The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

Series: Standalone

Author: Christina Henry

Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Horror

Date Published: June 18th 2019

Page Count: 363

Source: NewSouthBooks

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary

From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a postapocalyptic take on the perennial classic “Little Red Riding Hood”…about a woman who isn’t as defenseless as she seems. It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago. There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined. Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods….

The review

Cover Design ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I really loved the cover. I love how inspired it was by Red riding hood and I certainly love the other cover just as much.

Characters ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Red; she was pretty much prepared for just about anything. Any possible outcome, she would have already thought of it. Any possible explanation, she would have researched it. She was ultimately a ‘know-it-all’ who seemed to look down upon those who weren’t prepared. At times this could be incredibly irritating but overall, I didn’t hate her character, I actually enjoyed myself being inside her mind. It was interesting and surprisingly chaotic at times.

The side characters were also well presented. Although some of them I found rather annoying, the ones I really did enjoy I couldn’t get enough of.

Plot ⭐⭐⭐

As soon as the story started, you were thrown into a wild ride, it was fast-paced and I wasn’t mad at it for being so. It definitely wasn’t as gruesome as the prompt makes it out to be, but there are certainly parts where it does live up to some expectations.

The story itself, this was where my real issues lay and why I couldn’t give it more. I wanted more. When I finished, all I thought was “is that it?”. I wasn’t satisfied by the ending. It felt unfinished and I needed that little extra to be content. Things I wanted to understand were left unexplained. Give me answers!

Writing Style ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I enjoyed the writing style. It wasn’t too over descriptive and it captivated my attention. The narration was amongst my favourite parts of the book and is the reason why I kept reading on, I binged this book in a few days.

Overall Summary⭐⭐⭐

Overall, It was an average story with an average ending. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad. It was good. I am curious to read more from the author in the future, dark retellings are my kind of thing!

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

Series: Standalone

Author: Michelle Paver

Genres: Historical Fiction, Gothic

Date Published: 11 April 2019

Page Count: 304

Source: Harper Collins NZ

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary

1906: A large manor house, Wake’s End, sits on the edge of a bleak Fen, just outside the town of Wakenhyrst. It is the home of Edmund Stearn and his family – a historian, scholar and land-owner, he’s an upstanding member of the local community. But all is not well at Wake’s End. Edmund dominates his family tyrannically, in particular daughter Maud. When Maud’s mother dies in childbirth and she’s left alone with her strict, disciplinarian father, Maud’s isolation drives her to her father’s study, where she happens upon his diary. During a walk through the local church yard, Edmund spots an eye in the undergrowth. His terror is only briefly abated when he discovers its actually a painting, a ‘doom’, taken from the church. It’s horrifying in its depiction of hell, and Edmund wants nothing more to do with it despite his historical significance. But the doom keeps returning to his mind. The stench of the Fen permeates the house, even with the windows closed. And when he lies awake at night, he hears a scratching sound – like claws on the wooden floor… Wakenhyrst is a terrifying ghost story, an atmospheric slice of gothic, a brilliant exploration of the boundaries between the real and the supernatural, and a descent into the mind of a psychopath.

The review

Cover Design ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have nothing bad to say about the cover. It was interesting and it certainly fit the style of the tone and plot of the book. I loved the colour that was chosen as the background, a very off white paper which clearly had aged.

Characters ⭐⭐⭐

At times I enjoyed the characters and at other times I felt like they could have been more. The main characters, Maud and her father, were interesting but the side characters did not create that same intrigue.

Plot ⭐⭐⭐

The plot was intriguing and the mystery was so interesting and captivating, especially since the way it was being told the events had already happened. I was a little shocked at the misogyny presented in the book, while it was realistic in that particular era, I still found myself quite surprised about it. It made me think about how a century can change so many things and perspectives.

The plot progression felt a little slow, I wanted to know more about what was going on and I felt like I wasn’t being given what I wanted to know at the right pace.

The ending for me was a bit of a let down, I felt like I still had so many questions and the overall ending was rather unsatisfying. I wanted more and I felt like there could have been much more things added to create a much more satisfying ending.

