Do you know, I’ve never done a wrap up before. I wasn’t sure if it’s something you’d be interested in andI’ve never really had enough to talk about, but I’ve found some gorgeous books and posts this month. So here goes!!
Books I’ve Read In March
A pretty modest number! Realistically, I read between 4-6 books a month but it’s steadily decreasing with school and sleep and homework becoming a factor again. Ew. Also, I did a lot of rereading this month. Honestly, I’ve reread as many books this month as I normally would in a year. There’s been rereading to catch up on series, impulse rereads of aw remember that book and some more boring reads to tackle my rapidly increasing tbr!
Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. This was a reread after buying the Collectors Edition and owning a copy for the first time – I’d forgotten how amazing the first book is.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. So of course I had to read Crooked Kingdom again (for posterity). I bought this straight after borrowing the first from the library and have read it so many times the spine’s kind of caved in. Oh no, I’ll just have to buy the Collectors Edition…
You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson. This was an absolutely adorable sapphic prom read and you can find my full review here.
They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera for the third time? Fourth time? You can find out why it’s my comfort read (and probably shouldn’t be) here.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’m glad I finally read this, but I wasn’t the biggest fan. The writing felt excessively flowery – with the actual meaning second behind having nice metaphors. And whilst they were nice metaphors, I was confused. I also found myself almost sympathising with Gatsby, which I don’t think you’re supposed to do? If you’ve tried it, let me know your opinions in the comments!
All The Young Dudes by MsKingBean89 on Archive Of Our Own. I don’t normally log fanfiction as if they’re real books, but this thing is three times as long as Cassandra Clare’s longest novel. And three thousand times as good. Find my cross-stitch inspired by this marauders fan-fiction (and why it is absolutely iconic) here.
What I’m Currently Reading
I’ve definitely talked about this before so I’ll keep it brief, but my copy of Rule Of Wolves arrived today!! I’ve been rereading King Of Scars because my memory of this book is a hot mess of a long car journey and some very traumatising plot twists. The last line, anyone?
I’m now in a frantic rush to finish both of them before the meme pages have time to make spoilers, but it’s a very good stress. I love this universe so much!
My Favourite Posts Of March
This is another thing I’ve never done before, but I really wanted to celebrate some of the posts by really talented bloggers I’ve seen this month. I could have included so many more, but here (in no particular order) are my five favourites.
I am so bad at reading newly released books. It’s no lie – most of the time, I read books that came out years and years ago and if they’re not sequels, I’m not in the loop with books coming out recently. Preordering? Not my forte. But, I thought I’d celebrate the release of Rule Of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo today by revisiting a TTT topic from a few weeks ago I missed. Today’s topic is Places In Books I’d Like To Live; feel free to link up your post in the comments and I’ll try and check it out! Are there are any books you’re looking forward to? I’d love to find some more, let me know in the comments!
All images from Goodreads.
1. She Who Became The Sun by Shelly Parker-Chan
This is absolute number one. ‘Song of Achilles meets Milan’ in a queer lyrical imaging of the Ming Dynasty? My face fell when I realised it wasn’t out yet (years of ordering books for the next day has made me soft) and THE COVER!
Release date: 20th July 2021
2. The Last Stop by Casey McQuinnston
I – just yes. Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes.
Release Date: 1st June 2021
3. Once Upon A Crime by Robin Stevens
Not me preordering it seconds after it comes out knowing nothing about it…
But it’s murder most unladylike! And Robin Stevens! So I’ll take anything I can get of this iconic series.
Release date: 5th August 2021
4. Any Way The Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell
I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S FINALLY HERE. I have not waited for two and a bit years for this sequel to Wayward Son and Carry On to be bad. I swear. Sometimes I feel like the anticipation will exceed the actual book, but I also am unconsolably excited to read this. To put it on my shelf. For me, it’s feels unusual that my favourite series is uncomplete (reference back to never reading new books) and I’m ridiculously nervous/excited to finally finish the series.
Although we still haven’t got a UK cover?
Release Date: 6th July (I may know that off the top of my head. I may be counting down the days. It’s one of those books).
As is emphasized by this tiny list, I’m not very clued up on recent books coming out! I’d love to get some recommendations though, let me know in the comments 😊
A big thanks to Cherry over at Letters To The Lost for nominating me for this tag! You can find her gorgeous site here. ‘Never Have I Ever’ was a staple birthday party game and this is such a fun take on it. What would your answers be? Let me know in the comments!
