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Queen of All (The Jena Cycle Book 1)

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The only interesting thing about fourteen-year-old Jena is other people. Her mother disappeared when she was a baby, and her best (and only) friend, Sisi, is not just the lost heir to a noble Numbered house, but also the Kingdom’s most famous beauty. Jena herself is just awkward, anxious, and often alone: not exactly heroic material. But when a letter summons Sisi to the r The only interesting thing about fourteen-year-old Jena is other people. Her mother disappeared when she was a baby, and her best (and only) friend, Sisi, is not just the lost heir to a noble Numbered house, but also the Kingdom’s most famous beauty. Jena herself is just awkward, anxious, and often alone: not exactly heroic material. But when a letter summons Sisi to the royal court, both girls find their own futures, and the Kingdom’s, in Jena’s hands. Sisi, caught between the king and the crown prince, searches for a magical secret the Prince is willing to kill to keep. Jena can save her: but only if she is willing to let her go, maybe forever. It’s hard to do that when she’s in love with Sisi herself.


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The only interesting thing about fourteen-year-old Jena is other people. Her mother disappeared when she was a baby, and her best (and only) friend, Sisi, is not just the lost heir to a noble Numbered house, but also the Kingdom’s most famous beauty. Jena herself is just awkward, anxious, and often alone: not exactly heroic material. But when a letter summons Sisi to the r The only interesting thing about fourteen-year-old Jena is other people. Her mother disappeared when she was a baby, and her best (and only) friend, Sisi, is not just the lost heir to a noble Numbered house, but also the Kingdom’s most famous beauty. Jena herself is just awkward, anxious, and often alone: not exactly heroic material. But when a letter summons Sisi to the royal court, both girls find their own futures, and the Kingdom’s, in Jena’s hands. Sisi, caught between the king and the crown prince, searches for a magical secret the Prince is willing to kill to keep. Jena can save her: but only if she is willing to let her go, maybe forever. It’s hard to do that when she’s in love with Sisi herself.

30 review for Queen of All (The Jena Cycle Book 1)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lex Kent

    This was just okay. The writing was good but the story was lacking. I love sapphic, YA fantasy, but unfortunately this wasn’t the book I was hoping for. While this was disappointing, I did see some clear potential in the writing. Since this is the start of the series, I still might read book 2 when it comes out in hopes that Josephs’ can find her story magic. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book and I found the writing style to be very easy to read. I liked the main character Jena, who’s P This was just okay. The writing was good but the story was lacking. I love sapphic, YA fantasy, but unfortunately this wasn’t the book I was hoping for. While this was disappointing, I did see some clear potential in the writing. Since this is the start of the series, I still might read book 2 when it comes out in hopes that Josephs’ can find her story magic. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book and I found the writing style to be very easy to read. I liked the main character Jena, who’s POV we are in, and I liked that she was plus-size. Although some of her internal fat-shaming was a bit much at times, it was nice to have characters with curves. Jenna is pretty young when the book starts out, most of the time she is 15. Her character did feel a little young at times, but I did see some growth by the end of the book. While this has the LGBTQ tag, there is no romance. Well there is an M/F romance between two secondary characters, but our main character is a lesbian who is stuck with a giant crush. It’s an unrequited love storyline so there is no main character romance. The biggest problem I had with this book is twofold. One, the pace was pretty slow at times. The book would just meander along and I would keep waiting for it to pick up. I talk about how fantasy books often start off slow, which happened here, but this book never stopped being slow. The second problem, which was the biggest, is that nothing happened! There was not much plot in this book. This book was about farm chores, traveling, learning palace etiquette, the secondary character dating, and one finale storyline that I’ll keep secret for spoiler reasons… but that is it. That was the whole book. There was never any conflict to drive the story. It looked like a villain was appearing, but that fizzled, then a problem for the characters to face, but then it was quickly solved. There was just nothing to keep me reading. It was only the fact that I figured something had to happen, so I kept reading even though nothing ever did. As much as this book didn’t work for me plot-wise, I’m still tempted to read the sequel. It feels like to me that this should not have been a complete book one. This book could have been easily cut down by a third or even a half and it should have just been part one. This book just seemed to end when the story might actually begin, so the second book that is coming out next year should have been combined with this one in only one book. I know authors love to write fantasy series’, but fantasy is tricky and writing bigger epic books always works better than short chopped-up half stories. In the end I can’t really recommend this one, but I won’t say stay away either. This series will really depend on how good book 2 is. The potential is there but it needs a gripping plot. A copy was given to me for a review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Anya Josephs

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but this IS my life's work, and personally I think it's pretty good! I hope you all will too! Not to put too fine a point on it, but this IS my life's work, and personally I think it's pretty good! I hope you all will too!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Molly Stein-Seroussi

    This book is something truly special: the first time I read it, all I could think is that I wish I could hand it to my teenage self. As a young queer person, it would have been incredibly meaningful to have a story that reflected my experiences and told me that I, too, could become a hero. Queen of All is intriguing, it is magical, it is witty, and it plays masterfully with all the fantasy tropes we know and love, making them into something new. This is not a story one reads and then puts down. This book is something truly special: the first time I read it, all I could think is that I wish I could hand it to my teenage self. As a young queer person, it would have been incredibly meaningful to have a story that reflected my experiences and told me that I, too, could become a hero. Queen of All is intriguing, it is magical, it is witty, and it plays masterfully with all the fantasy tropes we know and love, making them into something new. This is not a story one reads and then puts down. Queen of All is a story that sticks with you, one that you carry around for a long time after you finish reading. I cannot recommend it enough!

