YA

REVIEW: Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Diana is desperate to prove herself to her warrior sisters but when the opportunity comes, she throws away her chance and instead breaks Amazon law to save one mortal, Alia Keralis. With this single act Diana not only puts her home, Themyscira, in danger but the entire world. Alia is a Warbringer – a descendent of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of conflict and pain. Diana and Alia will face enemies, mortal and divine, determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. The only way they can save the world is to stand together.

I had some trouble getting into Wonder Woman: Warbringer to start with. I think it was because I had both the film and the various comics featuring Wonder Woman I’ve read in my mind at first, where Diana was an adult and more respected and experienced with her abilities compared to the seventeen-year-old Diana featured in this book. But after 50 pages or so I got used to it and found myself falling in love with this Diana and her story.

It may sound a little cheesy but this book is about the power of friendship and girls sticking by one another. The friendship Diana and Alia forge in the face of such differences and with pretty much everything else against them is admirable. Also, Alia’s best friend Nim is great, she’s opinionated and doesn’t really have a filter but she’s so incredibly loyal. It’s the interactions between Diana, Alia, Nim, Alia’s brother Jason and their friend Theo that really makes this story. Through banter between them all you get to see what connections are already there and how they grow and adapt when Diana comes into the picture.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer is a great blend of action, drama and humour with a sprinkling of Greek mythology. While there are some fantastical elements, it always feels grounded. It’s an intriguing mystery that ends up with a thrilling finale that I couldn’t put down – I ended up reading it in just two days!

In the end, Wonder Woman: Warbringer gave me the same feeling as the recent Wonder Woman film did. It’s all about finding your inner strength and believing in the best in people and what they could potentially achieve. It’s a fast-paced adventure that I feel is perfect for both new and old fans of Diana. 4/5.

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REVIEW: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he has too much fun for that. Neither being kicked out of the finest boarding schools in England nor his father’s disapproval can stop him drinking, gambling or waking up in the arms of women or men. As Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, along with his best friend Percy (who he may be in love with) and his younger sister Felicity, he has one final year of fun until he must return home and to be a part of his father’s business. But things go awry when Monty’s usual recklessness turns their trip abroad into a manhunt across Europe, putting himself and those he cares about in danger.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is so much fun. It’s set in the 1700’s which allows for a different kind of travelling adventure. They can’t get money easily, there’s now quick communication to back home if things go wrong so when you encounter highway men or pirates you’re on your own with just your wits.

Monty, Percy and Felicity are a great trio of characters with interesting dynamics. Felicity was the one I loved straight away. She’s a young lady due to go to finishing school when all she really wants to do is go to the school’s her brother has been kicked out of. But due to her gender and the times that’s not possible, no matter how smart and eager she is. Percy is the nephew of a nobleman but he has never really fitted in to high society due to his Barbadian mother. Even though his childhood must’ve been difficult he is warm and kind and cares about Monty a lot. Monty took longer to grow on me as the problems he ends up facing really help him grow and learn more about himself. He’s selfish and only thinks about how other people’s issues affects him, he’s a charmer and doesn’t think before he acts – all qualities that are often simultaneously infuriating and endearing.

Monty’s voice shines through in the writing, making this 500-page novel fly by. Also, the fact that Monty ends up in almost non-stop escapades definitely helps make it a book that’s difficult to put down. From England, to France and beyond their adventures and the mystery they uncover often verges into the absurd but it’s all told with such charm and wit that it ends up being quite brilliant. Along with all the excitement and threat of danger, there’s still quieter moments between the characters that show they aren’t necessarily cut out for this kind of thing but being together makes them stronger and better.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a great historical adventure story with a bisexual main character, an engaging romance and a colourful cast of characters. 5/5.

August’s Illumicrate Box

My August Illumicrate box arrived today and I am seriously impressed with it! Illumicrate is a quarterly YA box based in the UK. It costs £29.99 per box, with free shipping to the UK included, it ships internationally but there is a shipping cost that varies depending where you live. Unlike a lot of subscription boxes Illumicrate doesn’t have a theme each quarter so it’s a surprise to see what’s included. There’s always at least one book and about 4-6 bookish goodies.

I really liked all the goodies in this box. There’s usually one or two things in any subscription box, not just Illumicrate, that I’m not that fussed about but all of these goodies put a smile on my face. There was Nevernight-inspired The Red Church Tea which is an exclusive from T-ology, I don’t drink tea but this tea smells gorgeous and might just leave it out as potpourri or something. There’s a zip bag with a Shakespeare quote from Miss Phi which is an exclusive, an exclusive dot grid notebook with a quote from The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan on the cover from Hey Atlas Creative and an exclusive Alethiometer coaster from Hannah Hitchman Art which I quite liked because you rarely see His Dark Materials goodies in subscription boxes.

