In wrap-up

SERIES WRAP-UP: The Raven Cycle


Series Title: The Raven Cycle
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre(s):  Fantasy, Young Adult

“She wasn't interested in telling other people's futures. 
She was interested in going out and finding her own.” 

This is one of those series I’ve been putting off since forever. I tried reading The Raven Boys last year, and couldn’t really understand the hype. The characters were Great, but the plot seemed lacking to me. It was weird, kind of abstract, and very, and I mean VERY slow-paced. This year, however, I figured I’d give the series another shot and continue where I left off.

Book 1:
The Raven Boys

Rating: ✭✭✭/5

Book 2:
The Dream Thieves
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5

Book 3:
Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5

Book 4:
The Raven King
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5


"Maybe it was good that the world forgot every lesson, every good and bad memory, every triumph and failure, all of it dying with each generation. Perhaps this cultural amnesia spared them all. Perhaps if they remembered everything, hope would die instead.” 

What is this series about?
Explaining the plot of The Raven Cycle is a difficult task. I’d say it’s about dreamers in a Canadian town called Henrietta, but that doesn’t do the plot justice. I’ll try anyway. The Raven Cycle centers around Blue Sargent, who’s the daughter of a clearvoyant family. She meets a group of boys from an elite school named “Aglionby Academy,” and they set out on an adventure to locate a dead Welsh King, who supposedly will grant one of their wishes.

What did I think of The Raven Cycle?
As I mentioned, the plot to this book is very complex and unlike anything I’ve read before. I can see what the hype is about, albeit it does have to be your specific cup of tea. It took me at least three books to fully emerge myself into the plot and become wholly interested in it, which, for a series that contains four books, I’d say is quite a long while. I do have to admit that by the end of the series, I still can’t say I wholly loved the plot. I’m someone who tends to prefer fast-paced plots, which is what I feel like these books lacked. The series has this witchy, spooky vibe, and, yes, is cool and all, especially if you read them during Halloween time (which I did not, oversight), but the majority of the plot and story is just too slow-paced for me to care.


The characters, then, is where this series really shines. The cast of characters in this book, particularly the main gang (or ‘gangsey’ as I’ve been told) fully outshines the somewhat boring-ness of the plot (I said it!). Every single one of the six Raven Boys is very nicely fleshed out and layered. You won’t find a two-dimensional character in this gang. All of them are completely different but fit very nicely.

Writing-wise, this book also gathers its stars. Stiefvater has a specific way with words that just reads very nicely and all somehow fits together. The use of an omniscient narrator who follows a bunch of different characters (depending on the books) was very nicely done, especially seeing how these different stories all came together in the end. It’s safe to say I really liked the writing style and Stiefvater’s poetic way of writing.


All in all, I finally understand the hype surrounding this series, which is something I didn’t think I’d say after reading the first book. The characters are what made the book for me, even though the plot wasn’t as bad as I initially thought. It’s very unique and unlike anything I’ve ever read before, so kudos to the author for that. It’s rare for me to be surprised by YA these days since a lot of stories tend to resemble each other (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; if it works, it works!). This series receives a four star average from me, with the highlight definitely being the last instalment!

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In romance wrap up

ROMANCE WRAP-UP: July



Another month has come to an end, another month filled with romance reads. I have to admit, I was in a bit of a reading slump during July and mostly ended up reading webtoons or romance novels, so the list is slightly longer than normal. But, without further ado, here's what romances I read in July!


Title: Ayesha At Last
Author: Uzma Jalaluddin
Rating: ✭✭✭,75/5

This book is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, but with a twist. It follows Khalid and Ayesha who inhabit the roles of Darcy and Elizabeth in this Muslim retelling of the Austen classic. Let me start off by saying that the majority of this rating is based on the pacing issues. It's rare for me to read romances slowly, as I tend to consume them in one sitting, which is why I think pacing can be an area of improvement. But, I do think that this is such a terribly original and intriguing story that I feel like a lot of people will be able to relate to. The cultural components of this story were so interesting to read about, and once you get past the 50% mark, this does flow pretty well. All in all, I really enjoyed this save for the pacing, hence the mostly 4 star rating. Also, this has one of those super pretty covers that seems to be a trend among 2019 romances, so definitely pick up a copy if you can!

