Mini Reviews: Three Dark Crowns + Song of the Current

MiniI decided to do something a little different in July and wrote mini reviews for all the books I read. This week I have two mini-reviews for fantasy novels, one of which I enjoyed way more than the other. Covers below are linked to Goodreads.

Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Three Dark Crowns, #1
Pages: 398
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: Septemebr 20th 2016 

      “In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
      But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

      The last queen standing gets the crown.

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“Looking into the mirror, she imagines her body in pieces. Bones. Skin. Not enough blood. It would not take much to break her down to nothing, to strip away scant muscles and pull the organs out to dry in the sun. She wonders often whether her sisters would break down similarly. If underneath their skin they are all the same.”

Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns starts off promising, but its muddle storylines in the end left a sour taste in my mouth. I really appreciate novels that focus on sisters because it’s a great opportunity for an author to explore these complex relationships. Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly what I got with Three Dark Crowns. Every generation triplets are born to the queen and they spend their formidable years apart until their sixteen birthday when they must fight until only one of them is left standing. Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella have been raised apart under the influence of some of the most powerful players on the island of Fennbirn. Though one of them is destined to become queen, who they are and how the navigate the world has been influenced by people who have their own interests in mind. In many ways, these three girls are the least influential players in their own lives. I loved how distinct each sister is from one another and in the beginning, what held my attention was the character study of each. Katharine, though weak in many people’s eyes, is surprisingly ruthless; Arsinoe hides behind a mask of indifference, but has earned the unshakable loyalty of many; Mirabella who is one the most powerful elementals to be born has a very soft heart. About half way through the book, I began to lose interest. At times the novel spent far too much time on its minor characters and although I appreciated this scope, it was at the detriment of its main characters. There was one particular romantic relationship that really derailed this novel for me, both figuratively and literally. I’m still shaking my head at how little preamble there was and wished this novel had focused more on the relationship between the sisters.

Rating: 2/5

★★


Title: Song of the Current
Author: Sarah Tolcser
Series: Song of the Current, #1
Pages: 373
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books
Release Date: June 6th 2017

      “Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.
      Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

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“Once we reached the murky dark of the opposing riverbank, I didn’t stop. I rowed so hard it sent up a swirling wake behind our stern. My heart pounded and my blood rang hot. The rain fell in torrents, trickling down the collar of my jacket and into my sleeves. The knit cap kept my ears warm, but my fingers were clammy and half-numb.”

Sarah Tolcser’s debut novel Song of the Current is a swashbucking adventure where a young woman discovers that fate has more in store for her than she ever imagined. Caro Oresteia grew up on the water. The Cormorant isn’t just a wherry, it’s her home and her destiny to take over for her father as captain one day. Her life takes a unexpected turn when her father is taken captive and Caro agrees to deliver a mysterious box in exchange for his release. Caro’s resolve is tested throughout her journey. She discovers more about herself and what she is willing to sacrifice for the people she cares about. I really enjoyed Caro as a character and loved that so much of the novel focused on who she was, her complicated feelings when it came to her mother and heritage, and the internal struggle she has with accepting her fate. I don’t want to give too much away when it comes to her romantic interest, but I loved that although the two characters immediately clash, they eventually develop a mutual respect for one another and they both challenge the other to see the world differently. I was really impressed by Tolcser’s writing considering this is a debut, her descriptions really brought this one to life. The minor characters were also really interesting and I’m particularly curious to learn more about Caro’s cousin Kenté. Song of the Current is a fun fantasy with a touch of romance and magic that’s sure to intrigue fans of the genre.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Title: Sorcerer to the Crown
Author: Zen Cho
Series: Sorcerer Royal, #1
Pages: 371
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: September 1st 2015

      “At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.
      But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

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“Magic infused the air; her every breath was haloed with green mist. Prunella felt as though she were standing at the brink of a sea of magic, watching a swelling wave gather force before it crashed upon the shore.”

I love it when a book that you haven’t heard a lot about completely surprises you. Zen Cho’s The Sorcerer to the Crown combines magic and historical fiction into a truly entertaining and enjoyable experience. Cho imagines a world where magic freely flows from Fairyland into our realm, but much like any kind of resource, those with power have found a way to regulate its use and keep it from others. In England, those gifted with magical abilities can join the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, but only if they are wealthy enough and male. Magic in England has been on the decline for years and no one is sure why. The Sorcerer Royal is under assault in every direction, both literally and figuratively. Determined to discover the reason behind England’s decrease in magic, Zacharias Wythe’s quest for answers puts him in the path of Prunella Gentleman, a young lady with extraordinary magical ability and a secret that may save England from losing all its magic.

