Book Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

now i rise  Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Published by Delacorte Press on June 27, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy

Pages: 471 – hardcover, 480 – paperback & ebook

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Previous Books in Series: And I Darken

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Blurb:

She has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself.

After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada Dracul is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won…and souls will be lost.


Review:

Holy crap. Can this series get any better? It’s been such a long time since I read a 5-star book! Honestly, I think the last time I felt this strongly about a series was after reading the first 2 books in the ToG series. If you’ve read And I Darken and found yourself thinking, “Can this get any better?” The answer is yes, my friend. It definitely has.

This series has been coined with the popular phrase: “a teenage Game of Thrones set in the Ottoman Empire” and I couldn’t agree more. It’s brutal & dark, while still managing to remain utterly captivating. This book demands your attention with every single paragraph, making it very difficult to tear your eyes away from the page. So clear your schedules folks!

Our protagonists are Radu and Lada, presented in alternating POVs. In this book, Radu is spying in Constantinople for Mehmed whereas Lada is trying to reclaim the Wallachian throne and become Prince.

I didn’t even think it was possible to love Lada even more than in the first book, but boy was I wrong. She is such a fiercely complex character, gaining her the title of ‘antihero’. However, this does not stop her from demanding the reader’s sympathy and attention. You can’t help but root for her, despite all her cruelty. Even though she struggles with being a woman in a patriarchal and heavily male-dominated society, she sure as hell does not let that stop her. Lada plays by her own rules, and you see many characters throughout this book appreciate that about her.

Meanwhile, Radu is in Constantinople struggling with his intense feelings for Mehmed. As expected, being a spy is no easy task. Radu sees the goodness of the people in Constantinople and grapples with all the atrocities he must commit for their enemy and his friend. He is caught in between, until the lines blur and he cannot distinguish friend from foe. A new character from the last book is brought into the mix, making it even harder for Radu. I really admire Radu’s character for how smart & collected he is, as opposed to Lada’s brashness. In my opinion, Lada seems to see the world in black-or-white, whereas Radu is in the gray zone. His POV highlights all the morally ambiguous choices he has to make, further endearing him to the reader.

This book isn’t all gloom and doom, though. Nazira’s vivacity and charm are a welcome reprieve from all the darkness. She’s probably the purest character in the whole series! The Jannisary characters also bring in a much needed dose of levity. Their funny banter was such a pleasure to read, and their dynamics were top-notch.

As always, the world is so richly fleshed out and the writing so richly expressive that putting this book down was a struggle. Writing a fictional book about history is definitely not easy, so kudos to Kiersten. The history surrounding the fall of Constantinople seems so fascinating; I’m definitely invested in reading more about it.

I can’t vouch for the historical accuracy of this book, but if you’re looking for a book with a hella dramatic plot and some hella self-destructive, badass characters, then you’ve come to the right place. I really don’t think this review does this book justice, so all I have to say is — just pick it up, you won’t regret it.

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Rating: 5 fish

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Book Review: After the Game by Abbi Glines

AtG After the Game by Abbi Glines

Published by Simon Pulse on August 22, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 320 – hardcover, 352 – ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: Simon & Schuster

Previous Books in Series: Until Friday Night, Under the Lights

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Blurb:

Two years ago, Riley Young fled from Lawton, Alabama. After accusing the oldest Lawton son, Rhett, of rape, everyone called her a liar and she had no option but to leave. Now she’s back, but she’s not at Lawton High finishing up her senior year. She’s at home raising the little girl that no one believed was Rhett’s.

Rhett is off at college living the life he was afraid he’d lose with Riley’s accusation, so Riley agrees to move back to Lawton so she and her parents could take care of her grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. But the town still hasn’t forgotten their hate for her, and she hasn’t forgotten the way they turned on her when she needed them most.

When town golden boy Brady Higgens finds Riley and her daughter, Bryony, stranded on the side of the road in a storm, he pulls over and gives them a ride. Not because he cares about Riley, of course, but because of the kid.

But after the simple car ride, he begins to question everything he thought he knew. Could Brady believe Riley and risk losing everything?


Review:

After Under the Lights, I really really hoped that this book would be better & that my mixed feelings about UtL were just a fluke. I was relieved when — fortunately — I loved this book just as much as the first one. Of course, Until Friday Night will always remain my favorite of the series, but After the Game comes in at a close second!

