In book review

REVIEW: Shadow Me


Title: Shadow Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre(s):  Young Adult, Fantasy, Novella
Release: March 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

"Maybe it sounds weird to say, but I know I could love the shit out of someone. 
I feel it, in my heart. This capacity to love. To be romantic and passionate. 
Like it’s a superpower I have. A gift, even.
And I’ve got no one to share it with."

I am finally writing my Shadow Me review. I know, a little late, but I had to gather my thoughts, people. Kenji Kishimoto is my all-time favorite book character and when I heard  that like Adam and Warner, he would get his own novella, I FREAKED! This, then, in no way disappointed me. I am honestly convinced Tahereh Mafi can't write a bad book.

What is this book about?
Shadow Me is another novella set in the Shatter Me universe by Tahereh Mafi, but instead of Warner and Adam, this one now focuses on Juliette's best friend Kenji. Shadow Me bridges the gap between Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) and Defy Me (Shatter Me #5) and shows hidden moments of Restore Me through Kenji's POV.

What did I think about Shadow Me?
It is no secret that Tahereh Mafi is my favorite author, and with that Kenji Kishimoto is my favorite male character of all time, which makes me slightly biased in reviewing this. In all honesty though, I have to reiterate once again that I don't think Tahereh Mafi is able to write a bad book. Shadow Me solidified my love for Kenji and even made me love him more.

I loved how Shadow Me added so much more depth to Kenji's character. Kenji's role is easily reduced to that of comedic relief, and while Tahereh has always managed to make him very three-dimensional, she outdid herself with Shadow me.

I loved seeing the inner workings of his mind. I loved learning to understand him as a character: how he puts up a defense by cracking jokes but how underneath he has very human insecurities. Tahereh really manages to hit home with her writing and her character development.

Tahereh's writing, in this, is again phenomenal. I've always loved the writing style in the Shatter Me series, and I think it's extraordinary how she manages to fundamentally switch up her writing style with every POV-switch she does. Juliette's is very poetic, but also chaotic, whereas Warner's is very eloquent, Kenji, then, has his own way of talking with a comedic undertone and the occasional swearing, which provides a breath of fresh air in an otherwise fairly heavy series.

The only thing that had me a little confused is the way Nazeera and Kenji's relationship seems to develop. At first glance, the relationship seems very one-dimensional, dare I say insta-lovey, and is based very much on physical attraction. I like how Kenji seems to  check himself, though, by rationalizing his attraction towards her. It's because of this that I'm not put off by the relationship immediately. I think Tahereh very much knows what she's doing with them and I hope there's a slow-burn romance coming!

I'm infinitely excited for the release of Defy Me next month and I look forward to Kenji's POV in a bigger format. I absolutely loved this one hence why I'm giving it 5 stars!

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In wrap-up

SERIES WRAP-UP: Legend


Series Title: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Genre(s):  Fantasy, Young Adult

"Sometimes, the sun sets earlier. 
Days don’t last forever, you know. 
But I’ll fight as hard as I can. I can promise you that."

I've recently set a goal for myself when it comes to my 2019 reading: I want to read big series that are (or were) hugely hyped but I have never picked up before (think Percy Jackson, Throne of Glass, etc.) During a conversation with one of my friends, she told me that one of her favorite older YA fantasy series was Legend by Marie Lu. I'd read Marie Lu's most recent series Warcross, and ended up loving it, so I figured I would pick up this one too!


Book 1:
Legend

Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

Book 2:
Prodigy
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

Book 3:
Champion
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5



What is this series about?
In Legend, fifteen year old prodigy June Iparis is being trained to become a military genius for the Republic. However, when her older brother is murdered, June is determined to find his killer no matter the cost. Bring in Day, a boy from the slums, who is simultaneously a criminal wanted for his crimes. When he gets wrongly accused of murdering June's brother, the two of them end up crossing paths despite their very different backgrounds. 


"Then Day reaches out and touches my hand with his. 
He encloses it in a handshake. And just like that, I am linked with him again, 
I feel the pulse of our bond and his- tory and love through our hands, like a wave of magic, 
the return of a long-lost friend. Of something meant to be. 
The feeling brings tears to my eyes. Perhaps we can take a step forward together."

