If You Like This YA You Might Like This Adult

Hello and welcome to my second edition of this post! If you want to read my original post you can do so here, but be warned that it is quite out of date as I posted it almost 2 years ago. I love helping people dive into adult books because I think it’s often unexplored by people that love YA, so I’m here to help!

Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan ➜ The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

This is pretty heavily based on vibes, but I also think there is a decent amount of trope overlap to be seen between these two books. Most notably is the criminal found families, and although there is certainly more nuance to the dynamics than that, I still believe that if you enjoyed one you will enjoy the other.

What We Devour by Linsey Miller ➜ The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht

Both of these books are critiques of capitalism and overconsumption with queer protagonists and monster motifs, some more literal than others. To top it all off, I found their aesthetics to be delightfully similar, and while I do think What We Devour has a more satisfying conclusion, The Monster of Elendhaven is an intensely entertaining novella.

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee ➜ If We Were Villians by M.L. Rio

Dark academia! Queers! Murder! Isolated student housing where shady shit happens! These are all things that these two books share. I also personally like the similarities in the main characters’ love interests, as both were classically misunderstood geniuses in their respective field.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong ➜ The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

This one definitely comes with a few caveats, most notably that if you were reading These Violent Delights for the Roma/Juliette romance you should definitely not take this recommendation to heart. But if you liked the way Shanghai was three steps away from being a living breathing beast unto itself and you want more books where the setting is a character I highly recommend checking out the Daevabad trilogy.

Furyborn by Clare Legrand ➜ Princess Floralinda and the Forty Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir

In my humble opinion, Floralinda is essentially like if you’d taken Rielle and Eliana and smushed them into a single character. She takes the best part of each, and while the story in and of itself is in no way similar, I still think if you liked Furyborn you are likely to enjoy Princess Floralinda.

And that’s it! I’d love to know what you think of these recommendations, or if you’d like me to do this again! If you’re interested in picking up any of these books I’ve compiled them into a list on Bookshop that you can peruse here. Happy reading!

#GoodReadance2021 aka I Sort of Got My Shit Together?

Hello and welcome to my Goodreadance 2021 update! This challenge finished at the end of November and I’m happy to report that I achieved most of my goals! If you’re interested in taking a look at my original post you can do so here, or if you want to read Shealea’s post you can do that right here! I’m genuinely proud of all the things I accomplished thanks to this challenge, and I look forward to participating in the future! Without further ado, let’s get into my goals!

All completed goals will be marked with a ✅ and any goals I did not complete will be marked with a ❌!

✅ Sort through want to read shelf

Unfortunately, I forgot to take screenshots but I got my want to read shelf down from almost 600 books to just over 100. It took me several hours, but I am very pleased with the result. It feels a lot less overwhelming this way like it’s an actual functional shelf instead of a dumping ground.

Update release shelves & spreadsheet

While I did not update my 2021 releases spreadsheet, I did start my 2022 sheet and there are currently 37 books on it! I will keep updating it continuously, my hope is to not fall behind as bad as I did with 2021.

✅ Bring all reading pages up to date

This actually did not take as much time as I anticipated it would thankfully. I mostly focused on updating my owned books and read books sheet, but I also took the time to sort out my TBR tables and library book tracker so it’s all ready to go in 2022.

✅ Update Goodreads shelves

Whether or not this one is technically done is a little dubious, as I didn’t actually delete any shelves. I’m not sure I would though, as looking over them I think they all serve their intended purpose well enough. I did add a few shelves while I was going through my want to read shelf, which brings my total shelf count to 56.

Make new favourite shelf

I had so much fun doing this! My old favourite shelf was very much outdated, I’d had it since 2017 and most of the books on it were ones I don’t even like anymore. It felt nice to start fresh and add a bunch of books that I truly love to be displayed on my profile.

Write overdue reviews/prune NetGalley & Edelweiss

Thankfully, this was much much easier than I thought it would be. In my mind, I had conjured a wild, lawless landscape overrun with unread ARCs, but it was only a few. As of writing this I only have 1 unread ARC on my NetGalley shelf and none on Edelweiss!

