Reviews

ARC Review: Dear Hero – Hope Bolinger & Alyssa Roat

Thank you to one of the authors, Hope Bolinger, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️Press
Release Date: 28 September 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Science Fiction
TW: manipulative relationships

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Cortex and V need a new nemesis. Cortex’s last villain dumped him, and V got a little overeager and took out her hero prematurely. They meet on Meta-Match, a nemesis pairing site for heroes and villains. After throwing punches at each other behind coffee shops and hiring henchman to do their bidding (mostly just getting them coffee), they realize they have a lot more in common than meets the eye. And they may have a lot more hero and villain inside than they realize. ~ Goodreads

The description of this book completely drew me in and I had absolutely no doubts about accepting a review copy. I love the whole trope of heroes and villains and I thought a match maker for heroes and villains to find a nemesis was really clever. I also love that this entire book is written as text messages! I’m always looking for books with interesting formats and Dear Hero definitely checked that box.

The main characters, Cortex and Vortex, meet through Meta-Match and begin a professional nemesis relationship. I liked both of these characters, but I feel like we don’t learn much about them and a lot of their personality rests on their identity as a hero or a villain, even though these lines are often blurry. They also do things sometimes that I felt were really unrealistic and they often seemed to lack emotion in situations that I feel should warrant more. I don’t know if this is just the nuance of text messages and how hard it can be to show emotion through it, but Cortex in particular seemed really dismissive of things and didn’t even react as you would expect when his loved ones were in danger.

I really liked the format of the book, but I did find it to be a bit confusing at times, especially during group chats or when they were using “speech-to-text” in action moments. I got lost sometimes in what was happening and being able to imagine the scenarios from these texts alone. I think it is really clever though and the authors did find some really creative ways around the restraints of text messages.

Overall, this book was okay and I definitely enjoyed parts of it and appreciate the creativity, but there were also a few things that I wish had been a bit different or developed more.

Get it on Amazon!

Blog Tours · Reviews

Blog Tour: The Year Shakespeare Ruined my Life by Dani Jansen

Alison Green, desperate valedictorian – wannabe, agrees to produce her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s her first big mistake. The second is accidentally saying Yes to a date with her oldest friend, Jack, even though she’s crushing on Charlotte. Alison manages to stay positive, even when her best friend starts referring to the play as “Ye Olde Shakespearean Disaster.” Alison must cope with the misadventures that befall the play if she’s going to survive the year. She’ll also have to grapple with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Indigo

The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life | CBC Books

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Release Date: 22 September 2020
Genres: Young Adult, LGBT+, Contemporary

I knew I was going to fall in love with this book the moment that I read the title and it absolutely blew me away. I loved everything from the characters, to the atmosphere, to the plot. Every aspect of this book came together to form this wonderful book that I wish I had read as a teenager and that I think will be really important to many teenagers today.

The characters are all really well rounded and individual, but they have some great dynamics and friendships. They are not perfect, they make mistakes and have to deal with the consequences of their actions, and they really show that this is okay and that the world won’t end because they did something that they regret now, like accidentally agreeing to a date. Alison, the protagonist, in particular shows this with her dating misadventures and the hurdles that she constantly has to overcome with the production of the play.

This book is all about a group of misfits putting on a school play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream while dealing with all the drama of school life behind the scenes. The cover and title really holds true to the comedy and the atmosphere that Shakespeare’s comedic plays possess and it was so easy to get lost in the world. I found myself constantly rooting for the play to go well, for the relationships to happen, for the characters themselves to learn and grow.

The main and side characters all give a really diverse look at teenagers and people in general. There are several LGBT+ and POC characters who contribute so much to the story. Their sexuality and/or race are important to them, but there are never reduced to this characteristic alone. The characters also show how diverse people can be in their interests, styles, priorities etc., but how people can still come together on common ground for common goals.

I read the whole book in one day, almost in one sitting with just a few breaks in between, and it gave me everything I wanted. Sapphic romance. Great friendships. Shakespearean comedy. Appreciation for the arts. I honestly cannot recommend it enough.

To get a closer look at the characters and their personalities, I matched the main characters in the book to the Shakespeare play that I think would best suit them. If you’ve read the book, do you agree? If you haven’t read it, which character does this make you think you would like most?

cast list

Book Tour| The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life - Dani Jansen - The Book  DutchessesAbout the Author:
Dani Jansen is a teacher and writer who lives in Montreal. She should probably be embarrassed to admit that she has performed as part of her school’s Glee Club for eight years. She should probably also be ashamed to tell people that she named her cats after punctuation symbols (Ampersand and Em-Dash, in case you’re curious).
Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

If you live in the US or Canada you can also enter a giveaway to win one of two finished copies up for grabs! Make sure you enter soon because the giveaway ends on September 15th. Good luck!