All the books in this series can be read as standalones, but personally, I think you should read the first two before reading this one. This book is pretty connected to the first 2 books, and for someone who hasn’t read them, that could be confusing. In addition to that, Book 2 sets the stage for this book, so you really don’t want to miss that.

I’ll start off by saying just how much I adored Riley in this book. I’ve always wanted to read more about her; now I’ve finally got the chance to get to know her in this book! I really like how this book doesn’t shy away from the truth. Riley’s just like, “Yeah, he raped me, and I don’t care whether you believe me or not.” She didn’t give a shit about what the rest of the town thought and I loved that.

“Just because others hadn’t accepted me hadn’t made me less of a person.”

I also enjoyed catching up with the other characters, West & Maggie… Gunner & Willa… All their stories are interconnected so seeing everyone interact made me so happy, especially Riley, Maggie, and Willa. Also, can we just take a moment to talk about the real star of this book? Bryony was so adorable! I just wanted to reach out and squeeze her. She was a ray of sunshine amidst all the negativity. Somebody please give her all the cookies!

This book was very family-centered, even more so than the previous books. Riley always makes sure she puts Bryony’s needs first, and Riley herself has such an excellent support system in her family. The book didn’t focus on the rape itself so much as the aftermath. You’d think that I’d be more emotional if Riley was unhappy and depressed, but what got to me was how happy and satisfied she was to have Bryony in her life. It was honestly the sweetest thing ever.

It was also really nice getting a more in depth view of Brady’s character. I’ve always thought of him as one-dimensional and as that “nice guy”. I’m glad this book delved deeper into his character. Also, like Riley, family plays a major role in Brady’s POV. I won’t say more because that would be considered a spoiler; you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

Despite the above, there were a few things that kind of weighed the book down, the first being the pacing. I expected Riley and Brady’s “friendship” to last a little while longer before they started locking lips, but that didn’t happen. I didn’t want a slow burn or anything, but a lil angst sure din’t hurt nobody… which leads me to my next point. This book, overall, was definitely less angsty than the first two. There were a few unexpected turns of events, but not many and they were far too predictable & anticlimactic. Maybe this book was more about wrapping everything up, rather than starting new drama.

Another thing worth mentioning is how Rhett got off practically scot free. I feel like he was forgiven at the end merely as a means to tie off any loose ends. That doesn’t sit well with me. What he did was a crime, so why is no one fighting it? I just find it so sad because it reflects how the world views rape and its victims.

In conclusion, I’d like to say that reading this book was bittersweet. It was like the end of an era. Our characters are all grown up! I can’t wait to see who the next book centers on. My guess is either Asa, Ryker, or Nash. Either way, I’m so pumped to read whatever comes next and follow new (and hopefully old) characters on new journeys!

Many thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views & opinions above.

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Rating: 4 fish!

4 fish

 

 

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

when dimple met rishi When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Published by Simon Pulse on May 30, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 380 – hardcover, 384 – paperback, 320 – ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: Simon & Schuster

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Blurb:

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

This. This was the perfect cute summer romance read. Filled with dynamic characters and a very engaging plot, this book was an absolute delight to devour! I’ve been looking forward to this book for ages, and it did not disappoint at all!! I don’t know how many times I’ll be saying this in my review, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

The story is told through the alternating POVs of Dimple and Rishi. The alternating POVs allowed us to view scenes from Rishi’s cheerful, optimistic perspective and from Dimple’s cautious, realistic perspective. It’s also written in 3rd perspective – which actually didn’t detract much from the story being told!

Rishi and Dimple’s interactions were always something to behold. I reallyy loved them. Their first meeting was hilarious, and the consequent ones were equally as entertaining to read. They were such dimensional characters, and their romance was so cute! I think Dimple is an amazing heroine – she’s smart, cautious and levelheaded. She is definitely her own person. Rishi is so swoon-worthy, too! He’s adorkable and goofy and just perfect! The yang to Dimple’s yin. (Or was it the other way around? Don’t attack me.)

