literaryweaponry's reviews
270 reviews

Boyfriend Material, by Alexis Hall

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fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

I honestly don’t have a lot to say about this book. Contemporary romance usually isn’t my thing but I wanted something fluffy as I’ve been in a bad brain space. 

The romance itself in this book is nice. It isn’t perfect and there are issues and troubles and drama at every turn. I appreciated that aspect. In so many adult romance novels there is the slow start, falling in love, a Big Thing that causes a problem, and then everything is reconciled. This felt more like a real relationship with little troubles peppered throughout. 

My problem was with the main character, Luc, himself. His self-loathing and self-destructive behavior took on a level I’ve only seen in soap operas. It made him feel like little more than a selfish child which, honestly, may have been the point but that doesn’t make it grind my gears any less. Actually, both Luc and Oliver just felt like excessively dramatic caricatures of their respective archetypes. 

Overall, I did appreciate the character development in the end and I really enjoyed Luc’s dysfunctional friend-group. I was looking for a bit of fluffy escapism and this book provided exactly that.

A Marvellous Light, by Freya Marske

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adventurous mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

Did I know what I was getting into when I picked up this book? No, absolutely not. I am not ashamed to admit that I wanted to read this for the cover and the cover alone. 

However, I am very happy to say that it is fabulous!

The atmosphere of this story is a thing of beauty. You constantly feel just slightly on edge waiting to see what happens with the mystery which adds greatly to the overall ambience. I love the mystery and pondering “who is the big bad in the shadows?” aspect. You know there is a villainous villain waiting in the wings, letting things unfold, and with every page you wonder, “Is this it? Are they going to show themselves now?” The anticipation is exciting yet maddening!

While the mystery plot is the main driving force of this book, the romance of this story is fantastic. When I picked the book up, I was actually unaware of the gay relationship in the plot. What an absolute delight to discover! Edwin is so…closed off. He is unwilling to open up to other people and lives a life of relative solitude with his books. Robin, on the other hand, is boisterous and outgoing. There isn’t a conversation he can’t contribute to nor a person he can’t charm. Together, they are simply wonderful. It is one of the best grumpy/sunshine parings I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. 

Overall, I loved this book. The mystery drew me in, the magical aspects felt very real and present, and the romance was top tier. I’m so very glad I stumbled across this and can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

The War of Two Queens, by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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adventurous emotional medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

This review will contain spoilers for both this book and the previous books in the series.

Up until this point, the second book in the series, A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire, was my favorite book in the series. However, I'm fairly sure that The War of Two Queens has nudged it out. Probably. I'm still pondering but, ya'll, it's close!

Can we please start with Poppy's character growth because that was beautiful. In the third book I had issues with her because she was growing and changing and I just didn't feel like her emotional and cognitive responses to her discoveries and changes tracked with that growth. They felt disconnected and forced. In this book, I did not find that issue. She has settled more comfortably into her power and isn't afraid to use it. She isn't perfect, she still makes mistakes, she still gets emotional, but now those responses seem more genuine and in line with her character arc. I appreciated her growth as well as her mistakes as they made her feel like a more well rounded character. This is Poppy becoming comfortable with herself and confident in her choices.

If you read the third book (if you didn't I don't understand why you are reading this review but welcome), you will know that Cas was taken captive by the Blood Queen at the end of the book. Going into this one, he is still there and, actually, his time in captivity (of course they free him) was the most interesting he has been in two books. His suffering gave us new insight into his character, how far he can be pushed, his breaking point, and how much fight he has in him. Admittedly, when he is reunited with Poppy his character becomes less interesting because boy that man is absolutely obsessed with his wife but I'm not going to hold that against him too much. She is pretty nifty. I do miss the Cas we got to know in Blood and Ash and Flesh and Fire, though. 

Now, if you read my review of the third book in this series I complained at no end how wishy-washy and limp the male characters were written. It was as if their personalities had been sucked dry, especially Kieran. That issue was mostly addressed in this book as he was given a new focus while maintaining the snarky demeanor he had initially been written with. Kieran is brave, strong, intelligent, and loyal. Add that to his sparks of humor and he is downright irresistible. 

If I had any complaint, and this is just me nitpicking, it is that the support characters we have grown to love weren't given much in the way of page time. Netta is mentioned frequently but she is actually only on page herself for a couple of paragraphs which is tragic. You will also remember Delano who is in this book more often but mostly in Wolven form so you don't really get into his head or personality much. 

There is a lot I could say about this book if I allowed myself to continue rambling. But, in a nutshell, I loved it. I certainly went in to this one with some trepidation as I did not enjoy the third book but I got sucked into this story quickly and quite literally forgot to eat or do pretty much anything else until I turned that last page. As a side note, if you haven't read the first book of the companion series, A Shadow in the Ember, I would highly recommend it before diving into this one. There are many plot and character tie-ins that are relevant. I cannot wait to read the next book in this series!
Only a Monster, by Vanessa Len

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medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

1.5

1.5

Ya'll, this book was bad. I'm not going to mince words about it. The more I think about it the more reasons I find to dislike it. Is this going to be a rant review? I feel like it is going to be a rant review.

First of all, let's talk about Joan, our lead female. If you see in the synopsis of this book, she is described as "not the hero." Okay, I dig that, but it does give you certain expectations. None of those expectations added up to the Joan that was delivered to us. No, this Joan was a whiny, dramatic, rude, self absorbed, want-to-do-gooder. She considered no one's feelings but her own and spent most of the book having epic, dramatic, shouting breakdowns about not being able to do the good-girl option in situations. And yet, for some reason, two of the male characters liked her. I can't for the life of me fathom why. I would have dropped her so fast and laughed on my way out. She would have cried and screamed about it because that just seems like her normal reaction to any situation that isn't sunshine and roses.