Writing Style ⭐⭐⭐⭐

At the beginning, I was a little put off by the writing style but as the story progressed, I found myself rather enjoying the writing. I am not used to reading stories from a 1900’s style era, so I needed my mind to adjust to the style. Once my mind adjusted, I found myself really loving it. The atmospheric and eerie tone really struck me and captivated me.

Overall Summary⭐⭐⭐

An atmospheric and eerie read that sparks curiosity. When the story hit its peak, I felt myself getting more into the story every page I turned. While I felt the story lacked in many things, it also held my interest throughout with an interesting mystery and plot which left me wanting more and more. Although the ending was a little underwhelming, it was enjoyable.

Kingsbane by Claire Legrand

“We are more than what’s been done to us. We are more then our anger.” 

– Claire Legrand

Series: Empirium #2

Author: Claire Legrand

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Date Published: 21 May 2019

Page Count: 576

Source: New South Books

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary

In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller Furyborn, two queens, separated by a thousand years, connected by secrets and lies, must continue their fight amid deadly plots and unthinkable betrayals that will test their strength—and their hearts. Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien—but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist. Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity’s long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption—fear of becoming another Rielle—keeps Eliana’s power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted—by embracing her mother’s power, or rejecting it forever.

The review

What an epic sequel. This may even be the best sequel I have ever read. My expectations were high as I adored Furyborn, but this was so much more.

Cover Design ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I appreciate the aesthetic of these covers. They are stunning and radiate personality in the book. The two books look absolutely amazing together and I can’t wait to see the third cover added to my collection.

Characters ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Because I want to keep this review spoiler free, I’m not going to go in depth in the characters. The character development I witnessed in this book was an experience itself, specifically Eliana and Rielle. I am so involved in their arcs that they are almost my children. Furyborn, I favoured one over the other, but in Kingsbane I was able to grasp a love towards both of them. Although we know the outcome of how their characters are ultimately going to go and what role they will play in the coming story, the journey is what makes it.

Alongside this, every single side character felt like they belonged in the story. I love them all even if not all of them a good.

Plot ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Continuing on from Furyborn, the world felt alive. I want to go swimming in the world-building and I would be perfectly okay with drowning in it. The world of the Empirium is so enticing and I just want to keep learning about it.

I enjoyed the overall plot in this even more so than the first book. Something interesting was always happening and with the dual timeline, I was reading to different stories which coincided with one another fluently.

But the cliffhanger…. HOW COULD YOU?

Writing Style ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The writing style stayed consistent with the last one. It was simple, yet effective.

Overall Summary⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What a way to continue a series! I am so interested to see how it will conclude and with this, my expectations are set to impossible standards.

Thank you to New South Books for sending me a copy. All opinions are my own.

Everything is F*cked by Mark Manson

Series: Standalone

Author: Mark Manson

Genres: Non-fiction, Self Help, Psychology

Date Published: May 14th 2019

Page Count: 288

Source: Harper Collins NZ

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Goodreads Summary

We live in an interesting time. Materially, everything is the best it’s ever been—we are freer, healthier and wealthier than any people in human history. Yet, somehow everything seems to be irreparably and horribly f*cked—the planet is warming, governments are failing, economies are collapsing, and everyone is perpetually offended on Twitter. At this moment in history, when we have access to technology, education and communication our ancestors couldn’t even dream of, so many of us come back to an overriding feeling of hopelessness.

Now, in Everthing Is F*cked, Manson turns his gaze from the inevitable flaws within each individual self to the endless calamities taking place in the world around us. Drawing from the pool of psychological research on these topics, as well as the timeless wisdom of philosophers such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, he dissects religion and politics and the uncomfortable ways they have come to resemble one another. He looks at our relationships with money, entertainment and the internet, and how too much of a good thing can psychologically eat us alive. He openly defies our definitions of faith, happiness, freedom—and even of hope itself.

