but the knowledge has an unspeakable price — some truths, once seen, cannot be ignored.

All eyes are on her and Vi must make the hardest choice of her life: Play by the rules and claim her throne. Or, break them and save the world.

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book review - pink

★★★★✩

Aaaaand we’re finally back in the Air Awakens world! I can’t express how much I missed AA and its characters, and while I still haven’t managed to reread (because five books are A Lot), I still remembered enough details to dive into this sequel/spin-off and catch all the references.

⇒ Do you need to read the Air Awakens series first? 

You probably don’t need to, since this follows different characters, but at the same time I feel like you’d lose a lot by not knowing what happened before. Kova built a rich, fantastic world with simple but important rules, and there’s a lot that the first series covered (relationships between the different parts of the Empire, the culture and superstition around sorcerers, the way magic works, the history of the Empire, etc) that still plays a huge role in Vortex Visions. While most of it is explained here again as the story goes on, I feel like to get the best reading experience you really do need to have read the first series.

⇒ Review 

This book takes place around twenty years after the events of Air Awakens and sees Vhalla and Aldrik’s daughter, Vi, as the protagonist.

SOME SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE END OF THE AIR AWAKENS SERIES

If you’ve read the end of the first series, you’ll know that Vhalla’s firstborn is to be sent to the North to live among them. I didn’t remember all the details about the deal and why that came to be, but more is explained here.

Vi is seventeen and while her parents visit her when they can, she has never set foot outside of the North. She has also never met her own twin brother (only younger than her by a few minutes), but communicates with him through letters.

When Vi’s power is Awakened, it’s not as she or most people imagined it, and she must keep it mostly hidden as she trains with Sehra, the Chieftain of the North. And with her power come visions of the future that promise nothing good to come.

I think one of Elise Kova’s strongest abilities, other than the worldbuilding, is how she creates an interesting cast of surrounding characters that relate in different ways to the MC. We see some familiar faces (Jax!!!!, Sehra) and a few new ones: Ellene and Jayme are Vi’s friends; Andru is the son of the Head of Senate and recently sent to the North to assess Vi’s qualifications as future Empress. Taavin is the “voice”, the boy Vi (the champion) summons with her newfound power.

I really liked most characters even though I don’t have strong feelings towards both Ellene and Jayme. I wanted to know more about Andru and I think the clues about his own side romance were pretty obvious and I can’t wait to see it unfold in the next issues. I cared less about the main romance, I’m sure the next books will make me like it more but so far I just don’t see a reason why they should be together. I do however appreciate how inclusive this was (as were Kova’s other series): we have Andru who’s gay, Vi’s brother who’s so-far-not-specified queer, and Ellene has two moms (Sehra and her wife).

I found the ending a bit abrupt, like, I thought I still had one more chapter to go but that was it. But speaking of which, there’s a few appendixes at the end with maps, more explanations on Lightspinning and elemental affinities, a pronunciation guide (it’s not V-ee but V-eye! but I will still keep reading it as V-ee in my head lol) and a recap of the story of Dia. I really appreciate that because it makes the worldbuilding more accessible and idk, I just really like when authors do that.

Overall this is a strong first installment for a spin-off and I can’t wait for the next one.

Review: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

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Summary:

Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

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book review - pink

★★★✩

I had a hard time trying to come up with a rating with this before even trying to write a review, so I’ll just get straight to the point: I listened to this and I usually can follow audiobooks very well. (If you’ve read my Audiobook Guide, you know this by now, and you’ll probably laugh at me for this. If you haven’t read it yet, go read it and then come back so you can laugh at me.) I’ve listened to fantasy books with worldbuildings supposedly more complicated than this one and felt like I understood them with no problems. And yet, listening to this I felt like I was lost half of the time. Part of it I’m sure is due to the fact that I didn’t like the male narrator – while he can do dialogues and voices splendidly, he’s always so….monotone and boring when actually narrating. And since he had most of the worldbuilding to do (because of Séverin’s POV), that was a big deal that made me not enjoy this/not understand this as much as I would’ve liked. But seeing as I had similar problems with the other narrator, which I liked much more, makes me think that the book itself was confusing too.