  4. 4 out of 5

    moony ☽

    Queen of All has, from start to finish, a magical and fascinating note, which has deeply captured me and transported me to a unique universe. From the beginning of the novel it is very easy to empathize with the protagonist of the story, Jena. The girl lives a relatively quiet and simple life in a poor family; motherless from an early age, she knows that her purpose in life is to work on his father's farm to help her family, and she has no high expectations for her future, which is uncertain and Queen of All has, from start to finish, a magical and fascinating note, which has deeply captured me and transported me to a unique universe. From the beginning of the novel it is very easy to empathize with the protagonist of the story, Jena. The girl lives a relatively quiet and simple life in a poor family; motherless from an early age, she knows that her purpose in life is to work on his father's farm to help her family, and she has no high expectations for her future, which is uncertain and full of anxieties, other than the road that already seems to be written for her. Unlike Sisi, I have no special secret past. Other than having no mother, I'm an ordinary girl. I was born on this farm and, in all likelihood, I'll die here, or in some other spot half a league away. My days will be filled with work like this. I'll pick apples when I'm young, and then by the time I'm Sisi's age, I'll marry one of the boys she doesn't want, and I'll have children and a room of my own in the house. Or I'll stay unmarried like Aunt Mae and I'll nurse my aunts and my uncle and my father when the get old. Either way I'll die and be buried in the back garden like my grandparents are, and perhaps if I'm very lucky, someone might think to tell my nieces and nephews about me. Otherwise, I'll be forgotten. Despite low expectations for her future, however, Jena has a very clear goal in her mind: to protect her beloved Sisi. When difficulties come, Jena shows the bravest and most loyal side of herself, even though she herself is afraid, and is ready to defend Sisi with her whole self. Her love for Sisi is extremely pure and touching, one cannot help but support her. I wonder how I can keep Sisi, the person I love most, safe from those who will never see her as anything more than a prize to be won, a delicacy to be devoured. Although it is inted in the prologue, it is only during the journey to the City that we realize that the novel has an underlying mystery, namely the disappearance of Jena's mother. Thanks to Aunt Mae's story, we understand that Ia - Jena's mom - was destined to leave since the very beginning, altough not voluntarily. This new perspective makes everything even more interesting and intrigued me deeply. The narration is rich and exquisite, full of detailed descriptions of this wonderful setup and enriched with traditional tales about the creation of the Earth by Goddess Gaia. I really appreciated the author's writing style, refined and never boring, capable of keeping the reader's attention high. Throughout the book there is a melancholy note given by the loneliness that Jena feels, knowing that Sisi, the only person she has always felt close to, is embarking on a path that will take her away from her forever. Feel the sadness that the protagonist feels, the sense of inadequacy and inferiority of her. Again, I can't help but be fascinated by the author's writing skills. I remember how long I had looked at one spot, how I had let myself fantasize about a better life, a life with my mother, a life where I belonged, where I never felt as though I were slipping through the margins of a family that didn't truly want me there with them, but had to take care of me because I was, however little I seemed it, their own blood. Jena, however, does not give up. On the contrary, she tries with all herself to improve, to grow; she does it when she learns to read for the first time, to be useful in Sisi's search; she does it when she makes an important gesture to ensure the happiness of her loved one; and eventually she does it, to finally find her home. Jena is a beautiful and pure protagonist who is impossible not to love. "It's what your True Name means. Jena. Little bird. And you're going to learn how to fly." The end left me in an emotional mess. I absolutely need to know how this wonderful story will continue. Rating: 4,5. I received a free copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the publisher and the author!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Renaissance Kate

    ARC received!! 👑 "Jena lives on her family’s struggling farm and in her beautiful friend Sisi’s shadow. She’s not interested in Sisi’s plans to uncover the Kingdom’s darkest secrets: the suppression of magic, and the crown prince’s systemic murder of those who practice it. Jena only wants to keep a secret of her own—her changing feelings for Sisi. Yet when a letter arrives summoning Sisi to the royal Midwinter Ball, Jena has no choice but to follow her into a new world of mystery and danger." Thank ARC received!! 👑 "Jena lives on her family’s struggling farm and in her beautiful friend Sisi’s shadow. She’s not interested in Sisi’s plans to uncover the Kingdom’s darkest secrets: the suppression of magic, and the crown prince’s systemic murder of those who practice it. Jena only wants to keep a secret of her own—her changing feelings for Sisi. Yet when a letter arrives summoning Sisi to the royal Midwinter Ball, Jena has no choice but to follow her into a new world of mystery and danger." Thank you to Zenith Publishing via Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    I. Adored. This. Book. I am so looking forward to the sequel. I imagine there will be one especially after that ending. I absolutely cannot wait for people to stumble over this lovely first book that will surely end up being a series. The things I absolutely love? Main characters of color, body diversity, and queer representation that doesn’t end the in “bury your gays” trope. I enjoyed watching Jeni’s character grow, and I loved see her come into her own. She and Sisi are just absolutely alive a I. Adored. This. Book. I am so looking forward to the sequel. I imagine there will be one especially after that ending. I absolutely cannot wait for people to stumble over this lovely first book that will surely end up being a series. The things I absolutely love? Main characters of color, body diversity, and queer representation that doesn’t end the in “bury your gays” trope. I enjoyed watching Jeni’s character grow, and I loved see her come into her own. She and Sisi are just absolutely alive and amazing to me. And it was so lovely to have a bigger bodied, dark-skinned woman seen as the most beautiful woman in the world. I definitely want to live in this world and watch these two women burn the patriarchy down.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Reads

