Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust: Book Review

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Title: Girls Made of Snow and Glass
Author: Melissa Bashardoust
Publisher: Flatiron Books (Macmillan)
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Source/Format: e-ARC approved by the publisher through Netgalley (DISCLAIMER–This is an ARC, so there may be differences from the final copy.)

**Huge thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for accepting my request to read this one!**

Told through alternating perspectives and flashbacks of the two main characters, Mina and Lynet, Girls Made of Snow and Glass is the enchanting, largely character-driven story of two women and the pivotal, defining moments of both of their lives.

All her life, Mina’s father has told her she could never possibly love or be loved by someone. Upon their relocation up north to Whitespring Castle, Mina is desperate to prove him wrong–not only out of spite but also for herself. After a chance encounter with the King, she comes up with a plan. There’s just one thing standing in her way: the King’s daughter, Lynet.

All her life, Lynet has been caught living in the shadows of the much beloved late Queen. People never fail to remind her of the uncanny, almost supernatural resemblance she bears to her mother. In fact, they seem to treat Lynet as if she were her mother and not her own person.

When tragedy strikes, both women must face some difficult decisions, as their strange and complicated bond is put to the test.

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale.

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Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller: Book Review

Mask of Shadows (Untitled, #1)

Title: Mask of Shadows

Author: Linsey Miller

Series: currently book one of an untitled duology

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Source/Format: e-ARC from Netgalley (DISCLAIMER: This is a review of an ARC, so there may be differences from the finished copy.)

**My first approval on Netgalley! 😄🎉 Thank you so much for accepting my request, Sourcebooks Fire!**

Mask of Shadows follows Sal, our gender-fluid protagonist, who at only eight years old was forced into a life of thievery. A life that Sal resents. A life that could have been avoided had Nacea, their homeland, not been destroyed as collateral damage in the recent war between the North and South. The only comforting thoughts Sal has are of one day exacting revenge on the noblemen directly responsible for Nacea’s ruin.

An opportunity soon presents itself when Sal learns that the Queen is holding auditions to replace the recently deceased member of the Left Hand–the Queen’s most trusted group of assassins.

Only thing is, it turns out that it is not so much of an audition as it is a fight-to-the-death competition.

But if Sal wins, it will give them immediate access to the nobility, therefore bringing Sal closer to achieving their ultimate goal of vengeance.

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Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi: Book Review

Beasts Made of Night

Title: Beasts Made of Night

Author: Tochi Onyebuchi

Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Random House)

Source/Format: e-ARC from First to Read (DISCLAIMER: There may be some differences in the e-ARC from the final copy.)

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Balance is supposed to be the principle that governs us. Sin and sacrifice. Night and day. Death and life.

Seventeen-year old Taj is an aki. A sin-eater. And in the city of Kos–a society literally ruled by sin, or rather the lack thereof–this means he is fated to bear the sins of others; fated to endure a life of injustice in which he will always be looked down upon and used whenever those rich enough to afford it wish to be cleansed of their sins.

Sin-beasts are shadows, beasts made of the night. And an aki is like a ray of sunlight that comes down from the sky and shatters the sin, kills the shadows.

Even worse, being an aki isn’t something you can hide; it’s literally written all over you. Sins, after being summoned by Mages, manifest themselves as dark, inky beasts called inisisa. After the dangerous and painful process of defeating and then Eating them, the inisisa then appear as a tattoo on the aki’s body. For most, these markings disappear with time, but not for Taj. He has always had the same ones, as they have never faded.

It’s nonsense to think that I would ever be accepted here, or that someone like me could be treated with respect here. An aki’s duty is to Eat until they can’t Eat anymore. That’s what we’re here for. Sins are written on our bodies until the pain comes too much and we go mad.

Throughout Beasts Made of Night, we follow Taj as he makes his way through everyday life and soon discovers everything is not quite as it seems.

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Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare: Book Review

Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2)

Title: Lord of Shadows

Author: Cassandra Clare

Series: Book 2 of The Dark Artifices trilogy (a Shadowhunters series)

Publisher: McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)

Source/Format: US Hardcover (B&N exclusive)

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

***SPOILER WARNING for Lady Midnight below!***

“Sometimes the most ruthless heart speaks the most truth.”

