The Atlas Six Review

Hi all!

I’m so glad to be back blogging again! My schedule has gotten busy, so I haven’t been posting as much, but my schedule will free up soon!

Today I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake! I hope you all enjoy this review! Feel free to discuss with me your thoughts in the comments! Thanks for checking out this review!

Let’s get started!

From Goodreads

Title: The Atlas Six

Author: Olivie Blake

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Dark Academia

The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation.

Enter the latest round of six: Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona, unwilling halves of an unfathomable whole, who exert uncanny control over every element of physicality. Reina Mori, a naturalist, who can intuit the language of life itself. Parisa Kamali, a telepath who can traverse the depths of the subconscious, navigating worlds inside the human mind. Callum Nova, an empath easily mistaken for a manipulative illusionist, who can influence the intimate workings of a person’s inner self. Finally, there is Tristan Caine, who can see through illusions to a new structure of reality—an ability so rare that neither he nor his peers can fully grasp its implications.

When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they will have one year to qualify for initiation, during which time they will be permitted preliminary access to the Society’s archives and judged based on their contributions to various subjects of impossibility: time and space, luck and thought, life and death. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. The six potential initiates will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves to be the best among their rivals, most of them will.

Most of them.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The only reason I picked up this book was because of a fellow blogger friend of mine. Can anyone guess who? No? Well, I’ll tell you.


It was Saima @ storieswithsaima.


One day I was scrolling through all the blogs I followed, and I saw Saima had just posted. I saw that she had posted a review of this book, and I started reading it. Everything she described in her review sounded right up my alley, and I just knew I had to check it out. If I had never read Saima’s review then I probably would have never picked up this book. So, Thanks Saima for writing your incredible review!


Now enough chit chat and let me get into my review!

The problem with knowledge, is its inexhaustible craving. the more of it you have, the less you feel you know.”

– The Atlas Six, Olivie Blake

If you don’t like character-focused stories, then this book isn’t for you. The majority of this story focuses on six characters picked to be a part of the Alexandrian Society based on their magical skills.

All the characters featured in this story were different, and you could tell which point of view you were reading without having the titles on top of the page. Each of them had its flaws, and there will be one that appeals to you. Some characters weren’t my cup of tea (Looks at Callum). Other characters captured my heartstrings. As I progressed through the story, I felt like I knew the characters. Blake was able to show us the past, present motivations, and future desires that these characters had.

I enjoyed seeing how each approach their powers and their views of the others. I had an absolute fun time reading the interactions between each character seeing their personalities shine through. One of the interactions that I enjoyed seeing evolve throughout the story was Libby and Nico. They started as enemies competing to be at the top of their class in college. By the end, they were on far better terms and felt concerned for the other.

The characters were morally grey and had their flaws. It was interesting to see how they look at the world and what lines they wouldn’t cross. These characters were all strangers (except Libby and Nico since they knew each other prior). In the end, they came together over a common goal. Blake did a fantastic job developing the characters over time rather than having them be the same person by the end of the book.

We had a wide variety in our cast of characters, and I’ll talk about them a little now.

Libby, who is a powerful median who can control things physically that struggles with anxiety

Nico, another powerful median have similar power as Libby and deeply cares for his friends

Reina, who is determined to stay in the society and dislikes her naturalist power wishing she never had it

Parisa, a being of pure perfection who can enter the minds of others, a mysterious vibe surrounding her 

Tristan, who has the power to see into illusions and is still trying to find out who he is

Callum, who can influence feelings and seems to have no motivations or goals

The world was mostly entropy and chaos;

magic, then, was order, because it was control.

– The Atlas Six, Olivie Blake

Now, moving on to the worldbuilding and plot. Things were building up slowly adding a mysterious and suspenseful feel to the story. As the story progressed, things were revealed, and the reader becomes more invested. As twists and turns came to life, they left me in a state of shock.


There wasn’t a plot. I mean, I guess you can say it is that six people with magical powers become the newest initiatives in the Alexandrian Society, but only five can make it. It’s very vague on what exactly they have to do to make it in and what they’ll do after. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily.


It has a minimalistic plot which helps to give room to the characters and slowly introduce the world piece by piece. I expected since they are in a secret society that there would be more action and training scenes. Instead, we had more interaction scenes between characters. There were moments where they would test their powers out wondering, how far they could go.


This didn’t hold back the story in any way, it was acted as a base to support the characters. The story tends to lead towards more dark academia than fantasy per se. Fantasy tends to have more magic, and the only magical elements were the powers that each character contained.

“Knowledge is carnage. You can’t have it without sacrifice.” 

– The Atlas Six, Olivie Blake

A dark academia book with compelling characters and a simple plot allows the story to breathe. If you like a heavily character-focused story that is morally grey and has innovative plot twists, then The Atlas Six is for you!

Trigger Warnings:  violence, cheating, death, mass-shooting, kidnapping; references to: degenerative disease, death of a family member, suicide; mentions of: suicidal thoughts, incest, sacrifice.

Have you read The Atlas Six? If so, I would love hear your thoughts below!

