Posts Tagged ‘book review’

The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Content warnings: police brutality, heterosexual relationships, violence, death, institutionalized racism, racial profiling, racial micro aggressions, gang violence, dealings with socioeconomic status, dealings with poverty, trauma related flashbacks, drugs

(This book is important though and everyone should read it. I even have my mother reading it right now and she’s enjoying it so much that she told me I had to make sure to buy it (since she’s reading the copy I have checked out from the library). So, for now, read it. Especially if you still aren’t sure what the deal is with the Black Lives Matter folks. Because this book? Is happening. EVERY day. And I need all of my white friends to read this book before jumping into conversations with ill informed opinions.)

I’m going to leave what’s in the parenthesis up. For my own reasons.

T.H.U.G. is a very powerful and VERY important book. For a variety of reasons. And I am *NOT* the one who will be able to do a review of this book justice. This is a book that everyone should read. Especially white people. Especially people who don’t understand the Black Lives Matter Movement. This book was born from the movement. And explains it better than I could ever hope to explain it with more nuance.

To date, Aimal, has the best review I’ve read of this book. Seriously. You should all read their review. It’s fantastic and says all the things I wish I could say better than I could ever say them.

This is a fantastic book that I highly recommend.

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Everything, Everything
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: mental illness, inaccurate showing of illness (SCID), abuse (physical and verbal), child abuse, munchausen’s by proxy, alcohol abuse mentioned, domestic abuse, abuse of medical license, discussions of illnesses, discussions of medical testing

WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW ABOUT THIS BOOK BECAUSE I CAN’T PROPERLY REVIEW THIS BOOK WITHOUT SPOILERS.

I WANTED to love this book. And initially I really did. And I partially still do. To an extent. I love the author’s writing style. I love that the author writes in a way that makes me want to just sit and devour the book in one sitting (and this also happened when I read The Sun is Also a Star so I know it wasn’t just a one off with this book and is a thing with the author’s writing style). I LOVED that it wasn’t just your typical two white people meet and fall in love story. Which, especially for YA is nice. It was also nice that it wasn’t hammered in that the MC, Maddy, was biracial. It was mentioned yes and it was mentioned that it was part of her identity and who she was (as it should be) but it wasn’t in a “oh and did I mention that I’m biracial?” in the way that some other white MC led books seem to do with the constant mentions to the white/alabaster/porcelain skin (and really authors, it’s lazy, boring, and insulting when you do this and not just in reference to white skin but any race unless it’s relevant to the story and I’m not talking just “character looks in mirror and notices skin in comparison to so and so” or something like that. You don’t have to constantly remind readers of the colour of your characters skin at every second I can think of at least 5 YA series that do this, another 10 books that aren’t part of series in the YA genre, and double the numbers for both in adult genres that do it….in *ALL* genres and not just “older” books but newer ones too as in published in the last 5 years).

I do need to note that if you haven’t read Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes), The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry), The Stranger (Albert Camus), Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett), Nausea (Jean-Paul Sartre), Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll), & Lord of the Flies (William Golding),  and don’t want to be spoiled, DON’T READ THIS BOOK. Particularly Flowers for Algernon. Flowers for Algernon is Maddy’s favourite book so she re-reads it and talks about it a few times. If you want to see the pages, my twitter thread is here. Some of the books she does her mini spoiler reviews for, she completely gets the point of the book wrong (as in like, when *I* was a teen I didn’t get the point as wrong as she did like with Lord of the Flies. It’s not that boys are savages. And if that’s all you get out of that book, you might be reading the book wrong.)

This isn’t a romance book. It’s a book about abuse. Child abuse specifically. With a sprinkling of “you can’t be happy if you’re disabled”. I personally don’t have SCID or any other illness where I’m basically allergic to the world. But I’ve known people (online only) who do. And personally, I wouldn’t discount reviewers who have illnesses such as this or similar to this. I’d listen to them more than I’d listen to me. Such as this review. But I also agree that the mum walking in and out of the house felt so off. From everything I know about being sick and weakened immune systems (cancer’s a high runner in my family so that is a huge issue with certain members because of chemo and needing to not be around people who may be sick and all so the severity part of it, I understand and have personal experience with), her mum would’ve needed to change clothes and scrub down before entering the house (as would *EVERYONE* entering depending on the severity of the illness). And even with her mum having basically undiagnosed and untreated Munchausen’s by proxy (which is where the child abuse comes in) and being a doctor, she should KNOW that.