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Read a later book in a series before the first Something I try and avoid, but the order in which to read a series can be so confusing sometimes. I need nothing short of those massive numbers on the spines of the books to direct me. I read Carry On by Rainbow Rowell before Fangirl, which I’m told is a faux pas, but I think it’s the better order for plot twists and character development.
Or I just don’t want to admit I read them in the wrong order.
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Burned a book I’ve never been so disappointed in a book that I felt the need to physically destroy it, but I’ve definitely come close before (Truly Madly Awkward anyone?). If it counts, I was always a big fan of the ‘tea stained pages and singed edges’ look to primary school history homework.
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Gone into a shop to buy one book and come out with many more… So. Many. Times. I think I’m incapable of buying just one thing in a bookshop (aren’t we all?).
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Loved a book when I was younger and hated it when I was older As for quite a lot of these, no! I did read Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell ages ago and I’d be interested to revisit it to try and pick up on some of the underlying racial stereotypes I’ve seen it get hate for. Whilst I wasn’t aware of it, I didn’t really recognise anything when I first tried it.
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Read a book I knew I’d hate I was pleasantly surprised by how much better From Blood And Ash was than I’d expected. I still had some problems (and we don’t talk about Kingdom Of Flesh And Fire) but you can find my review of the former here and the latter here 🙂
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Wrote a fanfiction about my favourite book Read? Too many times to count. But I’ve never written one.
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Dressed up as my favouriteliterary characters Cosplay scares me. Some cosplayers are incredibly cool and I love that I’ve made it to Marauders/ Harry Potter Tik Tok buttttt I’ve seen some cosplay that have ruined characters and scared the living daylights out of me. They weren’t even supposed to be creepy!
So, other than World Book Days many many years ago, no.
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Hated a book by an author I love Luckily, this hasn’t happened to me… yet. I’m slightly horrified by the thought.
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Skim read a book Not the entire book, but I stopped trying about 80% of the way through Crier’s War. It wasn’t terrible, but you know when a book is such a let down you want to get read it quickly to get out of the way? Yeah.
Find my review here!
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Pretended to read a book when I haven’t What can I say – books are a great conversation starters!
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Read a book without a dust cover As I’ve started to buy fancier books, this has become something I find myself doing. I used to be confused why you’d pay so much money for a dust jacket and not look at it whilst reading, but now I understand the joys of looking back at a dust jacket without any stains or tears or random bits of food on it. I was particularly careful when reading How The King Of Elfhame Learned To Hate Stories by Holly Black – it was the black Waterstones edition and one of the prettiest books I own.
Find my review, and some of my favourite artwork, here.
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Had a book boyfriend/girlfriend I – is this calling me out for liking fictional characters, or asking if I’ve ever dated someone who likes to read? I think some people take it a bit far (I’m sorry to do this to you, but Draco Malfoy is a racist ) and I still don’t really understand shifting. Not to say I’ve never pictured meeting a fictional character…
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Picked up a book based on the cover alone I had no clue what happened in The Language Of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (I still don’t to be honest) but LOOK AT THE COVER! How could you not want to read it.
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Read the end of a book before the beginning WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS? I can’t think of anything you’d gain from reading the end first, other than some major spoilers. Although, I once saw someone who’d read the end of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows first by mistake, seen Ginny kissing someone called Albus and been very confused.
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Read a history or anthropology book for fun Not me having to google what anthropology means – I can now confirm that I’ve never read a book about the scientific study of people. But it sounds very interesting! If it counts, I want read The Illiad by Homer one day. Otherwise, I much prefer fiction.
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Participated in a readathon I’ve always been too intimidated by the year long ones, but I hosted by own last summer.
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Bought multiple books in aseries before starting it Biggest mistakes of my life: buying the entire Mortal Instruments series with no prior knowledge other than that ‘they had pretty spines’. This also ties into the last prompt:Never have I ever kept reading a series even if I didn’t love the first book. I’d bought all the books and kind of had to read them to get the pretty spines on my shelf.
It wasn’t a fun summer.
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Writtenin a book I really want to try tabbing a book; using stickers to mark down my favourite parts and make notes on the sides of the pages. It’s probably too much effort than it’s worth, but I might try it with an old favourite one day.
NEVER HAVE I EVER: Filled up an entire bookshelf and had to have stacks of books balanced precariously throughout various rooms What an oddly specific question!
Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.
But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.
The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true? Blurb and image from Goodreads
I was so excited to try this. Whilst I feared that the plot would revolve around her coming out or that there would be zero relationship development (another uncomfortably recurring theme in sapphic YA novels), have you seen the blurb?