If you have any other dark academia books recommendations, please leave them in the comments! Thanks for checking out this review! See you next time!

Blog Tour: To Break A Covenant // Reasons why you should read this book + Reactions

Hello everyone! Today is my stop on the To Break A Covenant Tour hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours! A big thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours as well as the author and publisher for providing me with an early copy of this book!

Title: To Break A Covenant

Author: Alison Ames

Release Date: September 21st, 2021

Genre: Young Adult Horror

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Nobles / Book Depository / Indigo

Content Warning: Gore! lots of gore/blood (human and animal), body horror (human and animal),claustrophobia, hallucinations/nightmares, death, animal death, parent death (mentioned),parental conflict (being afraid of a parent), mention of alcohol/drinking, mention of self-harm, mention of divorce, mental illness (perceived/actual), mention of child death/killing, mention of suicide, drowning, paranormal activity.

Debut voice Alison Ames delivers with a chilling, feminist thriller, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls and Sawkill Girls.

Moon Basin has been haunted for as long as anyone can remember. It started when an explosion in the mine killed sixteen people. The disaster made it impossible to live in town, with underground fires spewing ash into the sky. But life in New Basin is just as fraught. The ex-mining town relies on its haunted reputation to bring in tourists, but there’s more truth to the rumors than most are willing to admit, and the mine still has a hold on everyone who lives there.

Clem and Nina form a perfect loop—best friends forever, and perhaps something more. Their circle opens up for a strange girl named Lisey with a knack for training crows, and Piper, whose father is fascinated with the mine in a way that’s anything but ordinary. The people of New Basin start experiencing strange phenomena—sleepwalking, night terrors, voices that only they can hear. And no matter how many vans of ghost hunters roll through, nobody can get to the bottom of what’s really going on. Which is why the girls decide to enter the mine themselves.

One: Creepy and Unsettling atmosphere

This was my first time reading a YA book in the genre of Horror. I have never read any books or watched anything that has a horror element to it. I decided to take a risk on this book because once I read the synopsis I was hooked. Let me say that I was not disappointed.

From page one, you get this creepy and unsettling atmosphere from the town of Moon Basin. From the strange occurrences of pets disappearing, ghost shows showing up every few years, and stories of the mine that lingers near old town.

It creates a nail-biting, dark atmosphere making you want to get away from them as soon as possible. You get submerged in the town of Moon Basin, and in a way, that narration draws you towards it.

Two: Genuine Friendships and Unique Personalities

Books sometimes lack friendships that readers can fall in love with, and sometimes characters can fall flat in those situations. But in this book, It wasn’t a problem. All of the girls in the group had their personalities and quirks that made them who they were.


They had a ride-and-die friendship, where nothing could tear them apart. When things started to get rough, they never abandoned one another. In the end, they came back together. It was absolutely enjoyable to read, and what friendships should be like.

Three: Ghost Hunters and Interviews

Within each chapter, there would be interviews between Ghost Hunters from various shows and the residents of Moon Basin. This was such a clever way for the author to add more world-building to the town of Moon Basin avoiding the dreaded info-dumping that occurs in many books.

Through these interviews, we were able to see how other residents viewed these paranormal experiences and how they affected their day-to-day lives. We saw how these experiences didn’t just affect residents of Moon Basin, but the ghost hunters as well.

It showed how many residents had no idea what was going on; they were in fear of their lives. Many tried to cope with the activity, but it was hard to once the darkness got ahold of you.

Four: LGBTQ+ Representation

I’m not going to go into too much detail because I may spoil it, but there is LGBTQ+ representation in this book! This is always great to see because people can feel represented in literature and be recognized.

The author does a fantastic job of not letting this overtake the story but to help to advance the characters’ arc and the overall storytelling. Sometimes having the romance aspect take over the story can lead to a slow-moving plot, but this did not occur here!

Five: The mysteries surrounding Moon Basin

Writing a good book that readers will enjoy is a hard task. But one of the things I’ve noticed is that readers like to be kept on the edge of their seats and spawn a slew of theories of what will happen next.

I questioned why these abnormal occurrences were happening in Moon Basin and what they were fueled by. Even when I finished the book, I still had more questions that I wanted to be answered. What makes a good book is when the author leaves lingering thoughts in your brain. It gets you talking about a book and sharing it with others.

One: A cemetery is an interesting place to make a friend but now it makes sense now why they meet there

Two: The basin is creeping me out. I wonder why people disappear when they leave town. Also, why do all the pets die when they leave their owner’s houses?

Three: Blood on Clem, Piper’s father is acting weird, and strange sensations when you enter the mine, BIG RED FLAG!

Four: I like how almost each chapter has an interview from the ghost shows. It adds more perspectives of others from around town about the strange happenings occurring

Five: I like how Clem believes in the paranormal activity and Nina doesn’t. It makes for an interesting dynamic in their friendship

Six: That’s sweet how they became blood sisters. Except when they had to cut into their hands. A bit dangerous, if you ask me.