Lord of Shadows picks up two weeks after Lady Midnight. Despite our characters still reeling with emotional turmoil from recent events, they have bigger fish to fry. No seriously–ever since Malcolm’s death, there has been an odd surge in the number of sea demons coming ashore and wreaking havoc on the world.

As if that wasn’t worrisome enough, a group of Centurions, elite shadowhunters who train at the Scholomance, are on their way to the Los Angeles Institute. Once there, they plan to investigate Malcolm’s death–more specifically to confirm his death–but it also seems some of them have their own ulterior motives.

This of course proves to be a challenge for Julian. Arthur Blackthorn is nowhere near qualified to run the LA Institute, and as we now know, he hasn’t been. Julian has been stepping in for him and hiding this fact for years. But he is used to only having to hide this from his family, not Centurions–highly trained shadowhunters, the best of the best.

And of course, there’s that pesky parabatai bond. >.>

“Those who cannot love do not understand it.”

Julian has always been able to do what needs to be done for his family, but he has always had Emma at his side. Now, after Emma’s recent “confession” that she does not share Julian’s romantic feelings and is now dating Mark, their relationship is strained and awkward, leaving Julian stranded to deal with everything on his own.

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Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers: Book Review

Assassin's Heart (Assassin's Heart, #1)

Title: Assassin’s Heart

Author: Sarah Ahiers

Publisher: HarperTeen

Source/Format: US hardcover

My Rating: 3/5 stars (tentative rating)

“Family before family.”

In the kingdom of Lovero, murder is legal. Nine rival Families kill in the name of Safraella, the goddess of death, all while vying for the coveted position as first Family.

Seventeen-year old Lea belongs to one of these Families–the Saldanas–and as a clipper, she is responsible for directly carrying out Safraella’s will and assassinating those whom someone has paid to have killed.

Currently, Lea finds herself in somewhat of a Romeo and Juliet situation, as she just so happens to be courting a Da Via, despite all of the bad blood between them and the Saldanas. But Val Da Via is different, right? That’s what Lea believes anyway.

That is, until she wakes to her home engulfed in flames and her family murdered.

Lea has no choice but to flee, racked with guilt, as she is certain Val has used her and that the Da Vias are behind the attack. Though she’s still reeling with grief, she has only one goal: To find her estranged uncle–the last remaining Saldana–and ask for his aid in avenging her family’s deaths.

“What would I do? The only thing I could do.


Kill everyone responsible.”

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Unpopular Opinion: An Ember in the Ashes Series by Sabaa Tahir

So, shortly after I wrote my review for A Torch against the Night, I uploaded it to Amazon. After a few days of it being up, someone marked it as “unhelpful,” which is totally fine, as everyone is allowed to have their own opinions! (Who knows–maybe I wasn’t thorough enough for them. *shrugs*) It especially didn’t bother me, because they probably only down-voted it since I didn’t enjoy their favorite book.

This did, however remind me of the many unpopular opinions I have, and I decided I should more fully explain my feelings on this series (through lists of pros and cons like last time):

**potential small spoilers from here on out**

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Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: Book Review

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)

Title: Strange the Dreamer

Author: Laini Taylor

Series: Book one of the Strange the Dreamer Duology

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton (UK edition)

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Format/Source: UK edition from Bookdepository

(Side note: Just putting it out there that I don't know if it was only for the first editions, but my UK hardcover came with a title page signed and illustrated by Laini herself as well as blue-stained pages. You need this in your life. 😍)

Where, oh where, to begin with this striking, unforgettable story Laini has given us?

Like with her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, Laini's unrelenting and unparalleled talent for seamlessly weaving words together as if they were magic has once again offered us a remarkable, spellbinding world full of its own unique mythology/history and rich characters that you are bound to adore.

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A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir: Book Review

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)

Title: A Torch against the Night

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Series: An Ember in the Ashes

Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Books)

My Rating: 2/5 stars

This review may be shorter than my others, but by my rating, you can probably tell how I felt about this one, and I hate to go on and on about books I disliked when everyone else loved them–for that, you can choose to check out my Unpopular Opinion post coming soon. 😉

“So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light.”