I was right to be excited.
Liz Lighty is an anxious punk-nerd who needs a music scholarship to get into the college of her dreams – but when that falls through, she decides to try and win the $10,000 available for winning prom queen. Which is definitely a reasonable amount of money for a school prom. I love that You Should See Me In A Crown tackles how ridiculous and exclusive the whole prom system is. That being said, I’m British and a lot of American traditions seem a little bizzare to me! (My prom will also be a orange-squash at the local brownie hall affair, so I kind of love the romanticized hype of this dance). Although it didn’t impact the story, I did miss a few of the references as a British person. But we have Hamilton references; Timothee Chalamet references; all-my-favourite-bands references – after reading too many romances from the early 2000s, You Should See Me In A Crown felt refreshingly modern. A romcom for the modern age.
The formatting is gorgeous. From the calligraphic chapter titles to these little fake phone screens at the start of each chapter – whilst pretty set ups don’t a book make, they sure help. Mack and Liz are brilliant. All their interactions are so cute and perfect and cinematic; I could see You Should See Me In A Crown being an amazing tv show one day. Moreover, the description was so good that you could create a really clear picture of the scenes in your head. There are more plot points than just Liz’s relationship which kept the book moving, but there’s a big enough focus on the two of them. It’s predictable in the best way.
This paragraph contains minor spoilers.
As for criticisms, I don’t have many. It sounds petty, but Liz didn’t seem to act as horrified or surpised to some of the situations as I would. Some very inspiring, or traumatic, or just really freaking cool things happened to her and I wanted a bigger reaction. Also, I was irritated that even if the novel wasn’t centered on Liz accepting her sexuality, there was still a forced coming out. Can we move past the need to have these things as plot points? It’s great to talk openly about coming to terms with your identity and I can see why you can’t totally compare wlw books to straight books… but after writing that, why can’t you? I want to read more YA that’s a teen romance, and they both happen to be girls. You Should See Me In A Crown did a pretty good job, but if you have any recommedations, let me know in the comments!
Additionally, the ending was quite fast, felt a little rushed. Liz and Mack were spending less and less time together but that did give the author time to round of all the (numerable) plots to an acceptable standard. There’s a lot of illiteration names (J.K Rowling who?) that added a fun, whimsical flavour to the book and it’s funny!
You Should See Me In A Crown is a really sweet book. With a focus on family and friends, it felt like a really fresh and modern romance. I love the idea even if I can’t see the title without singing the Billie Eilish song. A great book with a great message: that if you hold your head high enough, anyone can be a queen.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Have you read this book? Would you try it? Got any similar recommendations? Let me know in the comments!
As much as I love a bit of Top Ten Tuesday, I thought I’d try a different weekly tag today. I first saw Goodreads Monday over at Confessions Of A YA Reader and it’s hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners. This is my first attempt at this tag, but I think all you need to do is show one book from your TBR that you’re excited to read. Images and blurbs are from Goodreads (hence the name!).
A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
I’m slightly in love with that blurb. It’s definitely got polarized responses, but with Gossip Girl off Netflix indefinitely, I need some rich kid drama to fill my day! For the next book, I got a bit confused and thought I had to mention a book from my WTR read pile too, oops. I don’t know if this is a famous book and I just live in a hole, but I’d only first heard of Eliza And Her Monsters really recently. It looks like a great rec for mental health issues, although I’m never that good with books about people losing their sanity.
Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.
But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.
Feel free to link up your Goodreads Monday in the comments and I’ll try and check it out. Have you read any of these? Would you try one? Let me know in the comments!
Seeing as it’s the weekend, I thought I’d try something different and subject you to the ranting of someone who’s just finished They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera… for the third or fourth time. I’ve lost count! Undeniably, it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read and is an ineffably beautiful book. Like, I can’t put into words how it makes me feel. Insightful, funny and so clever, I love that I can read it again and again without getting bored. It’s a totally different experience rereading a book for the second time. I once saw someone say that they read every book three times to fully appreciate it; whilst I do not have the time or the patience to do that, you’re not wondering what’s going to happen and can spend so much more time actively appreciating the book.
It follows Mateo and Rufus, two strangers who receive alerts from ‘Death Cast’ telling them that will die that day. The boys meet through an app called ‘Last Friend’ and try and live an entire lifetime in a single day. For more information you can find my original review here, but I thought I’d mention my favourite details that I’ve picked up from rereading. What is your comfort book? Have you read They Both Die At The End? Let me know in the comments!