The pacing and amount of action was also not for me. I usually prefer slower books where I get to know the characters slowly and everything builds up to a big action-y thing, but not before a good 200 pages of build-up in which I actually get to care about what’s going on and I am able to familiarize myself with the stakes and consequences if things go wrong. In this book, I felt like one action scene was followed by another, and this, on top of my problems being able to follow the audio, threw me off things.

I also feel like there was a disconnect between how I felt about the characters for like, 80% of the book and how I felt about them by the end. I definitely loved the found family element in this and I think the squad + Hypnos are going to be a lot of people’s new favorites, but I hard a hard time getting invested. It’s not that I didn’t care about them, but I couldn’t stop seeing them as very arbitrarily constructed archetypes that had to make up just the perfect recipe in order for the reader to fall for them. No, I’m not trying to go the “let’s compare every trait of every TGW characters to every trait of Six Of Crows characters” route, because while I definitely would recommend this books to SoC fans, such a trait-by-trait comparison has been done before and I don’t think that’s a very kind thing to do to an author. These are Roshani Chokshi’s characters, but they only started to feel like actual people to me at the end of the book.

And what an ending this book has. I might not have known what was going on most of the book but BOI did the entire ending shook me to my core. That’s where I saw the characters come truly alive for the first time, and everything about it made me want to jump right into the next book. Which, you know, won’t be out for at least another year, which is totally. fine. Yep. Most definitely. f i n eJUST KIDDING I kind of need it right now.

Another thing I loved is the casual diversity and how everyone’s identity is fleshed out and is fully part of them. Because of the problems I had following the book and because so many of these characters’ experiences (effects of colonialism, being biracial, being brown, being white-passing, not fitting in or being welcome in any of your cultures, etc) aren’t in any way similar to my own, I don’t feel like I can properly talk about them in depth, so I definitely encourage you to look for more reviews. For example, check out Mel’s review in which she talks more about Enrique’s character. All I can speak for myself is that I loved the fact that not one but TWO characters (Enrique and Hypnos) are bi/pan and that they’re kind of in a low-angst love triangle (which I’m hoping is going some kind of way *coughs*polyam triangle*coughs* in book two but WE’LL SEE).

Overall I can say that I definitely liked a lot of elements in this but I also feel like I didn’t get the best experience I possibly could out of this, and I can’t gauge how much of that is actually the book’s fault, which frustrates me to no end. I’m going with a 3 stars rating for now, but I WILL reread before the next book comes out and this time I’ll get my hands on a paper or digital copy, since the audiobook didn’t work for me.

Book Blitz: The Fever King by Victoria Lee — Excerpt & Giveaway

A few weeks ago I received an ARC of The Fever King by Victoria Lee, one of my most anticipated releases of next year, and weeks after having read it I’m still thinking about it. This is a book you can’t miss out on (YA political fantasy! all-queer cast! important and always-relevant themes such as intergenerational trauma!) and I’m so happy to be able to be part of the book blitz that Xpresso Tours organized, so thank you so much to them for the opportunity!

Read on to find info and preorder links, as well as an excerpt from chapter one and a giveaway for a chance to win one of five ARCs!

 

The Fever King
Victoria Lee
Published by: Skyscape
Publication date: March 1st 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 1:

He stood there for a second, staring woozily at the mess while sirens shrieked in his ears. He was sick. Magic festered in his veins, ready to consume him whole.

An outbreak.

His father, when Noam managed to weave his way back to his side, had fallen unconscious. His head lolled forward, and there was a bloody patch on his lap, yellow electricity flickering over the stain. The world undulated around them both in watery waves.

“It’s okay,” Noam said, knowing his dad couldn’t hear him. He sucked in a sharp breath and hitched his father’s body out of the chair. He shouldn’t—he couldn’t just leave him there like that. Noam had carried him around for three years, but today his father weighed twice as much as before. Noam’s arms quivered. His thoughts were white noise.

It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, a voice kept repeating in Noam’s head.

