Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson: ARC Review

I was fortunate to receive an audiobook copy from the publisher and author through Netgalley in exchange for feedback and my honest review. These are my opinions, uninfluenced.

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson is a standalone YA Fantasy, releasing on October 2nd 2021. Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who ferries the dead and prevents that from turning into vicious souls that kill the living. When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia awakens an ancient spirit. Now, bound to the spirit, Artemisia begins to uncover a sinister mystery that could destroy everything and everyone. Without any options, Artemisia has to betray everything she knows by putting her faith in the spirit with the hopes that it doesn’t betray her first.

I loved Sorcery of Thorns so my excitement for this off the charts. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

Margaret Rogerson’s writing style shines in this. It’s captivating, honest and so brilliant.

Anxiety, trauma and PTSD play a really important role in Artemisia’s story. Because of the way these hard topics were handled, the story really resonated with me. I could feel Artemisia’s pain in everything she did. More than that, despite not living through what she had, I completely understood it. Through all of her actions, the little things and the big decisions, to the things she said (or even didn’t say), it was really easy to understand her. And what made her the way she was.

Artemisia was such a complex character, with layers and layers. I wish this was a series so I could see more of her. The development arc we did get in this story was a delight. I loved reading about her growth and would’ve enjoyed it even more if I could stay with her in more books.

I was really happy with the pacing for this. It’s fast paced and full of action. We’re constantly on the move and constantly fighting to survive. It was simply exhilarating. So much was packed into this without it overwhelming.

One thing that catch me by surprise, was the absence of romance. I completely adored the romance sub plot in Sorcery of Thorns so I simply expected it in this. But it wasn’t, which is probably a good thing. There is so much to this story that I don’t think there was room for more.

I can see how everyone wouldn’t be able to appreciate this, but I highly recommend giving it a go. Especially if you’re looking for a fast paced fantasy that is unlike what you’ve read before.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

House of Glass Hearts: ARC Review

I was fortunate to receive an audiobook copy from the publisher and author through Netgalley in exchange for feedback and my honest review. These are my opinions, uninfluenced.

House of Glass Hearts by Leila Siddiqui is a unique magical realism story. One day, after her grandfather passes away, Maera wakes up with a greenhouse in her backyard. The greenhouse is supposed to be thousands of miles away and when her ammi doesn’t find that strange, Maera grows even more suspicious. Forced to confront her grandfather’s past, Maera investigates the greenhouse, only to find out that it may hold the key to uncovering what happened to her missing brother years ago.

This story was told in alternating point of views across a timeline. We follow Maera, in present day, and also see from her grandfather’s perspective from his youth days. This could potentially be confusing for readers, though I didn’t have any issues with it. I did find that at certain points, I only cared for one perspective and towards the end, I was more invested in Maera’s arc and not the past timeline.

The plot for this book is my favourite part. It’s twisted and brilliant. Full of culture, myths and wonder. There were some parts that I found jarring and confusing. I wished they had been better explained and more fleshed out but I still appreciated the concept.

I loved learning about Pakistani culture and there were some elements that I recognised. It felt real and relatable.

I did struggle with the pacing. For the first 60-70%, I wasn’t that invested. It started off slowly and there wasn’t much happening. After the 70% mark, the pacing really picked up. Like really. So much so, that some things happened too quickly.

There was a small romance sub plot, that for once, I didn’t care about. It didn’t add anything to the story for me. Maera has a crush on a boy named Rob, who she hasn’t interacted with in years. And suddenly he comes back into her life and this really intense romance is introduced out of the blue. There were some sentences that I just found strange. It pulled me out of the story. I can’t remember what the exact words were, but it involved ‘feasting her eyes’ on Rob.

The characters did feel a little flat, and one dimensional. With the exception of Shah Jehan. She was my favourite. I loved that we touched on women empowerment as she was so brave in such a ‘man’s world’.