With his usual mix of erudition and where-the-f*ck-did-that-come-from humor, Manson takes us by the collar and challenges us to be more honest with ourselves and connected with the world in ways we probably haven’t considered before. It’s another counterintuitive romp through the pain in our hearts and the stress of our soul. One of the great modern writers has produced another book that will set the agenda for years to come.

The review

This was my very first splurge into the massive genre that is Non-fiction, and right into the depths I went. I’m not going to tell you what this book is about, because I think you should read it for yourself. I found myself thinking and wondering more than I had in a long while. Any book that does that is already successful in my eyes.

Writing Style ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The writing style was amongst my favourite aspects of this book. If I were to describe it, I would say it be ‘academic informal’. While it took a rather academic approach, subtle acts of humour was incorporated throughout which I wasn’t mad at. It gave the book a more lighthearted feel despite the book consisting of some rather heavy topics.

Overall Summary⭐⭐⭐⭐

With a unique voice, Manson explained and expressed his thoughts well. The chapters occasionally felt like they lacked connection with one another, especially with the chosen layout Mason decided to approach it with. However, the ideas flowed well and each one held importance of what it added to the book. I think there is something for anyone in this book, whether it be a small sentence or the entire argument at hand. Whether you enjoy Manson’s work or not. The ideas and issues that are brought up in Everything is f*cked are heavy and explained well. The ending especially left me with something to think about for a long time.

The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver

Series: Colter Shaw #1

Author: Jeffery Deaver

Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction

Date Published: May 14th 2019

Page Count: 512

Source: Harper Collins NZ

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

Goodreads Summary

From the bestselling and award-winning master of suspense, the first novel in a thrilling new series! Colter Shaw is an itinerate “reward-seeker,” traveling the country to help police solve crimes and private citizens locate missing persons. When he learns of a reward for a missing college student in Silicon Valley, he takes the job. The investigation quickly thrusts him into the dark heart of Silicon Valley and the cutthroat billion-dollar video gaming industry–and then a second kidnapping happens…and this victim turns up dead. The clues soon point to one video game, The Never Game, in which the player has to survive after being left abandoned. Is a madman bringing that game to life? If so, Shaw has to stop him before he strikes again…and before he figures out that Shaw is on his trail.It’s t

The review

Cover Design ⭐⭐⭐

I’ve never been a fan of covers of thrillers and mystery novels and this one is no exception. I do love how bold and bright the title is, but that’s about all I like. It’s not a bad cover it’s just not my personal taste.

Characters ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Okay. SO, I loved every character in this book. There was not a single one I disliked. They all felt like they belonged in the story while still feeling 100% real outside of the story. I’m not going to go into any of the side characters but I will go into the main character, and the star of the book in my eyes.

I found myself invested in Colter Shaw from the very start. As the novel progresses, we see parts of who he is in both the past and the present which keeps you engaged with him and his journey throughout the story. His investigation skills are so interesting to read about, specifically the way he uses percentages which I found to be very unique. He really completed the story and brought it all together.

Plot ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The plot was executed with exceptional precision. I was mislead, I was tricked, I was curious. What more could you possibly ask for in a mystery thriller?

I enjoyed the incorporation of the gaming aspect in the book despite not being a gamer much myself. It gave an interesting tinge of character to the story. I loved the overall plot, and I loved the mystery.

Writing Style ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Although the writing style was nothing out of the ordinary, it worked. And if it works, why change it? I was invested in the story from the beginning to the end, the writing flowed very well which made it easy to read. I, myself, read it in a day. It is written in third person perspective which I felt was very fitting to the kind of story being told.

Overall Summary⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

While this most certainly was not my genre of choice, this book really opened my eyes to what the genre has to offer. With intricately developed characters, a captivating plot to entice you to the end and a beautiful writing style to keep you reading on, this book took me by surprise.

How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

Series: Standalone

Author: Kathleen Glasgow

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Date Published: April 9th 2019

Page Count: 432

Source: Harper Collins NZ

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary

It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart. Here is what happens when your mother dies. That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone. Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.

