Posts Tagged ‘books I own’

Song of Blood & Stone
Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Content warnings: racism heavily implied (and at some points outright stated), heterosexual relationships, microaggressions, attempted rape, death, violence, blood mentions for magic use

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Ok yes, second time reviewing this book. But the first it was self published and this time it’s through a publishing house. My first review will stay up in it’s own post. This is going to be a different review.

Things that aren’t different from my initial review: I still adore the hell out of the cover because it’s absolutely gorgeous and I enjoyed the story.

Having read this once and this being my second read through of it didn’t change my love of it. However, I did notice more. Mostly because I wasn’t partly reading this at a party like the last time I read it (I don’t like people for the most part but it was a housewarming party and I like the person throwing it so I went for them….shush). There were definitely things that changed in it. Particularly around the ending. I remember the original ending very different from this time around. But it’s a great set up for the next book.

One of the things that particularly hit me was this quote

“Don’t I have the right to be in a temper when unarmed children are being shot? When this entire country seems to have fallen victim to lunacy? At what point, I ask you, am I permitted to be upset?”

which was said by the prince of the book. It hit me hard enough that I had a mini conversation on twitter with the author about it. It also might’ve hit me harder than it normally would have because I literally finished 4 YA books that literally have similar-ish themes only they aren’t in the fantasy genre. And it’s a serious thing that we need to continue to have conversations about because it’s been going on way too long (literally I went through my last year of middle school and all of high school -ok fine that was my 10th grade year- with shit like this going on…for chrissakes there’s a freaking wikipedia page about school shootings alone).

Anyways though, if you enjoy fantasy novels with a pretty good imagry for scenery/setting (I’m not talking Tolkien levels, I promise) and the content warnings don’t put you off of it, then I definitely recommend this. If you’re looking for a black female led fantasy book, I definitely recommend this.

Buy it here:
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Ivan by Kit Rocha

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Content warnings: mentions of death, heterosexual relationships, sex, mentions of poverty, mentions of prior torture, mentions of death by alcohol, alcohol use, mentions of prior coup that causes the poverty living

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

I adore Maricela. I really do. She gets things done that need doing. Even if she shouldn’t be doing them.

I loved that she has her guilt thing going about how she feels bad about saying that she’s so privileged but that she feels trapped even though others have it worse. Because she sees the world more than some of the rest of her family does. And that she tries to do the right thing even if the right thing won’t particularly benefit her much in the long run. And all at the same time try to tell people that they’re more than what they see themselves as.

Ivan is my tragic boy. My heart was breaking reading about his childhood and the sector basically shunning him and his mother because of what his uncles did. And how much that correlates to things I’ve seen in society currently (where just by association people will get shunned or get things handed to them). I like that Gideon took them both in with compassion. Like everyone, he does put Maricela on a bit of a pedestal but at the same time he also sees her as a person rather than an object to marry/be married and doesn’t handle her with the delicate/kid gloves that everyone else seems to (with the exception of Nita since she doesn’t do that either).

I wish more had been said about both Sara and Lucas. I’m only hoping that further books will elaborate on them. Particularly Sara (or at least I think that was her name…the fortune teller girl). And I despised how everyone treated Maricela as just a bargaining chip including her sister. I get it, it’s how the world is set up but it still just made me feel UGH.

All in all, I adored this book. Like, I want to live in this world because it’s got a lot of the things I’d want if I were to make my own world and stuff. It gave me everything I wanted out of a bodyguard/guarded person romance.

Buy it here:

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Beyond Forever (O’Kane for Life, #2) by Kit Rocha

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Content warnings: sex, mentions of attempted theft, theft and then return of stolen goods, alcohol use, alcohol abuse, mentions of death, underage drinking, gambling, fighting, mentions of prostitution, mentions of sex slavery, mentions of children being sold as prostitutes/sex slaves,

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

So if you wanted to read the story on how Dallas and Lex met and got together, this is the book for you. It’s told in both present day and in flashbacks. Like, this is literally them meeting.