The ending was incredible. I was really happy with how it wrapped up. This brought the book up in rating. It tied everything together and I liked how all the pieces that were set up through both timelines fell into piece. It was really satisfying.

I would recommend this for readers who enjoy historical fiction and stories full of culture. If you’re looking for a fast paced book, this probably isn’t for you.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Social Queue by Kay Kerr: ARC Review

I was fortunate to receive an audiobook copy from the publisher and author through Netgalley in exchange for feedback and my honest review. These are my opinions, uninfluenced.

Social Queue by Kay Kerr is a young adult, contemporary novel releasing tomorrow! Zoe Kelly is finally done with High School, and she’s so over the bullying and autistic masking. With an internship at a media company, Zoe ends up writing an article on her non-existent dating life which ends up going viral. Turns out, Zoe had just been missing the signs. Now, with a list of contenders from her past, Zoe’s spun away in a ride full of confusing signals, old sparks and new articles.

This was such a heart warming and fun read. It definitely delivered what the synopsis sold.

I loved Zoe’s character and found it easy to root for her. I can quite easily get bored with monologues but I found Zoe’s thoughts pretty fun to follow. She was a refreshing and quirky character.

Zoe’s relationships with the people around her (beyond romance) was a delight to read. I loved getting to know her sister. I didn’t enjoy the romance as much as I had expected. It’s not to say, I didn’t like it, I just wasn’t that invested in. However, that didn’t diminish my enjoyment for the story, I still cared a lot about where Zoe’s story went.

I was really happy with how the social anxiety portion of this story was handled. It felt honest and authentic. Personally, this was such an insightful read. I haven’t read a young adult book with autism rep (mc) before, so I’m glad we’re getting more neurodiversity.

I really liked the writing style. It was easy to read and enjoy. There was a great balance of dialogue and monologue. There were some moments that tugged at my heart strings and did make me emotional. They were probably some of my favourites.

If you’re looking for a refreshing coming of age story that tugs at the heart, I highly recommend this one.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Books Perfect for Halloween

Halloween isn’t too far away so here are eight books that I think will be perfect for October. There’s everything from ghosts to unreliable narrators.

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson is a young adult, paranormal fantasy.

Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. After awakening an ancient spirit, Artemisia unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.

This has ghosts, do I need to say more?

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas was one of my favourite books that I read in August. When Yadriel summons the ghost of Julian Diaz who refuses to leave, Yadriel is forced to help him uncover the mystery of Julian’s death.

I can’t explain how good this book is. It is so much fun and hooks you in all the way to the end. The characters are so loveable and is perfect for Halloween.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is one of my all time favourite reads.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting – he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.

A darkly funny story about real and imagined monsters that will stay with you for a long time.

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa is a unique and dark story about Allison who survives by scavenging for food and her hatred for vampires. When she gets turned into one of them, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike.

I read this a long time ago and couldn’t get over how impressed I was by the more twisted take on vampires. This was fast, fun and hard to put down. I’ll be picking this up for a re-read in October and I recommend that you do too!

Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie is a fun, enemies to lovers book that has a heavy focus on friendship.

Ailesse and Sabine are best friends, they’re also bone criers – those with the sacred duty of helping the dead pass over. This responsibility comes with a sacrifice, they must kill their one true love.

Bastien’s father died at the hands of a bone crier and he’s determined to get revenge. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is unlike anything you’ve read before. It takes a little bit to get into it, but when you do, it’s so worth it.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, he is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

The Archived by Victoria Schwab is a haunting tale where the dead, called Histories, rest on shelves like books. Mac, is a keeper, responsible for making sure violent Histories don’t awaken and escape. When someone begins deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters, Mac has to piece together what remains, in order to prevent the Archive itself from crumbling and falling.

A few years ago, I was obsessed with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. This Halloween, you can be too.

Mara Dyer wakes up in a hospital with no memory about what happened the night her friends died – and she survived. As Mara falls apart, everything around her does too. People alive seem dead, and the dead seem alive.

