ARC Review: A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee

A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee

Synopsis

Two intrepid girls hunt for a legendary treasure on the deadly high seas in this YA remix of the classic adventure novel Treasure Island.

1826.
The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd businesswoman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her single memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry.

But the pendant’s true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang’s father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure—the plunder of a thousand ports—that for decades has only been a myth, a fool’s journey.

Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea—and especially those who sail it—are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved this book SO much. It’s so much more than a retelling of Treasure Island — it’s the pirate adventure I’ve been craving, with a delicious side of f/f romance, found family, and a thorough grounding in Vietnamese and Chinese history and culture. I had planned to pass my copy along after reading it, but nope; keeping this one for sure.

I was annoyed with Xiang for the first quarter of the novel because she was SO naive. And she missed some really, really obvious clues about who her mother actually was. It was almost like she didn’t want to see, and so she didn’t.

But she grows SO much once she’s left to sail with Anh. That was the best part of the novel for me – the slow passage of time as Xiang grows more confident, more capable, and freer with every task she sets her willing mind and hands to. She comes into herself aboard that ship, and it gives her the confidence and courage she needs to face the events of the latter half of the book.

The romance was slow and subtle and hinted in the corners, and I loved it. It’s my favorite kind of romance in fantasy novels. The closeness that comes with familiarity and time spent together.

I would desperately love a series of Xiang and Anh’s adventures. The ending was excellent, but it definitely left me wanting more. And really, that’s the best kind.

*Thanks to Bookishfirst and MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing an advanced copy for review.

ARC Review: Dead Dukes Tell No Tales by Catherine Stein

Dead Dukes Tell No Tales by Catherine  Stein

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I wasn’t sure about this book at first because I have learned to be wary of steampunk novels but this? This is fantastic! The writing is flawless and the characters are real and vividly drawn.

I immediately fell for fierce ex-pirate Sabine, bumbling reluctant Duke Cliff, and adorable spider-loving Lola. I was completely hooked for the entirety of the treasure hunt and burgeoning romance, and Cliff’s letter hit me like a punch to the gut. I will definitely be seeking out more books from this author. Actually, I would love to see a companion novel about Yvette.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Steam Cat Press, and BookBuzz.net for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Namesake, by Adrienne Young

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This duology has the best covers!

I knew going in that I would love this book, after being blown away by Fable, and I was right. I love this book. Fable faces some serious challenges here, and there are some hefty revelations.

The crew of the Marigold didn’t play as large a role in this one, which I was a bit disappointed about, but it also felt like the right decision, what with all the other plot going on here. Though, I did enjoy seeing another side of Koy.

Fable grows as a character, and she and West have their relationship sorely tested by both their actions and choices and revelations about their pasts. West makes some questionable decisions but he does so with Fable in mind, so I forgave him for it.

My favorite things about this novel are Fable’s evolving relationship with Saint and her memories of her mother. There is so much more to both that I won’t give away, because spoilers, but let’s just say there were a few moments near the end that had me crying. And I absolutely, completely love how things wrapped up.

I will keep my fingers crossed for more pirates from Adrienne Young, but at the very least she’s going on my must-read list.

*Thanks to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for providing an e-arc to review.

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