Diamond City by Francesca Flores

Diamond City by Francesca Flores is a book about a girl named Aina Solis who was orphaned as a child and was trained into a skilled assassin. Flores does an amazing job describing the characters and their personalities; one could instantly tell what the characters’ relation to Aina was and how Aina felt about them. There was the perfect amount of detail, not too much not too little, which was a very big highlight as every detail was needed and it made the book much more fascinating.

I love how the plot had an interesting climax which many readers may not have expected and it is at the forefront of the story. I adore how this book made Aina’s motives and traits match up with her actions, it enhanced the story and made sense for her character to make certain decisions in contrast to certain events. While I do enjoy love interests and a romantic story-line, I feel that the theme of romance not being at the forefront of the story made the story not only more interesting but also very fascinating for this storyline and I’m glad that the book focused more on the main climax rather then hopping around to different subjects or thoughts which could have been done easily and could have made the book less enjoyable. 

While the theme of romance wasn’t prominent, the book still has great LGBTQ+ representation with the main character Aina being bisexual. It was done incredibly and the reader was aware of this due to spectacular moments in the book which were done very subtly but left a very big impact on the reader.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it’s very promising. I would definitely recommend this book as it is written extraordinarily and is so intriguing.

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle is a relatively short fantasy novel that centers on the protagonist Rue. After the death of her mother, Rue discovers her godly ancestry and is taken to a place called Ghizon where her powers are unlocked. She meets her father in the process who impacts Rue’s development throughout the story. When her sister back in the real world is endangered, Rue does everything she can to save her, except there’s one problem—Rue can’t touch humans anymore because it is not allowed due to its consequences.

One thing I adored about the book was the POC representation. J. Elle did a good job of making themes in this book align to present day problems, like cultural appropriation and racism. Additionally, the fact that the protagonist was a strong female was empowering. 

I am typically a person who likes to read fast-paced novels, which made Wings of Ebony hard to get into in the beginning. J. Elle went thoroughly in depth with details, which results in good world building. However, in some parts of the novel, the overindulgence of details took away from the plot. 

While details were not always my favorite part of this book, the details about Rue’s connection with her sister were my favorite parts of the novel. As a person with a sister, I could relate to a lot of Rue’s motivations when it came to protecting her sister. Also, I am not a person who tends to gravitate towards romance in novels, so seeing the connection between sisters rather than a love-interest was refreshing. With this being said, there was still romance in the novel, but it was never overbearing and instead complemented the plot nicely. 

Overall, I enjoyed Wings of Ebony and it was a nice book, but it may not have been for me. Nonetheless, it is still a book I would recommend to others to pick up because of its POC representation, applicable themes, and the heartwarming sisterhood. 

Hello, Cruel Heart by Maureen Johnson

Cruel Heart by Maureen Johnson is an original take on the villain Cruella De Vil that is set in London. Johnson does an incredible job making the reader interested and intrigued by the character and what happens to her along the way as well as how people treat her makes the reader feel empathy for the main character.

Something Johnson did extremely well was flashbacks, as she made sure there was no confusion when the rader was supposed to be reading a flashback as it was marked by a simple symbol that marked both the start and the end of a flashback or when something different was happening than what was previously stated.

As someone who typically doesn’t enjoy ending with open interpretation and Johnson added just enough freedom for the reader to visualize what may happen in the while still providing enough closure for the reader to feel as if that is the end of the book and feel as if the book has a closed ending while still leaving room for speculation.