    I chose to read Queen of All as part of my personal quest to try new genres. I have always been in the ‘I don’t like fantasy camp’. I was wrong. Queen of All is a story of unrequited, deep, and selfless love, set on a backdrop of secrets, magic, and an evil Prince. The plot moves at just the right pace, keeping you captivated and wanting more. I enjoyed the similarities and comparisons between the society within the book and that of the real world. How women can be objectified, belong to men, ‘aff I chose to read Queen of All as part of my personal quest to try new genres. I have always been in the ‘I don’t like fantasy camp’. I was wrong. Queen of All is a story of unrequited, deep, and selfless love, set on a backdrop of secrets, magic, and an evil Prince. The plot moves at just the right pace, keeping you captivated and wanting more. I enjoyed the similarities and comparisons between the society within the book and that of the real world. How women can be objectified, belong to men, ‘affections’ can be traded for, and that they are expected to behave in certain ways. I felt the story arc of Jena comprehending and coming to terms with her sexuality was done incredibly well, it was a gradual process, and I was touched that her Aunt Mae was able to offer her someone to talk to and show her compassion and understanding. The author’s writing style is original and ingenious. The development of Sisi and Jena throughout the book and their ‘coming-of-age’ in terms of growing from girls to women is poignant. Whilst Sisi finds love and settles down ‘traditionally’ into her womanhood, Jena grows into her strength, independence, and spirit. I cannot wait for book two to follow what happens next for Jena, I’m completely gripped! Thank you, NetGalley and Zenith Publishing for the e-arc.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Graciella Delgado

    *Thank you, NetGalley, for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review* In a long slow burn and character driven story of self exploration and a constant processing of emotions, Jena is a main character I would have latched onto heavily if I had found this story at 14. She is a main character living as someone else's side character. Jena is 14, not conventionally attractive, and is slowly understanding that she’s gay and in love with her one and only friend, Sisi, the most beautiful girl in *Thank you, NetGalley, for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review* In a long slow burn and character driven story of self exploration and a constant processing of emotions, Jena is a main character I would have latched onto heavily if I had found this story at 14. She is a main character living as someone else's side character. Jena is 14, not conventionally attractive, and is slowly understanding that she’s gay and in love with her one and only friend, Sisi, the most beautiful girl in the kingdom and someone much too straight and old for Jena to ever actually enter a romance with. It’s difficult and it’s heartbreaking and Jena’s low self esteem seeps deeply into her internal narration in just about every single chapter. If Jena were older, I’d complain that she’s whiney and repetitive but she’s a young girl who has been made to feel out of place and less than her entire life. There a fascinating and complex relationship she has with Sisi where Jena struggles with being in love with her and being jealous of her all at once. As painful as it is to see more stories of the gay girl in love with her straight best friend, this is still an incredibly common occurrence and to see it take place in a royal fantasy setting while uncovering ancient Magic and secrets was an interesting cross-section. This is not a story for those interested in fast-paced build ups or explosive ends. Queen of All is slow, incredibly detailed and emotion-focused.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    3.5 stars Publishing date: June 9th, 2021 CW: childbirth, fat phobic language, controlling behaviors/unbalanced power dynamics Thank you to NetGalley and Gen Z Publishing/Zenith Publishing for an advanced electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Jeni is a poor farm girl who lives with her mashup family, far out of the city that sits of the center of the four corners that make up the kingdom. Everything changes, however, when her cousin by marriage, Sisi, receives a request t 3.5 stars Publishing date: June 9th, 2021 CW: childbirth, fat phobic language, controlling behaviors/unbalanced power dynamics Thank you to NetGalley and Gen Z Publishing/Zenith Publishing for an advanced electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Jeni is a poor farm girl who lives with her mashup family, far out of the city that sits of the center of the four corners that make up the kingdom. Everything changes, however, when her cousin by marriage, Sisi, receives a request to journey to the city to meet Lord Ricard, Second in the Kingdom. Reluctantly, Sisi goes, with Jeni and Aunt Mae in tow. Sisi is determined to uncover where the kingdom's magic went, and Jeni will do whatever it takes to protect Sisi, even if it breaks her heart in the process. I am not big on fantasy, but after finding out that this book has fat and LGBTQ+ main character representation, I had to pick it up. Jeni is the type of MC you root for. She's honest about her downfalls, but never in a "woe is me" sorta way. This is well written to a point where I got mad at one of the villains, and felt myself becoming more invested in the girls' wellbeing, but you'll have to read it to find out what happens! I recommend this for people who are hesitant about fantasy and don't need world-building, while also enjoying a little magic ✨

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Thank you to Netgalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I read this entire book in one sitting. Okay I was trapped on an airplane, but regardless this was the perfect book for the trip. Queen of All follows young Jena who is a farmer's daughter. Jena has never known her mother and no one in her household speaks of her. Her only friend Sisi is a lost heir to a noble Numebered household and the Kingdom's famed beauty. The two have spent almost all of their chi Thank you to Netgalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I read this entire book in one sitting. Okay I was trapped on an airplane, but regardless this was the perfect book for the trip. Queen of All follows young Jena who is a farmer's daughter. Jena has never known her mother and no one in her household speaks of her. Her only friend Sisi is a lost heir to a noble Numebered household and the Kingdom's famed beauty. The two have spent almost all of their childhood together, but when Sisi is asked to come to the palace as a guest of the Prince, both of their lives will change forever. As far as action and plot goes, this book is very much character based. It's focused on Jena's growth as a person and her and Sisi's adventures in the castle. While there is a plot, it is very slow moving. More time is spent developing the world and mythology system--which I greatly appreciated. I loved learning more about the Kingdom's relationship with magic and the history of it. The ending really hints at a sequel and hopefully one that will focus on the relationship Jena will develop with other people. Jena was a smol bean, and I really just wanted to protect her the whole book. She's more introverted and hangs out in Sisi's shadow a lot. The friendship between these two girls was everything. I loved that neither of them would give up on each other. I was kind of sad that Jena's crush was unrequited, but I'm sure she'll find someone who will be able to return her love--if she wants of course. Overall, this was a great introduction to the world and I really loved meeting all these characters.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    A character-driven opening to what will certainly be a character-driven trilogy, this book is about a girl who is learning how to come out from under her best friend's shadow. It's a lovely exploration of what it means to be your own person, and how hard the decision to become someone new is--especially at 15. Full of intrigue, learning, growing, and so much pining, Queen of All is a little slow to start, but perfectly sets us up for more of Jena's story. It's soft and lovely, and fills you with A character-driven opening to what will certainly be a character-driven trilogy, this book is about a girl who is learning how to come out from under her best friend's shadow. It's a lovely exploration of what it means to be your own person, and how hard the decision to become someone new is--especially at 15. Full of intrigue, learning, growing, and so much pining, Queen of All is a little slow to start, but perfectly sets us up for more of Jena's story. It's soft and lovely, and fills you with a melancholic joy. I cannot wait for the next one (where the plot is definitely going to take off).

