The Cruel Prince by Holly Black Review

The Cruel Prince by Holly BlackThe Cruel Prince by Holly Black (The Folk Of The Air #1)

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Pages: 384

Summary: Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

My Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾

My Thoughts: The Cruel Prince is a solid start to a unique YA Fantasy trilogy! There’s intrigue, immersive world-building, and a plot that goes in such unique directions with surprises at every turn!

I’m honestly so surprised with my rating!! I really thought I would give this book at least 4 stars. I’d heard so much buzz and great things about The Cruel Prince, but sadly it just didn’t live up to all the expectations as I’d hoped for and fell a bit short.

Now, even though my rating is a bit low, I will absolutely be continuing with this trilogy. Overall I found myself to be even more invested in the story as I neared the end.

The book takes off right away told through a 3rd person POV of Jude, her older sister Vivi, her twin sister Taryn, and her parents going about their day when a mysterious man arrives at their doorstep.

This man we learn, Madoc, is actually Vivi’s father and comes from the land of the Fae (which makes Vivi ½ Fae). He murders the girls’ parents and is forced to take them back to Faerieland for the mistake that their mother made of leaving Madoc and the land of the fae behind.

Now, told through a 1st person POV, 10 years have passed and all Jude wants is to feel a sense of belonging in Faerieland. Madoc has trained all 3 of them, but Jude just wants to prove to herself and to the other fae royalty, like Prince Cardan, that she does belong.

Jude and her twin sister Taryn continue to face ridicule and bullying from Cardan and his friends, which I saw as such defining aspect to Jude and her actions.

I really sympathized with her and the anger she felt. Being one of a few humans in this world given protection through a higher level fae, she just wants to find a sense of belonging, now knowing she can never fit in the real world again.

While I don’t want to give to much of the plot away, I will say the story continues as Jude wants to gain her place in this land and will use any means she can to achieve her goals.

What I really enjoyed about The Cruel Prince was how wonderfully the setting merged with the themes and complex elements of the story. For example in the land of Elfhame the descriptions Black uses, make the story almost cinematic and immersive, while also building/weaving in politics, intrigue, and mystery to the world so easily, which I really loved.

The beginning couple chapters were really strong. They perfectly set up the dark, magical and mysterious world of The Cruel Prince.

Another aspect I really loved was the development of certain characters. They were ones I honestly either wasn’t too much of a fan of or felt they were a bit flat, but as the story progressed, I ended up enjoying where their development led them.

Those characters include: Prince Cardan, Prince Dain & Locke (one of Cardan’s friends). All 3 of those characters really surprised me more than I thought they would and really had a lot of development throughout the story.

Especially Prince Cardan. He changes significantly as the story progresses and I truly felt he surprised me the most. I really wasn’t expecting to like him so much, but the more that is discovered about him + his unique development, made him one of my favorite characters of The Cruel Prince.

Vivi, Jude’s older sister, was probably another one of my favorite characters + one I adored from the very beginning! What made her so interesting was how she viewed the land of the Fae, not only being the oldest, but also seeing the unique way the author explored her strong connection to the real world than the Fae. Vivi’s choice to exclude herself from this world as much as possible, was to me, just a really unique direction and was explored in such a great way! (+ There is also an f/f relationship, when we learn that Vivi has been dating a girl from the real world)

As for Jude, what I liked the most about her was the intrigue and deception that builds and becomes such a vital part to her as a character.

Now as to why my rating was pretty low:

I felt there was a mix of things that made this book a bit disappointing for me. To start, I felt the pacing became rather slow for me personally and it made it a bit difficult for me at times to stay truly invested in what was going on. It made the plot feel much less gripping + in general, I felt the plot easily lost its way at certain points.

Another aspect that didn’t sit well with me (*this is completely personal/subjective*) was the dynamic of Jude w/ her twin sister Taryn. Having a twin myself, I was so happy to read about twin sisters, especially in YA Fantasy! However, there were certain moments or scenes that I felt made it difficult for me to really see them as twins.