The review

Cover Design ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I gave it an extra star because it is shimmery and shimmery covers always thrive. I do prefer the other cover not shown in this post better, however, this cover was also beautiful. It was intriguing enough to want to pick up and just really screamed out “READ ME” because of how mysterious it was.

Characters ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I felt each character to be completely different from the next. There was a mystery and complexity to almost every character in the story, whether they played a major or minor part. There was only one true main character but there were a couple other I felt were important in the story.

Tiger was our main character. We see her journey through the grief of her losing her only family member she’s ever known and we see her change in many ways.

Plot ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The plot was what completed the book for me. The story was a work of art and even though I had never felt or had to experience what Tiger went through, I felt empathy towards her. I just kept wanting to read more and more no matter how tragic her story got. I loved the truth behind the story, it revealed a truth about grief that you never really get over it. It is no simple thing, grief is extremely complex and no two people will feel and grieve exactly alike.

It even brings to light what it’s like to be a foster child, which I feel is not written about enough. There is little stories which I have read in my entire life that actually pushes on this topic.

Writing Style ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book was perfectly written for what it was expressing and I have nothing to fault about it. It was written in the first person perspective of ‘Tiger’ and had occasional insights of second person which I really loved.

Overall Summary⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have never experienced the grief of losing someone I loved dearly, but through tiger’s journey, I felt and I empathised. This book will break your heart over and over as you witness the journey of a sixteen year old losing her mother and only known family member. The plot moves so suddenly and which allowed me to realise how it really is to have a mother one moment, and losing her and becoming an orphan the next. We see a strong cast of characters who have both mystery and tragedy and there is so much to discover in this tragic story. A must read for anybody, whether they have experienced grief or not.

The Beauty of the Wolf by Wray Delaney

“For he is the beauty, and I be the beast.” 

– Nadine Brandes

Series: Standalone

Author: Wray Delaney

Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Fiction

Date Published: February 21st

Page Count: 384

Source: Harper Collins NZ

My rating: ⭐⭐.5

Goodreads Summary

What some might call beauty, I find monstrous’ In the age of the Faerie Queene, Elizabeth I, Lord Francis Rodermere starts to lay waste to a forest. Furious, the sorceress who dwells there scrawls a curse into the bark of the first oak he fells: A faerie boy will be born to you whose beauty will be your death. Ten years later, Lord Rodermere’s son, Beau is born – and all who encounter him are struck by his great beauty. Meanwhile, many miles away in a London alchemist’s cellar lives Randa – a beast deemed too monstrous to see the light of day. And so begins a timeless tale of love, tragedy and revenge… A stunning retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

The review

Cover Design ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The cover was undoubtedly beautiful however I felt it lacked personality and identification to what the story was about. The colours were also beautiful and the inclusion of trees and vines looked beautiful. I did find the title to hold little significance to the story and think it could have been so much better.

Characters ⭐⭐

The characters for me were a massive let down. I felt like they were flat and overall held little to no personality and complexity. The character development was almost non-existent to me.

Randa, the beast, came across as extremely repetitive about the fact she was a beast and nobody loved her and whatnot that she just didn’t feel real.

Beau, the beauty, was a male who fell into his father’s cruelty and believed that his beauty was ‘monstrous’. Much like Randa, he was basically defined as being beautiful and there really wasn’t much else to him.

Plot ⭐⭐

The plot was mostly based around the curse upon Beau’s father, or I believe that is what it was meant to be. I’m not entirely sure because the plot was all over the place and too many thinks were happening at once that I could not follow it. It was an amazing concept but nothing more than that at this point. I was mostly bored or confused the entire book, I didn’t find myself caring at all about the outcome or the characters, however, towards the end I did see an improvement to the plot where it all became a little more clear.

Writing Style ⭐⭐

I was very unsure and confused with the writing style. It definitely was a peculiar taste in writing and unfortunately it was not for me. I felt like the writer was more so wanting to use pretty and enticing words and in the process the entire story lost its spark. I found myself having to go back and reread many paragraphs again because I just couldn’t follow it as I should have been able to. There was so much potential, if it had been written more clearly it could have been an amazing and enjoyable story.

