Siege of Shadows by Sarah Raughley

Inside cover blurb:

“There’s nowhere to hide.

Not when you’re an Effigy. No matter where they go, Maia and the other Effigies can’t escape the eyes of the press—especially not after failing to capture Saul, whose power to control the monstrous Phantoms has left the world in a state of panic. It’s been two months since Saul’s disappearance, and there’s still no sign of him, leaving the public to wonder whether the Sect—and the Effigies—are capable of protecting anyone.

When Saul suddenly surfaces in the middle of the Sahara desert, the Sect sends Maia and her friends out after him. But instead of Saul, they discover a dying soldier engineered with Effigy-like abilities. Even worse, there may be more soldiers like him out there, and it looks like the Effigies are their prime targets.

Yet the looming danger of Saul and this mysterious new army doesn’t overshadow Maia’s fear of the Sect, who ordered the death of the previous Fire Effigy, Natalya. With enemies on all sides and the world turning against them, the Effigies have to put their trust in each other—easier said than done when secrets threaten to tear them apart.”

-from publisher


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Not sure if I’ve already compared this series to Suckerpunch, but it’s totally Suckerpunch– a group of powerful girls coming together to save the world and themselves.

There’s very little Saul in this book actually, which I found surprising. The whole plot of the book revolves around the Sect, the organization which controls the Effigies.

The girls, particularly Maia, are in a precarious position. They face attacks from within, certain that there are traitors in the Sect. Then a new threat emerges- soldiers who appear to have Effigy powers.

I wonder if it’s a coincidence that the initials of this title are SOS….

I think I preferred the first book because the plot felt more compelling, but I am enjoying learning more about the origins of both the Phantoms and the Effigies.

A very unexpected cliffhanger ending! I don’t know how we’re coming back from that, but I’ll be here to read all about it!

Plus: The plot thickens! I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Minus: Maia was a little obnoxious at times- should she trust the pretty boy, should she not…it got a little old.

If you like this book, try:

A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, #1)

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess- This main character can also control flames, just like Maia. But unlike Maia, she happens to be the only female sorcerer in Victorian London.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Inside cover blurb:

“Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.”

-from publisher


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You know that feeling, when you start a book and automatically know you’re going to love it? I got that with Truly Devious.

A private school for the gifted, a murder mystery from the 30s, secret passageways, secrets galore! Yup, this one had my name written all over it.

I would pack my bags and go to Ellingham Academy right this very moment if I could. There’s an amazing library, tunnels, lots of nooks and crannies to explore. If I can’t go to Hogwarts, I’d settle for Ellingham.

Stevie is fabulous, in fact, all of the characters are distinct and just the right amount of quirky. And if the Ellingham case isn’t enough, we also get a new mystery! I have my theories about both, but I’m definitely still guessing.

My only  problem with it- we still don’t know what happened! Because…wait for it…it’s going to be a TRILOGY.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about that at first, but now I’m just thanking my lucky stars that I get to read more of this story. Something big is happening here and I can’t wait to find out what!

Plus: Love stories, secret histories, spooky mysteries. This book has them all!

Minus: That I won’t get to know the whole story for two more books! But still, I’m looking forward to them.

If you like this book, try:


Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller- An oldie, but a goodie about snooping and sleuthing through the New York Underground. Reading Truly Devious reminded me of this childhood favorite.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Inside cover blurb:

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.”

-from publisher


Boy, oh boy…552 pages? Really unnecessary if you ask me.

This book is long and you can feel it. Things are overly drawn out throughout the entire book. I discussed this issue with my coworker and one scene in particular really stood out. I went back to count the pages- the scene is 90 pages.


The plot is mildly entertaining- I like the concept of superheroes vs. super villains, but the super villains were definitely more intriguing and they take a back seat due to the nature of the plot. I feel like I would rather read a history of the Age of Anarchy (the period before superheroes took control).

And I am entirely uninterested in the love story. There was just nothing there that made me really invest in them.

Overall, I’d say this book is basically a really drawn out Romeo/Juliet retelling where everyone has super powers.

Plus: Cool concept, fairly good world building overall.

Minus: Needs editing! No single scene should be 90 pages!

If you like this book, try:


Dreadnought by April Daniels- Now this is how I prefer my superheroes- revolutionary! When is the last time you read a book about a trans superhero??

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Inside cover blurb:

“Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.”

-from publisher


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This book has it all: magic, djinn, badass female main character, Middle Eastern culture, incredible world building…

But I was pretty lost for the majority of the book. There is just a lot to keep track of here because, not only is it set in a mythical world, it’s also a political intrigue story. So think Game of Thrones, but with a Middle Eastern flair.

I will say it is rather ingenious because you’re discovering the history of this world right alongside Nahri, who grew up in the human world and has no clue what she’s gotten herself into either.

But with so much ground to cover, The City of Brass clocks in at over 500 pages. So it’s a bit of a commitment, but ultimately, I was glad to have read it.

Definitely a slow burn (that’s funny because they are djinn).

Interested to see how this series continues!

Plus: Magic, intrigue, the Middle East. This book was basically pulled straight from my brain.

Minus: You might need some plot and character charts to help you out.

If you like this book, try:


The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury- It may be pretty cheesy of me to recommend an Aladdin retelling right now, but this one has some pretty great reviews on Goodreads. Brb adding it to my shelf.

Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Inside cover blurb:

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.”

-from publisher


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Oh my god.

I started this book on a night when I was really tired, so I read about 12 pages and put it down to pass out. I was pretty underwhelmed at that point.

I decided to give it another go, however, because I’ve been seeing it pop up everywhere.

And boy, am I glad I gave it another chance.

Love, Hate & Other Filters is like three books in one- a coming of age story, a love story, and a lesson in tolerance. I’m always excited to see more #ownvoices stories out there, and I think Maya is a fantastic main character. She very clearly struggles with what her parents expect from a “good Indian daughter,” but I think it’s quite refreshing that she doesn’t want to renounce any part of her identity- she very passionately identifies as American, Indian, and Muslim.

I thought Ahmed tied the story together extremely well- from the narrow lens of Maya’s everyday life to the macro level of a horrible national tragedy, which is almost ripped straight from the headlines. We see the ripple effects from that one event, and how it can impact so many others in the most unexpected ways.

My only, tiny critique is that I thought that the story line with Kareem was a bit disjointed and then he just seems to fade out of the narrative.

Overall, I think Love, Hate & Other Filters reminds us that every human deserves love and understanding. And that’s a powerful message. Thank you, Samira, for writing this book. I think we need it.

Plus: Such relatable and vibrant characters. They seem like people you actually know in your every day life. I could come up with lots of other things to praise, but really, everyone just read this book because it has things to SAY.

Minus: Really just that bit about Kareem, and it hardly detracts from the story.

If you like this book, try:


A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena- While A Girl Like That isn’t out until the end of February, it’s another powerful #ownvoices title that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. It’s sure to be another show stopper, so don’t miss it!