July Wrap-Up // Only one month of summer left!

Hello everyone!

Welcome back to a Monthly Wrap-Up! Another month has gone by so fast! We only have one more month of summer left! I hope all of you had an amazing July!

In July, I read four books in total!

All of them are above three stars except one. Looks at Heart of the Impaler.

This means I read two fewer books than last month, but I’m still happy that I at least read some books.

Let’s get started!

Books I read in July

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: This has now become one of my all-time favorite books. I loved all the characters, and Evelyn was such a great morally grey character. The way this book handles women in the entrainment industry and showing how they are treated was done beautifully. The ending was so shocking, and I was not expecting it to go that route. The romance in this book was good at showing that not all relationships are as perfect as they seem. (5 Stars)

Iron Widow: Another fabulous book! This is Xiran Jay Zhao’s debut book, and let me tell you, they knocked it out of the park! Worldbuilding has to be one of my favorite aspects of this book. It was unlike anything I have seen before. Transformer mechs powered by Qi energy, transformer-type aliens, and fighting back against oppressive patriarchy. It also has a polyamorous relationship, rare in YA, and a strong, powerful main character. (4 Stars)

Also, Xiran Jay Zhao has a youtube channel with great content, so I would recommend you check that out as well!

Namesake: So this book I did not review on my blog. Since this is the sequel to Fable, I decided that I’m just going to review this book on Goodreads since I never talked about the first book on here. I’ll do a mini-review right here. Honestly, I found this book to be pretty mediocre. I still enjoyed our main character, Fable, and loved her character development in this book. I wish that we got more from the side characters. Many of them still felt flat. I hated the romance in this book. I have never really liked the love interest, West. (3 Stars)

Heart of the Impaler: Before this book, I had never given a book one star. But this book broke that record. I hated this book from beginning to end. From flat characters to poor world-building, to skipping over action scenes and slow pacing. There was nothing redeemable about this book.(1 Star)

Best Blogger Posts // News in June

Welcome all these new bloggers to the book blogsphere!

Best Blogger posts!

Updates

If you didn’t know already, I will be doing my first book tour! I will be on tour with Turn the Pages Tours, and will be on tour for the book: The Bones of Ruin!

My post will be up on September 4th so stay tune for that!

I am also so close to 100 followers, and it would mean the world to me if you followed me if you aren’t already!

Top Posts in July…

Thank you for checking out this post! I hope you all have a wonderful August!

See you next time!

Heart of the Impaler // ARC Review

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Hey guys!

Today I’m gonna be sharing my thoughts on Heart of the Impaler by Alexander Delacroix! I hope you all enjoy this review and feel free to discuss with me your thoughts in the comments! Thanks for checking out this review!

From Goodreads

In this dark, historical YA debut, two young men—one scarred and dutiful, the other wickedly magnetic—fall for the same young woman. But is it safe for her to love either of them back?

Ilona Csáki has no desire to marry the voivode’s eldest son, but love and marriage are the least of her worries.

The royal family’s enemies have already tried to put an arrow through her back—and if anyone discovers her blossoming feelings for her betrothed’s cousin Andrei, and younger brother, Vlad, she may just wish they’d succeeded.

Beneath the shadow of impending war, the only battle that will be deadlier than the one for Ilona’s life will be the one for her heart.

Hello and welcome back to where I rant about books that I didn’t like. As you can tell by the title, we are going to talk about Heart of the Impaler. This is my first one-star read, and honestly, I never thought I would read a book where I rated it one star. But alas, this day has come. So let me get into the many problems with this book.

An important rule of writing is that you don’t leave action scenes or significant scenes to the story off-screen. If you leave out these scenes, this makes the story disconnected and doesn’t show the character’s reaction to it. This happened many times, and it was infuriating. Towards the end, we have many battles that supposedly happened but we don’t know since they skipped over. Rather than getting these exciting action scenes, they glossed over, and we get boring scenes that include mainly conversations, which quickly get boring. 

This is a spoiler, and I’m using this as an example to make my point above.

For example, one of our main characters, Vlad kills his older brother Mircea. But instead of seeing this, it’s glossed over, and we don’t get to read when Vlad kills him. This would be considered a pivotal moment and critical to Vlad’s character development. We do see the build-up to this scene. Before this, we see Mircea bullying Vlad and treating him as a spare part. When he kills Mircea, he then becomes the crown prince, but we don’t see him command any armies. Once again, it’s skipped over.

Spoiler over

I felt like I was waiting for the story to begin. Many times, the plot is explained through conversations. Another rule of writing is once again broken. Instead of developing the story through various scenes, the plot layout to us. We don’t need the whole story told out to us. Allow us to interpret the scenes for ourselves and try to predict what will happen next. If you put little scenes spread throughout, and there that would make it far more exciting.

You might be wondering, were the characters at least good? No, they were not.