For example, I felt that Jude/Taryn’s personalities were so starkly different that they felt less like twins and were more just sisters + opposites just being called ‘twins.’  We had Jude who was the tougher of the two & Taryn who was the more timid/emotional one.

While I understood why that was done, personally I found it would have made their relationship much more interesting if they had more similarities than differences and see how that played out instead. Also I found they had such few scenes together!~

There was also moments where through the writing, it would feel like there wasn’t much build-up to what was going on & then out of nowhere things would happen. I felt it made it really difficult for me to really invest myself in those moments because they came & went so quickly!

I also did find it difficult to really buy that Jude was the anti-heroine/ morally grey character I’d seen so many people talk about. I felt that those moments were more sporadic for me and she wasn’t as dark/cunning as I had expected.

Regardless, as I found myself reaching the end I closed the book feeling more positive and intrigued to see where the sequel will take the story (the epilogue really surprised me!).

The Cruel Prince is an immersive YA Fantasy that takes you on a magical adventure exploring the politics and intrigue in the land of the fae! The writing allows not only for various themes and topics to be explored, but also sets up an intriguing + magical world. Filled with mystery, politics, and magic, Black’s novel develops (though a bit slowly) to leave readers eager for the next installment!

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Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman Review

Starfish by Akemi Dawn BowmanStarfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Pages: 340

Summary: Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

*This novel discusses sexual assault + there’s also mention of suicide*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Starfish is a beautifully written, but impactful and powerful YA Contemporary that follows Kiko, who dreams of getting into her dream art school! Bowman discusses and handles numerous heavy topics throughout this novel, but above all through Kiko we understand there is always hope!

Starfish was one of those novels I’d always planned on reading in 2017, but sadly never got to. I’d heard such amazing things from fellow book bloggers & made it a goal to read it in 2018! While I knew it would be a pretty impactful read, I did not expect it to be so heart-wrenching. This book was thought-provoking, beautiful and truly an unforgettable YA Contemporary.

Kiko is finishing up high school and ready to graduate. As a passionate artist/painter, she dreams of getting into Prism, one of the top art schools in the country.

Her home life and family isn’t the easiest. She hardly feels she has close relationships with her two brothers, Taro and Shoji and her mother is constantly emotionally abusive towards her.

She feels her mother will never understand her no matter how hard she tries. My heart broke for Kiko, reading just how neglected she felt, how ignorant her mother was and how she never felt like she’d have a family who understood her truly.

Not only does she constantly belittle and criticize her, but Kiko also has to deal with her mother’s ignorance and self-absorbed personality throughout the entirety of the novel.

As her final days of high school are close by, she and her friend Emery get invited to a party. There she reconnects with her childhood best-friend + crush who had moved to California years ago, Jamie.

When she learns her uncle (who she was assaulted by as a child) will be staying at her house, Kiko struggles to convince her mother to keep him out. With that, as Jamie & Kiko slowly but surely rekindle their friendship + he’s by Kiko’s side when he understands she needs to get away from home for a bit.

In order to escape the anxiety, frustration and all the other complex emotions of being with her mother, Kiko heads to California with Jamie to forge a new path for herself and find a place where she can belong.

I loved the beautiful relationship between Kiko and Jamie. Jamie was so understanding about Kiko’s anxiety and he always did his best to support her in her dream of finding a new art school!

I also loved how Bowman showed this new step of their friendship now that they are older and more grown-up. While we know from Kiko how close they were, seeing her form a different but even stronger bond with him as the story develops was so beautifully done!

Also because I read Starfish in about a week than the usual 2~3 days it usually takes me to read books, I felt it allowed me to really connect with Kiko and her story!

The writing was just so lyrical and flows beautifully with the heaviness of the story. It really allowed you to fully understand Kiko and her story. Additionally, it just allows you to see the depth of the characters in such an interesting way.

There’s also descriptions of Kiko’s paintings at the end of each chapter & they added so much to understanding the depth of her emotions and heart & they were written so vividly that you could really envision her artwork!

Plot-wise, it is compelling and heart-wrenching. Seeing Kiko go on her journey to not only find herself, but also to better understand what family means to her and how she can let go of the people or places that hold her back was truly inspiring. The plot not only weaves together in such a brilliant way, but honestly there were moments too, that just left me surprised!

