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Menagerie Series by Tui T. Sutherland & Kari Sutherland – Spoiler Free Review

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Okay, so I will be reviewing the whole Menagerie series together. I have already reviewed The Menagerie, the first book but this will just be an overview of all the books together. You can find my review of the Menagerie HERE!

Title: The Menagerie 
Author: 
Tui T. Sutherland & Kari Sutherland
Series Name: 
Menagerie
Genre: 
Middle-Grade Fantasy
Publication Date: March 12th, 2013
Pages: 288 (Hardback)
Publishers: HarperCollins
Rating:
5 star

Goodreads Synopsis

Logan Wilde is accidentally drawn into the mysterious, dangerous world of the Menagerie when he discovers a griffin hiding under his bed . . . and it leads him straight to the weirdest girl in seventh grade, Zoe Kahn.

Zoe is panicking. Her family has been guarding the Menagerie for centuries. If they don’t get the cubs back fast, the whole place will be shut down. To save the griffins’ lives, she’s willing to break all the rules, even if it means letting an outsider like Logan help. But the real mystery remains: Is someone trying to sabotage the Menagerie?

Who let the griffins out…and why?

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Title: Dragon on Trial
Author: 
Tui T. Sutherland & Kari Sutherland
Series Name: 
Menagerie
Genre: 
Middle-Grade Fantasy
Publication Date: March 11th, 2014
Pages: 304 (Hardback)
Publishers: HarperCollins
Rating:
5 star

Goodreads Synopsis

The mysteries and adventure are back and bigger than ever in the second book in the Menagerie trilogy! With the magic of Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven and the charm and humor of Carl Hiaasen, The Menagerie #2: Dragon on Trial is perfect for young readers who love myths, fairy tales, and magical creatures.

Someone or something has murdered the goose who laid the golden eggs, and the evidence points to a dragon named Scratch. But this mystery won’t be that easy to solve. . . . Zoe and Logan are back on the case in another exciting fantasy adventure from authors—and sisters—Tui T. Sutherland (Wings of Fire) and Kari Sutherland.

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Title: Krakens and Lies
Author: 
Tui T. Sutherland & Kari Sutherland
Series Name: 
Menagerie
Genre: 
Middle-Grade Fantasy
Publication Date: March 10th, 2015
Pages: 272 (Hardback)
Publishers: HarperCollins
Rating:
5 star

Goodreads Synopsis

The Menagerie trilogy comes to a fantastic conclusion in Krakens and Lies, the third magical and mysterious adventure from Tui Sutherland (New York Times bestselling author of the Wings of Fire series) and Kari Sutherland. Young readers who love mythological creatures and series like Fablehaven, the Spiderwick Chronicles, and Spirit Animals won’t want to miss the Menagerie.

Someone has been sabotaging the Menagerie, and Logan and Zoe are on the case. But their troubles only get worse when the basilisk escapes its enclosure and the merpeople go on strike—leaving the kraken to its own devices. The race is on to solve the mystery and save the Menagerie in this riveting, action-packed finale!

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Goodreads Synopsis (1)

I love the covers of these books. They are so colourful and fun as most Middle Grade covers are. Each cover also represents each book really well and gives you an idea of the type of creatures and things that will be dealt with in each book.

Goodreads Synopsis (2)

I really enjoyed the writing. It was so easy and fun to read. The books are really quick to read too which was good and bad. Good because they go by quickly but bad because I want more!! I love the friendships in this book so much and also the families. We have some awesome family dynamics in this book which I love! It is so rare to see awesome families in books. There is a very strong friendship/family theme to these books as well as caring for creatures and helping people/animals that can’t help themselves. These were all great messages/themes and made the book extremely enjoyable.

Goodreads Synopsis (3)

The plot is so fun! There is always something going on in these books. There are tonnes of twists and turns to keep you engaged in the story. For the most part, I didn’t find these books too predictable. There were a couple times I guessed but it was usually just before the truth was revealed anyway. It didn’t affect the enjoyability of the books at all though. As all three books involve a mystery it is fun trying to guess what is going on.

Goodreads Synopsis (4)

There is a tonne of characters in these books and I love all of them except the ‘bad guys’ obviously, but I can also see how well done those bad guys were done. For my opinions on Zoe, Logan & Blue have a look at my review for The Menagerie. As for the other characters I enjoyed most of them, as there are so many I will just do a sentence or two for each. Just be warned some of these characters kinda give away spoilers for the series as there is a tonne of mystery around some of these characters. I won’t talk about any of the bad guys though as that will completely spoil the books.

Marco was such an amusing character, I loved his humour and his obsession with Keiko.
Keiko is exactly how you would expect a proud mythical creature that can turn human to act. It still really funny watching her react to people.
Jasmin was bitchy at the start, but I get it, she was still angry and confused and reacted accordingly. But in the end, she was fun and just took everything in her stride.
Elsie we see very little of but I enjoyed her a lot. She is Aussie for one thing!
Matthew, I was suspicious of at the start but he was also an interesting character and was always there for his family and the animals.
Ruby was just a stuck up, up herself, delusional character.
Mr. & Mrs. Kahn, Zoe’s parents, are awesome, you already know I love the family in these books. Mrs. Kahn is fun, determined and very loving. Mr. Kahn was just as cool and loving.
Mr. Wilde, Logan’s Dad was a cool addition to the story. He loved his son, but his main focus was on finding his wife who disappeared. He was loving, caring and a little obsessed.
Abigal is a kinda badass mythical creature tracker, which is awesome!
Miss Sameera is funny and a little crazy at times. She is really amusing though and I enjoyed her in the end.
Melissa is always serious and proper and it’s so funny when shit doesn’t go correctly and she starts worrying and getting new paperwork ready to fix the problem.

