Rating: 4 Stars!
How I got this book: Gift
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can't get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school's resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He's determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
Ah, this book hit me right in the feels!
"You don't need anyone's permission to be you, Yads”
Cemetery Boys is the story of Yadriel, a young trans man who, after losing his mother, and his number one supporter, is fighting for recognition as a brujo in his very traditional community. With the help of his best-friend Maritza, he performs a ritual that sets a chain of events in motion that he never saw coming, accidentally summoning the wrong spirit and entwining their fate.
I loved the beginning of this book. Aiden paints a beautiful picture filled with Latinx culture. The imagery is beautiful and the interweaving of Spanish with English made this book a truly cultural experience and reignited my desire to learn Spanish.
The tension at the beginning of the book is perfect and builds into something palpable and almost dangerous as the book progresses and new dangers and obstacles arise.
“You know who you are, I know who you are, and our Lady does, too." She said with fierce conviction. "So screw the rest of them!" Maritza grinned at him. "Remember why we're doing this.”
I immediately loved the obvious love and friendship between Maritza and Yadriel as she helps him perform the ritual that will grant him the powers of the brujo, without getting caught. Maritza is supportive in all the right ways, without ever trying to force Yadriel into doing things he doesn't want to. She's a great person to have in your corner.
Yadriel is such a fantastic character to root for, made even more powerful because this book is own voices. His moving and emotional struggle to prove himself and then to accept who he is, despite what others think, is poignant and makes for an eye-opening read with a perfect fantasy twist.
"Queen folks are like wolves," Julian told him. "We travel in packs."
Then, we meet Julian, a riot of a character who has a tough, no-nonsense exterior at first, but proves himself to be a complete puppy with boundless energy, enthusiasm and acceptance for all. Julian is my favourite character in this book. He's perfect for Yadriel, complimenting Yadriel's reserve with plenty of daring and excitement. He's loving and delivers some of the deepest insight in this book, both for Yadriel and for the reader; while delivering what I felt was one of most powerful scenes in the entire book; full of raw, unguarded emotion.
Watching Yadriel and Julian grow closer and push each-other was the genuine delight of this book, and so enjoyable. Until finally we got an ending that fit the book perfectly.
“You ready?" Julian asked, a curious look on his devastatingly handsome face.
"No," Yadriel confessed, his voice tight.
Julian grinned. "Do it anyways.”
My only very slight issue was that the plot and the 'big twist' were really predictable BUT because the tension and the build-up between Yadriel and Julian built so beautifully, and the ever-looming deadline to their journey was constantly at the forefront of the story, it more than made up for it.
Overall, I loved the setting, the scenery, the culture, the language and the relationships, even the ones that weren't so great as they provided a brilliant contrast for the strong, healthy relationships. I also loved the magic and how it completely entwined with the everyday.
I'd highly recommend Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas to anyone looking for a truly diverse and powerful paranormal YA.
“Julian's chuckle was wet. "Valió ... la pena."
Rating: 4.5 STARS
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Series/Standalone: Winternight Trilogy #1
How I got this book: Bought
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa's mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa's new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa's stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse's most frightening tales.
TW: Death, rape, child-marriage, paedophilia, mental health, religion
I finished reading this last night and couldn't wait to write my review.
Unlike the last book I read and reviewed, I had absolutely no trouble rating this one; it was fantastic!
"Sleep is a cousin to death, Vasya. And both are mine."
The Bear and the Nightingale was so much better than I expected it to be, partially because the synopsis hadn't actually won me over and so I wasn't sure whether I'd like it.
Think of this book like a really dark Russian fairytale. It centres around the household of Pyotr Vladimirovich; his three sons and three daughters. The landscape is wintery Russia, and the story begins on a dark, freezing night in mid-winter as four of the six children gather around the fire, listening to an old fairytale about the winter demon, as told by Dunya, their nurse.