Onto the mother. California, the state I live in, is NOT that lax when it comes to a parent who is a doctor taking care of a child with that serious of an illness. There’s a lot more checks and balances and other doctors double checking. Mostly because of the ethics involved in treating family members as well as biases. For the safety and well being of both parties essentially (I talked to a few of my actual doctor friends and a few of my actual doctors about it who have said so so the veracity of that can be challenged as I haven’t actively seen anything stating as such). And the mother being able to hide that for as long as she did (I know it’s not 18 years but Maddy is 18 when she finds out) is really suspect to me. Yes, there’s varying degrees of Munchausen’s but it’s hard as fuck to hide a mental illness especially one that can be as serious as that. And it’s rare that Munchausen’s doesn’t lead to child abuse of some form. Usually they make their children sick intentionally (including feeding them things that will make/keep them sick). But there’s varying levels of the illness and varying ways it manifests itself. Here are a few articles about the illness (every word is a different link with exception of the first link being first two words and the second link the next two).

I hate the underlying message of the novel being that you can’t be happy or have romance if you’re disabled (or sick). We have that message beat into us in so many adult novels that we don’t need it in young adult novels. And it disappoints me that the author chose to go that route. This could have been a fantastic novel about, instead of misrepresenting a serious illness like SCID, Maddy learning about her mother having Munchausen’s by proxy and learning to live her life after that. Instead we got illness misrepresentation, child abuse, and “but hey you’re not really sick so you can be happy!” message. This isn’t a message we should be giving to teens. It’s one we should be actively avoiding giving to teens.

Then there’s the abuse that Olly and his mother endure at the hands of his father. I’m glad that his mother chose to leave him. It was the best decision she could have made. And it’s nice to see the contrasting in the two different forms of abuse shown in that showing abuse isn’t just the physical of beating people. And the affects of abuse on a family even if it’s not shown a whole lot.

Overall, I can’t in good conscience recommend Everything, Everything to anyone. But I won’t actively discourage people from reading it especially if they’re curious. As I stated, the way she writes is done well but the topic is disappointing.

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Huntsmen
Huntsmen by Michelle Osgood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings: sex, lesbian relationships, gay relationships, bisexual relationships, genderfluid characters, violence

 

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the author/publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This review took me a little bit of time to write. I had a bit of processing to do for it. I enjoyed it but there was processing.

Another disclaimer for this book, I didn’t read the book before this one so I *MIGHT* have missed some things and other things may have been explained in the book prior. I acknowledge that and if that is so and I find that out when I eventually buy and read that book I will update this review to reflect that. However, at this point in time, I am going off of the information that I have based off of what was given to me contextually in *THIS* book.

Now that that’s all said, one of the things that niggled at me was Taryn. Ryn in themselves was NOT the problem. EVERYONE else in relation to Ryn was. Kiara especially. For someone who is suppose to be a partner of a genderqueer person and supposedly understanding of said genderqueer person I would expect them to use pronouns and refer to their partner as more than just “she”. It was disappointing to me. Like as a reader who is genderfluid just seeing that a main character (it’s arguable that both Ryn and Kiara are main characters in the book as the book revolves around them both) focuses *ONLY* on the fact that one of Ryn’s pronouns is “she” and ignores the other pronoun is “they”. I get that everyone is different especially between genderfluid and genderqueer. But as someone who is constantly referred to as “she” instead of “they” by people they’ve asked to use “they/them” pronouns it still hurts to read it. And it reads a bit like misgendering someone. Like I got really excited when they were first introducing and pronouns were introduced as well. Like no one explicitly asked “hey what are your pronouns?” It was just “I’m (name) and my pronouns are (pronouns)” which is about how it should go anyway. But then to have the cis characters constantly call Ryn “she” just really bothered me. Xan West articulates it a lot better in their review here.

