Book Review

There Is No Such Thing as Wrong Grammar

Love Is Both Wave and ParticleLove Is Both Wave and Particle by Paul Cody

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you, Macmillan, for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Light was something like human love. How could it be so smooth, so lovely and flowing and warm, the apex of human existence at times, and at other times so gritty, the cause of heartbreak and misery and misunderstanding and even murder?

Even though I was bothered by the author’s fondness for wrong grammar, I cannot deny that this book was so worth my time. It was heartwarming, raw, and so insightful. I particularly loved its unfiltered exploration and discussion of mental health. This inspiring story will stay with me for a long time.

Love Is Both Wave and Particle is basically the life story of two troubled teenagers, Sam and Levon. Both of them attend a private school for people with special needs, and they are asked by one of their teachers to write a biography, aka the story of their lives. Sam and Levon are expected to work on this project together as means of catharsis and self-discovery. Soon, everyone is suddenly intrigued by the gradual changes in Sam and Levon, and one question begs to be answered: is love somehow responsible?

It took me some time to appreciate this book. Since my current profession requires me to be a grammar Nazi, the intentional errors throughout the novel made me flinch occasionally. The dialogues were hard to detect because the author didn’t use quotation marks. Furthermore, the narrative was written in a very conversational style that was characterized by multiple comma splices and sentence fragments. I understood the intention behind such errors. Still, I couldn’t just ignore them even if I prayed. xD

I also had some trouble with the multiple POVs. People who knew Sam and Levon secretly contributed to the biography. Hence, there were many characters to analyze, as well as names to memorize. Honestly, I can’t remember all of them even now. Tee-hee. Looking at the bright side, I did appreciate that the author gave me the opportunity to get to know many of the side characters, whom I initially perceived as insignificant. Also, I genuinely loved that Sam’s and Levon’s parents were able to share their own stories since parents/adults are usually ignorant bystanders in YA.

Setting aside the technical/Formalist problems I had with this book, I am happy to tell you that it made an impact on me. Unlike other contemporary books nowadays, this one was unique and memorable. It dealt with serious topics like depression, self-harm, and sexuality in such a way that was straightforward but not overwhelming. Scientific facts about various things were also given, making the book both enlightening and credible. If you’re a nerd like me, this book will tickle your brain and make you smile.

For me, the most significant message of this book is that mental illness can be a product of nature or nurture. In other words, it can be triggered by your genes or environment (i.e. upbringing). In retrospect, Sam’s and Levon’s personal struggles depicted that mental illness can be a product of both. Of course, other factors may come into play. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that the discourse of mental health is very relevant nowadays, and we should take it seriously.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed Love Is Both Wave and Particle, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a very meaningful book to read. If you want to enjoy it to the fullest, just pretend that there’s no such thing as wrong grammar. 😉

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Book Review

The Messed Up King

The Wicker KingThe Wicker King by K. Ancrum

My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

Thank you, Macmillan, for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

codependency
noun co·de·pen·den·cy \ˌkō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē\
: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (such as an addiction to alcohol or heroin); broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another

August and Jack were such messed up characters. I didn’t expect this novel to be so weird. Still, I must say that it was very intriguing. It’s been a long time since I finished a book in three sittings. Overall, three words can be used to perfectly describe The Wicker King: queer, dark, and spellbinding.

Queer

When I picked up this novel, I immediately noticed its strange features. The titles of each chapter were seemingly random, the pages gradually became darker as the story progressed, and morose character portraits appeared every now and then. Thankfully, my fondness for literary theory/criticism enabled me to understand and appreciate the beauty of such organized chaos. For example, I realized that the gradual darkening of the pages was a clever metaphor for the characters’ journey into insanity. I don’t want to spoil anyone further, so I highly suggest that you Google “Modernism” or “stream of consciousness” before you start reading.

As an afterthought, The Wicker King is also queer in that one could question the sexuality of the protagonists. August and Jack’s relationship was predominantly platonic, but I could tell that there was something more between them. Whatever they had definitely blurred the distinction between bromance and actual romance.

Dark

Gleaning upon the definition of codependency supplied above, The Wicker King was a shocking exploration of one of the most controversial topics in YA/NA literature: abusive relationships. I was initially very supportive of August and Jack’s bromance, so I was utterly surprised when things took a dark turn.