General blog maintence and planning

I have the next month and a half planned out in blog posts, and I am very excited about all of it! There are some fun things coming, including a project that I’ve been stewing on for over a year that I think (hope) will be a big hit.

Develop a routine

I waffled between marking this as done or not, but ultimately while I had devised a routine, my ADHD ass has yet to actually stick to it. My ideal plan is to update my releases spreadsheet and check over my want to read shelf on a biweekly basis, ideally every other Friday, but I have yet to actually do it. I have managed to keep up on my owned books catalogue and my reading tracker, but that is unfortunately it.

❌ Set up tbr jar for unread owned books

Alas I did not quite get to do this one, but I have not given up hope!! I think I will make it a goal for next year to have this fully up and operational with the first couple of months. I always knew this one was unlikely to happen, so I’m not necessarily disappointed that I didn’t make it but I will most definitely still be doing it soon.

Those were all of my goals! Did you participate in #GoodReadance2021? If so, did you acommplish most of your goals? Do you have a TBR jar? I’d love to know!

My Favourite Bookish Locations

Today is a free choice for Top Ten Tuesday so I decided to do Favourite Booki Settings! I actually started this post back in October when it was originally done, but I didn’t manage to get it finished in time and I thought this would be a great opportunity to make use of a post I’d already started!

As a reader, bookish settings are so interesting to me. I love when authors craft unique worlds or take our normal world and make it special so today I’m here to celebrate the settings that I love the most!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and Bookish and now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. For more information, you can take a look here.

Auteri (Eva Evergreen, Semi Magical Witch by Julie Abe)

I never understood when people said they wanted to live in fantasy worlds over our own until I read this book. The fact that I’m stuck here and not drinking tea on the cliffs of Auteri is honestly a crime. If you’ve ever wanted to read a book that feels like a warm hug then you absolutely need to pick this one up.

Loraille (Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson)

Loraille has a big classical fantasy feel to it that is so much fun. I can absolutely picture myself in a small little village churning fresh butter as Artemisia thunders past on her horse. It feels like the kind of place you can sink into, like curling up in a big armchair with a knitted blanket and a fire.

The Colchis Estate (This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron)

Crumbling historical manor? Overgrown garden? Untouched woodlands? This place sounds like my literal dream. I could probably do without the deadly plants and random people showing up at my door, but honestly, I would put up with it to live here in a heartbeat.

Four Londons (A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab)

This setting is so unique. The concept of a fixed point in all the worlds, like a sandwich spear but for the dimensions, is such an interesting thought. I really liked the way Schwab made them all so completely their own, I would have absolutely believed they were each their own world instead of parts to a whole.

Kekon (Jade City by Fonda Lee)

I am honestly fully obsessed with the world Lee has constructed. It feels so real and gritty like I could hop on a plane and fly there tomorrow. It has a beating heart that comes through so clearly on the page that I almost think you’d be able to feel it walking the streets.

The Cabin (A Dark and Starless Forest by Sarah Hollowell)

For this one, it’s not necessarily the setting in and of itself, but the way the author uses it. The longer the book goes on the more sinister everything about it seems. Things that sounded innocuous, if not downright cozy, start to grow shadows with fangs, and it is SO interesting in my opinion.

St. Augustine (Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega)

The St. Augustine Ortega paints in Ghost Squad is vibrant and brimming with history, a vertiable smorgasbord of ghosts and haunts and all things that go bump in the night. I loved the little details in this book, and the way the story feels like settling into your bones.

Daevabad (The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty)

I am completely consumed by how much I love this city. Would I ever want to live here? No, absolutely not, but it’s such a rich setting and so well written that sometimes I consider it, just a little. However, I don’t do well in the heat lol

Spring Court (A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas)

Listen. I don’t like Maas as a person, and I don’t even like these books anymore, but the concept of living in eternal spring? Yes please. I would honestly give anything to live in those perfect spring days where you can sit outside in a cardigan, drink a cup of tea, and read a book.

