• One Day All This Will Be Yours – Adrian Tchaikovsky

    So Rebellion sent me this quirky little novella earlier this week and 24 hours later, I had already read and loved it! I started writing this review a few days ago, and then got distracted, as usual. I had no idea what to expect with One Day All This Will Be Yours, but it exceeded any expectations that I might have had.

    Many thanks to Hanna Waigh and Rebellion for sending me a review copy! All opinions are my own.

    STAR RATING: 5/5 ✶

    RELEASE DATE: 02/03/21

    SUMMARY: Welcome to the end of time. It’s a perfect day.

    Nobody remembers how the Causality War started. Really, there’s no-one to remember, and nothing for them to remember if there were; that’s sort of the point. We were time warriors, and we broke time.

    I was the one who ended it. Ended the fighting, tidied up the damage as much as I could.

    Then I came here, to the end of it all, and gave myself a mission: to never let it happen again. (from Solaris)

    OPINIONS: I haven’t laughed as much reading a book than I did reading One Day All This Will Be Yours in ages. I loved every minute of reading it. It has all my favourite things, exotic pets, time travel and oddball characters. Like, there’s a dinosaur who eats people for his owner! The narrator is a narcissistic idiot, but I loved him so much. Need to protect. He’s the last human at the end of time, killing everyone who might have invented time travel themselves in order to prevent more mass casualties in war.

    Much of the book is the narrator trying to prevent a possible future he is confronted with. He is content with being the last human at the end of time and doesn’t want anything to threaten that status quo. But things don’t go quite how he planned… The book is amazingly funny and the best part is, there’s a dinosaur who eats Hitler at the end of time (this is as out of context in the book as it is here, so I don’t count it as a spoiler). I need more Adrian Tchaikovsky being comedic in my life and you do too.

    This might be a slim little novella, but it packs a punch and I highly recommend it. It reminds me of a less literary This Is How You Lose the Time War, though not queer. That’s the only way this could have been improved in my opinion, though the choices make a lot of sense in context. Add One Day All This Will Be Yours to your Goodreads list here, and pre-order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

  • Good Morning, Midnight – Lily Brooks-Dalton

    So Good Morning, Midnight was published a while ago, in 2016, but it’s been getting more traction again recently because the Netflix film Midnight Sky based on the book has just been released. I hadn’t heard of this before, so I’m very grateful to Kate Moreton and Weidenfeld & Nicholson for sending me a review copy to check out!

    STAR RATING: 3.5/5 ✶

    RELEASE DATE: originally 09/08/16, this edition 12/09/17

    SUMMARY: There is a particular beauty in silence, in being cut off from the world. Augustine, a brilliant, ageing scientist, is consumed by the stars. He has spent his entire life searching for the origins of time itself. He has now been left alone on a remote research base in the Arctic circle, all communication with the outside world broken down. But then he discovers a mysterious child, Iris, who must have hidden herself away when the last of his colleagues departed.

    Sully is a divorced mother. She is also an astronaut, currently aboard The Aether on a return flight from Jupiter. This is the culmination of her career, the very reason for all the sacrifices she has made – the daughter she left behind, the marriage she couldn’t save. When all communication goes silent, she is left wondering what she will be returning to.

    Marooned in the vast silence of space and the achingly beautiful sweep of the Arctic, both Augustine and Sully begin to understand their place in the world, and what gives their life meaning. For only in the silence can we find out who we truly are. (from W&N)

    OPINIONS: I really enjoyed this book, although it won’t be one of my standout favourites. Augustine is a fantastic anti-hero, a grouchy old man left to his own devices. Sully and her team of astronauts struggling to figure out why they have lost contact with Earth while in deep space are great too. Lily Brooks-Dalton manages to craft a host of multi-dimensional, flawed characters that play off each other wonderfully. Good Morning, Midnight is really a character driven novel.