Because of a nearly tragic event in their childhood, August firmly believed that he belonged to Jack. August was a “soldier,” and Jack was his “king”. In other words, August was willing to do everything that Jack commanded. Jack, who suffered from vivid hallucinations, obviously had to be hospitalized. However, little did I know that August also had mental issues to deal with. I was rendered speechless by the crazy, unhealthy, and illegal things they did just to fulfill a what-the-heck prophecy.

Spellbinding

Even though this book clearly wasn’t written to evoke positive emotions, it was hard to put down. If I didn’t have to go to work, I could’ve finished it in a few hours. I loved how most of the chapters consisted of only one page because it made the plot incredibly fast-paced. Plus, I was constantly intrigued by the mental health aspect of the book. Until now, the nerdy side of me wants to learn more about codependency. I would like to thank the author for giving me an enlightening reading experience.

The Verdict

I enjoyed The Wicker King because it’s the most unique book I’ve read this year. Still, I can’t confidently say that I loved everything about it. I cared for August and Jack, but their story probably deserves a different ending. (That is always up for debate.) 😉

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Book Review

Cheating with Max Holden

Kissing Max HoldenKissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Thank you, Macmillan, for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Gleaning upon the tenets of Formalism (i.e. “The author is dead”), please note that my thoughts are not directed to the author
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Kudos to my second 1-star read this year. I actually dislike writing negative reviews because it just brings out the mean side of me. Also, I don’t want to waste my time brainstorming about something I didn’t even like. Still, it’s only logical to justify my rating for a book that a publisher kindly gave to me. So here we go. It’s time for a rant. I would like to apologize to my family, who shot me questioning looks after seeing me read such fluff.

This debut novel follows two annoying protagonists, Jillian Eldridge and Max Holden. They were very close when they were children, but a particular tragedy caused a rift between them. Now that they’re hormonal teenagers, Jill can’t help but fall in love with Max. Unfortunately (for Jill), Max has a girlfriend (whose name I can’t remember). When Max visits Jill after arguing with his lover, infidelity and a bunch of drama ensues.

Ever since I watched LilyCReads’s review of Anna and the French Kiss, my attitude towards books with “complicated” relationships changed for the better. I just cannot tolerate that thing called infidelity, aka cheating. I especially hate it when the cheaters try to justify (and escape the consequences of) their actions. The characters in Kissing Max Holden were exactly like that.

Between Jill and Max, I wasn’t sure who was more at fault. However, let me shed a light on Jill first. Max was the one who initiated the kissing sessions, but Jill obliged him even though she herself admitted that she didn’t want to be his Other Woman. To make things worse, Jill sugarcoated everything by hating on Max’s girlfriend, who was supposedly a *****. Man, I just couldn’t handle the hypocrisy. Just because Max’s girlfriend was mean and manipulative didn’t mean that it was all right for Jill to play Querida.

Jill made me roll my eyes a lot, but Max made my temper flare. I couldn’t understand his appeal. He was a playboy, a disrespectful son, and a disgusting alcoholic. I wasn’t surprised that the girls who were attracted to him were similarly…unprincipled. I really disliked him because he was such a bad influence to Jill; he was able to eclipse whatever remained of her conscience. All hail, Max the Tempter. I wouldn’t want to be associated with a person like him.

This might come as a surprise. Are you ready for it? JILL AND MAX WEREN’T THE ONLY CHEATERS IN THIS BOOK. Salt was rubbed into my wounds when it was revealed that someone important to Jill was also unfaithful. I resented that predictable plot twist, and I wished that I could forget it.

Initially, my rating was leaning toward 2 stars. Sadly, my patience reached 0% when Jill’s step-mother, Meredith, justified her infidelity. Apparently, it was okay for Jill to be guilt-free because she only had “good intentions” when it came to Max. In other words, she wasn’t a complete infidel. WHAT THE HECK?!

I’m sorry, I can’t do this anymore. I’m only reinforcing my negative emotions. For the sake of “looking at the bright side,” I shall enumerate the few virtues of this book.

1. You can read it in one sitting. (Probably because you would just want it to be over ASAP)
2. Jill and Max are perfect for each other. (Probably because they’re both so flawed)
3. It will make you laugh. (Probably in a mocking, not-so-delighted way)

Ultimately, I guess reading Kissing Max Holden was not a waste of time because it taught me one of life’s most important lessons: STAY AWAY FROM PEOPLE WHO CAN’T KEEP IT IN THEIR PANTS.

