Pestilence by Laura Thalassa

They came to earth—Pestilence, War, Famine, Death—four horsemen riding their screaming steeds, racing to the corners of the world. Four horsemen with the power to destroy all of humanity. They came to earth, and they came to end us all. 

When Pestilence comes for Sara Burn’s town, one thing is certain: everyone she knows and loves is marked for death. Unless, of course, the angelic-looking horseman is stopped, which is exactly what Sara has in mind when she shoots the unholy beast off his steed.

Too bad no one told her Pestilence can’t be killed.

Now the horseman, very much alive and very pissed off, has taken her prisoner, and he’s eager to make her suffer. Only, the longer she’s with him, the more uncertain she is about his true feelings towards her … and hers towards him.

And now, well, Sara might still be able to save the world, but in order to do so, she’ll have to sacrifice her heart in the process.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! (I think this book was the first one I ever preordered on Kindle!)

“I cannot decide if you are a toxin or a tonic,” he says, lifting a hand to my cheek. “Only that you plague my thoughts and fill my veins.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8.5/10 Stars

Spoiler Free: Laura Thalassa is a super popular author in the YA Lit Discord I’m a part of, and therefore I couldn’t pass up on reading her newest release! Even though I had only read Rhapsodic by her before (a problem I need to amend soon!), I knew I’d enjoy this new book both from the reactions from my friends who read ARCs + all the teasers Thalassa shared. This prediction ended up being entirely correct!

I really loved the characters in this book, and the world/story this first book sets up. While I had a bit of trouble getting into at first, just due to warming up to the characters who were presented in such harsh and raw ways, I was hooked by 25% and spent the rest of the day shirking my responsibilities to finish it!

One of the things I already know from reading Rhapsodic is how well Thalassa does romances, so I had high hopes coming into this one! I didn’t think it was possible, but the romance in this book was even better than Rhapsodic (considering I haven’t read the rest of the books), and it had me flipping pages at points to see how it progressed!

Additionally, it’s fairly obvious that the focus of this book is the characters, and their emotional journey more so than the physical one. While in Rhapsodic I had issues with the plot coming on too suddenly, this book didn’t suffer from that at all! There was still a plot, but it never worked to overshadow the characters in the book, and blended along well with the relationship’s progression. It was like the main emotional storyline’s sidekick, always there and never wavering, but also never fighting for the spotlight.

Lastly, I think the one book per horseman/main character is a really fitting format for the series. While I would have loved to see more of Pestilence and Sara, I also know that the next book might not have been as enticing due to the now-resolved tension/issues that made this book as strong as it was!

Overall, I’m super excited for the next book in this series, and excited to read more of Thalassa’s work in general!


The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer

“In the ancient moors of Scotland, the king of Calidon lies on his deathbed, cursed by a ring that cannot be removed from his finger. When a mysterious fey stranger appears to save the king, he also carries a secret that could tear the royal family apart.

The kingdom’s only hope will lie with two young men raised worlds apart. Aric is the beloved heir to the throne of Calidon; Albaric is clearly of noble origin yet strangely out of place.

The Oddling Prince is a tale of brothers whose love and loyalty to each other is such that it defies impending warfare, sundering seas, fated hatred, and the very course of time itself. In her long-awaited new fantasy novel, Nancy Springer (the Books of Isle series) explores the darkness of the human heart as well as its unceasing capacity for love.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another ARC review!

First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author for providing me this ARC to review. Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.

Stars (Out of 10): 5/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Albaric

Spoiler Free: When I checked out the Goodreads reviews after being accepted for this book, I was quite worried. It was sitting around a 3.06, and that’s probably the lowest scored book on Goodreads I’ve ever read. While in the end I did like it more than expected, there were many things I agreed with in some of the negative reviews I read.

Let’s start at the premise. The main selling point of this book will be the Faerie influence, as that’s a hot subject in YA Fantasy at the moment. Unfortunately, I have to say that this book fails to deliver much of anything on that front. The main purpose of the Faerie/Elfland was to give a backstory to Albaric, but besides that, it doesn’t mean anything at all. In fact, the entire “plot” of the book revolves instead around an entirely unrelated set of lore, and therefore I don’t classify this book as a Fae one at all.