I also LOVE all the magical creatures. So many of them have really amusing and fun personalities which just added so much to the story!

Goodreads Synopsis (5)

These books are amazing! They are so fun and adventurous. The books are so quick and easy to read. The world is amazing and the characters are superb. The friendships and family relationships are the best! I really wish there was more to this series! I want to see everyday life with all the characters looking after the menagerie creatures!

Copy of Goodreads Synopsis

You can buy the series at the links below!

The Menagerie:
Book Depository

Dragon on Trial:
Book Depository

Krakens and Lies:
Book Depository

Copy of Goodreads Synopsis

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON IT?!

IF YOU ARE GOING TO SHARE SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS THEN PLEASE WARN IT SO OTHERS DON’T GET SPOILED!

Lizaxx1

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The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland & Kari Sutherland – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: The Menagerie 
Author: 
Tui T. Sutherland & Kari Sutherland
Series Name: 
Menagerie
Genre: 
Middle-Grade Fantasy
Publication Date: March 12th, 2013
Pages: 288 (Hardback)
Publishers: HarperCollins
Rating:
5 star

Goodreads Synopsis

Logan Wilde is accidentally drawn into the mysterious, dangerous world of the Menagerie when he discovers a griffin hiding under his bed . . . and it leads him straight to the weirdest girl in seventh grade, Zoe Kahn.

Zoe is panicking. Her family has been guarding the Menagerie for centuries. If they don’t get the cubs back fast, the whole place will be shut down. To save the griffins’ lives, she’s willing to break all the rules, even if it means letting an outsider like Logan help. But the real mystery remains: Is someone trying to sabotage the Menagerie?

Who let the griffins out…and why?

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Goodreads Synopsis (1)

I love this cover and that is what dragged me in when I first saw it on Scribd. Middle-Grade covers are always so colourful, bright and fun and that is exactly what I see in this cover, except maybe bright, it’s a bit dark really. But still really nice.

Goodreads Synopsis (2)

I absolutely loved the writing of this book. It was a really easy and quick read but also super engaging. This book kept me hooked from the first page. There was also so many enjoyable aspects written into this book.
The friendship was so good even though Logan only just got to know the two other main characters they bonded quickly and became a strong and beautiful friendship.
There was some diversity in this one too, the main being the MC Logan is black, so that was an awesome addition.
I also really enjoyed the little hints at books like Harry Potter and movies like Pirate of the Caribean. It just made it that little more fun. Especially when we have a baby Griffin cub that loves Harry Potter books and wants to be an author.

Goodreads Synopsis (3)

The plot was so fun and action-packed. As I said I was hooked the entire time! This is one of those books that you could call a feel-good read but it was also a little mysterious and magical too.
This one also ended on an extreme cliffhanger and I took 10 minutes debating whether to continue the series straight away and I decided I am going to!

Goodreads Synopsis (4)

The characters were soo good! We follow two main characters in multi-POV.

The first main character is Logan. Logan is a really interesting and amusing character. I loved his joking and messing around. I also loved how he interacted with the Griffins, it was just so amusing. He is also such an awesome friend, even though they only just became friends really.

The next main character is Zoe. She is an anxious but fun character. Of course, you would be anxious if baby Griffins escaped and are running around town eating all the cheeseburgers and stealing Harry Potter books. She is also dedicated and loyal to her friends, family and the Menagerie.

Our other main character is Blue who is the third part of this friendship. We don’t get to read from his POV, so he isn’t really a MC but I consider him part of the main group. Blue is a very interesting character, I won’t explain as it is part of the mystery of the book but I guess you could say he is diverse haha. You’ll get it if you read the book! I really enjoyed him and loved his friendship with Zoe and how he accepted Logan quickly and helped him out.

One thing I want to talk about is Zoe’s family! I hate the absent/dead parent trope and I wrote a discussion about this and also talked about it in my No Disclaimer Book Tag. But for once one or our MCs had awesome, fun and loving parents. Logan does get this trope slightly though. His mum left them but he and his father are fairly close. His father does come under that category of unrealistic though. He just accepts that Logan suddenly has a new friend and stays there two nights in a row without even questioning who this friend is, who his friend’s parents are or anything like that. If I had texted mum and told her I was staying at a random friends house I would have been bombarded with questions before she even considered it.

Goodreads Synopsis (5)

I really enjoyed this book! It was just so fun and adventurous! I recommend it to anyone who wants a quick, fun and action-packed read that is light and easy but full of mythical creatures and great characters. I can’t wait to dive into book 2, Dragon on Trial, and finally get to meet the dragons in the Menagerie!

Copy of Goodreads Synopsis

You can purchase this book from the below links!