Seven: It’s almost like Piper’s dad is becoming the mine and the state of their house is…not good

Eight: That was so horrifying. I would have screamed bloody murder and ran out of there if I was able to

Nine: Do NOT split up. Number one movie in a horror movie. Everyone always breaks it.

Ten: Maybe each of their experiences in the cave had to do with them personally? Maybe it’s based on their fears or beliefs? Like how Lisey is known for her crows.

Eleven: About to eat tater tots and blow up the mine to get rid of the evil in Moon Basin. Sign me up!

Twelve: The hallucinations with the dead deer standing up was disgusting. I would have the EXACT same reaction as Clem.

Thirteen: I’ve been waiting for this moment since the beginning. It finally happened!

Fourteen: No it can’t be. She really can’t be….I don’t want even to say it.

Fifteen: The ending was simple and concise. But I still have so many questions that need to be answered. I guess I’ll never know….It was probably the author’s intention to keep us guessing till the very end.

Alison Ames is a writer based in Colorado. Her debut novel To Break A Covenant will be published in fall 2021.

Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

Be sure to check out the rest of the TBR and Beyond blog tour for To Break A Covenant! You can check the schedule down below! There are some amazing bloggers and bookstagrammers on here that you should check out!

Tour Schedule

September 20th
lousbookstuff – Review & Favourite Quotes
Rampant Reading Reviews – Review
I Dream in Books – Review & TikTok

September 21st
Pages & Plot – Promo Post
Emelie’s Books – Review & Mood Board
Gwendalyn’s Books – Review
The Book Wiccan – Review & Favourite Quotes

September 22nd
Stuck in Fiction – Promo Post
JD’s Book Journal – Review & Favourite Quotes
Bibliosini – Review & Favourite Quotes
Paperbacks and Planners – Review & Mood Board

September 23rd
Kait Plus Books – Journal Spread & Promo
Althea Is Reading – Review & Mood Board
Books and Babble – Review & Playlist

September 24th
The Book Dutchesses – Promo Post
A Book & Chai – Review
Stuck in the Stacks – Review
The Broke Book Blog – Review, Playlist & TikTok

September 25th
Nine Bookish Lives – Review
Forthenovellovers – Review
Inking & Thinking – Top 5 Reasons to Read To Break a Covenant & 15 Reactions While Reading to Break a Covenant
PopTheButterfly Reads – Review

September 26th
Reading Stewardess – Review & Mood Board
Read With Holy – Review
Justice For Readers – Review & Mood Board

Instagram Schedule

September 20th
shereadytoread – Review & Top 5 Reasons to Read To Break a Covenant
rampant_reading – Blogger’s Choice
idreaminbooks – Blogger’s Choice

September 21st
tbrandbeyond – Promo Post
gwendalyn_books_ – Blogger’s Choice
thebookwiccan – Blogger’s Choice

September 22nd
feliciareads11 – Blogger’s Choice
readbycait – Review
bibliosini – Blogger’s Choice
planners.and.paperbacks – Blogger’s Choice

September 23rd
wild.legends – Book Look & Top 5 Reasons to Read To Break a Covenant

September 24th
thebookdutchesses – Blogger’s Choice
thereadingowlvina – Review
stuck.in.the.stacks -Blogger’s Choice
thebrokebookblog – Blogger’s Choice

September 25th
ninebookishlives – Blogger’s Choice
fangirlpixiebooks – Promo
popthebutterfly – Blogger’s Choice

September 26th
skygoddess1 – Blogger’s Choice
thelindenbookie – Review
justiceforreaders – Blogger’s Choice

What are your thoughts on To Break A Covenant? Will you be adding it to your TBR?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Book Tour: The Bones of Ruin // Review

Hello everyone! Today is my stop on The Bones of Ruin Blog Tour hosted by Turn the Pages Tours! A big thank you to Turn the Pages Tours as well as the author and publisher for providing me with an early copy of this book!

Title: The Bones of Ruin

Author: Sarah Raughley

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: September

Genre: Young Adult Fiction –> Historical, Fantasy

Buy Link: https://bookshop.org/a/11727/9781534453562

As an African tightrope dancer in Victorian London, Iris is used to being strange. She is certainly a strange sight for leering British audiences always eager for the spectacle of colonial curiosity. But Iris also has a secret that even “strange” doesn’t capture…​

She cannot die.

Haunted by her unnatural power and with no memories of her past, Iris is obsessed with discovering who she is. But that mission gets more complicated when she meets the dark and alluring Adam Temple, a member of a mysterious order called the Enlightenment Committee. Adam seems to know much more about her than he lets on, and he shares with her a terrifying revelation: the world is ending, and the Committee will decide who lives… and who doesn’t.

To help them choose a leader for the upcoming apocalypse, the Committee is holding the Tournament of Freaks, a macabre competition made up of vicious fighters with fantastical abilities. Adam wants Iris to be his champion, and in return, he promises her the one thing she wants most: the truth about who she really is.