Title: Anything You Can Do
Author: R.S Grey
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5

After reading Hotshot Doc and The Foxe and the Hound, I decided to pick up another R.S Grey book on recommendation of a friend of mine. Anything You Can Do also features the doctor scenario and features the rivals to lovers trope. While not usually a fan of this trope, I found myself really enjoying this one. It wasn't as memorable as The Foxe and the Hound, but I really enjoy Grey's comedic writing style and lively characters. Hence the four star rating!

Title: A Question of Us
Author: Mary Jayne Baker
Rating: ✭✭✭/5

I read this book in ARC format, and the blurb really spoke to me. Best-friends to lovers is my romantic tropey JAM, so I was super excited to tuck into this. It wasn't bad per sé, I enjoyed the majority of it. But it was also excruciatingly slow at times, and a lot of the writing-style kept me from enjoying the characters to their max potential. I really enjoyed the use of the childhood friends to lovers trope, but I also felt very frustrated with the female character which didn't help matters. Taking all of this into account, this turned into a final rating of 3 stars, but this certainly had potential.

Title: Passion on Park Avenue
Author: Lauren Layne
Rating: ✭✭✭,75/5

Ever since my first Lauren Layne book way back when I got into reading rom-coms, she is an author I tend to keep tabs on. One of her newest novels, Passion on Park Avenue features businesswoman Naomi, who wants to move into a condo on Park Avenue but has to go head to head with her youth nemesis Oliver first. This book wasn't my favorite, especially the relationship wasn't fully my cup of tea, but the part that really got to me was one of the themes. Oliver's father suffers from Alzheimers and he's one of his caretakers, which is a situation very close to my heart. I settled on a final rating of 3.75 for this one, but I am most certainly intrigued to read the rest of the series when it comes out.

Title: The Prenup
Author: Lauren Layne
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5

Before Passion on Park Avenue, I decided to give Layne's newest release a try: The Prenup is a story of a marriage of convenience turning real. Charlotte and Colin got married when they both just finished college, however, in order to get divorced later in life, their prenup tells them they need to live under the same roof for at least a few months. One problem though: they can't stand each other. This book had it all for me. This was so fun: the writing, the scenario, the romance, everything the Prenup promises, it delivers on. This reminded me a lot of Christina Lauren's romances I've read in the past and I would 100% recommend this or read this again. A solid five star read! 

Title: Plan B
Author: Jana Aston
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5

Another five star read from July is Plan B by Jana Aston. This book is legitimately one of the funniest rom-com's I've ever read. I found myself laughing out loud on many occasions while reading this. The best way to describe Plan B is the unplanned pregnancy trope... but on crack. This book is all-out ridiculous, but you can't help but love it anyway. Jana Aston has a way with writing rom-coms like no other. Trust is still one of my all-time faves, and this series has a very similar vibe to her previous books. If you're looking for a quick, ridiculous, funny, but satisfying read, don't hesitate to pick up this series, it is divine. 


Title: Scandalous
Author: L.J Shen
Rating: ✭✭✭/5

After DNF'ing Vicious, the first book in the Sinners of Saint series, I decided to try again and pick up another L.J Shen book. My friend kept recommending Scandalous to me, in the hopes I would love it. Scandalous follows 18 year old Edie and her fixation on a much older single father Trent. The two initially hate each other because of Edie's father's relation to Trent, and so a forbidden romance booms. While I didn't end up DNF'ing this as I did Vicious, I wouldn't say this was my exact cup of tea either. The male character is incredibly cold and violent, and while I enjoy the occasional broody romance male, this just wasn't completely 'it' for me. Trent bosses and pushes her around, is completely unreasonable at times. Shen tries to redeem him by making him be very careful with his daughter, which I would say is the definite highlight of the book for me, and simultaneously the reason as to why this still managed to score a 3 star rating. While the romance isn't great the relationship between, the MC's daughter, Luna, who is mute, and Edie is something worth reading. Also, quickly want to reiterate that, while I enjoyed the themes, not including trigger warnings for topics such as suicide isn’t cool and will cause people to be blindsided so TW: suicide for this one. If I'll pick up an L.J Shen book again after two failed tries remains to be seen, however.