Someone like Zacharias Wythe should never have been allowed to become Sorcerer Royal. Born to slaves, Zacharias’ skin color is enough for many to draw their conclusions about him. As a young boy, he was taken in by Sir Stephan Wythe, former Sorcerer Royal before his death. Zacharias has spent his life as an outsider, excelling at magic despite the skepticism from members of the Society. Despite what his detractors may think of him, Zacharias is a proficient sorcerer. Unlike his colleagues, he does not use his power or influence for any sort of personal gain, but is always thinking of how he can help England and her dwindling source of magic. He’s used to relying on himself and not expecting a lot of help from others. His feelings toward his benefactor and his role as Sorcerer Royal are complicated. There’s affection and gratefulness, but he has also suffered a great deal because of prejudice. I loved that this historical fantasy addressed issues of racism. Often times these books focus on white characters and we get an incomplete version of the time when slavery and colonialism played key roles in how the world operated.

Prunella Gentleman is a character I immediately took to. She’s bright, cheeky, and isn’t one to back down. At Mrs. Daubeney’s School for Gentlewitches, Prunella has taken on many roles. Her father passed away when she was younger and she’s been under the care of Mrs. Daubeney. Mrs. Daubeney was familiar with Prunella’s father, who spent a considerable time in India where he met Prunella’s mother, but save for his name, Prunella knows nothing substantial about either of them. Many do not know what to make of the young lady, who’s brown skin and features speak of foreign origin, but who speaks as well as any English girl. In England, women are not allowed to practice magic, so instead they are taught to suppress their talents. Still, in a school full of magically-inclined young ladies a hex or two is known to be thrown. Unlike Zacharias, Prunella is prone to act before thinking. She is resourceful and strong-willed, but undeniably reckless. Magic has always been a part of who she is, but more than anything, she wishes for some sort of security in her life. In Zacharias, she finds an unlikely friend who understand the misgivings that come with being a part of a world that never wholly accepts you.

Cho’s writing made me fall immediately into this world. I loved how Cho combined magic and politics, showing that power and prejudice can have a huge influence on people’s views of the world. Sorcerer to the Crown is full of complex characters that are easy to fall in love with, an intricate world that addresses both racism and sexism, and is surprisingly amusing on top of all of this.

5/5

★★★★★

Mini Reviews: The Dark Days Pact + Flame in the Mist

MiniWriting slumps are the worst when it comes time to write a review or discussion post. I’ve found a way to work through those slumpy times by utilizing the mini-review. It’s loads less stressful when I know all I got to do is make my brain work for a paragraph or so before allowing it to check out again. This week I’ve got mini-reviews for Alison Goodman’s sequel The Dark Days Pact and Renée Ahdieh’s highly anticipated Flame in the Mist. Covers below are linked to Goodreads.

Title: The Dark Days Pact
Author: Alison Goodman
Series: Lady Helen, #2
Pages: 496
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 31st 2017

      “June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen to spend the summer season in Brighton so that he can train her new Reclaimer powers. However, the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work have taken hold, and his sanity is beginning to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are even higher for Helen as she struggles to become the warrior that everyone expects her to be.

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“She wet her lips, remembering the animal savagery she had felt on the arrival of her full Reclaimer strength. She had lost precious reason, all control, and had tried to kill his lordship. It had been one of the most terrifying moments of her life. One that she did not want to repeat.

Alison Goodman delivers another intriguing novel with The Dark Days Pact, sequel to the first installment in her Lady Helen series. Since learning that the world is a much more dangerous place than she ever imagined, Lady Helen has finally embraced this new world full of demons and accepted that she has a role to play in protecting humanity as a Reclaimer. Lord Carlston is determined to complete her training before the Grand Deceiver makes his or her appearance, but time is running out and Lady Helen isn’t quite sure if she can live up to his expectations. Just like the first novel, with this one I was hoping to read a more action-packed novel. If you don’t go into this one or the previous installment understanding that it’s a slow-paced kind of novel that does eventually culminate in an exciting ending, it might be a really frustrating read. The conflict in this sequel focuses more on the on-going politics within the Dark Days Club. Though its members should be looking out for the good of humanity, their personal biases and motivations pit them against one another. I did find it kind of frustrating that Helen was a bit naive when it came to the machinations of these players, but the storyline is really driven by Helen’s big heart and thus her capacity to be manipulated because of it. The ending for this one knocked the air right out of me–even when I did see a particular twist coming–but I’m eager to read where Lady Helen’s story goes from here.