UNC Chapel Hill (Legendborn by Tracy Deonn)

Legendborn isn’t a dark academia by genre but the events of the book certainly give UNC-Chapel Hill a very big dark academia and I am very much into it. Deonn also just made it feel so alive, and I know this is one of the locations on this list that I could actually visit, but it is still a feat to lend that much solidity to a place I’ve never been.

What are your favourite book settings? Have you read any of the books I’ve included? I’d love to know! If you’re interested in purchasing any of these books I have compiled them into a list on Bookshop that you can look at here!

Finishathon Announcement

Hello and welcome to Finishathon! This is a year-long readathon with optional month challenges that will be running from January 1st 2022 to December 31st 2022! I’ve been stewing on this idea for quite a while so let’s get into how this works!

The overall goal of Finishathon is to encourage you to finish series. We’ve all started a series that we’re excited about and then forgotten to read the rest of the books and I’m trying to combat that! I’m not going to enforce any rules like “don’t start any new series” or anything like that, it’s all up to you. Personally, I will be limiting the series I start, but I won’t be banning them outright.

I did a poll on Twitter in August asking if people would prefer a series ending readathon in a year or month-long format and got hit with a tie so this is my solution! You can participate for the full year without doing the monthly challenges, you can participate for the full year AND do the monthly challenges, or you can simply pick one or more of the monthly challenges and just do those. However, you want to participate is entirely up to you.

All of the monthly challenges are incredibly open to interpretation, if you think something even sort of fits you can totally go for it! These aren’t meant to box you in as much as they are a guide so if you’re someone like me that has too many options you can narrow it down. Have fun with it!

Monthly Challenges

JANUARY: Recommended

FEBRUARY: Favourite Ship

MARCH: Seasonal

APRIL: Cover Love

MAY: Ongoing

JUNE: Pride

JULY: Anticipated

AUGUST: Trilogy

SEPTEMBER: Free Choice

OCTOBER: Spooky

NOVEMBER: Favourite Genre

DECEMBER: Holiday

On the first of every month, I will put out a post with monthly sign-ups and a more detailed explanation of the challenge, along with my personal TBR. If you’d like to sign up for the full year you can do so here, and if you’d like to join the discord server you can do that right here! The Twitter account is @/ finishreadathon and I will be hosting sprints there periodically, as well as encouraging you to share your TBRs!

If you have any questions don’t be afraid to DM me on Twitter, or you can email me at sagesshelves@gmail.com! Happy Reading!

Deck the Halls With Books

It’s been a long time since I’ve participated in a readathon, and what better way to end the year than with a Christmas themed one! This will be my first year participating in the Reindeer Readathon, and I’m on Team Mistletoe! You can find out more info about this readathon here and without further ado, let’s get into my TBR.

DASHER — A short story (or collection) or novella.

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

I usually struggle with short story or novella challenges, as I don’t read a lot of them, but luckily I had literally just picked A Spindle Splintered up from the bookstore, and I’m super excited to dive into this Sleeping Beauty retelling!

DANCER — A book by one of your favorite authors (rereads count too).

Bridge of Souls by Victoria Schwab

As soon as I saw this challenge I knew it was going to have to be one of the two Schwab books I haven’t read yet. I went with Bridge of Souls for 2 reasons. First and foremost, The Cassidy Blake series is some of my favourites of her books and this one has been out for almost 9 months. but secondly, because it’s a middle grade, which makes for fast and easy reading.

PRANCER — A book with a travel element in it (vacation, quest etc.).

The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes (🎶)

This book is also going to count for the Christmas Carol bonus as I currently have a hold at the library for the audiobook. I struggled a lot with this prompt, but I think The Storm Runner will be a fun read and what is more travel-based that entered a different world?

VIXEN — A book that has recently caught your eye.

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

I know next to nothing about this book aside from the fact that it is gay and takes place in the Edwardian Era, but that is more than enough for me. I actually heard about it through TikTok, and I immediately added it to my want to read shelf without even finishing the video.