Make sure you check out all the other stops on the tour too!

Wrap-Ups/TBRs

August Reading Wrap Up

I had high hopes for doing lots of reading in August and put a lot of pressure on myself. I struggled to read for a lot of it and also got overwhelmed with ARCs, but I’m happy with what I read in the end and am really grateful for audiobooks.

booksread

  1. Armada – Ernest Cline
  2. Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
  3. Cherrington Academy – Rebecca J. Caffery
  4. The Extraordinaries – T.J. Klune
  5. Body Talk – Kelly Jensen
  6. Cinderella is Dead – Kalynn Bayron
  7. Dear Hero – Hope Bolinger & Alyssa Roat
  8. The Secret of You and Me – Melissa Lenhardt
  9. The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1 – Kieron Gillen
  10. The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life – Dani Jansen

My favourite was probably The Extraordinaries, but The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life comes in very close too! I loved the characters and the dynamics in The Extraordinaries so much and I’m so excited that it is the first in a series. I can’t wait to read more books by T.J. Klune.

currently reading

  1. The First Sister – Linden A. Lewis
  2. The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

bookhaul

  1. Armada – Ernest Cline (audiobook)
  2. Dear Martin – Nic Stone (ebook)
  3. An Enchantment of Ravens – Margaret Rogerson (ebook)
  4. Nick and Charlie – Alice Oseman (paperback)
  5. Midnight Sun – Stephanie Meyer (hardback)
  6. The Henna Wars – Abida Jaigirdar (hardback)
  7. The Black Veins – Aishia Monet (hardback)
  8. The Extraordinaries – T.J. Klune (audiobook)
  9. All Rights Reserved – Gregory Scott Katsoulis (hardback)
  10. The Poppy War – R.F. Kuang (ebook)

monthlystats

Books Read: 10
Pages Read: 5537
Book Haul: 10

yearlystats

Books: 80
Pages: 28119
TBR status: Unread books – 229 (33.4%), Read books – 457 (66.6%)

How was your reading this month?✨

Reviews

ARC Review: The Secret of You and Me – Melissa Lenhardt

Thank you Mills & Boon and NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️Press
Release Date: 4th August 2020
Genres: Adult, Romance, LGBT+
TW: homophobia, substance abuse

Nora hasn’t looked back. Not since she left home, and her broken heart, far behind her. But now tragedy calls her back, where she must finally come face to face with ex-boyfriend Charlie, and best friend Sophie. Only now will she be able to confront her past―and reconcile her future. Sophie seems to have everything. Married to Charlie, with a wonderful daughter and a successful career. Yet underneath that perfection lies an explosive secret. A secret that ripped through their town and destroyed her friendship with Nora. So when Sophie finds out that Nora has returned, she hopes Nora’s stay is short. The life she has built depends on it. But first love doesn’t fade easily. Memories come to light, passion ignites and old feelings resurface. As the forces that once tore them apart begin to re-emerge, both Nora and Sophie must accept that true love is something worth fighting for.  ~ Goodreads

I can’t tell you how many times I sorted, checked out, and checked in Mills & Boon books when I worked at a library and wished that there was queer books in the collection. I think it is so important to have queer mainstream romance books and I hope lots of people have access to books like this.

I really wanted to like this, but I think the only reason I wanted to read this was because it was sapphic and the rest of the story is not the type of story that I usually read. It’s about two women from a small town who fall in love and struggle with their feelings and with dealing with their sexuality when surrounded by so much homophobia. There was a lot of homophobia from almost everyone around them, something I think is important to write about, but it was a lot. For most of the book, it almost felt like they were portraying that the characters had no hope and that they would never be able to safely come out.

I also didn’t like how cheating was such a core aspect of the story and all the central relationships. The relationships were all so unhealthy and the two main characters seemed to disregard others feelings. I understand that Sophie was struggling a lot with her sexuality and not feeling like she could come out at all, but even Nora who had supposedly moved away and moved on with someone else behaved the same.

Overall, it was an okay book and I think it is incredibly powerful and will be so important for people who can see themselves in the characters and find hope. It deals with a lot of darkness, but Nora and Sophie’s relationship itself is definitely a beacon of light amidst it.