  12. 4 out of 5

    may ✨

    2/5 stars. This book was… disappointing. I had high hopes based on the short blurb and it did not deliver. As I started my reading, my first thought was that the writing was pretty and easy to read. The prologue and prelude really pulled me in and I was very excited to read more. Then I started chapter 1, the POV changed, and I met Jena, the main character. I was curious about her in the beginning. Jena is very observant which makes her interesting as a narrator because of the very singular way sh 2/5 stars. This book was… disappointing. I had high hopes based on the short blurb and it did not deliver. As I started my reading, my first thought was that the writing was pretty and easy to read. The prologue and prelude really pulled me in and I was very excited to read more. Then I started chapter 1, the POV changed, and I met Jena, the main character. I was curious about her in the beginning. Jena is very observant which makes her interesting as a narrator because of the very singular way she has to see the world and to describe it. She doesn’t really give off protagonist vibes, she is surprising in a way, and I enjoyed it at first. I thought there was an interesting and subtle contrast between the two girls, Jena and Sisi, who illustrated two very different ways of seeing the world and had worries and aspirations that felt true to their respective ages. Sadly, I expected more character growth, especially from the narrator who quickly became boring and annoying. I saw close to no development as I got further in the book. Things get redundant, Jena keeps complaining about the same things throughout the entire novel and has almost no influence on the plot which... doesn’t really exist either. Overall this was very boring and bland. Though the writing was very descriptive, the world building was weak. A few ideas were introduced but not developed and I have trouble identifying what importance they had in the story. The absence of plot didn’t help. A few things happen when you get close to the ending but it’s all predictable and just… not… interesting. Now my main issue with the book was that this is marketed as a LGBTQIA novel, and yes the main character is gay, but her feelings are unrequited. So this is the story of a young lesbian who’s in love with her best friend and basically sacrifices her own happiness. And I agree that this is something that happens in real life, but the whole book was about her burying her feelings and learning that as a gay woman, she’d never find love (another “well meaning“ character basically says that to her). It felt like a sentence, a punishment. Honestly, this made it all really sad and painful to me, and I did not understand the point of this storyline. Another thing that was weird was that Jena and Sisi are not blood-related but still call themselves cousins, and that there’s an age-gap between them (Jena is 14 and Sisi is 18, I believe) that made me uncomfortable. Once again, the idea of a young teenager having a crush on an older friend is something that happens and is a story that deserves to be told, but not like this… Everything about the romance in this book was weird and I didn’t know what to think of it. This is a young adult novel, I think it’s important to be careful about how stories are presented. I could’ve seen Jena’s childish crush being simply that, something that she’d overcome quickly and that would help her grow, but as I said earlier there is close to no character growth. Apparently this is the first book in a series, which maybe explains a few things but still. The first book should have a solid storyline. It should feel complete on a certain level. This book feels like an introduction but it’s way too long for that. It would’ve been better maybe as a 100-pages novella. I just feel like everything is underdeveloped and slow and takes way too many pages for how little plot we got. I understand that this setup was probably needed to introduce what will happen in Book 2, and the ending really suggests that the plot will begin in the sequel but I just think that this was not the way to introduce the characters. As a queer reader I did not want to read 300 pages about a sad lesbian who’s in love with her best friend, who doesn’t like girls and is way too old for her. My honest opinion on Queen Of All is that there isn’t enough substance for a full-length novel, that it should’ve been either a short introductory novella or structured differently and incorporated in the sequel. That being said, I think Anya Leigh Josephs is a promising author who has a unique way with words. As it is, the book wasn’t for me but if other readers enjoyed this novel, I’m truly happy for them. Content warnings: parental abandonment, talk of corporal punishment, fatphobia, harassment, pregnancy and childbirth, mention and vague description of a character being burnt alive. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this eARC!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany L Poynter

    I really don’t enjoy when a book starts with a prologue and then a prelude before the story even starts but it was so well written. The prologue is such a pure heartfelt declaration of love. I felt the love all the way down to my toes. Then the prelude starts introducing us to characters. I believe Jena’s mom plays a big part in her life even though she’s not in the story. It was set up well for the rest of the book. I really enjoyed all the magical aspects of this novel. So magical without tr I really don’t enjoy when a book starts with a prologue and then a prelude before the story even starts but it was so well written. The prologue is such a pure heartfelt declaration of love. I felt the love all the way down to my toes. Then the prelude starts introducing us to characters. I believe Jena’s mom plays a big part in her life even though she’s not in the story. It was set up well for the rest of the book. I really enjoyed all the magical aspects of this novel. So magical without truly having magic. I’m really hoping that there’s another novel that will reveal more of the magic to us. The story is about 2 cousins who travel from the country to the capital by invitation from the royal family. Sisi is a closer descendant in the numbers system and is the one who receives the invite but she refuses to travel without her ‘plain’ cousin Jena. As much as Sisi was one of the main characters I felt that Jena’s story is the true main story. Jena ends up doing anything she can for the one girl she is truly in love with. The writing in this novel is so beautiful and I can’t wait to read more from this author. Thank you NetGalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kris Segars