I also couldn’t really get behind Ryn and Kiara’s relationship as their first go around with their relationship felt kind of toxic in the it was all consuming way. Like they got too caught up in each other. Or more, Kiara got herself way too consumed and caught up in Ryn as Ryn was able to manage to continue to be productive and continue her career where Kiara wasn’t. She made her whole world out to be just Ryn.

The sex in this book was definitely hot. I’ll say that for sure. I definitely liked that Ryn’s dysphoria was addressed and respected. And that Kiara and Ryn had the talk of consent of what was ok beforehand. As a person with body dysphoria it’s a huge issue when it comes to sex (of course it’s a huge issue for me just getting undressed to get in the shower but that’s another topic altogether). It’s nice to see it addressed in a way that doesn’t show it as “ewwwww you have dysphoria well screw you” or that kind of attitude or type of attitude. I’ve talked to people who’ve had that kind of attitude and like even in general conversation that’s a huge turn off just to talk to a person.

I absolutely LOVED the focus of queer family. Family they chose for themselves. It’s heartwarming and wonderful. They support each other and don’t leave each other out for themselves. And the geekiness that permeated through them. Not all of them were geeky but they all participated in being geeky even if it wasn’t their thing. It was absolutely wonderful. I could feel the love they had for each other. And the love they had for the newcomer in their family group and acceptance of their newcomer once Kiara made it clear she wasn’t leaving Ryn. I definitely know people who have their chosen family like that. And to my own extent have my own though we’re not quite that close as we all have our own illnesses and such that prevent us from seeing each other as much as we’d like.

I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to read a book about werewolf shifters and hot sex. With some incidents of violence. And chosen queer family who’ll stand by each other’s side while the world falls apart and is against them.

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The Devil's Prayer
The Devil’s Prayer by Luke Gracias

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Content warnings: religious zealots, lots of talk of religion specifically of catholicism and orthodoxy, death, rape, attempted murder, selling your soul to the devil, death of teenager, miraculous healing, dealings with the devil (multiple), self flagellation, torture, religious torture (self imposed and not), suicide, alcohol use, drug use

I received a free copy via Netgalley for a fair and honest review.

There’s a lot to digest about this. From the non ending ending to the religious conspiracies to the research that I need to do to fact check to see if we’re given factual information with religious conspiracies or if just barely researched wikipedia information religious conspiracies to the statements made by Catholic priests that don’t sound like they’re coming from Catholic priests. It’s a LOT to digest.Which has a website you can visit if you’re interested.

So, a few quotes in this book stood out to me. For very distinct reasons. Both these quotes were stated by priests. And honestly, from being raised in a non denominational household (by my parents) and having very religious family members (Roman Catholic on dad’s side and extremist Christian on mum’s side) and going to church A LOT as a child, I can unequivocally say that no Catholic priest (and it was stated that it was Catholic priests) would say anything like this. They might infer it but wouldn’t outright say either.

Religion is the oldest business in the world. “We sell faith. Faith is being sure in what we cannot see and being certain in what we live for. The greatest fear of the human race is loneliness. Religion offers you God as your companion, to be with you all the time, wherever you go. “It is instilled in the very young by wonderful myths like Santa Claus that bring enormous happiness to children. Many come back to religion when death knocks at their door; for with religion you will not walk alone, and perhaps you will not walk alone when you leave this earth. Every day, in nearly every city and town in the world, some old man or lady dies, leaving behind something in their will—a house, some money, some land—all to the Church, their last friend who kept them company in their time of loneliness. Some perhaps hope it buys their way to heaven or makes amends for their sins in the past. Guilt is the currency of the Catholic faith.