Title: The Friend Zone 
Author: Abby Jiminez
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

After reading mixed reviews about this book, I decided to give The Friend Zone a try myself. I'm a huge fan of the friends-to-lovers trope, and the premise of TFZ promised exactly that. The book focuses on Kristen and Josh, who at first glance seem perfect for each other. However there is one big catch: Kristen faces a medical procedure that won't allow her to have children, and Josh keeps mentioning how he wants to have a big family someday. This book deals with the issues of potential infertility: a struggle a lot of women face. While TFZ had its flaws, I thought the subject matter and the relationship between the main characters was something so special. It made this simultaneously a joyous but also heart-wrenching experience to read. This book was a definite five star read though, but I can see why there would be mixed reviews. 

These were all my romantic reads for July! Here's to hoping August will be a more productive month in terms of reading so that I can also manage to squeeze more fantasy reads in there next month. Have you guys read any good romances this month? Let me know, and I hope you all have a lovely August! 

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In film and tv recommendations

RECS: Must-Watch Animated Movies/Shows (Non-Disney Edition)



Lately I've noticed that there's somewhat of a stigma around animated movies. A lot of people think animation is primarily child-focused, and can't be suitable for a mature audience or an 'inferior' medium to let's say life-action. There seems to be a public opinion that animation automatically means a film or show is targeted towards kids, and the word 'animation' almost has a negative connotation. However, in my experience, most animation isn't that. Sure, there's child-focused cartoons, but you'd be surprised how many of them contain adult themes. I've compiled a list with some of my must-watch animated shows and movies (that aren't Disney productions, we all know I tend to love those a little too much), for those of you who don't know what goodness can be out there in terms of animated shows and cinema.


(image source: Nickelodeon)

Avatar: the Last Airbender
Episodes: 61
Length± 20 minutes

First up on this list is Avatar the Last Airbender. This show is an absolute classic (at least, if you grew up in the early 2000's like me.) In my opinion, everyone should have at least seen this once. ATLA has the most exquisite world-building and character arcs I have ever seen, and even forms the basis of inspiration for a lot of other more recent books and movies. The concept is kind of difficult to explain in a few sentences; the story centers around a world that's divided into four nations - earth, air, fire, water. In this world, there are benders: people who can manipulate the elements, and there is one person who can bend all four: the avatar. However, the Avatar has been missing for the last 100 years, and the world is now at war with the fire-nation. This is where the show picks up, focusing on the new Avatar: Aang. This show was ahead of its time, diverse, highly original, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is an absolute must-see when it comes to animation. Also not unimportant: the recent spin-off called The Legend of Korra features a female protagonist and lgbtq+ representation! The show has 64 episodes, each around 20 minutes long, and every season focuses on a different element. This is honestly such a classic, and everyone should watch this show at least once if you enjoy world-building as much as I do! Also, on a last note: for those who've already watched this, the story continues in comic-book form, and is still ongoing!

(image source: Netflix)

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Episodes: 64
Length± 20 minutes

This show ties with Avatar for the title of my favorite animated show of all time. I just think the combination between characters, as well as the insanely well-written story (that is unlike anything I have ever seen by the way) is absolutely worth watching. This show will blow your socks off with its originality as well as its heartfelt moments. The story follows to alchemists, Edward and Alphonse, on their journey to restore their bodies after committing the ultimate alchemic taboo: human transmutation. There's honestly a lot more to it, but saying more would mean spoiling the show at this point. FMA has everything you could possibly wish for: strong character arcs, heartfelt moments, action, adventure, and political intrigue. The manga the story is adapted from is also written by a woman, which translates to the many well-written female characters. I just adore everything about this series. It's around the same length as ATLA, and wraps up nicely within 64 episodes. The best part: both Brotherhood, the original Anime (which is good too, just a completely different adaptation in comparison to the manga) as well as the movies, are all available on Netflix to watch.

(image source: Studio Ghibli)

Howl's Moving Castle
Length± 129 minutes

So, technically, if we're going to take this super literally, this is a Disney movie because they provided the Western distribution for this movie, however, this is one of the two Studio Ghibli movies on this list. Let me start off by saying that if you've never seen a Miyazaki movie, you are sorely missing out. Howl's Moving Castle, in particular, is adapted from the YA novel by Diana Wynne Jones, and follows Sophie who encounters wizard Howl in his moving castle after a curse turned her into an old woman. While there's been quite a few changes in comparison to the original novel, Miyazaki manages to twist this into its own beautiful story, the Ghibli way. The art and animation has that distinct Ghibli feel, and the story is a lot deeper than most kids are able to grasp, which makes this movie absolute perfection.