There was odd perspective shifts, the book began in third person which I found to be very hard to understand and then gradually changed to a dual perspective style between the ‘beauty’ and the ‘beast’. It was very off putting and it felt like the writer was unsure of which perspective to choose so instead of choosing, just decided on both. The sorceress was even thrown in at some points which was most certainly unnecessary and could have been incorporated in a much better manner. At times, some of the sentence didn’t include commas where they were supposed to either which made it even more difficult to read.

Overall Summary⭐⭐

I was anticipating this read, the cover enticed me immediately but unfortunately the inside did not deliver. Every character fell flat to me and the plot seemed to be all over the place and I didn’t know which part of it to actually follow. The writing style was the major let down. There was weird perspective changes which felt as though the author was more indecisive than strategically choosing a perspective. It went from third person to switching at random times between the beauty, beast and the sorceress. I wished I could have enjoyed this book and I really tried to, but it just didn’t happen.

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

“It wasn’t freedom she wanted. It was belief in something—a prize big enough to run for and to fight for and to keep on reaching toward no matter what.” 

– Susan Dennard

Series: The Witchlands #1

Author: Susan Dennard

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Date Published: January 5th 2016

Page Count: 415

Source: Own copy

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands. Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home. Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself. In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch. 

The review

Cover Design ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Cover designs with artwork featuring one or more characters always pull me in, this one was no difference. I loved the colour choice and font which worked together and drew me in. It stayed very true to the book and fit with the theme well.

Characters ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A strong set of characters was the highlight of this book for me, although the world building was also another. I felt myself rooting for every single character who we follow and each one held so much personality and I was able to resonate with each of them.

Safiya was a headstrong, bold and very self driven character. I loved the bond which her and Iseult had, you don’t often see strong female friendships in YA in my experience.

Iseult was my favourite character in the book. I felt myself drawn to her the most, she had a very calm, reserved nature which seemed to go alongside Safi’s bold and reckless nature.

Aeduan was a rather interesting one for me. I felt myself wanting to understand him and his powers, however, I feel like you need to read more of the series to really get an understanding. I love the development between him and Iseult, I would really love to see them bloom together.

Merik was loyal bound to his country and expressed so much dedication, I can’t imagine who wouldn’t admire him.

Plot ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Although confusing some of the time, I adored the plot and world-building this book had to offer. For the first 100 or so pages I was overwhelmed by all the place names, people names, and types of witches, however, given it is a very complex world It didn’t bother me too much and I knew I just needed to get a feel of the world for a bit.

I loved each little twist and turn in the story and loved learning about each witch type and what they are able to do. Although, I was a little underwhelmed with the plot in the first half of the book, it really picked itself up in the second half and I found myself anticipating the next thing.

Writing Style ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I had no problem with the writing style. It fitted the story well and wasn’t difficult to read.

Overall Summary⭐⭐⭐⭐

Overall, it was an amazing and complex world with much to offer. I found each and every one of the characters to be interesting, and each one had a character development I really enjoyed reading about. The plot felt a little flat in the beginning but by the end of the book I was eating away at it and I just wanted more. I can’t wait to pick up the next book when I can get my hands on it.

Romanov by Nadine Brandes

“The bond of our hearts spans miles, memory, and time.” 

– Nadine Brandes

Series: Standalone

Author: Nadine Brandes

Genres: Historical fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy

Date Published: Expected May 7th 2019

Page Count: 352

Source: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary

The history books say I died. They don’t know the half of it. Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.
Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .
That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

The review

Cover Design ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The cover design was undoubtedly beautiful. It had a Russian undertone in the design and expressed a certain level of Royalty. It had a relevance to the story itself, however, you would not be able to establish that it was an Anastasia retelling just from the cover.

Characters ⭐⭐⭐⭐N

Immediately, Nastya (Anastasia) is recognised as the main character in the story. She was a head-strong lady with a slight taste for mischief and a quick and well thought plan maker. I found an instant liking for her from the first chapter and that did not fall as I got deeper into the story.