Rishi and Dimple’s dynamic is made even better when you throw the “arranged marriage” aspect into the mix. Typically, books pertaining to arranged marriage are always negative and depressing as hell, with the parents being depicted as evil dictators. However, in this book, that was not the case at all. Rishi and Dimple’s parents were (relatively) chill about it. They weren’t all “Get married or die!!”; they were more like “Here, we arranged a quite opportune marriage for you. You don’t have to do it, but it’d be cool if you did.” They obviously wanted what’s best for their children and didn’t try to force anything they didn’t want on them.

In addition to all of the above, the cultural aspect of the book was soo perfect! The way it was presented made me curious to know so much more! The clothes, the food, the homage to Bollywood movies… everything! Both Indian and non-Indian readers alike are sure to appreciate this.

I do admit, there were times when the story felt a little too predictable, especially towards the end when I felt like I was reading a mix of contemporary romance novels. But that definitely isn’t enough to keep me from reading.

Overall, this book had all the feels! This was a light, fun, engaging read with constant humor and swoon-worthy romance. The characters were realistic and dimensional, and the diversity was on point. The writing flowed really well with the story, and the alternating POVs offered fresh insight into the characters’ minds. I really recommend this book if you need a quick, unique read to devour and feast on!

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Rating: 4 fish

4 fish

Book Review: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

of-fire-n-stars

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Published by Balzer + Bray on November 22, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT Romance

Pages: 389 – hardcover, 400 – ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 2 stars

Source: HarperCollins

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Blurb:

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.


Review:

Thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins, for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions.

Honestly, the f/f romance is the only thing that intrigued me about this book. If it weren’t for the romance, I probably would have skimmed right past this book and onto the next one. It’s that unmemorable. The most frustrating thing in the whole entire world is reading a book with such.good.potential. I didn’t even have any expectations and this book managed to let them down.

Firstly, what irked me the most was the complete, utter lack of character depth. This isn’t like in most books, where only the secondary characters lack complexity. Here, even our main protagonists are as shallow as a kiddies pool. Denna was so incredibly boring. I’m glad hers is not the only POV, because I might not have been able to finish the book otherwise. It’s obvious Denna is meant to be the “good” one, with repeated mentions of how sweet-tempered, polite, and intelligent she is. The literal embodiment of a princess. Mare, on the other hand, is the “wild” princess; she’s fiery, tomboyish, and disobedient, as is repeatedly stated every few chapters. I liked their relationship and how it progressed from enemies to friends to lovers, but I did feel like there was certainly an element of unnecessary angst. The forbidden romance wasn’t even “forbidden”. The ‘I-love-you-but-I-can’t-be-with-you’ trope was heavily employed as a means to further the plot’s angst, which was very annoying.

Aside from Mare and Denna, literally no one else is worth mentioning. The secondary characters are even more unmemorable and shallow than the main characters. What even was their purpose? I wouldn’t even be able to tell you their personalities, because they have none!! Go ahead, ask me their names. I guarantee you, the only name I’d be able to recall is Mare. She’s the only character who was on the right track to being properly fleshed out.

The second thing that bothered me about this book was the insane amount of plot holes and nonexistent world-building. We’re plunged into this world with no knowledge of the political and cultural workings of the land we are in, and no knowledge of the magical system there — something about ambient magic and a siphon and a silver bowl was dropped three-fourths through the book, what is all that? Also, why do the Mynarians hate magic? Who are these ‘Six’ that everyone keeps running around and cursing? Why is there even a need for a political alliance between Havemont and Mynaria? Why does everyone hate the Zumordans when they’ve done nothing to you? I understand this is YA Fantasy, but I’m not expecting Game of Thrones level world-building. Is it too much to ask for at least some semblance of an explanation for the world we’re plunged into? Unfortunately, this book reads like it was written for a much more juvenile audience that wouldn’t care much for character complexity and world-building.

Thirdly, nothing remotely intriguing occurs in the entirety of the book! The politics were extremely yawn-inducing and the incompetence of the adults extremely frustrating. I was looking forward to Mare and Denna’s horse training, but that (like many other aspects of the book) completely fell short. Frankly, I felt like the horses were given more depth, complexity, and attention than the main characters.