Image result for anastasia poster
(image source: 20th Century FOX)

Anastasia
Length± 94 minutes

This is another classic, and quite frankly, my brand. Released in the year I was born (1997) I've grown up watching this and rediscovered it again in the past years. Anastasia is super famous, yet I still seem to encounter people who've never seen it. Also, I know we're still in summer right now, but this film always gets me so excited for the winter months. Anastasia tells the story of the Russian Romanov line and their of the missing princess Anastasia. In Don Bluth's rendition of this historical tale, orphan Anastasia (or Anya) meets con-man Dmitry in St. Petersburg, where he convinces her to pose as the missing princess Anastasia in exchange for a large sum of money. Anya has no recollection of her past, but could it be that she is the actual princess? This movie has a bomb of a soundtrack, and a beautiful animation style. It's one of my all-time favorite movies and it's recently been made into a Broadway musical too which has rekindled my love in full.



(image source: Amuse)

Your Name
Length± 106 minutes

Your Name, or "Kimi No Na Wa", is one of the most recent films on this list. With previous titles such as 5 Centimeters per Second, director Makoto Shinkai is a staple name in the animation field. My favorite movie of his, however, is undoubtedly this one. It features high school students Taki and Mitsuha, who both live in vastly different environments when they find out they've been switching bodies. But how will they cope with two vastly different realities. Aside from the PHENOMENAL (seriously, phenominal!) animation, Your Name delivers such a unique and emotional story set in modern-day Japan. I highly recommend this movie for anyone who wants to watch something extraordinary and quick. I can promise you, this movie will resonate with you.



(image source: Netflix)

The Dragon Prince
EpisodesOngoing
Length± 20 minutes

Directed by the main director of ATLA, The Dragon Prince is a Netflix Original, featuring a new (and awesome) animation style. It took me some time to get into, but once you're in, you're in. The Dragon Prince is another animated diverse treat, and features... you guessed it... Dragons! When the king of Katolis is mudered, two young princes discover a Dragon egg. They bond with an elf assassin in order to return the dragon to its mother. The Dragon Prince combines a different array of genres and puts it all into one show. Definitely recommend watching a few episodes before you judge all of it, but this definitely deserves a spot on the list!


(image source: Kyoto Animation)

A Silent Voice 
Length± 130 minutes
Triggers: Suicide

A Silent Voice is unlike any of the other productions on this list, in the sense that it's so realistic. The story centers around teenager Shoya Ishida, who bullied his deaf classmate, Nishimiya Shoko in elementary school to the point where she moved away. Now, in high school, he seeks to redeem himself and make amends with Shoko. This movie is kind of heavy, but it never fails to leave a lasting impression on me. Be careful watching this though, because there's a trigger warning for suicide!


(image source: Studio Ghibli)

Spirited Away
Length± 125 minutes

This last movie on the list is another famous classic by Miyazaki! This Studio Ghibli film is kind of on the deep side (much like all of their movies,) and showcases a side of Japanese culture mixed with fantastical elements you've never seen before. Spirited Away follows Chihiro, who moves to the Japanese suburbs, but on the way there is transported into a fantasy world filled with gods, monsters, and witches. I'm fully in love with the entire aesthetic of this movie and, much like a lot of the media mentioned, I can appreciate the deeper story a lot more now that I'm older. This film also has a twist that is so beautifully executed, it will leave you speechless.



(image source: Netflix)

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
EpisodesOngoing
Length± 20 minutes
This last one is simultaneously the newest one on the list, but no less fun! She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is a remake of the original She-Ra, but with a modern twist. She-ra, a powerful princess, joins a rebellion to free her land of an evil power. This show is super diverse and wholesome, and also contains a lot of fun and exciting elements! Much like The Dragon Prince, it's ongoing at the moment, so there's still time left to catch up before the new season drops on August 2!

