by Leigh Bardugo

3 Stars

The young adult/fantasy/adventure fiction, Shadow And Bone, written by Leigh Bardugo, was a very mystical book. I am not the type of person to usually read any fantasy books, but I was a part of a book club and this was the book we were reading. This story is about Alina Starkov, all her life she felt as if she never belonged, she felt as if she wasn’t good enough, but thanks to her best friend Mal, the guy who she’s secretly in love with but won’t admit it.

But where she lives, the fold, gets attacked and Mal is awfully injured, she reveals a power that saves his life. Alina never knew she had a power like that, or maybe she did, but she kept it a secret and slowly forgot about it because she wanted to stay with Mal. Once her power is released, Darkling realizes she had a power that could save her town, take her to the royal court to be trained as a Grisha. As love sparks between the two, Alina doesn’t know the actual plan the Darkling has for her. Some parts of the book, as I was reading, was truly boring, but other parts of the book makes you feel as if you were right there or even more you’re Alina. Which by the ending of the book, you wouldn’t want to be in the position Alina was in. Either way, I would still recommend this book to people over the age of 12 and up. Overall, I rate this book a 3/5 stars!  

Hoda D.

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by Emily Skrutskie

3.3 Stars

The Abyss Surrounds Us: Skrutskie, Emily: 9780738746913: Books - Amazon.ca

“Come back alive and victorious or don’t come back at all.”
Cassandra Leung, Cas, was born into a family of reckoner trainers. Training giant, genetically engineered beasts that protected ships was all that she knew, all that she longed for. Life was simple and straightforward: pirates are bad, so train reckoners to destroy pirate ships- easy peasy, right? Well, it would have been if she weren’t captured by the very pirates she was raised to despise on her very first solo mission. The pirates, led by Captain Santa Elena, revealed that they had managed to acquire their very own reckoner (despite the fact it was near impossible to steal one) and were in need of a reckoner trainer. Cas, being a reckoner trainer-in-training, had no choice but to oblige.

Disclaimers before I begin my review:
Sci-fiction is not one of my favorite genres. I prefer NA and Adult books to YA. I read an incredible – INCREDIBLE book before I started The Abyss Surrounds Us.

Now, with that out of the way, I rated this book a solid 3.3 out of 5 stars.
Stuff I liked: Loved the world building and, obviously, the pirate aspect. The main character was realistic. Easy to follow plot and writing. Queer (sapphic: woman loving woman) and forbidden relationship.
Stuff I disliked: Plot was weak. Slow paced until the very last third of the book.
So, in conclusion this book would be perfect for younger me but older me is a bit too picky for books now. Happy reading! 

Jazleen

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by Julie Kagawa

5 Stars

The Iron Raven (The Iron Fey: Evenfall, #1) by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Raven is part of a spin-off series of books based on the original Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa, published relatively close to today on February 9, 2021. The Iron Raven is formatted in a way that even someone new to the series, like me, was able to take in the setting and main characters from the main series quite easily. The story goes through the eyes of Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, who is an infamous prankster and powerful magician, as he battles himself and very large non-metaphorical monsters, together with old allies and new ones they find on the way. 

Personally, The Iron Raven seems like a perfect book with a blend of genres that would attract people who like comedy, fantasy worlds, constant action, and even romance. The way that it balances out all of these things is nothing short of amazing and truly shows why the Iron Fey series is an award-winning series of books. This is also made possible because of the insane depth of the characters that are only possible in a fantasy world where living hundreds of years is normal, and grudges last forever. I can tell that many complex situations in the original Iron Fey series are what gave these characters such a unique yet familiar aura. 

Beyond just giving the original fans a spin-off, this book also helped me get into the Iron Fey series due to the theme of the plot itself. Throughout the story, the book gives backstories for the old characters of the series like Meghan the Iron Queen, Ash, and others which allows newcomers to learn of the characters and for old fans to relive memories through Puck’s perspective. These flashbacks throughout the story carry the storyline and give us a powerful insight into why Puck struggles with himself. Other characters notice Puck’s change for the worse, saying things like “I don’t like this version of you, Robin Goodfellow”, or asking identity piercing questions like “Are you Puck, or Robin Goodfellow?” (Kagawa 196). The Iron Raven also vividly describes the setting of the Nevernever and the different courts and creatures within Puck’s short backstory, and how he became the Summer Court Jester. As the story progresses with a new adventure, it brings together old and new and emotions into the many battles the characters face. 

