Happy Saturday, bibliophiles, and more importantly, HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🎆
This tag’s been *patiently* waiting in a little sticky note on my computer since the beginning of quarantine, so I figured that it would be good to start the year off with a cute book tag. I watched most of Schitt’s Creek in 2019, but I finished up the last season at the very beginning of quarantine, and it’s so consistently funny and feel-good!
MOIRA ROSE: An over-the-top character you can’t help but love
Jax from Heart of Iron steals the show in both books in the duology–no shortage of witty quips and HEAPS of sass. He’s the best.
DAVID ROSE:A book that represents your aesthetic
Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeamperfectly fits the bill for this prompt–a quiet, atmospheric sort of space opera with an interstellar romance woven in.
ALEXIS ROSE:Best character growth/arc
I recently finished Among the Beasts and Briars (which was PHENOMENAL, by the way), and I loved Fox’s growth throughout the book. I guess being accidentally transformed into a human against one’s will just does that to the brain.
STEVIE BUDD:A book with a favorite ride or die friendship/group
I love all of the chaotic space misfits in Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine’s Honors trilogy, especially in book 3, Honor Lost. They’re all just so distinct in personality and bounce off each other so well, and they’re all just so sweet together.
TED MULLENS:Favorite book with an animal on the cover
Definitely not my favorite book, per se, but The Storm Crowhas quite a few animals on the cover.
COMMUNITY SERVICE: A book you read for school/buddy read/readathon challenge you had low expectations for but ended up being amazing
I read All Out of Prettyfor my school’s book club a few years ago, and it blew me away! Difficult to read, for sure, but raw and powerful. I’d highly recommend it.
“EWW, DAVID!”: A book you DNF’d because the content was too much for you
I wouldn’t say that Infinity Sonwas “too much” for me, per se, but it was just a steaming mess. I just couldn’t put up with it after about the 25% mark or so.
“LOVE THAT JOURNEY FOR ME”: Best series ender/overall series progression
TRUEL1F3was my absolute favorite of the Lifelike trilogy, and such an explosive end to a trilogy like no other.
“EAT GLASS”: An author/series you broke up with
I got through the first four books in the Shatter Meseries (definitely hit-or-miss, but book four was great), but then Defy Mecame along with all these flat-out RIDICULOUS twists that made no sense at all, so I gave up.
“VERY UNINTERESTED IN THAT OPINON”: A popular opinion that you disagree with
Alright, let me just say it out front: I did NOT enjoy The Cruel Prince.The worldbuilding was great and I liked the little illustrations, but none of the characters were likable. At all. And Jude and Cardan’s relationship is all kinds of toxic. (HOW AND WHY DO SO MANY PEOPLE LIKE HIM?)
I TAG ANYONE WHO WANTS TO PARTICIPATE! And if you haven’t watched Schitt’s Creek yet, I highly recommend it!
That’s it for this book tag! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles, and welcome to the last Book Review Tuesday of the year!
I figured this book would be a good note to end a year of reviews on, judging from how much hype it’s gotten this year. I put it on hold a few months back (sometime in the summer, I think?) and it just came into the library a few weeks ago. It’s got a super high average rating on Goodreads (4.41 at present) and no shortage of glowing reviews, but although it didn’t live up to all the hype for me, it was still a cute story of ghosts and #OwnVoices queer joy.
Yadriel’s conservative family doesn’t accept him as a trans boy, but he remains determined to prove himself to them–by any means possible. His means? Summoning the spirit of Miguel, his murdered cousin. Problem is, Miguel isn’t the spirit he summons–by accident, he summons Julian Diaz, his high school’s troublemaker. Julian joins forces with Yadriel and his best friend Maritza to find out how he died–but they might uncover something more sinister in the process.
This one was easily one of the most hyped YA books of this year, and I was definitely excited for it, even if I tried not to get my expectations too high. I wouldn’t say it was a disappointment for me, but it didn’t live up to the mountain of hype for me. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Let’s start off with the good stuff. First off, the representation! I loved seeing the variety of Latinx representation and culture (and I was especially excited to see that Julian was Colombian-American!), as well as the diversity of gender and sexuality, especially with Yadriel. For some reason, I see hardly any trans boys in YA literature, but I love that we have this fantastic #OwnVoices rep in Cemetery Boys!