I struggled a little at first with the different names for each character, trying to stay wrapped up in the story while getting my head to understand that Sasha, Sashka and Aleksandr were all the same person. But it didn't take long for me to figure it out and fall back under the author's spell.
The writing in this book is beautiful and gripping, and the author paints a gorgeous picture of the wintery Russian landscape, made even more immersive given that I read this while watching the snowfall outside my window.
The masterful storytelling and dark plot held me under its spell from start to finish, and I never wanted to stop reading. But I honestly hadn't expected the book to be so dark. It reminded me a little of The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo, which was equally gripping.
In terms of the historical accuracy of the book, i.e. the prejudice, the expectations and superstitions rife at that time, I felt the author captured the period perfectly.
Not long into the book, we meet Vasya, our heroine. Vasya is a headstrong character who I grew to love immediately. Her fire and stubbornness created a character who was instantly compelling, and I truly enjoyed the growth and strength of her character.
This book is filled with characters to love and hate, and the author does another trick that I love in books, where she changes how you feel about certain characters from one point to the next. When we first meet Anna, Vasya's soon-to-be stepmother, we pity and sympathise with her, hoping she'll triumph in the story, but as time passes, she becomes a character almost to despise.
The opposite can almost (but not quite, as he's quite a repulsive character) be said about the priest who comes to live in Vasya's home. When we first meet him, he's a dark, untrustworthy character, but as things befall him, there's a point where he's quite pitiable.
Then we have all the mythical creatures in the book. They're so varied, each having their own purposes and personalities that I could picture them clearly and there were so many times when I just wanted to step between the pages and explore this dark and magical land.
From what felt like an almost subdued beginning, this book grew in intensity until everything came to a crashing climax.
I flew through pages, and after finishing the book, I'm completely ready to continue the story and dive into the second instalment.
"Now here me. Before the end, you will pluck snowdrops at midwinter, die by your own choosing, and weep for a nightingale."
Overall, The Bear and the Nightingale was one of the best debut novels I've ever read, and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read this book. I'd recommend it to absolutely everyone who enjoys dark, twisted fairytales and monsters, and heroines who defy all expectations.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
How I got this book: Bought - Fairyloot
Sinister sorcery. Gallows humor. A queer romance so glorious it could be right out of fae legend itself. Master of One is a fantasy unlike any other.
Rags is a thief—an excellent one. He's stolen into noble's coffers, picked soldier's pockets, and even liberated a ring or two off the fingers of passersby. Until he's caught by the Queensguard and forced to find an ancient fae relic for a sadistic royal sorcerer.
But Rags could never have guessed this "relic" would actually be a fae himself—a distractingly handsome, annoyingly perfect, ancient fae prince called Shining Talon. Good thing Rags can think on his toes, because things just get stranger from there...
With the heist and intrigue of Six of Crows and the dark fairy tale feel of The Cruel Prince, this young adult fantasy debut will have readers rooting for a pair of reluctant heroes as they take on a world-ending fae prophecy, a malicious royal plot, and, most dangerously of all, their feelings for each other.
I have so many mixed feelings about this book, and I've been torn over how to rate it. So, I'm going to start at the beginning.
I've been excited to read this book ever since I first heard of it, and so I jumped at FairyLoot's December box once I knew it was inside. I imagined The Cruel Prince meets Six of Crows, which just sounded fantastic.
I started reading with high expectations. I loved the idea of a heist-style plot and the unexpected LGBT romance, and that a queer couple wrote it was really exciting.
In the beginning, I was not at all disappointed. The prologue was unexpectedly brutal, but it was incredibly gripping and had me hooked immediately.
Then, in chapter one, we meet Rags. He's a cocky, sarcastic thief from the slums who's found himself on the end of a job gone wrong, bruised and battered in the royal dungeon, trying to plot his escape.
I love Rags. He's the perfect incarnation of the loveable rogue. A sweet-heart with a rough, sardonic exterior and I instantly wanted the best for him.
"Daring a ravens, rich as magpies."
