Highlighting Teen Voices in YA

Recently, a really harmful article was published attacking important marginalized and teen voices in the YA community. In the aftermath of this shitstorm, I have been wanting to promote and highlight teen voices within this community and specifically on my blog.

If you are a teen within the YA community and would like to guest write a post for my blog, you can contact me through Twitter @bookfaereads or you can email me @ bookfaereads@gmail.com.

I am looking for posts written by teens about any aspect of the YA community, whether it be teen inclusion, diversity, and other such topics. If you are interested and have a blog post in mind, then let me know!

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!

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (Review)

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Started: 7/23/2017
Finished: 7/26/2017
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆☆

The cover was what really drew me in to Falling Kingdoms. It had a very cool Assassin’s Creed vibe to me, and now having read the book I can see the symbolism and how things tie in with the story. This book has been marketed as a Game of Thrones for teens, and I could see where people would get that idea. Falling Kingdoms is a fantasy story about three feuding kingdoms, Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia. Aurano is rich and overflowing with crops while Limeros is stuck in what seems like a never-ending winter. Paelsia is the poorest of the three kingdoms, it’s only source of income its failing wine industry. We follow quite a few characters and their points of view, all from different kingdoms. The main character throughout this story arc is Princess Cleo of Auranos. She is young, naive, and headstrong. She doesn’t want to marry the man she is betrothed to and she wants to save her sister from a strange and unknown illness that she fears will kill her.

The intrigue and drama felt a little juvenile to me and I didn’t feel like everything was such high stakes. The main characters seemed to be fairly submissive when it came to the plot of the story rather than taking active roles. The ones taking active roles in spurring the plot were minor characters, those adjacent to the main characters. I wanted things to be higher stakes and slightly more complex, but what I did appreciate from this book was that the teenagers felt like teenagers. They were unsure of themselves, easily swayed, and also stubborn and had invincibility-complexes.

I suppose if we’re going to continue with the comparison to Game of Thrones, there are a lot of characters and story lines to keep track of, there are quite a few deaths, and also complex relationships. If there is anything at all in Game of Thrones that makes you uncomfortable, this is probably not the book for you. Almost every element from Game of Thrones is used in this book (including hints as possible incest).

Elemental magic also plays a big role within this story and the turning of the plot. This is a world where witches are put to death for even being suspected of using magic, and where sorcerers/sorceresses are the more powerful versions of witches. I really liked the magic system in this book. I found it simple enough to be understood and complex enough to be believed and enjoyed. I haven’t read too many books with elemental magic, so it was nice to be able to experience that for the first time.

I did enjoy reading Falling Kingdoms, but I wasn’t as impressed by it as I had hoped I would be. I wasn’t sure whether to make this a 3-star read or a 3.5-star read, but I will be placing this in my 3-star category for now. I’m not sure if I will pick up the next book. Perhaps if I’m still thinking about the book in the next week or so I will order the second one. Overall, Falling Kingdoms was a fun read, but certainly not one I would put on my favorites shelf.