The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye (Review)

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Started: 8/1/2017
Finished: 8/5/2017
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Disclaimer: I looked up the mazurka on YouTube last night and started crying in the club, so one might say I am quite emotional over this book.

How Evelyn Skye managed to write a sequel better than the first book makes her a magical writing fairy and deserving of all of the respect in this dark, dark world. I loved The Crown’s Fate and now it is my child. I will cherish and love it forever.

The Crown’s Fate picks up pretty much where The Crown’s Game left off, so if you haven’t read that then what are you doing reading this review? Go read The Crown’s Game quickly! Please!

Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, Pasha is set to become the Tsar, and Nikolai is supposedly dead. Also Yuliana is still a hard-ass and one of my faves because she is so gosh-darn unlikable. Vika is adjusting to having to abide by every one of Pasha and (mostly) Yuliana’s strict rules, forced to wear a bracelet that ties her directly to the will of the tsardom. Meanwhile, Nikolai is in the Steppe dream bench and unable to procure a physical form and escape. It’s not without the help of his (undead?) mother that he is finally able to leave the Steppe and reenter the real world as nothing more than a shadow of himself. Literally.

The Crown’s Fate continues the magic and whimsy of the first book, but this time with more dire consequences and higher stakes. Nikolai is tainted by his mother’s energy and vindictive over the ending of the Crown’s Game. He sees that Vika had moved on and believes her to be in love with Pasha, fueling the fire burning inside of him. Nikolai finds that he has the strange desire to kill Pasha and overtake the tsardom.

I’m not sure why, but lately I have been loving the sequels in duologies more than the first books. This same thing happened with Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Crooked Kingdom has become one of my favorite and most cherished books.

The Crown’s Fate has beautifully built off the world that Evelyne Skye built and the transition is smooth like butter. Emotions are heightened, characters are further developed, and we get more of Yuliana. And with Nikolai back in the real world, the love triangle continues.

One of the things that I have enjoyed the most about The Crown’s Fate is how little romance plays a part throughout the narrative. The story is not dominated by who Vika will choose and her love (though differing) for both Pasha and Nikolai. The story is about magic and intrigue and the intense politics of an Imperial Russia on the brink of revolution. While The Crown’s Fate is a few decades before the actual Russian Revolution and deals mostly with the Decembrists, the urgency to save Russia is palpable.

This book is such a treasure and gift to my life and my love for Russian history and culture. I love the way that Evelyn Skye makes it known how vast Russia’s culture is and how diverse of a country it is. Russia spans two continents, and sometimes when people write about Russia they forget that. The ethnic diversity in Russia is well-highlighted in this duology.

There is nothing bad I could say about this book. I love it and I’m so glad that I have had the chance to read it and experience the Imperial Russia that Evelyn Skye has created in her historical fantasy.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (Review)

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Started: 7/31/2017
Finished: 7/31/2017
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

READ THIS BOOK! That would be all I have to say, but I am pretty much bursting at the seams with how much I love this book! Jen Wilde has created a story that can, will, and does speak to so many people and it has provided so much happiness, support, and understanding for me as well. Here we follow two different perspectives. One is of Charlie who is a Chinese-Australian budding YouTube and movie star who has been invited to appear at an American convention called SupaCon. The other perspective is that of Taylor who is one of Charlie’s best friends and she’s a super fangirl who is autistic and also has anxiety. The entirety of the book takes place at the convention and hi-jinks, love, and fun ensues!

I loved the representation and diversity in this book. One of our main characters, Charlie, is Chinese-American and embraces her culture. There is also autism and anxiety rep (Taylor), bisexuality rep (Charlie), and lesbian rep (Alyssa – Charlie’s love interest).

The description of anxiety in this book is spot on. I have never read a better representation of what anxiety feels like on a day-to-day basis as I have in this book. It’s as if Jen Wilde has tapped into my brain and put into words what I have never been able to explain to other people. I really wish people in my life who don’t have anxiety would read this book and finally understand what it’s like. I felt like I could really relate to Taylor and the things that she’s gone through trying to understand and relieve her anxiety.

The romance in this book was top-notch. It was so sweet and angsty and fluffy and absolutely wonderful! It was so much fun watching the romances blossom and lines get crossed and misunderstandings unfold. Sometimes I read so much fantasy that I forget how much fun contemporary romances can be.

Just as a little warning, I wanted to let people know that there are some bimisic comments from the antagonist (Charlie’s ex-boyfriend Reese) so beware of that if that is something that makes you uncomfortable.

Over all, I absolutely loved this book. I am so impressed by the contemporaries I have been reading this year. None of them have disappointed me thus far and Queens of Geek is no exception. This truly is a love letter to fandom members and I can’t wait to reread it in the future!

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee (Review)

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Started: 7/19/2017
Finished: 7/21/2017
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Tash Hearts Tolstoy is one of the best YA contemporary new releases I’ve read this year. It was funny and sweet and fun and heart-wrenching and absolutely delectable. I loved every moment while I was reading this book and practically breezed right through it.

We follow Tash Zelenka as she and her best friend, Jack, are creating a breakthrough YouTube series called Unhappy Families based on the novel Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. In a flash their show is mentioned by a famous YouTuber, they get 45,000 subscribers, and are nominated for a Golden Tuba (a fictional YouTube award). Fame really does happen overnight for Unhappy Families and Tash has to figure out how to deal with all of the attention on top of figuring out her sexuality and fielding flirty texts and emails from a YouTuber friend.

I was really impressed by the asexual representation in the book and the way her feelings were described by Tash. I don’t solidly identify as asexual, but I am questioning and trying to figure myself out as well. But everything that Tash explained she was feeling, or not feeling, I could relate to in a way that confirmed emotions that I have personally been trying to understand.