All of his warm feelings fizzled. His safe was open. And a thief had her fucking arm elbow deep in it. She froze, then slowly turned to face him. “Well. This is awkward.” It was sure the fuck something, but he didn’t know if awkward covered it. He hit the light switch next to the door and squinted at his intruder through the sudden brightness. The woman looked all of twenty-five—probably not even that—and woefully out of place in his shitty little bedroom. Because she was stunning. Not pretty, not hot, not even of this fucking world. Her dark brown eyes watched him with amusement, like he was a curiosity in some traveling circus, and her full, perfect lips looked poised to smile. He’d bet men had killed each other to earn that smile. Yeah, no doubt about it. This one made men stupid. Dallas refused to fall for it. “It’d probably get less awkward if you took your damn hand out of my safe.”

I really enjoyed reading about them meeting. Truly I did. But my favourite part? Wasn’t even about them. It was the bit with Lex and Nessa. Nessa has always been one of my favourites of the girls though. And not just because she makes the hard liquors.

There’s so much in this book that I want to talk about but everything I want to talk about would wind up being quoting half the book and spoiling it for those who want to read it and I try so hard not to do that and be sparing with my quotes (unless I’m tearing a book to shreds for being terrible and that’s completely not the case for this book it was great and I loved it). Like this review is one of the harder ones to write because of that. In addition to family shit that’s been going on that delayed this review.

Dallas and Lex are like what people’s relationships should aspire to be (the end result not the beginning mess that it started out as). Because they respect each other and love each other. And they show it to each other constantly. All while staying true to each other. They give in to what they want and come back to each other and it’s a wonderful thing.

Buy it here:

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Word Play
Word Play by Amalie Silver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings: alcohol use, heterosexual romance, sex

I’m honestly being generous with the 4 star rating. It’s more of 3.5 stars. Had I read instead of listened to it, probably would have been more of 2.5 stars. Really, I enjoyed listening to it. But knowing what I like reading vs what I like listening to and knowing that they aren’t always the same thing…..This would have definitely gotten lower star rating had I read it.

I didn’t care for the derision of the male author toward erotica/romance authors. We get enough of that IRL we DON’T need that shit in books. SERIOUSLY. That was my least favourite part of this book. That and the whole “writing romance/erotica will make my writing less valid as a mystery writer” bullshit. Because once you write romance and/or erotica you’re now not a valid writer of anything else…or some other stupid sexist bullshit like that. Because we all know that romance and erotica authors are just vapid and shallow and can’t write anything that makes us think
giphy
But I digress.

The Monica’s Musings stuff was kind of unnecessary and didn’t really add much to the story. I felt like that could have been cut out and nothing would have been lost from the story. The main character was borderline alcoholic. And overall it was a decent story with a lot of fluff for filler. Some of which felt like it was there just to pad out the word count (ie: Monica’s Musings). Decent story.

Buy it here:

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Of Cinder and Bone
Of Cinder and Bone by Kyoko M.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings: heterosexual relationships, girls kissing girls (but not explicitly stated as lesbian or bisexual or any other sexuality), alcohol use, mentions of abusive relationships, sex (more implied than shown)

I received a copy of this in exchange for a fair and honest review from the author. And then of course I bought it for myself because I highly enjoyed it.

I was blown away by this book. This is the third book by this author I’ve read. She’s a pretty fantastic author all around and this book was no exception. It does end on a cliffhanger which sets it up quite nicely for the next book (actually on two cliffhangers one on the relationship front and one on the dragon front).

I’m totally a sucker for books about dragons. Especially books about reviving dragon species. This is only the second book series I’ve read that has breached that type of topic (the first was a YA/MG series that is still being worked on by another author). I adore the whole alternate timeline where dragons existed and it’s not just fairy tales and wishful thinking.

The only criticisms I really have aren’t really anything the author has any control over they’re all just criticisms of amazon and their continued use of bing for translation and bing being terrible for translation especially in the kindle app for the Hindi and Japanese that appears in the text so if you’re like me and like to know what words are be aware that bing doesn’t like to translate either language in it (or it didn’t for me) so having a computer or phone that has access to translation software that isn’t bing is advisable (or knowing someone who speaks/writes the language helps as well……it’s written in English version of the languages so you don’t have to worry about figuring out how to type in the languages).