What did I think of Legend?
It is seldom that reading a premise has enticed me this much to read something. The second I read what these books were going to be about, I just knew I had to have them. It sounded like the perfect mix between dystopia, romance, and soul-gripping suspense.
This series did everything it promised to deliver and more. I finished all these books (including a short novella) in THREE days! 

First of all, I need to address my favorite part of this series: namely the characters. June, in particular, has wormed her way into my heart. Despite this being an older YA series, and thus being in danger of containing potentially "outdated" tropes, the combination of bad-assery, intelligence and compassion her character possesses makes her someone who fits in with very recent heroines too.

Day, then I also very much loved as a character. I love rebellious, kind of cynical and sarcastic male protagonists who ultimately possess a good heart, and Day is one of those. Despite his activities outside of the law, he is such a good person who really has the interests of his people at heart. 

I also loved, capital LOVED, the relationship between the two, as it stood at the heart of these novels. The trope of rich girl-poor guy worked well since it brought on some interesting discussions. I think Marie Lu managed to find a great balance in between angsty and romantic scenes where there relationship was concerned. Each and every scene between the two of them was a joy to read.

This is where things get a little spoilery so if you haven't yet read this book yet, you may want to skip the next paragraph. I found that I enjoyed this the most going in with NO idea as to how the whole story would play out.

Plot-wise, I want to address the elephant in the room. Whereas usually I am not a fan of this specific ending trope, I loved the amnesia trope that came into play at the end of the book. In this case it came completely out of the blue and delivered an excellent plot-twist in my opinion. Prior to reading the book, my friends had specifically warned me for Marie Lu endings, since they tend to be tragic apparently (like I said, I'd only read Warcross and Wildcard which ended reasonably well, so I didn't really know what to expect from this). I think Legend's ending would have been harder to take for me if I hadn't been aware of the new book that is being released in October called Rebel (because it's a coninuation of June and Day's story), but I really really enjoyed the ending the way it was! It reminded me very much of Your Name by Makoto Shinkai which is one of my favorite animated movies (highly recommending this one if you're looking for something to quench your Legend thirst until October!). 

Next, I really enjoyed the flash-forward at the end of the book, which provided a nice set-up for the future instalment in this series. Whereas I didn't have a problem reading about 15 year old protagonists, I usually do prefer if the characters are a little older since I'm able to relate more, so it's nice to be able to see Day and June in their twenties next!
I'm not one to enjoy futuristic settings a lot, or rather I just don't gravitate towards them, but I really enjoyed Legend's world. The world-building was great, and it was a joy to read the Warcross reference hidden in the novels (this one is set prior to the Warcross duology so there are some easter eggs if you've read that one!) As mentioned earlier, the overall pacing was something I really enjoyed. The books were quick reads, and there wasn't a dull moment in all three of them. The nice balance between action and emotional scenes also really helped with that.

The side-characters, also, were nicely fleshed out. I really liked Tess (despite the love-triangle plot-point which felt a little contrived), and Eden also was such a cute addition to the cast of characters. I'm really excited to see more about them in Rebel, and to explore his POV a little more.

All in all, the writing, plot, and characters in Legend were absolutely amazing. I adored every second of these books and I'm actually a little gutted I didn't take my time with these books. I. WANT. MORE. This, then, ended up being a solid five-star read for me through-and-through. I immensely enjoyed every single second of these books and I can't wait to see where Rebel is going to take us. 

“Hi,” he says. “I’m Daniel.” 
“Hi,” I reply. “I’m June.”


Goodreads | Amazon


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In tags

My Ten Favorite Female Characters (Fantasy Edition)


I know, International Women's day is behind us, so this post is a little late, apologies for that. However, with the women's marches happening all around the world (the one in Amsterdam being closest to me) I really just had to write about all the inspiring book ladies! Being a gender & diversity major, I tend to look for books that have broad representation and well-written female characters. Let it be known that I love every female character on this list dearly, and that they're in a random order! (I actually wanted to include more because there are so many girlies I love!). So without further ado, let's get into the list!