    There isn’t a lot of plot other than to establish the setting. It is a slow book, focused on philosophical questions, which I enjoyed. The settings, both of which are based on isolation hit home these days where we are isolated in our homes. There are some coincidences in the book (especially one major one) that just seems incredibly convenient, which did frustrate me a bit. But I liked the relatively ambiguous ending a lot. You finish not knowing how the story will end, and I think it’s a great choice to end the book where it did.

    If you like bleak and thoughtful approaches to isolation and philosophical considerations about life and the world, I recommend you check out Good Morning, Midnight. Find it on Goodreads here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

  • February Hype Post!

    Hello lovely readers! February is approaching fast and I’ve got my hopes up for it to be better than January. Many great books are being released – do have another look at my 2021 overview as I’m not going to talk about the same books here (find it HERE).

    First of all, the lovely C.L. Polk is releasing the final book in the Kingston Cycle. Soulstar is released on the 16th, and I am very much looking forward to reading it (though I haven’t read book two, Stormsong, yet). This is the story of Robin Thorpe, a character I fell in love with the first time I met her in Witchmark. I can’t wait to read more about this feisty young lady trying to become a doctor. If you like historical romantic fantasy, you definitely need to check these books out! Order it via Blackwell’s here.

    The second book on my list is A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel, which is also a Tor.com book. This is out on the 2nd. This is a sci-fi thriller, from the blurb: “A darkly satirical first contact thriller, as seen through the eyes of the women who make progress possible and the men who are determined to stop them…” It is about rocketry in the 1940s and it shows it from the perspective of Mia, whose family has been fighting to get to the stars for generations. It sounds fantastic and I want to get my hands on it ASAP. Order a copy from Blackwell’s here.

    Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age by Annalee Newitz is a non-fiction history book (so TOTALLY not my thing, nope). I love Annalee Newitz’s writing so I’m really keen to read some of their non-fiction. This book centres on some urban metropoles that have since been abandoned, and looks at the reasons behind their abandonment. I was about to put this on one of my lists last year, but then the release got pushed to this February – it’s out on the 2nd as well. Based on archaeology, this sounds really interesting and I’ll definitely order it soon. Get your own copy from Blackwell’s here.

  • Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses – Kristen O’Neal

    Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses intrigued me due to its approach to werewolves as a chronic illness and featuring disabled characters. However, while I loved the concept, I did not end up enjoying the book as much as I expected to. It’s an interesting format, but there were some issues too.

    Many thanks to Black Crow PR and Quirk for sending me an ARC. All opinions are my own.

    STAR RATING: 2.5/5 ✶

    PUBLICATION DATE: 27/04/21

    SUMMARY: Priya worked hard to pursue her premed dreams at Stanford, but a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease during her sophomore year sends her back to her loving but overbearing family in New Jersey—and leaves her wondering if she’ll ever be able to return to the way things were. Thankfully she has her online pen pal, Brigid, and the rest of the members of “oof ouch my bones,” a virtual support group that meets on Discord to crack jokes and vent about their own chronic illnesses.

    When Brigid suddenly goes offline, Priya does something out of character: she steals the family car and drives to Pennsylvania to check on Brigid. Priya isn’t sure what to expect, but it isn’t the horrifying creature that’s shut in the basement. With Brigid nowhere to be found, Priya begins to puzzle together an impossible but obvious truth: the creature might be a werewolf—and the werewolf might be Brigid. As Brigid’s unique condition worsens, their friendship will be deepened and challenged in unexpected ways, forcing them to reckon with their own ideas of what it means to be normal. (from Quirk Books)

    OPINIONS: So, the most important thing about Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses is the format. I didn’t realise this going in, but approximately half the book is written as conversations on a Discord server or text messages. Many characters only appear through such conversation and don’t physically interact with the MCs. It was an interesting approach, but for me personally it didn’t quite work. It made the story drag and sometimes hard to follow – reading other people’s inside jokes just isn’t very funny to me.