When it comes to the writing, this seems to be a hit or a miss with most readers. While I enjoyed it stylistically, it made everything take ten times as long, since no sentence was ever simple. However, without it, I doubt I would’ve even liked the book at all.

In terms of the characters, this is where I feel the book succeeded the most. The main reason this book wasn’t a DNF was due to the interesting relationship between Aric and Albaric, and while it feels like insta-love but a sibling version, it does get explained later. Additionally, the pure love and caring between these two brothers was just interesting to read, since sibling rivalry is much more common in YA. Additionally, when it came to other characters, most played into the story quite well, and the complex relationships between everyone was where this book truly shined.

However, that did not fully make up for the lackluster plot and under explained world. While the world being weakly developed wasn’t that much of a problem due to its irrelevance to most of the plot, it was a bit frustrating not understanding the situation the book takes place in. We get hints here and there of Vikings and weaker civilizations outside of Calidon, but not much more than that. Even the inner workings of Calidon itself isn’t truly explained, and this leaves the plot unsupported and dull.

Additionally, the plot itself is rather overshadowed by the characters themselves. Aric doesn’t care about much besides Albaric, and therefore really only feels through Albaric, instead of feeling himself for the actions going on around him. We see his worry for his mother and father at times, but it is always overshadowed by the bond between Aric and Albaric. Lastly, the plot itself isn’t actually a tough thing to solve, and when the characters actually are forced to face the problem, it gets solved in a chapter. This ended up making the middle of the book feel very boring, with most of it consisting of Aric and Albaric frolicking around with occasional plot heavy chapters here and there.

All in all, I’m not sure if I’d recommend this book. It is an interesting tale about family and kinship, and an emotional one at times, but not much more than that.


The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

“In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.”

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review!

“Everything dies,” he whispered back. “I’m afraid of so much more than dying.”

Stars (Out of 10): 10/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Torwin and Asha of course (although I loved a ton of the characters)

Spoiler Free: When I got this book in my Fairyloot box, I wasn’t actually all that interested since it wasn’t a book I’d heard much about/every planned on buying. So it sat there on my shelf, from October until now, when a fateful Scrabble reading challenge made me pick this book up just because I could use it for the letter “I”.

Sometimes, it’s the books that we are the most cautious about that surprise us.

Looking back, I’m appalled that I ever let this book fly under my radar. Badass female main characters? Dragons? Why did I go so long without reading this!

Something snatched my heart from the very beginning of this story, and never let it go. That something was most likely the strong narrator that was still human, still afraid and trapped even with all her strength and power. The narrator that still cared about those around her, even though it made her weaker. The narrator who still had lessons to learn.

My love for this book was strengthened by the complex side characters, the well crafted world, and the gripping plot. I have no complaints about any part of this book, and for a debut, that is an amazing thing to say.

When it came to the characters, most of the main ones of focus had such depth. Even the villains we hated had more to them then their evil, had sets of morals and desires that they adhered to. But when it came to the allies, the characters we were meant to love, the amount of emotion that the author was able to draw out of me for those characters blew my mind. In this relatively quick moving book, my heart made space for not only Asha and Torwin, but Dax and Safire and Roa as well.

Additionally, the world itself was a beautiful thing to experience. We are told about this world both through experiencing it through Asha’s eyes as well as hearing about its history in the form of forbidden stories. This combination never got old, and I was sad when I read the last story contained within the book (since the gray pages stood out and I was able to see when each story was!) The world itself was also a highly interesting one, with conflicting histories told by different groups of people, much like our world is.

Lastly, that plot. THAT PLOT. I was only able to guess one of the twists, and all of the others elicited a gasp. It managed to keep me on my toes the entire time, not knowing what any of the characters were going to do next or what was actually the truth. The pacing of the story was fantastic as well, and I never felt that it dragged or lulled at any point in time. Every chapter was enjoyable, and each word made the end of this story that much more tragic (wake me up when september ends and I can have this book in my hands please)

Overall, this tale is tied for top book of 2018 with Graceling right now, and I can’t wait to see what books surprise me the rest of this year!


Restore Me by Taherah Mafi

“Juliette Ferrars thought she’d won. She took over Sector 45, was named the new Supreme Commander, and now has Warner by her side. But she’s still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch—and now she’s got the whole world in the palm of her hand. When tragedy hits, who will she become? Will she be able to control the power she wields and use it for good?”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again, and emotionally destroyed thanks to this book!