This is psychological thriller is twisted, intriguing and an incredible ride. Be prepared to find a new book boyfriend to add to your favourites.

Do you have some books that you think are perfect for Halloween? Drop them in the comments. Will you be picking any of these up?

True Loaf by Austen Johnson: Short Story Review

I was fortunate to receive an audiobook copy from the publisher and author through Netgalley in exchange for feedback and my honest review. These are my opinions, uninfluenced.

True Loaf by Austen Johnson is a fantasy, childrens/middle-grade short story. Inspired by Balkan Folklore, the story follows Riley who works at a bakery. When a strange man has a strange request for her, Riley goes on an adventure to finding an essential ingredient. Along the way, she realises that not all is as it seems.

This was short, sweet and fun. It started off a little slow, but then it hooked me in. I felt immersed into Riley’s world and became invested in her journey. The story finished on a high with some unanswered questions. I think this would’ve been more satisfying, if a few more of my questions would’ve been answered. A younger audience will really enjoy this and it will provoke enough thought for the gears in their heads to turns.

All the characters were quite interesting. Riley was an easy to love character. Her thoughts were witty. It was a short story, so there was not a lot of development and complexity, but I wouldn’t expect that from a short-story.

Listening to the audiobook was really good. The narration was engaging and easy to follow.

Overall, this was a great, quick read. It would definitely keep younger kids occupied and interested.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Books with Numbers in the Title: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is run by That Artsy Reader. You can click the button below to be redirected to the page to know more.

10.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

9.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

8.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

7.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

6.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

5.

(a childhood favourite)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

3.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

2.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

1.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Let me know what your favourites are!

Own Your Period: ARC Review

I was fortunate to receive an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher and author through Netgalley in exchange for feedback and my honest review. These are my opinions, uninfluenced.

Own Your Period by Chella Quint is a fact-filled guide to periods. It covers everything from the female anatomy, the bleaching properties of discharge, managing them to sustainability.

First of all, the illustrations were so cute and amazing. They were bursting with colour, and definitely engaging. Giovana Medeiros did such a great job.

This covered EVERYTHING. I was so impressed by how much it covered, and is such a dynamic, interesting way. Through out this entire guide, all I could think of was, how much easier puberty would’ve been with this. How much I wished I had read this when I was younger. There was so much I didn’t understand, and this would’ve answered all of my questions.

I was so surprised by the section on sustainability. I even learned a little something. I think this was definitely a great, informative step forward.

This was witty enough to keep you reading and interesting, but the humour didn’t overwhelm the information and its importance.

I read through some reviews, and found that a lot of people were unhappy with some of the topics broached and that some of it was too informative. I think, the whole point is to break some boundaries, and normalise these topics. Which is done well. As time goes on, younger kids are learning more and faster. But not always in the right ways, they stumble onto myths or information that may not be comfortable. Own Your Period provides a good way to manage how teens are accessing this information and to also debunk these myths.

If you know a younger girl, give this to them. This is a game changer. Even if you’re an adult, pick this up. I guarantee, you’ll learn something new, or at least feel a little more empowered, and comfortable in your skin.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Slanted and Disenchanted: ARC Review

I was fortunate to receive an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher and author through Netgalley in exchange for feedback and my honest review. These are my opinions, uninfluenced.

Slanted and Disenchanted by Lisa Czarina Michaud is a young adult, coming of age story releasing on September 21st 2021. We follow Carla and Pete, two teenagers that are unsatisfied with their lives, as they start a rock band. Just before they’re set to begin their tour, a tragedy occurs, making them reconsider all of their choices.

I had to think about my feelings for this book for a few days. On one hand, this is a witty book that reads like a love letter to music. You can tell the author is really knowledgeable and passionate about music. On the other hand, I found it really hard to connect with the characters and the story just didn’t resonate with me. I’m not crazy into music, like the characters are, and I wonder if that’s where the issue was.

