REVIEW: Only a Monster by Vanessa Len

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Book: Only a Monster (Monsters #1) by Vanessa Len

Release Date: February 22, 2022

My Rating: 5 stars

Rep: biracial (Chinese-Malaysian, white) protagonist, gay side character; (biracial (Chinese-Malaysian, Maltese) author)

CW: blood, mentions of torture

Summary: With the sweeping romance of Passenger and the dark fantasy edge of This Savage Song, this standout YA contemporary fantasy debut from Vanessa Len, is the first in a planned trilogy.

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .

. . . she is not the hero.

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REVIEW: Into the Midnight Void by Mara Fitzgerald

**I received an ARC from a giveaway from the author (thank you, Mara!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: Into the Midnight Void (Beyond the Ruby Veil #2) by Mara Fitzgerald

Release Date: January 25, 2022

My Rating: 3.75 stars

Rep: lesbian protagonist and love interest, gay side character

CW: blood, eye gore, body horror

Summary: Emanuela has finally gotten what she wanted. Since escaping her catacomb prison, she’s started running things her way. Under her rule, citizens no longer give up their lives at the first, tiny appearance of their omens. As long as they aren’t caught bad-mouthing their queen, they can live out their days like everyone else.

But when cracks in her magic start to show, Emanuela begrudgingly allies herself with her enemies, including her frustratingly alluring archnemesis, Verene. Together, discover deeper truths about the mysterious blood magic Emanuela and Verene both wield. There is a higher, otherworldly authority outside the veils, and in order to save Occhia and the other realms, Emanuela may just have to rip another crown off someone’s head.

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REVIEW: Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

**I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley (thank you, Fierce Reads!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: Gearbreakers (Gearbreakers #1) by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Release Date: June 29, 2021

My Rating: 3 stars

Rep: Korean-coded bisexual protagonist, Korean-coded lesbian protagonist, Korean-coded side character; (bisexual biracial (Korean, white) author)

CW: torture, violence, blood

Summary: Two girls on opposite sides of a war discover they’re fighting for a common purpose–and falling for each other–in Zoe Hana Mikuta’s high-octane debut Gearbreakers, perfect for fans of Pacific Rim, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga, and Marie Lu’s Legend series.

We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead...

The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.

Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.

As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer–as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…

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REVIEW: Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

**I received an ARC from the publisher through Edelweiss. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: Our Violent Ends (These Violent Delights #2) by Chloe Gong

Release Date: November 16, 2021

My Rating: 5 stars

Rep: ownvoices Chinese protagonist, main character, and side characters; gay main character; gay Korean main character; Chinese trans girl main character

CW: torture, gore, violence, murder (including mass murder), parental abuse, war themes

Summary: Shanghai is under siege in this captivating and searingly romantic sequel to These Violent Delights, which New York Times bestselling author Natasha Ngan calls “deliciously dark.”

The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.

After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.

Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.

Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.

** I’m in the acknowledgements of this book! Check it out here. **

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REVIEW: Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

**I received an eARC from the publisher through Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Release Date: March 2, 2021

My Rating: 4.25 stars

Rep: bisexual protagonist, wlw side character

CW: gore, murder, implied torture, detailed descriptions of surgical procedures

Summary: He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the magic in his darkness.

Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.

The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.

With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.

Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.

Love makes monsters of us all.

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REVIEW: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

**I received an eARC from the publisher (thank you, Simon Teen!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**

(All quotes are taken from an ARC and should be checked against a finalized version of the book.)