Book Depository
Paperback

Booktopia
Paperback

Amazon (Aus)
eBook   //   Paperback   //   Hardcover

Copy of Goodreads Synopsis

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON IT?!

IF YOU ARE GOING TO SHARE SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS THEN PLEASE WARN IT SO OTHERS DON’T GET SPOILED!

Lizaxx1

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Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: Hero at the Fall
Author: 
Alwyn Hamilton
Series Name: Rebel of the Sands
Genre: 
YA Fantasy
Publication Date: Feb 1st, 2018
Pages: 506 (Paperback)
Publishers: Faber & Faber
Rating:
5 star

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Once, in the desert country of Miraji, there was a Sultan without an heir.

The heir had been killed by his own brother, the treacherous Rebel Prince, who was consumed by jealousy and sought the throne for himself.

Or so it was said by some. There were others who said that the Rebel Prince was not a traitor but a hero…

In the final battle for the throne, Amani must fight for everything she believes in, but with the rebellion in pieces, and the Sultan’s armies advancing across the desert plains, who will lead, who will triumph, who will live and who will die?

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You can find my spoiler free review of Rebel of the Sands HERE! Don’t judge it too hard, it was my first ever review. You can also find the review for Traitor to the Throne HERE!

Warning there may be spoilers for Rebel of the Sands & Traitor to the Throne but there will be no spoilers for Hero at the Fall!

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I adore these books! They are absolutely gorgeous, especially the physical copies. The photos just don’t do it justice! I also love the image in the middle of the cover. They always show something within the story which I love!

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I absolutely love the writing in these books! They are action packed, unpredictable & amazing! I also really enjoyed the additions of the short stories/tales in this one. That just added a little extra to the book that was really well done. I also really enjoy the POV in this book. It is all told by Amani, however, some of the book was told in the first person POV and other parts were third person POV, this was mostly when the tales were being told, but also right out at the end when it was tale and reality coming together.

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As I said the book was action packed! Which made for a plot with tonnes of twists and turns. It kept me on the edge the entire time and I absolutely loved it! As this is the end of the trilogy there were no cliffhangers like in the other books that left me needing to read the next book straight away! Even though the end of the book was heartbreaking to some degree I absolutely wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was a very satisfying ending for the most part.

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Amani is one of my favourite female characters ever! She is a badass sharpshooter with awesome powers. She is quick thinking and determined. She is also loving and caring and would do anything for the people that she considered family. She was real though too. She struggled with what was right and wrong. Always trying to do right but still being tempted by what her heart wanted rather than what she knew she had to do.
Jin was another awesome character! He was strong, but didn’t want power or to be in the middle of everything. He just wanted to help however he can.
Shazad is another favourite! Her friendship with Amani is amazing! She is also just a badass character alone too. She is strong, an amazing fighter and extremely tactical! She always has a plan and can think up a plan on the spot when needed!
Izz & Maz are sarcastic an awesome characters. I love that we finally got to see some more of them in this book! They were always there when the other characters needed them.
I also liked Sam a lot more in this book than I did in Traitor to the Throne. He is funny and sarcastic which was a good break from all the seriousness. He was also strong and even though he was technically from the enemy side, he still helped the people he cared for the most.

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I love everything about this series! The writing is amazing and I loved the new tales in this one! The plot was so well done. The characters are also amazing. I loved basically all of them. Even the bad guys are done so well! I still hate them but I can appreciate how well they were written! This is one of my favourite series I have ever read! I can’t wait to see what Alwyn Hamilton does next! We already have an ‘Untitled YA Fantasy’ planned according to Goodreads and I can’t wait!

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HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON IT?!

IF YOU ARE GOING TO SHARE SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS THEN PLEASE WARN IT SO OTHERS DON’T GET SPOILED!

Lizaxx1

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The Mage Heir by Kathryn Sommerlot – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: The Mage Heir
Author: 
Kathryn Sommerlot
Series Name: The Life Siphon
Genre: 
YA Fantasy
Publication Date: March 15th, 2018
Pages: 367 (eBook)
Publishers: Not sure as Goodreads doesn’t say and Kathryn doesn’t mention it in her email.
Rating:
3 star

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Traitor: that’s what Tatsu is now. On the run from both Runon and Chayd, Tatsu and Yudai’s only hope for survival is to disappear into the wilds. However, when the siphon’s deadly curse returns, they have no choice but to travel into the desert kingdom of Joesar in search of a cure.

Battling the unforgiving elements of the sands, Tatsu starts to realize that the path towards destroying the siphon may claim Yudai’s life. Time is running out as Nota’s fury—and the siphon’s hunger—begin to spiral wildly beyond their control.

As their options slowly fall away, the only thing Tatsu and Yudai can count on is each other.

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You can find my spoiler free review of The Life Siphon (Book 1) HERE!

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I really enjoy the covers of these books. They are simple but also beautiful. I love the colour scheme of both and I bet they would look awesome together on a shelf (I have no idea if there even is physical copies though). I also like how they subtly reference the book with the design on the cover.

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One of my main complaints from book 1 was that it was predictable but I don’t think that was the case with this one. I did not directly predict any of the plot twists in this one I don’t think.

