The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

I’ve grown as a reader since the time I read Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen. This bittersweet realization came to me while reading her latest, The Gilded Wolves. Fantasy novels have always been a favorite of mine because of the vivid worlds they allow me to dive into, which is why I loved Chokshi’s debut. Unfortunately, three years later, her fifth novel falls flat.

“History is a myth shaped by the tongues of conquerors.” 

I am not a fan of overly-poetic prose, especially when it’s hiding simple meanings. It leads me to skim and takes me out of the story because the writing feels juvenile. For instance, the sentence above basically expresses the common saying “history was written by the winners,” but wraps it in overly loquacious phrasing (see- I can write with SAT words, too!), which makes it feel like the writer is trying to prove their skills. I wish they would display their story-telling abilities in ways other than whipping out a thesaurus, because everyone can do that. Writers I love tend to show their skill instead of telling us all about it. As a thirteen year old, I appreciated the vocabulary practice. As a sixteen year old, not so much.

Continue reading

Five Books to Get You into the “Game of Thrones” Spirit

Game of Thrones is back for its final season! I am so excited (and terrified) to see what’s in store for my favorite characters this season, but I know that once the show is over, I’ll be in serious withdrawal. To mitigate this feeling, here are some fantasy series that bring all of the magic, intrigue, and romance that Game of Thrones is known for to your very own hands. Hopefully, you can find a new favorite to binge between episodes or after the finale.

I am proud to say An Ember in the Ashes is one of the first fantasy series after Percy Jackson and Harry Potter that I truly fell in love with. Tahir’s world-building is truly incredible (and has only gotten better three books in) and her diverse ensemble of female characters is admirable. If you loved the family relationships in Game of Thrones, particularly female relationships, I promise you’ll devour Tahir’s debut fantasy series.

Continue reading

March Wrap Up

What I’m Up To

March was a full month for me! The first half of March I was on spring break, but I came back to school on the 19th, which coincidentally was also my birthday. School has been busy, but it’s great to be around friends and semi-warm weather.

What I’m Reading

I don’t normally read nonfiction, but I was given this book as a Christmas gift and I’m always excited to learn more about art history. So far, I’ve been loving Krysa’s vibrant profiles of female artists, which are each paired with an artistic prompt for the reader to explore individually.

What I Blogged About

Reflections on Turning 16: I turned 16 on March 19, so I took the chance to reflect on my growth as a person and Book Reviews by Ava’s growth as a blog.

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras: Contreras’ novel debut was incredible and her chronicle of two teenage girls during a time of intense civil conflict was both gripping and poignant.

Continue reading

Reflections on Turning 16

Sixteen laps around the sun! Woohoo! I know sixteen is supposed to be one of the big birthdays, like 18 or 21, but while I feel different than I did last year, there’s certainly not been some veil that’s been lifted in a journey to adulthood. But, still, I had a good day!

Me and Tahereh Mafi, Yallwest 2016

I’ve been writing book reviews since I was seven, which is more than half of my life. Book Reviews by Ava has served as a record of my growth- both as a reader/writer and as a person, and it is one that I am immensely grateful for. It is so gratifying to be able to look back on myself at seven, at ten, at thirteen, and now finally, at sixteen. It’s empowering to see myself face challenges and overcome obstacles through my writing and I can’t wait to chronicle the next chapter in my life. Continue reading

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

monIt’s always a gamble to pick a book up during school breaks. There’s no time for me to pleasure read at school, however I can’t always read fast enough to finish the book at home. But, I feel there’s nothing worse than a story left unfinished. So, when I picked up Muse of Nightmares for the train back to school, I was determined to read the nearly 500 page sequel to Strange the Dreamer in six hours. Obviously, that was not possible, so I was left to sneaking in five or ten pages whenever I had the chance. Perhaps it was this reading style, but more likely it was Taylor’s masterful, slow-build writing that made Muse of Nightmares on of the best fantasy novels I read this year.

Wishes don’t just come true. They’re only the target you paint around what you want. You still have to hit the bull’s-eye yourself.”

Taylor possesses an incredible gift of dropping breadcrumbs and seemingly unrelated connections throughout the duology, holding the reader by their hand and revealing the final piece of the storyline at just the right moment. While some of her clues were more clearly connected than others, I found the overall arc of the story a mystery until after I had turned the last page.