Everything about this book was honest. From the problems the characters had, to the awkward interactions. I think the coming-of-age aspect was handled and executed really well. From the language, to their thoughts and worries, all of it felt realistic for their age.

I won’t spoil the ‘tragedy’, but it wasn’t one I was expecting. I do think it was handled well. There were some emotional moments that touched me.

This is a witty book with some heartfelt moments but something in it failed to fully engage me. I think anyone who’s really into their music will enjoy this.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2021

We had the years biggest publication days this week and it got me really excited for some upcoming books.

The first book on my list is Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson. This comes out in October and I’m so lucky to have an arc for this. I’ll be picking it up in a few days and I’m so excited to share my thoughts.

I read A Sorcery of Thorns last month and completely fell in love with it so I have some really high expectations for this one.

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber sounds magical. There are dangerous bargains, legends and the lengths people will go to for a happy ever after.

The blurb for All These Bodies by Kendare Blake has hooked me in.

Summer 1958—a string of murders plagues the Midwest. The victims are found in their cars and in their homes—even in their beds—their bodies drained, but with no blood anywhere.

September 19- the Carlson family is slaughtered in their Minnesota farmhouse, and the case gets its first lead: 15-year-old Marie Catherine Hale is found at the scene. She is covered in blood from head to toe, and at first she’s mistaken for a survivor. But not a drop of the blood is hers.

Michael Jensen, son of the local sheriff, yearns to become a journalist and escape his small-town. He never imagined that the biggest story in the country would fall into his lap, or that he would be pulled into the investigation, when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to.

As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?

I’ve read The Lunar Chronicles and Renegades series by Marissa Meyer so naturally I’m excited for her upcoming release, Gilded. I don’t believe that Marissa Meyer is capable of writing anything that I won’t fall in love with. Especially, if the cover is this stunning.

I loved A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown, so I’m counting down for the sequel, A Psalm of Storms and Silence. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

I don’t find myself reaching for sad books often, but there’s something about this one that intrigues me. I’m ready to get my heart broken. From what I remember, Julie’s boyfriend, Sam dies. As she misses him, she dials his phone, hoping to listen to his voicemail to hear his voice one more time. But Sam picks up, and suddenly Julie has another chance at goodbye.

The cover is so beautiful too. I’m so scared but excited for this.

I’ve read three books by Karen M. McManus and enjoyed all three so You’ll Be the Death of Me is another highly anticipated read. I love the title too. I don’t even know what this is about, but I’ll be pre-ordering it soon and that’s all that matters.

What are some books you’re excited for?

August 2021: Reading Wrap Up

This was an incredibly successful month of reading for me. Almost makes up for the rest of the year, when I wasn’t reading. My favourites this month would be The Bridge Kingdom, Cemetery Boys, We Were Liars and The Trouble With Hating You.

My month started of with A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson.

In a small town, school girl, Andie Bell is murdered. Her boyfriend, Sal Singh, becomes the prime suspect and a few days later, he commits suicide closing the case. Fast forward five years, Pippa is convinced there was more to the open and shut case. As she chooses the case for her final year project, she uncovers more than she expected.

It was exactly what I needed to drag me out of my reading slump.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The next book I dived into was the first book in my TBR for August. Confessions About Colton by Olivia Harvard has an interesting concept as it follows Elliot, who’s best friend, Colton has just been murdered. As Elliot finds letters from Colton’s killer he’s dragging into a mystery of solving not only who killed Colton but if he really knew his best friend at all.

This was a roller coaster of ups and downs for me.

The ups for me were the thrilling, risky scenes. My heart raced through these fast paced scenes. Olivia Harvard did such a great job writing them. I loved how Elliot’s relationships with people especially his mother developed through the book.