Vlad was unbearable and one of the worst characters I have ever read. He comes off as a whiny brat that doesn’t seem to care about anyone and thinks he can get everything he wants. Many times in the story, he wants Ilona as his own. He fanaticizes over her, thinking one day she will be his. He tries to be her protector and doesn’t even try to get to know Ilona. He treats his cousin, Andrei, horribly having him do all his various chores and insults him at various times. He says Andrei is his best friend, but as soon as thought about Andrei pops into his head, which is stealing Ilona from him, he immediately believes it without any proof.

The point of Vlad’s character development is to slowly fall into madness, and see him use fear as a way to control people. His character is supposed to represent Vlad the Impaler, who used cruel measures to inspire fear to control them. He used to impale his enemies on stakes. We do see this fall, but Vlad never started off as a “good” person. At the beginning of the book, Vlad has violent episodes if something doesn’t go his way, and thinks he can already get everything he wants. So this character development isn’t as powerful, since he never started off as a kind-hearted human being.

Ilona, the love interest of Andrei and Vlad, is very uninteresting at best. She is an “I’m not like other girls.” For example, she studies birds and isn’t grossed by blood. This trope is overplayed and used so many times that it begins to get boring. Nothing about Ilona stood out to me, and she was a rather bland character. Andrei was the only decent character in this book. He at least had some personality and seemed to have actual emotions. He cared about Ilona and tried to get to know her rather than Vlad. But even he fell flat and didn’t have much appeal.

I never got a clear idea of what these characters were supposed to represent, which lead to me lacking interest in them.

The romance was painful to read, and that was the main element of this book. If I don’t care about the characters, I’m not going to care about the romance. In the synopsis, we are told there is an “Impending war,” but it is glossed over, as I mentioned earlier, only leaving the romance. This is supposed to be a dark historical story, but rather, it’s a story about a love triangle poorly executed and not much else…

There were many terms used to help build the world, but I ended up just getting confused. The world-building was not executed well and left me wondering what was happening most of the time. What didn’t help is that this story dragged quite a lot, and the dialogue felt unnatural from telling the plot word for word.

TW: Murder (Off-screen), Death (Off-Screen), Blood, fighting

Thank you to NetGallery for providing me an ARC of Heart of the Impaler in exchange for an honest review!

Going through the decades // Book Recs for each time periods

Hey everyone!

Today, I’m going to give recommendations based on a wide variety of periods! This can include all periods and not just recent ones. These will also include books that I have not read yet, but I’m planning to in the future! I hope you enjoy this post!

Let’s get started!

Before Common Era

Ivory and Bone:

Two clans. Only one will survive.

The only life seventeen-year-old Kol knows is hunting at the foot of the Great Ice with his brothers. But food is becoming scarce, and without another clan to align with, Kol, his family, and their entire group are facing an uncertain future.

Traveling from the south, Mya and her family arrive at Kol’s camp with a trail of hurt and loss behind them, and hope for a new beginning. When Kol meets Mya, her strength, independence, and beauty instantly captivate him, igniting a desire for much more than survival.

Then on a hunt, Kol makes a grave mistake that jeopardizes the relationship that he and Mya have only just started to build. Mya was guarded to begin with—and for good reason—but no apology or gesture is enough for her to forgive him. Soon after, another clan arrives on their shores. And when Mya spots Lo, a daughter of this new clan, her anger intensifies, adding to the already simmering tension between families. After befriending Lo, Kol learns of a dark history between Lo and Mya that is rooted in the tangle of their pasts.

When violence erupts, Kol is forced to choose between fighting alongside Mya or trusting Lo’s claims. And when things quickly turn deadly, it becomes clear that this was a war that one of them had been planning all along.

16th Century

My Lady Jane:

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

My Contrary Mary:

Welcome to Renaissance France, a place of poison and plots, of beauties and beasts, of mice and . . . queens?⠀

Mary is the queen of Scotland and the jewel of the French court. Except when she’s a mouse. Yes, reader, Mary is an Eðian (shapeshifter) in a kingdom where Verities rule. It’s a secret that could cost her a head—or a tail.⠀

Luckily, Mary has a confidant in her betrothed, Francis. But after the king meets a suspicious end, things at the gilded court take a treacherous turn. Thrust onto the throne, Mary and Francis are forced to navigate a viper’s nest of conspiracies, traps, and treason. And if Mary’s secret is revealed, heads are bound to roll.⠀

18th Century

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue:

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Note: Does not stay in the 18th century but it’s a story that goes till 2014

My Plain Jane:

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

My Calamity Jane:

Welcome ​to 1876 and a rootin’-tootin’ America bursting with gunslingers, outlaws, and garou

JANE (a genuine hero-eene) Calamity’s her name, and garou hunting’s her game—when she’s not starring in Wild Bill’s Traveling Show, that is. She reckons that if a girl wants to be a legend, she should just go ahead and be one.

FRANK (*wolf whistle*)
Frank “the Pistol Prince” Butler is the Wild West’s #1 bachelor. He’s also the best sharpshooter on both sides of the Mississippi, but he’s about to meet his match. . . .

ANNIE (get your gun!)
Annie Oakley (yep, that Annie) is lookin’ for a job, not a romance, but she can’t deny there’s something about Frank she likes. Really likes. Still, she’s pretty sure that anything he can do, she can do better.