COMET — A 5 star prediction.

The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

I’ve been putting off this finale for quite a while, because I know this book is going to absolutely detroy me. I also know I’m going to love it, considering I’ve given both of the other books 5 stars without hesitation.

CUPID —Take a shot at reading a new author.

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

I put this on my Fall 2021 TBR, and it fits this prompt so perfectly. I’ve had a copy of this book sitting on my shelves for a couple months now, so I’m excited to finally pick it up so I can find out what all the hype is about.

DONNER — A book with green or red as the primary color on the cover.

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart (⭐️)

This challenge was actually surprisingly difficult for me. All of the green or red books I could think of off the top of my head were ones I’d already read, so I scoured my shelves until I came across Witches Steeped in Gold and I knew instantly it was going to have to be the one for this challenge.

BLITZEN —Choose at least 3 books and have one chosen randomly to read (for example, rolling a die, an online poll, your pets choosing etc.).

Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin

I’m not going to lie to you, for this challenge I just picked 3 books that were left on fall TBR and you can watch a video of my bearded dragon Koko picking Blood & Honey on my TikTok! I read an ARC of Serpent & Dove when it first came out in 2019 and enjoyed it well enough, so I thought I would continue the series!

RUDOLPH — A standalone book.

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron(💡)

I adored This Poison Heart so I fully expect to feel the same way about Cinderella is Dead. I already know that I greatly enjoy Kaylnn Bayron’s writing, and honestly, a sapphic story set in the same world as Cinderella? How could I not like it?

There is also 3 bonus challenges which are as follows

⭐️ Christmas Star — read a book over 500 pages

💡 Christmas Lights — read an ebook

🎶 Christmas Carols — read an audiobook

You can find the books I’ve picked to complete these challenges marked with the corresponding emoji!

And that’s it! Are you planning on participating in the Reindeer Readathon? Have you read any of these books?

Pull a Card, Read a Book

Welcome to Part 2 of my tarot inspired recommendation series!! If you’d like to find out what this is all about, you can read Part 1 here! This list is a mix of YA, adult and middle grade, so make sure to check Goodreads before diving into any of these! If you’d like to purchase any of these books I have compiled them into a Bookshop list that you can find here! Let’s get to reccing!

IX. The Hermit

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

The Hermit card is one that speaks to spiritual growth, in addition to its meanings of solitude and searching for the truth all of which I believe to be encapsulated by Vespertine. Our main character is an incredibly spiritual person, who gets thrust into a situation that is extremely far outside of her comfort zone and still she manages to come out on top.

X. The Wheel of Fortune

Jade Fire Gold by June C.L Tan

If you know anything about Jade Fire Gold then this will probably be an unsurprising pick for you but the themes of this book very much align with the Wheel of Fortune card. Cycles and destiny play a very prominent part in this book and in the meaning of this card, and I think the way the main characters fight against their perceived destiny fits in nicely.

XI. Justice

The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee

This might technically be a cop-out, but Kyoshi spends a good portion of this book, and indeed her entire life, with a heavy focus on maintaining fairness and balance, just as the Justice card portrays.

XII. The Hanged Man

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I actually had a bit of a hard time picking a book for this card, but in my opinion, The Raven Boys fits this the closest. Primarily the climax fits the meanings of sacrifice and shifting perspectives in a way that I can’t think of another book matching.

XIII. Death

Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier

This was such an easy pick for me in all honesty. Our main character Cas has absolutely gone through a major transformation and a large part of this book is about him coming to terms with the ways he’s changed, which is exactly what the Death card represents.

XIV. Temperance

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

I don’t talk about this series much but I really love it, and I think it is a good match for the Temperance card’s meaning of moderation and harmony, as those are both principles that Eleanor encourages in her students.

XV. The Devil

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht

There are numerous ways in which The Monster of Elendhaven fits the devil card, but I think that perhaps the most important is the way this book critiques capitalistic greed through the lens of a pair of monsters. Watching our 2 main characters struggle through their respective plots is unnerving in the best way possible.