The biggest down for me was the ending. It was definitely a plot twist but one that didn’t feel justified. I think I wanted some more set up for it or even more of an explanation – anything that would help me understand the motive.

In saying that, it was a great debut novel, especially for a mystery. I definitely enjoyed reading it and would pick up another book by Olivia Harvard without hesitation.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I listened to You Have A Match by Emma Lord as an audiobook through Libby. Up until she does a DNA test, Abby’s biggest problem was the B.E.I. (big embarrassing incident). When the DNA results show that Abby has a full-blooded sister out there, Abby is thrown into a roller coaster with a new love, a sister she didn’t know about and one hell of a summer.

There is nothing I despise more than the best-friends to lovers trope. I just can’t deal with it. And despite that, Emma Lord managed to create characters that I loved reading about. I was so invested in Abby’s new relationship with her secret sister, Savannah and the new life at the camp.

I would be listening to this as I walked around uni and I’d have to hold back a laugh at the risk of looking crazy. This was light, sweet and an ideal summer read (despite it being Winter here in NZ).

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Be a little kinder than you have to

We Were Liars, E. Lockhart

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is the kind of book you need to go in without knowing anything. Just trust the process. If there is any way to describe this book, it is: well-crafted.

In my opinion, the best sort of endings are the ones that surprise you but when you look back, it all makes so much sense! This is the feeling I missed out on in Confessions About Colton but E. Lockhart did not disappoint.

The writing style is so unique and poetic. What I found even more interesting was her utilisation of fairy tales.

I can’t seem to find the right words to explain how much I enjoyed this book. The characters were flawed and so real. Everything about the story came together in the most satisfying and mind-blowing way possible.

This is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea but one you must try.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I love listening to audiobooks while I drive anywhere and Auckland traffic gives me ample time to enjoy them. So, the next audiobook I picked up was The Knockout by Sajni Patel. We join Kareena Thakar, a high school student and training Muay Thai fighter with a father that’s really sick, financial problems that are becoming harder to ignore and a culture she’s distanced herself from. Through it all, there’s one saving grace: Amit Patel, the genius who strangely needs tutoring from her.

The thing that initially drew me into this book was the cover. Specifically, the mehendi/henna. And from there, I was hooked. I loved this book as much as Kareena Thakar loves the colour pink.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Deciding to delve into the world of fantasy, I dove into Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim, a new release YA Fantasy.

The retelling follows Shiori, the princess of Kiata as she tries to keep her forbidden magic a secret and get out of her arranged marriage. When her step mother curses her and turns her brothers into cranes, Shiori is left without a voice and a home. Without anyone but the same boy she didn’t want to get involved with, Shiori has to figure out how to break the curse.

This was rich with culture and action-packed. If you want to hear my thoughts, check out my book review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After Six Crimson Cranes, I was desperate for another fantasy. So, I picked up Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. This book has been on my TBR list for years so it was high time I gave it a shot. The high fantasy novel is set in a world where magic is barren and the lands are perishing except for one kingdom. Four different people are placed against each other, all with their own reasons to survive and gain.

This book took me a long time to get into. There were a few scenes that I enjoyed through out the book but it wasn’t until the last 50-100 pages that I was really invested.

The negatives for me were some of the dialogues and the romance. Some of the dialogues and scenes felt weirdly unnatural and it was so jarring that it would pull me out of the world. And the romance. For the first time, I disliked the romance. Morgan Rhodes sets up two tracks of romance, neither of which I liked. The first one, was too Insta-lovey and rushed and I don’t even want to touch on the second one.

The best thing about Falling Kingdoms is the characters as individuals. They are so interesting, with their motives and backgrounds. They’re not necessarily perfect or morally clear but you can completely understand why they do what they do, even when it’s not right.

The story has always been pitched as Game of Thrones and I totally see it! The way the first book ends, it sets up the opening for the rest of the series well so I’ll definitely be giving the next book a go!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

But fate was fickle, and the gods were cruel just as often as they were kind.