As Rags sets off on his journey, I flew through the pages. The pace was brilliant, the deception and trickery gripping, and that puzzles and challenges that Rags has to face are really interesting.
I was convinced that this book was going to be a 5* read for me.
The next character we meet is Tal, affectionately referred to by Rags as Shiny and, even though something between them felt a little 'off' for a while, I grew to enjoy their connection and the scenes they shared.
However, shortly after this point, the narrative completely changed and split into multiple POV's. After 20 chapters of focusing solely on Rag's perspective, it felt really jarring to suddenly have POV chapters from completely new characters.
The pacing also took a bit of a nosedive from here and I sped through to find Rag's chapters, which were easily the ones I enjoyed the most.
A couple of the characters, to me, felt a little stiff and lacking depth and it took a while for me to settle back into the story.
Saying that though, as I neared the end of the story, the pace, the danger and the intrigue picked up again to where, upon finishing the book, I'm back to feeling how I did at the beginning and really wanting to read the next book (although it hasn't been confirmed yet) to find out what happens next and how it all plays out. (Read: I really want Rags to get the happily ever after he deserves.)
Can you see what I meant now about not knowing how to rate this one?
So, I've decided to go for 3.5 stars because I loved Rags and enjoyed the plot itself but just felt that the pace took a nosedive once the additional POV's were introduced.
What do you think? Agree or disagree? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Rating: 5 STARS!!
Series/Standalone: Hells Library #1
How I got this book: Bought
Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing—a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.
But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil's Bible. The text of the Devil's Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell ... and Earth.
The Archive of the Forgotten, book two of the Hell's Library series is due to be released on 9th February 2021.
Rating: 3 Stars
Series/Standalone: Deluge #1
How I got this book: ARC from the author
Some secrets are worth killing for
The ancient city of Kepos sits in an isolated valley, cut off from the outside world by a towering wall. Behind it, the souls of the dead clamour for release. Or so the priesthood says.
Kala has never had any reason to doubt their word – until her father dies in suspicious circumstances that implicate the city's high priest. She's determined to investigate, but she has a more immediate problem: the laws of the city require her mother to remarry straight away.
Kala's new stepfather is a monster, but his son Leon is something altogether more dangerous: kind.
With her family fractured and the investigation putting her life in danger, the last thing Kala needs is romance. She would rather ignore Leon entirely, however difficult he makes it. But when she learns the truth of what really clamours behind the wall at the end of the valley, she faces a choice: share what she knows and jeopardise her escape, or abandon him to his fate along with the rest of the city.
If she doesn't move fast, then no one will make it out of the valley alive.
Review by Sophie
TW: Murder/ Suicide/Attempted Rape/Discrimination/Homophobia/Slavery
When I first saw the cover of this book, I was immediately drawn in by the pretty illustration and the promise of a thrilling mystery set around the ancient City of Kepos.
I found the Greek setting and Lost City of Atlantis vibe really intriguing, and I couldn’t wait to get started.
"It was cool and dark, and the roar of the cascade gave Kala a perverse sense of silence. This was a place in which words and noise meant nothing, because there was nothing to be heard except the crash of water. Here, the water ruled."
The plot was interesting and fast-paced, with plenty of mystery. Almost immediately, you're thrown into the chaos.
We meet Kala, the main character, who learns of her father’s death and becomes convinced that it's murder.
Kala is a very strong-willed character who faces numerous challenges, but I was quite disappointed very early on because, despite all the trauma and heartache that Kala experienced, I found that not only her but all the characters in the book seemed to lack any real emotion and drive.
I think this was one of the main reasons I struggled to connect with the characters in the book, and at times felt I was only pushing myself to keep reading to find out who the mystery murderer was.
As the story progresses, we meet Leon. Leon was my favourite character. He's kind, witty and sarcastic, and added humour to the story.