    The plot itself is pretty cool, looking at lycanthropy as a chronic condition that the person in question has to deal with and contextualising it within a support group for chronically ill people. But, the representation seems to be on a surface level. It’s hard to put my finger on it in terms of the illness narrative. While I don’t have Lyme disease, which the MC has to deal with, I am someone with chronic migraines and mental health issues, and a close friend of mine has EDS. Obviously there isn’t one right way to deal with such things, or a single way to discuss it, but to me, Lycanthropy and Chronic Illness reads like a story written by someone who has talked to some people who are disabled or have a chronic condition rather than one written by someone who is able to pull from personal experience.

    Added to that is the fact that Priya, the main character, is Indian-American, and her parents seem to be immigrants. However, this representation too doesn’t go past the surface. The family is presented as devoutly Christian, going to church every Sunday and putting a big emphasis on the religion. So far, so good. Christianity is a minority religion in India, so focusing on that seems surprising. The way it is discussed reminds me more of a white American approach, to be entirely honest. Throughout the book, there is little to place them culturally, apart from one reference where the mother speaks Tamil. But there are no endearments, no occasional words in Tamil or any discussion of food that is not western – the one instance food is truly talked about it’s pizza, and they refer to the pineapple controversy. While I am obviously not an expert on Indian-American culture, Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses reads to me as a book featuring a white girl with an Indian name. (Also a huge thank you to my anonymous Indian friend who patiently answered all my questions to help distill my thoughts!)

    These things heavily detracted from my enjoyment of the story. PoC authors continuously fight for representation and it seems a shame that this digs into that without doing a convincing job. Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses is an enjoyable, funny book, but also a deeply flawed one. I personally wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, as much as I hate writing that on here. If you are interested in checking it out for yourself, you can find it on Goodreads here, and order a copy from Waterstones here.

  • YA fantasy mini-reviews

    Towards the end of 2020 I was reading like crazy to hit my target of 366 books read (yes, I am absolutely insane, and no I will not be reading anywhere close to that in 2021 with my new job and everything). So here are a bunch of mini-reviews. I hope one of these takes your fancy!

    All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue will be published by Walker Books on February 4th. The book centres on Maeve Chambers, who finds a mysterious Tarot deck while cleaning out a storage room at school. Set in Ireland, Maeve at last finds her calling in these cards and starts providing uncannily accurate readings for her schoolmates. Until her ex-best friend Lily goes missing after a reading goes awry. Together with her friend and her crush Roe, Lily’s sibling, she sets out to get her back before it’s too late. Gripping, mysterious and addictive, I read All Our Hidden Gifts in a single sitting. It’s not a perfect book by any means, but it’s an enjoyable read and a solid addition to the current UKYA market (well, Irish YA, but published in the UK). If you’re anything like me and love Tarot, creepy but intriguing books and wonderful teenage characters, check this one out. Add it to Goodreads here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni, out on April 1st from Hodder, is the start of an exciting series. Set in Zalindov, a prison for multiple kingdoms, the book centres around Kiva, the seventeen-year-old in charge of medicine in the facility. When a high-profile prisoner gets brought in and Kiva tasked with her survival until the prisoner is supposed to undergo a trial by ordeal, Kiva unexpectedly volunteers to take her place. Aided by a mysterious young man, a guard who is more compassionate than any of the others and a boy Kiva feels responsible for, she fights to survive the trial which no one has survived before. An intriguing world full of rebellion and deception. I enjoyed The Prison Healer, although I felt that some of the plot twists were too left field and for me personally destroyed much of the build-up. I am curious to read book two though. Add The Prison Healer on Goodreads here, or order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters is a wonderful queer Southern Gothic debut. It came out from HarperTeen in August 2020 (WOW am I behind!). Shady Grove can conjure spirits with her father’s fiddle, and has to embrace her powers when her brother is accused of murder. Together with her new friends, she fights to figure out the truth with the help of the magic fiddle. A haunting story, with a bisexual main character and blossoming love triangle, Ghost Wood Song is perfect for fans of Anna-Marie McLemore or Rosemary Clement-Moore. The characters are wonderfully crafted and deal with grief throughout the book. I loved this one and highly recommend it – I’m also very excited for Erica Waters’ next book, The River Has Teeth! Add it to Goodreads here, or order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    Master of One by Jaida Jones and Dani Bennett will be out on the 7th of January from HarperTeen in the UK. A queer heist story, Master of One is set around Rags, a thief, a sadistic sorcerer and a fae prince, Shining Talon. Rags is forced to steal an ancient fae relic, which turns out to be Shining Talon who can then lead them to the remaining parts, and things just get weirder from there… Sadly, I didn’t get along with Master of One at all – I started reading the eARC and was bored, and then switched to audio on Scribd. I had to force myself to finish, as I wasn’t pulled in by the plot, and the characters fell flat. I can see fans of The Cruel Prince and similar books really liking this one, but sadly it wasn’t for me. Find Master of One on Goodreads here, and on Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    Thank you to the publishers for providing me with eARCs of all of these, all opinions are entirely my own.