The Raven and the Dove, Kaitlyn Davis

Perfect for the fans of Sarah J. Maas, The Raven and the Dove is a fantasy retelling of Tristan and Isolde. As the avian kingdoms in the sky prepare for the courtship trials, Princess Lyana of the Doves and House of Peace gets ready for one last adventure where she ends up rescuing the Raven Prince from a dragon. Rafe, is the bastard son of the late Raven King, and he’ll do anything for his half-brother the prince, including posing as him in the courtship trials. As the world below the avian kingdoms prepares for war, everything Rafe and Lyana know and love is at risk.

A forbidden romance, wings and dragons. What more could you ask for? I flew through this book, it was so much fun and interesting. To hear more about what I thought, check out my review!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Liya Thakkar is independent, a force to be reckoned with, and against arranged marriages. After she walks out on her family’s attempt to set her up, she doesn’t expect the same guy she walked out on to walk into her office. Jay Shah is charming, infuriating and Liya’s last hope at saving her crumbling company. As office banter turns into late night chats, Liya’s forced to reconsider everything she knows about love, marriage and everything in between.

I loved The Knockout by Sajni Patel and naturally, I loved this one too! This was so much fun. I loved Liya and Jay and everyone around them. I feel like we got to see the supporting characters a lot more in this than we did in The Knockout. I felt so much reading this, I felt so attached to the characters and I was amazed by how desperately I needed a happy ending for them. It was so satisfying seeing every bit get tied up and come together. In closing, I hate Mukesh with a passion.

I highly recommend this for anyone wanting a diverse love story that will have you laughing, crying and rooting for the characters like never before.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson is a standalone young-adult, fantasy novel. Elisabeth has grown up amongst shelves full of grimoires that can transform into monsters. When Elisabeth is implicated in a crime she didn’t commit, she’s torn away from her home and shipped away for justice with Nathaniel, a sorcerer that can’t be trusted and his demonic companion, who’s even more untrustworthy. As a century-old conspiracy unfolds, Elisabeth’s only hope is Nathaniel and his strange friend.

First of all, I love this idea of a dangerous library. This was so well done and I loved the world Margaret Rogerson had created. This was a really great read, well paced and with great characters. My only complaint: this was a standalone. As soon as I finished this, I was so disappointed that there wasn’t more. Not to say, I wasn’t satisfied with how everything wrapped up. I just loved the world and characters so much, I need more!!!

This is the first standalone fantasy novel that I’ve actually enjoyed thoroughly. Normally, I find the world to be underdeveloped and I don’t become as invested in the characters due to it being plot driven. I don’t know how Margaret Rogerson did it, but she hit it out of the park.

I loved the romance between Elisabeth and Nathaniel, it took its time to develop and I loved every bit of interaction. Speaking of Nathaniel, hands down my favourite character in this book. He was such a fun, complex and refreshing character.

If you’re looking for a fantasy book that you get completely immersed in without committing to an entire series, this is the one for you!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Endless Skies by Shannon Price was an ARC received from the publisher and author through NetGalley. The story is set in Heliana, a floating city with winged-lion shapeshifters. As a disease begins to threaten the children of Heliana, our main characters have to race against dwindling time to find the cure.

I had a few issues with this book, but still think it was worth the read. If you want to know my detailed thoughts, you can check out my book review!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Another ARC I received through NetGalley was One Last Kiss by A. S. Kelly. I ended up DNFing this fairly quickly. There were too many dialogues and not enough action. I’m talking, pages on top of pages of consistent dialogue without any dialogue tags, description or clue about who is speaking and what they’re doing. It was really confusing and hard to follow.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman follows Nobody ‘Bod’ Owens, an orphan who ends up living in a graveyard being raised by ghosts. When the murderer that killed his family is back and searching for Bod, he must decide between the safety of the graveyard and the world waiting to be explored.