Rating: 3/5

★★★


Title: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Series: Flame in the Mist, #1
Pages: 393
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 16th 2017

      “The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.
      So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.
      The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.”

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“Mariko bit back a scream as clanking metal and rustling bodies converged in the nearby shadows. Chaos grew with each passing moment. The flames in the norimono leapt higher. Faster. Their heat turned her skin pink. She clasped her fingers tight, smothering her coughs as she shrank farther into the corner.

I had a tremendous amount of expectations going into Renée Ahdieh’s Flame in the Mist, the first installment in her newest series. The Wrath and the Dawn is one of my favorite duologies and I am still struck by the beauty of Ahdieh’s writing. Flame in the Mist unfortunately did not meet my expectations. It’s a novel that I really wanted to like, but I never felt fully immersed in its world. I liked the concept of the story more than it’s execution. I liked the idea of a girl disguising herself as a boy in order to uncover the truth about the failed assassination attempt on her life, but Mariko herself felt like an incomplete character. We’re told countless times that she is odd and clever, but I never felt that the story actually showed these characteristics in action. She infiltrates the Black Clan, a group of thieves who she believes tried to kill her, but she never really has a concrete plan on how to find answers to her questions. I found myself really frustrated while reading this one because a lot of time is spent on character introspection. I wouldn’t mind this normally since inner conflict is a good sign of a character-driven novel which I love, but so many times these characters were reflecting on things I’d already been told and it felt very superfluous. The book has this really interesting magical element that is not explored enough and which I wanted so bad to learn more about. In the end, I never felt an emotional connection to any of the characters which really affected the way I received this book.

Rating: 3/5

★★★

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Title: A Study in Charlotte
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Series: Charlotte Holmes, #1
Pages: 321
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: March 1st 2016

      “The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.
      From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

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“It was like a nightmare. Branches lashed back at me as I ran, leaving stringing welts across my face, my arms. More than once, my foot caught on a tree root and sent me sprawling, and when I picked myself up, they were that much farther away.”

Brittany Cavallaro’s A Study in Charlotte is a book I enjoyed right away, but as the story went on there were far too many issues that I can’t rightly rate it above two starts. As a descendant of the famous Dr. Watson, Jamie has always felt destined to meet his counterpart Charlotte Holmes and when he ends up at the same boarding school, he finally gets an opportunity. As a member of the Holmes family, Charlotte has had a lot of expectations on her shoulders, but she hasn’t always lived up to what’s expected of her. Unlike Jamie, she has no interest in a friendship with him, but when the two of them become the number one suspects in the murder of a fellow student, they must team up and figure out who is trying to frame them.

I really feel like the synopsis for this novel promises more than it could deliver. I was initially thrown for a loop when the book opened with Jamie’s point of view and was disappointed that the novel didn’t feature a dual perspective. I really liked Jamie’s voice and found him to be a really sensitive character. He has a lot of issues with his father remarrying and secretly wants to be a writer. He has a lot anger issues stemming from this and has gotten into physical fights in the past, but instead of this being introduced as a problem he needs to learn to control, it was just a characterization readers are expected to accept and then move on from. Unfortunately because the novel is told only from Jamie’s perspective, we only get to explore Charlotte’s character from his perspective. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but Jamie has a really romanticized view of who Charlotte is even before he meets her that she doesn’t feel quite like a real person at any point.

Charlotte remains as much of a mystery as the one Jamie and her are trying to solve. We learn that she’s been raised to hone her deductive skills, that she has a hard time forming relationships, and that she finds it easier to be logical than sentimental. She’s incredibly intuitive, but also seems rather lonely. The novel introduces Charlotte as a girl with a drug problem. The novel really never gets into the nitty-gritty of her opioid addiction and I found it hard to believe that Charlotte could stave off her serious addiction with just a few cigarettes. I really felt like Charlotte’s character got the short end of the stick in this novel and this really bothered me especially when it seemed like the author wanted to center Jamie’s feelings and his perspective so often.