Secondly, can we discuss the lack of resolution? Yes, I understand that this is the first book in a trilogy, however, I very much feel that this was written as a standalone and then pushed into a trilogy after the publisher acquired it. The ending of this book is very much written in a "this is it, bye" kind of way which lead me to some very bitter feelings. There are loose ends galore hanging around. There is no emotional resolution to the trauma and you are left feeling highly dissatisfied at the conclusion. There are plot monkeys just jumping around willy-nilly all over the place and none of them are addressed.

Next, can we please talk about the romanticized abuse here because I would love to touch on that. Joan's Love Interest #1 is played off as Joan's true love and how the entire world will re-write itself to make sure these two people get together. Okay, but why? He is emotionally and psychologically abusive every step of the way. Why is abuse so often written off as romantic in YA novels? "I hurt you because I love you but I've learned my lesson, please come here so I can hurt you some more while gaslighting you into thinking I'm not." No. Stop this nonsense. He literally chains her to a wall and constantly threatens to kill her but somehow that is love because the cosmos said so. Makes me furious.

In a nutshell, this book was just bad. There are loose ends galore so you don't truly feel any resolution to the story, the characters are annoyingly painful to read, there are no actual monsters just people with fantasy powers like any other fantasy story, and sweet Jesus the romanticized abuse is the absolute worst. None of that even addresses the horrendous pacing of this story. Very disappointing on almost every single level.
A Hunt of Shadows, by Elise Kova

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2.0

Boy, I loved the first book in this series but this second one was rough. 
King of Scars, by Leigh Bardugo

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tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

A Trial of Sorcerers, by Elise Kova

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adventurous medium-paced

4.25

I am a self professed lover of YA fantasy romance and Elise Kova is one of the queens of the genre. Last year, I read her Air Awakens series and was swept up in the story. This series, A Trial of Sorcerers, takes place in the same world. While you would get more out of the story by reading Air Awakens first, it is not technically necessary. I have not read her Vortex Chronicles which takes place in the same world and did not find, having not read that, I was unable to understand or fully enjoy this book. Everything is able to be understood on its own although there are callbacks to Air Awakens. However, if you didn’t know to look for them it would not detract from the story. 

Eira is everything I would expect out of an older teenaged character. She is learning about the wider world, who she can and cannot trust, and being a bit of an emotional wreck about the whole thing. She is also a passionate and very book smart character although her common sense is pretty much in the toilet which, again, is right on par for a late teen. 

Her family dynamics are also very complicated and, at times, down right mentally and emotionally abusive. While I enjoyed the beginning of Eira’s journey as a character, the family aspects annoyed me to no end. Her family claimed to love her but at every turn they crushed her hopes and dreams claiming it was for the best. While love can sometimes be painful, those who claim to love you should lift you up, even in the hard times. Especially in the hard times. Not try to grind your joy and passion into dust. 

Of course there is a love interest, a misunderstood bad boy, and a magical conundrum to overcome. Overall, the book was entertaining. It is an easy read that you can just sink into and it will sweep you away for a little while. I’m not looking for big, engrossing stories that you have to take notes to keep the details straight, I just want some escapism that lets my mind shut down for a little while. If that is something you like in fantasy, then I would recommend this book and this author with my whole heart.

Violet Made of Thorns, by Gina Chen

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slow-paced

3.0

This is a review of an ARC. 

I wanted so badly to love this book. It was even on my list for most anticipated books of 2022 so when I got approved for an ARC I was thrilled! Morally grey characters, oh-so-not charming princes, cutthroat royal court…the synopsis promised everything I’ve been looking for in a book.

Sadly, the delivery was as run-of-the-mill as the “morally grey” characters that were promised.

Violet was, in theory, an interesting character. Is she a prophet? Yes. Is she a liar? Yes. But the synopsis made her sound a lot more interesting that she actually is. Mostly it was just angst and making the decisions that were expected of her and palming it off as cleverness. I love YA fantasy so having such a common character interpretation wasn’t a deal breaker but when you are promised something more, something different it is kind of a let down.

The story also focuses highly on the not-so-charming Prince Cyrus. That boy had all the backbone of a jellyfish. The plot would have you assuming that he is wily and a fine hand at subterfuge but he was just another blonde, white prince thinking with his pants. Nothing interesting to comment on there.

Lastly, let’s take a little peak at the plot. The Special Girl (Violet) lives at the castle and, oooo, evil things are afoot and she is some mysterious Seer who sees bad things in the future. Does she do anything about them? Not really but she is really good at brooding and making very emotional decisions. The trees seem to be evil. I’m serious about that. Evil trees try to kill her and pretty much everyone else. Oh no, the kingdom is in danger and the trees aren’t what they seem! Drone on about that for about 100 pages longer than it needed to.

It wasn’t massively interesting but it wasn’t horrible either. If you like cookie cutter ya fantasy romance then this book should occupy you for a little while but it is entirely forgettable once you are done.

The best part of this book is Prince Cyrus’s sister. She is a lesbian Boss Bitch and did not get nearly enough page time. More of her please.

Overall, this book was good enough but nothing to get too excited about. Personally, I probably won’t be continuing to the next book of the series. The romance wasn’t believable, the plot drug, and the characters weren’t memorable. Will some people love this story? Absolutely, but it just wasn’t for me because I don’t feel like it delivered on what it promised.
Jade Fire Gold, by June C.L. Tan

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medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0