“In the steady thrum that accompanies quiet, my mind is unkind to me. I think too much. I feel, perhaps, far more than I should. It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that my goal in life is to outrun my mind, my memories.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8.5/10 Stars

Favorite Character: I still love Aaron too much, even after all this

Spoiler Free: It’s been about 4 years since the release of Ignite Me, and a little less than that since I finished the original trilogy. It’s been about 3 and a half years since I accepted that I wouldn’t get more from this world, these characters, these friends of mine.

It’s been a little less than a year since I heard the news, since I let myself hope (very tentatively) again. It’s been a little less than a year of excitement and speculation and hidden fears, as the ending of Ignite Me was optimistic, and you cannot make optimism span 3 more books. It was a little less than a year filled with uncontrolled happiness at the idea of getting to hear more from these characters, from Aaron and Juliette and Kenji, and maybe even Adam. It is impossible to explain the mix of emotions, almost all positive, at the news of these next books.

I should have been scared.

I should have realized that nothing would be okay anymore.

Now, I don’t want to go against the purpose of this section and add spoilers, but just a warning, prepare yourselves. The ending of Ignite Me was extremely misleading in terms of what happens next, and in the end, the path of Restore Me is much more realistic.

Additionally, just because the series suddenly takes a turn doesn’t mean that it’s negating the development and set up of the original trilogy. The characters still follow the same personalities, the world is still the same (just gets more development since Juliette’s positions causes her to learn more information about everything), and the writing is still 100% Mafi (and I love it.)

The only reason why I rated this lower is due to the overwhelming amount of new information. In the end, I’m too shocked to really feel emotionally moved by certain parts of the book. But besides that, I loved it, and I’m happy to be back in the world even if it is heartbreaking.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

Continue reading

Fresh Ink Anthology by Lamar Giles + Others

In partnership with We Need Diverse Books, thirteen of the most recognizable, diverse authors come together in this remarkable YA anthology featuring ten short stories, a graphic short story, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print.

Careful–you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written–whose next chapters are up to you.

Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared.

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! I was recently approved for an ARC of this anthology, and read it right away!

First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author for providing me this ARC to review. Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.

Stars (Out of 10): 7/10 Stars

Since this is an anthology, I’ll be writing a short review for each individual story!

As a whole, this was a pretty good anthology. Most of the stories seemed to fit the theme, and there was a variety of characters and stories. While each story did hinge on the idea of diversity, they focused on a variety of other things as well, making the stories much more fleshed out overall. Lastly, the message in each of the stories usually came across quite well, except in some cases where it may have been too hidden or too forced.

Out of the 12 stories, my favorites would have to be “Super Human”, “Catch, Pull, Drive”, and “Eraser Tattoo”!

Eraser Tattoo: I haven’t read any if Jason Reynolds full novels (have seen them around though!), but this story makes me want to! It was fairly simple, but in the few short pages it lasted, I was already loving the characters. The message in this one was also fairly obscured, but I think the small references to the unfairness of the situation only added to the overall effect of the story.

Meet Cute: Exactly fits the name! The setting was interesting too, since it’s during a con and there’s quite a few references! Only issue is, if the reader doesn’t automatically know where the characters are from (since it’s not revealed until later), parts of the beginning fall a little flat since it is pretty heavy in references

Don’t Pass Me By:  I think story fits my expectations for this anthology more than the other two so far. While the beginning it was difficult to follow since I had to orient myself in a culture I didn’t necessarily have experience with, that quickly resolved itself. Overall, this story just made me angry (at the white teacher and the white students and ugh)

Be Cool For Once: Overall I thought this was a super cute story, but it didn’t seem to fit in the anthology as well as others

Tags:  I really liked the format and idea behind the story, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the story myself. It felt a bit short and all over the place, and I only really sympathized with one or two of the characters

Why I Learned to Cook: This story was super cute! I love how it blended both diversity in sexuality and in culture! I especially liked that this story fostered a love both between acceptance and family, as many stories involving sexual diversity focus on the hatred from the parents.

A Stranger at the Bochinche: While I liked the premise, the story felt as if it was trying to accomplish too much in too few pages, and it left me feeling lost at points. However, I did like the stark contrast of ancient gods/an older setting + fancy tech

A Boy’s Duty: I wasn’t as big a fan of this story, as I felt it dragged a bit and took a while to get to its point, but I still enjoyed it. If anything, I think I liked the characters the most.