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Author Interview

Q & A with Chelsea Bobulski

Hi, booknerds! I am so thankful to God for the opportunity to feature another special author. Chelsea Bobulski is the author of the upcoming YA fantasy novel, The Wood. I really enjoyed this book for many reasons (I gave it 4 out of 5 stars), so if you want to know what they are, check out my review. I hope that reading this interview will encourage you to pick up The Wood when it comes out on August 1, 2017. I personally loved her heartfelt answers. Have a great, bookish day! ^^

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  1. Who or what inspired you to write The Wood? Is it a metaphor for something in your life?

“My writing process for The Wood was unlike any other book I’ve ever written. At the time, I had been pursuing traditional publication for four years. I was on my fourth manuscript, which I had been working on for almost two years, and while it kept getting *really* close to being the one, it kept coming up short. After what must have been my tenth massive revision on the book (it’s hard to say for sure as I lost count of how many revisions I actually did on it), I was really starting to lose confidence in my abilities and, even worse, I was starting to lose my love for writing. Knowing I had to rediscover why I loved writing in the first place, I sat down at my keyboard, put on some instrumental music, and started free-writing whatever came to mind.

“What came out, over the course of several weeks, was the first fifty pages of The Wood (pages which, aside from the inclusion of a couple new scenes, have not changed much from that first draft). Winter’s voice came to me out of nowhere and just started talking to me about this magical wood and the time-traveling portals inside of it that she protected. It was as if she’d been waiting there all along in the recesses of my mind for me to tell her story. Once I got fifty pages in, I realized I should probably stop free-writing and start plotting before I lost all of the threads Winter and Henry kept hurtling my way, since this thing was clearly going to be A Book.

“I didn’t realize it when I was writing it, but The Wood really did become a metaphor for what I was going through at the time. I had received so many rejections over the years and kept getting closer and closer to publication, only to get the door slammed in my face over and over again, that I was really starting to doubt whether this was something I was actually meant to do with my life, or if I’d just been wasting the past four years. It took me to a really dark place for a while, where I felt like I should’ve done something more sensible with my life, like go to law school, even though telling stories was something that had been embedded in my very soul. I couldn’t imagine not writing, but at the same time, I kept wondering if the fact that I kept getting rejections was a sign that I was going down the wrong path and really messing up whatever plan God actually had for me. So the twisting, turning paths in Winter’s wood and the monsters that come out at night really did start to represent my journey to publication and the doubt monsters that would creep in whenever I felt like my writing wasn’t good enough. Writing THE WOOD ended up being a form of therapy for me, as I dealt with a lot of things from my past, both professionally and personally, and I am so thankful to have come out the other side feeling extremely happy and extremely blessed, finally living the dream that has been in my heart since I was a little girl.”

  1. What life lessons can readers glean from your book?

“I think a lot of the life lessons that Winter personally deals with center around learning how to handle the various (and often overwhelming) responsibilities in her life, both the ones she chose for herself and the ones that chose her. Life throws a lot of curveballs at all of us, and I think for the most part Winter is able to handle her responsibilities with grace, but she is human, so she does mess up from time to time like we all do.Winter also has to come to terms with the fact that you can’t ever really know everything that makes up a person—everyone has so many layers, so many factors accumulated from every experience, big and small, of their lives—even the people you’re closest to. No one really sees things the same way either, which means people will let you down, but that doesn’t necessarily make them purely evil, and people will love and take care of you, but that doesn’t necessarily make them purely good. It’s the gray space that people inhabit that makes them truly fascinating, and also extremely unpredictable. This can be a hard thing to learn when you think you know someone only to find out they aren’t who you thought they were, and Winter has to deal with the ramifications of that.”

  1. If you were given the chance to spend a day with Winter and Henry, what would you do?

“I would love to walk through the wood with Winter and see all of the magic and the mystery unfolding around me. As for Henry, I would love to take him to the mall, or maybe a football game, just to see how he would react (I can guarantee it would be hilarious!).”

  1. If you were a character in The Wood, who would you be, and how would you affect the plot?

“I would love to be Meredith, Winter’s best friend, and I would really love to bust in on Winter’s wood and finally figure out what the heck she’s been hiding. I just think Meredith would have such a funny reaction to it and such a different take on the whole thing that it would be very interesting to see.