My main complaint about this book is I feel like it was a bit slow and uneventful at the beginning. It has been a while since I read The Life Siphon and I did have a bit of a struggle getting into this one.  It definitely picked up in the last 30% of the book. But the rest I was kinda struggling.  I honestly felt like DNFing for a little bit there, but I stuck through and I don’t regret it as it was enjoyable in the end.

The world building is still lacking! I mentioned this in my review for The Life Siphon too. There needs to be more explanation, more description and more depth to the world.

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As I said above, it was slow in the beginning but the plot at the end of the book was alright. It felt slightly rushed and I feel like that is because everything at the start is dragged out and then in the last 20% everything is rushed through and then the book is over. The start of the book could have been condensed a bit and then the actual major parts could have been fleshed out a little more.

I do have another problem but it’s hard to describe. I kinda feel like everything worked out in the end. Which is great if you love the characters and want them to all be happy but it kinda made it predictable in the fact that when there is a twist you guess that it is going to work out well in the end because everything seems to work out well in the end. Like there is no real devastation or sadness to keep your emotions on the edge. I hope that makes sense as I have no other way to describe it.

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Firstly my favourite thing about the book is the diversity! There are gay (or maybe bisexual) characters in this book. I loved that in this world that felt completely fine. Their friends were just like cool, he is your boyfriend. There was no coming out, no questioning and no issues. It was just normal and I loved that.

Tatsu was enjoyable most of the time. He was a bit moody, but not everyone is perfect. He was caring and loyal to his friend, so that was good. Yudai was all over the place for most of this book. Sometimes he was enjoyable and other times I just didn’t care at all. I don’t know what exactly it was, but just sometimes how he acted annoyed me.

Alesh was kinda bossy but I do love how protective she is with Ral. Ral I still don’t understand. The ability type thing that she has was not explained in the slightest! Jotin was kinda meh to me. He didn’t feel fleshed out at all. I need more from him, he just kinda felt like a robot with no real emotion or life.

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I feel like this book was a little underwhelming. The world building could have been a lot better and the character development was lacking. The book was also slow for most of it which was disappointing. The first book was definitely better,  more entertaining and gripping for me.

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I was sent a copy of this book from Kathryn Sommerlot! So thanks so much to her for sending the eARC my way and giving me this opportunity!

The books are available on Kindle Unlimited but are also really cheap on Amazon! You can find The Life Siphon HERE & The Mage Heir HERE! The links will be for the Australian Amazon Site.

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HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON IT?!

IF YOU ARE GOING TO SHARE SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS THEN PLEASE WARN IT SO OTHERS DON’T GET SPOILED!

Lizaxx1

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The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: The Hazel Wood
Author: 
Melissa Albert
Series Name: The Hazel Wood
Genre: 
YA Fantasy
Publication Date: Feb 8th, 2018
Pages: 355 (Paperback)
Publishers: Penguin
Rating:
3 and a half star

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Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD. 

To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .

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I actually love this cover! It looks a lot better in person than in the image above. As they used a combination of matte & shiny coating on the cover. The shiny parts are all the creases and details in the leaves. It makes it really pretty but also still creepy as hell.

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I enjoyed the writing of this book but it wasn’t anything overly special. It was creepy but also kinda slow until the last 30%. However, it did keep me hooked! I had trouble putting it down.

This is kinda random but I strongly disliked the last couple chapters of this book. After everything happens and Alice is back in the real world she becomes so dull. I don’t like her anyway (see the characters section) but it went from a fleshed out character in most of the book to this meh character with no motivation, thoughts, cares or absolutely anything. It was like reading from the POV of a stick. I know that it says that afterwards she may not be the same, but if the whole next book is written like those last chapters, I will be DNFing it real quick. I had such a struggle getting through those last pages of this book.

This book suffered from the ‘absent parents’ trope which is seriously overdone. Alice’s mother was kidnapped, so yeah that one I didn’t mind but the only other person from the human world had parents that apparently didn’t give a damn at all. They didn’t even try and get the police to search for him when he ‘went missing/ran away’.

I really enjoyed the fairytales in this book! Even though we didn’t really get them in full they were interesting. I discovered after reading that she is going to come out with a book of fairytales (same idea as The Tales of Beedle the Bard from J.K. Rowling & Tales of the Peculiar from Ransom Riggs). I’m more excited for the ‘Tales from the Hinterland’ to come out than I am about the second book in this series honestly.

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The plot was, for the most part, interesting. However, there were some predictable parts and most of the time the things I predicted were the big plot twists. So that was a little annoying. Also, the middle of the book was a tad slow. Things happened, but they happened within one page and the rest of the chapter was just meh.