Reviews

ARC Review: The Extraordinaries – T.J. Klune

Thank you Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Press
Release Date: 14 July 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, LGBT+
TW: Anxiety, Panic Attacks

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right? After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life). ~ Goodreads

I’m really disappointed in myself for taking so long to get to this book because it was AMAZING! It has the perfect recipe for a good book: great characters with brilliant dynamics between them, an exciting storyline, mystery, plot twists, superheroes, and it’s all very queer.

I haven’t read a lot of superhero books, but every single time I do I wonder why I haven’t read more. I loved the twist on the trope in this book with the superheroes being known as Extraordinaries who are people with powers. I especially liked that I thought I had the plot twist figured out really obviously from the beginning (and I loved it anyway) but it still ending up surprising me. It does a great job of subverting tropes and putting new and unexpected angles on the things that we are used to throughout. I don’t want to say too much about the plot and spoil it, but believe me, it was great.

I loved the protagonist, Nick, so much and I think he is a much needed character in young adult books that a lot of people will see themselves in. He writes queer self-insert fanfiction about the Extraordinaries and dreams of being like them himself. He’s also still dealing with his mothers death and the anxiety it’s caused, coming to terms with his ADHD and the medication he takes, as well as battling with his growing feelings for his best friend, Seth. Representation in books is constantly getting better and I think it’s so important for young people to have access to books with characters who have ADHD, autism, dyslexia, etc. as these are still drastically underrepresented.

The queer representation in this book is also astounding. The main cast of characters are all queer, as is often the case with friendship groups, and their queerness isn’t made a big deal out of and is really diverse in itself. There are characters who are gay and bi and characters who don’t worry about labels and it’s all really refreshing. They are a great friendship group, who are always there for each other, but who also aren’t afraid to tell each other when they’re being ridiculous.

I’m finding it really hard to put into words just how much I loved this book and just how important I think it is, which I think is a mark for how good it was. It’s beyond words. I definitely recommend it and I will definitely be reading more books by T.J. Klune in the future!

 

Reviews

ARC Review: Cherrington Academy – Rebecca J. Caffery

Thank you to the author, Rebecca J. Caffery, and SRL Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Press
Release Date: 25 August 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, LGBT+
TWs: Homophobia, Terminal Illness

Cherrington Academy by [Rebecca J Caffery]

Logan’s the new boy at Cherrington Academy, a boarding school that’s promised to provide him with a safe haven away from homophobic bullies and neglectful parents. He’s left all that 2000 miles away. What he doesn’t expect Cherrington to provide is; a bunch of friends who want to adopt him, a mysterious roommate who’s never home and a gorgeous guy with a secret crush on him. His perfect new life begins to unravel when he discovers a web of secrets amongst his friends. Plus his roommate? Partial to blackmail. That gorgeous guy? Well, he’s taken by one of Logan’s now closest friends. Can Logan shut off his feelings to protect his new friendships and the happiness he’s found at Cherrington Academy? Or is love really just all-consuming? ~ Goodreads

I’ve been in a reading slump this month, but this was such a quick and easy read and getting lost in the world of these characters definitely helped to pull me out. It’s a great YA LGBT+ contemporary romance, that also has a very distinctive vibe and style that I think fans of books like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green will really enjoy.

One of the best aspects of this book is the characters. They all felt very well developed and distinctive, each with their own dreams, hopes, fears, problems, likes, dislikes, and so much more. I think sometimes it can be really easy for books with fairly big casts to neglect characters and have them appear very flat, but this was not the case for Cherrington Academy. I wish we had more time with the girls as they were often more on the periphery, but I still feel like we learn a lot about them.

I also liked that the characters felt like very realistic teenagers. I often got annoyed with their actions as they constantly made situations worse for themselves (especially Logan and Isaac), but adult hindsight is 20/20 and these characters really felt like they were still learning about their themselves and the world. They made mistakes, they said things they shouldn’t have said, they were dramatic, and much more. I think the young audience this is aimed at will really be able to relate to the characters and the sticky situations that they get themselves tangled in. Things constantly were falling apart then being pulled back together before falling apart again because of their actions which I think people will really enjoy if they like fast-paced contemporaries with a lot of action.

As always, diversity and representation are really important to me and I loved how there were several LGBT+ characters in this book and that they were friends. However, I do think there were some aspects of the LGBT+ representation that could have been improved, for example, there was a lot of homophobia or biphobia from other characters that is never fully addressed.