  • Legacy of Ash – Matthew Ward

    So I was sent this massive chonk earlier in 2020 for the paperback release and it took me FOREVER to dare and start it – Covid has seriously affected my attention span, and 800+ page books have been a struggle. That said, once I actually dove into it, reading manageable 100-200 page chunks every day, I really enjoyed getting immersed in this epic grimdark world. By now, the sequel, Legacy of Steel, is out in the world as well and I both look forward to getting back to the story and dread reading another book this huge.

    Many thanks to Nazia and Orbit for the review copy, all opinions are my own.

    STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶

    PUBLICATION DATE: 05/11/19

    SUMMARY: A shadow has fallen over the Tressian Republic.

    Ruling families plot against one another with sharp words and sharper knives, heedless of the threat posed by the invading armies of the Hadari Empire.

    The Republic faces its darkest hour. Yet as Tressia falls, heroes rise. (from Orbit Books)

    OPINIONS: As I mentioned above, Legacy of Ash is a massive chonk. A book not for the faint of heart. The paperback edition I have has 768 pages. But inside is an epic story that will captivate the reader throughout. At the centre of the book is a nation at war, and siblings that are just as much at odds with each other as they are with the world. Josiri and Calenne Trelan are the children of Katya Trelan, the leader of a failed revolution, whom the book starts off by killing before fast-forwarding fifteen years. Both of them fight to create their own path out of the shadow or their mother, although in very different ways. Legacy of Ash is the kind of book that features a large cast of characters in point-of-view perspectives, and thus shows the reader all sides of the story. We don’t see just one perspective, or a clear-cut good or bad, but Matthew Ward ensures that allegiances stay murky and the reader is fully immersed in this world. Ultimately, its a book about the world it is set in, rather than the story of individual characters.

    Featuring magic, war and tense relationships, Legacy of Ash is a truly epic debut novel. It feels well-developed and is able to stand on its own, although I, and I’m sure most readers, am curious to see how the story develops over the course of the trilogy. I personally wish that it wasn’t quite as long, but that’s more of a me thing than anything else. The story is compelling and keeps up tension throughout, so it’s not like Legacy of Ash is boring – I just really like being able to read books in a couple of days and that wasn’t the case here (and pandemic brain). It is very well-written, and full of characters that are multi-dimensional and determined to follow their goals. Thus, if you can brave a chonk, I highly recommend Legacy of Ash. Add it to Goodreads here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

  • Audiobook Mini Reviews

    To end 2020 with, I have decided to do an audiobook mini review roundup. A couple of months ago Netgalley started letting us read our ARCs as audiobooks, which is amazing. So have a read to see if one of these might be for you!

    The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor, 20/08/2020) is a solid mix of fantasy and science fiction with parallel worlds. Lee and Mal went to explore rumours of monsters in a moor, but only Lee came back. Now, four years later, she is drawn in to a story bigger than anything she ever expected. Another strand of the story focuses on Kay Amal Khan, a trans physicist who is the only one who can help an alien race and is abducted. The Doors of Eden includes six or so points of view in an epic story that spans multiple worlds. It is interesting, smart and well-researched. However I had issues connecting to the story and characters, which led to me not enjoying this one as much as I’d hoped. I think it’s a very good book, though a bit too much on the hard science fiction side for me personally. Add it to Goodreads here, and order a hard copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link) or find the audiobook from Audible here.