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The main character irritated the shit out of me. I don’t know if she was meant to be an ‘unlikable main character’ but holy crap I didn’t like her. She was selfish as hell and didn’t really give a damn about anything but herself and her mother (and another character later on).
She was annoyingly stubborn and would snap at Finch for basically no reason. She would also think about hurting or killing people all the time when they were doing perfectly normal things that she didn’t happen to like. Then there was the time that she ran them off the road and nearly ploughed into the trees because she was pissed at herself. There was also the times when she was extremely judgemental! It was mentioned many times that the people in The Hazel Wood and The Halfway Wood may have mental problems due to what they went through in The Hazel Wood & The Half Way Wood. So it’s not like she didn’t know but good damn was she judging those people so hard because they may not have been up to her standard! Basically, if someone didn’t act the same as she did then they weren’t good enough for her.  I know her anger played a part in the story later on but it annoyed me a tonne! Like, stop being a bitch!
It also annoyed me that she barely ever called her mother ‘Mum’… It was always ‘Ella’. I would understand if she and her mother weren’t close but Alice basically didn’t know how to survive without Ella, so there really wasn’t any reason not to call her ‘Mum’.
*My above statement does alter later in the story after a plot twist, but for the most part it is true!*

Finch was also a character I didn’t love. A lot of his actions annoyed me, but even more, I was annoyed at how Alice reacts to the things that he did. Also there not even a relationship thing that they had was just weird. At the start he was made out to be this kinda creepy, won’t leave me alone type guy and the next thing she is confused about what they were and whether she thought of him as a friend. Then he is risking his life to help her and she is still being a bitch to him and on multiple occasions wants to leave him behind but ‘he is all I have’… So he stays.
He was also a very undeveloped character we know nothing about him except he is rich, black and has parents that don’t care at all.. But knowing that Alice never seemed to give a damn about actually getting to know him, so that is why the reader didn’t get to know him either.
Also another thing with Finch, apparently he is a POC. This is never stated in the many times that Alice describes him, but he is. There is only one point when this is even vaguely mentioned (that I could find) and that is when they run into a cop that Alice has a go at and he makes a comment along the lines of ‘do you think I would get away with talking to a cop like that’.. So yeah, apparently he is POC. But if you missed it in that scene you would have no idea.

Most of the other characters were just meh or didn’t have enough page time for me to really care about and form an opinion of them. Except for Janet, she was actually my favourite character! She had common sense, she was kind and tried to help out other people. Oh, and she is either bisexual or lesbian or something in the LGBTQIAP+ realm. It’s never stated but she has a girlfriend and talks about her love for another woman in her past.

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I enjoyed the writing and the plot of this book but the characters were a real let down. I only liked one character out of the many that were in this book.. The fairytales were creepy and interesting and were probably my favourite part. Other than that, I enjoyed myself reading it but I had a few issues with this one.

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HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON IT?!

IF YOU ARE GOING TO SHARE SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS THEN PLEASE WARN IT SO OTHERS DON’T GET SPOILED!

Lizaxx1

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: Six of Crows
Author: 
Leigh Bardugo
Series Name: Six of Crows
Genre: 
YA Fantasy
Publication Date: Sept 29th, 2015
Pages: 462 (Hardback)
Publishers: Square Fish
Rating:
4 and a half star

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Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo returns to the breathtaking world of the Grishaverse in this unforgettable tale about the opportunity—and the adventure—of a lifetime.

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I honestly don’t really love this cover. It’s just kinda meh. I like that the buildings are hidden in the feathers of the crow but it’s still just boring to me. It’s definitely not as nice at the new Grisha covers either. They are gorgeous!!

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I really enjoyed the writing in this book. The world building was really good and the character development/depth was amazing. I loved the snippets from the past too. They really helped to develop the world and the backstories for all the characters. They added meaning to the actions of the characters and they didn’t feel like they had just been thrown in their, they had a real purpose.
I also loved the Multi POV! This book would not have been anywhere near as good if it had just been from one POV. Each character had a unique voice and even though I was listening to the audiobook and each character literally had a different voice, you could still tell by the writing whose POV you were reading from. They all felt like their own characters which was amazing.

Also, you do not need to read The Grish Trilogy to understand the world in this one. I have read Shadow and Bone, but haven’t finished the other 2 books. Even though I feel like the Grisha powers are talked about and explained a bit more in Shadow and Bone, they aren’t necessary to know about to read this one as honestly it’s been so long since I read Shadow and Bone that I had forgotten anyway.

Something that I wish was a more detailed map! The big map is awesome but it’s like looking for my hometown on a world map, you know it must be there somewhere but you don’t know where. There is also the map of The Ice Court itself which was awesome and I’m so glad they added it, it made it a lot easier to visualise what was going on as that place is confusing no matter how well it is described.

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I was a little iffy going into this book for the plot. I knew it was about 6 people and a heist. It’s on the front cover but I was thinking surely 1 heist can’t last near 500 pages! There has to be more.
I was not disappointed though. The plot was so good! Yes, it is just about the heist and yes that heist and the little bit of lead up to it takes up the whole 462 pages, but it was worth it. The plot is so action-packed and gripping that you don’t want to put it down! You just wanna know what comes next!

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Okay, so there are alot of character to talk about but first I want to talk about the ‘romances’. I wouldn’t specifically say any of them are particularly romantic, but there aren’t any other words for it.
So there are 3 of these relationships, 2 I like and one not so much. There is only one I’m actually going to talk about and name the characters as everyone talks about it and I feel like most people would have already been spoiled for it already. And that is Kaz & Inej and this is the relationship that I don’t actually like. I love Inej and I don’t love Kaz as much as. I’ll talk about that down below, but because I didn’t like him and I liked Inej so much I just didn’t like it.
As for the other 2 relationships, one is all over the place and it you never know whether they are going to end up back together or not! But it was enjoyable. And the other relationship is an LGBT relationship and it was never outright stated but there were hints and you so want it to happen! I’m not even someone that enjoys romance in books but I am shipping those two!