Well that and content warnings. Because I’m a huge advocate for content warnings for everything. But if you aren’t reading this author and you like fantasy (and sci-fi for this book in particular) then you’re missing out.

Buy it here:

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Ghost Girl in the Corner
Ghost Girl in the Corner by Daniel José Older

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: lesbian relationship, death, drug mentions

I adored this book. It’s a nice novella to tide you over in between Shadowshaper and Shadowhouse Fall that’s coming out later this year. I haven’t read Bone Street Rumba but I did catch the character that appeared in this novella from that world. I also caught a lot of other references that I’m not going to mention because you’ll just have to read it and catch them yourself (and it’s so worth it trust me).

I adored the fact that this, like Shadowshaper, was a political commentary especially with regards to how police can and do tend to treat brown people when they go missing. Which basically comes down to the fact of if you’re not white they don’t particularly care as much.

The author also did this wonderful interview with himself about this book here which I advise all of you listen to. I definitely advise you read this book AFTER reading Shadowshaper (it’ll make SO MUCH MORE sense).

Buy it here:

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Shadowshaper
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: discussions or depictions of violence, racism, sexism, gentrification, family values, appropriation, family values, heterosexual relationships, lesbian relationships, police brutality, respectability politics, anti-blackness, misogyny, colorism, racial identity, white apathy,  ancestral memory, street harassment, slurs, ableism

This was my first book I read from this author. Like I’ve read the stuff he’s put up on his Wattpad account and follow his Twitter account and read the stuff he puts up on his website as well. So I knew going into this that I already liked his style of writing and I like his voice (both his speaking voice and his writing voice) as well as the things he says. Knowing all that going in, holy crap! I was still blown away by this book. THIS is a good example of what I mean when I say I want diverse books.

Once I started this, I did NOT want to stop reading it. And *HATED* having to put it down to do anything. I read it in once sitting essentially. With interruptions of having to deal with life things (unfortunately food is needed to survive so shopping was necessary). But like initially, the cover was what drew me in. It’s colourful. It’s GORGEOUS. It’s unapologetic. It not only fits the general theme of the book’s main character Sierra (especially her unapologetically being authentically herself which I *LOVED*) and the book itself but it sets the entire mood and theme of the book and helps you to really get into the book IMO. The cover photo was done by Michael Frost and the cover art and design was Christopher Stengel and they deserve so much appreciation and love for what they’ve helped to create for this book. Truly.

Nydia was one of my favourite characters and I want her to get her own library so badly in this series at some point. I loved Tee and Izzy as well. But I adored Nydia and Sierra the most. I also loved that there was no heroine hijacking in this book (where MC girl meets boy and suddenly the story is ALL about their love story and him instead of where it originally was going because that seriously irks me in books and is a huge thing in YA that happens). Sierra’s portrayal and her friendships felt real and authentic to me. Like they were people who I could run into were I to go out with the intention to meet people. I loved that her friends supported her but they weren’t guilted in the “if you don’t support everything I do then we’re not friends” way that some novels do. And that the ones who felt they couldn’t support this part by doing what everyone else was doing weren’t guilted into doing the thing. Yes some tried and it was stated that the characters felt bad that this person couldn’t be there for them to do this but they more or less understood and weren’t going to try and make them. Acknowledging the hurt and accepting it was an important thing to show since a lot of media especially geared at teens and female teens in particular like to focus on ignoring the fact that things like that can and will hurt and that it’s ok to tell a friend that you love and support them but can’t physically be there supporting them for this. We need more healthy depictions of friendships like that.

The acknowledgement of attraction to Robbie but not wanting to be too involved in him was also great. As was the discussion Sierra and Robbie had regarding his tattoos and his not fully knowing his heritage/ancestry.

One of my favourite quotes in the book comes from Sierra looking at herself in the mirror and giving herself her own pep talk.