One Voice: Okay, so don’t read this if you haven’t read Something In Between because this basically spoils the entire book. Also, I’m never really a fan of short stories in anthologies being from other series :/ additionally, the story itself felt too short, and made the message feel forced while also having a fairly abrupt ending. This one would have to be my least favorite.

Paladin/Samurai:  I get why the comic book story was so short, but it almost felt waaay too short. However, it still was able to carry a message more subtle than One Voice, so for that I applaud it

Catch, Pull, Drive: I really loved this one! Not only the message, but the way it was written as well! Having it set during the middle of a swimming race heightened the tension dramatically, and the inner thoughts complimented that really well also.

Super Human: I really really enjoyed this one. It seemed one of the only stories that didn’t have a positive ending, and the openness of the ending combined with the lack of positivity made it all the more powerful. Overall, it feels as if this story carries the message of the anthology the most.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer, comes a high-stakes world of adventure, passion, danger, and betrayal.

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies — humans with extraordinary abilities — who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone… except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice — and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review!

“There was the potential for evil everywhere, and the only way to combat it was if more people chose goodness. If more people chose heroism.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8/10 Stars

Favorite Character: I honestly really liked both Nova and Adrian, and how they didn’t just fully represent a villain or a hero!

Spoiler Free: I’ve been wanting to read this book since it came out, since I was such a fan of the Lunar Chronicles, and I finally got the chance too! Overall, it met my expectations from Marissa Meyer, and while her writing style isn’t the most beautiful or compelling (overall is good but fairly simple), I still really enjoyed the story!

One of the things I like most about Meyer’s stories is usually her characters. I fell in love with all of the Lunar cast, and the same was true in this story! While there was definitely way more characters to love, I did end up liking most of the ones that had focus within our story (Adrian, Nova, Dread Warden (forget his real name, there are too many!), Ruby, Dana, Oscar, etc.) The only problem I had was liking some of the Anarchists, since some felt too over the top at points (Honey), or hard to like.

I also really enjoyed the plot! It captivated me, and this book went by much faster than most books of this size do! I was hooked on every line, and constantly living in fear of the cliffhanger I heard so many mention! (It was a good one!) I also really enjoyed the inner conflict we saw our two protagonists facing, on whether what they were told as they were growing up was really true, or if both sides of the war have their pros and cons.

I also liked the world that was built, and how even with superheroes in charge (the “perfect” idol), there were still tons of issues in the world. It kinda goes to show that having powers doesn’t fix everything, as the world is much more complex than that.

My only issue with the book was a part of the beginning. We were drowned in names in the first quarter of the book, as we had to learn the superhero name, their real name, and their powers, and I still get confused when council members are called by their first names! However, this did get better as time went on, and we learned who was important to remember and who we could forget.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

“Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review! Dread Nation was a book I heard about late last year, and I was so excited when I got an ARC!

First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author for providing me this ARC to review. Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.

“You shouldn’t jump to conclusions about people, Mr. Gideon. I contain multitudes.”

Stars (Out of 10): 9/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Jane!

Spoiler Free: When I first heard about this book last year, I was already super excited. I was in a mood of Hamilton and American History, having just found one and come out of an AP US History class.

Even though that phase has very much died down now, this book still exceeded any expectations I had for it. It was brutal at points, heartbreaking at others, and unbelievably honest at all times. It took the hidden secrets (or not so hidden secrets) of America’s history in the 1880’s and before, and aired it out for all to see. But it did so in a way that was both entertaining and thought-provoking. Yes, the Civil War was interrupted by zombies, but that did not erase the differences that provoked that Civil War, and the common enemy did not unite the people.

I also really love how Justina Ireland played with history while still sticking with it. She gave the prominent members of post-Civil War America new stories that fell in line with the world, while still relating their new tales to their old ones. Additionally, the zombies/undead only added to the tale Ireland spun, rather than take away from it/make it unrealistic. I also loved the spin she did on the “reformation” Americans forced on the Native Americans, and spun a whole tale on that being spread to other minorities.