But there were a few characters in the book that surprised me with how little they were mentioned. For a start, Charis (Kala’s mother) felt as though she should have been a more consistent character since detailing the pain of losing her husband in such an awful way, how she must quickly re-marry, and the worry of what would happen to her daughter at the order of her new husband, but Charis is barely mentioned, and I would have liked to know her character better.
Another character I felt should have had a much bigger role was Nikos (Charis’ new husband). He’s a wicked character, cruel and with no regard for anyone, including his own children, but despite his cruelty, I felt like he should have more of a backstory, some reason maybe as most of his actions felt pointless and again, he was only referenced a few times throughout the book.
The Wolf and The Water has really good LGBTQ+ representation through a very clean and sweet romance. Buuuut, I can honestly say the love triangle just didn’t work for me. Melissa and Kala seemed really sweet together, and then Leon comes along, Melissa encourages Kala to marry Leon, and they all get along great. And yes, I actually hate myself for saying this….because I really wanted it to work and be all sweet and have lots of aww moments, but it all just felt so forced!! There wasn’t any genuine love or passion.
As I said before, the book is quite fast-paced, and there were definitely lots of things happening while I was trying to sus out who the murderer was, and finding out further details of how Kala was to escape the City of Kepos.
I was honestly a few pages off finishing the book, and thinking to myself, there’s no way this is going to end in such a short amount of pages, and there was, for me, the biggest disappointment; I feel like the ending was so rushed.
Throughout the entire book, we’re discovering the plan to escape, and things keep going wrong and attempted murders are taking place, but we aren’t getting any closer to discovering who it is and why, and then it’s just over. There was no heroism, no action, no battles, and I felt like there were too many unanswered questions.
At first, I thought the plot sounded so good, but for me, how it played out just didn't justify the build-up.
I loved the setting of the book, though. Imagining a secret city, with woodlands, villages, temples and sacred waterfalls that has a huge wall built up around it, and despite all the bad things taking place in the book, the valley still had a tranquil and peaceful feel to it.
I definitely recommend The Wolf and The Water if you’re a fan of fast-paced mysteries, races against time and if you have an interest in Atlantis.
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: MM Romance/Christmas/Fantasy/Comedy
Series/Standalone: A Snow Globe Christmas #1 (Can be read as a standalone)
How I got this book: Bought on Audible
Despite growing up in a family of villains, I’d rather curl up and read than commit crimes. When I get coerced by my brother into helping him rob a bank, I run into August, my childhood crush—also known as Chrono, the city’s greatest superhero. He’s sexy, sweet, and suddenly he’s asking me to Thanksgiving with his parents. It’s probably because he doesn’t realize that I’m Leviathan, a villain with the power of telekinesis. And I can’t tell him because he’d never forgive me and would stop doing things like cooking for me—wait, maybe that would be a good thing, since he’s a terrible cook. It doesn’t help that my parents think they’re the ultimate villains and won’t stop getting in my way, although they can’t even steal toilet paper without getting caught.
But when real supervillains (not the wannabe kind that I grew up with) start targeting August, I might be forced to show everyone who I truly am: a slightly warped and snarky man who’d really rather read a book than save anything… besides August. I’ll tear this world apart just to get another glimpse of him in those glasses and spandex suit. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep him safe, even though it means exposing my true identity. Luckily, August still cares about me, proving that even a villain and a hero can fall in love. Hopefully, we’ll be able to save the world in time for Christmas.
Fans of TJ Klune will devour A Villain for Christmas.
I started this book on a whim because of an Audible recommendation.
It's narrated by Michael Lesley, one of my favourite narrators; he's a sassy and comedic genius who effortlessly brings characters to life.
About a minute in, I had to go back and check that the author wasn’t actually TJ Klune because, honestly; it sounds like him to the point where I wondered if it was intentional, especially when the protagonist begs the villain to stop monologuing (which is a recurring joke in Klune’s Tales from Verania series).