A HAIRY SITUATION
After a garou hunt goes south and Jane finds a suspicious-like bite on her arm, she turns tail for Deadwood, where there’s been talk of a garou cure. But things ain’t always what they seem—meaning the gang better hightail it after her before they’re a day late and a Jane short.

The Gilded Wolves:

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.

20th Century

The Diviners:

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries her uncle will discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho is hiding a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened… 

These Violent Delights:

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Between the Shades of Gray:

Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life — until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father’s prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?

The Book Thief:

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo:

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Daisy Jones and the Six:

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the real reason why they split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go-Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Another band getting noticed is The Six, led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend. 

Malibu Rising:

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Let Me Hear a Rhyme:

Biggie Smalls was right. Things done changed. But that doesn’t mean that Quadir and Jarrell are okay letting their best friend Steph’s tracks lie forgotten in his bedroom after he’s killed—not when his beats could turn any Bed-Stuy corner into a celebration, not after years of having each other’s backs.

Enlisting the help of Steph’s younger sister, Jasmine, Quadir and Jarrell come up with a plan to promote Steph’s music under a new rap name: The Architect. Soon, everyone in Brooklyn is dancing to Steph’s voice. But then his mixtape catches the attention of a hotheaded music rep and—with just hours on the clock—the trio must race to prove Steph’s talent from beyond the grave.

Now, as the pressure—and danger—of keeping their secret grows, Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine are forced to confront the truth about what happened to Steph. Only each has something to hide. And with everything riding on Steph’s fame, together they need to decide what they stand for before they lose everything they’ve worked so hard to hold on to—including each other.

Concrete Rose:

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man. 

Early 21st Century // 2000’s

A Very Large Expanse of Sea:

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments – even the physical violence – she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her – they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds – and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down. 

The Fault in our Stars:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Thanks for checking out this post! What are some of your favorite books that occur in different time periods?

See you next time!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hey guys!

Today I’m gonna be sharing my thoughts on The Seven Husbands by Taylor Jenkins Reid! I hope you all enjoy this review and feel free to discuss with me your thoughts in the comments! Thanks for checking out this review!

Let’s get started!

From Goodreads

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has become one of my top five books. I heard such great reviews on this book, and I knew that I had to check it out. I had never read a Taylor Jenkins Reid book before but let me say I’m now hooked on her writing and brought two more of her books. Once I started a few chapters, I was on the edge of my seat. 

“Never let anyone make you feel ordinary.”

– The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Evelyn Hugo’s story was so compelling to read. Frantically, I read through all the pages wanting to find out all the secrets behind all of her seven husbands. As well as to answer the question: Who was her greatest love? Since Evelyn has lived most of her life in public, she has many secrets to hide. But she finally wants to reveal all her secrets to the public and recruits a somewhat inexperienced journalist Monique Grant. As soon as Monique was involved in Evelyn’s story, I had thousands of questions. Why would you hire her? What is Evelyn hiding from Monique?

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was passionate in bringing to light so many important topics.

Evelyn’s story was a way for her to reveal what all her husbands did, either good, bad, or in the middle. Ernie, who Evelyn used to escape from her living nightmare, and help her jump-start her career. Don, who was abusive to a point she didn’t know if she could divorce him. Harry, her best friend, who she loved so dearly. Max loved the idea of her but never truly her. Mick, who Evelyn used as a ploy to protect the ones she truly loved. Rex, a relationship that involved no love just business. Robert, a way for Evelyn to live the life she has always wanted.

Evelyn Hugo’s story was a way to bring to light how her husbands treated her horribly and were just there to use her because of her fame and power. And if she were to step out of line, the public would come calling her nasty names. 

“Heartbreak is a loss. Divorce is a piece of paper.”

– The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid

It touches on the issue of women in the industry being treated as objects rather than for their acting. Men are judge based on their performance, intelligence, and depth to themselves. Whereas, women are judged on their looks and how attractive they are to males. We see how women of color couldn’t just be an actress, but rather people would look at them differently based on their race. To be seen as important, Evelyn herself had to transform to no longer make her seem like a Cuban girl. They had her change her name, dyed her hair, wore the emerald green silk dresses and jewelry, smiled pretty, and shut up about everything else.

Many times, we see how women have to tone down their personalities. To be seen as respectful and an obedient woman. If women are opinionated, confident, or passionate, they are told to shut up, to be obedient. Women are expected to stay insecure, men chipping away at their self-esteem so they could keep power and have some leeway over them.

During this era, we see how Evelyn is under fire if she divorces one of her husbands. The blame is thrown onto her, and her husbands come out with no dirt on their hands. Their careers aren’t damaged, and they go back to living their normal lives. But for Evelyn and many other women are dragged by the public and seen as a disgrace making it hard for them to return to their normal lives.

People don’t find it very sympathetic or endearing, a woman who puts herself first.