 

There are many religions, many having their own gods. So which god is the Devil fighting?”Father Jakub answered softly. “You are confusing God with religion. It is like water. Water is water, whether you drink it from the tap, or you get it from a bottle sparkling or still, it is always water, irrespective of the brand or packaging. God is like water and religion is the brand or packaging.”“What are your thoughts on the hundreds of thousands of innocents killed over the ages in the name of God? As a priest, how do you still believe in God?”Jakub replied, “The problem is neither with religion nor with God. The problem is with man and what he does in the name of God. Religion is like a knife: in the hands of a surgeon, it heals, but in the hands of a murderer, it kills. “Every religion encourages you to have a regular dose of God in your life in the form of regular prayer and meditation. In the words of Renaissance physicist and occultist Paracelsus, ‘Sola dosis facit venenum’, which means the dose makes the poison. Even oxygen and water, which are essential to all living creatures, are toxic if the dose is too high. And so it is with religion, too.

That all said, both quotes are very true. Catholicism’s currency is guilt and the way that deity works is that the deity is there regardless of your particular religious beliefs. All religions tend to believe the same things especially amongst the Abrahamic religions and as much as it makes them angry to hear it, Christianity is closest to Islamic beliefs rather than Judaism. And Judaism is also closer to Islam than Christianity. And Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are the triad that make up the Abrahamic religions (and all believe in the same God).

Anyway, off of the religion topic because I don’t like discussing religion for varying reasons (but I will if people want to in the comments), this was a very compelling read. And while I wasn’t too happy about the unexpected rape scene, I am happy how it was resolved in the end. I am also happy that the goodreads page has been updated to add content warnings for the book it’s nice to see that as content warnings aren’t often seen or used and it’s often a fight to get authors to even consider using them.

As to the history part of the novel, I can say that there’s quite a bit of the book that is accurate like some of the specific people mentioned and quotes attributed to them that may or may not have actually been said by them (or misquoted by them) and their reputations. The prologue was interesting to read.

If you like historical fiction and you like religious conspiracy books, this book will be right up your alley. But if you don’t, then you probably won’t like this book.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: death, heterosexual relationships, psychiatric treatment, mentions of WW2, mentions of bombings, mentions of the holocaust, mentions of abilities bordering on magical, minor gore mentions, kidnapping, attempts to force someone into something they don’t want to do, mentions of body horror (minor mostly), mentions of blood and gore, mentions of mental illnesses, gun violence

I really want to do more content warnings for this book. Truly. But if I do I fear it will spoil the book. So those are the minimum I feel comfortable doing.

This was a decent book. It didn’t necessarily drag me in like people have told me it would. But it also wasn’t terribly off putting. It was just somewhere in between. Decent we’ll say. There’s a lot of world building in this book. In fact, at least 3/4 of this book felt like world building (which, this isn’t the first book I’ve read that has done that and probably won’t be the last and isn’t necessarily good or bad it just is). Which, for what I think it’s setting up for is absolutely needed.

The version of the book I read has photos in it some depicting some of the aforementioned warnings above. So if you have issues with any of those visually you might want to do so on one of your better days and know that’s going to happen going into it.

Overall my feelings are generally neutral about this book and it will probably be more one of those hit and miss books. I liked that it didn’t skimp over certain details (especially being a YA book and teens don’t need to be handled with kid gloves despite what some people in America might think with their pearl clutching “think of the children” mindsets).

I had one thing that did unsettle me but I feel it’s kind of a spoiler to speak of it so for my review I’m not going to but those who have read this book who want to know/talk about it feel free to contact me via email or twitter and I’ll talk it over with y’all.

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El Diablo
El Diablo by M. Robinson

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: molestation, attempted rape, emotional abuse, mental abuse, suicide by pills, alcohol use, alcohol abuse, mentions of drug sales and useage, cheating mention, death mentions, heterosexual relationships

I received a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I HATED this book. I hate that despite asking the author before via previous reviews (that I know she’s read) that she STILL doesn’t put warnings or didn’t put a warning out about the book. I hate how many people love this book. I hate that it’s 2016 and books that AREN’T historical/regency/etc romances still have men owning women and it being a “joke” that the daughter won’t ever be allowed to date because of the father and his desire to never see HIS babygirl not date.