Perhaps some fodder for a possible sequel…? ;)”

  1. If you could use the Wood for personal reasons, what would you do? (i.e. Would you go to the past and relive a happy memory?)

“I would *definitely* time travel (even though it’s against the rules). I wouldn’t want to go back and change anything, or affect the past in any way, but I would just love to witness it, everything from when dinosaurs roamed the earth all the way up through modern day. I would love to walk through ancient Egyptian palaces and the alleyways of medieval Venice. I would love to witness the signing of the Declaration of Independence, or attend an Edwardian dinner party at a fine country estate. I would just love to see the history I’ve been obsessed with ever since I was a child come to life in front of me, especially the quiet, everyday moments of all of these people who lived and breathed and loved long before we were ever here.

“On a personal level, I would also love to visit my grandpa. To go back and sit with him in his favorite recliner and watch the Masters while passing lemon drops back and forth to each other. To tell him how much I love him and how much he means to me one more time. He passed away when I was in seventh grade, so I was too young in the moments we spent together to realize they wouldn’t last forever. That there would come a day when I couldn’t hug him anymore, or hear his voice. I’d love to go back and tell him just how much he impacted my life, and how grateful I am that he was mine.

  1. Reading your acknowledgements made me see The Wood in a brand new way. How did your faith affect your writing process?

“As I mentioned before, I was going through a really rough time while writing The Wood, both professionally and personally. Professionally, I was plagued with doubt and anxiety and wondering if I’d made a huge mistake. Personally, my husband and I were dealing with a very shocking family tragedy, while also trying to get pregnant with our first child for over a year, to no avail. Feeling like I was losing hold of my two biggest dreams—becominga published writer, and becoming a mom—while simultaneously dealing with this other life-shattering thing put me in a very dark, very depressed, and very anxiety-driven place.

“I would not have been able to claw my way out of that dark place if it weren’t for Christ being right there beside me. I was raised a Christian and believed in God all my life; I prayed about everything, but I didn’t really understand what it truly meant to trust God and give everything up to him completely until I was going through this difficult time. My parents divorced when I was very young, and out of that experience I developed this frantic need to stay in control of everything, because I knew what it was like to have your entire world turn to dust, there one day and gone the next. So that’s what I tried to do as everything seemed to be falling apart around me—desperately stay in control. But the more I tried to control what was happening, the worse things got.

“Through it all, I felt God compelling me to give everything up to Him. To trust that He had a perfect plan for my life, and to be okay with the fact that I may never be published, and that I may never be a mom, because if those things weren’t meant for me, He would lead me to the life that I was meant to live. I just had to trust. It wasn’t easy, and I fought it quite a bit for a while, but when I finally gave in, things began to happen. I got the book deal I’d been dreaming about for five years. And, after nearly two years of trying, my husband and I became pregnant with our beautiful baby girl (who will be one year old this August!). God answered all of my prayers—He just wanted me to trust Him first, and learn to give Him control over everything. Once I did that, I not only received blessings in those areas of my life, but I learned how to recognize and appreciate the million other blessings that make up my life, and all of that combined is what got me out of that dark place and into the happiest, most peaceful placeI could ever imagine.

“Now, I don’t write a single word without asking God for guidance and inspiration first. My entire writing process has changed due to my ever-deepening faith, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it. Suffice it to say, I walked through a very deep, very dark wilderness while writing THE WOOD, and my faith is what got me through to the other side.”

  1. Can we expect a sequel or companion novel to The Wood? I’m still not over that ending. xD

“There’s nothing in the works yet on the sequel or companion novel front, but I am definitely rooting for one! There is so much more I want to explore, both in Winter’s life and in the wood itself, which let me tell you has a whole host of secrets left to uncover! There’s always hope that if The Wood does well enough and its fans are vocal with their desire for a sequel, that my publisher may ask for one, so the best thing anyone can do to try to make this happen is recommend the book to friends and family and generally everyone they meet (I would be eternally grateful for this!) and to also ask their local libraries to order it. Posting reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, and sharing the book on social media, are also great ways of getting the word out there. But regardless of if there is a sequel, I am just so thankful for the opportunity to get to share this story with everyone, and I pray it does for others what great books have always done for me—transport them to another world and give them a fun escape from whatever they may be going through at the time. The best books, after all, take you on an adventure and make you feel like you’ve lived a whole other life inside your own. My biggest dream is that The Wood will make someone out there feel this way, as this is why I fell in love with books—reading and writing them—in the first place, that beautiful, transporting magic that is uniquely theirs.”