As for representation, this novel follows our main character Kiko who is biracial being 1/2 Japanese & 1/2 white (as are her brothers Taro & Shoji) additionally Kiko also has social anxiety (Both Social Anxiety + Japanese-American Rep are #OwnVoices!)

Starfish is novel that really fills your heart through each turn of the page as you connect more with Kiko and her story.

Starfish is a character-driven, phenomenally written YA Contemporary that stays with you long after the final page! From the important and heavy topics discussed to the empowering journey of the main character Kiko, Starfish is a novel that inspires you to find your voice!

Literary Listens: Audio Drama Podcasts That Need Book Adaptations

literary-listens-24hryabookblog-feature-bannerIf you’re new to my blog, Literary Listens is a feature I created to share my love of podcasts while also incorporating my love for books! When I’m not reading, I also love listening to podcasts, especially audio dramas!

Today’s post is all about audio drama book adaptations! If you didn’t know, The Bright Sessions was recently picked up by Tor Teen to have a book series written by the creator Lauren Shippen! This audio drama series told through recordings, follows Dr. Bright as she provides therapy to people with supernatural abilities.

What I love about this is that not only will it give more depth to the world and story for fans/listeners, but also introduce the podcast to new listeners too!! 😍✨🎙

With that said, this recent announcement inspired me to share some more of my favorite audio drama podcasts that I would also love to see have book adaptations!

Hopefully today’s post also inspires you to check out these podcasts if you’ve never heard them before~(´▽`ʃƪ)♥♥

audio-dime-museum1.Audio Dime Museum
Summary: From the Just A Story team, comes a weekly, serialized experimental storytelling podcast which explores historical legends through the artifacts on display in the Audio Dime Museum. Part guided tour, part radio drama; each episode presents the curious story of one object from the collection. Meet your guide on this journey, The Curator, and learn her secrets as you delve into the world of possibility, magic and the unknown. Merging the suspenseful style of mystery with the conventions of ghost stories and the peculiarity that only historical fact can provide, this podcast is not for the faint of heart.

Why: This audio drama holds such a special place in my heart! It was the very first podcast I’d ever listened to and I believe it would make a fantastic book!

Each episode follows the Curator as she gives you the history behind one of the artifacts hidden away in her collection at the Dime Museum (All based on real-life artifacts!!).

Each story told through the curator is just beautifully written and I feel it would translate perfectly onto the page!

With each episode not only do you learn about different artifacts, but also about the Curator and her shop.

Girl In Space Podcast2.Girl In Space
Summary: Nothing fancy here — just the simple audio diary of a girl in space. Also, there’s this weird and potentially ominous light in the distance that seems to be growing steadily closer. Listen biweekly for science, guns, trust, anti-matter, truth, beauty, inner turmoil, and delicious cheeses. It’s all here. In space.

Why: Girl In Space is honestly one of the best sci-fi podcasts I’ve ever listened to! The story is not only brilliantly plotted with incredible world-building, government secrecy, mystery, twists and turns, but the writing is also utterly fantastic!

With such a thought-provoking main character, you follow X as she’s spent her whole life cataloging on her parents ship in space, but soon learns she may not be alone as someone…or something looms close to her ship, the Cavatica!

The way the main character describes her world makes it easy to imagine and puts you into the world of Girl In Space so easily.

So overall, the fantastic story, characters, etc., would make Girl In Space a flawless sci-fi novel!

The Elysium Project3.The Elysium Project
Summary:The Elysium Project follows those who are pulled into the world of a powerful formula that allows its subjects to manipulate the world around them based on thought and desire.This is an independently produced audio drama series created and produced by Natalie Van Sistine.

Why:The Elysium Project is easily one of the most cinematic audio drama podcasts I’ve ever heard! It plays very much like a weekly tv show. I feel the science-fiction elements,unique world-building, characters and plot are just so brilliantly executed, that it would make a fantastic book!

Its very much a plot and character-driven story that I feel will translate perfectly onto the page.