It can be hard to get into a series this long, but with the world-building and powerful plotline, it is worth it to at least take a look at The Iron Raven, or start your adventure with the original series first book, The Iron King. In conclusion, The Iron Raven is a perfect eye-catching book designed to satisfy old fans, bring in new ones, and hook us on a life-long amount of adventures and fun.  

Lyle

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by Kristin Cashore 

5 Stars

Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1) by Kristin Cashore

Graceling is the first book of the Seven Kingdoms Series written by Kristin Cashore and was published on October 1, 2008. This story follows a young woman named Katsa and her adventures with Po, a young Lienid man, as they attempt to figure out the mysteries and reasons behind the kidnapping of Po’s grandfather. In this world, there are abilities called “Grace”, which allowed one to have an excellent talent for a certain task. For Katsa, it is the Grace to kill. Throughout her entire life, she was trained to kill or torture those who King Randa, the king of Middlun and Katsa’s uncle, wanted, which were mostly morally evil. Though Katsa had an idea to do what is morally better than to be her uncle’s “pet”. After her escape under King Randa’s grasp, she finally had the chance to do what she thought best, as she helps her Lienid companion solve the mystery. 

The writing of the characters in this book is amazing, as each character and their behaviour are expressed in a clear way. For example, Giddon, an underlord of King Randa who had worked with Katsa countless times. Though as the chapters progress, his negative personality shows. His jealousy getting the best of him, his snarky replies towards others, and special treatment towards Katsa- until a certain point of the story. Another example would be Po, who was introduced as a mysterious person, one with a confident and cautious atmosphere. Though as the story progresses, he is seen as a caring person and a well-suited companion to Katsa, as they go wander through the lands of this world.

As for the setting, the world seems to be one of a fantasy and medieval sort. With the descriptions of the lands, cities, transportation, and powers. Just like the characters, the setting is clear, as the language gives off the impression that the era is medieval or somewhat something similar to it. With plenty of descriptive writing, it brings the atmosphere of the story to life. For example, somewhere a third beyond the book, Katsa looks out from an inn as she sees the rainy weather. Another example of well-written descriptive writing can be found on page 95, chapter 13, “Katsa watched the grass moving around them. The wind pushed it, attacked it, struck it in one place and then another. It rose and fell and rose again. It flowed, like water.” Clearly, this book is fantastic when it comes to the plot, characters, and setting, as it brings the reader into the world of Graceling

Nyjel C.

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely

by Brigid Kemmerer

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Prince Rhen is cursed. Not only does he have to relive his eighteenth autumn over and over, he must also find a woman to fall in love with him in order to break the curse. All is going as well as planned until Rhen takes the form of monstrous beast and destroys his entire family and those who live in his palace. When only him and his guard commander are left alive, they decide to start taking matters into their own hands.

Harper is used to being underestimated because of her cerebral palsy, so when she’s relegated to lookout on one of her brother’s ‘jobs’ she is left wondering if he will ever see her for the strong woman she is. While waiting in the darkness, Harper sees a strangely dressed man kidnapping a young woman. She pounces into action and is pulled from Washington, D.C into Emberfall.

At first Harper is at odds with Prince Rhen, but as the curse looms and Rhen’s transformation creeps closer, they start to work together in order to tackle the obstacles that lay ahead.

A fast paced and unique retelling of Beauty and the Beast, A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a must read for fans of retellings and fairytales!

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by J.K Rowling

5 Stars

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Rowling J.K.: 9781408855652:  Amazon.com: Books

Harry’s life is gloomy and filled with despair. With his parents dead and his uncaring relatives who he’s stuck with, he’s forced to live in a dark, tiny closet located under the stairs. Every day seems the same to Harry, being mistreated by his relatives and being bullied at school. But one day, his downhearted life soon changes as he receives a letter claiming that he’s no ordinary boy, but a wizard. A mysterious visitor soon saves Harry from his relatives and brings him to a mysterious school called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry’s first year at Hogwarts academy was phenomenal, but there was still one problem. A secret object was hidden in the castle walls of Hogwarts. Harry realized that it was his duty to protect it from evil hands that could cause destruction to the whole world. By doing so, Harry will go through the toughest of forces that he could’ve never imagined. 