The voice of the main character was also extremely unique, and extremely fitting. It wasn’t the style of how we speak today, but rather adapted more to the style of speech back then. It added another layer of realism to the story overall, and stole me deeper into the story. Additionally, the narrator herself, Jane, was just an amazing mind to be in. No, I couldn’t necessarily connect with the pain she faced on a daily basis just due to her skin color (I’m a white person, after all), but the way that pain was narrated and thought on was something I could almost understand, could empathize with. And it made me see her as an even stronger person.

In terms of plot, I was also amazed at every twist and turn the book took, the secret reveals and parallels between past and present. Additionally, the hidden thoughts between every word spoken and every letter written was amazingly fun to untangle and follow. I cheered for our protagonists every step of the way, which is not something I find myself doing often.

Lastly, I loved the parallels this book had to today. From the white Survivalists fighting to “go back to the glory of the days before the dead,” and the focus on a religion that outcasts people based on differences they cannot control, it felt oddly like the political situation today in America. Because of this, I am really hoping this book is one of the big releases this year, and garners all the love and attention it deserves.

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

“Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review! In February, the YA Lit Discord read this book for our book club, and this is my review!

Stars (Out of 10): 4/10 Star

Favorite Character: I want to go for a side character, but each time I think of one I find issues with them :

Spoiler Free: I really really liked the concept of this book, and even parts of the book itself, but the execution overall was not good.

On the subject of plot, it was overall good but stalled a lot. In the end, I liked how the plot started and ended (not the actual ending of the book, mind you), even though the final twist wasn’t all that surprising. The twist itself was hinted at way too much, and even said by a side character, but the main character was just not entertaining the possibility.

Additionally, while the world was interesting, it feels like we didn’t get enough of it. We got the bare minimum explanation needed for each point of the book, and any questioning of the world/magic was met with one of the characters mentioning the five-eyed god and not to question it, that’s just how things were. I hope this improves in the sequel, although I am unsure yet if I’m reading it.

I did actually like most of the side characters, but it feels like most of them weren’t actually developed enough. This was mainly due to the constant switching of friends the MC experienced, and as soon as someone new was introduced, the older characters seemed to be forgotten about. For example, when we meet Valoria/when she starts playing a bigger role in the story, Odessa starts moving away from her long-time friends, Jax and Simeon. This led to them occasionally showing up still, but never getting anymore character building/attention. This happened a second time as well, as another character was introduced after Valoria and the MC moved on quickly again.

Overall, I think Odessa is probably my main cause for disliking this book. I did not agree with how she handled things for the most part, and her dramatics. First off, she acted as if she cared so much about her friends, yet ditched them at every turn (as mentioned above). Additionally, her addiction plot was originally being pulled off well, but it disappeared as soon as the plot kicked back in again, making it seem like filler plot.

I also was not a fan of the relationships within this book, as there were cheap moments of tension (further explained below due to spoilers.)

Lastly, parts of the writing style also annoyed me. While overall it was decent, it was overly annoying in the first 100 pages, and extremely noticeable. From everyone winking at each other to things being mentioned but never explained, I was put off very quickly, and that probably caused me to judge each later part of the book more harshly.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

Continue reading

Whichwood by Taherah Mafi

“A new adventure about a girl who is fated to wash the bodies of the dead in this companion to Furthermore.

Our story begins on a frosty night…

Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear.

But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review!

“What if she made herself vulnerable only to have her faults thrown back in her face? No, no, it was safer to stay angry, she’d concluded, where nothing could ever touch her.”

Stars (Out of 10): 9/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Benyamin

Spoiler Free: As soon as I finished Furthermore, I knew I needed more of the world as soon as possible. But unfortunately book club books and busy schedules got a bit in the way, but here I am, just having finished it, and even more excited for Restore Me on tuesday!

Overall, this book lived up to the expectations created by Furthermore, matching bar in some places and exceeding it in others!

My general claim is that while the world was less twisty/unpredictable, since it took place in a town more like Ferenwood, the plot was much better than that of Furthermore. (Don’t get me wrong! I still absolutely loved the town of Whichwood, but you could tell it wasn’t as much the focus of the novel.)

In terms of plot, it kept tricking me! Whenever I expected something to finally go right, it went so very wrong, and my expectations and theories kept being rejected at every turn! Additionally, I was much more invested in the quest of the characters in this novel, and therefore was more involved in the plot in general. It also had a certain level of darkness that I did not expect from what I thought was a middle grade novel, and ended up being quite emotional and philosophical at points!

