This year has not been good for me and Owlcrate. Most of the titles have just been “okay” in my opinion, and I’ve been dragging my feet to read the ones from this fall because I don’t want to be disappointed. I’ve been debating whether to continue my subscription or to try a different one. But I decided I wanted to try to read all of them by the end of the year, including December’s pick. Normally, I would do a separate review for each, but since there are so many to catch up on, here are short reviews.
Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody: April Box
Ace of Shades was hit or miss for me. There were parts I absolutely loved, like Enne’s character arc and just Lola being awesome, and there were aspects I didn’t like so much, mainly Levi and the plot. My biggest issue with the story is that I felt like it was trying to do too many things at once. We’ve got Enne trying to find her adopted mother, Levi trying to finish up a con job he started all the while trying to keep hold of his gang, people in the city who are out to get Enne and others trying to control her, plot twists that didn’t feel monumental because 1. they were predictable or 2. I couldn’t remember why something was so significant, conflict that starts and abruptly ends with no resolution, easy peasy solutions to big problems because PLOT!
It’s not that Ace of Shades is a bad book. I had a lot of fun reading it, and I like the concept and world Amanda created, but I think I expected something a little different so I was put off by the story. I definitely want to read the sequel, though!
Mirage by Somaiya Daud: September box
This is probably the most disappointing book of the bunch, if not the entire year. I had such high hopes for a gorgeous book with a unique basis for world-building. But I was bored. Completely and utterly bored throughout the book. I didn’t care about Amani because she doesn’t do anything in the book. She lets things happen to her. I think within the last twenty-ish pages she finally does something for herself, but at that point, I was done with the story. I almost gave up on it and probably should have.
The other aspect of this book that irked me was that it quickly went from being this cool science-fiction fantasy political thriller thing to YA romance sucking up all the action and plot. I get that YA readers like romance, but why do YA fantasy books have to be disguised for romance novels? Just. Write. A. Romance. Novel. It happens way too often, and I’m tired of it. I don’t think I’ll be picking up any sequels.
Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa: October Box
This is the only 2018 Owlcrate pick that I marked as DNF. I tried to read it. I gave it 80 pages and decided I couldn’t get into the story and I was bored. It made me a little sad because I thought the Japanese mythology about yokai and kitsune alongside a magical quest would be right in my wheelhouse. I may pick it up again when there aren’t so many books on my TBR list.
Pride by Ibi Zoboi: October Box
This book wasn’t for me. I love the concept behind it and I know that this book will be an important read for someone, but it didn’t do anything for me. I felt like it was lacking in movement and it focused heavily on telling, rather than showing. While I love books with sisters, I thought the sister relationships in this story were pushed to the side for the romance, and I never felt the romance was equal or believable. I wanted something more.
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan: November Box
This is the best Owlcrate book of the year. The world-building was phenomenal, the characters well-developed and believable, the plot gut-wrenching and compelling. It’s labeled as a YA fantasy romance and that is exactly what it delivers with gorgeous prose and a memorable narrator. This book deals with heavy topics in a graceful way that will speak to so many readers. The last page was the only disappointment because I had a feeling that would happen. But otherwise, this book is excellent.
Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene
Reading this book was an odd experience. I enjoyed the story, even though at times the plot was a bit predictable and bordering on cliche. Sylvie/Mirage isn’t the most memorable (or intelligent) YA main character, but I like how her character shifts throughout the story and grows into something more. The world-building was at times both startling and confusing, but the prose was gorgeous. It’s hard for me to decide if I liked it or if I liked the idea of it. It was like a weird mash up of the Capitol lifestyle from The Hunger Games mixed with the superpowers of the X-Men and aspects of The Lunar Chronicles. Overall, though, I enjoyed my time reading it and I am definitely looking forward to the sequel.