It also touched on the topic of mental health a few times which I wish had been explored a bit more. It shows the importance of seeking help and taking care of your mental health which is a really important message for a young adult audience. However, there were a few moments that I feel needed further developing otherwise they have the opposite effect, for example, Logan makes a throwaway remark about OCD that didn’t hit right to me and I think would have worked better if his mental health had been framed more and he had been portrayed with OCD.

Overall, this was a great fast-paced and easy to read contemporary with some fantastic characters. I know there’s a sequel already in the works for next year so I really hope some of the things that were only beginning to be touched on in this book will be touched on more in this sequel, such as the topic of mental health. It will be great to see how the characters navigate the fall out of the events in this first book and to see where they will go next as they mature and grow.

Amazon| Waterstones | Barnes & Noble | Other

Blog Tours · Reviews

Blog Tour: Body Talk by Kelly Jenson

Thank you to the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Press
Release Date: 18th August 2020
Genres: Non-Fiction, Anthology, Essays
TW: It discusses a lot of sensitive topics due to the nature of the book, such as body dysmorphia, mental illness, discrimination, and more.

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We all experience the world in a body, but we don’t usually take the time to explore what it really means to have and live within one. Just as every person has a unique personality, every person has a unique body, and every body tells its own story. In Body Talk, thirty-seven writers, models, actors, musicians, and artists share essays, lists, comics, and illustrations—about everything from size and shape to scoliosis, from eating disorders to cancer, from sexuality and gender identity to the use of makeup as armor. Together, they contribute a broad variety of perspectives on what it’s like to live in their particular bodies—and how their bodies have helped to inform who they are and how they move through the world. ~ Goodreads

As someone who doesn’t read a lot of non-fiction or anthologies, this book was a beautiful surprise and I absolutely loved it. The contributions throughout vary as much in topic as they do in format which made it a really easy and interesting reading. There will be stories that you relate to, stories that open your eyes to experiences you haven’t shared, stories that make you feel less alone, stories that make you smile, make you laugh, make you cry. It encourages you to embrace the body that you were given as well as to celebrate each body’s uniqueness and wonder in the most perfect way.

One of the things that I like most about anthologies is that you get to read from so many different perspectives and hear so many different voices all in one book. In Body Talk there are contributions from people you will probably know, such as Tyra Banks, but it also introduces you to many more people from many different backgrounds and all contributors are given a voice and a chance to share their experiences in the way that they wish to do it, whether that be an essay, a letter, a list, an illustration, or something else. It also has FAQ sections dotted throughout with important information related to the entries which I really loved.

In just the first few entries, there are already discussions and mentions of disability, sexuality, gender, race, mental illness, and this is just the start of the diversity that follows throughout the whole book. Diversity is something that is really important to me and that I always seek out in the books I read and this is one of the best books I’ve ever read for that. I really appreciate how Kelly Jensen made this such a focus point rather than missing any of these important communities out.

Finally, a great thing about an anthology is the many different ways you can read it and access it. You can read it cover to cover, you can dip in and out of it, you can pick out essays and stories to read as they interest you, you can easily go back and re-read the ones that have stuck with you the most and so much more. Reading an anthology is a reading experience like no other and I love it.

This is such an important book that I think will help many people, especially young people, learn to accept the body that they have been given and to love themselves for who they are. It helps show that you are not alone, that everyone struggles in some way with their image, but that it is possible to embrace it and to see the positives. I hope many people get the opportunity to read it.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository | Waterstones | Barnes & Noble

Author Spotlights

Author Spotlight – Rue Sparks

Author Spotlight: Rue Sparks
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Rue Sparks


Artist, animator, writer, designer, professor- I’ve worn a lot of labels, but the one thing I’ve always aspired to be is simply a storyteller. I live in Noblesville, Indiana in the USA with my sweet senior support dog and still draw and paint when I’m physically able.