Now onto the characters themselves!

Kaz, as I said above, I didn’t enjoy. I am not 100% sure why I didn’t like him but he just got on my nerve. He also really reminded me of Jaxon Hall from The Bone Season and he was a dick. If you have read both series, I hope you understand what I mean. They are both heads of ‘gangs’ in the underworld of a city that is made of violence, gangs and people trying to prove dominance. They are both also kinda cruel, they hire people into their ‘gang’ (not always giving them a real choice) & they kinda treat those in their gang like crap (always undermining them, throwing them into danger without giving them full details and treating them as tools and not humans). I think it was this similarity with Jaxon Hall that made me really not like Kaz.

Inej was an amazing character. She is badass in all ways! However, she has a darker past and she struggles with dealing with that in this book. She pushes through and comes out on top and it was great! She is incredibly strong as well. Even when she is struggling and it looks like everything is going to fall apart she thinks of the others in the group and pushes herself through.

Nina was a very passionate, determined & strong. She was very determined to do what she thought was right when it came to her people. She does not let people sway her. She is also extremely loyal to the people around her and she would risk herself to help them.

Jesper is funny, flirty and sarcastic and it was an awesome contrast to the seriousness of most of the other characters. Jesper was daring and cunning. He never really doubted himself and just jumped into things but he wasn’t cocky about his confidence which I enjoyed.

Matthias was an enjoyable character when he wasn’t sprouting the ‘Grisha are horrible and should be put to death’ shit. But that is how he was raised, so I don’t really hate him for it but it was a bit frustrating.

Wyland was an off character. I liked him but because the others kept calling him kid and stuff it made him feel like he was a lot younger than he was. So it was kinda hard for me to get my head around the fact that he is around the same age as the others. I did like the romance he was involved in but at first, it felt weird due to the ‘him feeling younger part’. But when I actually thought about how old he was compared to the interest then it was a pretty well done romance of sorts. For once I am shipping a romance and I hope they actually end up together in Crooked Kingdoms and not just flirting.

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I really enjoyed this book! The plot was great, the world is awesome, the writing was amazing and I loved the Multi POV!! The characters were mostly amazing too! Only disliking 1 out of 6 is pretty good I think. I hope we see more of the two girls & Jesper in Crooked Kingdoms as they are my favourites. Also that romance needs to happen as well!!

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Blood of Assassins by R.J. Barker – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: Blood of Assassins
Author: 
R.J. Barker
Series Name: The Wounded Kingdom
Genre: 
Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: Feb 15th, 2018
Pages: 434 (Paperback)
Publishers: Hachette Australia/Orbit
Rating:
4 and a half star

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The king is dead, long live the king…

The assassin Girton Club-foot and his master have returned to Maniyadoc in hope of finding sanctuary, but death, as always, dogs Girton’s heels.

The place he knew no longer exists. War rages across Maniyadoc, with three kings claiming the same crown – and one of them is Girton’s old friend Rufra. Girton finds himself hurrying to uncover a plot to murder Rufra on what should be the day of the king’s greatest victory. But while Girton deals with threats inside and outside Rufra’s war encampment, he can’t help wondering if his greatest enemy hides beneath his own skin.

Blood of Assassins is the epic sequel to RJ Barker’s debut Age of Assassins, set in a world ravaged by magic, featuring a cast of assassins, knights, ambitious noblemen, and fools.

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You can find my review of Book 1 in this series, Age of Assassins HERE.

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I feel the same about this cover as I did with the first. It appears simple from a distance. Just a red cover with a slash and a person standing in it. But then you look closer and there is heaps more detailed than you realised.

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So, my main complaint from book 1 was that the world building was lacking and that still stands in this book. There are words that are used with no explanation (Hedging, Thankful, Yellowers, Blessed, Nonmen and a few more I can’t think of). I understand that they are different types/classes of people but I don’t get how they are determined, what they mean or what the difference is.

Book 1 had chapters that were just Girton’s dreams and they were really well done. Most of the dreams were things that happened in his past and it was an awesome way to get some background on both him and Merela. The same thing was used a couple times in this book, but they were horrible. I couldn’t understand what was going on in these dreams at all. Everything was disjointed, repetitive and utterly confusing. They also didn’t seem to have a point. In the first book, it was history, so it was giving us background but these didn’t seem to try and show the reader anything in particular.

Besides the lack of world building and those weird dream chapters, I did enjoy the book. It flowed well and was extremely engaging. I had trouble putting it down, especially in the last two days when I was near the end of the story.

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Again this book is kind of a mystery, but this one has a bit more action and other events mixed in compared to book 1. I enjoyed the action and as I said this book was gripping and hard to put down. This one also has a lot more twists and turns than book 1 and I was not expecting most of them (except that plot twist with Aydor at the end, I totally guessed that!).

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Girton, is a little annoying honestly. He is stubborn but not necessarily in a good way. He also jumps to conclusions really quickly and doesn’t always think about his actions before he does something. I also don’t feel like he has grown up, even though this book is set 5 years after the first.
I honestly don’t even see him as an assassin. Assassins need to be quick, calculating and cunning. Girton isn’t really any of these things. As I said he jumps into things without thinking all the time, which I feel like is the opposite of what he should be doing. Mesela is a good portrayal of what I feel like an assassin should be. She is cunning, intelligent, patient and waits for the right moment and never goes into something without having a reason. Girton is the opposite basically. So if you are looking for a book with an awesome assassin that does assassin like things, this is not the one for you. This is a book about war, not assassins.

