Reviewing BooksForAri -Laura Thalassa’s “The Queen of All that Dies”

The Queen of All that Dies (The Fallen World, #1)The Queen of All that Dies by Laura Thalassa

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For an enemies-to-lovers story, this one is fairly gruesome and unpropitious. Severe emotions and deeply dark motifs left me aghast nearly every chapter.

And by the gods, I enjoyed this book so much! SO FREAKING MUCH!

Imagine a future, post-apocalyptic reality weakened by war and shattered as a symptom of one man’s jockey for world-wide control. Now imagine being a young woman practically raised in the flames of his destruction. And after imagining ALL that, what kind of creature would you be when you collide with the fire-starter: a phoenix of new beginnings or a hellhound of revenge?

The story is fast-paced and saturated with thought-provoking scenarios. The author twirls around cliches, like a professional dancer, determined to give YA (MAYBE NEW ADULT – I FEEL LIKE THE SEXY SCENES MAKE THIS NEW ADULT) readers the wonderful thrill of being swept up by the music of her words, and skillfully leading her audience through ominous pathways. I was so taken with the storyline. As I followed along with Serenity’s version of events (a majority of the story is told from her POV), I couldn’t help but feel like her future was constantly shifting with every decision made. I feel like she knew that too. We were stepping into the unknown together, in a world that no longer had rules, made up of inhumane people and comprised of an amoral society constantly shifting to meet the whims of their new king forcing young, ferocious Serenity to build herself in a place that cannot bare to maintain her foundation.

I think people that want fluff and hidden perfection should stay away from this book. There’s nothing wrong with loving bad boys that have secretly been good the whole time. Shooooooot, I happen to love the fallen angel characterization that YA authors seem to favor lately. But the nefarious creature that lives inside me absolutely needed a book like this. It’s a twisted plot with complex characters, and what makes it even better is the dystopian setting. I’ve heard that a villain is the hero of their own story, and that truth is extremely applicable here.

Clever, original and heart-breaking, I just couldn’t stop myself from devouring this book and immediately starting the next one.

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Reviewing BooksForAri – Vic James’ “Gilded Cage”

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts, #1)Gilded Cage by Vic James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: A free advanced digital copy of this book was received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wow.

Just.

Wow.

This is my attempt at making this review as spoiler free as possible, please bear with me during this brave endeavor.

Okay… *deep breath* So, when I read the synopsis, my expectation of the book was completely skewed. Because the romance was the plot mentioned first and then the revolutionary and then the ambiguous wild-card character, I automatically assumed that this would be the hierarchy for the amount of time spent on each character in relation to the plot and, subsequently, that it would be a clear indication of each of their significance. Add on the fact that the prologue tainted my perception from the beginning, and bam – I went through the first portion of the book expecting things that weren’t going to happen.

Well, color me pink with pleasure! Shame on me for going into a story with presumptions. There’s romance, but it’s not the main artery in this network of plots – so it’s a bonus, not the focus. There’s revolution, but it’s so nuanced and ubiquitous that your blood thrums along with the growing dissention. And then, of course, there’s Mr. I-could-be-destruction-or-salvation-but-who-knows that throws ALL OF YOUR THOUGHTS INTO DISARRAY. *heavy breathing*

I am so freaking happy with this book. I am ecstatic that I got to read it before it was released because I know I want a physical copy in my personal library so I can re-read and annotate it. Every few chapters brought to light new information that slightly altered the reader’s scope. The concepts introduced took on a broader, and more heady, tone as I digested the author’s words. Each storyline was a slow, slow burn that got me to feel for the characters and their circumstance before engulfing everything in flames. While I didn’t particularly like a few of the characters, I understood each of them and I fully appreciate the author’s dedication to character growth and three-dimensionality. It made for a compelling and wretched story of privilege, inequality and strife.

Most of my favorite books took me less than a day to finish, but this one took me a little over a month. Why? This actually correlates with some of the points I made above. The author packed so much information into the each part of the story. The setting, the people, the world… It was… a bit too much at times, for me. The story is set in England (a place I’m not familiar with) with modern details (I was constantly trying to pinpoint an exact time) and there wasn’t any clear divide on who was ‘good’ or ‘evil’ (which drove me absolutely crazy). Throw in the common excuses of work and daily chores, and you have a recipe for delayed literary completion.