There’s science, genetics, drama, intrigue, action/adventure, just so many amazing elements that all weave together to tell a fascinating story.

The Penumbra Podcast4.The Penumbra Podcast
Summary:Depending on who you ask, the Penumbra is either the grandest railway this side of Nowhere or a twice-monthly podcast series. Each episode takes the form of a 30-50 minute radio play. The Penumbra is all about stories you recognize told in ways you won’t expect. Your femme fatale might be an homme fatale; you might find that not every haunting needs a ghost. Your criminal underworld might advertise on billboards ten miles tall, and when push comes to shove your home might have a bit more heart than you’re comfortable with. It’s never just a heist, a Western, an adventure. It’s the parts we think are still fresh about those genres — along with what we find along the tracks. And what will we find, you ask? Well… see for yourself. The Penumbra is created and produced by Sophie Kaner and Kevin Vibert.

Why:This is a podcast I feel would do so incredibly well as a novel in the SFF genre (& its so diverse!). With a number of alternating/separate story lines the characters and worlds really come to life + each is written with such depth! Some of the stories on The Penumbra Podcast include:

~Juno Steel: Juno Steel is a private detective on Mars and gets himself into quite a bit of trouble as he and his secretary Rita work together to solve mysteries + cases on a futuristic/colonized Mars, or more specifically in Hyperion City.

Each episode introduces such interesting characters and always gives you something new to learn about the world! The writing specifically for this story line is told through 1st person and its done so brilliantly.

~The Coyote Of The Painted Plains: Set in the Wild West, Mary Anne is moving to Crossroads with her fiancee and dreams to continue teaching there, though its rumored to be filled bandits. However, things quickly change when she gets involved with female bandit Chance Sequoyah, though she isn’t all she seems as Mary Anne soon learns.

Additionally, this story line features an f/f relationship & the banter between Chance + Mary Anne is so well written.

*This audio drama also features diverse representation through its characters with: disability rep., bisexual rep., f/f relationship, and portrayal of anxiety + depression + Main characters throughout the series also identify as nonbinary & genderqueer.

The intricacies of each story that The Penumbra Podcast creates with each episode have me wishing it could be a book series already with the brilliant world-building + writing, and incredible cast of characters!!

Victoriocity Podcast5.Victoriocity
Summary:A detective comedy drama || Even Greater London, 1887. In this vast metropolis, Inspector Archibald Fleet and journalist Clara Entwhistle investigate a murder, only to find themselves at the centre of a conspiracy of impossible proportions.

Why: Though I’ve only just finished episode 1 of Victoriocity, I can tell it will be another to add to my new all-time favorite audio dramas list!

The story itself is just so unique and follows 2 dynamic main characters (a detective & journalist) that would translate so well onto page.

Even Greater London is a unique steampunk setting written in such a way where you really get a full scope of the world through just the first episode. There’s comedy (which is done amazingly!), mystery, and just a very intricately plotted story and world that, if adapted, could do so well as a book!

So there you have it! Those are just a few of the audio dramas I’d love too see adapted into books!!

What are your thoughts? Would you like to read these if they were adapted into books?

Lets Discuss In The Comments Below! 😄✨🎙📚

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton Review

The Belles by Dhonielle ClaytonThe Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles #1)

Publisher: Disney Hyperion (Freeform Books)

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Pages: 448

Summary: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. 

*Received a finished copy through a giveaway*

*Trigger Warnings: attempted sexual assault*

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Belles is a dazzling, thought-provoking & unique tale that explores the concept of beauty! As a Belle in Orléans, Camellia Beauregard wants nothing more than to secure her spot as the Favorite, but things aren’t all that they seem as this immersive YA Fantasy explores a number of themes and topics from family to beauty, even political intrigue!

The concept of the Belles was so fascinating! They are young women born with the ability to control beauty, which means they use their power to alter not only people’s appearances, but can even heighten or lessen emotions/temperaments (which was fascinating!). There was mythology explored, but also mystery surrounding the Belles and it was presented in such an intriguing way.