The absurd characters and Lesley’s exaggerated narration drew me into the story immediately. He's a perfect Landon, with his fun, sassy wit. It’s the perfect combination of hilarious and completely heartfelt, and his delivery had me in stitches from the beginning.
Landon is a super-villain with a secret - he hates being bad! He's also crazy powerful and has a huge crush on the city's biggest superhero.
Landon is an absolute sweetheart. He's hilariously funny and sarcastic, but he wears his heart on his sleeve and delivers some truly emotional and heartbreaking scenes in the book.
August is loads of fun. He's also extremely sweet, and so adorable when Landon brings out his 'bad' side. Together, they're hilarious and once you add in the random, diverse cast of superheroes, villains, and the hairless cat, A Villain for Christmas will have you laughing out loud from start to finish.
I admit I didn't expect a lot from the plot, but it's actually really enjoyable. There are a couple of great twists and surprises that really drove the plot forward and kept me listening.
However, I’m not really sure that you would call this a Christmas story, other than it taking place in December and featuring a small Thanksgiving and Christmas scene, it's very much a funny superhero story, but it works.
Anyone who loves outrageous, OTT characters that make you laugh out loud will love A Villain for Christmas.
In particular, if you've read TJ Klune's The Extraordinaries and would love a more 'adult' superhero/super-villain rom-com, this checks all the boxes.
Rating: 3 Stars
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Clean Romance
Series/Standalone: When Wishes Bleed #1
How I got this book: Free on Amazon Prime
One Prince. One Witch. One Fate.
The upheaval in my life began the moment a prince stumbled into my house and asked me to read his fortune. Any other night, I might have made an excuse to get him to leave, but this was no normal visit. My fingers prickled to touch him. So, I granted his request by handing him a single wishbone. When he snapped it, the wish … bled.
Hearing me suck in a shocked breath, he asked what it meant. Such an ominous omen could only mean one thing: his death was imminent. Fate revealed that he wouldn’t die of natural causes. Someone wanted him dead. Stunned by the revelation, the man I now knew as Prince Tauren disappeared into a night I feared he wouldn’t survive. The following day, I received an invitation to the castle. While it seemed the prince believed I could intervene and uncover who was plotting his death, his motives didn’t stop there. I was being summoned to join twelve other women in vying for the opportunity to be his wife and future queen.
Going could mean jeopardizing my plans to reclaim my heritage and resurrect the House of Fate. But staying would guarantee Tauren’s death, and the blood of his wish would be on my hands.
Review by Sophie
I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite some time as the reviews are pretty mixed, but I finally read it when Amazon added it as a Prime free read.
I think the author did a fantastic job of the world-building in this book. It’s set in a modern-ish time, where the world is split into districts. The detail surrounding the magic, and the House of Fate, in particular, is immersive and drew me in from the start.
First, we meet Sable, an outcast from District 13, who’s come to accept life alone after being shunned by all the other witches, with only the voice of Fate himself to keep her company, whispering in her ear and guiding her on what she must do. I felt really sorry for Sable, especially seeing how she’s treated, even by her own family, but I love how having Fate guiding her added so much mystery to her character. Oh, and did I mention she’s a badass?
Once a year, the townspeople from the different districts go to the 13th for the Equinox celebration. This year, we meet the ever so lovely Tauren, a young prince who stumbles (drunkenly) to Sable’s hut for a reading. The two form an instant connection, and their relationship grows quickly.
”Now that we’re bound, you’ll be my shield, but I will also be yours. We’ll keep each other safe - and alive.”
I was quite fond of Tauren, just because he was so sweet, which is an interesting portrayal of a prince in a fantasy novel. So, like Sable, I really didn’t want him to die!
As much as I liked Sable and Tauren’s character, there’s one I really couldn’t stand, and that was Bren, Sable’s one and only friend since childhood. I found him so annoying! His behaviour and how he acted when things didn’t go his way, or he didn’t get what he wanted was just petty and had me hating his character.