The other characters in this book have changed a fair bit. Rufra, Aydor & Thomas all make appearances in this book. Thoms was my least favourite character, not because he is meant to be a kind of villain character but because he was kinda pathetic. He never even spoke for himself. He just sat there while Neander told others what he would be doing. It was really strange considering how dominant he acted in book 1. Rufra was a little more real. He was struggling with being a friend, being a king and the loss that he suffered between Age of Assassins & Blood of Assassins. You saw the struggle with basically every encounter he had with Girton.

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Overall I really enjoyed this book. There were a couple things that could use some improvement, like the world building and some of the characters. But I still had heaps of fun reading this book and it was extremely gripping! I really hope some things are explained a bit more in book 3, but by this point, it’s probably not likely. Either way, I can’t wait for book 3, King of Assassins and luckischeduledchedualed to release in August according to Goodreads, so I don’t have long to wait!

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I was provided with an eGalley of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you very much to Hachette Australia/Orbit NetGalley for this opportunity.

You can purchase this book at any of the below links!

Hachette Australia
Paperback  /  eBook

Book Depository
Paperback

QBD
Paperback

Booktopia
Paperback

Dymocks
Paperback

Amazon (Aus)
Kindle  /  Paperback  /  Audible

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The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: The Belles
Author: 
Dhonielle Clayton
Series Name: The Belles #1
Genre: 
YA Fantasy
Publication Date: Feb 6th, 2018
Pages: 317 (Hardback)
Publishers: Hachette Australia
Rating:
4 star

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Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

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Okay, so I don’t like the cover. I know everyone is complimenting it because it shows a POC on the cover. Which sure, is great. But I hate covers with people on them at all! So no, I don’t like it.. Even though the cover displays Camellia I still don’t even picture her like that anyway..

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Firstly, I want to say that there should be a trigger warning for Sexual Assault.

Well, the writing was pretty good. The descriptions were a little over the top at times, especially when describing characters appearances. Which I get is a main part of the book but it did get a little monotonous.  I also found the middle of the book was a little slow at times. The start was good as it had world building and getting to know the characters but then it got slow and then sped up heaps in the last 25%.

Besides that, the world building was really damn good! So that made up for it.

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As I said above the middle of the book was pretty slow and there were a few things that happened but nothing anything really major. As for the last 25%? Holy damn. So much went on and a majority of it I did not expect.

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Camellia is our main character and I really enjoyed her! She was curious, stubborn, strong and defiant. She liked doing things that others wouldn’t. There was one thing that happened in the book that I was not impressed with. Especially that neither of the characters that did it (one being Camellia) had any real reaction or regret for what they did. The other character more than Camellia, but still.

Bree is another favourite and I’m a little annoyed we don’t find out what happens to her in the end and there was basically no talk about it from the main character after a couple pages after it happened. Not going into spoilers, so that may sound really vague and confusing, but you will understand if you read it. Anyway, Bree is loyal and kind.

Amber is one of my least favourite non-villain characters. She is uptight and will always do what she is told and never really thinks for herself. Towards the end, though she is a bit different to that in the fact that she cant accept that she didn’t win and when she was given the option to redeem herself she went too far trying to win and it resulted in people getting hurt..

Edel was funny, rebellious and didn’t care what people thought. She wasn’t present for a lot of the book but I am guessing that we might see more of her in book 2!

Remy was a little hard to deal with at times. He was all about following orders, even when he could have relaxed. He took everything so seriously and that annoyed me. But he did redeem himself in the end! Also, I am calling it now! He is going to be the love interest in book 2, I’m guessing it now. Obviously, I don’t know if it’s true, but I’m predicting it.

Sophia was obsessive and cruel. That basically sums her up. I don’t think I need to say anything more.

I am not even going to talk about the romance! It was instalove and it wasn’t necessary at all.

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My favourite part of the book would have to be the world building! The ending was insane but the middle of the story was a little underwhelming. The characters were good and bad. Hopefully, we see more of Edel & Bree in book 2 as they are my favourites. I didn’t mark it higher than 4 stars because of the slow middle of the book, I didn’t like the romance at all & some of the writing didn’t wow me.

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I was provided with an eGalley of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you very much to Hachette Australia NetGalley for this opportunity.

You can Pre-Order this book from any of the below links.

Hachette Australia
Paperback  /  eBook

Book Depository
Hardback  /  Paperback

Amazon (Aus)
eBook  /  Hardback  /  Paperback  /  Audiobook

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Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Author: 
Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children #1
Genre: 
YA Diverse Fantasy Horror
Publication Date: June 13th, 2017
Pages: 189 (Hardback)
Publishers: Tor
Rating:
4 star

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Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

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*Exactly the same as in Every Heart a Doorway review*

I really like the cover of this book. It is simple, but catches your eye and also betrays the story well. I really enjoy how all the covers in this series just have a landscape background with a single item in the middle standing out.