If Iris wants to learn about her shadowy past, she has no choice but to fight. But the further she gets in the grisly tournament, the more she begins to remember—and the more she wonders if the truth is something best left forgotten.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Welcome back to another review! Today’s review will be on The Bones of Ruin by Sarah Raughley! When I saw Turn the Pages Tour post the signup for this tour, I just knew that I wanted to be a part of it! Now let’s get into it!

The Bones of Ruin takes place in a post-apocalyptic world with a Victorian London setting. Fierce competition with supernatural kids, hidden secrets, and a society full of influential people.
Even though this book takes place in Victorian London, full of dark magic and secrets, the author isn’t afraid to show that it’s not so great for our black main character, Iris, or any person of color.

She isn’t afraid to tackle deep subjects such as racism, sexism, and much more. Raughley tied these things seamlessly into the story and made it present enough that it stuck out in your mind.

My body is my own. My heart is my own. My fate is my own

– The Bones of Ruin, Sarah Raughley

Iris was a compelling character to follow in this story. She remembers almost nothing of her past life and spends the book trying to unravel all of the secrets. At first, she is hesitant to find out the truth, but when she thrusts herself into a competition forced to trying to put the puzzle together.

Iris almost seems like this untouchable character, since you know, she can’t die. But the author doesn’t allow this to be the case. Due to this little detail, it turns the tension down a lot. You never expect Iris to die, and you’ll know she’ll survive in every single fighting scenario. Raughley pushes Iris into extreme situations displaying her vulnerability. But Iris tends to lean towards the mary sue character type despite these advancements.

The puzzle is put together, piece by piece. Tension rises as the mystery slowly unravels. Here and there, misleading clues take us off track. By the end, all comes to light. A brilliant mystery crafted with such elegance that you don’t realize how much time has passed.

I won’t let you people take anymore away from me!

– The Bones of Ruin, Sarah Raughley

The romance was a bit questionable in this book. I know a bunch of readers tends to dislike love triangles. This book does not only contain a love triangle but a love square. The first time I’ve ever seen a love square, but I don’t know if I’m a fan of it. Out of all of the potential love interests, there was only one that I could see working out. Iris and this particular love interest had chemistry, and you could see they had a bond with one another.

The squad surrounding Iris was a definite hit from the countless times they planned together and save each other from near-death (except Iris). The constant bickering between them had me cracking up at times. Some of the characters did feel undeveloped at times, so I wish more time was spend on getting to know them more besides Iris all the time. But Iris isn’t the only one to contain superpowers but all of them. But they don’t know how they got them.

“What?” Max and Jinn both said at the same time but for different reasons.

Max seemed to perk up at the sound of his name even if he hadn’t heard the context while Jinn responded to Iris’s offhand remark with an awkwardly stiff expression.

– The Bones of Ruin, Sarah Raughley

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book! Though some flaws held it back, some elements such as a puzzle needing to be solved, an interesting main character, and a setting that help to enhance the story.

A big thank you to Turn the Pages Tours as well as the author and publisher for providing me with an early copy of this book! Quotes are taken from an unfinished version and may be different when the book is published.

Sarah Raughley grew up in Southern Ontario writing stories about freakish little girls with powers because she secretly wanted to be one. She is a huge fangirl of anything from manga to SF/F TV to Japanese Role Playing Games, but she will swear up and down that she was inspired by ~Jane Austin~ at book signings. On top of being a YA Writer, she is currently completing a PhD in English, because the sight of blood makes her queasy (which crossed Medical School off the list).

She is represented by The Bradford Literary Agency.

So far, you can also find her on Twitter, where work ethic goes to die.

Up for grabs will be TWO (1) finished copies of The Bones of Ruin by Sarah Raughley. This giveaway will be open to U.S. residents only and will run from August 29th to September 13th at 11:59 PM CST. Two winners will be chosen. To enter, click the link below!

Rafflecopter Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d49/?

Tour Schedule

Be sure to check out the rest of the The Bones of Ruin Tour held by Turn the Pages Tours! You can check the schedule down below! There are some amazing bloggers and bookstagrammers on here that you should check out!

August 29th

Turn the Page Tours – Welcome Post
The Reading Chemist – Review

August 30th

Books, Tea, Healthy Me – Review
Curls, Pops & Spines – Review

September 1st

The Bookwyrm’s Den – Review
Whimsical Dragonette – Review

September 2nd

Kayla’s Book Nook – Review
Library of a Book Witch – Review

September 3rd

A Book & Chai – Review
Brinns Books – Review
Brownish Bookish – Review

September 4th

The Offbeat Human – Review
Inking & Thinking – Review
DJREADSBOOKS – Spotlight

September 5th

Belle’s Archive – Spotlight
Starlight Reads – Review

September 6th

Radusreads – Review
The Litt Librarian – Review

September 7th

Book Lover’s Book Reviews – Review
TheReadingCornerforAll – Review

September 8th

Justice for Readers – Review
Melancholic Blithe – Review

September 9th

JD’s Book Journal – Review
Balancing Books & Beauties – Review

September 10th

The Reader’s Game – Review
The Ink Slinger – Review
For the Love of Fictional Worlds – Review

