Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (5/3/22) – Beyond the Ruby Veil

Happy Tuesday!

Beyond the Ruby Veil wasn’t a high priority for me, but I figured I would check it out and give it a chance despite the bad-to-mediocre reviews. However, when I read it, I found the result to be lukewarm and underdeveloped—all the potential in the world without the execution to pull it through.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Beyond the Ruby Veil – Mara Fitzgerald

In Occhia, all of the water comes from a creature called the watercrea; in order for the city to be hydrated, it demands sacrifices in the form of the townspeople who show an omen mark on their skin. For centuries, all of the citizens of Occhia have obeyed. But Emmanuela Ragno has hid her omen for years, evading death until now. When her omen is exposed at her arranged wedding ceremony, she kills the watercrea, effectively cutting off Occhia’s entire water supply.

To return water to Occhia, Emmanuela must venture into a secretive neighboring kingdom that seems to have everything that Occhia doesn’t have. But behind the veneer of luxury is something far more sinister, and Emmanuela will do whatever it takes to take back her city’s water.

TW/CW: blood, violence, murder, torture, body horror

Describing a book with the words “queer,” “dark,” and “fantasy” are always enticing. Do I love queer books? I’m bisexual, of course I do! Do I love dark books? Yes indeed. Do I like fantasy books? Also yes. And yet, a good half of the books described as “queer, dark fantasy” end up being disappointing for me (also see: Ruinsong, Beyond the Black Door…maybe the problem is books with “Beyond” in the title?). I’m sad to say that the case was the same for Beyond the Ruby Veil.

If I had to describe Beyond the Ruby Veil in one word, it would be underdeveloped. I’ll give Fitzgerald one thing—the premise is still intriguing. Suffice to say, there isn’t a whole lot else to it. The bones of a story were there: a good start on worldbuilding, history, and a general direction for the plot. However, the muscle of the book was completely missing. It felt like a first draft, one where Fitzgerald hadn’t fully fleshed out the book and instead published the start of a story.

At least the one part of the book that I wasn’t supposed to like worked—Emmanuela. One of the major selling points of Beyond the Ruby Veil that I’ve seen was of her as an unlikeable anthero; unlike most of the book, I did like this part. Emmanuela was appropriately headstrong, rash, and impulsive, and those traits made for a character that wasn’t likable as a person but fun to follow as a character.

However, she wasn’t enough to carry the rest of the plot, and the few characters that showed up didn’t pick up her slack in the slightest. Ale wasn’t much more than a stereotypically clumsy sidekick, and he served almost no purpose whatsoever. Verene was one of the only other characters that mattered in the story, and she was only introduced at about the halfway mark; even then, her only personality trait was that she was alluringly secretive. As fun as Emmanuela was, Fitzgerald doesn’t give much to work with as a reader, making for a story that felt filled with holes.

The plot itself didn’t hold much water (no pun intended) either. After the botched wedding ceremony and the killing of the watercrea, it was mostly just Emmanuela and Ale bumbling around a foreign kingdom and trying to find clues. Not only did Emmanuela seem to get away with a lot more than was realistic (there wasn’t any context on how she enters this completely foreign kingdom and is immediately able to attempt and pull off the accent AND subsequently speak to the palace?? And get an audience with The Heart?? In a relatively short amount of time?? HUH??), but after the halfway mark, there wasn’t a whole lot of plot to speak of. There’s the beginning of…well, I won’t quite call it romance since there wasn’t much other than heavily implied context to hint at it instead of, y’know, actual chemistry, but in the midst of a book that already felt like a first draft, it felt even more like an afterthought than everything else did. And that’s saying something. Like I said: with a lot of polishing, this could’ve been a fascinating book, but it didn’t have much to sustain it—even in a book that’s less than 300 pages long.

All in all, a book with an ambitious premise that ultimately suffered from a lack of fleshing-out in all departments. 2 stars.

Beyond the Ruby Veil is Mara Fitzgerald’s first novel, and it is the first book in the Beyond the Ruby Veil series. This book is succeeded by Into the Midnight Void.

Today’s song:

first heard this in 6th grade, forgot about it for years, and just remembered it last week…good stuff

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Books

YA Reads for Asexual Awareness Week

Hi again, bibliophiles!

I’m so glad that we have a snow day…I was trying to find a good day to fit this post in, and now we have the perfect opportunity!

As some of you know, this week, October 25-31, is Asexual Awareness Week, or Ace Week for short! The whole week is meant to celebrate everyone on the asexual spectrum (asexual, aromantic, demisexual, and more) and spread awareness about the community. All too often, this community is unjustly discriminated against, even in LGBTQ+ spaces, which never fails to break my heart. Well, if I haven’t made myself clear enough, I’ll just go out here and say that everybody on the asexual spectrum is so loved, so valid, and so beautiful!

For more information about all this, check out the official website for Ace Week!

Positive Love GIF - Positive Love Asexual - Discover & Share GIFs

So for the occasion, I decided to compile a list of YA books with characters all over the asexual spectrum–among them on this list are characters who are asexual, demisexual, aromantic, and more. Thing is, SHAME ON ME FOR NOT READING ENOUGH ASPEC LITERATURE. I try my best to, and I found some examples, but not enough ones that I’ve actually read to make a substantial list. So, the first half of this post is ace books that I’ve read, and the other half is ace books that are on my TBR.