Is the book perfect? No. Does that matter? No. BECAUSE IT’S NEW, REFRESHING, UNRUSHED, AND DIVINE. I absolutely love social hierarchy drama. I can’t wait to see where this is all going. Will it be a happily ever after? Will it be just death and destruction? Can a world change at the hands of the oppressed or must it be destroyed before it can be reborn again? I don’t know and I don’t think any of the characters know either but I will follow them every freaking step of the way.

Also, side note, I love Silyen. Please give me more Silyen, forever and ever. Vic James, if you’re reading this, please know – he is the most interesting megalomaniac I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading and no matter where his life takes me, I don’t believe I will be disappointed with its direction. Thank you.

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Reviewing BooksForAri -Britt Holewinski’s “Schism”

SchismSchism by Britt Holewinski

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: A free digital copy of this book was received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a complete groupie when it comes to utopian/dystopian novels and anything ethically or morally questionable. So when I saw “[kids rule the world because all the adults are dead]” I thought to myself, YESSSS, TINY HUMANS ARE JUST UNTRAINED PEOPLE WITH MINIMAL MORALS. If there are no adults or societies to train them, what would they make of the world?! I didn’t exactly get what I… expected? I guess, it was a lot more traditional dystopian than I originally anticipated.

Hmmm… My feelings on this book were fairly divided… The summary was intriguing enough to request on NetGalley, and the story line was very Lord of the Flies meets The Walking Dead which kept me interested enough to finish; yet, I felt like the writing was somewhat lacking.

Every character is white, except for a secondary character that plays the role of Maria, the daughter of a Hispanic drug lord. *eye roll* The lack of diversity is something that I’m used to. And because it’s such a commonality, I don’t usually let it affect my rating of a book, but I always feel like it’s something worth mentioning in my reviews. (Not going to lie, the whole drug and slut trope constantly being applied to Hispanic/Latinx/Spanish-speaking/South American characters really irks me, but that’s an issue to be addressed at a later time.)

The author also makes an effort to point out that everyone involved in the story is beautiful and skilled things they’ve obtained via osmosis from all the dead adults lol. Andy is damn-near a surgeon before she’s 20. Charlie is a certified genius and youngest. Ben and Jim have military physique and mental capabilities without any prior training. There is no gray characters; it’s all black and white. Everyone fits a kind of purpose and specific criteria for the stereotypical good or bad qualities. They lack that sort of depth that usually accompanies dystopian novels, which are constantly filled with characters that toe the line of benevolence and malevolence. Where are the ugly people? Where are the kind-of-decent-looking characters that struggle in this new world because they literally only know the Pythagorean Theorem? Where are the ones that can’t even tell the difference between good and evil anymore?

Granted, there’s a huge gap of time missing, given that the story jumps forward 5 years, but I would have liked to see the cultivation of this new world and how the children established their hierarchy after they’ve fully exhausted anarchy. I wanted to see more dimensionality with the characters. I felt like they were too perfect. And so dry. The writing made each of them seem unintentionally straight forward and very much no-non-sense, which could be a result of the new post-virus world, but if that’s the case, then where’s the internal monologues? The explanatory chapters flashing back to the instances hopefully from the 5-year gap that led up to these stoic moments? WHERE IS THE PASSION?! THE THRILLS?! SUSPENSE?!

FYI: the suspense in this book never lasted long, which kind of boggled me. Every issue that arose was solved before the next issue arose, instead of being suggested and weaved across plot. Maybe I’m just missing the interwoven plotlines because this is only the first book? But there wasn’t really much of a build up and because the characters were so direct, the reader always knew where the story line was headed…

… It wasn’t… bad? I think the author lays down all these beautiful ideas that were itching to be explored, which I think is as equally a positive as it is a negative one. Positive, because it gives the reader the opportunity to fill in the blanks and take it upon themselves to explore possible outcomes and what-if situations that result from the post- apocalyptic virus world that the author has created. Negative because there just wasn’t enough information for the implied ideas to be thoroughly appreciated. Though the writing is as simplistic and thought-provoking as a book like The Giver, the target audience doesn’t share the same age group which and the expectations for each are different. The content of Schism seemed for an older crowd. Because of the author’s background, there was an almost-personal feel to the ideas of government conspiracies and terrorism, but that same effort wasn’t put into other aspects of the book, like setting, history, and character development.

Overall, it wasn’t a waste of my time. I relatively enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to my friends. I would, however, recommend it to my philosophy partners just to get their take on such situations.

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