#1: Juliette Ferrars (Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi)
If you've read the Shatter Me series, you know that Juliette goes through quite the journey as a character. Her character development is one of my all-time favorites and really speaks to me on a personal level. At the start of the series, Juliette is timid, traumatized, and afraid of her surroundings due to the horrificness of her past. She meets Adam and the reader gets to experience her development completely through Juliette's eyes (through such a unique and beautiful way!). By the end of the third book, Juliette has had to learn to adjust to her new surroundings, and has really come into herself. I love her personal journey, her courage, and her imperfections, which is why Juliette is one of my all-time favorite characters. Also, next month (April 2019) is when Defy Me comes out, so fingers crossed for more of her wonderful development!

#2: Tessa Gray (The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare)
Tessa is the female protagonist in The Infernal Devices, and with that, she is my favorite female character from the Shadowhunter chronicles. Tessa is highly intelligent, but also very caring towards the people she loves. Her warm nature mixed with her stubbornness at times is what makes her such a great character, but also manages to get her into a bit of trouble at times. Aside from her physical power as a warlock, she is mentally very strong which is why she is such a great character to me. Tessa will also be returning to our shelves: Ghosts of the Shadow Market which releases in June will feature numerous short stories through the point of view of her husband Jem!

#3: June Iparis (Legend by Marie Lu)
This is a very recent addition to this list, and you might even call it cheating since I haven't actually finished Champion (number three in this series) yet when I'm writing this. However, after two and a half books of this universe, June has conquered my heart and she will never leave! A prodigy with a perfect score, logical, and selfless, June is everything that a great female character is to me. Despite being only fifteen, she radiates what the internet calls "BDE" by being in command and getting herself out of every pesky situation. The way June is presented really resonated with me which is why she made it onto this list!

#4: Lila Bard (A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab)
From A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab, when it comes to characters, Lila Bard is the other end of the spectrum. Her profession as a thief and pirate has made her cunning and quick. Lila is known for her nifty knife skills, as well as her slightly immature sense of humor. However, what I admire most about her is her wanderlust and her need for travelling. She is strong and a bad-ass in every sense of the word. Also, the author has confirmed that Lila is genderfluid, which is such an awesome thing to see in the Fantasy genre!

#5: Zafira Iskandar (We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal)
Zafira is the female protagonist of the upcoming novel We Hunt the Flame (only two more months left!) and has already snagged a place on this list. Zafira is a secret huntress, but is disguised as a man so to retain her secret identity. I can't say that much about her yet, but I will tell you that Zafira is fierce, independent and incredibly brave. Her quest is one you don't want to miss! We Hunt the Flame releases in May, so make sure to pick up this awesome book to get to know this wonderful heroine!

#6: Jude Duarte (The Folk of the Air by Holly Black)
Another bad-ass, but one of a kind, Jude Duarte is number six on this list. I'm not lying when I say that she has completely made The Folk of the Air trilogy for me. Jude was born a human, which means she has had to find a way to survive and adjust in the world of Fae. Her ability to strategize and plot is admirable. I love how she's not 100% good, but has a rough edge to her character, and will do ANYTHING to protect the people she cares about. She is one of the most intriguing characters in the genre currently, which is why she's one of my female faves!

#7: Cress Darnel (The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)
Cress, oh Cress. First of all, Tangled is one of my favorite Disney movies, ever, so this Rapunzel retelling holds a very special place in my heart. Cress, then, is of course one of my favorite characters. Because she started out in isolation, she's a dreamer. Her character progression, much like Juliette's one is very admirable. Cress learns to face her fears, embrace her curiosity, as well as her emotions and comes out strongly in the end. I love it when characters embrace their soft side but still remain standing, which is why I love Cress so much! I was tempted to put more Marissa Meyer characters on this list (Cinder, Nova) because she just has so many! 