So I should start this off by saying that those who were enthralled with An Ember in the Ashes will probably enjoy this sequel. I never quite loved Ember as much as everyone else seemed to, but I did really like it and bought my own copy after borrowing it from the library. (As someone with limited shelf space, this says a lot.) I also really liked the idea of a duology. Maybe it’s just because this is now part of a four-book series, but Torch suffered some serious second-book syndrome; it definitely felt like a filler book. I was highly disappointed.

A Torch Against the Night picks up pretty much immediately after its predecessor, with Elias and Laia escaping Blackcliff with the objective of reaching Kauf prison. There they plan to free Darin, Laia’s brother, whose knowledge might be key in leading a successful rebellion against the Empire.

Helene is now Blood Shrike and must obey newly-crowned Marcus, who tasks her with capturing Elias, whereupon his return he will be executed. As if choosing between serving the Empire–which she has planned and trained for all her life–and saving her best friend’s life wasn’t already hard enough, Helene must also consider her family whom Marcus is using as leverage to ensure her loyalty.

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GEMINA by Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff: Book Review

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)

Title: GEMINA

Authors: Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff

Series: THE ILLUMINAE FILES

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House Kids)

“Patience and Silence had one beautiful daughter. And her name was Vengeance.”

GEMINA picks up briefly after ILLUMINAE--like as in about five minutes after–but this time our setting is Jump Station Heimdall. Which also just so happens to be where the surviving characters of the previous book are currently headed. *wink wink*

But before they arrive, we get an entirely new story starring some of the characters currently living on Heimdall, and featuring, yet again, another invasion both of the human variety and of the… not-so-human variety. (Haha, you’ll see what I mean when you start reading.)

First and foremost, we are again lead by both a male and female protagonist.

There’s Hanna, daughter of the station’s commander, Charles Donnelly. Upon first impression, she’s your basic privileged white girl, but once you see her in action, she puts all “dumb blonde” stereotypes to rest. She is a strong, intelligent, and resourceful heroine, just like Kady from ILL.

And then there’s Nik, a juvenile delinquent and also… Hanna’s drug dealer. His family, the Malikovs, are members of the infamous gang they call House of Knives, of which Nik begrudgingly is a part of. They’re pretty hardcore. And though she may have a boyfriend, that doesn’t stop Nik from trying to charm his way into Hanna’s life.

Other than Hanna’s boyfriend, Jackson, there are a lot of side characters. There’s another genius hacker–Ella, Nik’s fifteen-year-old cousin, and there is also a large number of “bad guys” that the protagonists and us readers unfortunately get to know. Also, if you remember from ILLUMINAE, a certain someone’s dad lives on Heimdall. 😬

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Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer: Book Review

Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1)

Title: Spindle Fire

Author: Lexa Hillyer

Series: Book 1 out of 2 in the Spindle Fire duology

Publisher: HarperCollins

Format/Source: DISCLAIMER–This is a review of an ARC I received through #booksfortrade on Twitter, so there may be differences from its finished copy.

My Rating: No rating (DNF)

Spindle Fire is a brand new, inventive retelling of Sleeping Beauty that also borrows elements from Alice in Wonderland. (Sounds perfect so far, right?)

It focuses on Princess Aurora of the kingdom of Deluce and her half sister, Isabelle. Though extremely close, the two are, of course, polar opposites–both physically and characteristically.

Aurora is petite and girly, where Isbe is tall and awkward. Aurora is devastatingly gorgeous with sun-kissed hair and skin, while Isbe is pale with dark, contrasting features. Aurora is reserved and perfect as a princess should be, and though Isbe is brave and headstrong, she has always been cast-aside and overlooked; unloved and under-appreciated. After all, she is only kept around out of common courtesy, as she is the illegitimate daughter of Deluce’s late king.

Oh, and there’s another thing: both of the girls are missing key senses after being tithed of them at a young age. Aurora was tithed of her sense of touch as well as her ability to speak, while Isbe was tithed of her sight.

All of their differences aside, the two have always been inseparable. The strong bond between them is all they have left in the world, so when Aurora and the rest of her kingdom falls victim to a strange, ominous sleeping curse, of course Isbe is willing to do whatever it takes to save her beloved sister.

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