He dumped his father’s body on the bed, skinny limbs sprawling. Noam tried to nudge him into a more comfortable position, but even that took effort. But this . . . it was more than he’d done for his mother. He’d left her corpse swinging on that rope for hours before Brennan had shown up to take her down.

His father still breathed, for now.

How long did it take to die? God, Noam couldn’t remember.

On shaky legs, Noam made his way back to the chair by the window. He couldn’t manage much more. The television kept turning itself on and off again, images blazing across a field of static snow and vanishing just as quickly. Noam saw it out of the corners of his eyes even when he tried not to look, the same way he saw his father’s unconscious body. That would be Noam soon.

Magic crawled like ivy up the sides of the fire escape next door.

Noam imagined his mother waiting for him with a smile and open arms, the past three years just a blink against eternity.

His hands sparked with something silver-blue and bright. Bolts shot between his fingers and flickered up his arms. The effect would have been beautiful were it not so deadly. And yet . . .

A shiver ricocheted up his spine.

Noam held a storm in his hands, and he couldn’t feel a thing.

 

Author Bio:

Victoria Lee grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent twelve ascetic years as a vegetarian before discovering that spicy chicken wings are, in fact, a delicacy. She’s been a state finalist competitive pianist, a hitchhiker, a pizza connoisseur, an EMT, an expat in China and Sweden, and a science doctoral student. She’s also a bit of a snob about fancy whiskey. Lee writes early in the morning and then spends the rest of the day trying to impress her border collie puppy and make her experiments work. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her partner.

For exclusive updates, excerpts, and giveaways, sign up for Victoria’s newsletter at https://victorialeewrites.com/newsletter/

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

 

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!
(US/Canada only; ends November 15th)

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Interview with Tara Gilboy, author of “Unwritten” (out on October 16th)

I was lucky enough to have been approved for an ARC of Unwritten by Tara Gilboy, a middle grade novel about a girl who has been taken out of a story into our real world and is trying to find out more about the world she comes from and especially about the author who wrote her in the story in the first place.

What I like about “books about books” is that there’s a lot of potential for reflections about fiction, about characters’ agency, about why we read and why we write stories. This book did just that, on top of an intriguing and sometimes a little dark plot.

I want to thank author Tara Gilboy so much for agreeing to this interview, and thank you to Jolly Fish Press for sending me the ARC through Netgalley!

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Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Gracie Freeman is living a normal life, but she is haunted by the fact that she is actually a character from a story, an unpublished fairy tale she’s never read. When she was a baby, her parents learned that she was supposed to die in the story, and with the help of a magic book, took her out of the story, and into the outside world, where she could be safe.

But Gracie longs to know what the story says about her. Despite her mother’s warnings, Gracie seeks out the story’s author, setting in motion a chain of events that draws herself, her mother, and other former storybook characters back into the forgotten tale. Inside the story, Gracie struggles to navigate the blurred boundary between who she really is and the surprising things the author wrote about her. As the story moves toward its deadly climax, Gracie realizes she’ll have to face a dark truth and figure out her own fairy tale ending.

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Silvia: How would you pitch your story to someone who hasn’t read the blurb?

Tara Gilboy: Thank you so much for having me today! Unwritten is a middle grade novel about a girl who lives in the real world but is actually a fairy tale character whose parents took her out of the story-world when she was a baby, so she could escape the fate of what was written about her. When she seeks out the story’s author, that fate – and the story’s villain — soon catch up with her.

S: Tell us a little bit about the main characters of Unwritten.

TG: The main character of Unwritten is Gracie, and she is a flawed character, which is perhaps why I love her so much. She can be stubborn, and she has a bit of a temper, but she’s also passionate and determined. When her mom refuses to tell her about the story written about her, she takes matters into her own hands. Walter is also a character from the story Gracie was born in. He is quieter than Gracie, and a bit kinder and more insightful, but he can also be stubborn in his own way. He’s less willing to believe in the “magic” of the story world, and is always looking for a scientific explanation. But I think he helps keep Gracie grounded. Both characters are fiercely loyal to one another.

S: What inspired you to write “a story within a story”, so to speak?