The first half of the book really captured me, and I fell into the mystery of it all. However, as I journeyed through the book, my love for it faded. I felt that the author had built up the ending so much and I was expecting it to be epic, but found it disappointing, with no fire or intensity. There are also too many unanswered questions about Sable’s mother and how she just accepted things from the people that had cast her out and been horrible to her, made little sense to me. There was so much speculation and hurt that I just don’t feel like the author expressed that enough.
So, yeah, I enjoyed this book, and I wanted to read on; especially after switching from the audiobook to eBook. I usually love audiobooks, but the narrator was really killing the story for me.
If you liked The Hunger Games, but crave a magical twist, I’d highly recommend When Wishes Bleed by Casey L. Bond.
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Graphic Novel
How I got this book: NetGalley ARC
Ever felt anxious or alone? Like you don't belong anywhere? Like you're almost... invisible? Find your kindred spirits at The Sad Ghost Club.
This is the story of one of those days - a day so bad you can barely get out of bed, when it's a struggle to leave the house, and when you do, you wish you hadn't. But even the worst of days can surprise you. When one sad ghost, lost and alone at a crowded party, spies another sad ghost across the room, they decide to leave together. What happens next changes everything. Because that night they start the The Sad Ghost Club - a secret society for the anxious and alone, a club for people who think they don't belong.
For fans of Heartstopper and Jennifer Niven, and for anyone who's ever felt invisible. You are not alone. Shhh. Pass it on.
I've been trying to read more graphic novels lately, especially as my 6yo has become low-key obsessed with them. So, when I saw the adorable-looking, The Sad Ghost Club, I had to request it.
This is such a relatable book. I don't know of a single person in my life who doesn't suffer from some type of anxiety, myself included, and this book really resonated with me; even down to blaming my cats for their bad advice!
The illustrations in this book are really cute and very reminiscent of Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, the story starts off quite dark as you see the extent of the main characters loneliness and fear of not being accepted.
But the message of the book is really kind and sweet and made me feel so much better about my own insecurities. I'd highly recommend this book to everyone; kids, teens and adults alike.
It's like a little warm hug letting you know you're not alone.
Rating: 4.5 STARS!
Series/Standalone: The Extraordinaries #1
How I got this book: Bought
In Nova City, there are people capable of feats that defy the imagination. They're called Extraordinaries.
There is Shadow Star: a protector who can manipulate darkness in his quest to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
His arch-nemesis is Pyro Storm: an Extraordinary capable of controlling fire who is bent on bringing Nova City to its knees.
And then there's sixteen-year-old Nicholas Bell: who isn't Extraordinary in the slightest.
He's Shadow Star's number one fan, writing fan fiction of their adventures together and dreaming of a day where he too dons a costume and fights crime. Too bad ADHD isn't a superpower, otherwise Nick would be golden.
Instead of stopping villains and their convoluted schemes of global domination, Nick must contend with starting his junior year, a father who doesn't trust him, and a best friend named Seth, who may or may not be the love of Nick's short, uneventful life. It should be enough.
And it is...until a fateful encounter with Shadow Star forces Nick to realize his true destiny. He's tired of being ordinary, and he'll do whatever it takes to become something more.
I want this book to become a TV series!
This book was our third Turn The Page book club selection.
I loved this book. It was so fantastic to see, as always, the brilliant representation that you can almost guarantee from a TJ Klune book.
Nick is just a brilliant character; he's smart, funny and adorably clueless about what's going on. At the same time, he's struggling with the grief of losing his mum while feeling at odds with his dad, who he thinks wishes he were normal.
Nick is neurodivergent, and it was so refreshing to read a fun, sci-fi fantasy with a disabled hero.
“For the most part, he'd accepted that some people were born to be Extraordinaries, and some people were born to be medicated so they didn't spin out of control. Fair? Not really, but Nick was learning that his brain could do things that others couldn't. In a way, he had his own superpower, even if it was called a disorder.”