These were all of my recommendations. Let me know if you enjoyed posts like this (because I really enjoy writing them!) and thank you so much if you've read this all the way to the end. Also, make sure to tell me any recommendations you have, because I'm always looking for new animated shows or movies to discover! See you guys soon,



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In book review

REVIEW: Wicked Fox


Title: Wicked Fox (Gumiho)
Author: Kat Cho
Genre(s):  Young Adult, Fantasy
Release: June 27th, 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭,5/5

"A lot can happen in two months. 
You can meet a girl who seems angry and secretive and learn that it's all just a front
 for a kind heart that's been hurt too many times. 
I know what it's like to need to hide your bruises behind a facade."

Teased as "reading like a Korean Drama," being the big drama fan that I am, I just had to get my hands on Wicked Fox. I am very interested in any kind of mythology, so to say my expectations for this story were high were an understatement. However, I might've made the mistake of setting them too high, as this book kind of underwhelmed me a little. 

What is this book about?
When the Gumiho (half fox, half human) Miyoung encounters Jihoon, a human boy who's being attacked by a goblin, she rescues him from danger against all Gumiho rules. Now, Miyoung has lost her fox magic, and Jihoon knows that Miyoung is a secret nine-tailed fox. The two develop an unlikely bond. When a shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her magic, she has to choose between her life or Jihoon's. But what will she choose?

"She’d read books that said two lovers’ hearts could race as one. 
This wasn’t true for Miyoung. 
Her heart chased Jihoon’s, speeding in a breakneck sprint to catch up."

What did I think about Wicked Fox?
I really wished I could have loved this as much as I initially anticipated. This was in no way bad, but there were some things that kept me from enjoying it to its maximal potential. Before I get into those, let's focus on the many positives this book had to offer!

The k-drama (esque) scenario is an instant plus from me, and it's written by an ownvoices author, which makes the story and feel of it all the more authentic. The world-building, then, is a nice alternative to the numerous euro-centric fantasies that are already around. The story is based on Korean mythology and features a Gumiho (Half human-half fox). As mentioned, the tone that is set for the story reminded me of a lot of drama's but also brought something new to the table in the form of the YA genre. I would say this was a large part of what drew me to the story and played a huge role in my enjoyment factor, too.

The story itself, however, didn't strike me as a must-read. Wicked Fox simply read like a lot of books I'd already read before. The plot wasn't terribly shocking or original and the characters were hard to relate to the first half of the book. I enjoyed it, but I also had trouble keeping my attention to the plot, and a lot of the times I found myself putting down the book because it was so slow-paced. My high hopes, thus, weren't met as I hoped.

Despite this, I thought the book was still enjoyable, and I'm most certainly picking up the sequel, but this might have just been a case of too high expectations that ruin the overall experience. It wasn't bad, I just didn't enjoy it as much as could have been. All in all, this still gets a 3,5 star rating, but I hope the sequel manages to pull me in more.

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In romance wrap up

Romance Wrap-Up: June



Hello lovelies! I'm introducing a new monthly thing where I review all my romance reads in one go. Since my taste fluctuates between YA fantasy and Adult romance (to cleanse my palate), I wanted to start doing monthly wrap-up posts to create some semblance of order. These will consist of shorter reviews but combined all in one post.



Title: The Bride Test
Author: Helen Hoang
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5

I was very excited to finally get my hands on a copy of The Bride Test, since I was such a humongous fan of Hoang's previous book: The Kiss Quotient. The Bride Test follows the Vietnamese Esme, who is brought to the US to become Khai Diep's wife. What I loved about this book is how it very much is a rom-com, but still navigates the immigrant struggle told from Esme's perspective. This, in combination with the ownvoices autism rep made this such a unique read, and unlike any other romance I've read before. It takes a while to warm up to the romance, but it's definitely worth it in the end!

Title: The Flatshare
Author: Beth O'Leary
Rating: ✭✭✭✭,5/5

This was such an absolute surprise for me in terms of how much I ended up enjoying The Flatshare. This book centers around two roommates who occupy the same flat, but never at the same time. I loved the contrast in personality between both Leon and Tiffy, and how refreshing their relationship was. Never is there any mention of broody bad-boy behavior. Both of these characters are so unique and well-written. Also, this isn't merely a rom-com, but also deals with abusive relationships (TW), as well as legal drama. I really enjoyed the combination of flavors this book brings to the table in terms of romantic reads!