There’s bookmarks for Ringer, After The Fire and The Bear and the Nightingale. Then there’s pin badges for Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu, a book I hadn’t heard of but based on the badges I googled it and it sounds like the most perfect book for me and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. And finally, from Blossom Books there was a set of sticky bookmarks and a book money jar. I have a random tin I’d been using to put £1 in for every book I read so I’m going to move that money to the jar.

There were two books in this quarters box. The first I saw was an exclusive edition advanced reader copy of Nyxia by Scott Reintgen. I hadn’t heard of this book before but it sounds like a sci-fi space thriller so I am intrigued. Nyxia is released at the end of September and it came with a bookmark in this box. The second book was Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo! I’ve seen this book pretty much all over Twitter for the past few months and after seeing Wonder Woman at the cinema three times and loving it a lot, I was definitely interested in Wonder Woman: Warbringer. This copy is an exclusive to Illumicrate with its red sprayed edges and has an exclusive Wonder Woman pin badge.

So that was this quarters Illumicrate box! I loved everything inside it and was very impressed with the book choices and all the goodies included. Now I always say I’ll read the books I get in subscription boxes sooner rather than later, and 99% of the time that doesn’t happen, but this time I mean it! I’m looking forward to reading both books and it was a lovely surprise to see them included in this quarters box.

REVIEW: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

When Andie’s dad is caught up in a political scandal, all her summer plans are thrown into chaos. No more summer internship, instead she finds herself with a summer job as a dog walker. She’s not used to not having everything planned out but having everything be unexpected for once could mean a chance for love and new experiences.

The Unexpected Everything is a delightful book. At over 500 pages I was worried it would take me a while to read but in the end, I read it in just one day. I got pulled in by Andie’s story and all her friends, and by the fact there was so many dogs. Honestly if you like dogs, this book is for you as its not only the characters that are interesting and a lot of fun but the many dogs Andie ends up walking are too.

Andie is the kind of character that normally would rub me up the wrong way as she’s often quite selfish and likes everyone and everything to fit in her own plans, but much of the story is about her growing as a person and seeing how she is seen by other people. Andie doesn’t like letting people get close to her or even tell people she’s in a relationship with anything of real substance about herself – this all comes to ahead when she meets Clark. The romance between Andie and dog owner Clark is sweet and has your usual lack of communication confusion but the story has a lot of charm and Andie and Clark both have their flaws and still compliment each other that I was rooting for them.

I really liked Andie’s friendship group, their summer adventures and how The Unexpected Everything showed that some relationships can be quite overwhelming and we all need are space from those we care about. I also really liked how Andie’s relationship with her dad was so believable, they’d not had anything to do with each other for so long so suddenly being around each other led to an interesting dynamic.

The Unexpected Everything is the perfect summer read. It’s fun, has moments of humour and lots of characters you want to be happy. 5/5.

July’s OwlCrate Box: Wanderlust

I ordered my third ever OwlCrate when I saw that July’s theme was “Wanderlust” – a theme that is pretty perfect for me as I love travelling and books about characters going on adventures.

OwlCrate is a YA subscription box service based in America, so because of the kind of expensive shipping costs to the UK I very rarely get one (she says even though this is her second box in three months – they’ve had cool themes recently!) Even though it comes from the US I do think it arrives really quickly and everything is well packaged so nothing gets damaged in the post.

Now onto what was included in this month’s box! #Spoilers

I’m not going to lie but I kind of rummaged to the bottom of the box straight away to see what the book was because I had a small inkling/hope based on the hints given by OwlCrate. The book was what I hoped it would be and that was The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee! I’ve seen this book on the book blogosphere and it sounds like such a fun adventure and I’ve heard so many positive things about it. I wasn’t sure what I’d been seeing was ARC’s or if the book was already out as I am terrible at keeping up with books release dates. I’m really looking forward to reading it and it might even be the next book I pick up. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue came with a signed bookplate, a cute illustrated note from the author and an art print map. Also, the cover is an OwlCrate exclusive and it’s more of a blue cover than green cover of the standard hardback which is cool.

Now onto the goodies. There’s an art print featuring a quote from Francois Rabelais and is somewhat inspired by John Green’s Looking for Alaska which was designed by Shailey Ann Designs. There’s a Lord of the Rings-inspired cloth backpack which is rather cool and a Newt Scamander keychain from Funko – if there’s a character that has wanderlust it’s Newt. There’s a pocket mirror inspired by A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab and was designed by Miss Phi. Then there’s a pocket journal from Ooly (one of eight different designs) and an owl luggage tag from Mudpuppy.

Once again there’s a lot of cool stuff in this OwlCrate box. Newt is going to be joining the rest of my Funko collection on my bookshelves and I’ll definitely be putting the pocket mirror in my handbag. I’m super excited about The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and I think the rest of the goodies will be things I’ll use.