TG: You know, it’s interesting, because the idea for this novel didn’t start with it being a “story within a story.” It started with the idea of being on the run from someone. I kept having this recurring dream about being forced to flee in the middle of the night, and packing all my things in the car before some sort of supernatural entity caught up with me. I started playing around with this idea and doing some freewriting about shaping it into a story. What would these characters be running from? That idea kind of gradually evolved into the “story within a story,” which quickly became much more complicated than I had anticipated, with questions about fate and free will. I always smile to myself when readers mention the book being short and simple because there were many, many drafts that were extremely long and confusing while I figured this stuff out.

S: This is your debut. Have you always wanted to become a writer?

TG: Oh, yes, for as long as I can remember. I’ve wanted to write pretty much since I learned to read, and I still have some of the stories I wrote in elementary school. My mom recently gave me a letter I wrote to a publisher when I was in third grade, asking if I could write books for their series. (Apparently she never mailed it!) Unfortunately, until I was in my twenties, I had never actually met a writer, and so writing started to seem like this kind of “impossible dream.” Then in college, I took some creative writing classes, published a couple short stories, and worked as an editor at a literary journal, and I realized: “Hey, I can really do this!”

S: Do your characters sometimes take their destiny on their own hands or do you always have complete control over what you write?

TG: Oh my goodness, my characters ALWAYS take their destiny in their own hands. I am horrible at outlining because if I plan out everything in the story ahead of time, when I sit down to write, everything feels a bit “forced,” as if I am trying to make my characters do things that don’t feel natural for them. I actually just wrote a scene the other day, where at the end of it, a character had done something that took me completely by surprise, and when I had finished the scene, I kind of sat there thinking “Wow. I had no idea that was going to happen when I sat down to write.” But it took the story in a new and wonderful direction I had not anticipated, and was much better than what I had initially planned.

S: What are your favorite stories to read about? How do they inspire you in your own work?

TG: I feel like this changes all the time depending on my mood. Sometimes I go through periods where I am reading a lot of historical fiction, or ghost stories, or classics, or fantasy…. One thing that is consistent, though, is that middle grade and young adult are my absolute favorite books to read – I rarely read adult novels anymore. I feel like in middle grade and young adult novels, the stories are condensed into their essential elements – there’s no room to let the story digress and go off on tangents – so the focus is on telling a good story, which is something that is really important to me. I always start off my writing day by reading: reading books I love keeps me inspired. I’m working on another fantasy right now and reading a lot of Harry Potter to keep myself inspired. I think JK Rowling is a genius at both developing character and creating exciting plots.

S: How did your experiences as a writer influence you when writing the character of Gertrude Winters?

TG: Gertrude’s character is interesting to me because I was so reluctant to bring her into the book in a major way, and I’m not sure why. My critique partners kept telling me in draft after draft that I needed to reveal more of who she is and explain why she had written the story she did. I think in the initial drafts, I really didn’t know why Gertrude wrote the story, or perhaps I was hesitant to really start examining my own creative process through her. I think in some ways Gertrude’s writing process is really an exaggeration of the writing process of many writers. We all kind of “write behind our backs,” so to speak, where we draw on things in our own lives, or repeatedly explore themes that are important to us, sometimes subconsciously. My critique partners have pointed out that a lot of my work explores relationships between mothers and daughters, something that I never set out to do intentionally, but comes up again and again in my writing. Gertrude, I think, takes this tendency even further, basing her characters on people she knows, and drawing on her own experiences in a huge way as she shapes her stories. And, of course, one thing that I have in common with Gertrude is that I love writing villains – they are such interesting characters!

S: I think the way you talked about heroes and villains in this book was brilliant. What do you hope your young readers take away from it?

TG: Thank you so much! This idea of heroes and villains is something that evolved in later drafts, and it is SO important to me. I am so concerned lately by this kind of “call out culture” that is so prevalent on social media right now. Any time someone makes a mistake, or does or says something bad, that mistake can immediately be made public, and more and more, I’ve been seeing people labeled as either “good” or “bad,” without compassion or consideration for “why” the person might have done the things they did. Everyone makes mistakes – we don’t say or do the right things all the time, but the important thing is being able to learn from those mistakes, move on, and try to do better next time. People are so much more complex than the labels we ascribe to them. Heroes often do bad things, and villains are capable of doing good. I hope readers will be inspired from my book to offer compassion and forgiveness when others make mistakes, and consider the whole person, rather than simply the mistake.