 

Q&A
Introduce yourself!
I’m a writer and artist from the USA’s midwest, the land of ‘ope’ and Faygo. I worked as a studio artist, graphic designer, and art director in advertising for a little over a decade before a physical illness cut my career short. Now I’ve hunkered down in Indiana with my sweetest senior support dog, Hera. I may be disabled, but I write and still dabble in art.
What do you like most about writing?
When art became near inaccessible to me, I felt lost. It was how I coped with my emotions, my situation. Now with a debilitating physical illness, I needed it more than ever to process my new lot in life, but that same illness prevented me from using that tool.
Writing was something I could do with less pain, but brought a lot of the same relief. It started with poetry, then short stories, then that grew into novels. I love that it allows me to access emotionality while giving me the chance to create worlds and characters outside myself at the same time. It creates space between me and what I’m trying to process, and my hope is that it helps others learn how to deal with some of the same issues and concerns.
What is your writing routine like? When and how do you write?
Because of my disability I have a sporadic writing schedule. It usually depends on my pain and fatigue levels. I go in spurts—when I’m feeling good, I take full advantage, and may write up to 5k a day. When I’m having a flare-up, I may write nothing for a week.
My process is to take a prompt or an idea and mull over it a bit. I’ll do something else, like listen to music on my record player, do some chores, make a Spotify playlist, something where I can think without giving it my full attention. This gives my subconscious mind a chance to have at the problem and come up with solutions. Once I have a general direction I’ll start writing until I’m stuck again. I’ll repeat this process until I have a draft, then it’s time to edit. I’m somewhere between a discovery writer and a plotter in this way.
What are some things that have influenced you and your writing?
I’ve been influenced by some of the more typical things like books, television, movies and music. My favorite influencer though is science. I listen to the podcast Ologies in binges, and near every episode has me reeling with ideas. I love taking some seemingly innocuous sentence or concept and relating it in some way to a story. It helps that in speculative fiction especially you can be really creative with integrating prompts.
Could you tell us more about Daylight Chasers?
Daylight Chasers is my debut long-form work, somewhere between a long short story and a novella. 
It revolves around Keenan, the top agent at Daylight Chasers. It’s a company that upon uttering the phrase ‘I wish this day would never end,’ appears to take the speaker around the globe by hopping time-zones to fully experience a day that ‘nearly’ never ends via travel blog.
Keenan is hired to be Isabella’s guide, but he quickly learns that this will be all but business as usual. Isabella is moody, mercurial, and unpredictable. Every activity they’ve set up for the group seems to go off the rails.
The story takes on the pattern of a fable, spiritual guides in the form of activity coordinators and an ending that’s meant to be not inspirational, but cautiously hopeful.
I love the concept of a story about someone who jumps through time zones and uses it to take clients on adventures. Could you tell us about how you came up with the idea and did you find anything difficult about writing it?
My stories are usually a conglomeration of a bunch of small pieces of inspiration put together, and this one was no different.
One inspiration is the book “They Both Die At the End” by Adam Silvera. I liked his use of the phone call when someone was going to die that day, and borrowed that concept with a twist for the event trigger.
Another inspiration was the song Daylight by Young Guns. There’s a line in it that really hit me in context of the song. It’s a simple one, but it felt relevant to the story: “All we need is daylight.” It reminded me that sometimes when we’re in the darkness the only thing that really makes a difference is to remember that for better or worse, things will always change come daylight.
That concept also led me to thinking about how you could extend the day, leading to the idea of driving west through time zones to extend daylight. Being in the US, time zones were always a concern on road trips, so the idea seemed like a logical step.
Keenan and Isabella go on both a physical and an emotional journey throughout the story, what do you think the most important thing they learn is?
Most importantly is that everything changes. For better or worse, things will always change. That means you can’t take for granted the good times, and you can’t dwell on the bad times. Daylight is just the manifestation of a new day, a new time in our lives. Dawn can break on a hurricane, the night can fall on a cloudless sky of stars. The only constant is change, and if you can live with that, you can survive anything.
What other things do you like to do besides writing?
I draw and paint when I can. I read (of course!) and play video games, especially RPGs. I write old fashioned snail mail letters to friends and to home-bound seniors. Other than that, I’m a slave to the whims of my aging pit bull mix and unashamed about it.
Tell us about a book that is important to you.
There’s this strange book that has stuck with me called Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. I call it strange, because it’s about a bookstore clerk who discovers a cult-like group of seniors trying to find the secret to eternal life in the pages of its mysterious book collection; which sounds like such a heavy subject, yet it’s such a wonderfully light and fun novel. The ending (which I will of course not give away) was so perfect and I’ve yet to find a book with a more perfect ending.
If you’re up for an intense non-fiction read, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl was life changing for me. I read it at a time when I was struggling mentally—I was dealing with the early part of my illness, and the grief over my late wife, and wasn’t sure what I was doing with myself. It was a heavy book to read at that time, but I’m glad I did. Frankl was a psychiatrist, and a survivor of the Holocaust. He’s the founder of logotherapy, or meaning therapy. 
There’s a Nietzsche quote in it that really stuck with me: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” The whole book was like that, very powerful and poignant. I highly recommend everyone reads it at one point in their lives.
Anything else you want to share?
One of the benchmarks of Daylight Chasers, and many of my stories, is that we’re more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. Through our own strength, and the strength of our found family, we can bear almost anything.
So when it comes to writing, or any endeavor, I wish for y’all to give yourself more room than you think you deserve. You can bear more weight, more criticism, more stress than you think you can. If there’s something you want and the only thing holding you back is your own self-doubt, try to remember the words of Nietzsche. Find your why, and you can bear any how.