From the very beginning, the descriptive and dazzling writing you are immediately transported to the world of Orléans. The detailed way the setting, food, atmosphere, and especially clothing were crafted was just described in such a way that sparkled!

What I loved so much about The Belles was Clayton’s writing-style. Through Camellia’s first-person POV, you not only get such a character-driven perspective, but also one that balances a number of differing themes and topics.

The topic of beauty is really a foundation for this novel. Not only does it play a huge part in the world as the Belles are given the ability to manipulate it, but it also explores it in depth from a number of angles. For instance, what one is willing to do to achieve beauty, the high standards one sets for it on themselves, and so much more!

Camellia, though she has her other Belle sisters by her side, wants nothing more than to be the Favorite (the one Belle chosen by the queen) and is driven to achieve her goal. Her determination to not only reach them, but also prove to herself all that she’s worked for can pay off, was so inspiring. I loved how driven she was to pursue her goals.

Though things don’t go the way she plans at first, she soon finds herself as the new Favorite and knows her dreams have finally come true.

However, the power of the Belles is complex and soon Cameilla sees a side to her world (mainly through the youngest princess Sophia) that the quest for beauty can sometimes come at a cost.

My favorite themes and topics explored was definitely the sisterhood between the Belles and the political intrigue. Clayton shows us through flashbacks of Caemilla’s past & especially through the Belles dynamics in the beginning, just how close they are. Regardless of competition, they all want the best for each other and while it is explored less throughout the middle of the novel, its a clear and present aspect of not only the history of the Belles in Orléans, but also through Cameilla’s POV.

The main characters were all really wonderfully developed and while I felt some characters could have had a bit more page time (like more of the sisters) Clayton really gave such depth to the main cast and while you can see the complexities to their character, their also given the perfect elements of mystery.

Now as to why I took off a star: While I loved the writing and felt the world was presented through such unique descriptions, I couldn’t help but feel the pacing was really slow for me personally, especially throughout the middle of the story. And while it does pick up nearing the end, it took me much longer to read this novel than I had planned.

Regardless, the ending really leaves you wanting more when more secrets are discovered and I cannot wait to read where the story is headed in the sequel!

The Belles is a magical and unique tale that immerses you from the very beginning! The various themes and discussions of beauty become such prevalent aspects of this novel and are explored with such depth. The world, characters, and plot all weave together wonderfully through the descriptive and dazzling writing!

Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones ARC Review

Shadowsong by S. Jae-JonesShadowsong by S. Jae-Jones (Wintersong #2)

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Pages: 384

Summary:Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

*Received ARC through a Goodreads Giveaway!*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Shadowsong is darker, but continues to be as enchanting and captivating as Wintersong! Liesl undergoes a life-changing journey to find herself when the days of the Underground are long gone, but still linger close. Shadowsong is a captivating + magical tale of family, belonging, and acceptance!

I remember reading Wintersong last year and falling absolutely in love with it! Now that I’ve finally finished Shadowsong (in practically 2 sittings), I’m still emotional over the fact that this enchanting + magical duology has come to an end (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`)♥♥*:✧ From Liesel’s journey to the Underground in Wintersong to her new journey in Shadowsong, I loved each and every moment of this amazing duology & am sad it’s over~♥♥

*S. Jae-Jones author note in the beginning, is a must read! Its just honest, powerful and explains the complexities of this novel as it will touch on mental health, self-harm, addiction, and especially explores bipolar disorder (which Liesl has + as does the author)*

Its been 6 months since Liesl left the Underground + the Goblin King behind and we see now how she feels more lost than ever. Above all, its clearly seen and explored how that journey changed her.

Shadowsong starts off with letters that Liesl is writing to her brother Josef and the lyrical writing just pulls you in immediately. She longs to be reunited with her brother and to ensure his safety.

Liesl has slowly found that her passion and connection with music is slowly fraying now that she has come back from the Underground and left the Goblin King.

Darker than Wintersong in different ways, we see how escaping Goblin Grove and the Goblin King changed her and how she sees the world.

I loved how focused this novel was on Liesl and her character. Reading from her intricately constructed POV, its clear she is driven by the love for her family, to better understand who she is and who she wants to become.