I like how much darker and creepier than the first book!

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The writing is still beautiful in this book but again, a lot darker, even than Every Heart a Doorway! These books have amazing world building fitted into such small books. I liked that this book dealt with some issues in this book such as parental influence and it’s effect on children & Identity issues. I can’t speak personally but I think these issues were shown well. The initial beginning of the parently influence part felt a little excessive but it could realistic, but I have no experience, so I’m not sure.

I really enjoyed the drawings that pop up in this book too! It was an awesome addition to the story.

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As for the plot, I kinda feel like the plot was a little in the background. There was a plot, but it wasn’t really the main focus. The focus was on the characters and their development.

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Again we have some diversity! So that’s always good!

Jack is definitely my favourite character from the book. She is smart, determined to learn, brave and super funny.

Jill is naive and easily persuaded into things. She is also jealous and ridiculously cruel! What happened in Every Heart a Doorway makes so much more sense now after learning more about her.

Master is explored as much but he mainly just feels possessive.

Dr Bleak was a patient teacher/guardian but still stern! He was also really understanding. He was an enjoyable character compared to Jill & Master.

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 I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Every Heart a Doorway. This book does have better character development as it’s concentrating on two specific characters rather than a tonne! So that was good but as it was concentrating on the characters more I feel like the plot was lacking compared to Every Heart a Doorway. Those are the main reasons I gave this 4 stars compared to the 4.5 stars I gave Every Heart a Doorway.

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Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: 
Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children #1
Genre: 
YA Diverse Fantasy
Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Pages: 173 (Hardback)
Publishers: Tor
Rating:
4 and a half star

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Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

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I really like the cover of this book. It is simple, but catches your eye and also betrays the story well. I really enjoy how all the covers in this series just have a landscape background with a single item in the middle standing out.

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This book is beautifully written and to some degree, the writing is fairly lyrical, similar to Laini Taylor’s but not quite as much. But also a lot darker! Overall, the book was a lot darker than I expected. I just thought it would be a casual YA Fantasy, but it actually turned out to be a Murder Mystery as well. So even though it was unexpected, it was done well and I enjoyed the reading.

I was worried that being such a short book there might be confusion or details left out, however, everything flowed together nicely and was concluded well. The only real mystery was the worlds that these children had been to and I do find it a shame that we only get to dive into two of them with the companion novels Down Among the Sticks and Bones & Beneath the Sugar Sky. Hopefully, it will be extended later on as I would love to dive a bit further into the other worlds!

I also enjoyed the multi-POV, however, I did wish that it was specified whose POV we were reading from at the time as it did swap around randomly and sometimes to completely random characters that we hadn’t heard from before. It wasn’t really an issue but it just would have been nice.

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So the plot itself was a little typical when it comes to murder mysteries, but they all kinda are I guess, someone gets murdered and the MC tries to discover the murder. I did enjoy it, but it was a little predictable, I didn’t guess from the start of the murders, but I did guess a little further in. I still enjoyed myself while reading and it was still pretty well down, even with the predictability. The plot wasn’t my favourite part of the book though and the reason I didn’t give the book 5 stars.

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My favourite thing is the diversity in this book! The MC is Asexual, which is rare to find and I’m pretty sure I haven’t read a book with an Asexual MC. I can’t speak for the rep but I have heard all the diversity is well done! As well as the Asexual rep we also have a Trans character, characters of varying races & characters with different gender identities. So A+ for the diversity!

Overall I didn’t feel huge connections or have a full understanding of any of the characters. But with the amazing world building and the mystery going on, and only in 170 pages, you can’t expect everything I guess! For that reason, I don’t have a tonne to say about them.

Nancy was the Main Character I guess but as it was multi POV all the focus wasn’t always on her. She also didn’t get thrown into the typical female MC in Fantasy trope that we usually see! The Badass or powerful girl who even if she doesn’t think she can, she ends up saving the world type MC.

Kade was enjoyable but also kinda felt like a typical male side character.

Sumi was overactive and loud but also kinda hilarious. Some of the crap she came out with was pretty damn funny, so that was enjoyable even if the other half of her time she was saying negative stuff.

Jack and Jill were very different characters for twins, but now after reading Down Among the Sticks and Bones that makes total sense. All the forensic stuff that Jack did was a little confusing at times as it was hard to see her as a character that has had life experience and not a child. Jill was a little more absent and mysterious in this book. She played a part but didn’t have as much page time as Jack did. Also, it was so hard at the start to think of ‘Jack’ as a female with a nickname ‘Jack’.  After a while, I got used to it, but it was a bit hard at the start.

Eleanor, the women who started Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward children gave me huge Alma Peregrine vibes! And also just the name of the school reminds me of the  Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series!

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children…
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children…

This makes me slightly iffy about the book itself. I know authors take inspiration from other books but that is just a little to close for comfort.

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Overall, the world building and writing was the best part of the book. The world building was amazingly down and the writing was gorgeous but dark! The Characters could have used some more development, but as I say in 170 pages you can’t have everything. The plot was my least favourite part of the book and the reason it didn’t get 5 stars!

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HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON IT?!

IF YOU ARE GOING TO SHARE SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS THEN PLEASE WARN IT SO OTHERS DON’T GET SPOILED!

Lizaxx1

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