I recognised Zash as another important character. I found him to be a little underdeveloped and maybe even a little bland. There wasn’t much to his personality, however, his backstory was developed quite well. I found him to be quite representative of many soldiers which were in that era.

Although there were other minor characters I could go into, Alexei was the next most important in the story. I found him to be my favourite and loved the thought put into him. He was well-written and had such an adorable personality, especially with his age.

Plot ⭐⭐⭐⭐

For me, the plot was the star of the novel. I loved how there was both an inclusion of real life events and fictional events taking place which really brought depth to the story. Occasionally the plot-twists seemed to be a little bizarre but overall, I really enjoyed the story and how it all played out. I was not familiar with the story beforehand and I am glad that this novel brought me a sense of familiarity to it.

I adored the magical aspect to it. I loved how it wasn’t just touched lightly, we got a certain understanding on how the magic worked and what it was like but still leaving a certain mystery to it.

Writing Style ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I don’t have much to comment with the writing style. I loved it. It was relevant to the era and I did not find it too difficult to read. It was written in the first person view of Nastya which I think was perfect for this kind of story. I loved delving into her mind and the writing style amplified her beautifully.

Overall Summary⭐⭐⭐⭐

My first time delving into the story of Anastasia I was not disappointed. This book was beautifully written in the perspective of Anastasia (Nastya) which was perfectly fitting and the writing style was great for the era it was associated with. The realism and historical aspect was balanced perfectly with the fictional side. Every character had something to offer to the story and I adored the incorporation of magic which enhanced this book and brought so much more mystery. The plot was well-done and I can’t really fault it too much. Overall, I am happy I got to read this and would love to delve into the writing of Nadine Brandes again.

Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

“Work hard. Mischief harder”

– Evelyn Skye

Series: Circle of Shadows #1

Author: Evelyn Skye

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Date Published: 22 January 2019

Page Count: 544

Source: Harper Collins AU via Netgalley

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Summary

A thrilling new fantasy series full of magic and betrayal—from Evelyn Skye, New York Times bestselling author of the Crown’s Game series. Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona. As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark.
So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved. Love, spies, and adventure abound as Sora and Daemon unravel a complex web of magic and secrets that might tear them—and the entire kingdom—apart forever.

The review

Cover Design ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

I absolutely loved the cover design on this book. It’s gorgeous and sets the tone of the story extremely well. The contrast of colours is gorgeous and the font used on the title is very unique which I also loved.

Characters ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sora/Spirit was the first character we really get to meet. Immediately I was able to distinguish that she was much the bold, strong female type. Although this is very common, especially in YA fantasy, I actually found myself loving her and not annoying at all.

We were then introduced to Daemon/Wolf, whom I found myself adoring. He was such an interesting character and his background story is one of the more unique I have ever come across.

Plot ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I found myself delving straight into this book and immediately finding a liking to the story. I loved the world and I loved the slight asian, potentially Japanese, inspiration which I believe I picked up on. The world building was done so well and I found myself intrigued by the magic system constantly.

As for the plot, it was a little boring at times, it seemed full of common tropes but I am aware it’s very difficult to avoid this. I would have loved some more action and some more plot twists but most of the action was savoured to the end, and even that was a little underwhelming. Despite this, I am still looking forward to the sequel and I really want to know how the story continues.

Writing Style ⭐⭐⭐⭐

There wasn’t much to fault in terms on how it was written. I loved it from start to finish. It was written in a third person style with the tendency to focus on one person at a time. I quite enjoyed reading this style as I could get a sense of a different perspectives but I was still able to empathise very well with the characters and follow the story both physically and emotionally.

Overall Summary⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book from the inside out. It had so much cultural depth to it and there was so much thought gone into the world itself. The characters were all so well done and I found myself drawn to almost all of them in one way or another, the background on a few characters was so unique. The plot definitely got a little boring at times and fell a bit short on my expectations, but despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The writing style was faultless and I loved the way it followed the different perspectives but in third person. Overall, this was a beautiful read and I can’t wait for the sequel.