Like, I literally CAN’T describe how angry I am with this book. So here’s some gifs

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The first 20% ish of this book I enjoyed. The setting up of the childhood and everything that happened that would later affect the story. After that? It all falls to hell. And after this point, if you DON’T want spoilers, don’t read further. (for those that do, highlight from here on out)

So, now that you’re at this point, I presume you want the spoilers so here we go. Some of this is going to be directly copied from a chat I had with a friend about it where I was ranting. I make absolutely no apologies for this.

so first 20% is his childhood
 

we see how fucked up his dad is

 

and his sister and childhood love almost get raped

 

his father makes him kill the guys who did so

 

or were going to

 

his father set it up btw

 

his father also set up the death of his mother

 

causing him and his childhood love to not marry like they were going to

 

she is pregnant by him

for fucks sake, she almost gets raped after getting the shit beat out of her by an ex he saves the day and kills the asshole 
and he takes care of her and once she’s healed she can’t leave his place w/o his guards because even though he’s taken care of the “threat” he has her and everyone else convinced he hasn’t
so she goes back to the american ballet company (ABC as it’s professionally known in the dance community)
and he does this bullshit where her first night she’s healed he brings back a hooker, leaves his door open knowing hers is, fucks the hooker, loudly and intentionally to hurt her
 

constantly pushes her away and then shows her tenderness and then pushes her away again

and he’s of course mafia crime boss
And now, he made sweet love to her then dumped her like yesterday’s trash and is publicly courting another woman to further hurt her
And now he’s threatening to forcefully make her suck his cock
Right now he’s just now telling her that he knew her mother and they were engaged
 

And he literally just told her (direct quote)

 

“Do you know how many times over the years I had to catch myself from calling you Sophia? Stop myself from groaning out her name, instead of yours when we were fucking. All those years you’ve been asking me what carino means. It was always your mother, Lexi. She was my carino.”

 

ok nevermind they aren’t related

 

the asshole who married his sister cheated on her with his former fiancée

but that’s not how it’s presented early on in the book
with his warped ass distortion of things when it came to Sophia and Michael….
oh nope. never mind. He is actually right on this one with Michael and Sophia
“I was there the day he met you. Hiding in the shadows, in the dark. Where I’ve been living all my fucking life. Watching him hold you for the first time. Seeing Sophia’s broken face when he told her he wouldn’t be a part of your life. That you were a mistake, an accident. Your daddy never wanted you. And your mother spent the rest of her life battling her demons every time she looked in your eyes.”
 

How fucking awful do you have to be to say something like that to someone

 

regardless of the truth of it

 

And apparently “the devil” had Michael (the dude that fathered lexi) murdered

 

And his sister (because she happened to be in the car that day)

 

He also killed his father but that was a death worth it

 

And she just shot him and he faked his own death but she doesn’t know that yet

 

And now she knows

And now he’s coming clean to her of all the lies through the years
UGH!
And they happily get married and everything’s great.

WORST BOOK SINCE 50sog. 

As far as I’m concerned this is where this book should go
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If you enjoyed 50 shades of grey, this book will be right up your alley with the ignoring the mental and emotional abuse he puts her through. If you didn’t, I can’t in good conscience recommend this book.
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Cinder Ella
Cinder Ella by S.T. Lynn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: bullying by step family, transgender persons, lesbian relationship

I received a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review

As I’ve said before but this bears repeating, *I* personally have nothing against transgender people or same sex relationships BUT, I do know people who DO have issues with them. Which is the ONLY reason I put them in content warnings.

Now, that said. I ADORED THE CRAP out of this story. I want more. I want to read more about Ella and Lizabetta and Ella’s neighbour. Like I really liked that this was a retelling of Cinderella and at the same time it wasn’t. Like it’s good enough to stand on it’s own and be it’s own story away from the classic Cinderella fairy tale that most people know and either love or hate.

Now, a word of warning. If you think this is one of those person gets sex reassigned type stories, it isn’t. As far as the story is concerned with telling us Ella still has all bodily organs that she was born with.

One of my favourite scenes has to do with the ball. In the preparation prior to the ball and Ella going into the bathroom while at the ball to fix her makeup. The princesses sister(?) lady-in-waiting(?) chaperone(?) person close to the princess….meets Ella in the bathroom and Ella does her makeup and in turn she gives Ella this eyeshadow that this tailor gave her that she doesn’t think will ever work for her. And then they escort each other out and meet up again at the buffet table.

