Fantasy · Science Fiction

Kari Maaren’s Weave A Circle Round

I read this book last March and I STILL don’t know how to talk about it. Other than “I absolutely love it and Freddy is my new favourite”, I don’t know what to say about this book. See, it was pitched to me as “Diana Wynne Jones meets Madeleine L’Engle” and weirdly enough, that’s exactly how it felt like to me, like these two favourites of mine got together and made this weird lovable baby.

But first, the plot. Or maybe, what plot? It was kind of a messy story in which nothing happens and also too many things happen, which I did not mind at all because it was a fun ride. There was Freddy, a young girl who only wanted to be invisible. She knew that she was different and that different was bad (as far as getting along at school went) and that to survive she needed to not be noticed by others.

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Fantasy

The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

Okay, first of all I have to confess that past!me gave The Gauntlet a pass because I have read too many samey MG fantasies and I had so many other books on my TBR already. But then, I kept seeing all these good reviews/comments about it from those I follow on Instagram, and I started to think that I must try it out.

In this book, a trio of kids get trapped in a board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand, and have to win in order to save the main character Farah’s younger brother. The board game is set in a steampunk Middle-Eastern city called Paheli, mostly populated by all the people that have previously played and lost the game.

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Fantasy

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Sal is a thief who decides to audition to be a member of The Left Hand, who are the Queen’s personal assassins. The problem: the audition is basically a fight to the death with the other auditioners, who are all professionals with a lot more experience (and privilege) than Sal. At this point, I probably would have written the story off as a generic YA fantasy (which it kind of is), except for one thing – Sal is genderfluid.
I enjoyed reading this, but it was also forgettable in a way – as many have pointed out, the plot is similar to The Hunger Games and the Throne of Glass books. Unfortunately, the writing isn’t as strong as Suzanne Collins’, and it isn’t as catchy/easy-to-read as Sarah J. Maas’. The court politics is intriguing but hasn’t been fleshed out to my satisfaction (maybe in future volumes?), so in the end I only had Sal to keep me interested. Sal isn’t much, but it helps that the other characters are mostly known by their audition numbers (Sal is 23), so knowing Sal’s real name puts them ahead of everyone else in terms of being memorable.
Verdict: I really wouldn’t have read this if it wasn’t for wanting to read a genderfluid character, and I think if I hadn’t read it, I wouldn’t have missed it, it’s so generic. However, since I did read it – I do like all the bits where Sal outwits the other contestants, and am interested in their backstory enough that I may read the next book. Someday.
Comics

The Backstagers Vol. 1 & 2 by James Tynion IV & Rian Sygh

The Backstagers Vol. 1: Rebels Without Applause by James Tynion IV & Rian Sygh

This comic was marketed as “Lumberjanes for boys”, and I love Lumberjanes, so of course I wanted to read it straight away. The story centers around Jory, a new student at an all-boys private school – a fact that freaks him out not only because he’s transferring around a time where most people would have already fallen into their own cliques, but also because an all-boys school would be full of BOYS. He ends up joining the backstage crew, who immediately took him in as one of their own, and discovers that backstage is a place of very literal magic (and danger!) Continue reading “The Backstagers Vol. 1 & 2 by James Tynion IV & Rian Sygh”