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR ASEXUAL AWARENESS WEEK

BOOKS THAT I’VE READ:

The Sound of Stars, Alechia Dow

Amazon.com: The Sound of Stars (9781335911551): Dow, Alechia: Books

GENRE: Science fiction, dystopia, romance

REPRESENTATION: Ellie (protagonist) is demisexual and biromantic, in a straight-passing relationship

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Sound of Stars is one of my favorite reads of this year–POC/LGBTQ+ representation, lots of references to YA literature and music, and fighting against the patriarchy!

Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger

Amazon.com: Elatsoe eBook: Little Badger, Darcie, Cai, Rovina: Kindle Store

GENRES: Fantasy, mystery, paranormal

REPRESENTATION: Elatsoe (protagonist) is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m so lucky to have gotten an eARC of this one over the summer. Besides having great asexual representation, the author is Lipan Apache, and so is Elatsoe! A wonderful paranormal murder mystery with lots of lovely ghost critters.

Sawkill Girls, Claire Legrand

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

GENRES: Horror, paranormal, fantasy

REPRESENTATION: Zoey (one of three protagonists with alternating POVs) is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Another five-star read of mine this year. There’s no shortage of great LGBTQ+ representation from this one; beyond Zoey’s asexuality, and the other two protagonists (Val and Marion) end up being in a wlw relationship.

Tarnished Are the Stars, Rosiee Thor

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

GENRES: Science fiction, fantasy, romance

REPRESENTATION: Nathaniel (one of two protagonists with alternating POVs) is aromantic/asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Another lovely sci-fi with a bluish purple color scheme on the cover! There’s a beautiful scene where Nathaniel discovers his identity, and it’s so tenderly beautiful. Plus, there’s a wlw relationship between the other protagonist (Anna) and another secondary character as well!

Radio Silence, Alice Oseman

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction

REPRESENTATION: Aled (not the main character, but plays a central part in the story) is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I just finished this one up on Sunday night. It’s a rough ride, to be sure, but it’s a powerful novel.

And look at this adorable character art by the author, Alice Oseman!

Alice Oseman on Twitter: "with minutes to spare, here's a final Pride Month  drawing - the Radio Silence five at Pride together! Daniel wasn't sure  whether he wanted to go because he

Dare Mighty Things, Heather Kaczynski

Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski – quirkyandpeculiar

GENRES: Science fiction

REPRESENTATION: Cassandra, the protagonist, is asexual

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25

A tense, thrilling and diverse sci-fi that will have you on the edge of your seat!

BOOKS ON MY TBR:

Loveless, Alice Oseman

Loveless by Alice Oseman

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction

REPRESENTATION: Georgia, the protagonist, is aromantic/asexual

(Sidenote: why does “aromantic” keep autocorrecting to either “romantic” or “aromatic?” The audacity…)

I’ve had most of Oseman’s novels on my TBR for quite a while (Radio Silence was my first exposure), and this sounds like a lovely aro-ace coming of age story!

Beyond the Black Door, A.M. Strickland

Amazon.com: Beyond the Black Door (9781250198747): Strickland, A.M.: Books

GENRES: High fantasy, romance

REPRESENTATION: Kamai, the protagonist, is biromantic/asexual

I have this one on hold at the library, and it should be coming soon…🤞

Royal Rescue, A. Alex Logan

Royal Rescue by A. Alex Logan

GENRES: High fantasy, romance

REPRESENTATION: Gerald (protagonist) is aromantic/asexual

I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, and it sounds like a great LGBTQ+ fantasy! And while I’m on the subject of this book, I’ll direct you to Alex Logan’s amazing blog, Almost, Almost, where they review LGBTQ+ books of all kinds!

Summer Bird Blue, Akemi Dawn Bowman

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction

REPRESENTATION: Rumi (protagonist) is aromantic/asexual

I read one of Bowman’s other novels, Starfish, a few years back and I remember it being powerful, so I hope that this one might be even better!

Daughter of the Burning City, Amanda Foody

Amazon.com: Daughter of the Burning City (9780373212439): Foody, Amanda:  Books

GENRES: High fantasy, mystery

REPRESENTATION: Luca (secondary character who is supposed to play a major role) is demiromantic/asexual

I put this on my TBR over the summer and completely forgot about it, so hopefully I can read it soon…

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these novels? What are your thoughts? Any other books with ace rep that you recommend?

Overwatch Pride Flag Icon Requests 🏳️‍🌈 | Wiki | Overwatch Amino

Oh, and one more thing: I just found out a few hours ago that today is also Intersex Awareness Day! I hardly see any intersex rep in literature, so if any of you have good intersex book recs, don’t hesitate to tell me about them in the comments!

Intersex Pride Heart Gif - Album on Imgur

Since I’ve already posted once today, check out today’s Goodreads Monday for today’s song.

That’s it for these ace week recommendations! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!