XVI. The Tower

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Nothing fits The Tower card quite like The Poppy War. With meanings of upheaval and catastrophe, the absolute batshit plot of this book slides right in like a glove. If you haven’t already I highly recommend looking up trigger warnings before diving into this book, but it is well worth the read.

XVII. The Star

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

This might seem like a bit of an odd choice for The Star with its themes of hope and renewal, but I think specifically the dynamic between Karina and Malik fit this card incredibly well. They both desperately need each other and the symbolism each has very much fits The Star’s energy.

XVIII. The Moon

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

The main antagonist of this book is La Llorona but overall I feel like the themes of Paola Santiago and the River of Tears fit well with The Moon card. It represents illusion and anguish and this story deals quite well with both of those topics.

Have you read any of these? If not, are any on your TBR? What’s your favourite tarot card?

A YA Fantasy You Won’t Soon Forget

Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier

Young Adult, Fantasy
November 9 2021, Clarion Books
e-ARC, 336 pages
buy link

The past never forgets…

Before an ambush by enemy soldiers, Lord Cassia was an engineer’s apprentice on a mission entrusted by the king. But when plague sweeps over the land, leaving countless dead and devastating the kingdom, even Cas’ title cannot save him from a rotting prison cell and a merciless sickness.

Three years later, Cas wants only to return to his home in the mountains and forget past horrors. But home is not what he remembers. His castle has become a refuge for the royal court. And they have brought their enemies with them.

When an assassin targets those closest to the queen, Cas is drawn into a search for a killer…one that leads him to form an unexpected bond with a brilliant young historian named Lena. Cas and Lena soon realize that who is behind the attacks is far less important than why. They must look to the past, following the trail of a terrible secret—one that could threaten the kingdom’s newfound peace and plunge it back into war.

My Review

This was my first Makiia Lucier book but it is absolutely not going to be my last. Year of the Reaper is a delight, a solid addition to the fantasy genre with a tightly plotted storyline, complex characters, and the kind of world building that looks effortless. It’s also a standalone with a solid feeling conclusion, something I feel is often missing from fantasy.

Our main character was such an interesting choice, and once I got over the fact that the main character shares a name with my spouse (Cas) I really think he made the story what it is. While I think Lena would have been a more traditional choice, Lucier’s decision made Year of the Reaper a super unique YA fantasy.

I really loved the way the characters grew in this book. I think Cas in particular had a quite definable arc and you could track his growth. By the last page he felt like a different character than the one we met in chapter one, and it was enjoyable to notice.

I mentioned early that this book was tightly plotted, and I truly believe it is. Watching the events of this book unfold felt a bit like putting together a puzzle. New pieces were revealed randomly and you didn’t get a full idea of exactly what was going on until it was staring you right in the face. The foreshadowing was spectacular, looking back there were so many hints to the big twist but I still did not figure out what it was until the characters themselves were finding out.

The world building was really cool. I loved the historical bits that were weaved in, and the plague itself seemed pretty heavily inspired by the Bubonic Plague which I actually liked as a lot of fantasy plague books try to make up their own and end up with a hodge podge of the worst things the author could think to happen. I do believe we could have explored the kingdom in and of itself a bit more, I think it could have been a bit more detailed, but overall it wasn’t confusing or discordant, it just felt a smidge underdeveloped.

Side characters can make or break a book in my opinion, but I think the side characters of Year of the Reaper added to the story. Lena in particular was a driving force in some of the discoveries Cas makes along the way, and watching Cas reconnect with this older brother was sometimes honestly heartbreaking. I loved the interconnect web of characters that often clash with each other just by nature of their personalites.

If you like books with unique protagonists, puzzles for plot points, and genuinely shocking twists, I highly recommend you pick up Year of the Reaper.

Good For Fans of

  • prickly main characters
  • scholarly love interests
  • plagues as plot points

Further Reading

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Have you read Year of the Reaper? If so, what did you think? What are your favourite YA fantasy books with unusual main characters?