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ARC Review: The Queen Of Ieflaria by Effie Calvin // F/F romance with princesses, kittens, dragons and unicorns

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.  

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book review - pink

★★★.5

Short review: this was good and very gay and it had kittens, dragons and unicorns. You can stop here if that sounds like something you need in your life (and honestly, you can never have enough of all those things).

Actual review: I liked a lot of the stuff in this, and that’s also the biggest problem of this book.

Let me explain, but first let’s talk about what I liked, because as you can see from my rating I did like it.

I liked the main characters Adale and Esofi. I liked them in their differences and on their own. Their romance was sweet, slow paced and even if there was miscommunication it was almost always resolved pretty soon and easily.

The world felt well researched and thought out, and I felt like if given more page time this could become something big and epic. Unfortunately, I think this is where the book fell short: there were a lot of elements that were interesting and I would have loved to see more of, but there just wasn’t enough time to explore everything. I would have liked fewer elements but explored more deeply. One example of this is the science vs religion thing that was only briefly mentioned. The thing is, I can live with something being mentioned in passing, but the way this was shown felt like it was going to have a lot of weigh in the story, when in fact it didn’t. The same could be said about other worldbuilding elements as well as the relationships between the main characters and secondary ones.

One thing I did love about the world was how absolutely not heteronormative this was. Everyone is pan and that’s really cool, I 100% approve.

Overall, I liked it but I felt like too many things were shoved into it, with a world that was too big for 175 pages where we also had to get to know the characters and see a relationship develop.

Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable read and it’s definitely clear that the author has very good worldbuilding skills. I think with a bigger focus on fewer elements and more page time this could easily have been a five stars read.

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What are your favorite mythological creatures?

Book Rant: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

Hardcore SJM fans need not engage, kindly move along without reading this review.

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Summary: The Winter Solstice. In a week. I was still new enough to being High Lady that I had no idea what my formal role was to be. If we’d have a High Priestess do some odious ceremony, as lanthe had done the year before. A year. Gods, nearly a year since Rhys had called in his bargain, desperate to get me away from the poison of the Spring Court to save me from my despair. Had he been only a minute later, the Mother knew what would have happened. Where I’d now be. Snow swirled and eddied in the garden, catching in the brown fibers of the burlap covering the shrubs* My mate who had worked so hard and so selflessly, all without hope that I would ever be with him We had both fought for that love, bled for it. Rhys had died for it.

*why is this book so bad starting from the blurb

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★✩✩✩

Me after finishing the book:

IM FREEEEEE!!!!!!!! WORST EXPERIENCE OF MY FUCKING LIFE

So let’s start by saying this book was almost entirely useless.Things this book has:

• lots of walking around Velaris
• shopping for presents
• lots of bad innuendos
• me physically rolling my eyes every two pages
• way too much internal monologue about who had fucked whom, where and in which position
• one really long and really cringy sex scene
• somehow galaxies were involved in the sex scene and that’s not even the weirdest thing that’s ever happened in a sjm sex scene
• mate mate mate mate mate m a t e ma te ma t e mat e m ate mAtE mATe MATE matE M a te
• “gentlemales”
• I repeat: g e n t l e m a l e s
• a few cute moments
• a few funny moments
• a tiny bit of actual fucking foundation for the next books

Basically Feyre and Rhys need to retire and let secondary characters finally have the spotlight.* The only POVs I genuinely enjoyed were Cassian’s and Nesta’s, which, surprise surprise, will be the focus of the next book. Fucking finally.
*except SJM has a talent for ruining main characters so what happens when secondary characters become the main ones? Uhhh we shall find out I guess.