I sympathized with her so much, understanding how lost she felt and that sense of uncertainty for where she was headed in life. Knowing the truth behind Josef being a Changeling impacted her in so many ways, from how she viewed her world now that she returned from the Underground to how that drove her to take a long journey to be by her brother’s side. I felt so much for her throughout this novel~

However the very fate of the world could be in danger when the Wild Hunt threatens to break through the thin veil between the mortal and magical world of the Underground.

Through the elegantly constructed POV’s we see how Liesl + Josef’s relationship has changed, but how their deep connection for music still keeps them tethered to each other.

Shadowsong not only explores the deep connection we share with others, but also how those connections forge us in so many ways and how we view ourselves.

We also see more into how the Underground impacts not just Liesl but countless others who’s ancestors had some sort of connection to it (through art, music, etc.). This also introduces new characters, the Prochàzkas who join Liesl on her journey to avoid the Wild Hunt. They were very unique + interesting characters and through them you see how the magic is much more complex and goes beyond than just the Goblin Grove & Liesl in Wintersong!

I also loved that the theme of family and bonds is such a prevalent element of this novel. Its shown not only through the strength of the bond between Josef & Francois, the sisterly bond between Liesl + Käthe (which is explored much more deeply nearing the end!), but also the distant +complex bond between Liesl & Josef.

Liesl and Josef’s dynamic was heavily explored in this novel and it left my heart both full & broken. We see how distant Josef has become and how that begins to impact how they relate to the world. Yet, the bond that still gives them something to hold onto as they both possibly begin to lose their tethers to reality.

S. Jae-Jones writing in this novel is just as captivating & enchanting as in Wintersong! The way she elegantly constructs Liesl’s descriptions or immersive thoughts just leaves you understanding so much about her world and the characters from just a few sentences.

There’s a few POV’s throughout Shadowsong and each and every one I felt, was so important to the story and really helped to build the intricate plot till the very end! There’s a mysterious POV from the past, Liesl’s POV, and Josef’s POV. Each was written so beautifully that I found myself re-reading passages + lines over and over because of how beautifully S. Jae-Jones weaved the words together.

Additionally, the symbolism in this novel is just brilliantly executed which reveals so much yet keeps the perfect hint of mystery about the magical and dark worlds explored both in Wintersong & Shadowsong!

My only minor issue is that I did want a bit more page-time from the Goblin King~😭♥ (Despite the minor issues, overall for me the Wintersong duology is absolutely a 5-star series ❤ <3)

Shadowsong is a dark, but powerful conclusion to the Wintersong duology! Through beautifully constructed and elegant writing, Shadowsong explores themes of family, self-acceptance, and the bonds that make us who we are! This impactful and captivating finale will leave you hooked till the very last page!

Hero At The Fall by Alwyn Hamilton Review

Hero At The Fall by Alwyn HamiltonHero At The Fall by Alwyn Hamilton (Rebel Of The Sands #3)

Publisher: Faber&Faber

Release Date: February 1, 2018

Pages: 506

Summary: When gunslinging Amani Al’Hiza escaped her dead-end town, she never imagined she’d join a revolution, let alone lead one. But after the bloodthirsty Sultan of Miraji imprisoned the Rebel Prince Ahmed in the mythical city of Eremot, she doesn’t have a choice. Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and her untameable Demdji powers, Amani must rally her skeleton crew of rebels for a rescue mission through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn’t exist. As she watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, Amani questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Amani’s journey wraps up in this character-driven, magical conclusion to the Rebel Of The Sands trilogy! World-building, magic, politics and character-development become such central aspects to this novel as we see what happens to the rebellion!

I just can’t believe this trilogy is actually over? I remember reading Rebel Of The Sands as an ARC back in 2016 & was just immersed in the unique world that merged magic, desert, and machines.

No matter how many books I’d read since then, I’ll always have such vivid memories from this series. There’s always just been something about this series that always had me constantly thinking/reminiscing, from Amani’s introduction in Deadshot to gather enough money to leave her town behind in Rebel to the inner politics that had Amani question her new-found place in the rebellion in Traitor!