    When it comes to YA books, I can certainly say I’ve been around the block a few times. Seen it, done it, bought the T-shirt-you know the drill. So when something truly unique and fresh comes along, I feel the need to write about it. Queen of All is one of those rare and delightful books that both embraces and subverts the genre tropes we’ve all come to know and love. It is witty and intriguing, well-paced and well-written. The author is a master wordsmith whose passion, dedication, and insightfu When it comes to YA books, I can certainly say I’ve been around the block a few times. Seen it, done it, bought the T-shirt-you know the drill. So when something truly unique and fresh comes along, I feel the need to write about it. Queen of All is one of those rare and delightful books that both embraces and subverts the genre tropes we’ve all come to know and love. It is witty and intriguing, well-paced and well-written. The author is a master wordsmith whose passion, dedication, and insightfulness into the human condition truly shine through in their writing. It feels like I’m truly in the story with Jena and Sisi, laughing with them and crying with them and re-living the experiences of a teen that doesn’t quite fit in with what society wants them to be. This is the book I wish I had as an insecure 13 year old grappling with the age-old questions: Who am I, Who do I want to be, and How do I even begin to become that person? Highly recommended to say the least.

  15. 4 out of 5

    jordyn

    I was quite excited to read this book, as I was interested in the lore and queer representation, however it took a completely different direction than I thought. While the world building and the stakes of the story did fall a little short in my opinion, the character development of Jena and her growth as a person, coming into her own, was incredible. I can't wait for Jena's journey to truly begin and see where Anya Leigh Josephs goes next! Thank you to the publisher for allowing me to read this I was quite excited to read this book, as I was interested in the lore and queer representation, however it took a completely different direction than I thought. While the world building and the stakes of the story did fall a little short in my opinion, the character development of Jena and her growth as a person, coming into her own, was incredible. I can't wait for Jena's journey to truly begin and see where Anya Leigh Josephs goes next! Thank you to the publisher for allowing me to read this ARC!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bayan Sh

    Just the very moment I got to writing this review, I found out there is a sequel, which is so beyond exciting! This book was mainly character driven and I loved every single bit of it! The friendship between Jena and Sisi is just absolutely delightful and such an amazing friendship to read about, I enjoyed how magical, witty and interesting this was. I didn't mind the lack of the romantic happy ending and I'm sure the second book will give us a good love interest for Jena should she want one, it wa Just the very moment I got to writing this review, I found out there is a sequel, which is so beyond exciting! This book was mainly character driven and I loved every single bit of it! The friendship between Jena and Sisi is just absolutely delightful and such an amazing friendship to read about, I enjoyed how magical, witty and interesting this was. I didn't mind the lack of the romantic happy ending and I'm sure the second book will give us a good love interest for Jena should she want one, it was actually super awesome that this book was very good and so enjoyable and had the main character having feelings for someone and not ending up with them! The plot wasn't all that strong but the world building and discovering was just absolutely fascinating! Totally recommend!

  17. 4 out of 5

    ˗ˏˋliaˎˊ˗

    i can't wait to get to this!! according to some other opinions this seems like a very unique read, so i'm excited to see what i think about it :) thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review! i can't wait to get to this!! according to some other opinions this seems like a very unique read, so i'm excited to see what i think about it :) thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review!