Lastly, I really loved the combination of old and new characters we found in this book. And rather than there being a divide between the characters based on their experiences, you saw Alice and Oliver quickly getting attached to the characters from Whichwood, rather than sticking to themselves as a pair the entire time. Additionally, just because Alice and Oliver had had an adventure before did not make them the heroes of this adventure necessarily, and they found themselves both relying on and helping the kids from Whichwood.

As always, I absolutely loved the writing and narration style Mafi employed here (the use of an outside narrator that is super mysterious is a thing I have started to love), and her magical words and descriptions kept me hooked on every line!


The Queendom of the Seven Lakes by A. B. Endacott

“There are always those who are willing to pay for someone else’s death. Having grown up amongst the Family of Assassins, Elen-ai knows well the prices people are willing to pay to see their enemies fall quickly, quietly, and discreetly. When she is asked to preserve life rather than take it, she is surprised. Upon hearing that her charge is the Queen’s only child GIdyon, who is secretly being groomed to succeed his mother, she is horrified. To ensure political stability, no man has ever sat on the throne of the Queendom of the Seven Lakes. Yet one does not easily refuse a Queen, and so reluctantly, Elen-ai accepts the contract.

Her fears only deepen upon meeting the sixteen-year-old Prince Gidyon, who treats her as no better than a petty murderer. However, following an attack on his life, Elen-ai is forced to admit that the danger of leaving this boy-prince alone may be even worse than leaving him to his own devices. Elen-ai reluctantly accompanies Gidyon across the country to identify those within the seven most powerful families who are responsible for the attempt on the Prince’s life.

Somewhere in their travels from the calm waters of Lake Tak to the looming cliffs above Lake Bertak, the two form an unlikely yet profound friendship, and Elen-ai begins to see that Gidyon has the makings of a great ruler within him. As they meet with the families of power, it becomes increasingly clear that secrets and power games run far deeper throughout the Queendom of the Seven Lakes than either of them ever suspected.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review!

First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author for providing me this ARC to review. Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.

Stars (Out of 10): 7.5/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Elen-ai

Spoiler Free: Ever since the release, and popularity, of the Throne of Glass, tons of books following the lives of teenage/young adult assassins. While there have been many hits, and very many misses, I have to count this one amongst the hints.

Prefacing this, I am not sure if the copy I read is a finalized copy or not, but there were admittedly a ton of editing mistakes. Some had typos that ended up changing the meaning of the sentence (although I was usually still able to determine the true meaning), but the most annoying issue that came from this was the constant changing in spelling of names. At first I mainly noticed this for characters with suffixes in their names, such as Elen-ai, alternated between having that dash and having the two parts connected with no space (ex: Elenai). While this I got used to, near the end Gidyon’s name also started being spelled as Gideon, and this was much more off putting. Basically, the book needs a look through by an editor to catch all these tiny mistakes, as it did end up drawing a bit from the book itself.

However, that is probably the biggest issue I had with the book! When it came to the characters, the author showed us the traits of the characters, not simply told us (a issue many people had with Celaena from Throne of Glass), and this especially applied to her killing skills. No matter the scene unfolding, you constantly see her on alert and paying attention to her job. And even with that, you grow to like her, and see her as more than just an assassin. Additionally, you see this in the relationships between all the characters, specifically the familial relationships. Having Elen-ai as our narrator means we also have a close eye on all the characters and how they interact, and whenever Elen-ai told us a revelation, it was backed up constantly throughout the story.

Additionally, while the book is shown as only 250 pages, it reads almost like a 300-350 book. Every moment means something, and I found myself enjoying every line and page. I also wasn’t left with the feeling the book had gone by too fast or had been rushed! (I am dying for the next book though! Wish there was a clear release date somewhere for that.)

In terms of the world, there were some minor issues in the beginning with an overload of information, as we had numbered countries, seven Families, and The Family all to learn about and keep separate from each other (personally I think the assassin’s guild should’ve been referred to as something else). But in the end, I fell in love with the world and quickly caught on to the secrets each held. (Just don’t quiz me on the goods of each Family!)

Lastly, I really enjoyed the plot. It kept a good amount of intrigue and tension without having to rely on overused and annoying tropes (which I see many smaller novels do), and I was hooked from the first chapter. I am super excited to see where the next book takes the world!