Title: The Foxe and the Hound
Author: R.S Grey
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5

I'd read one R.S Grey book prior to this, but I can without a doubt say that this one is my favorite. The Foxe and the Hound follows the relationship between realtor Madeleine and veterinarian Adam after and unfortunate encounter featuring Madeleine's puppy (don't worry there isn't any kind of animal cruelty in this one, just 100% fluff!). Now, it's not that hard to win me over by including men with puppies, but this was genuinely such an enjoyable, laugh-out-loud read. The dynamic between the two characters is lovely, and the story is cute as can be. 

Title: Huge Deal (21 Wall Street #3)
Author: Lauren Layne
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5

I'm a fan of Lauren Layne books, and I've read most of them. However, the 21 Wall Street Series still remained on my TBR list. The third instalment, then, follows secretary Kate and banker Kennedy as the two develop their epic slowburn romance. There was a part about a no relationship pact, which rubbed me a little wrongly, but they reminded me a little of Donna and Harvey from Suits. I enjoyed this, but I wasn't super attached to its characters. Also be mindful of the random narration switch in comparison to the first two books, which I didn't really understand; it goes from a first-person narration, which I enjoy most in romances, to a third-person perspective. I liked this well enough but I wouldn't say this was one of my all-time favorites. Still a solid romance though! 


Title: Marriage for One
Author: Ella Maise
Rating: ✭/5 - DNF (Illness trigger)

It is very rare for me to DNF books, but this contained one of my triggers. Regardless, though, I don't think it would've ended up being rated very high. The story follows Jack and Rose (Yes, like the Titanic) who get fake married for business reasons. I normally enjoy a good fake relationship story, but this one was just too long. The writing is sloppy at best, - it reads like an unedited fanfic for some reason) and the story is too long for the amount of content, which means there is a lot of unnecessary repetition. Lastly, the dialogue and character development felt very inorganic. Despite the DNF status, I don't think I would've rated this higher than 2 stars. I know this is loved by many romance readers, and I wish I could like it, but alas.



Title: The Friend Zone
Author: Abby Jiminez
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

Fix Her Up very nicely participates in the 2019 romance cover book trend by introducing a fun, colorful cover, however, the book itself was fine. Fix Her Up follows ex pro baseball-player Travis, and neighbourhood clown (actual clown) Georgie who try their hand at fake dating. Only Georgie isn't just his best friend's little sister anymore. I liked this book well enough. Georgie was a very enjoyable and relatable character for me, and the story was cute as a whole. It just wasn't memorable enough? I wasn't too attached to their relationship, and the excessive amount of sex scenes became a little cringy after a while (the amount of times Travis says the words "baby girl" is.. a little too much). All in all, this was okay, but I hoped for something a little more.



These were all the romances I read in the past few weeks. Because of the amount of romance I consume I want to make this a monthly feature on my blog, so keep an eye out for the next one!

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In book review

REVIEW: Soul of the Sword


Title: Soul of the Sword
Author: Julie Kagawa
Genre(s):  Young/New Adult, Fantasy
Release: June 17th, 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5

"This is why I don't trust magic," he muttered, leaning back against the tree.
 "Inanimate objects like swords and scrolls should not WANT to be found. 
They should not want anything."

After reading Shadow of the Fox, I was excited to dive head-first into Soul of the Sword. I'd never read anything written by Kagawa prior to this, but this series was such a nice surprise.

What is this book about?
Soul of the Sword continues right after Shadow of the Fox and follows shapeshifter Yumeko in her quest to free Tatsumi from the demon Hakaimoto, who has captured the warrior's soul. Yumeko is also still finishing up her original quest, which entails taking an ancient magical scroll that could summon a powerful dragon, to the Steel Feather temple. But can she and her friends succeed in saving Tatsumi and prevent the world from its descent into chaos?

“Much like your illusions and foxfire, magic itself cannot be evil. 
It is how you use your powers that determines the intent.”

What did I think of Soul of the Sword?
Soul of the Sword takes place after the cliffhanger of The Shadow of the Fox, and follows our main protagonists as they travel from town to town to complete their ultimate quest. 

I feel like these books are shaping up to be such an intriguing trilogy. Reading this series feels very much like reading a manga series, in the sense that we follow a team of protagonists who travel from town to town facing adventure after adventure. For me, it's not necessarily the plot that pulls you in, it's intriguing for sure, but not my main reason for reading. The main attraction are the cast of characters. The different dynamics are what I'm enjoying most about this series so far.