    The Key To Fear by Kristin Cast (Head of Zeus, 05/11/2020) is set in a world that has been ravaged by a virus, leaving society ruled by the Key. Much like in 2020, people in this story are not allowed to touch or kiss and live according to strict rules. It was disconcerting to listen to a story of a pandemic while being in the middle of a pandemic ourselves. I didn’t particularly enjoy the implications of this story, where years after the disease itself ravaged the population they still live under the thumb of sanctions. While the story didn’t necessarily focus on this, I could not stop my mind from wandering in these directions while listening. It is not the right book if you are anxious in terms of where society is heading and struggle with the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Thus, I couldn’t enjoy the story of young love, rebellion and defiance that I would have ordinarily enjoyed much more. Find The Key To Fear on Goodreads here, and order a hardcopy from Bookshop here (affiliate link) or the audio from Audible here.

    Secrets of the Starcrossed by Clara O’Connor (One More Chapter, 21/01/2021) is a tale of young love in a world where the Roman Empire never fell and still dominates part of the UK. Cassandra, Devyn and Marcus live in Londinium, which is cut off from the parts of the country still under Celtic rule, and Britons are very much second class humans compared to citizens of the Empire. It’s an enjoyable story, though a bit basic and predictable. A girl falls in love with a mysterious boy while betrothed to another and at the same time finds out that most of her life so far has been a lie. Secrets of the Starcrossed makes heavy use of tropes to tell its tale of woe and resistance. But ultimately, there isn’t much special to this YA/adult crossover fantasy. Find it on Goodreads here, and order a hardcopy from Bookshop here (affiliate link) or pre-order the audio from Audible here.

  • Favourite Books of 2020

    Somehow I ended up reading more in 2020 than I ever have before (at least as far as I can remember). I aimed to read around 200 books as usual, and now, close to the very end of the year I’m aiming to hit 365 books read, one for each day of the year. Only a handful left to go! Among all these books were a lot of wonderful books, and I have chosen just three each for the various categories I read in. All the books in this post were five star reads that have stood out and I would unreservedly recommend (and order of naming is not to indicate order of preference).

    In terms of Adult SFF, my absolute favourite books this year were Sistersong, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and The Once and Future Witches. I got to review all three of these early, and damn, it was hard to wait until everyone else had the opportunity to read them so I had people go gush over them. The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow is a historical tale of suffragettes crossed with witchcraft. It is wonderfully written and features three sisters, utterly different but united in their struggle to persevere against the patriarchy. I reviewed it here, and you can order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab speaks of isolation and depression and how they effect our lives and personalities through the story of a girl who makes a deal with a devil for eternal life – only to have everyone she encounters forget her immediately. This book spoke to me on a level few books ever have and I love it with my whole heart. I have loved all of Schwab’s work, but this is the best one to date. Fantasy for people who like literary tales and the most amazing characters. See my review here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    The third book on this list, Sistersong by Lucy Holland is not actually out until April, but I was able to read an ARC of this haunting tale. My review isn’t written yet (I’m struggling to get past THIS BOOK IS AMAZING AND YOU NEED IT), but should be on Grimdark Magazine soon. Sistersong is the story of three siblings, retelling the ‘Twa Sisters’ folk ballad. It is set in a late antique Britain just before the coming of the Saxons, and tells of the society and struggles encountered by high-born women (and trans men – it features a character who we would call transmasculine today). Pre-order it from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    In terms of YA, the three books I loved most have one thing in common: they are all retellings in one way or another. Legendborn, These Violent Delights and Dark and Deepest Red are uttely different, but I love all of them unreservedly. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong is a reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set in 1920s Shanghai. Constantly in conversation with the famous play, These Violent Delights surpasses its source material by weaving a tale of colonialism, racial tension and supernatural plague with the memorable characters based on Romeo and Juliet, accompanied by a host of side characters that have just as much personality. Check out my review here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    I spent much of 2020 reading books based on medieval legends. But Legendborn is the one Arthurian-inspired novel that truly stood out from the crop. I loved this contemporary YA fantasy so much. Set on a university campus and featuring a heroine going go college early, Tracy Deonn reimagines the Knights of the Round Table as a supernatural secret society. Mixed in with are themes of Black Girl Magic, slavery and racism in the US. My review’s here, and you can order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore was one of the first books I read in 2020 and it has stayed on my mind throughout the year. Combining the Strasbourg Dancing Plague of the early 16th century with the modern story of a girl and magical shoes, McLemore manages to write a near-perfect book (yes, Anna-Marie McLemore meets medieval legend is catnip for Fab). As all their books, Dark and Deepest Red features lyrical writing, queer characters and a Latinx twist. Order yourself a copy from Blackwell’s here.