Hero At The Fall was just such a unique, surprising, & captivating conclusion that I’m not entirely sure how to put my thoughts into words (but I’ll do my best!). *I’ll try to be as vague as possible, however there may be some minor spoilers as I go further into my review, so read w/ caution*

What I loved about this novel so much was that it was much more reminiscent to Rebel Of The Sands. From the numerous journeys across Mirjai, to the politics, adventure, and so much more, I felt this novel really brought back all those elements that reminded me  of the adventures Jin & Amani had in Book 1!

With the rebellion now in the hands of Amani, a few remaining rebels + old friends, she does what she can to ensure the Sultan doesn’t turn all that they’ve worked months for, into nothing. The rebels plan to not only take down the Sultan, but continue pushing on to get Ahmed his rightful place on the throne.

What I loved so much about this conclusion was that we really see Amani’s growth as a character. She constantly remembers her selfish + reckless behavior just a year ago and how her role in this rebellion has allowed her to become a different person. Now focused on much more than just herself, she works with her crew to keep the Sultan from destroying all that they’ve worked for. She considers decisions from so many different angles because she wants to ensure the safety of the people of Miraji and the rebels who’ve already sacrificed so much.

There’s so much depth and growth to Hero At The Fall from the expansion on the politics and world, as Amani tries to keep the rebellion going. We return to old places and explore new ones as along the way as the rebels Amani, Jin, Tamid, Hala, Izz & Maz, & many more as they try to save the crumbling rebellion.

The uncertainties in Hero At The Fall left the adventure filled with mystery, suspense, surprises, depth and so much more that not only builds into something new and unexpected than in previous books, but also manages to weave together all those aspects + threads that were built in Rebel & Traitor!

Without spoiling, what I can say is that Hero At The Fall just doesn’t go the way you think!! Hamilton brilliantly makes Hero At The Fall work for the series & on its own. For me, its seen as such a separate piece from the previous books in the series, while also being a brilliant addition to it (if that makes any sense?).

Sam, though he was only introduced in Traitor To The Throne, easily became one of my favorite characters of the entire series!! ❤ ❤ From his wit & humor, to the mystery surrounding him as a character & the phenomenal growth seen in him in Hero At The Fall was just so spectacularly done. I just…loved Sam so much! His dynamic with Jin, Shazad, & his comedic flirting with Amani + his own growth as being more than a deserter of Albis.~ Hamilton just really created a character in Sam who is so much more than he appears to be.

I also loved the development between Amani & the crew. From Jin to Prince Ahmed, Sam, Shazad, Tamid,  & all the others. Seeing how much their relationships changed and grew in Hero At The Fall really made this book special also considering how much Amani has grown too.

The magic system really becomes such a pivotal aspect to the world and politics that occur as the rebellion builds in Miraji. Hamilton really made it such an integral part to the story than I expected. I felt she easily balanced the politics, magic, character/world-development and all the other elements so well that Hero At The Fall always had something new to discover with each page!

I want to be as vague as I can on the plot to avoid spoilers, but overall keep in mind that Hamilton just continues to build the intriguing plot of Hero all throughout the story and I felt it just being so reminiscent of book 1 really made this conclusion special.

My only issues that kept this from being a full 5 was that, as with previous books, I haven’t always been such a huge fan of the time-jumps. I felt that the time jumps made moments feel rushed and left some character interactions + settings under-developed as the plot went at such a quick pace. Additionally though this is the conclusion, I felt compared to the previous books, at points some aspects of the setting description/atmosphere weren’t present. This made it a bit difficult for me to really picture the settings at times.

I will also note that the ideas of stories and myths, how people remember you and their importance was such a present theme in this novel compared to previous books and Hamilton weaved it in such a way where it becomes such a bigger part as the novel progresses.

Hero At The Fall brings the Rebel Of The Sands trilogy to a satisfying conclusion as you join Amani on one last adventure to fight for the rebellion! With action, adventure, twists + turns, even more depth to the plot, characters, politics, & world, it creates such an immersive and page-turning finale that will leave you hooked till the very end!