  18. 4 out of 5

    kats_bookish_opinions

    I really wanted to like this one, I swear. Now, I really liked the writing style and it was refreshingly diverse and kind of a stray from the usual YA fantasy, Jeni/Jena was a really unique MC and she felt like she could be super interesting. But.. uh she wasn't. It feels like there was this really good arc for her being built up but it never felt like it went anywhere, yet it was also super hastily resolved? I think that's my problem with this book, there's build-up, but nothing happens and the I really wanted to like this one, I swear. Now, I really liked the writing style and it was refreshingly diverse and kind of a stray from the usual YA fantasy, Jeni/Jena was a really unique MC and she felt like she could be super interesting. But.. uh she wasn't. It feels like there was this really good arc for her being built up but it never felt like it went anywhere, yet it was also super hastily resolved? I think that's my problem with this book, there's build-up, but nothing happens and then it just *boom* resolved. The main plot of the book had legitimately no tension and I'm not even sure there was an antagonist. Well... that's not necessarily true, honestly Sisi (pretty best friend) felt like the antagonist up until the very end. I have so many issues and honestly Sisi is the cause of most of them. First, the way this book is introduced and marketed, it feels like a sapphic YA with them being the relationship.... it's not, there is no romantic arc for our MC, which isn't necessarily a problem, except she does have a crush on Sisi. The crush itself made me really uncomfortable, as Sisi was a) 5-6 years older than Jeni and b) her cousin (not by blood but the implications are still no). Their 'friendship' felt really manipulative too, Sisi is so whiny, and Jeni does everything for her, even if it was 'for the sake of love,' no piece of media should really promote a message of if you love someone you'll sacrifice yourself for them, even if they don't love you back and they don't do anything for you. There wasn't a believable friendship or crush between them because Jeni just felt like Sisi's punching bag or some sort of pet. (view spoiler)[ the end scene before Jeni leaves does not make up for it, it feels like she admitted she knew she liked her and never addressed it. ALSO SISI GOT EVERTHING SHE WANTED AS JENI SACRIFICED SOMETHING FOR HER (though I don't know what she sacrificed because 'vague magic sacrifice' happened ) AND THE MOST SHE GAVE JENI WAS AN ESCORT OUT AND TELLING HER TO LEAVE, I hate her, oh my god I hate her. (hide spoiler)] The world building and the setting also suffers from just being lackluster over all, there was no tension, no intrigue in it, for all I knew, nothing happened outside of the palace and the poor apple farm where the MC grew up. The backstory for the world was also really interesting, but yet again, it feels like nothing came from it. Now I understand that this is the first book in a series, but even so there needs to be some forms of resolution for arcs and plots. It felt like nothing happened except a bunch of randomly assorted events that concluded with some plot point being accomplished (does that even make sense?), and the MC grows so little, honestly I feel like she got worse, like she goes from no confidence, constantly comparing herself to... very little confidence, still only seeing herself as a sidepiece, though I think that kind of changed towards the end. Also, random nitpick, but since we're on Jeni, can she please stop fat-shaming herself, like I was so glad that there was a plus-size MC but every time she eats or looks in a mirror, she laments about how curvy she is or how jealous she is of Sisi, who's pretty and has all her weight in her figure, like please.. no don't set that example. I know I'm in the minority here but I did not like the main character's main relationship, the main character felt way too lackluster, this book is so anticlimactic in every single aspect that it's ridiculous, but the writing style is good and this book had so much potential that it's a little disheartening to see how it came out. I don't think I will be continuing with the series, but I do want to say that I really liked this author's writing style and I do think she has a lot of potential ~ ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aiya

    Thank you netgalley for the e-arc My favorite part of this book is how the main character is so clearly a side character. The book is written in the same vein as The Rest of Us Just Live Here, where Jena lives in her friend Sisi’s shadow her entire life and must continue to help her as she becomes the Queen of all Earth. The worldbuilding is slightly confusing, as new fantasy tends to be. There is only one country, and the rulers rule over the entirety of earth which is separated into 4 sections Thank you netgalley for the e-arc My favorite part of this book is how the main character is so clearly a side character. The book is written in the same vein as The Rest of Us Just Live Here, where Jena lives in her friend Sisi’s shadow her entire life and must continue to help her as she becomes the Queen of all Earth. The worldbuilding is slightly confusing, as new fantasy tends to be. There is only one country, and the rulers rule over the entirety of earth which is separated into 4 sections and 16 quadrants respectively. I would have appreciated a more in depth explanation, but in all honesty it’s not really necessary because the majority of the book takes place in the Palace in the middle. I really love Jena’s character. She spends the entire book helping Sisi, and sacrificing her own happiness and feelings so that her best friend can be happy, but she grows so much during that time. She is a resilient strong character and I can’t wait to read the sequel.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    The Book Queen of All is one of the best YA Fantasies I have read! The book dips right into the life of two girl "cousins" and their life on the family farm. From the viewpoint of Jena, she and her cousin Sisi are family and best friends, until the day a message is delivered and both of their lives are changed for ever. We learn of the struggles of the lower class and what is expected of Sisi as part of the numbered royal class. Through tales of loss and deception, we learn about true love and s The Book Queen of All is one of the best YA Fantasies I have read! The book dips right into the life of two girl "cousins" and their life on the family farm. From the viewpoint of Jena, she and her cousin Sisi are family and best friends, until the day a message is delivered and both of their lives are changed for ever. We learn of the struggles of the lower class and what is expected of Sisi as part of the numbered royal class. Through tales of loss and deception, we learn about true love and sacrifice. I absolutely love the LGBTQ aspect and I feel books like this are needed! I wish it was longer! The end seemed a bit rushed, I would have loved more details, but it was a great read. I would highly recommend this book for LGBTQ, YA, Fantasy, Si-Fi.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Scott Josephs

    I found Queen of All a compelling read for two reasons. First, the character development and intricate relationships were credible, intelligent, and insightful. Second, the plot line induced a craving to learn what happened next. Who knew that dystopian young adult fiction could be so fulfilling