– The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid

But this book isn’t about Evelyn’s seven husbands. But, rather, this book is about Evelyn’s story. It’s about the struggles she faced and all of her flaws. Rather than wanting to be seen as this perfect, untouchable icon, she wants to be seen as a human-like everyone else. Even though Evelyn’s life may always be perfect, but once you pull back all the layers, she is just like you and me. A human being.

I enjoyed having Monique in the story, and I feel like without her: the story would lose something. Evelyn wouldn’t be telling anyone her story to anyone. I liked when we had little interjections with what was going on in her life, which helped build-up to the final reveal at the end of Evelyn’s story. The ending had me shocked, and I was not expecting it at all.

Another small detail that I enjoyed was the new articles like “Hollywood Digest”, “Sub Rosa”, and “The New York Tribune,” which were reporting on Evelyn and other characters. It added more realness to the story allowing us to see how the public viewed Evelyn. It’s like today with social media reporting on all the drama happening, but instead, since this story takes place in the 50s-80s, we have newspaper articles instead.

This section will have some spoilers, so please be aware if you haven’t read this book yet!

“People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is ‘you’re safe with me’- that’s intimacy.”

– The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Evelyn and Celia’s relationship was heartbreaking to watch. Evelyn kept letting Celia down over and over, which would lead to Celia being so heartbroken. Celia kept saying the most hurtful things, and I wish that Celia would have tried to understand Evelyn’s sexuality more. At some points, the relationship felt very toxic, but at other times you could tell how much they loved one another. They loved each other so much, but could never be together in the public eye. This put such a strain on their relationship leading to many ups and downs.

“I’m bisexual. Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box.”

– The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid

If you are worried that there isn’t representation in this book, don’t worry cause there is! Our main character Evelyn is Cuban, and Bisexual. Celia and Henry are both gay. Monique is biradical. We also have an f/f relationship as well as an m/m relationship. Representation is always great to see so that people can see themselves in the books they read.

TW: domestic abuse, death/grief, homophobia/biphobia, racism, abortion & suicide

The Bookish Baking Book Tag // Do I smell something baking in the oven?

Hey guys!

Welcome back! Today I’m going to do the Bookish Baking Book Tag! I saw this tag done by The Sassy Library Fox and decided that I wanted to do this tag for myself! I love to bake and read, so I thought this would be the best way to combine two of my hobbies into one!

Let’s get started!

Rules:

  • Thank whoever tagged you
  • Link back to them and the original creator (Kay @ Hammock of Books)
  •  Answer the 12 prompts, and feel free to use these graphics
  • Tag 5+ friends to share the sweetness
See the source image

Six of Crows has the perfect beginning because it starts with the iconic line, “Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.” This line makes me laugh every time I read it. It helps to set up the main problem and starts to put the book into action. Also, this first line strays so far away from the tone and seems so displaced that it’s almost laughable. 

 

I don’t think I’ve ever read a holiday book. So I don’t have a pick for this one. Maybe if I read one in the future, I’ll add it here.

This is such a tough category because I have two characters that would win this category, but I don’t know who to pick between the two of them.

You may be wondering who these two are? Wylan from Six of Crows and Azriel from A Court of Thorns and Roses. 

You feel the need to protect these two no matter what because they have been through lots of trauma and hardship in their lives. You also want them to have the best ending and live a happy life after the series ends.

Hurricane Summer gives me summer vibes for sure. First of all, the word “summer” is in the title of this book. This book takes place over the summer, where Tilla is sent to Jamaica to spend time with her father’s family. While there, Tilla has to deal with her father’s family, who don’t treat her well, while tries to enjoy herself by doing summer activities to block out the negatives. 

I would say Red Queen because I read this when I was younger, and I remember loving this. I loved the whole concept of this series, the character, the worldbuilding: you name it. I doubt my feelings would be the same, so I will have to re-read this series in the future. I’m interested to see how much my feelings would change from then to now. 

So if you haven’t noticed, I don’t read classics.

I read Romeo and Juliet, but I didn’t like it at all. That’s the only classic I’ve read. I would like to read more classics, but if I have a fantasy book, I’m more likely to pick that one up. I don’t know if the Handmaiden’s Tale is a classic, but I want to read that one!

I would have to say Letters to the Lost. This is such a beautiful book that makes you feel compassionate for the characters, even though they make many mistakes. It addresses the issues of labels and how people are so quick to judge you based on one thing. It brings to light the theme that you shouldn’t judge people based on one thing because you never know what they are going through.

Tweet Cute is the perfect fit for this category. That’s it.

Anyways so, the two main characters are so cute, and their relationship is so pure. First, they start as enemies, but they still bicker in a way that’s so funny and cute. Their grilled cheese war was so fun to read, and reading how they slowly fall in love made me smile the whole time.

The Hate U Give would be my choice for this category because this book has such an important message that people need to hear to make real change in the world. This book covers issues that still face our world today: racism and police brutality. It’s important to bring light to these issues to educate people. It shows what it’s like to be a POC, and the racism they faced.

So technically, I haven’t started The Priory of the Orange Tree, but it’s VERY intimidating. I mean, it’s over 800 pages, and I will have to commit lots of time to read it. But I’m so excited to read it, and have heard it is so good! I’m hoping to get to it soon and share my thoughts about it with all of you! 

