ARC Reviews, Book Reviews, Contemporary, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA+, Middle Grade, Young Adult

Mini Book Reviews: December 2020 – Part 2


*Books included in this batch of mini book reviews: The Burning God (The Poppy War #3) by R.F. Kuang, Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva, King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender, and The Camelot Betrayal (Camelot Rising #2) by Kiersten White


» The Burning God (The Poppy War #3) by R.F. Kuang



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked

» If you are looking for a series that is full of military strategy, gruesome battles, political intrigue, brutality, internal struggles, and back stabbing, look no further! The Poppy War series is all this and so much more.  This series will go down as one of my favorite fantasy series of all times.  I cannot wait to see what R.F. Kuang puts out next!

» Rin’s character arc over the course of this series was absolutely brilliant.  While Rin isn’t always a likable character, you definitely understand her reasoning and motivation behind her actions.  Rin is probably one of the most complex and dynamic characters I’ve ever read.

» The plot, throughout the entirety of the series, was beautifully executed.  Despite these books all being 500 – 650 pages, I flew through each book in a frenzy because I just had to know what was going to happen next.

» One of the constants throughout this series was Rin & Kitay’s friendship, and it was one of my favorite aspects of the series.   Kitay has been a favorite character since book one.   I loved that Kitay balanced Rin out and kept her grounded.

» The way Kuang chose to end this trilogy was absolute perfection.  I always knew deep down that this conclusion was going to be soul crushing, and I was absolutely right, HOWEVER I felt very satisfied with how everything was wrapped up.

› Recommended to ⇒ readers that enjoy political intrigue, military fiction, and morally gray characters

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ war; graphic violence; colonization

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Red Sister by Mark Lawrence


*Big thanks to Harper Collins for a copy of the eBook via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

» Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva


add-to-goodreads-button5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» I adored the concept for this story – giving backstory to Charles Dickens as he was writing his infamous story, A Christmas Carol.  I really enjoyed seeing the parallels between Silva’s imagining and the original story.

» The audiobook narration was very well done.  Euan Morton did a wonderful job bringing this story to life.WhatIDidntLike» While I enjoyed the concept for this story, the plot was not well executed.  This story could have been so much more, but wasn’t.

» Charles was such an unlikable character throughout the story, he was never able to redeem himself in my eyes.  In the beginning of this story, Charles was painted as the dotting husband and father, but once his family leaves – after he goes to see an ex-girlfriend at that – he does not think about them until almost the end?  Then he basically develops a relationship with another woman and starts stalking her?  Nope.  Also, we were meant to feel sorry for his financial troubles, but in reality he gave into everyone rather than standing up for himself.

› Recommended to ⇒ those that enjoy historical fictions that give backstories to famous books, art, music, etc.

» King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked

» After winning the National Book Awards 2020 for Young People’s Literature, I was very interested in picking this book up.  I’m so glad I did, because this will definitely make my “top middle grade books of 2020” list.

»  King and the Dragonflies definitely hit me in the feels.  I was not prepared for such a hard hitting middle grade contemporary.   This book tackles heavy topics like racism, grief, sexuality, toxic masculinity, homophobia, and child abuse.   Each of these topics is handled with care and addressed in a very appropriate way for the target audience.  I was very impressed with Callender’s ability to pack so much emotion into 270 pages.

»  King was a wonderful main character.   From the beginning of the story where he was very insecure about how people would view him, to the end where he starts being true to himself, I enjoyed watching his growth over the course of this story.

» Callender’s writing is absolutely beautiful.  While I read this in print form, but I’m willing to bet their writing translated well to audiobook.

› Recommended to ⇒ those looking for emotionally charged reads

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ child abuse; death of family member; homophobia; racism; toxic masculinity

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ For a book centering around grief, try The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan *YA book*


» The Camelot Betrayal (Camelot Rising #2) by Kiersten White



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» My favorite aspect of this series is definitely that it is a Camelot/King Arthur retelling.  I love what White has reimagined here for King Arthur and Guinevere.

» Since this is a King Arthur retelling, this series has a medieval setting, which I absolutely love.  There is just something about a setting that includes knights, castles, horses, etc. that I can’t get enough of.

» While Guinevere is still struggling with her identity in this book, I feel like we get a better sense of her personality and emerging strength in this installment.  I can’t help but feel sympathetic towards Guinevere and root for her.

» Typically I am not a fan of love triangles/squares, but it somehow works here.  Generally, I almost have one person that I want the main character to end up with, but in this case I haven’t figured out who I am rooting for yet.  Finding out who Guinevere ends up with is one of my driving factors to continue on with the series.

» The cliffhanger ending is keeping me just interested enough in this series to consider continuing on with the final installment.

WhatIDidntLike» Much like the first book, the plot of The Camelot Betrayal felt disorienting.  I still feel we haven’t been given enough backstory or context to what is actually going on.

» The Camelot Betrayal felt more like a “side quest” instead of a second installment of a series that progresses the main plot.  Many of the big questions from the first installment – Who is Guinevere?  Why did Merlin send her?  What  – were not explored or answered here.

› Recommended to ⇒ fans of retellings

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ blood magic (self harm)

*Big thanks Random House Children’s to for providing a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*



Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think?

Comment below & let me know 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Mini Book Reviews: December 2020 – Part 2”

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