  22. 5 out of 5

    itsbekkoning

    I’m always happy to start a book with sapphic rep, but this book just had too many other issues for me to truly enjoy it, most of which have already been mentioned by other reviewers. I was looking forward to a story about queer self-discovery, but I ended up being really uncomfortable with the way Jeni’s crush on Sisi was portrayed. In the synopsis, Sisi is described simply as Jeni’s best friend, but we learn almost immediately that they’re also cousins by marriage, which—while not an issue of I’m always happy to start a book with sapphic rep, but this book just had too many other issues for me to truly enjoy it, most of which have already been mentioned by other reviewers. I was looking forward to a story about queer self-discovery, but I ended up being really uncomfortable with the way Jeni’s crush on Sisi was portrayed. In the synopsis, Sisi is described simply as Jeni’s best friend, but we learn almost immediately that they’re also cousins by marriage, which—while not an issue of blood relation—is still a cause for concern considering they’ve grown up together, practically like sisters. There’s also the fact that Sisi is 18 while Jena is only 14 for most of the book; I could let this slide if it had been clear from the start that there was absolutely no chance of them entering a relationship, but honestly? Until (view spoiler)[Sisi falls in love with the King and gets married (hide spoiler)] I truly had no idea how things would turn out between them, and that made me really uncomfortable as a queer woman. Aside from that, I had some issues with the pacing. There are a lot of moments of pure storytelling from characters, and while that can be an effective world-building strategy, most of these stories just seemed to drag on. They say it's always better to show, not tell...well to be honest, this felt like a whole lot of telling. On the other hand, once we get a change of scenery and end up (view spoiler)[in the Capital (hide spoiler)] the pacing ramped up significantly, and it suddenly felt like time was flying by without much true exposition. We finally meet our supposed antagonist, but after one threat (to which Jeni doesn’t do…anything?? She barely even thinks about it much afterwards??) and (view spoiler)[the introduction of King Balion (hide spoiler)] he practically disappears entirely. It doesn't even feel like there’s any sort of true conflict past that point. In hindsight, if I had to summarize the main conflict…I don’t know if I could, because I’m not really sure what the central conflict even was. It was more like minor inconveniences occurring one after the other. Even the magic of the story seemed lacking. We know by the end that (view spoiler)[Jeni has magical abilities (hide spoiler)] but the build-up to it is really underwhelming, to the point where you can almost miss it, because it comes in these small instances where no one even seems to acknowledge that something out of the ordinary is happening. I wanted to like Jeni as an MC, and there were certainly some world-building elements that I found interesting (the Number system and the magical lore, for example). But overall, the pacing continually fluctuated from dragging on to rushing forward in time out of nowhere, and I just felt uncomfortable for most of the book because of the uncertainty (and somewhat incestuous undertones) of Jena and Sisi’s relationship.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fifi | A Fairytale Dream

    I simply cannot resist a fairytale! Reading about palaces, princes and kingdoms feels like coming home for me. Aside from the fairytale setting, I found the kingdom’s setup a similar concept to Kiera Cass’ Selection series, where people are “Numbered” by line of descent to the throne. Higher birth/higher numbers equals higher status. If you are one of the Numbered, you live a lavish life, while others struggle as peasants in their villages. Jena’s best friend Sissi is a Numbered, though a mere f I simply cannot resist a fairytale! Reading about palaces, princes and kingdoms feels like coming home for me. Aside from the fairytale setting, I found the kingdom’s setup a similar concept to Kiera Cass’ Selection series, where people are “Numbered” by line of descent to the throne. Higher birth/higher numbers equals higher status. If you are one of the Numbered, you live a lavish life, while others struggle as peasants in their villages. Jena’s best friend Sissi is a Numbered, though a mere four hundred fifty third, is invited to the Capital to partake in the ball’s festivities since rumors of her beauty have reached the prince. Once our heroines make the three week journey from from the countryside to the Capital to attend the royal ball in the palace, the story picks up quickly! This book was a fascinating blend of fantasy and fairytales, with its own complex religious system and magic system. The Kingdom itself is divided into four quarters and each has its own distinctive characteristics, and the characters believe their Kingdom is genuinely the entire earth and the whole earth is ruled by their king and queen. In fact, they thought that their three week journey by carriage was traveling across half of the entire earth, which I thought was funny. The world building is fascinating, and there were many elements that reminded me of other books that I’ve loved in the past. Lovers of fairytales and low fantasy will enjoy this one. This is just the sort of fantasy that I personally enjoy which is fantasy that borders on fairytales. My only complaint is that this book started out super strong and felt like it was building up to an intense conclusion, only for it to be a letdown. The latter half of the book definitely was not as strong and the conclusion was lacking. Not because of the open ending (leading to an obvious upcoming sequel) but because it was just...underwhelming. Still, I enjoyed this book and I will definitely be picking up the future books in this series. Thank you to Netgalley and Zenith for sending me an advanced copy in return for my honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    K

    Four and a half stars. I haven't been able to read high fantasy for years, so I was reluctant to give this a chance—I shouldn't have been. I sat down to read a chapter and Queen of All sucked me in for hours. Jena is loveable, but more importantly, she is relatable. It is so easy to slip on her shoes and follow her "cousin" (they aren't really cousins...) anywhere, out of love. Sisi, too, is well-developed, although I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed with her in the end... (but we'll Four and a half stars. I haven't been able to read high fantasy for years, so I was reluctant to give this a chance—I shouldn't have been. I sat down to read a chapter and Queen of All sucked me in for hours. Jena is loveable, but more importantly, she is relatable. It is so easy to slip on her shoes and follow her "cousin" (they aren't really cousins...) anywhere, out of love. Sisi, too, is well-developed, although I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed with her in the end... (but we'll see if she has more to accomplish.) The prince was milder than I expected, more bark than bite, as far as dystopian rulers go. He couldn't really act on a lot of his threats, and the narrator seems to forget about him in the last part of the story, even though it would be in character for him to have continued plotting. There's the perfect amount of background to make the palace seem like an adventure. The worldbuilding is simple but paints a vivid picture. The writing is clever and intricate, and the story unfolded into everything I could have hoped for. I was a little sad near the end, because I thought there were going to be too many unanswered questions, but shame on me for forgetting that fantasy books, especially teen fiction, are often not standalones. Anyways, I couldn't really have asked for a better ending. It's a little heartbreaking, but realistic, and thus a great lesson for 14 year old Jena to learn. I think that while she hadn't changed much through the story, she did grow, if that makes sense. Now she's shifting priorities, which is promising, and a nice wrap to this book. Fantastic debut! Now to wait until the sequel rolls out.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laura H