I don’t normally pick up middle grade novels. More than that, I don’t normally enjoy them. But I loved reading about Bod and his quirky family in the graveyard. Neil Gaiman did an exceptional job introducing such unique characters from such different timelines. There was a portion of the book that felt a little slow and took me longer to get through. But other than that, I really enjoyed it. I flew through the last hundred pages, my heart racing for Bod. The ending was so satisfying and I reckon, perfect for Bod’s story.

If you’re looking for a middle grade fiction to pick up, this is the one.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We Are Not Okay by Natalia Gomes follows four girls in high school as they are silenced. Lucy, who points fingers and shames everyone in an attempt to hide the secret she ashamed off; Ulana, who comes from a conservative Muslim family as she deals with racism and trying to keep any rumours (true or not) from destroying her reputation; Trina, who’s raped at a party and even more broken when no one believes her; and Sophia, who’s betrayed by her boyfriend in the worst ways.

This is the definitely the kind of story that makes me grateful for managing to get through high school with a good experience. The book highlights exactly how cruel teenagers can be. It touches on important topics like: eating disorders, cheating, bullying, mental health, sexual assault, racism and more. I think it did a fair job at dealing and juggling with them all. This book was thought provoking and painful to get through. I was frustrated and heart broken by how terrible these girls had it, it was just so unfair. Especially, how the book came to an end.

We Are Not Okay is told from four perspectives, and I found none of them had very different voices. Though their lives and problems were different, I couldn’t tell them apart without the help of the chapter title. In saying that, I loved seeing the overlap in their perspectives and thoughts.

Two things disappointed me in this book. One was the ending. We spend so much time reading how these girls get dragged through the mud and I was hoping for a more empowering ending but it all seemed too simple. I don’t feel like all the characters had the developmental arc I was hoping for. The second thing was the implication that rape victims that do not report the crime are cowards. Even though I understood where the thought was coming from, I wish it had been explored more to show that it’s not correct, but instead a very harmful way of thinking.

Ulana is a Muslim character, and I think her internal conflict was done well. In terms of the rep, I cannot comment. I would love here an ownvoices opinion.

Overall, I did enjoy this and would recommend as this touches on issues we definitely should be talking about.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The next book I picked up was a graphic novel provided by NetGalley. Good Girls Don’t Make History by Elizabeth Kiehner is a non-fiction historical, graphic novel that you’ll hear me raving about for some time to come. It explores the women’s suffrage movement in the US. It is fast, doesn’t bog you down with a lot of details and extremely empowering. I have a detailed book review if you’re interested.

Meet Me at the Summit by Mandi Lynn is a young adult, coming of age story about Marly. After her parents death in a car accident, Marly’s family executes an intervention and forces her into a trip around the country. Through hiking adventures, her photography and a new guy named Dylan, Marly learns to cope with her grief.

This definitely eased my cabin fever from being in a lockdown. Beyond that, the characters felt two dimension and it was a slow paced read.

Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas is very loved on Booktok. It follows Misha and Ryen, who are pen pals. As the tagline suggests, they are perfect together, until they meet. Chaos ensues and they hate each other. Underneath all of that, are some mysteries. Who is behind the vandalism occurring at school? Why did Misha really move to Ryen’s high school out of the blue?

This was a lot. I can definitely see why everyone loves it the way they do. Unfortunately, I did not. In saying that, I didn’t dislike it. There were just some aspects of Misha and Ryen’s relationship where it went too far for me. The bullying, and just the downright horribleness of their interactions made me grimace at times. Other times, I was so there for it. Like this book was so scandalous that I read it in one sitting.

I loved the mysterious aspects of this book. The plot twist at the end came as a surprise, possibly because I was so distracted by the disaster that was Misha and Ryen’s interactions.

Ryen was definitely a flawed person (she was so horrible at times). It didn’t make me want to DNF, because I’m so here for some good character development. Which happened to an extent, but not enough to make me completely forgive everything she had in the past.