September 11th

A Bolt Out of the Book – Review
Book Briefs – Review

September 12th

Reading Stewardess – Review
The Momma Spot – Review
The Fictional Journal – Review
Stuck in the Stacks – Review

Instagram Tour

September 7th

@turnthepagetours
@yourlocalbookreader
@currant7_recommends

September 8th

@delightful.reading
@onemused

September 9th

@bookish.heidi
@booksenvogue
@tinybooknest

September 10th

@nerdysuperbree
@books_and_dice

September 11th

@avnireads
@thebrillianceofbookshelves

September 12th

@simplybeccamee
@tattooedtreereads

September 13th

@thedevourerofwords
@thenerdynook
@jypsylynn

September 14th

@a_bookish_dream
@abronxlatinareads
@hardcoverhaven

September 15th

@celiamcmahonreads
@cocoawithbooks
@lazyfeline89

September 16th

@brinnsbooks
@her.bookish.diaries
@whimsicalblessingsblog

September 17th

@belleeeey_
@theenchantedshelf
@popthebutterfly

What are your thoughts on The Bones of Ruin? Will you be adding it to your TBR?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Blog Tour: Before We Were Blue // Reasons Why You Should Read this book + Reactions

Hello everyone! Today is my stop on the Before We Were Blue Blog Tour hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours! A big thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours as well as the author and publisher for providing me with an early copy of this book!

Title: Before We Were Blue

Author: E.J. Schwartz

Publisher: North Star Editions

Release Date: September 14th, 2021

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Content Warnings: Eating disorder recovery

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

Get healthy on their own—or stay sick together?

At Recovery and Relief, a treatment center for girls with eating disorders, the first thing Shoshana Winnick does is attach herself to vibrant but troubled Rowan Parish. Shoshana—a cheerleader on a hit reality TV show—was admitted for starving herself to ensure her growth spurt didn’t ruin her infamous tumbling skills. Rowan, on the other hand, has known anorexia her entire life, thanks to her mother’s “chew and spit” guidance. Through the drudgery and drama of treatment life, Shoshana and Rowan develop a fierce intimacy—and for Rowan, a budding infatuation, that neither girl expects.

As “Gray Girls,” patients in the center’s Gray plan, Shoshana and Rowan are constantly under the nurses’ watchful eyes. They dream of being Blue, when they will enjoy more freedom and the knowledge that their days at the center are numbered. But going home means separating and returning to all the challenges they left behind. The closer Shoshana and Rowan become, the more they cling to each other—and their destructive patterns. Ultimately, the girls will have to choose: their recovery or their relationship.

One: The Girl’s Healing Journey

Throughout this book, We see Rowan and Shoshana’s journey as they go through the healing process. It’s beautifully shown portraying the Ups and downs of their healing and that it’s not that easy.

It takes time to get healthy, and through this book, we see how each of them takes their approach towards healing. Neither of them went through a fast healing process and didn’t just suddenly just better. The characters had to decide for themselves if they were willing to improve.

Two: The Brilliant Portrayal of Eating Disorder

Schwartz did a fantastic job of portraying eating disorders and the struggles it takes to get better. I have never had an eating disorder, so I can’t speak to the accuracy there, but after doing some research, this book follows many of the guidelines outlined by professionals.

The setting of this book mainly takes place eating disorder treatment center, and it was eye-opening to see what the treatment style was like for those suffering from eating disorders. We got to see the ups and downs of eating disorders all happening in the treatment center.

Three: The Writing Style

The writing style was very different from other books I have read in the past. Shoshana’s chapters weren’t anything new, but Rowan’s were fresh and original.

Rowan’s chapters were letters composed to Shoshana. From this type of writing, we got to see how Rowan viewed the world and how she viewed her relationship with Shoshana. We got to jump into Rowan’s head and get a sense of where her feelings came from. We saw her pains, struggles, and jealousy. I found it to be an original concept executed well.

Four: The Cheerleading and Reality TV Subplot

One of our main characters, Shoshana, is a cast member on a reality cheerleading competition show. Within the main story, we get interjects of the reality TV Subplot through. It added more depth to Shoshana’s character allowing us to see her life outside the treatment facility.

We were able to the harsh realities of being in the spotlight and what comes along. We were able to see that it’s a lot of pressure when you have a perfectionist coach, a massive amount of adoring fans, and having to be perfect every time you are on camera.

Five: The Asexual Representation

If you don’t know this, Asexual Representation in YA is very rare. It’s almost like a rare action card that is super hard to find, and you have to buy many packages till you find it.

Of course, this shouldn’t be the case because YA books should have all types of representation. Readers should be able to see themselves represented in books.

I’m not going to say which character because that would be a huge spoiler, but I love how we got to see the character research different sexualities within the asexual spectrum. Readers can connect to this because many YA readers, typically in the ranges of 12-18 are still exploring their sexualities and finding out who they are.

One: The eating disorder rep is so portrayed brilliantly and written with no glamour, which I admire!

Two: When Shoshana said Rowan was a morning person, I was like, “Me too, girl!” And all the ways Rowan tried to wake her up had me cracking up.