I haven’t seen a review that addresses how the novel deals with sexual assault and its this aspect of the novel that bothered me the most. While the novel never gets graphic while describing the character’s rape, I felt really uncomfortable with how the author initially centered Jamie’s feelings upon discovering that Charlotte had been raped by another student. The story never shows how Charlotte has been processing this and is only addressed by her head on when Jamie’s and her relationship is propelled into a potentially romantic one. There’s also the fact that the villain deliberately enabled this student to take advantage of Charlotte and I cannot wrap my brain around why the author felt the need to include this particular twist at all. It also really got under my skin when Jamie started to suspect Charlotte had a romantic relationship with an older guy when she was fourteen and his immediate reaction is Charlotte must have been the initiator or that she somehow manipulate this adult because she happens to be extremely intelligent. The emotional maturity of a fourteen-year-old girl is never taken into account in his thought-process and the more I think about it, the angrier I get.

Overall, Brittany Cavallaro’s A Study in Charlotte had potential in terms of its concept. The mystery aspect was interesting and I liked the idea of the descendants of Sherlock and Watson meeting for the first time and being able to forge their own paths, but inadequate characterization as well as the author using an unnecessary plot device made this one a disappointment.

2/5

★★

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Author: Maurene Goo
Series: N/A
Pages: 336
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: May 30th 2017

      “Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

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“But I never lost the belief that you could will something just by sticking to it, by being unwavering. By keeping your eyes on the prize. And by doing that, there was nothing you couldn’t control about your own life.

Maurene Goo’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love is entertaining from start to finish with a lovable protagonist that you can’t help but root for. Goo’s latest novel follows the overachieving Desi Lee as she embarks on a scheme inspired by Korean dramas to snag her first boyfriend. The story opens with Desi explaining how important resolve is in achieving one’s goals. She’s the kind of girl who always has a plan, who sees something she wants and does everything she can to get it. The very definition of an overachiever, there hasn’t been anything that Desi has wanted that she hasn’t achieved by determination and hard work alone. Boys on the other hand are another story. She’s a walking disaster when it comes to her crushes, never being able to go further than the crush stage. When Luca Drakos walks into her life, Desi decides that if she can only apply the same kind of can-do attitude to her love life that she’s used to accomplish her other goals she can finally get her first boyfriend. I Believe in a Thing Called Love finds just the right balance between humor and seriousness, as the heroine’s schemes take on a life of their own and she begins to realize that love is not something that you can make happen just because you will it.

Desi’s ambitions are only overshadowed by her ability to accomplish anything she sets her mind to. Most of her goals are school-related and were created with the ultimate goal in mind: to get into Stanford and follow in her mother’s footsteps. I was immediately taken in by Desi’s voice. She’s enthusiastic, funny, and self-depreciating. When it occurs to her that her father’s K dramas are more than just entertainment, they contain a blueprint for her to finally get one of her crushes to fall for her back, she throws everything she has into a plan and doesn’t look back. Her gung-ho attitude pulled me right into the story where I felt truly invested and despite that gnawing feeling in the back of my head that told me that somewhere along the line, Desi’s plans would have some sort of falling out, I very much wanted her to succeed. Despite the lightness of this contemporary novel, Goo takes time to explore Desi’s motivations. She has this idea in her head that she can make anything happen as long as she is determined enough and has a plan. Since her mother’s passing, Desi has tried her best to never worry her father and in many ways, she feels she is responsible for keeping his head above water. She is used to being in control, has a hard time letting go, and struggles to reconcile the idea that love has to happen in an organic way for it to be real.

Goo does a phenomenal job of flushing out Desi’s love interest Luca. In the beginning, we learn very little about him. He’s just moved to a new school, is artistically inclined, and Desi of course is very much attracted to him. Though Desi tries through a series of steps to put herself in his way to get him to notice her, it’s the unplanned tête-à-têtes that give readers a more insightful look into who Luca is. Unlike Desi, he doesn’t have a close relationship with his father, and his art is incredibly important and personal to him. Though he comes off as laid back at first, he’s hiding a passion that rivals Desi’s. It was hard not to smile with Desi coming up with foolish scheme after foolish scheme and Luca being none the wiser. That being said, I’m glad Goo acknowledged that what Desi was doing could be considered manipulation. This guilt kept eating away at Desi as she got to know Luca and even more so when she discovered he has a lot of trust issues.

I loved the minor characters in this novel as well. Desi’s two best friends, Wes and Fiona, were really important people in her life and I love that they all had distinct personalities. Fiona in particular was often the voice of reason, but still supported her friend. Of the minor characters, no one compares to Desi’s father. One of the sweetest literary fathers I’ve ever come across, Desi’s dad stole my heart in this one. Hardworking, loving, and understanding, Desi could not have had a better father to get her through the years without her mother.