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Buy Daylight Chasers!

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Reviews

ARC Review: Cinderella is Dead – Kalynn Bayron

Thank you Bloomsbury and NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Press
Release Date: 6 August 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings, LGBT+

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again. Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . . ~ Goodreads

This book has a great set up and I love the idea for the world. It is set in the future of Cinderella’s world in which her story has been twisted and worshiped to the detriment of women and anyone who deviates from what is expected. They repeatedly try to emulate the story causing girls and women to be held to impossible standards they can never replicate or compete with.

The main character, Sophia, is black and sapphic and has never prescribed to these ideals that rule her entire life and stop her from being who she wants to be and doing what she wants to do. She resents that she is forced to attend a ball in which a man would lay claim to her or face being forfeited and spending her life in service instead. She longs to run away with her girlfriend and friends, something that becomes more of a reality when she escapes the ball after everything seemed to be going even more wrong than she could have imagined.

I think this book is really clever and the writing really pulls you into the story, making you want to keep reading to find out what happens next. It definitely has the fairytale and fantasy vibe which I love and adds gives so much more with the plot to take down the patriarchy together and the diversity of the central characters. The plot was definitely well established and full of so much history of the world in which the characters were living. It feels like it was the perfect blend of being both driven by the characters and their own stories as well as by the plot and the world.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and I look forward to reading anything else that Kalynn Bayron writes!

Wrap-Ups/TBRs

July Reading Wrap Up

I had a really slow start to the month and only read one book for the first few weeks. I then participated in the Reading Rush, which I completed for the first time in 7 years(!!), and read 10 books in 10 days!

Whilst talking about the Reading Rush, I just wanted to mention that they handled a few things insensitively this year and I hope that they learn from this experience, apologise for the hurt they caused, and make improvements in the future. The Unfriendly Black Hotties Book Club is hosting a readalong for Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid in August that you can join.

booksread

  1. The One – Kiera Cass
  2. Fence: Rivals – C.S. Pacat
  3. Ariel – Sylvia Plath
  4. The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys – Gerard Way
  5. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Ian Fleming
  6. All Boys Aren’t Blue – George M. Johnson
  7. Boyfriend Material – Alexis Hall
  8. You Should See Me in a Crown – Leah Johnson
  9. Havenfall – Sara Holland
  10. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin
  11. The Sword in the Stone – T.H. White

My favourite book was All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson. I listened to it as an audiobook which really enhanced the experience as the author read about their own life as a young, Black, queer person and the struggles they faced throughout their life. It was beautifully written and I recommend it to anyone.

My least favourite was The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White. I really love the Arthurian legend but a nothing can ever live up to how much I love BBC’s Merlin and I know I unfairly compare everything to it. I liked it, but it didn’t stand out.

currently reading

  1. Cinderella is Dead – Kalynn Bayron
  2. Her Royal Highness – Rachel Hawkins
  3. The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

 

bookhaul

  1. Late to the Party – Kelly Quindlen (hardback)
  2. Boyfriend Material -Alexis Hall (ebook)
  3. Slay – Brittney Morris (paperback)
  4. Loveless – Alice Oseman (paperback)
  5. Fence: Rivals – C.S. Pacat (ebook)
  6. Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo (ebook)
  7. All Boys Aren’t Blue – George M. Johnson (audiobook)
  8. The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemison (ebook)
  9. Havenfall – Sara Holland (audiobook)
  10. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin (audiobook)

 

monthlystats

Books Read: 11
Pages Read: 3114
Book Haul: 10

yearlystats

Books: 70
Pages: 24582
TBR status: Unread books – 222 (32.8%), Read books – 454 (67.2%)

 

How was your reading this month?✨