Disclaimer: this is definitely an 18+ book.

Conclusion: enjoyable read with some problems that I’m too soft to ignore.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas follows Yadriel, who raised in a traditional Latinx family just wants to be accepted as a Brujo. In order to prove himself, Yadriel summons a ghost as a part of a ceremony. The next step is to release the ghost, but unfortunately for Yadriel, Julian Diaz is not going to go quietly. He has some unfinished business and until Yadriel helps him with it, he won’t leave.

THIS BOOK WAS SO WORTH THE HYPE.

Now that that’s out of the way. Going into this, I was so nervous that it wouldn’t be as good as everyone was saying it to be. But it was so amazing. I loved Yadriel, I loved Julian and I loved them together. I loved the plot, the world around them and all the supporting characters. The way Yadriel’s journey of not only being accepted by his family but also coming to terms with the fact that he didn’t need permission to be himself, was just amazing.

By the time I finished this book, I was glowing and over the moon. It captured everything perfectly. I learnt so much from this book and it’s one that’s going to stay in my heart with a warm, glowy feeling.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao is a young adult mystery thriller that was a part of my TBR for this month. A dark academia story that I was really excited for. In short, it was underwhelming but not a bad a read. I recommend checking out my full review.

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar is a YA Fantasy about Sheetal, who is the daughter of a star. On Earth with her mortal father, Sheetal hides her true self from the rest of the world. When she accidentally injures her father and the only cure is her mother, Sheetal ascends to the sky, in order to compete in a tournament and win the help of her father.

I had seriously high hopes for this one, but in the end it didn’t satisfy me. I really enjoyed some aspects of this book. For example, the focus on Hindu astrology is one that I haven’t seen in books before and it was really well done. It was super interesting and I loved the magical feel. The execution of the culture itself was really great. The representation was spot on.

Other than that, Sheetal and the rest of the characters felt very ‘plain’. I didn’t feel like she had a personality, so I found it hard to connect with her. Because of the blurb, I went into this feeling like the stakes were going to be high but it was actually very ‘chill’. The pacing was also very slow and the tournament itself was near the end and even then it wasn’t that thrilling.

A slow but magical read. I’d be interested in seeing what the author puts out next.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is so talked about that I’m not going to bother with a summary. Just know: missing wife, suspicious husband, and a lot of questions. This was really brilliantly written and planned, so brilliant that I’m concerned for Gillian Flynn. I was able to guess the ‘plot twists’ but it didn’t diminish the enjoyment for me. The characters were disturbingly complex and the ending had me sitting there and contemplating everything. There are so many paragraphs that will stay with me because of how raw and vivid they were.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Magi Menagerie by Kale Lawrence is a young adult novel releasing in September this year. I won’t talk too much about it as I have a full review on it. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT. Diverse characters, forbidden romance and an incredible world building.

Awakened by Ciara Duggan is a fast paced, insta-lovey fantasy releasing in September this year. You can check out my review for more details.

The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen follows Lara, a warrior princess trained in isolation to be ruthless and her enemy and future husband, King Aren. All Lara knows is bringing down Aren is the key to saving her kingdom. But as she infiltrates his home, she begins to questions who the villain really is.

I had no intentions of this picking up, because I’m simply not great with adult book. BUT THIS WAS SO GOOD. LIKE SO GOOD. The enemies to lovers, the angst, the slow burn, the betrayal, the politics. I could go on. It was easy to stay up all night to read this, more than that, it was easy to shelf it as a favourite. I need more people to pick this up and gush with me about it. Readers of Jennifer L. Armentrout, Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir and Shelby Mahurin will eat this up.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen is the sequel to The Bridge Kingdom. I loved this just as much. The angst and oh gosh, the pain. This was so so so so good. I won’t stop talking about this one for some time to come.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

MonthNumber of Books ReadRe-ReadsDid Not Finish
August2401
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