    Dnf @ 13% Ch 3 Sadly im going to have to drop this story, its just not connecting with me at all. While the writing is interesting and the prologue was stunning, i find Jena very frustrating and down on herself. Those around her seem awful too in their treatment of her, I already hate Sisi. There's no character thats actually grabbing me at the moment and i don't care for what happens to any of them. I think i was just expecting something different from the premis, the concept is fascinating and Dnf @ 13% Ch 3 Sadly im going to have to drop this story, its just not connecting with me at all. While the writing is interesting and the prologue was stunning, i find Jena very frustrating and down on herself. Those around her seem awful too in their treatment of her, I already hate Sisi. There's no character thats actually grabbing me at the moment and i don't care for what happens to any of them. I think i was just expecting something different from the premis, the concept is fascinating and the base idea intriguing. However the lack of an enjoyable character, leaves without much care for what happens next so no reason to continue reading for me. *I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Thank you to Netgalley and GenZ publishing for a review copy of this book. While I enjoyed this book, I gave I four stars as I feel like it jumped around more than I’d like to and the romance aspect wasn’t explored more. It seemed convenient that the mystery was solved quickly and the ending seemed rushed. I do think there’s lots to explore in this world that was set up and I hope another book is published so it can be more fleshed out.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    A fun fantasy read, reminded me of Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy. Cant wait for the next book!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Soph the Oaf

    Nice! YA Fantasy can be tropey at times, but this is a new LGBTQ spin on the genre! It's sort of this feminist coming of age story set in a fantasy world with so many amazing themes. Love it! Nice! YA Fantasy can be tropey at times, but this is a new LGBTQ spin on the genre! It's sort of this feminist coming of age story set in a fantasy world with so many amazing themes. Love it!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Jena, despite being the main protagonist, is intriguingly a side character in the ‘Sisi’ show. For as long as she can remember, Jena has always lived a simple, farmer life, quietly resting in the shadow of her beautiful friend Sisi. Whilst Jena is abandoned by her mother as a baby and is bought up by her emotionally cold, reluctant father; Sisi grows up as daughter of a numbered household, meaning she has royalty in her ancestry. Sisi’s brother fled their life of ruthless court intrigue for a qu Jena, despite being the main protagonist, is intriguingly a side character in the ‘Sisi’ show. For as long as she can remember, Jena has always lived a simple, farmer life, quietly resting in the shadow of her beautiful friend Sisi. Whilst Jena is abandoned by her mother as a baby and is bought up by her emotionally cold, reluctant father; Sisi grows up as daughter of a numbered household, meaning she has royalty in her ancestry. Sisi’s brother fled their life of ruthless court intrigue for a quiet, rural life. But – when a message arrives from the second in the kingdom – Lord Ricard – inviting Sisi to the Midwinter Ball, it seems as if Sisi will return to a life of luxury. In reality, Sisi wants Jena to help her enact revenge on the very same lord who tried to destroy her family all those years ago and unearth the truth about the lord’s fear of anyone who practices magic. Jena, as a loyal friend, accompanies Sisi to the palace and together they face their uncertain future. The book begins with a prologue and a prelude that are very stand alone in comparison to the rest of the book. In my opinion, the prologue is the standout section of writing from the novel. Written in Jena’s mothers’ voice, it is a stunning declaration of love and loss. Jena’s mother appears reluctant to leave her baby girl but is driven by a deeper calling which appears to hint at magic. It leaves the reader wondering whether she will ever return to claim her baby girl back and teach her about magic, this story arc is sadly only touched on within this book and not resolved but hopefully will be more of a central focus in the next book. The class system is intriguing and reminds me slightly of the Russian dynasty of serfdom versus royalty. The lower classes are kept to the fringes of the towns and the countryside, living in comfortable poverty. Whilst those families who can trace their heritage back to the first King and Queen are called ‘The Numbered’. The lower your number, the closer you are to royalty and the more wealth and power you wield over others. The numbered live within the large cities in opulent lifestyles. However, all is not as it seems as some numbered families are hunted down and massacred if deemed to be a threat to Lord Ricard becoming the next crowned king. For despite being second in line to the throne, you must pass a test to be deemed worthy of the crown, Lord Ricard has failed once already and is desperate not to fail again. There was a lot I enjoyed in this book, the Midwinter Ball scene was the peak, highly engaging as Sisi and Jena enjoy the splendour of the ball but tremble at the political threats that loom underneath the glamour. However, the threat of Lord Ricard’s murderous intent seems to die away in the latter section of the book. One minute he threatens the lives of her family and the next they are invited to the castle to enjoy the city’s luxuries. This story arc seems confusing to me, it seems unlikely that such a built up villain who has murdered hundreds of families to advance his position in the numbered, now sits back and allows Sisi to slip away from him. Lord Ricard’s arc is not believable and his villainy is not fulfilled to it’s true potential. This book is marketed as an LGBTQIA book. Jena’s adoration of her best friend, quickly turns into complicated, deep feelings that she can’t ignore. There is a lovely, tender moment between Jena and her Auntie where they discuss her feelings towards women and Jena is made to feel valued and respected. However, Jena’s feelings are not reciprocated and in the end it feels like she is used by Sisi as Jena must sacrifice her love for Sisi in order to give Sisi her happily ever after. Sisi does not seem worthy of Jena’s love, paying her little attention and always reluctant to communicate with her. The unrequited love arc is touching at times but most of the time is is frustrating for the reader as we know that Sisi is not redeemable enough to be worthy of Jena’s affection. I will definitely be reading the second book as I’m intrigued as to whether Jena will ever find her mother and gain an explanation as to her budding powers. I believe the next book may be more enticing than the first if the focus is on Jena’s growth and development, leaving Sisi’s coming of age story behind, allowing Jena to bloom as the proper protagonist. NB: An early arc of this novel was gifted via NetGalley for an honest review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    #NetGalley #QueenOfAll I thank NetGalley for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review :) All I have to say is this....everyone pick this book up when releases. You absolutely will not be disappointed

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