I really enjoyed following Nick's story as it takes unusual turns that are, for the most part, very funny, but sometimes much darker.
Surprisingly, the action sequences in this book were also really great, and it's those, interspersed with Nick's inner monologue, his awkward banter with Seth, his annoyance with Owen, and his hilarious friends, that I feel would make a fantastic tv show.
But, I did have a few issues with some aspects of the book. Nick's dad, I did not get on with. I just don't feel that he's a great parent. Yes, he worries about Nick, but he's also one of the main reasons that Nick feels so insecure about himself, and it's clear through much of what happens (no spoilers!) that he's lied to Nick a lot.
Then there's the issue with the glorification of the police force to a certain extent. I understand that this wasn't intentional and that the book was written, I think, before the recent light that's been shone on police brutality in America. However, the simple fact that Nick's dad is forgiven for doing punching someone in his position of power just doesn't sit well. That being said, the author did address this in his own blog post, so you're welcome to read that here and form your own opinion.
My other issue was that the plot twists were really predictable. But, saying that, I wonder if it was intentional because, while they're clear to the ready, they are not at all clear to Nick who's in the dark, meandering in all directions until he figures it out, which was actually a lot of fun to read. There were so many times where I just wanted to step into the book and help Nick, to tell him what was going on, but his cluelessness led to funny and heartbreaking scenarios that made his story all the more compelling.
Overall, I really enjoyed TJ's first YA novel. Having read a lot of his adult novels, I wasn't too sure what to expect, but I was really surprised. No, this book didn't affect me the way that The House in the Cerulean Sea did, but it's a very different book; it's harsher, and it has more grit to it.
But, I'd still highly recommend The Extraodinaries, and I can't wait to find out what happens to Nick and the gang in book two.
“Be gay. Do crimes.”
Rating: 5 STARS!!
Genre: LGBT Fantasy
How I got this book: Bought
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he's given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
I finished this book last night and, even though I don't know how to find the words to express how utterly perfect this book is, I just had to write my review.
This book is perfect.
There's a quote on the cover saying that it's almost perfect and honestly, I'm calling BS. This book is stunning and I wouldn't change a single word.
“I'm afraid I don't have magic."
"You do, Mr. Baker. Arthur told me that there can be magic in the ordinary.”
I've been a fan of TJ Klune's work for quite a while, and I've never been disappointed by his books, but at the same time, I've never been completely and utterly blown away either (although, it's come extremely close - see The Bones Beneath My Skin) until now.
There's something so magical, warm and heartfelt about this book and its weird and wonderful cast of characters, as they battle against a reflection of our society and government.
Watching Linus grow, and his unconscious effect on the inhabitants of The House in the Cerulean Sea was so moving it had me in tears numerous times.
"I am but paper. Brittle and thin. I am held up to the sun, and it shines right through me. I get written on, and I can never be used again. These scratches are a history. They’re a story."
The writing is beautiful and the message so very poignant as it drives home the importance of equality and the need to challenge prejudices.
“Your voice is a weapon. Never forget that.”
Every single character in this book is amazing. The children are wonderful, varied and not at all what you'd expect, and I love each and every one of them. If you asked me to choose my favourite, I simply couldn't; they're all too precious and unique.
Linus is a fantastic protagonist. His flaws are on full display and his transformation throughout the book reads like a phoenix rising from the ashes. He's a brilliant character to behold as he grows in confidence and awareness, and can we just take a moment to enjoy the fat main character rep we have here?!
“Why can’t life work whatever way we want it to? What’s the point of living if you only do it how others want you to?”
My only criticism has absolutely nothing at all to do with the book itself. It lies in the narration. I began listening to this book on Audible and no matter what, I just couldn't get into it, which led me to give up for a while until I could get my hands on the hardcover, which I then fell into and never wanted to leave.
Honestly, if you're actively looking for a book that will give you the mother of all book hangovers, this is it. Prepare to fall in love.
"Don't you wish you were here?"
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
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5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
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