Three: I like how Rowan’s chapters are like writing to Shoshana, it’s a different format from what I usually read, and it gives insightful information into Rowan’s view of the world.

Four: Shoshana’s cheerleading coach seems terrifying, and I would not mess with her.

Five: Why did the nurse have blood on her hands?!? That’s a bit concerning…

Six: I’m curious to find out more about the blues and the differences between the grays.

Seven: Rowan and Shoshana have been through so much. I wish I could hug them and help them get better.

Eight: I hate how the Cheerleading reality people are already sucking her back into the show. Give her a break, please!

Nine: I loved how they compared the cheerleading show to Dance Moms. Honestly, It’s a pretty great comparison to make

Ten: That was such a good moment. I’m glad that we get to see her true colors

Eleven: The cheerleading coaches are so brutal. Like you don’t have to be that extreme, and the moves they do seem very dangerous

Twelve: We have an Asexual rep in this book, and I’m so glad! There is rarely any Asexual rep in YA books, so I’m glad to see it represented

Thirteen: That must have been so scary to witness, and I’m happy she’s okay now.

Fourteen: What does the crew expect when you give a camera to teenagers?!? Did they think they would answer the questions?!?

Fifteen: I started getting teary-eyed at the end. This rarely happens.

A quick notice: There are subtle anti-Semitic phrases in this book. The author is Jewish, and I am not, so I don’t feel it’s my place to say anything.

E.J. Schwartz is a writer who loves cozy sweaters, skincare, and a24 films. In high school, she was a competitive gymnast and briefly on an all-star cheer team that was eighth in the world. Now that she no longer flips on a daily basis, she writes a lot about people who do. 

After graduating from Susquehanna University with a B.A. in creative writing and a minor in publishing, E.J. went on to get her MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. There, she spent her time teaching, volunteering, roller skating, and learning how to grow plants. Her published work can be found in The New York Times, Barrelhouse, Threadcount, JMWW, Ghost Parachute, and Necessary Fiction, among others.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook

Be sure to check out the rest of the TBR and Beyond blog tour for Before We Were Blue! You can check the schedule down below! There are some amazing bloggers and bookstagrammers on here that you should check out!

Tour Schedule

August 30th
The Book Dutchesses – Promo Post
BookMeSomeTime – Review
Jessicareadstoomuch – Review & Top 5 Reasons to Read Before We Were Blue

August 31st
GivernyReads – Review & Top 5 Reasons to Read Before We Were Blue
Reading with Teresa – Review

September 1st
Nine Bookish Lives – Promo Post
Simply It’s Blue – Review & Mood Board

September 2nd
Rae’s Reading Lounge – Review & Favourite Quotes
The Written Journey – Review & Playlist

September 3rd
Inking & Thinking – Top 5 Reasons to Read Before We Were Blue & 15 Reactions While Reading Before We Were Blue
Rajiv’s Reviews – Review

September 4th
The Human Curveball – Review
The Lady with Books – Review & Playlist

September 5th
Stuck in Fiction – Promo Post
Stuck in the Stacks – Review
Books With Michelle – Review & Favourite Quotes

Instagram Schedule

August 30th
thebookdutchesses – Blogger’s Choice
bookmesometime – Blogger’s Choice
itsjessica.readstoomuch – Blogger’s Choice

August 31st
giverny.reads – Blogger’s Choice
readresa – Blogger’s Choice

September 1st
tbrandbeyond – Promo Post
jypsylynn – Review
ninebookishlives – Blogger’s Choice

September 2nd
chaibooksandthemoon – Book Look & Top 5 Reasons to Read Before We Were Blue
luna_reads_ – Journal Spread
thewrittenjourney_ – Blogger’s Choice

September 3rd
hoardingBooks.herdingCats – Review & Favourite Quotes
tinybooknest – Mood Board & Top 5 Reasons to Read Before We Were Blue
rajivsreviews – Blogger’s Choice

September 4th
wild.legends – Book Look & Top 5 Reasons to Read Before We Were Blue
theladywithbooks_ – Blogger’s Choice

September 5th
feliciareads11 – Blogger’s Choice
stuck.in.the.stacks – Blogger’s Choice
bookswithmichelle – Blogger’s Choice

What are your thoughts on Before We Were Blue? Will you be adding it to your TBR?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Somewhat of Mini Reviews // The Night Circus and Ace of Spades

Hey Guys!

Today I’m going to be doing somewhat of a mini review on The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Lyimide! I hope you all enjoy this review and feel free to discuss with me your thoughts in the comments! Thanks for checking out these reviews!!

Also the reason why I called this “somewhat of a mini review” because some of these reviews may be considered longer than the standard mini review!

The Night Circus

Rating: 2 out of 5.
From Goodreads

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.


True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Going into The Night Circus, I expected to be blown away. I was disappointed. From all the rave reviews on Goodreads, I wanted this book to knock my socks off. There were some positives, but there were many negatives that outweigh those few positives.

People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told that they see.