Continue reading

November Wrap Up

What I’m Up To:

 I’m writing this wrap up on my way back to school, ready for the dreaded two and a half weeks between Thanksgiving break and winter break. It’s time to get some work done, but as soon as it’s over, I’ll be back in New York to celebrate Christmas with my family, where I can get some reading done.

avleof What I’m Reading Right Now:

 I’m almost finished with A Very Large Expanse of Sea, Tahereh Mafi’s realistic fiction debut (which was long-listed for the National Book Award). I was a huge fan of Mafi’s fantasy series when it came out a few years ago, but her newest is both a thematic and stylistic departure. Gone are the flowery sentences and angsty action-packed chapters, replaced by sharp wit and politically-charged narratives. A Very Large Expanse of Sea follows Shirin, a Muslim teenager grappling with her identity in a post 9/11 world.

snowflakes

Continue reading

What I’m Thankful For: 8 Years of Book Reviews by Ava

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, which means I’m in Arkansas visiting my lovely relatives. This year, I have a lot to be thankful for, from my amazing, supportive family to the incredible education I am lucky enough to have access to thanks to a generous scholarship. But, one thing I wanted to highlight this season was how thankful I am for the wonderful book review community- everyone from my loyal readers to bookstore owners, librarians, publishers, publicists, authors, and many more.

lulu

Since my first review for Warwick’s Bookstore in San Diego, book reviewing has been an integral part of my life, one that I can’t imagine my life without. As a young reader, I am grateful for the platform to share my ideas and opinions about literature. The empowerment that comes from expressing my thoughts has been integral to my growth into a young adult who is passionate about reading.

My first review followed little Lulu, a drama-queen wishing for a brontosaurus as a pet. It was three sentences long and emphasized the cute illustrations and laughable dialogue. Back then, I had my dad edit my reviews down to the sentence and only posted a review when I loved the book.

Continue reading

The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth

tfdFor a while, I thought I wasn’t going to finish The Fates Divide. I was wading through pages and pages of exposition so every chapter was a struggle to finish. But, suddenly, in the middle of the novel, a secret was revealed.

From there onwards, The Fates Divide sped forward at a breakneck pace, at least until what was supposed to be the climax. But, instead of an epic battle or moving sacrifice, the climax dull and too-easily resolved, mostly because the stakes didn’t feel high. Coming off the heels of Allegiant, I was expecting an enormous plot twist, a tragic choice, or at least a character death. Instead, everyone happily survived. I turned the last page wondering, is this it? 

I am not a fan of sci-fi, but I still loved Carve the Markthe first in Roth’s duology. Before that, I loved Divergent, liked Insurgent, could barely finish Allegiant. To me, the pattern seems clear. What start off as and ambitious, creative series eventually fizzles into lifeless stories in the second or third novel.

“Suffer the fate, for all else is delusion.”

Continue reading

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

3dcBack in 2016, I read the first chapter of Three Dark Crowns and fell in love. The excerpt promised a story of three sisters, each with a claim to the throne of Fennbirn island. On their sixteenth birthday, the sisters would begin a battle to the death, only ended when one queen, the true queen, remained.

I was expecting action, intrigue, maybe a little romance. I wanted Game of Thrones. What I got was Anna and the French Kiss.

“I want revenge.” She whispers, and her fingers trail bloody streaks down Natalia’s arms. “And then I want my crown.”

Three Dark Crowns is not a prequel. It is the first book in a duology-turned-quartet. But, for eighty percent of the book, the only thing that happened was uninteresting romances and an introductions into the world of Fennbirn. Nowhere in the book do the sisters try to kill each other. In fact, they don’t even meet until the last quarter of the book!

Continue reading

September Wrap Up

What I’m Up To

I’m back at boarding school, working my way through sophomore year. I love school and the chance to be back with all my friends, but I miss being able to pick up a book and read whenever I wanted.

wwtawwtar.jpgWhat’s On My Bedside Table

Right now, I’m reading What we Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Sohaila Abdulali. Thanks to Mary Beard’s Women & Power which I read in July, I’ve been getting more into nonfiction recently. Abdulali’s account of her gang rape in India went viral in 2013. Now, she’s channelled many of the ideas she mentioned in her op-ed into her memoir/essay/research/manifesto about rape, which will be released later this month. As a young woman, I find Abdulali’s story is both unflinchingly terrifying and galvanizing.

Continue reading