    The three children’s book I chose are very different from each other, but I fell in love with all of them. A Kind of Spark, Orion Lost and The House of Hidden Wonders show the breadth of amazing children’s books currently being published in the UK. Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm is the first middle grade space sci-fi I’ve read and it was wonderful. Featuring a rag-tag crew, a lot of failure and a compelling narrative, this one snuck into my heart. I love it when characters are challenged and forced to learn from their mistakes, and that is definitely the case here. Get a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll is high up on my list of favourite middle grade books I’ve ever read. Featuring an own-voices autistic girl fighting for her goals, I feel like this should be required reading for everyone. Eleven year old Addie finds out about historic witch prosecutions in her Scottish town, and feeling a kinship with these women persecuted for being different, decides that she wants to dedicate a memorial to them. READ IT! See my full review here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    The House of Hidden Wonders by Sharon Gosling is also set in Scotland, however, this is a historical detective story (including a young Sherlock Holmes!). Addressing disability, this story also deals with difference and acceptance, and focuses on found family. I loved this charming and thrilling story and highly recommend it. Read my full review here, and order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    This list wouldn’t be complete without some graphic novels/mangas! My favourites this year were Vinland Saga, Mooncakes and The Daughters of Ys. Vinland Saga by Yakoto Mukimura was my re-introduction to the world of Anime and Manga – a good friend watched the Anime series with me, combining my love for Viking legend with her passion for visual story telling. This (long-running) manga series is the story of Thorfinn, a young boy who loses his father and is raised as a warrior among enemies. The narrative follows King Canute and the Vikings in England – that’s about as far as I’ve gotten, I’ve only read the first five volumes. I can’t wait to read more of my favourite disaster boy next year! Order a copy of the first volume from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    The Daughters of Ys by M.T. Anderson and Jo Rioux is based on a Breton folktale, tells a wonderfully dark story and has the most amazing art. I randomly picked this up in a shop and ended up loving it so much. Two royal sisters, Rozenn and Dahut both fight for their city in their own ways, and suitors to the princess mysteriously disappear in a city protected by magical walls… Order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

    Last on this list is the book that reignited my love for graphic novels this year: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu. This adorable queer YA fantasy about werewolves, friendship and first love got me out of a massive reading slump during the first lockdown and I can’t rave about it enough. It is wonderful and cute and makes life better. Get a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

  • The Boy I Am – K.L. Kettle

    I’ve really been spoiled by the excellent books I’ve gotten to read recently, and The Boy I Am by K.L. Kettle is no exception. A dystopian YA turning gender roles around and presenting a society far from our own and still hauntingly close. The Boy I Am hits home and brings the genre back for the 2020s.

    Thank you to Charlie and Little Tiger for sending me a review copy of this wonderful book. All opinions are my own.

    STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶

    PUBLICATION DATE: 07/01/21

    SUMMARY: They say we’re dangerous. But we’re not that different.