In conclusion, I could go on and on about so many other disappointing aspects, such as the obvious contrivedness of some scenes and the predictability of the whole book in general. Of Fire and Stars is a book that had great potential with its f/f romance, but failed to follow through on that potential. Lack of character complexity, one-dimensional relationships, nonexistent world-building, and a tedious plot are mainly what ruined this book for me and many others who had eagerly anticipated this read.

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2 fish

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

tdcThree Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Published by HarperTeen on September 20, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 398 – hardcover, 416 – paperback & ebook

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 2 stars

Source: HarperCollins

BUY LINKS

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Blurb:

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins, for providing me with an ARC of this book. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.

I know a lot of people have been looking forward to this book, myself being one of them, but I just- couldn’t. Three Dark Crowns had an interesting premise and lots of potential, but it unfortunately failed to live up to it. I would’ve thought that my dislike of this book was because of my reading slump (gosh darn it, school) if I hadn’t seen quite a few reviews complaining about it, too. I never DNF books, and yet I was VERY tempted to do so for this book. It was just.so.boring! While I was reading the book, I actually looked up a few spoiler free reviews to see if anyone struggled as much as I did. I found a few, but they said that it gets interesting near the very end (“with a mind-boggling plot twist!!1!” they said). So I skimmed to the last few pages, and read the “plot twist” and all I thought was Okay? That’s it?? I was just soo frustrated that I wasted all this time on this book.

My main issue with this book is that it’s just so tedious and boring. We have three main POVs from three triplet queens – each with her own unique power. Katharine is a poisoner, Arsinoe, a naturalist, and Mirabella, an elemental. They can’t get the throne merely by royal birth – no, they have to fight each other to the death in order to get it, and the last one standing becomes Queen until she produces triplets and so on. You’d think that with 3 main characters and 3 POVs I’d enjoy at least one of them, right? Wrong. I didn’t look forward to any of the POVs, and I literally didn’t care about any of the aforementioned characters. There’s Jules, Arsinoe’s best friend, though. I didn’t hate her as much as the other characters, but I just wish she was developed a bit more. She deserves so much better!

Since we’re on the topic of characters, let’s take a moment to talk about the love triangle. Yes, yes, I hear y’all groaning. I usually don’t despise love triangles as much as the rest of the book community seems to do, but this one, you guys, this one. I’m internally screaming in frustration just thinking about it. YOU HAD A PERFECTLY GOOD COUPLE, BUT NOO, YOU JUST HAD TO TURN IT INTO AN UGLY ASS INSTA-LOVE TRIANGLE. Add to that the fact that the love triangle includes cheating? Um, I’m out. I’m not going to post major spoilers, but if you typically dislike love triangles, then this definitely isn’t for you. Also, much like the rest of the book, the romance in this book was very dull. There was no spark between the characters and their love interests, and I frankly couldn’t care less about any of them.

Okay, so let’s talk about the actual plot of this book. The reason I haven’t talked about it earlier is as follows: it’s practically nonexistent for the first 80% of the book. Seriously, for a story about sisters having to kill each other for the throne, the action was seriously lacking. The pacing was slow, and the atmosphere was very quiet and restrained. This book was in desperate need of a healthy dose of bloodletting and politics. It may have picked up toward the very end, but that still doesn’t make up for the lack of plot in the first place.

In short, I don’t think Three Dark Crowns lived up to its hype. I tried to find something positive to add to this review, but I couldn’t, so that’s saying something. The three main characters were just there, serving no purpose whatsoever, and the pacing of this book was extremely tedious. Plus, the terribly executed love triangle certainly doesn’t get any bonus points in my book. It’s frustrating thinking about what this book could have been because the premise and cover are absolutely stunning. I may be the black sheep amongst the tons of reviews praising this book, but this just wasn’t for me.

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2 fish

Book Review: Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Stealing Snow by Danielle PaigeImage result for stealing snow

Published by Bloomsbury Childrens on September 20, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

Pages: 384– hardcover, paperback

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: Bloomsbury UK

BUY LINKS

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Blurb: 

Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn’t belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave …
She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate …


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.

I’ve been seeing so many mixed reviews about this, and the hype’s pretty big, too. It’s safe to say that my encounter this book has gone really well! The premise of the book captured my attention from the get-go; I love fairy tale retellings, and I haven’t seen many Snow Queen ones. Danielle Paige manages to weave the fairy tale retelling into the plot wonderfully, resulting in a very magical story. I definitely gobbled up the pages! This book actually helped me stave off an impending reading slump after Empire of Storms. I needed a fantasy, but not a heavy one, and this magical fairy tale retelling was just it!