#8: Shahrzad al-Khayzuran (The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh)
Shazi is another fierce one. Her sharp tongue, quick-witted brain and very loyal attitude manages to get her out of various precarious situations. She is fiercely independent and, much like June, another lady who likes to save herself. She has both a dark and a lighter side, which is what I love about her. I haven't reread The Wrath and the Dawn since I last read it a few years ago, but I plan to pick it up again really soon for a much needed reread! 

#9: Laia of Serra (An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir)
Laia starts out as a relatively "powerless" slave girl, who is at the mercy of a totalitarian regime to find her brother. However, despite the bleak circumstances she lives in, Laia never gives into the high pressure of her surroundings. She is clever, caring, as well as very protective and selfless when it comes to the people she loves. She also showcases various rebellious streaks which make her all the more admirable! The last book in the Ember series releases next year, so make sure to check her out before then!

#10: Zoya Nazyalensky (The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo)
Zoya is one of the most powerful Grisha's within Bardugo's very famous universe, but aside from her physical abilities, Zoya has many other qualities. Whereas at first she might seem cold and stoic, the contrary is true. She loves her country, her people and would do anything for them with a fierce passion. I love how, despite her stoic and ruthless exterior, she is distinctly layered character, which makes for such an interesting reading experience. I won't lie and say I loved her since the beginning, but the most recent Grisha book, King of Scars, really changed my mind, and boy, do I love her now!

That makes ten of my favorite ladies, but I have many many more of course. Well-written female characters are something that make books five-star reads, and I can't wait to keep discovering more literary ladies as I continue reading! 

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In

REVIEW: The Prince and the Dressmaker


Title: The Prince and the Dressmaker
Author: Jen Wang
Genre(s):  Graphic Novel, LGBTQ+, Comics
Release: February 2018
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

"My whole life is other people deciding what is acceptable.
When I put on a dress, I get to decide what's silly."

So, as you all know, in between all my romantic and fantasy reads, I tend to love the occasional graphic novel or manga series to switch it up. I'd been out hunting this gorgeous book numerous of times (I even traveled to the other side of the country to look for it!) but no such luck. When my mom got me this copy for Christmas, I was ECSTATIC! I couldn't wait to dive into this beautiful gem of a book.

What is this book about?
The Prince and the Dressmaker is set in late 19th century France, and centers around the Belgian prince Sebastian, whose time to find a bride is running out. Sebastian, however, isn't too bothered by it because he is hiding something no one at court can ever find out; he likes to dress up as Lady Crystallia. Enter his best friend and the royal dressmaker Frances, who dreams of nothing more than for her creations to be discovered. Frances starts making dresses for Lady Crystallia in secret, but how long can this secret last?

"Seeing you, I realized everything would be fine.
Because someone still loved him."

What did I think about this book?
I thought this book was insanely and terribly cute, but it also bore such a good message. The Prince and the Dressmaker, much like other graphic novels, was such a fast and breezy read. The story had a very fairytale-like vibe to it, but that's the intention of the author, I suspect. I absolutely adored this book, from the story to the art; the art style was so cute. The color schemes, the cartoon-ish character designs and the beautiful backgrounds, really add to the story. I cannot stress this enough, but this was honestly such a gorgeous and adorable book!

Content-wise, I loved the message behind this. I know opinions are divided on if this book can be categorized as LGBT fiction, because there is no explicit mention of Sebastian being trans, NB, genderfluid, queer. But I think the message behind this will resonate with a lot of people nonetheless. I love how this book took the general fairytale trope and molded it into something so contemporary and fresh. I LOVED IT. I also think this book is suitable for all ages, even thought it is advertised as YA.

The only downside of this book is that there is a forced coming-out scene in this book, which can be triggering and confrontational. I can't speak for people who have gone through these experiences, which is why this review is purely based on my own personal opinions!

All, in all, I loved this graphic novel and I think this might be my favorite one I have read thus far. The combination of the fairytale elements, the gorgeous and original art style, and the original message made this read incredibly enjoyable for me. I was left with a warm and fuzzy feeling and the topics at hand are so important. I highly recommend this and I look forward to reading more of Jen Wang's work!




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