Iron widow is not only a diverse book; it has great action and amazing characters! The worldbuilding is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and it brings in new elements that I’ve never seen before. This book includes Asian Rep, a healthy polyamorous relationship, many LGBTQ+ characters, and strong themes of feminism, gender roles, and gender identity. 

The Cruel Prince has so much hype around it. I always see people talk about it on Goodreads, the book blogger sphere, and booktube. I quite enjoyed this book, but I haven’t read it in quite a while. The characters were so memorable, the world was well written, and the overall story is crafted so brilliantly put together.

I Tag…

What did you think of my choices? Thanks for checking out this post!

See you next time!

Iron Widow // Arc Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hey guys!

Today I’m gonna be sharing my thoughts on Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao! I hope you all enjoy this review and feel free to discuss with me your thoughts in the comments! Thanks for checking out this review!

From Goodreads

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Going into this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I first heard about this book, the concept grabbed my attention from the start. I mean, a sci-fi world inspired by Chinese history, a polyamorous relationship, and fighting back against oppressive patriarchy and gender roles forced onto her by society. That sounds like the best book ever!?

Zetian was a great choice to make as the main character of this book. For most of her life, Zetian’s path is always laid out for her. Either she would become a concubine for the army or have to marry a wealthy man. Instead of rolling over and taking this, Zetian does everything in her power to help the girls and women in her society from being oppressed. She doesn’t let anyone get in her way and is determined to change her society. She took the feeling of revenge and anger using that to push herself to fight for women in her society, which I loved so much.

The plot was very fast-paced, but it felt a bit off to me. Some parts were very fast-paced, and I flew past those moments unable to put down the book. Whereas, other moments felt very slow and took me forever to get through. I wish that the plot had more consistent pacing, either having a medium or fast pace. The pacing was a minor problem, but it did bother me when it became more noticeable. 

What bothered me was the worldbuilding. If you mess up the worldbuilding in any way, it affects how the story flows and creates confusion about the setting. There is a lot of info-dumping at the beginning, which was very confusing to understand. I was like, “wait, what?” and “I’m confused, what is this again?” I kept having to re-read the lines about the world to make sure I understood the layout. Usually, the info-dumping doesn’t help me immerse myself, but as I kept reading, the worldbuilding improved. It was easier to read and become so much easier to understand how this world worked, especially the technological aspect.

The worldbuilding is very expansive and has many moving parts that are crucial to the story. The intricate details added in were very creative, unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Young Adult books. You are being Immersed in hi this world of transformer-type aliens that are invading a human world. The only way to stop them is with qi-powered chrysalis (again, similar to transformers) powered by male pilots that use female concubines as a battery. I mean, doesn’t that sound so interesting?! You can tell that the author put lots of thought and time into the world, wanting to make it grab the readers’ attention from the start.

One of the most unique aspects of this book is the love triangle present. But this isn’t just a regular old love triangle. This love triangle morphs into a polyamorous relationship. It was a new and refreshing take, and I would love to see it more in YA since we should have a diversity of all types of love.

I wish that the relationships developed a bit more, so I could connect with the love interests, and sometimes the relationships felt very rushed. One of the love interests that Zetian has a relationship with gives me a slight enemy to lovers vibe, where the other one gives me a friend to lovers vibe. I enjoyed how they accepted having a poly relationship and never got jealous of one’s relationship.

I enjoyed both love interests very much, and I was glad that they were different from one another.

Yizhi was such a cinnamon roll, but he can take care of himself and always wants to take care of those he loves. We didn’t get too much information on him since Zetian knew him before the book began. Shimin is shown as the villain, the iron demon, but as the story goes on, we see he has a softer side and has been through lots of trauma.

The representation in this book was plentiful and amazing! We have queer rep, which was great to see as always, and Poly rep with a mlm relationship. We also get discussions about gender roles and gender identity, which I enjoyed very much! We also have a disability rep because Zetian had her feet bounded when she was younger making it difficult for her to walk and uses a wheelchair for most of the book.

I know the author met lots of resistance with including a poly relationship, but I applaud Xiran for taking a daring move.

Overall, even though this book had some flaws, I still had a great time reading this book and recommend you pick it up once it releases.

TW: murder, torture, mentions/threats of rape, abuse, suicide ideation, alcohol addiction

Thank you to NetGallery for providing me an ARC of Iron Widow in exchange for an honest review!

Is it bad to DNF books? Why do readers DNF books? // A Discussion

Hey Guys!

For today’s discussion, We will be discussing DNFs. The two questions we will be answering today are “Is it bad to DNF books” and “Why do readers DNF books” If you are interested in hearing my thoughts on this topic, feel free to stick around! If you would like me to discuss a topic you interested in, you can request it here

Hope you enjoy this discussion!

What does DNF stand for?

If you didn’t already know, DNF stands for Did not finish. This means that you didn’t finish the book for different reasons.

Have I DNF books before? If so, which ones?