My Fav is Problematic: Alina Starkov Edition

I’ve had the concept for this post floating around in my brain, so here we are! This might become a series, I don’t know! But I’m here to talk about one of my all-time favourite characters: Alina Starkov, more specifically about the way she is written. First, a few disclaimers.

This is not about Show!Alina. I’ve seen all of S&B and I didn’t really like it or the way they portrayed Alina. Jessie Mei Li did an incredible job but the way she was written felt quite different from her Book counterpart and I have no interest in discussing that here.

Secondly, I love Alina, and while this post is meant to discuss her flaws, if you’re here to Alina-bashing I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place. I genuinely don’t want to hear senseless hating on a character that is pretty dear to my heart so please refrain from doing so in the comments. I am more than open to hearing your opinions! As long as they’re written in a way that is respectful.

This will not be spoiler-free. I will be discussing multiple storylines throughout the series including the ending of the last book, and I will also be talking about the ending of King of Scars. if you’re interested in reading these books and you don’t want spoilers I would suggest skipping this post.

Lastly, I have not read the books in quite a while, so I will not be pulling quotes from the source text to back my statements at this time. If there is something you’d like a direct quote or quotes for you can ask and I will do my best to find one for you! With that in mind, let’s get into it.

Shadow and Bone was published in 2012, when having your female main character hate other girls was practically a genre-defining trope (with notable exceptions of course) however I don’t think this excuses Alina. You can see this most clearly in her early interactions with Zoya—when she almost instantaneously shuns her because she believes Zoya to be prettier than herself—but her internal monologue is initially fairly dismissive of Genya as well. She sheds a lot of this throughout the series thankfully but it is still a frustrating aspect of her character.

Alina’s lack of agency, especially in book 1, is something I’ve had issues with since I first read the series. She spends a decent portion of the books letting everyone else make decisions for her, especially when it comes to Mr Edgelord. This is another thing where there is a noticeable growth between book one and book 3, but it can be hard to track as you’re reading. Watching her trust herself is immensely rewarding, but I think it could have been done without the part where she does whatever everyone else tells her to.

And of course, this feeds into the ending of Ruin and Rising, where Alina gives up her powers to defeat Mr Edgelord once and for all. It’s established pretty early on that Alina has no interest in her powers, and it’s not necessarily the fact that she loses them that makes this such an awful ending. It’s much more about how and why she loses them and the way the people (person) closest to her reacts.

For Alina, her powers had been nothing but a source of danger and frustration, a reasonable response to a thing that has resulted in her both being used as a puppet and almost killed several times. All she wants is to be safe and happy and free. In theory, I think losing her powers could have been a good ending for her if done correctly, but the fact that she lost her power after stabbing her sorry excuse for a love interest just to kill Mr Edgelord was truly not it. Alina losing her powers was never about Alina, it was about the people around her.

Of course, Bardugo then has to go and completely undo everything Alina accomplished in one fell swoop. I had a lot of issues with King of Scars but by far the worst is the way she systematically unravelled everything Alina sacrificed for. I genuinely believe the ending of KoS to be one of the worst decisions I have ever read in my life. Not only does Bardugo make Alina’s loss of power about everyone except Alina herself, she then goes and undoes it for a half baked duology.

What are your favourite badly written characters? Is there anyone else you’d like me to talk about? Do you also want to drop the Darkling into an active volcano?

Intro to YA Science Fiction

A long long time ago on this very blog I wrote a post about easy to digest YA fantasy (you can read that here) and I figured I would make a similar one for science fiction! My aim with this post is to help people who haven’t read much sci fi get introduced to the genre with books that I think are engaging but not insanely complex. And yes, this post is an attempt to make more people read books I love but it’s also for you, to read sci fi that is enjoyable. Let’s get into it!

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

One of the best parts of Iron Widow is just how fast-paced it is. You barely have time to catch your breath before you are thrown into the next plot point and it makes for a super fast and super engaging read. I found that the science parts of this book are left murky in a way that means you don’t get tangled up trying to understand how everything works.