 

About the author:

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Chelsea Bobulski was born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised on Disney movies, Broadway musicals, and Buckeye pride. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in history, and promptly married her high school sweetheart. As a writer, she has a soft spot for characters with broken pasts, strange talents, and obstacles they must overcome for a brighter future. She now lives in Northwest Ohio with her husband, her daughter, and one very emotive German Shepherd/Lab mix. Her debut young adult novel, THE WOOD, will be published by Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan on August 1, 2017.

She is represented by Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, Inc.

Visit Chelsea’s website

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Book Review

Out of the Narnia-like Woods

The WoodThe Wood by Chelsea Bobulski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you, Macmillan, for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Do not travel from the paths. Do not linger after dark. Do not ignore the calling.

Despite its lackluster title, The Wood is one of the most unique books I’ve read this year. I really didn’t expect that it would be a mystery set in a simultaneously fantastical and contemporary setting where time travel is possible. Winter Parish, the heroine, is a guardian of the Wood, a whimsical place that contains thresholds or gates to different time periods. Ordinary people often wander into the Wood, so Winter and the other guardians are tasked to prevent these travelers from messing up the space-time continuum. The plot might sound complex at first, but I assure you that everything will click if you have a little patience.

I myself was mildly confused, but comprehension immediately came when I remembered C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew, which features a forest called the Wood between the Worlds. Instead of thresholds, this place has ponds that function as portals to different dimensions. If I hadn’t read The Chronicles of Narnia, I probably wouldn’t have understood the mechanics of time travel in The Wood so easily. I’m not sure if the similarity was intended by the author. Still, I appreciate it because Narnia is one of my all-time favorite series.

Winter was a very likable character. As an only child who was very close to her parents, she was mature beyond her years. After her father mysteriously disappeared, Winter shouldered the hard and lonely job of protecting the Wood. Furthermore, since she was in and out of school, her only constant companion was her beloved mother. It was touching to read about Winter’s love for her family. Her childlike faith was also inspiring. She was brave enough to hope that her father was still alive even though her elders said otherwise. I only disliked Winter whenever she lied to her loved ones in order to protect them and herself. I didn’t condemn or judge her for doing so, but I thought that she could’ve done better. After all, the end doesn’t justify the means.

Henry, aka Brightonshire, made me so nostalgic. He was like a combination of Pride and Prejudice‘s Mr. Darcy and Outlander‘s Jamie Fraser. (Please note that this comparison is very subjective. Hahaha.) Henry came from 18th century England, so he had this charming and formal way of speaking. It was so fun to read about his reactions to modern technology. In fact, he was surprisingly good at solving the Rubik’s Cube. Finally, like the men of his own time, Henry had this quiet confidence and chivalry.

Despite their different timelines, Winter and Henry were united in their devotion to their family. They made a good team because they made up for each other’s weaknesses. For example, Winter was the flame to Henry’s dying candle of hope. On the other hand, Henry was the water to Winter’s fiery emotions. When sparks started to fly between them, I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. After everything that happened to them, I believed that they deserved to have a chance at a happily ever after.

The last reason why I decided to give The Wood four stars is that the ending was realistic. Nothing was forced nor contrived. The resolution was written in such a way that I didn’t have to suspend my disbelief. If you want to know exactly what I mean, please read the book ASAP. 😀

Overall, this book filled me with nostalgia, happiness, and longing. I hope that everyone  will enjoy it, too. I sincerely congratulate the debut author for a job well done. 🙂

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Book Review

Fiery Redemption

Fireblood (Frostblood Saga, #2)Fireblood by Elly Blake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you, Hachette Book Group, for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Fear of my fire had ruled me when I’d had no control over it. Darkness, like fire, was a gift I could master. —Ruby

When I read Frostblood last November, I didn’t enjoy it that much. I only gave it three stars mainly because it didn’t bring something new to the table. Still, the ending was such a cliffhanger that I became invested enough to continue the series. With that in mind, I am happy to say that my optimism paid off; Fireblood is one of the best sequels I’ve ever read.