I have DNF books before. I haven’t DNF many because I always like to finish a book to see how it ends up becoming. Many times, I see people DNF books even though they aren’t that far in yet, but then when they re-read it, they end up liking it.

I’ve only DNF a few books, but the one I remember most clearly is A Court of Frost and Starlight. I just found it to be very boring and nothing too exciting. It also felt like nothing mattered in this book, and there were no high stakes.

Why do readers DNF books?

There are many reasons why readers DNF books. It all depends on the reader. All readers are different meaning, we all have various likes and dislikes. Some of the most common reasons include:

Not enjoying it

Sometimes a book doesn’t grab a reader’s attention as much as they hoped it would. Due to this, they may decide to put it to the side and read it another time. Or the reader may decide not to pick up the book again.

Wrong Time

Sometimes you pick up a book at the wrong time. You may be in a reading slump meaning, that you aren’t in the mood to read but to get out of it, you pick up the book but ultimately DNF. But the next time you pick it up, you may fully read through it.

Not Well Written

This is self-explanatory, but the writing can be horrible. It may be filled with errors, simple language, or confusing to understand, which may lead to a DNF.

Horrible Characters & Plot

Many readers love character-driven books. If the readers don’t connect with the characters then most of the time, they end up DNFing, or not liking the book. Characters can fall flat, or the reader can’t see themselves. And if they don’t enjoy the characters, it can make it a struggle to make it through the book.

The same could go for the plot. If nothing is happening or the plot doesn’t make logical sense, then the reader may fall into disinterest. This is the issue I had with “A Court of Frost and Starlight,” which is why I ended up DNFing.

Is it bad to DNF books?

It may sound bad to DNF a book, but it’s not bad at all! Readers do it all the time, and sometimes it doesn’t mean that a reader is giving up on a book but rather putting it aside.

Want me to discuss a certain topic?

If you would like be discuss a certain topic, fill out the form below and I will get to it! I’m planning on doing discussions every week from now on!

Request a topic or Discussion for me to do!

What are your thoughts on DNFs? Have you ever DNF a book? Let me know your thoughts in comments!

Book Recs based on popular TV shows & Movies // Julie and the Phantoms

Hey Guys!

I’m starting a new series on my blog, which is Book Recs based on popular TV shows and movies! Each week, we will focus on a different show or movie and then give book recommendations based on it! This week we will focus on the show: Julie and the Phantoms!

Let’s get started!

What is Julie and the Phantoms about?

The series follows Julie, who lost her passion for music after her mom’s death. But when she is visited by the ghosts of three musicians from 1995, Julie becomes inspired to start singing and writing songs again.

If you haven’t watched the show, then you should go check it out!

Book Recommendations based on the show

Cemetery Boys:

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

Similarities between the two:

  • Involve summoning ghosts by accident
  • Both include LGBTQ+ relationships
  • Both have a sense of urgency to get things done quickly
  • Lovable characters
  • Theme of being yourself and not being afraid to show who you are

I feel that if you like Julie and the Phantoms, you’ll certainly enjoy this book. Julie and the Phantoms is a musical, so I would pair this with the song, Now or Never. I would pair these two together because they both have a sense of urgency that we have to get this done now, or we’ll never get to again.

“Keep dreaming like we’ll live forever/But live it like it’s now or never”

– Julie and the Phantoms, Now or Never

You Should See Me in a Crown:

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

Similarities between the two:

  • LGBTQ+ relationships
  • Supportive friend groups
  • Trying to achieve dreams and make an impact on the world
  • Theme of being yourself and not being afraid to show who you are

Out of all the songs played on Julie and the phantoms, I feel like the song that would best fit this book is stand tall. Many times through, You Should See Me in a Crown, Liz has a fierce determination to achieve her dreams, and nothing holds her back. She had many struggles, but she wouldn’t let that stop her but, rather, find a way around that hurdle.

“And it’s one, two, three, four times/That I’ll try for one more night/Light a fire in my eyes”

– Julie and the Phantoms, Stand Tall

City of Shattered Light:

As darkness closes in on the city of shattered light, an heiress and an outlaw must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other.

As heiress to a powerful tech empire, seventeen-year-old Asa Almeida strives to prove she’s more than her manipulative father’s shadow. But when he uploads her rebellious sister’s mind to an experimental brain, Asa will do anything to save her sister from reprogramming—including fleeing her predetermined future with her sister’s digitized mind in tow. With a bounty on her head and a rogue A.I. hunting her, Asa’s getaway ship crash-lands in the worst possible place: the neon-drenched outlaw paradise, Requiem.

Gun-slinging smuggler Riven Hawthorne is determined to claw her way up Requiem’s underworld hierarchy. A runaway rich girl is exactly the bounty Riven needs—until a nasty computer virus spreads in Asa’s wake, causing a citywide blackout and tech quarantine. To get the payout for Asa and save Requiem from the monster in its circuits, Riven must team up with her captive.

Riven breaks skulls the way Asa breaks circuits, but their opponent is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. The A.I. exploits the girls’ darkest memories and deepest secrets, threatening to shatter the fragile alliance they’re both depending on. As one of Requiem’s 154-hour nights grows darker, the girls must decide whether to fend for themselves or fight for each other before Riven’s city and Asa’s sister are snuffed out forever.