– The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

The writing is what pulls this book together. Not many books used the same writing style as The Night Circus, and it was a fantastic change. It uses flowery language to make the setting and characters even more unique and a work of art. I don’t know what makes Erin Morgenstern’s writing so different, and the magic pours off the page. I was engrossed in the world, feeling as if I was attending the circus. Each exhibit captured my interest and made me want to experience them for myself.

The story is extremely slow. It runs over a snail’s pace, and it takes forever to begin the actual competition. It’s told after many decades about the circus and all the people within it. If you’re a reader that enjoys face-paced books, then this isn’t the book for you.

I tend to enjoy fast-paced books, but I like a slow-paced book once in a while. But I only like slow-paced books if you have some sense of plot progression, character development, well-built-up climax, and a satisfying ending. But The Night Circus had none of this. Remove some scenes because they do not affect anything whatsoever. I understand the author is trying to describe the circus in detail and show all the magical things that behold it, but that gets boring. We could have more pages dedicated to character arcs and developing relationships between characters more.

The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones.

– The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

One of my pet peeves about books is time jumps. I try to avoid books with time jumps mainly for the reason that they can get very confusing. The Night Circus jumped from several years, and decades making it confusing to put the main timeline together. It made it especially hard to follow the story because I didn’t know if this scene or that scene came first.

Don’t get me started on the characters though. There were two main points on why the characters didn’t work for me.

1.Too Many Characters

One of the worst things that an author can do is have too many characters. If you have too many, some can be undeveloped, if you don’t spend enough time with them. It can also be confusing when trying to figure out what each character is doing or where in the story they are.

2. No Personalities

None of the characters have personalities. A bunch of stale crackers, if you asked me. I couldn’t connect with any of them. If I picked a random character, for example, Celia, I wouldn’t know where to begin to describe her. That’s the same case for all the characters in this book.

I have tried to let you go and I cannot. I cannot stop thinking of you. I cannot stop dreaming about you.

– The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

Do you hear that? It’s the insta love alert!

The Night Circus suffers from a severe case of Insta-Love. It has all the symptoms. It’s a thrown-together love story, quickly established for the sake of the undeveloped plot. But not only is there one insta love alert but two! Both occur within one chapter with their first conversation with one another.

If you read the synopsis early, you may be wondering, what you’re describing doesn’t match up that much. And you would be right! One of the main elements that the book advertises is “A Fierce Competition.” A complete and utter lie. There are no skills, action, or magic duels. The characters don’t even know what the competition even entails until later on. When revealed, it ended up being very trivial and underwhelming.

Overall, this overhyped book ended up being a major disappointment.

Ace of Spades

Rating: 5 out of 5.
From Goodreads

An incendiary and utterly compelling thriller with a shocking twist that delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism, from an exceptional new YA voice.

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…

I don’t often read thrillers and mysteries. I tend to stay in my lane of Fantasy as it is my favorite genre. But let me say that I’m so glad I went out of my comfort zone! Ace of Spades was pure perfection and captured my heartstrings. Usually, it takes me a few days to finish a book, but in mere hours I had completed it!

But I know dreams are dangerous; they give me too much false hope

– Ace of Spades, Faridah Abike – Lyimide

This is a dark, twisty thriller and isn’t for the faint of heart. Topics such as racism, homophobia, elitism, and white supremacy are present throughout the book but are woven into a short period while still allowing the terrifying mystery to breathe. It digs deeper and questions everything in their world. It was downright scary and compelling to want to learn more.

Each protagonist went through horrible incidents that threatened to ruin their present lives and their futures. These incidents showed that no matter their economic standing, they still suffered from the same racist acts. I appreciated how Faridah wasn’t afraid to shy away from injustices and heart-wrenchingly awful pain. You feel the need to help the characters wanting to help them escape the pain.

By using dual POV, it creates the opportunity to generate more suspense compared to one. By jumping from POVs, each chapter ends with a cliffhanger and how frustrating they are. It’s a great way to keep the reader engaged, never losing interest in the story.

Money can only get you so far; you need power and influence to go with it.

– Ace of Spades, Faridah Abike – Lyimide

The internal dialogue of Chiamaka and Devon helps the readers to connect and empathize with them. The characters have personal struggles, but they encounter many problems at school with the appearances of Aces in their Senior year. You can tell that they both struggle with being the only black kids in a white school, which has them working ten times harder than everyone else. They don’t always do the “right” thing but are even more relatable for it.

Both characters were equally likable.

At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about Chiamaka, but she grew on me. Chiamaka is a popular girl. She is a perfectionist wanting to be at the top of her class to get into Yale. When looking into her chapters, we see how she blocks out parts of herself to fit into the white society at Niveus and explore her sexuality.

Devon was the character I fell in love with, and his story broke my heart. He has had to claw his way to success out of his poor neighborhood to support his family. His mother works three jobs and wants to do well at Niveus to help out his family. He is quiet, never wanting to be the center of attention, and has a passion for music, wanting to get into Julliard. He was a cinnamon roll and felt the need to protect him.