Both the main characters and the side characters have such diverging personalities that create very interesting scenarios, however what I loved seeing a lot over the course of these two novels is the development some of these personalities go through. The development of Yumeko, in particular, is stellar. As a reader, I also really like how the author has created such a great character with Kage Tatsumi. The way this book ends makes the reader long for more of him. The plot-twists of Soul of the Sword provide such interesting development for him, too.

Being immensely interested in Japanese culture, these books are a true treat for the reader. The way Kagawa incorporates Japanese mythology within this YA setting is noteworthy, and creates such an interesting contrast with the many euro-centric fantasies I've read. 

All in all, I'm really enjoying the series. Shadow of the Fox incoporates cultural components, epic storylines, and a manga-like plot to form a unique YA Fantasy hybrid that is unlike any other release!

Thank you to Harlequin Teen for supplying a Review Copy of Soul of the Sword.

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In arc review

REVIEW: Torn


Title: Torn
Author: Natalia Jaster
Genre(s):  Young/New Adult, Fantasy
Release: June 20th, 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5

"She feels merry, so very merry.
That's the impression Merry gives,
That's the perception."

When people ask me for my favorite indie author, my answer is immediate: Natalia Jaster. Ever since reading the Foolish Kingdoms series two years ago, I've been obsessed with her romantic fantasy blends. It's not only the Foolish Kingdoms series that has enamoured me, her series Selfish Myths also massively managed to peak my interest. Torn is the second instalment in this beautiful series and comes out on June 20th, which means it's high time for me to review this beauty.

What is this book about?
Torn takes place three years after Touch, and follows Anger's POV. Because Anger has fallen in love with fellow deity Love, which is impossible in the world of the Gods, he's banished to live far away. Meet Merry. Merry is very merry, or at least she likes to think so. She was banished a long time ago as a baby for not living up to her full potential as a deity. Merry might be Anger's solution to regaining his magic and returning to the Peaks, however, in doing so, he'll have to break her heart...

"He doesn't want the sunrise.
He wants her glowing in the dark.
He wants her light back."

What did I think of Torn?
Torn follows up Touch, but takes place three years later. I really liked that Natalia has opted for a time jump, which meant that we got to see the same characters but a few years later. This entailed seeing how they ended up and how some of them progressed. We get glimpses of Love and Andrew, the protagonists of Love, and what they're up to now, which I really appreciated. We also see how Anger has potentially degressed or developed, which in that regard, I think the time-jump was a good choice.

Much like her other books, Natalia's writing is again superb in Torn. I'm a huge fan of her whimsical prose that seems to slightly change whenever she takes on a new character's POV. There's puns, but also tons of lyrical quotes that make her writing so very unique. Considering this is a mature YA Romance novel, kind of along the tones of The Bargainer series and A Court of Thorns and Roses, her writing is a mix between New Adult and Fantasy writing but in a way that is unlike anything I've ever read before.

As for the characters, I didn't think any of Natalia's books was able to trump Trick for me. Trick was my first discovery, and remained the most precious. However, she might have just done it with Torn. Torn was an absolute gem in terms of characters, story and development. Merry might be the new love of my life; her bubbly, quirky personality sharply contrast the abrasive, intense nature of Anger, but the two manage to make it work somehow. I loved the scenes in which Anger gains a noticeably soft side for Merry's antics; their dynamic was absolutely phenomenal! The theme of found family has always been a strong factor within Natalia's books, which I really appreciate considering it's one of my favorite tropes. In light of this, I loved getting to see how Anger's character seemed to develop as the book went on. Merry manages to slowly break all of Anger's walls down until they've become best friends, which was something we didn't get to see a lot in Natalia's writing (since most of it is Hate to Love and not Friends to Love, which I LOVE!), but Torn provided a breath of fresh air.

Lastly, I think the plot of Natalia's books is always very original, but I have such a weak spot for the Selfish Myths series; the concept of deities falling in love in a romantic fantasy setting is everything I didn't need and more. Torn, then, is filled with plot-twists, but also heartfelt moments.

All in all, this book was another solid five star read. It's rare for me to not give Natalia's books a five-star rating, so this is certainly no exception. However, I think this might actually be my new favorite book of hers. Make sure to pick this up when it releases at the end of the month, because it sure is worth it!


Thank you to Natalia Jaster for providing an ARC of Torn!

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