Similarities between the two:

  • LGTBQ+ relationships
  • Lovable characters
  • Supportive friend relationships
  • Both have an importance of technology and social media
  • Making a positive impact on the world

The song that I would pair with this book is Wake Up. I decided to pair these two together because our two main characters have experienced pain and have suffered from many demons that take over their minds. But instead of letting the pain take over them, they use it to fuel them to help their world from falling apart.

It’s not what you lost / Time to come out of the dark / It’s what you’ll gain

– Julie and the Phantoms, Wake Up

Red, White and Royal Blue

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations. The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

Similarities between the two:

  • Somewhat of a impossible relationship
  • LGBTQ+ relationship
  • Supportive friend group
  • Learning how to find yourself and be yourself

I had trouble pairing this book with one of the songs, but I decided to pair it with the Edge of Great. You may be wondering, why these two? I feel like they fit together well because Alex and Henry both make mistakes, and they are just trying to find themselves. They just both have so much potential for their futures, and that they are standing on the edge of great so to speak.

That this moment is ours to own / Cause we’re standing on the edge of great

– Julie and the Phantoms, Edge of Great

You’ve Reached Sam

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.

Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.

And Sam picks up the phone.

In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever

Similarities between the two:

  • Loss of someone special // grief
  • Being able to reconnect with someone who has passed
  • Supportive Friends
  • Learning how to let go of the past and looking forward to the future

To me, It was no brainier to pair You’ve Reached Sam with Unsaid Emily. Many times, we see Julie feel responsible for Sam’s death. She wishes that she could go back in time and stop that from happening. And that it will stay like that forever and that she wishes she could go back to spending more time with Sam before he died.

I’d never let you go / We start the scene in reverse / No time for goodbyes, didn’t get to apologize

– Julie and the Phantoms, Unsaid Emily

Flame in the Mist

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

Similarities between the two:

  • Forbidden Romance // impossible romance in a way
  • Being recognized for talents and abilities
  • Lovable Characters
  • Magic and Mystery involved

The song I would pair with this book is Finally Free. I choose to pair these two together because Mariko feels free, in a way even though she is in enemy territory. This is because for her whole life, her path was planned out for her, and she feels she can show her skills. She feels like she is valued and that her skills mattered and are recognized. She also feels like she found a love that will support her and is a part of her.

No more faking / Come alive / And you’re a part of me

– Julie and the Phantoms, Finally Free

Tweet Cute

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Similarities between the two:

  • Forbidden Romance // impossible romance in a way
  • Experience many conflicts but learn how to overcome them
  • Supportive friend group
  • Lovable characters
  • Finding yourself and being yourself

I would pair Tweet Cute with Perfect Harmony. I feel like this song paints Jack and Pepper’s relationship of how they first start not liking each other but slowly realize they might be more to one another than they thought. They experience lots of conflicts, but by the end, they end up in perfect harmony.

Perfect Harmony / We say we’re friends, we play pretend / Two worlds collide when I’m with you

– Julie and the Phantoms, Perfect Harmony

What did you think of my picks? Have you watched Julie and the Phantoms?

Is there a show / movie you would like me to cover next time? Thanks for checking out this post!

You Should See Me in a Crown Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hey guys!

Today I’m gonna be sharing my thoughts on You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson! I hope you all enjoy this review and feel free to discuss with me your thoughts in the comments! Thanks for checking out this review!

From Goodreads

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

I meant to have this review posted weeks ago. I finished this book weeks ago. But I had trouble coming up with this review. I originally had this book rated at four stars, but I’m going to now bump it down to 3 stars. After thinking it over, technically, it was a good book, but nothing stood out to me. It was a disappointment because I heard so many rave reviews, and I’m sad that I only found this book mediocre.

“I never needed this race, or a hashtag, or the king to be a queen. I was born royalty. All I had to do was pick up my crown.”

– You Should See Me in a Crown, Leah Johnson

Our main character Liz was one of the most enjoyable parts of this book. Liz starts off the book feeling like an outsider in her high school because she is black and queer. She feels like she needs to hide her true identity so she can fit in. But as Liz goes on her journey through the book, she learns that she can be herself and show her true colors. I feel like lots of people will be able to resonate and relate to her character.

I found that the whole prom competition was unrealistic at times. I feel like these days, prom King and Queen don’t have that much of an importance compared to back in the day. I also have never heard of prom King, and Queen receiving a scholarship, and that made no sense to me. Like I get that GPA, and service was factored in but they even admitted that they didn’t play that much of a part. Prom King and Queen is just a big popularity contest, so I didn’t get why a scholarship was attached.

This book has so many side characters that play somewhat of a role in the plot. There are at least 15 characters that have a small role in the plot, and I think that is way too much. Due to this, some of the more important side characters don’t get that much development and ended up falling flat for me. I mean Liz’s friend group was not that developed and just were known by one personality trait. The only side characters that were developed were Jordan and Gabi. I would have liked to get more from Liz’s friends (I can’t remember their names).