There is so much foreshadowing. Adam Silvera is cruel – I’ll see something and realise… but he doesn’t get to do it… or that it parallels the very last line. It makes it all the more sadder (disclamer: it’s a hopeful book, but not a happy one. Although with a name like They Both Die At The End I guess you know what to expect!)
Whilst the only first person perspectives are from the two main characters, you get many other third person narratives. They’re sometimes super short and build up this massive picture of an incredibly 3D world. There’s a huge focus on cause and affect, how your actions will always have some sort of impact and it’s so CLEVER.
I physically cannot talk about this book without crying, or disintegrating into an endless list of positive adjectives.
They Both Die At The End is science fiction, thriller, mystery and yes a romance but I love that Mateo and Rufus are very much seperate characters. They work so well together but aren’t built with one of them as the ‘love interest’ and the other the main character.
So much happens. If you’re worried (like I was) that there wouldn’t be enough plot crammed into one day, there is!
One of my favourite parts is the idea of ‘Death Cast’, and learning about its impact on the world. Very well thought out!
They Both Die At The End is feminist and diverse and inclusive in such a normalised way. Because these things are normal. But I love how offhandedly side characters are introduced as female CEOs travelling to meet their girlfriends.
Last thing: do you ever hear a song and just think THIS WAS MADE FOR THIS BOOK. It’s rare, but the other night I was thinking of They Both Die At The End and Hold Back The River by James Bay came on the radio. I nearly started sobbing.
Maybe I should try and find a comfort book where the main characters don’t die, but They Both Die At The End is beautiful and changes your perception of the world as much as paper can.
This one of my favourite weekly tags, so many people do it that it’s really fun. WWW Wednesday is hosted over at Taking On A World Of Words, go check out their site 🙂 If you’ve had a go at this tag, feel free to link your post in the comments. And here’s what I’ve been up to this week!
What I Finished Recently
I feel like I needed/deserved to treat myself with something… lighter after finishing ‘A Kingdom Of Flesh And Fire’. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it, more that I had too many problems that overwhelmed the better sections. Seriously, it had more plot holes than a sieve and it meant that all the best bits fell out. Find my review here 🙂
So, I tried ‘You Should See Me In A Crown’ by Leah Johnson. It was a very cute sapphic read that’s been on my WTR forever about a girl who needs to win prom queen to get scholarship money and I was so glad to finally get round to it. Keep an eye out for my review later this week 🙂
What I’m Currently Reading
I’m currently reading ‘The Great Gatsby’… voluntarily! And the reason for this is definitely because I feel I should try this famous piece of literature, not because I can then tell people that I’ve read it…
The language is kind of hard work so far, and I feel like I should be highlighting and analysing every other word. But other than that I’m enjoying it!
What I Want To Read Next
My next stop is a very strategic reading of ‘King of Scars’ by Leigh Bardugo. The sequel, ‘Rule Of Wolves’ comes out in less than two weeks and I want to go straight into that from ‘King Of Scars’ (so read it as late as possible) but also not get any spoilers by reading it too late (ie. read close enough to release date so meme pages can’t get to work). If my calculations are correct, I should fit inone book before ‘King Of Scars’ reread… but I picked the seemingly very complicated ‘The Great Gatsby’ so my fool-proof plan may not have been as fool-proof as I thought. It’s very complicated!
What are you reading? Have you tried any of these? Let me know in the comments!
Ahh this was so fun! If you’re seen some of my other rants, you’ll know that I love the Umbrella Academy. The music, the plot, the characters – it’s hands down one of the best shows on Netflix. I still need to try the graphic novels – they’re written by the lead singer of My Chemical Romance and if you can think of a better incentive to read something, let me know. A big thanks to Madeline over at The Bookish Mutant for nominating me. Her answers are hilarious, go check them out!
THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY BOOK TAG
HELLO: The best first book in a series
Thinking of books I’ve read recently, I’m going to go with From Blood And Ash because the sequel just wasn’t as good. And for a shameless plug, you can find my reviews ofKingdom Of Flesh And Fire here and From Blood And Ashhere.
THE HARGREEVES CHILDREN: A big book family. (Dysfunctional is optional)
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children aside (I feel like the title is a little too obvious) I really liked the atmosphere of Jam’s best friend’s big family in Pet by Akwaeke Emezi. It was also one of the most diverse I’ve ever read – you can find my review here 🙂
Also, can I just point out that Number 5 is a mood.