When I first started reading, I admit I was a bit thrown off by the writing. I expected beautiful imagery & words to match the beautiful cover, but the writing was subpar, to say the least?¿ It confused me at times, but I finally got used to it.

My favorite thing about the book is the protagonist, Snow. She’s a very refreshing protagonist. Most books with Princess MC’s make them selfless and self-sacrificing, which is great, but not realistic. Snow, on the other hand, is selfish, and doesn’t want to be who she is, because honestly, who would want to discover that they are a legendary princess with a psychotic, ruthless father who wants to have utter control of the country? Not Snow, that’s for sure.

The plot of the story is very fast-paced, which actually worked really well. We’re introduced to the world in very small snippets. The world building isn’t a gradual, steady incline, it’s a jigsaw puzzle slowly being pieced together.Most people might think this is messy, but it actually worked really well. This isn’t a regular fantasy story, you have to piece together the world yourself, so keep that in mind while reading. There’s also an aura of mystery around the story. We’re introduced to many characters, and most of the time, it’s a question of “Who can I trust?” It’s very intriguing.

What I see most people being annoyed about is the love square. I do agree that the idea of Snow falling for a guy over the span of a few days is laughable, but that didn’t stop me from feeling all the feels! I really like *the love interests*, and I hope they’re developed more in the next book.

Overall, this book has a very pacy plot with just the right amount of intrigue & mystery. The romance was a bit unnecessary, but enjoyable. Snow is a great, kickass protagonist and the secondary characters are all memorable.This book definitely has it all: heists! magic! potions! beasts! thievery!! I cannot wait for the sequel!

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Rating: 4 fish

4 fish

Book Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

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Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Published by Sourcebooks Fire on September 6, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 336 – hardcover, paperback, & ebook

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 3 stars

Source: NetGalley

BUY LINKS

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Blurb:

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…


Review:

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.*

Alright, so I went into this book with no prior knowledge of anything except for what I gleaned from the synopsis. Imagine my (pleasant) surprise when I discover that not only is there f/f representation, but also a WHOLE POC CAST. Um, have I died and gone to heaven?? It also really helped that the story makes you want to keep flipping pages by sucking you into this highly original fantasy world. So, you might be wondering…. Despite the above, why did I choose to give this 3 stars?

My main issue with this book lies with the execution of the story. You know that feeling when you’re starting a new book and you know nothing about the world? You’re still getting used to it as the author slowly immerses you into it page by page, and eventually, your confusion fades until your familiar with the book. Well, in the case of Labyrinth Lost, I was still stuck in that confused phase for the majority of the book. You’ve got all these ideal elements like an amazing premise, a wonderful setting, and an even better background, but… they just weren’t executed properly. The story lacked a certain order to it; it was like a mishmash of plot ideas. This greatly dulled it’s ‘spark’, leaving me very disenchanted.

Furthermore, I had a teeny issue with the Rishi + Alex pairing. You see, Rishi and Alex were supposed to be this AMAZING couple. We should have been more invested in them, since they already had an established friendship, but sadly I didn’t feel anything. No chemistry at all. I’m all for LGBT+ representation, but there should have been more work put into Rishi and Alex’s relationship. However, a relationship that was actually focused on was Nova and Alex. We actually have a clear progression of their relationship from the moment they meet. I found myself rooting for Nova most of the time; he’s very intriguing. I just hope Rishi’s character is developed as well in the next book.

OH, and was it just me or did this read like an MG book at times? It kinda had this whimsical feel to it. Still, the world was great and so original & unique. Kudos!

In short, this book has tons of potential. With a highly original premise and inventive world, it’s bound to keep you reading ’till the very end. Seriously, the momentum’s great. Bonus points for the LGBT+ and POC rep! However, the story just lacked this sense of clarity because of the execution. There are a lot of relationships and characterizations that could’ve been done in a better way. Due to that, I felt like it was teeming with plot holes. This was good read, but here’s to hoping that the next book will be even better! I believe in you!

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Rating: 3 fish

3 fish