“And I know then what I’ve always known: Campbell is never going to make a space for me to fit. I’m going to have to demand it.”

– You Should See Me in a Crown, Leah Johnson

The relationship between Liz and Mack was nothing new and expected. As soon as Mack came into the picture, I knew that was Liz’s love interest. It was forgettable, and I didn’t care about it that much. There was nothing memorable about the relationship, and I didn’t care about the love interest that much. Nothing stood out to me at all. Mack wasn’t a character that I connected with, and the obstacles the two of them faced and how Mack approach them bothered me.

Ahh, here we are at the mean girl trope. The mean girl trope is so unoriginal and predictable. There are ways to make this trope far more interesting. But the author just used it as a plot device to further the plot and threw it on the page as an afterthought. I wish that the mean girl in this book had more of an arc, and had more personality traits. I would say the same for the rest of Liz’s friends as well.

I’m so tired of the way this place treats people who are different, tired of feeling like I exist in the margins of my own life. I deserve better than that.

– You Should See Me in a Crown, Leah Johnson

The representation was great in this book! In the book, Liz’s brother and mother had sickle cell anemia. We have it briefly mentioned in the book, like saying that Liz wanted to help people with this disease in the future and that her brother had a problem with it later on in the book. I felt like this concept could have been used more and could have been incorporated into the plot to make it more interesting. The other representation present is many POC characters, a character with anxiety and queer characters.

Liz’s journey radiates joy and happiness, but Johnson isn’t afraid to tackle the struggles Liz faces. Since Liz is black and queer while living in a small town, most of the time, she faces extreme homophobia and racism from her peers and school officials. But instead of making it a heavy book all of the time, Johnson adds little moments that uplift the mood. We also see this book cover the topic of toxic friendships and how it’s okay to try to fix them. Many times we experience the bystander effect with Liz until that bystander stands up to declare that it needs to stop.

Overall, this was a mediocre book that had a relatable main character and great representation, but nothing that stood out to me.

TW:  racism, parental deaths, anxiety, outing, homophobia, chronic illness of family member

August TBR // Trope-ical Readathon

Hey Guys!!

Welcome back to another monthly TBR! You may be wondering, why didn’t I do a July TBR? I just decided I would go with the flow rather than have a planned-out schedule. Also, you may have noticed that I have been off for a while, and that’s because I was on a short hiatus! But I’m glad to be back writing another post!

As you may have noticed, I will be participating in the Trope-ical Readathon! I have had my eye on this readathon for quite some time, so I decided I would go ahead and sign up! So I’m going to be going through my TBR for this readathon today!

Now Let’s get started!

Trope-ical Readathon

This readathon is hosted by Jen @ JenJenReviews and Rob @ bookrob13! If you are interested in participating, I linked it above under Jen’s name. I’m super excited to participate and hope to get through a good chunk of my TBR.

Common Prompts:

A reread:

The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war–and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

Found Family:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.


Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart. 

A meaty book (500 paged book):

The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.

The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.

The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.

King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.

An audiobook or ebook:

After her life is upended by divorce and a cross-country move, 16-year-old Saskia Brown feels like an outsider at her new school—not only is she a transplant, she’s biracial in a population of mostly white students. One day while visiting her only friend at her part-time library job, Saskia encounters a vial of liquid mercury, then touches an old daguerreotype—the precursor of the modern-day photograph—and makes a startling discovery. She is somehow able to visit the man in the portrait: Robert Cornelius, a brilliant young inventor from the nineteenth century. The hitch: she can see him only in her dreams.

Saskia shares her revelation with some classmates, hoping to find connection and friendship among strangers. Under her guidance, the other girls steal portraits of young men from a local college’s daguerreotype collection and try the dangerous experiment for themselves. Soon, they each form a bond with their own “Mercury Boy,” from an injured Union soldier to a charming pickpocket in New York City.

At night, the girls visit the boys in their dreams. During the day, they hold clandestine meetings of their new secret society. At first, the Mercury Boys Club is a thrilling diversion from their troubled everyday lives, but it’s not long before jealousy, violence, and secrets threaten everything the girls hold dear.

(Post) Apocalyptic Trope:

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Historical Figure:

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads? 

All happens in one day:

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Multiple POVs:

Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light.

Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power.

Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game… 

A genre you don’t usually read:

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.

Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

Retelling:

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .

Team Challenges (Team Fantasy)

There Be Dragons:

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

Read a book featuring the “Prophecy” Trope:

A strange darkness grows in Allward.

Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea.

She soon discovers the truth: She is the last of an ancient lineage—and the last hope to save the world from destruction. But she won’t be alone. Even as darkness falls, she is joined by a band of unlikely companions:

A squire, forced to choose between home and honor.
An immortal, avenging a broken promise.
An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty.
An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight.
A forger with a secret past.
A bounty hunter with a score to settle.

Together they stand against a vicious opponent, invincible and determined to burn all kingdoms to ash, and an army unlike anything the realm has ever witnessed.

What did you think of my picks? Are you participating in the trope-ical readathon?