If you’re looking for a cute summer read, I Believe in a Thing Called Love is the perfect book to unwind with. Full of swoony and laugh-out-loud moments, Maurene Goo has put together a novel that had my face aching from smiling too much and is one I’d recommend to all contemporary fans.

4/5

★★★★

Mini Reviews: The Upside of Unrequited + The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

MiniTime for another round of mini-reviews. If you ever have trouble writing reviews, I’d recommend writing a couple of mini-reviews throughout the month. I always have those days when writing a full review feels impossible, so having the mini-review in my back pocket is always helpful. Today, I’m sharing a few thoughts on Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited and N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Hope you enjoy. Also, I apologize for one of these mini-reviews being less mini than I originally intended. Whoops. Covers below are linked to Goodreads.

Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Series: N/A
Pages: 336
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release Date: April 11th 2017 

      “Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
      Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

      There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.
      Right?”

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“I’ve never told anyone this—not my moms, not even Cassie—but that’s the thing I’m most afraid of. Not mattering. Existing in a world that doesn’t care who I am.”

I’m one of the few readers left who hasn’t picked up Becky Albertalli’s Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I do plan to read it this summer, but her most recent work The Upside of Unrequited has received so much praise, in a moment of weakness, I ended up checking it out from the library. Molly Peskin-Suso has never been in a relationship. Known for her constant crushes, Molly is used to being on the fringes, of enjoying the feeling of having a crush, but never actually doing anything about it. When her twin sister Cassie falls hard for her first girlfriend Mina, Molly is unexpectedly pulled into a scheme to get her her first boyfriend. While the novel focuses on Molly’s love life (or lack thereof), I think the most important relationship in the novel is Molly’s bond with her sister. When Cassie begins dating Mina, Molly feels her twin pulling away and moving on without her. Molly has a lot of insecurities that most often manifest themselves in her fear of rejection. It isn’t easy for Molly to overcome these insecurities and I think this struggle is what makes her really relatable. Some of her self-esteem issues stem from being fat and feeling judged by other people based solely on this, but I got the feeling that Molly’s thoughts of inadequacy had more to do with always having her sister to compare herself to, and Cassie has always been more outgoing and experienced than her twin. Molly is really honest about her feelings regarding her sister and her new relationship. Sometimes it’s the more petty feelings that get the better of her, but their bond is so important to each of them that despite all the bumps in the road, they find a way to forgive one another. I’m a little partial to nerdy love interests, so Reid’s character was one I took to very quickly. The rapport between Reid and Molly was really sweet. I think I started shipping them from their very first interaction. I also want to mention that I got a lot of Lara Jean vibes from Molly. They’re both hopeless romantics who start off never dreaming of vocalizing their feelings to their crushes.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★


Title: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Series: Inheritance Trilogy, #1
Pages: 425
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: October 1st 2010

      “Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history.
       With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate – and gods and mortals – are bound inseparably together.

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“Hunched around the pike and clutching its shaft, the man’s body shivered even harder than before. Belatedly I realized that some other force besides his cry shook him, as his chest began to glow red-hot around the pike’s tip. Smoke rose from his sleeves, his collar, his mouth and nose. His eyes were the worst of it, because he was aware. He knew what was happening to him, knew it and despaired, and that, too, was part of his suffering.”

If I had to describe N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms in one word it would be epic. Yeine is a character that I was immediately drawn to. She comes from a matriarchal society (which I really wanted to know more about) and is pulled into this game of musical heirs by her grandfather. Dekarta Arameri disowned his daughter the moment she chose to marry a Darre and Yeine is a constant reminder of this betrayal. Either Yeine or one of her cousins, Scimina and Relad, will inherit the throne and death surely awaits those who aren’t successful. Scimina is ferocious, she has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to be Dekarta’s successor and neither her brother nor her newly arrived cousin will stand in her way. We don’t learn much about Relad, but he isn’t above making deals under the table to insure his survival. Just as important as the human players in this story are the mercurial gods who once ruled the world with astounding power, but who have now been imprisoned by one of their own. Caged in human form by day and forced to obey the whims of the ruling Arameri family, the Enefadeh can be either friend or foe to Yeine, but they are also keeping close a secret that will shake the very foundation of Yeine’s world. Among these is the dangerous, yet intriguing Nahadoth, who Yeine cannot help but be drawn to. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms masterfully weaves issues of colonialism, racism, and political intrigue into a fantasy setting that excites the imagination with every page turned.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★