Looking at the preemptive “reviews” of this book, it’s clear that many readers are worried about the state of Ruby and Arcus’s relationship. After all, the summary insinuates that a new boy named Kai will come in between our two lovebirds. Hahaha. I myself was so excited to read this book because I shipped Ruby and Arcus so hard. I don’t want to spoil anyone, so all I can say is that by the end of the book, Ruby is…not confused. 🙂

Although romance is a significant aspect of Fireblood, it is predominantly about Ruby finding a way to destroy the Minax, which has been wrecking havoc in Tempesia. Surprisingly, the answer to her prayers can be found in Sudesia, her mother’s homeland. Essentially, the plot of this sequel is undeniably rich and fast-paced, and it will most likely make you fly through the pages.

For me, reading this book was like eating a stack of Pringles. I couldn’t get enough of it because my interest in the protagonists never wavered. I loved Ruby’s inspiring fortitude, Arcus’s charming “coldness,” and even Kai’s flirtatious audacity. The interactions between these characters were evocative and well-written. I was also very entertained by the expansion of the world’s mythology, which we didn’t get in the first book.

I obviously enjoyed this book a lot, but I couldn’t give it five stars because like its predecessor, it featured a number of YA fantasy tropes that made me feel a little jaded. To give you some hints, one trope has something to do with a certain character’s true identity. The other one has something to do with matrimony. :3

Nevertheless, Fireblood is leagues away from Frostblood. If you also disliked the latter, I encourage you to give the series a second chance. I certainly don’t regret my decision, so I hope that you will feel the same way. I can’t wait to read the third (and possibly last) book, Nightblood.

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Book Review

Let Them Eat Porridge

A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, #1)A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I buddy read this book with the bookish king, Solomon, and the empowered fangirls, Cait and Ambs.

I am quite disappointed in myself for delaying this review for one month. I have been in a “reviewing slump” lately, and I want to get out of it as soon as possible. It’s a good thing I still remember the important events that happened in this book. I really enjoyed reading it with my friends, but the book itself did not entirely please me.

A Shadow Bright and Burning is a new take on a beloved (or infamous) trope in YA: the Chosen One. The heroine, Henrietta Howell, is believed to be one who will save England from seven powerful monsters called the Ancients. When she discovers the falsity of her status, she struggles to keep her secret hidden in order to protect herself, as well as her best friend, Rook. Filled with political, magical, and romantic drama, this novel is fun to read, especially if you love fantasy.

This book struck me as fascinating particularly because it enforced a dichotomy between magicians and sorcerers. The former were ostracized tricksters who belonged to the lower classes, while the latter were highly-esteemed masters of the elements who were tasked to eliminate the Ancients. Magicians and sorcerers are generally seen as one and the same in other narratives, so it was intriguing how the author challenged the status quo. 🙂

Furthermore, I appreciated the author’s implementation of diversity. Honestly, I was surprised that Henrietta was a person of color. Whether or not we care to admit it, YA fantasy predominantly revolves around Caucasian protagonists (and colored antagonists). Thus, I liked this book because it is a testament that change is happening in our bookish community. However, I must admit that Henrietta’s skin tone was sometimes subtly made fun of. If the author merely wanted to reflect racism in Victorian England, I am willing to recant this criticism. ^^

Caitlin, Ambs, Solly, and I were not fans of the romance in this book. We already had a hard time memorizing the names of those six or seven boys, so we became more frustrated when Henrietta started to harbor feelings for more than one of them. In anime terms, Henrietta had her own reverse harem. I myself did not have an OTP to ship because she had no real chemistry with any of the love interests. 😦

Perhaps the most controversial thing in this book is Henrietta’s magic staff/wand, Porridge. Yes. She named it FREAKIN’ PORRIDGE. She did it to acknowledge her humble heritage, but my friends and I hated the name nonetheless. The action scenes in the book never failed to become corny and cringe-worthy whenever Henrietta spoke to her infamous weapon. I fervently wish that she would change its name in the sequel. :3

In the end, I enjoyed this book mostly because I read it with my friends. Sharing my thoughts and feelings definitely gave me a better reading experience. Still, the book itself is worth your time because it has strengths in terms of plot and diversity. I’m curious enough to continue the series, so I really hope that book two is much better.

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