The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson

Whilst this book is technically a dystopia it’s very adventure-based and almost easy to forget that it is sci fi in the first place. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games I truly think this is a good place to continue with YA science fiction as they have similar vibes but The Sandcastle Empire is much more up to date with what’s coming out now.

Want by Cidy Pon

This is one of my favourite duologies of all time and a really unique YA sci fi. It tackles themes of climate change and financial inequality while also featuring an incredibly heartwarming found family and a fun espionage plotline.

Warcross by Marie Lu

I love VR based science fiction, and Warcross is such a good take on the subgenre. I find VR sci fi super easy to get into, because it’s primarly tech that already exists in the real world just signficiantly more advanced than what we know. Lu is also a fantastic writer and I think this book really shows it off.

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

This is the first of the space-based stories on this list, and Empress of a Thousand Skies shares a lot of tropes with what you would expect in fantasy. If you like Star Wars I think this is a good place for you to start, and you get a wild ass ride of a story to boot.

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

I actually hate the 1997 Anastasia movie, but I love this book which is a retelling of the aforementioned film. Similar to Empress of a Thousand Skies this book has really accessible tropes for fantasy readers and I loved the ragtag group of characters that were just trying their best to get by.

Do you like science fiction? If so what’s your favourite? Are you planning on reading any of these books? Let me know!

464 More Reasons to Hate Deserts if You Didn’t Already

Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan

Young Adult, Fantasy
October 12 2021, HarperTeen
e-ARC, 464 page
buy link

In an empire on the brink of war…

Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.

Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.

When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her arcane magical abilities.

But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.

Ferocious action, shadowy intrigue, and a captivating romance collide in June CL Tan’s debut, a stunning homage to the Xianxia novel with a tender, beating heart, perfect for fans of The Bone Witch and We Hunt the Flame.

My Review

I was really excited for Jade, Fire, Gold which probably just makes the disappointment more crushing. I don’t think this is a bad book by any means, but I had high expectations and unfortunatlely this book fell short. Let’s get into why exactly this did not work for me.

The biggest source of disappointment for me was the characters. I felt like we barely got to know our two protagonists, let alone any of the side characters. Ahn and Altan both felt inconsistent, and the author didn’t really give us time to get connected to them. I liked both of them fairly well, but I just didn’t feel like they were fleshed out enough to forge anything deeper.

Pacing is another thing that I think could have bneen done better as well. Sometimes things seemed to be running at breakneck speed, and then suddenly it felt like we were limping along. It just felt rather inconsistent, and sometimes didn’t make sense for the actual goings on of the plot.

I went back and forth on Ahn and Altan’s relationship. I felt like their connection was real, but I don’t think Tan explored enough for me to truly say I shipped them. Like a lot of this book I really just feel like it needed a touch more development. Like the finish line in sight but we tripped over a rock with 10 feet between us and that ribbon.

Also, I’m not a Zutara shipper, but I really do not think it’s a good comparison to this book. Ahn and Altan aren’t really anything like Katara and Zuko, both individually or as a (prospective) couple. I can tell that some of the inspiration probably came from them, but I think it does this book and future readers a disservice to compare the two.

I would be remiss not to talk about the stuff I loved which, for one, was the writing. Tan’s style is absolutely beautiful. Her descriptions are some of the most evocative I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It was insanely easy to picture this world and all the scenes we were thrust into and I think that takes an intense amount of skill to capture.

And of course, the world-building. If you’ve read any of my other reviews you know I’m a masive sucker for world-building. I found the complicated web of politics within the palace so interesting, a power structure that left too many people feeling like the top of the food chain in a way that makes everything that happens in the book feel so organic.

There is an incredibly high chance I will be checking out June C.L. Tan’s next books, and even a sequel to this one if that happens, but I just don’t think this book was quite fleshed out enough for me. I think Jade Fire Gold had a lot of great potential but it just didn’t quite live up to the expectations I had set for it.

Good For Fans Of

  • court politics
  • enemies to lovers
  • lush descriptions

Further Reading

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Have you read Jade Fire Gold? If so what did you think? What is your favourite court politic YA novel?