Speaking more generally, this book was just mostly bad. I’m not only talking about the writing, which needed a lot of editing, but the general feeling surrounding it all. Starting from the blurb, which is just a few sentences from the first chapter copypasted together. People, the blurb doesn’t even make sense. That extra sentence about snow? It shouldn’t be there. They obviously needed one more sentence to make the blurb longer and didn’t know what else to pick. It’s just bad. Whoever did that did a very poor job. And that makes me angry.

Authors, even big ones, still have to fight hard to see their books picked up by publishers, be sold, and then be read and hyped by readers. But apparently that rule doesn’t apply to SJM. The publisher doesn’t even put any effort in pre-release things like writing a decent blurb, because they know her books are going to sell anyway. And I mean, I’m here writing this review because I’ve read this book despite swearing that I was done with this series after ACOWAR, because she has a talent for making you want to know what happens to the characters, even if (especially if) they’re not the main ones.

But the least the author and the publisher could do is put some fucking effort and deliver a product that’s better than this. Instead, it feels like either SJM is a rare case of writer who gets worse every book she writes, or the publisher has decided that she’s still going to sell regardless how many rounds of editing her books get, so they might as well never edit them, thus never delivering a polished book.

Because, folks, we might have started making fun of the word m*te for shits and giggles, but it’s become a big fucking problem, especially in this book. You know the writing advice that says to just use someone’s name when talking about them, instead of saying, idk, “the French girl,” or “the red-haired boy”? SJM has never heard of it. Think about your own internal monologue. Do you think of your spouse as “my spouse” all the time? Or do you simply think about them with their name?

Cassian and my mate’s sister did not speak to each other at all.


This sentence just does not flow. And it’s just one of about 70 times the word m*te was used (and keep in mind this is a 200 pages book). I wonder how many creative writing students failed their assignments for doing exactly what the most hyped YA fantasy author these days does constantly.

Do we also want to have The Talk about the weird connotations and implications that this word has? Oh boy, this conversation is about three years late, but I absolutely Do Not like all this animalistic shit, starting with m*te, moving on to how many times people purr, referring to people as males and females (ah, the good ol’ binary) (YES I FUCKING KNOW SHE CAN’T CALL THEM MEN AND WOMEN BUT JFC JUST STOP), to the weird possessiveness that the whole m*ting system entails. Also!!! Toxic masculinity!!!!!!! Weird unchallenged sexist comments!!!!! Trying to make Rhys sound soooo feminist when apparently his job is being horny 24/7!!!!!! Have Rhys (a literal sexual abuse victim) talk about how he can’t stand to be next to his m*te without, and I quote, BEING BURIED INSIDE HER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ohhhh now you’ve done it, you got me mad. If you read a SJM book it seems like thinking/talking/having sex for most part of your day is the normalcy. Which it can be!!!! But guess what! Ace people exist!!!! People with low sexual drive exist!!!!!!!!!! That’s normal too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh no I’m using too many exclamation points let me hire an editor. When every single character you portray acts the same exact way towards something like sex, you’re telling your readers (mostly teens) that that’s what’s expected of them, that that’s how everyone is like. It’s no secret that diversity doesn’t exist in SJM’s world, and that involves how people view sex and romantic relationships too.

It’s amazing that YA books have sex positivity. But books need to also acknowledge that ace people exist too. Protagonists and love interests that aren’t some sort of sex gods need to be there too. Thin boys, fat boys, trans boys need to be there too. If after >10 books a writer can’t get out of her own self-insert fantasies about what type of men she likes, maybe she isn’t a great writer after all. Maybe she needs to listen to the (still too small) part of her readers that demand More, that demand Better.

I went on a HUGE tangent and I don’t even fucking care. There were parts of the book that I liked. I even enjoyed most of its central part. I enjoyed Nesta’s PTSD portrayal and she’s the only reason I’m going to read the next book because parts of her trauma and her way of dealing with it have the potential to mean so fucking much to me. But I’m going to lower my rating to 1 star because I’m tired of all the things I mentioned above, I’m tired of being treated like shit by an author and her team because they expect me to worship her when she doesn’t even try anymore. My 1 star isn’t even gonna change anything because everyone’s giving this the usual five stars, but I don’t care. I’m here and as a reader I demand better, I demand the bare fucking minimum, and I don’t think this book even tried.