THE WORLD ENDS IN EIGHT DAYS: If you only had 8 days left, which book would you choose to be your last read?
I loved Madeline’s answer of reading Frankenstein to try and figure out a way to resurrect yourself (albeit as a shredded monster, but you can probably still eat pizza. Which is all I’m here for). I might deploy a similar tactic and read Dracula because then at least I’m undead.
Although, realistically, I’d probably end up rereading all my favourite books and living vicariously through my favourite characters one last time.
SPACEBOY: A character who plays the leader, but may not be cut out for it.
I liked how Nikolai in King Of Scars had moments of weakness. But was still a great king and I think he’s cut out for it? I’m not sure who else to go for.
Speaking of, RULE OF WOLVES COMES OUT AT THE END OF THE MONTH AND I’M RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED🥳
THE BOY: A book that plays with time (whether it be dual timelines, time travel, etc.)
Never World Wake by Marisha Pessl was some tricky business, but the characters basically had to keep repeating one day over and over until they voted which one of them could return to the next day while the rest of them died. Fun!
I’ve been rereading some of the Grisha books by Leigh Bardugo for the sequel of King of Scars (really any excuse for a reread will do!). You wouldn’t want to cross any of the crew on a dark night…
Hazel and Cha Cha’s masks give me the creeps *shudders*.
GOODBYE: What’s the best finale?
In my experience, the quality of books in a series either a) increases as you go along b) decreases (significantly) as you go along c) or the-first-one-is-amazing-second-one-is-abysmal-but-it-drags-itself-back-with-a-fantastic-finale d) We’re not going to talk about the series that you think are complete, and pretty great but then the author runs out of cash and decides to write some more. Mortal Instruments or Midnight Sun, anyone?
But I think that Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo is probably my favourite book of all time. I thought nothing could top Six Of Crows. I was wrong.
If you’re not a fan of The Umbrella Academy or haven’t seen it, no pressure to do it 🙂
I’m back with more cross-stitch! This week,with all the buzz surrounding it recently, I decided to hop on the bandwagon and do a peice inspired by the All The Young Dudes Marauders fanfic. Honestly, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever read on Archive Of Our Own and if you’re a fan of fanfiction and the Marauders, I’d highly recommend it.
I have so much I could say about these characters; so much love for all of them. Remus Lupin was always one of my favourite charatcers reading the Harry Potter series, but I love how the fandom have taken his character and run with it. Sirius and James are just iconic (we don’t talk about Peter…). I tried to capture the 70s rock and roll/rebel teen wizards in a red and gold colour scheme and oh my god was it fun to make.
From left to right, we have:
James looking fancy
Sirius with messy hair (possibly coming out a bit shorter than I intended, but Sirius Black is a tiny punk who thinks he’s tall and that’s ahill I will die on)
Tall Boi TM Remus with the marauders map
Peter wearing shorts and a big Gryfindor hat because he is A Child.
One of Remus’ letter to Grant (who is 1000% canon)
An attempt at recreating T Rex’s Electric Warrior album cover – I’m proud of it but it was VERY HARD! All The Young Dudes rekindled my love for the band and this album has some absolute bangers on it. I think my family are sick of me dancing to Get It On…
The greenhouses at Hogwarts
A record player – I love how this turned out
And quite possibly my favourite album of all time: a bad recreation of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars by David Bowie. This – I just love it so much. Even though my love of it was certainly decreased by how flipping HARD it was to freestyle stitch.
I don’t know if anyone’s going to undertand these references, but I had a lot of fun making it (as I’m sure you can tell). Whose your favourite Marauder? Have you read All The Young Dudes? Got any recommedations for characters or quotes I should try next? Let me know in the comments!
This book has more plot holes than a sieve – and it meant that all the best bits fell out.
Name: Kingdom Of Flesh And Fire
Author: Jennifer Armentrout
A Betrayal… Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her.
A Choice… Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants—to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself—about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation.
A Secret… But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.
That’s one chunky blurb! As I’m sure you’ve realised, Kingdom Of Flesh And Fire is the much anticipated sequel to From Blood And Ash – you can find my thoughts on FBAA here. It picks up from the very end of From Blood And Ash (quite literally the last line) which I always like in sequels. It means that you can get back into the action without a disortientating time-jump; or the struggle of figuring out what happened in the time gap. Becuase I was struggling enough as it was!
This review contains mild spoilers, but nothing severe.
