The Rage of Dragons, Evan Winter

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He would fight until he won or he died. There would be, he swore, no days without difficulty

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. The lucky ones are born gifted. Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, and when those closest to him are brutally murdered, his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

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3 / 5

The Rage of Dragons has been getting a good rep in book reviewing circles for its epicness, African-inspired setting, and readability. I’m here to offer a slightly controversial opinion: this book was okay.

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Girls of Storm and Shadow (Girls of Paper & Fire #2), Natasha Ngan

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Wren and I might not be Paper Girls anymore, but we are still capable of creating fire. And now we have a whole world to set ablaze

Slaying the cruel Demon King wasn’t the end of the plan—it’s just the beginning. Now Lei and her warrior love Wren must travel the kingdom to gain support from the far-flung rebel clans. The journey is made even more treacherous thanks to a heavy bounty on Lei’s head, as well as insidious doubts that threaten to tear Lei and Wren apart from within.

Read my review of the first book in the series here.

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3 / 5

I adored Girls of Paper and Fire and I was delighted to receive a copy of Girls of Storm and Shadow. However, whilst the first book was a mesmerising five stars, this sequel is lacklustre in comparison. Ngan’s prose remains delightful and I still adore Lei and Wren’s difficult and morally grey relationship, but the plot was distinctly uninspired.

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The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2), R. F. Kuang

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Your bond will shatter. You will destroy one another. One will die, one will rule, and one will sleep for eternity

Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.

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3 / 5

I listened to The Poppy War last year and it was fantastic. The narration was superb, the storyline was gripping, the characters complex and divisive. I loved Rin and I hated her. I wanted to keep her safe and I wanted to chuck her off a cliff. I recommended The Poppy War left right and centre. As a sequel, The Dragon Republic was disappointing.

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The Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #2), Seth Dickinson

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This is the story of Agonist. Baru Cormorant as a cryptarch: secret lord of the Imperial Throne.

Baru Cormormant’s world was shattered by the Empire of Masks. To exact her revenge, she has clawed her way up razor-edged rungs of betrayal, sacrifice, and compromise, becoming the very thing she seeks to destroy. Now she strides in the Masquerade’s halls of power. To save the world, she must tear it asunder…and with it, all that remains of her soul.

Read my review of the first book in this series, The Traitor Baru Cormorant.

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3 / 5

I adored The Traitor Baru Cormorant. Several months on, that book has still stuck with me and I’ve been recommending it all over the place. If someone asks me, “read anything good lately?”, they ain’t gonna get me to stop talking for the next fifteen minutes as I tell them about Baru Cormorant, light of my life. The Monster Baru Cormorant is still beautifully written, lyrical and immersive, but suffers from middle book syndrome so bad.

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Sorcery of Thorns, Margaret Rogerson

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Night fell as death rode into the Great Library of Summershall

Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power. Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital.

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3 / 5

I love books. So it stands to reason that I would enjoy a book about books, right? And I do! I loved all the aspects in Sorcery of Thorns that were to do with books: sword-wielding librarians, grimoires that turn into monsters, books that whisper secrets to you, a child raised in a library who dreams of becoming a Warden. Unfortunately, the book didn’t manage to wow me. 

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One Word Kill (Impossible Times #1), Mark Lawrence

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We might live in a multiverse of infinite wonder, but we are what we are, and can only care about what falls into our orbit

Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. 

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3 / 5

I would give practically anything written by Mark Lawrence a shot, which is primarily why I picked up One Word Kill in the first place. I’m definitely more of a fantasy reader than a contemporary sci-fi one, but I do enjoy an occasional well-written time-travel plot, which is what this book is about. I loved the main character and the writing style, but some elements felt way too ~extra~ or over the top.

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This is How You Lose the Time War, Amel El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

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Like your victory, love spreads back through time

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. And thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more.

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4 / 5

First off, I want to praise the title of this book to heaven and back. This is How You Lose the Time War. I love it. I stayed up at night thinking about how great it was (no joke). The cover is also beautiful. The book itself gave me mixed feelings.

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Arctic Zoo, Robert Muchamore

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He felt every bit an awkward giant. Fifteen years old and seven thousand kilometres from anyone who loved him.

Georgia gets straight As at school, writes essays for fun, has been placed first in twenty-six drone races and has a serious addiction to buying Japanese stationery. She plans to follow her older sister Sophie and become a doctor, but her worldview is shattered when Sophie commits suicide.

Julius lives in Ondo, a Nigerian state where half the population lives on less than a dollar a day. But he isn’t one of them. He finds refuge in a derelict zoo with best friend Duke, but as the two of them grow close, the world outside becomes more and more hostile.

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3 / 5

Robert Muchamore writes fantastic YA novels about contemporary topics concerning teenagers: racism, sexuality, the wealth gap, mental health, and family. Arctic Zoo is no different; it is bold and ambitious and diverse, but it also felt a little disjointed. I am a huge fan of Muchamore’s CHERUB series and I was thrilled to read something with his characteristic style that still managed to feel totally new with original characters.

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Lord of Secrets, Breanna Teintze

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People see the world and think it’s made of wind and rock and water, when really it’s made of spells and words

Outlaw wizard Corcoran Gray has enough problems. He’s friendless, penniless and on the run from the tyrannical Mages’ Guild – and with the search for his imprisoned grandfather looking hopeless, his situation can’t get much worse. So when a fugitive drops into his lap – literally – and gets them both arrested, it’s the last straw – until Gray realises that runaway slave Brix could be the key to his grandfather’s release.

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3 / 5

Lord of Secrets was a deceptively simple story: a young man is searching for his captured grandfather. He is told to find a man and steal a relic from a temple. To be honest, it was very refreshing to read a book that had a clear direction. I’ve read way too many books that are needlessly complicated for the sake of surprising the reader.

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A Trail Through Time (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s #4), Jodi Taylor

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We were going to die. But we’re St Mary’s and we weren’t dead yet

Max and Leon are re-united and looking forward to a peaceful lifetime together. But, sadly, they don’t even make it to lunchtime. The action races from 17th century London to Ancient Egypt and from Pompeii to 14th century Southwark as they’re pursued up and down the timeline, playing a perilous game of hide and seek until they’re finally forced to take refuge at St Mary’s – where new dangers await them.

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3 / 5

Reading A Trail Through Time was an experience in conflicting emotions. On the one hand, I wasn’t sure how to feel about the “big twist” that this book is based on, and wasn’t entirely sold on it by the end. On the other, Max and Leon seemed a whole lot more mature, which was a relief, and Tim had a fair chunk of page-time, which was great.

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