Another favourite scene (ok two scenes) is the first one meeting the princess and the meeting at the ball while they’re dancing. And it’s because of the conversation. I’m not big on calling female dogs bitches but that’s my own thing and I understand that it is common nomenclature to do so. So I dealt with it but outside of that minor (and it was very very minor) incident I LOVED the conversations they had. Because I can only imagine how incredibly dull and boring a princesses life can be when everyone is just talking about getting her engaged to x,y,z. And I honestly laughed at that because that’s one of the things I think about anytime I read a “princess” type story. Well typical ones at least.

Also, look at the gorgeous cover! It’s just…WOW.

One of the things that I would have loved to see with this story is explaining the relationship between the princess and the aforementioned person above (whose name escapes me at the moment). And I’d love to read a story with her courting the prince she wants to court.

Another that I would have loved to be told was if Ella naturally had a higher voice or not and if not, if she made her voice higher once she presented as Ella.

Overall though, I’d definitely recommend this book. Especially to trans girls everywhere. Though, I’m sure there are parts where the book messes up. But as a genderfluid person who isn’t a trans girl/female/woman I am not the person to point them out.

Buy it here:

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Fairy Slippers
Fairy Slippers by Emily Martha Sorensen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: bullying

I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

So, generally, I’ve really enjoyed this series. And to a point I did really enjoy this book. But at the same time I didn’t but that has to do with my own personal experiences with bullying. I do kind of wish a few things were different such as the bullying person actually getting told on and punished but it is what it is. I do hope that the next book shows her getting in trouble for the bullying. But even if not that’s not up to me.

And I can definitely relate to the someone always being in competition with you for *EVERYTHING* thing. It’s truly exhausting and sometimes the competitive person just doesn’t realise it. Doesn’t excuse them being jerks for it but it is what it is.

I can see this book being used as a tool for helping to identify and combating bullying and over competitiveness and truly hope that people use it that way.

All in all, enjoyable book and I look forward to the next.

Buy it here:

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Emely's Destiny
Emely’s Destiny by Ariel Marie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: sex, violence, attempted rape, torture mentions, death, heterosexual relationships

I received a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This is the first book I’ve read from this author. And while it was a quick read and a short book, it was a very enjoyable one.

I did have a few issues with this book. One was a general issue I have with vampire books generally. The seeing pale skinned vampires. Pale skinned is so coded as white that it bothers me. I have read books with non white vampires and enjoyed those a bit more than the generic pale skinned vampire books (even though the writing in some of those left A LOT to be desired). So I definitely would like to see a lot more non pale skinned vampires. The other problem I have is a general issue with romance/erotica type books. The whole “you’re so wet for me” thing. I mean yes, sure, some women get wet when turned on. But it’s frustrating seeing that so much in almost every book I read that I want to bash my head in sometimes.

Apart from those two issues though, I *REALLY* enjoyed the book. And would definitely recommend it to others. It also had a few moments that made me laugh which was really great.

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The Rules for Hearts
The Rules for Hearts by Sara Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: drug use, alcohol use, lesbian relationships, gambling, addiction

So this was a follow up to Empress of the World. In it, we get to explore Battle’s relationship with her family.

While I enjoyed it, it wasn’t as good for me as Empress was. I mean yeah finding your identity and going away to college are important things. But this one dragged for me in a lot of places. I’d actually give it more like 3.5 stars if I could because of all the times it dragged. There’s also some issues concerning personal space and respecting others and their opinions and shit but I won’t go into those because it’s spoiler territory. And I really don’t want to go there.

The reconnecting with long lost brother parts of it were interesting. I loved the wedding scene and how everything and everyone was basically accepted as normal. And Battle not being sure as to how to proceed/act with her romantic/sexual interest.

I’d definitely be into reading more about her college life and experiences. And MAYBE if it didn’t drag, her brother’s recovery from addiction to gambling and reconnecting with family.

All in all this was a pretty interesting book that just had sections that dragged.

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