    Jude is running out of time. Once a year, lucky young men in the House of Boys are auctioned to the female elite. But if Jude fails to be selected before he turns seventeen, a future deep underground in the mines awaits.
    Yet ever since the death of his best friend at the hands of the all-powerful Chancellor, Jude has been desperate to escape the path set out for him. Finding himself entangled in a plot to assassinate the Chancellor, he finally has a chance to avenge his friend and win his freedom. But at what price? (from Little Tiger)

    OPINIONS: The Boy I Am is a compelling dystopian tale. It features a world not all that dissimilar to our own, but where women have all the power. Centering Jude, a young man trying to change things, this story is full of twists and great characters. I really enjoyed reading it and immersing myself in the worldbuilding. It is reminiscent of classics such as The Handmaid’s Tale and reminded me a bit of the early 2010s dystopia boom – it was wonderful to go back in time to when life was simpler.

    The Boy I Am is well-written and fast-paced. There is always something happening, pulling the reader into the plot. Jude, Ro and Walker are great characters to lead the story, and their journeys show that things are not always as simple as they seem. It is interesting to see gender dynamics turned on their head, though I wish that it had been more nuanced than merely flipping it. Nevertheless, it is a story asking many questions and not necessarily providing the reader with a simple answer. Friendship, revolution and to an extent, emotional abuse are all themes discussed with nuance in The Boy I Am, hinting that there might be more depth to the issues raised than visible on the surface of the story.

    Add The Boy I Am to your Goodreads here and pre-order it from Bookshop (or indeed your indie of choice!) here. (affiliate link)

  • Unchosen – Katharyn Blair

    I didn’t know quite what to expect when I picked up Unchosen by Katharyn Blair. I thought it might be a fluffy YA dystopia, but it is so much more. The characters live in a world ravaged by a pandemic, and Charlotte struggles with the changed world and feeling invisible next to the people in her life that always stand out. And the story spoke to me. I devoured this book and loved it so much.

    Thank you to Harper360YA for sending me an ARC. All opinions are my own.

    STAR RATING: 4.5/5 ✶

    PUBLICATION DATE: 26/01/21

    SUMMARY: For Charlotte Holloway, the world ended twice.

    The first was when her childhood crush, Dean, fell in love—with her older sister.

    The second was when the Crimson, a curse spread through eye contact, turned the majority of humanity into flesh-eating monsters.

    Neither end of the world changed Charlotte. She’s still in the shadows of her siblings. Her popular older sister, Harlow, now commands forces of survivors. And her talented younger sister, Vanessa, is the Chosen One—who, legend has it, can end the curse.

    When their settlement is raided by those seeking the Chosen One, Charlotte makes a reckless decision to save Vanessa: she takes her place as prisoner.

    The word spreads across the seven seas—the Chosen One has been found.

    But when Dean’s life is threatened and a resistance looms on the horizon, the lie keeping Charlotte alive begins to unravel. She’ll have to break free, forge new bonds, and choose her own destiny if she has any hope of saving her sisters, her love, and maybe even the world.

    Because sometimes the end is just a new beginning. (from Katherine Tegen Books)

    OPINIONS: Unchosen is simply a great book. It features a compelling narrative, gallows humour, identifiable characters… and a fierce Pirate lady. While it is initially unsettling to read a book set in a pandemic of sorts, it soon becomes clear that this world is far more complex than that and utterly different to our own situation. The state of the world is handled with humour and anxiety is addressed in a way that resonated strongly with me. It is a feminist tale for all those who have felt invisible.

    Charlotte, the often overlooked middle sister, is the heroine of Unchosen. Feeling less-than next to her sisters, a series of circumstances lead to her choosing herself and so playing with the ‘chosen one’ trope. She undergoes copious amounts of growth, developing confidence and overcoming issues that have been blocking her. She deals with what reads like PTSD and anxiety in a world without therapists, and I feel I have learned more about myself and how to deal with stress situations through Unchosen.

    One of my favourite aspects of Unchosen was the dynamics between Charlotte and her sisters as well as with Seth. Nuanced relationships are amazing to read and like catnip for me. I also loved the connection to in-universe mythology and history through the cursed Pirate queen, and the feminist resolution to the story. This is truly a georgeous fantasy novel about choosing your own destiny that needs more attention.

    I loved every page of this story, and highly recommend it. Add Unchosen to Goodreads here, and pre-order a copy from Bookshop here. (affiliate link)