Today she looked menacingly into the mirror and said: “I’m Sierra María Santiago. I am what I am. Enough.” She sighed. These days were spooky enough without her talking to herself. “More than enough.”

The last line especially. She is definitely more than enough. Everyone is. And I think that’s a quote that will resonate with people, especially teens. At least I hope it will.

I look forward to reading more in this series. It’s a  great first book. There’s background, there’s action, there’s conflict, there’s resolution, there’s a solid ending that is both ambiguous enough to continue but enough to leave you satisfied and happy that it’s an end.

Buy it here:

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Written in the Stars
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: kidnapping, drugs, marital rape, forced marriage, abduction, imprisonment, servitude, heterosexual relationships, forcibly making someone eat, abuse*

Firstly, Aisha Saeed has done a wonderful job with this book. I LOVE her note at the end about how even in religions and cultures where arranged marriages are a thing, that forced marriages are frowned on. And I especially loved that she put a list of resources in the back of the book. That was wonderful.

Second, this book ripped my heart out. I recommend it. And for those of you who are not Pakistani and/or do not come from similar cultural/religious types backgrounds to *NOT* paint all with the brush of the types depicted in this book (for those of us Americans who aren’t of cultural/religious backgrounds that participate in arranged marriages, which, from everything I’ve read, usually wind up being consented by the parties being married and wind up being happy marriages fwiw, imagine us all being depicted as the ignorant assholes who do ridiculous things like we deface historical buildingstaking indecent photos inside of holy sitesknown for defacing our own national parksthat even our celebrities deface our national parksand that hey, most of us are ok with celebs destroying sacred sites (while simultaneously having this faux outrage about a piece of fabric and “patriotism”) or even being the stereotypical white redneck being interviewed on Fox News about the natural disaster that has just ripped through the city/county/state and is dirty, unkempt, barely literate, more concerned about guns and religion than anything else, backwoods, (insert whatever other stereotype you want here).)

This was both engaging and heartbreaking. Because not only is it fictional but it’s also completely a thing that happens outside of fiction. And it’s a terrifying thing to think about and no doubt go through.

Now, in my content warnings, there’s an asterisk next to abuse. There’s a reason for that. What I, as an American, particularly a white American, who doesn’t come from a religion or culture where I wouldn’t be sold at a bride price or an arranged marriage (or in case of this book a forced one) or really anything of the sort see as abuse can be seen from a cultural and/or religious perspective as normal (see: swatting your kid once or twice on the butt for doing a thing you told them not to in the 80s vs now. Then it was just discipline/re-enforcement of the “no” and now it can be considered child abuse even if first time if someone else sees you do it). So, my perspective, some of the things in this book are very highly abusive in my experiences. However, in someone who is raised heavily in a religion or culture where things as described in book as punishments for disobedience are seen as “the norm” it might not be seen the same way. But I would very much consider forcing someone to eat who doesn’t want to eat as a form of abuse given the circumstances of the why and all that.

ALL of that said, I hope to see more books from this author. Hopefully not as heavy as this one but definitely more books with non white main characters following what they believe is right to do what they believe is right. I bought the book before I had even finished half of it because I wound up that engrossed in it. It’s not a purchase I regret.

Buy it here:

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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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Empress of the World
Empress of the World by Sara Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Content warnings: Lesbian relationship, alcohol use

I received a copy of this book from a friend who moved out of state because she had duplicates. And I cursed her when I finished it. So many feelings were had.

For a first novel this rates pretty high in the good category. It did have it’s problems and a few moments of dragging but overall it was highly enjoyable for me.

I especially liked how well the social awkwardness was portrayed. Because that is me. 100%. Find the first most inconsequential thing and latch onto it. I’m not a highly sociable creature truth be told.

I liked especially the progression of the relationships of all the characters to each other. The romances. The friendships. Everything. The ending was good. And felt natural and not forced which is a problem I’ve seen with both new and established authors.

Overall, good and quick read. And would definitely recommend it to others.

Buy it here:

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