Infinity Son by Adam Silvera | urban fantasy, phoenixes, and brotherhood

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Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

January 14, 2019, from HarperTeen
YA fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.

Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.

Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.

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3 stars

When I heard Adam Silvera was writing a fantasy book, I was thrilled. His contemporary books are some of my favourites. So I went into Infinity Son optimistic. Though there are some problems with the worldbuilding and pacing, I ultimately liked Infinity Son; it’s an urban fantasy that stresses the importance of family and responsibility.
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Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff | a space adventure with an underdeveloped ensemble cast

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Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

April 30, 2019, from Knopf Books for Young Readers
YA science fiction
Goodreads | Amazon

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

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3 stars

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Aurora Rising. I’ve been working my way through the Illuminae series and honestly wasn’t super impressed, but I enjoyed it, so I decided to give Aurora Rising a try and see if the more traditional style of narration worked for me. Aurora Rising is entertaining enough, but the mess of POVs and wonky pacing meant that it didn’t stand out to me.
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The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin | a fun terrible tudors high school au

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The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin

January 29, 2019 from Inkyard Press
Young adult contemporary
Goodreads | Amazon

What do a future ambassador, an overly ambitious Francophile, a hospital-volunteering Girl Scout, the new girl from Cleveland, the junior cheer captain, and the vice president of the debate club have in common? It sounds like the ridiculously long lead-up to an astoundingly absurd punchline, right? Except it’s not. Well, unless my life is the joke, which is kind of starting to look like a possibility given how beyond soap opera it’s been since I moved to Lancaster. But anyway, here’s your answer: we’ve all had the questionable privilege of going out with Lancaster High School’s de facto king. Otherwise known as my best friend. Otherwise known as the reason I’ve already helped steal a car, a jet ski, and one hundred spray-painted water bottles when it’s not even Christmas break yet. Otherwise known as Henry. Jersey number 8.

Meet Cleves. Girlfriend number four and the narrator of The Dead Queens Club, a young adult retelling of Henry VIII and his six wives. Cleves is the only girlfriend to come out of her relationship with Henry unscathed—but most breakups are messy, right? And sometimes tragic accidents happen…twice…

3 stars

The Tudors are my favourite English dynasty to read about. Everything from the outbreak of the War of the Roses through James I dynasty is just Juicy Gossip. It’s just fun, and Henry VIII is the most fun. The Dead Queens Club turns all the drama surrounding Henry VIII and the English Reformation into, essentially, a high school AU. It works surprisingly well. 

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IT by Stephen King | sometimes a problematic horror classic is something that can be so personal,

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IT by Stephen King

September 15, 1986
Adult epic horror
Goodreads | Amazon

Welcome to Derry, Maine …

It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real …

They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But none of them can withstand the force that has drawn them back to Derry to face the nightmare without an end, and the evil without a name.

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3 stars

Where do I even begin with this book? To say I have very mixed feelings is understating it. There’s a lot of things I love about this book and would give a full five stars, and a lot of things I hate about this book that would earn any other book one star. I’ve compromised for three stars, but that really doesn’t cover my feelings on this book. It is a horror epic that somehow manages to illuminate friendship and childhood while also exploring the hateful parts of humanity. Does it work? I’m honestly not sure.

A caveat: my perspective on IT is absolutely colored by spending time in queer fandom spaces, reading fanfiction, and movie canon. I don’t think that perspective can be discarded in this review. For some reason, a ton of queer people (me included) connect with this book that is by today’s standards, homophobic. There are queer implications in the movie, but it comes out of the queer subtext in the book that I am 80% sure Stephen King never even realized. I ended up drafting an entire post about this topic after it overflowed this already hefty review, so, um, stay tuned?

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Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells | a dragon adventure with a slow pace

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Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells

July 30, 2019, from Simon & Schuster BYR
Young adult fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.

If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…

With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?

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3 stars

I was so excited about reading Shatter the Sky. I mean, dragons? With a bisexual protagonist on a frantic mission to get back her girlfriend? And while a lot of what I was hoping for delivered as promised, there were a lot of parts that made the book a lot slower than I would have liked.

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Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson | a magical bookish adventure

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Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

June 4, 2019, from Margaret K. McElderry Books
Young adult fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

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3 stars

Dear book: it’s not you, it’s me.

I wanted so badly to love this: from the gorgeous cover to the enchanting world and lyrical writing, I feel like I should have fallen in love. Instead, I found myself more on the ambivalent side; I liked Sorcery of Thorns well enough, but I didn’t find it particularly memorable. I just wasn’t able to get into this book like I wanted to, and no one is more disappointed than me.

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ARC Review: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

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Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

May 7, 2019, from Wednesday Books
Young adult contemporary romance
Goodreads | Amazon

3 stars

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Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.

I was pretty excited when I saw Again, but Better, because I’ve watched Christine Riccio’s YouTube channel on and off for a couple years. I’m not an avid viewer, but it’s always so cool to see booktubers/bloggers become published. I thought Again, but Better was a decent debut novel that was incredibly relatable and quite heartwarming.

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