Next months OwlCrate theme is “Something Wicked This Way Comes” so if you like things that are magical and something evil then maybe August’s OwlCrate box is for you. If you got this months OwlCrate, do let me know what you thought. Are there any other bookish subscription boxes I should try?

REVIEW: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

In her everyday life Eliza Mirk is shy, awkward and hates school, but in the online world she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of mega popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine ever enjoying the real world as much as the online one so she never really bothers to try. That is until Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction author, transfers to Eliza’s school and, believing Eliza is just another fan, he begins to draw her out of her shell. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally revealed everything in her life is thrown into turmoil, her relationship with Wallace, her art and even her sanity.

I loved this book. I’ve been wary of books about fandom because I’ve always kind of felt that the first rule of fandom, is that you don’t talk about fandom. But I’m so happy that Eliza and Her Monsters showed me that there can be great books about fandom that respects and understands it.

Eliza and Her Monsters is a mix-media novel, it includes panels from Monstrous Sea as well as emails, letters and instant messages. This, plus the fact the book is great, helps make Eliza and Her Monsters a really quick read. I loved how the extracts from Monstrous Sea often mirrored the situations Eliza found herself in, giving you an extra insight as to where her mind is at. The Monstrous Sea story was just as interesting as Eliza’s story and the book did a great job of explaining the plot of the webcomic enough that when characters discussed who their favourite characters were, you had a good idea who they were talking about.

Eliza’s two best friends are Max and Emmie and they’ve never met face to face. I love how Eliza and Her Monsters shows how people behind a computer screen can be, and often are, just as important a connection as those you see in the flesh. The three of them are all great friends who not only share the fandom stuff but their real-life events too. I also liked how Eliza realises and apologises when she does sometimes takes Max and Emmie for granted, she’s a flawed, ordinary person who mistakes and I loved reading about her.

I was on edge as the story progressed as I could tell that Eliza’s internet identity would come out and everything she had with Wallace would be put in jeopardy. I hate confrontation, both in real life and in fiction, and had grown so attached to Eliza that I didn’t want to see her hurt.

I loved Eliza and Her Monsters. I loved how various characters grew on me as the story progressed, how I could relate to Eliza but still get frustrated with her sometimes, the complexities of online and offline personas – it was all so great. Eliza and Her Monsters made me cry because it hit me right in the feels and that hasn’t happened with a book for a long time. 5/5.

May’s Illumicrate Box

My May Illumicrate Box arrived earlier this week while I was visiting a friend abroad so it was a nice surprise waiting for me when I got home.

Illumicrate is a quarterly YA box based in the UK. Unlike a lot of subscription boxes this one doesn’t really have a theme each quarter so it’s always a surprise to see what’s included. There was a lot of stuff in this month’s box.

There were two books included in this month’s box. There’s a signed copy of Truth or Dare by Non Pratt which sounds like a super interesting book. I believe it’s got the same story from two points of view so you read it like a normal book and then you flip it around and read the over characters side of the story. It’s all about friendship and internet fame which since I’ve read Eliza and Her Monsters I’m a lot more interested in. The other book was an advanced reader copy of The Waking Land by Callie Bates. It’s a fantasy story with magic and warring kingdoms and I think it’s released later this month. Book books came with a letter from the author and The Waking Land also came with a signed bookplate.

Now the goodies were pretty cool too. There’s a Feyre mug from Merwild, who I believe is a character from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series but I don’t really know I haven’t read those books, but I really like the design and you can never have too many mugs. There’s a Mermaid Lagoon Candle from Flickerink which has a really strong and sharp tropical scent – I love it but my mum’s not a fan so that’ll be one I use when she’s out.

There’s a very cute keyring from Nutmeg and Arlo which has the “Swish & Flick” quote from Harry Potter along with a wand – my house keys used to have a felt bird on them but that fell off a while ago so have been meaning to find a new keyring for them so this could well be the replacement. There’s some lovely Beauty and the Beast artwork and door hanger from TJ Lubrano which is so pretty. Though I’m always unsure as what to do with art prints.

Then there was a map bookmark from Penguin Co which is quite clever and sits on the corners of the page you’re up to, and then some extra goodies for Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith, Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles and The Gender Games by Juno Dawson. I am very tempted to put The Gender Games pin badge, which has the quote “Let the Gender Games Begin” on it, on my work lanyard just to see what the reaction may be – I work at an all-boys school so it could be interesting.

So that was all that was in this month’s Illumicrate box! It was definitely jampacked and I feel I will use most of the stuff featured. I think I’ll be reading Truth or Dare sooner rather than later and I am intrigued by The Waking Land.

Now my bank balance can take a break after I ordered three different bookish subscription boxes this month!