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Book: These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1) by Chloe Gong

Release Date: November 17, 2020

My Rating: 5 stars

Rep: ownvoices Chinese protagonist and characters, Chinese trans girl main character, gay main character, Korean main character

CW: blood, violence, gore, character deaths, explicit description of gouging self (not of their own volition), murder, weapon use, insects, alcohol consumption, parental abuse

Summary: Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

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REVIEW: Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald

**I received an ARC from the #bookishwish tag on Twitter (thank you, Mary @ knoxdiver!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: Beyond the Ruby Veil (Beyond the Ruby Veil #1) by Mara Fitzgerald

Release Date: October 13, 2020

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Rep: lesbian protagonist, gay main character, wlw main character

CW: blood, violence, gore, magic using self-harm, full list here

Summary: A dark, queer YA fantasy that’s perfect for fans of the Three Dark Crowns series and Wicked Saints. After Emanuela Ragno kills the one person in Occhia who can create water, she must find a way to save her city from dying of thirst.

Emanuela Ragno always gets what she wants. With her daring mind and socialite schemes, she refuses to be the demure young lady everyone wants her to be. In her most ambitious move yet, she’s about to marry Alessandro Morandi, her childhood best friend and the heir to the wealthiest house in Occhia. Emanuela doesn’t care that she and her groom are both gay, because she doesn’t want a love match. She wants power, and through Ale, she’ll have it all.

But Emanuela has a secret that could shatter her plans. In the city of Occhia, the only source of water is the watercrea, a mysterious being who uses magic to make water from blood. When their first bruise-like omen appears on their skin, all Occhians must surrender themselves to the watercrea to be drained of life. Everyone throughout history has given themselves up for the greater good. Everyone except Emanuela. She’s kept the tiny omen on her hip out of sight for years.

When the watercrea exposes Emanuela during her wedding ceremony and takes her to be sacrificed, Emanuela fights back…and kills her. Now Occhia has no one to make their water and no idea how to get more. In a race against time, Emanuela and Ale must travel through the mysterious, blood-red veil that surrounds their city to uncover the secrets of the watercrea’s magic and find a way to save their people-no matter what it takes.

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TOUR / REVIEW: Iron Heart by Nina Varela

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**I received an eARC from the publisher for this blog tour. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: Iron Heart (Crier’s War #2) by Nina Varela

Release Date: September 8, 2020

My Rating: 4 stars

Rep: bisexual protagonist, lesbian protagonist, nonbinary side characters

Summary: An unstoppable love between two girls—one human, one Made—both set on destroying the Iron Heart.

For too long the cruel, beautiful Automae have lorded over the kingdom of Rabu, oppressing the humans who live there. But the human revolution is on the rise, and at its heart is Ayla. Once handmaiden, now fugitive, Ayla escaped the palace of Lady Crier, the girl Ayla had planned to kill . . . but instead fell in love with. Now Ayla has pledged her allegiance to Queen Junn, whom she believes can accomplish the ultimate goal of the human rebellion: destroy the Iron Heart. Without it, the Automae will be weakened to the point of extinction.

But playing at Ayla’s memory are the powerful feelings she developed for Crier. And unbeknownst to her, Crier has also fled the palace, taking up among travelling rebels, determined to find and protect Ayla.

As their paths collide, neither are prepared for the dark secret underlying the Iron Heart.

In this stunning sequel to acclaimed author Nina Varela’s Crier’s War, the love that launched a revolution must now pave the way for a whole new era . . . and the ultimate change of heart.

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LIST: hate to love

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I’m a huge fan of the hate-to-love trope because I feel like it adds a tension to the book that is unparalleled. Also, amicable bickering can be so fun. Anyways, I know that a lot of other people love this trope as well, so here’s a list of books that have the hate-to-love trope!

The enemies-to-lovers trope is often thrown around like it’s synonymous with rivals-to-lovers or just hate-to-love, but they’re really different dynamics so I wanted to differentiate between them. Thus, this list is split into four different categories:

dislike-to-love
hate-to-love
rivals-to-lovers
enemies-to-lovers

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TOUR / REVIEW: Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie

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**I received an ARC for this blog tour. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


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Book: Bone Crier’s Moon (Bone Grace #1) by Kathryn Purdie

Release Date: March 3, 2020

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary: Bone ​Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.

Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.

Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.

Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die.

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