To conclude, this book was absolutely amazing, and one of my favourite Harry Potter books from the series. There was never a dull moment, and J.K Rowling kept me engaged from the beginning to the very end of the novel. I would definitely recommend this book because it keeps you engaged without ever putting the book down. The book makes you love the characters and their personalities. Remember to not only read this but the whole series as well. The rating that I would personally give this book would be a 10/10.

Ahmed Q.

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by Rick Riordan

5 Stars

The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, #1) | The lost hero, Heroes book,  Heroes of olympus

Jason has amnesia. He wakes up on a bus full of kids he doesn’t recognize, and a girlfriend and best friend he’s sure he’s never met. His friends inform him they go to the Wilderness School for “troubled youth,” but he has no idea what he’s done, or why he’s even there, but he can tell that something is terribly wrong.

Piper has a way with words. She’s been sent to the wilderness school for stealing a BMW, except she didn’t really. She simply asked the car dealer for it, and he obliged. But Piper’s dad is missing, her boyfriend Jason doesn’t recognize her, and she’s having awful nightmares that may lead her down a horrible path. 

Leo is good with tools, he’s known for his expert ability with them. He spent his childhood running from foster home to foster home but finally feels comfortable with his friends Jason and Piper. Of course, with his luck, things take a turn for the worse. 

Monsters attack the three on a field trip, and Jason can somehow fight them off using wind powers. However, it’s not Jason who saves them, but some teenagers calling themselves demigods, flying down from a chariot. The trio is taken to a place called Camp Half-Blood, where they learn they are children of the Ancient Greek gods. But Jason, Piper, and Leo are special even amongst demigods and must embark upon a quest that could determine the fate of the mortal world. 

This is the first book in the series after the Percy Jackson books, and I think fans of those books will love it. The Lost Hero has lovable characters, an excellent plot, and like all of Riordan’s books, plenty of humour. I’d recommend it to younger audiences or anyone who read the Percy Jackson books!

Michelle G.

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Star Daughter

by Shveta Thakrar

STAR DAUGHTER — Shveta Thakrar

Sheetal Mistry has secrets. One, her hair is an unnatural silver that she dyes black. Two, the stars seem to call her by name. And three, her mother is a star. Since her mother was called back to the sky, Sheetal has been hiding herself away, living with her father on Earth.

As her 17th birthday approaches, Sheetal feels the pull of the stars more strongly than ever before and is unable to control her power. In a tragic accident, Sheetal loses control of her star fire and burns her father, sending him to the hospital. With no options, Sheetal and her cousin venture into the sky to collect the blood of a full star in order to heal her father.

When they arrive, Sheetal realizes that she was being called for a very specific reason, one that sits uneasily with her. Thrown into a competition for power, Sheetal must compete with mortals in order to win the favour of her family.

An adventure unlike any other, Sheetal discovers the dark past of the stars and must decide where she belongs.

A beautiful story brimming with light and friendships, Shveta has created a magical world full of sparkle and grandness.

Raybearer

by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer (Raybearer, #1) by Jordan Ifueko

Tarisai has only ever known loneliness. Raised by a mysterious and often absent mother, she craves a family and the love that comes with it. After years of studying and being kept at arms length, Tarisai’s mother, The Lady, sends her to the Capital for a mysterious compeition.

Once there, Tarisai realizes she is there to compete with other children for the coveted spot on the Crown Princes council. If she is chosen, Tarisai will be connected to the Crown Prince by The Ray, a powerful and unbreakable bond.

Wanting nothing more than a family, Tarisai relishes the idea of becoming one with the council. However, The Lady has another plan. Use Tarisai to gain the Crown Prince’s trust, and then, through a magical wish, have her kill him.

Will Tarisai overcome The Lady’s last wish, or will she kill the boy her destiny is entwined with.

Jordan Ifueko has created a sparse yet lush story, with characters that spring off the page. An emotionally charged and own voices novel, a perfect read for those who love YA Fantasy.