In the last quarter of From Blood And Ashwhen everything went to pot, the truth about the Ascended was revealed. And even though I had a full 600+ pages to digest that, I still don’t really understand. It seems overly complicated? And that wasn’t helped by the introduction of a new subplot every 50 pages.
Ahhh the subplots (aka gaping plot holes). It felt like tropes were being introduced just for the sake of ticking off that trope. Heartmates? The Guard? These were some really interesting details, but that’s drained when you get next to no information about them. I think that Armentrout should have had a bigger focus on a few central themes – although it did make me smirk sometimes when I spotted the introduction of one and thought I know where this is going… Hopefully, it will all be cleared up in the third book, but I don’t think I’ll be sticking around to find out.
On the other hand, I can see why some people prefer Kingdom Of Flesh And Fire.I’d been so excited to read it (and slightly nervous of posting this) because of lovely comments on my last review saying that I’ll enjoy this sequel even more. But I much preferred FBAA – this felt like a massive tonal shift. There’s a lot less focus on the characters’ development and the world building to just their relationship. Which makes sense. But, I’m here for the long run and if they’re making out again… It was well written, but I did have a few moments of IT’S THE MIDDLE OF THE BATTLE, SURELY THIS CAN WAIT!
Leading on from that, I have a few thoughts for Casteel. Come on man, I feel like Poppy can button up her own clothes. And while it does mean you can do a sexy run of your arms down hers, don’t you have more important things to do? I swear the book would be 50 pages shorter if Poppy could dress herself. And this was something that came up more than once! My favourite part of Poppy from book one was her ability to hold her own, she certainly seemed less fiery when Casteel is doing everything for her?
Also, I kind of hate that the only reason Poppy and the female soldiers were good at fighting was because of their heritage and DNA. You don’t see that happening to the men – why do the women need to have an exuse for their skills? Why can’t they just be good warriors? Leading on from that, Poppy always seemed really jealous of Hawke’s ex Shea – I didn’t need her to be like #girlboss (for want of better expression) but the girl was dead! Maybe I’ve read too many books recently with painful portrays of jelousy, but I felt like Poppy had no reason to be worrying about how Hawke was with Shea.
However, there was some good monents with Poppy. I appreciate that the female warriors’ biggest trait wasn’t that they wore skin tight suits but were actually decent fighters. Also, I liked that Poppy acknowledged that Casteel wasn’t the one to change her life. She changed her own: it’s an important and interesting thing to acknowledge and one that I wasn’t really expecting with the tone of the book!
The lack of diversity isn’t great. I don’t think that any of the main characters are explicitly people of colour. I always like seeing how fantasy worlds treat LGBTQ charatacters (although I personally prefer the Six Of Crows approach of It’s not a big deal – do whatever you want as long as you’re making money!). But, there are no explicitly LGBTQ characters in the series so far.
My next note was literally Poppy gasps too much, people don’t actually do that as a natural reaction, this is not a pantomime. But on a more important note, I wanted… softer moments? I want bits where Poppy can be vulnerable and hurt without Casteel being like wow that’s hot. Because this girl has gone through a LOT. Being angry is a very valid response, but I feel like it was her only emotion? I want her to be more hurt (which would be realistic because her life is not great) and Casteel to suport her.
Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood for gore, but I was oftenstruck by how incredibly VIOLENT this series is. It’s quite juxtaposing to go straight from a bloodthirsty battle to the bedroom. (While we’re here, is it sexy to be called a murderous little creature? Are we taking that as a compliment? Albeit stunning was before murderous, but I don’t think I’d want to be called a little creature, especially by my future spouse.)
My last point (I hear you take a breath of relief) was that I found Kingdom Of Flesh And Fire quite static to read. The main reason it didn’t feel fluid was due to the big information dumps. The pace seemed so much slower than From Blood And Ash and that paired with odd dialogue structure made 600 pages… feel like 600 pages. There was too much talking in the battle scenes; then too much room between talking; and then a full page of dialogue. Poppy had so many inner monologues when she could have been doing something more interesting (*winks*).
To sum up, it wasn’t a super enjoyable read but I’m glad I tried it. The end quarter is amazing. Despite my flaws with Casteel and Poppy’s relationsip, they seem to have respect and consent? I think? But I think the page count could have been cut down significantly. Most importantly: IT’S NOT FOR YOUNGER READERS. THERE SHOULD BE A MASSIVE STICKER ON THIS THING! Don’t be fooled by the pretty covers – even if they are gorgeous. Have you seen the Fairyloot ones? I love them more than Casteel loves doing up Poppy’s clothes. Which must be a lot.