The writing was beautiful and witty and exquisitely paced. It never felt rushed or drawn out, and I loved how realistic everything was, despite the fact of their overnight success. In the age of the internet, fame is fickle and can flicker bright or dim at the drop of a hat. And the way YouTube, Tumblr, and other forms of social media presented in this novel were described feels true to life. As a YouTuber, I could tell that Ormsbee really understood how it all works. (Or she is very good at imagining and guessing how it works!)

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Tash Hearts Tolstoy. I want to scream from the mountain tops how absolutely amazing this book is and why everyone should read it. Such a beautiful coming of age novel, and I can’t wait to reread this in the future.

Prom Queen Perfect by Clarisse David (Review)

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Started: 7/7/2017
Finished: 7/7/2017
Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

This was such a sweet novella! I was expecting something light and quick and fun, and that’s exactly what I got and more. It’s definitely a mix between Gossip Girl and quintessential teen rom-coms, with the feeling of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Prom Queen Perfect follows Alexandra dela Cruz (I was so excited to find that we share a first name!!) and she is the most popular girl in her school and is currently in the running to win the coveted title of prom queen. But her once less-than-kind feelings towards her classmate Adam Cordero turn romantic and she finds herself helping out a socially-invisible girl at school who turns out to be her best friend.

I don’t read too many novellas, but I loved the pacing and the way that it felt like this was a complete story. Nothing was missing and there was enough drama and romance and teen angst to make the reading worth-while.

Also, the fact that Alex isn’t exactly the most sympathetic narrator was one of my favorite parts! I have a soft spot for main characters that are rough around the edges, and she goes through such a nice and realistic character arc, which was certainly refreshing. I also loved Adam and how serious, but funny and witty he was. The characters’ romance was completely believable and I was definitely rooting for Alex by the end of the novella.

All in all, I completely recommend this novella for anyone looking for a fun, short, and easy contemporary to dive into and read in one sitting.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Review)

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Started: 7/9/2017
Finished: 7/12/2017
Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

If you have seen my reviews for Sarah J. Maas’ other books, you’ll know that 3-stars is a pretty low rating for me. A Court of Thorns and Roses failed to entice me and enchant me the way it has seemed to do so for everyone else and their mother. There are some things that I found I liked, but for the majority of the book it was teetering on almost a 2-star rating. Other parts it could have been a 4-star rating. But 3-stars seems to be where I continued to fall everytime I reflected back on my experience reading this book. Would I recommend it to anyone? No.

Things I liked:
-Feyre (She was a good mix between clueless and strong and smart and stubborn. However she did mostly remind me of Celaena, so I’m still on the fence about how original of a character she was.)
-Lucien (Honestly he’s probably the best character in the book next to Feyre’s sister Nesta. He was funny, quick-witted, loyal, and just one of my favorites in any scene he was in.)
-Tamlin (Also fantastic, and I actually liked him as a “Beast” sort of character. The masks were an interesting addition as well.)
-The family dynamic in Feyre’s family.
-The loyalty of Tamlin’s court.
-The world building. I love the idea of the different courts representing day, night, dawn, etc. and also the seasons.

Things I disliked:
-The utter lack of representation was appalling. It was blatantly exclusionary to POC and LGBTQ+ people. I’ve never seen this kind of intense lack of representation. Even in Throne of Glass there was more rep. It’s kind of incredible.
-RHYSAND. How do people even like this guy? I kept thinking back to all of the “villain” characters I have loved over the years, and Warner from the Shatter Me series comes to mind. I absolutely loved him (and still do) despite him being portrayed as a “villain” for a lot of the series. Still, he had more redeeming qualities compared to Warner. I honestly don’t understand the draw towards Rhys. I can understand Tamlin (as he is sort of an anti-hero and not necessarily completely likable), but Rhys? Really? I don’t want to spoil anything and give exact examples, but damn. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how people like him so much.
-The intense misogyny was a bit too much for me. I’m kind of tired of fantasies being so heavily misogynistic. It’s as if fantasy writers think they can’t write a fantasy without it. So many scenes made me extremely uncomfortable, and the idea that so many people were consuming this and enjoying it without a critical eye disturbed me. (Especially considering how many people call Rhysand their book boyfriend.)
-The convenience of it all. Really, so many things just felt so convenient. The ending especially. It felt like it wrapped up too fast and too neatly, I’m not even sure how she was able to write another book continuing on with the story. This could have 100% been a standalone, and maybe it should have.

A lot of this stuff makes it seem like I hated the book more than I did. I honestly didn’t hate it and actually kind of enjoyed it, but there were so many problematic elements I couldn’t leave them out and feel good about writing this review. Again, I don’t think I could (in good conscience) recommend this book to people. If you enjoyed the book more than I did, then I’m glad you had a better experience and I don’t shame you at all for enjoying it. I really wish I could have enjoyed it along with everyone else. I don’t think I will be continuing on with this series anytime soon. I might give a little glance to the second book’s summary, but I might just try to check it out at the library if I REALLY want to read it.

Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman (Review)

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Started: 7/13/2017
Finished: 7/15/2017
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

This was such a sweet novella and I’m glad that I finally broke down and decided to buy it! I absolutely loved how fluffy and sweet it was. It’s definitely refreshing considering how much high fantasy I’ve been consuming lately. I loved the characters and the incorporation of religion and just how light it was. However, I would have really enjoyed seeing it as a full-fleshed novel. I felt like it had so much room to grow and expand on the story and characters, but I don’t mind the novella length either. It’ll be a nice little nugget of goodness to come back to later whenever I’m feeling down.