After Aces’ attacks, it left me in shock, and I didn’t think that it could get worse. I kept trying to guess who is Aces and what their motivation was. All the twists and turns had me reeling and wanting to find out the truth. It was an intricately woven mystery filled with various pieces putting together like a puzzle.

I stop myself from apologizing-because what would I even be sorry for? Existing too loud?

– Ace of Spades, Faridah Abike – Lyimide

The representation is written very well and beautifully put on display. Chi’s exploration of her sexuality was handled well, and you could see how she questioned herself many times. Devon’s sexuality was great to see, and I enjoyed getting to see each of his relationships. You could see how both characters accepted their identity and weren’t afraid to let it show.

The only complaint that I have is that the ending felt rushed, and I was a bit underwhelmed. I excepted a confrontation of the antagonist, but it was wrapped up quickly. I appreciated how they used social media as a form of activism and a call for justice. Having the epilogue open-ended was a great move, and I could not stop theorizing what would happen next.

An incredible thrilling debut, Ace of Spades is an important book that will grab on the heartstrings. A chilling mystery with lovable characters, exploration of real-life topics, and a dark academic setting.

TW: Racism, Homophobia, elitism, death, car accident, mention of n word, physical violence, drugs, alcohol, consumption, stalking, white supremacy

Thanks for checking out these reviews!

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!

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

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!

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

City of Shattered Light // Arc Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hey guys!

Today I’m gonna be sharing my thoughts on City of Shattered Light by Claire Winn! 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

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.

When I was scrolling through NetGalley to request some newly released ARCs, this one caught my eye. The cover was so pretty, and so I clicked on it to read more. The Synopsis sounded super interesting, and it sounds like it would be promising. A sci-fi sapphic romance sounded right up my alley. I don’t usually read sci-fi, but I decided to give it a try. Let me tell you that this book did not disappoint, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The worldbuilding was well constructed, and it was clear that the author took the time to do her research. The world was very vibrant, full of technological advancements, and it creates colorful pictures in my mind while reading. Requiem was a lively planet that was ruthless, colorful, and full of many low lives. Whereas, Cortellion was an upper-class area filled with the rich and far more advanced technology. And lastly, earth. 

I could picture what each planet looked like, and Winn’s writing helps to put more details into my pictures. When going from each planet, it was like a new song would play. Requiem would be like hard rock with some dubstep, Cortellion would be like classical music with various instruments coming in and out, and earth would be a wide variety of music. 

The locations of where scenes would occur are well thought out! From hangars, run-down streets, clubs, and many more! Having all these different locations brought more depth to the world allowed it more fleshed out and like a real place where someone could live.

The pacing of this book was excellent, and there was never a moment where I was bored. The plot never slowed down, but rather it just kept going and going. It flowed smoothly, and there were never any bumps in the road. The action never stopped and kept going. The plot was filled with twists and betrayals that I would have never expected in a million years. The story was original, unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and was full of intricate little details. Everything was connected flawlessly, and it wasn’t just a heist-type story like Six of Crows, but rather, it has other side stories about the characters and the world. 

I’m going to use a comparison to describe the main characters and side characters. So you know how when your painting something, you have to use multiple layers. And if you don’t use more than one coat, then it comes in light and is not fully covered. The protagonists were layered with many coats, but the side characters only had one layer falling flat. 

Riven is a formidable opponent that takes nothing from nobody and can come off as cold sometimes but is extremely loyal to those she loves. There were many times where I wish she would open up, and those little moments when she did made me so happy. She was reckless, leaving everything on the line, but she has good intentions for it, which are to protect her family. Honestly, she is such a unique character, and I loved reading her perspective.

In Requiem, Asa may not seem that much of a threat, but she truly is. Even though she may not seem that much of a physical threat, she can beat anyone in the mental game. At the beginning of the book, Asa is wide-eyed, not knowing what the world is truly like, but wants to live up to her father. But as the book progresses, Asa no longer wants to appease her father and does what she wants to. She wants to live her own life and make decisions for herself. Her perspective was far more interesting to me than Riven’s, and I got so excited whenever I got to read her part. 

You may be wondering why this book isn’t five stars? The side characters were not developed enough and didn’t have enough layers to them. I would have loved to learn more about Ty, Samir, and Diego. They were likable characters, but without that development, they fell flat. I would have liked more scenes to give them more personality or give them some backstories to explore.

I loved the element of romance in this book, and I didn’t mind the love triangle. I kind of enjoyed it, which is surprising, to say the least. The love triangle didn’t play that much into the plot until the last third. I felt like Ty and Asa had more connections compared to Riven and Asa. Ty and Asa had more romantic scenes and were into each other more. Even though the main romance is supposed to be Riven and Asa, the other relationship worked better.

Overall, this was a fast-paced read with lots of action set in a dangerous vibrant world with an enjoyable main character but lacked when it came to the side characters.

TW: strong language, gun violence, death, blood, mild gore, emotional abuse/manipulation, mild body horror (cybernetics), references to suicide, terminal illness, drug and alcohol references.

Thank you to NetGallery for providing me an ARC of City of Shattered Light in exchange for an honest review!