And beyond that, this novel managed to be appropriately spooky and lighthearted at the same time. There was definitely a kind of 80’s paranormal vibe to it, which I really enjoyed. I loved the intricacies of the brujx culture, as well as all of the individual laws of what a ghost can/cannot do. It’s always interesting to see each author’s different takes on the limits of ghosts and spirits. Never a dull moment.
However, Cemetery Boys wasn’t without its flaws. My main problem was the writing itself–it seemed to lean too much on telling as opposed to showing, and it felt a bit too bare-bones for my taste. Maybe it’s just me. And even though I love the representation, Yadriel wasn’t the most likable of protagonists, either–he came across as rather entitled and whiny, for me. A bit self-centered.
Also, I feel like there was an opportunity to discuss some of the sexism in Yadriel’s conservative family; I get that the point of the whole “stay behind with the women” scene was to highlight how much of a transphobic jerk Yadriel’s dad was, but especially seeing that Maritza has a significant role in the book, I feel like that could have been addressed instead of ignored completely. Thomas did a great job of highlighting aspects of trans life and tackling transphobia, but there was definitely a missed opportunity to challenge some of the present sexism.
Most of my other issues were more nit-picky though; Yadriel’s dad changed his mind about Yadriel a *bit* too quickly for realism, but honestly? It’s what we need. And you know why? Because queer people need happy endings too. (@ Netflix please tell me you hear me) And Cemetery Boys was the perfect kind of feel-good story of trans joy.
All in all, a feel-good, #OwnVoices tale that struggled in the writing and protagonist department, but made up for some of it with LGBTQ+/Latinx representation and a lighthearted paranormal vibe. 3.5 stars!
Cemetery Boys is a standalone (and Thomas’ debut), but they are also the author of the forthcoming retelling Lost the Never Woods, slated to arrive in March 2021.
That’s it for the last Book Review Tuesday of the year! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
IN THE KINGDOM OF AXARIA, a darkness rises. Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes. Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm. Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down.
Not one has ever returned.
When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields — though has yet to fully understand — Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed.
To kill it.
But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her companions begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known.
That is, of course… if the demon doesn’t get to them first.
So why do I want to read this?
Oooh, I should see if this is available at the library…
There’s two aspects that are really jumping out at me here. First off, I do love a good “there’s something monstrous lurking in the shadows, and everyone who has tried to see it hasn’t come back” kind of plot. Sure, it’s been done before, but it’s one of those tropes in both sci-fi and fantasy that I’m absolutely a sucker for. I mean, I’m using it in the WIP I was working on for NaNoWriMo this year…
Second, I LOVE the twist with the assassination plot buried within the search for the demon! That’s a really inventive way to subvert the trope, and I’m SUPER EXCITED to see how Ma executes it. It’s shelved as LGBTQ+ on Goodreads, too, but I can’t seem to find the specific rep. Either way, this sounds like a fantastic fantasy!
That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles, and happy December! I’m so glad that 2020’s almost over…and it definitely feels like December where I am! There’s been snow falling for a good hour or so, and it looks fittingly wintry outside my window.
And I won this year’s NaNoWriMo yesterday! 35,051 of my goal of 35,000! [pats self on the back]
Well, now then, I guess I should get to the review now, right?
This one is another 2020 release (August 18), and I forget exactly how it came on my radar, but I decided to put it on hold because I wanted a nice feminist book in my life. And…well, the good intentions were all there and the representation’s great, but much of the book ended up being a mess, unfortunately.
Raina and Millie have rarely spoken to each other, but they both have one thing in common–a promising senior year that got derailed. For Raina, it’s her boyfriend not only dumping her, but cheating on her, and being ousted as co-president of the Drama Club. For Millie, it’s her being voted out of the all-boys Mock Trial team, and her controlling father growing worse by the day.
After she writes to a romance advice columnist, Raina finds new solace in a knitting circle who specializes in political activism, and soon, she, Millie, and four other girls united to dismantle the patriarchy of their school, piece by piece.
My expectations were average for Six Angry Girls, what with being in the midst of a reading slump that I’ve just now managed to emerge from, but I’m sad to say that this novel only stretched the slump out longer.
Let’s start with what I liked, because I should be at least a little positive here. And there were a few things I did like about this book. The cast of Six Angry Girls is a lot more diverse than most contemporary feminist YA I’ve come across–in the main cast of six, we have several sapphic characters (including Millie), a sapphic asexual character, two POC characters, and a trans character who uses both she/her and they/them pronouns. So props to Kisner for including lots of authentic and casual representation! (Plus, I don’t think I’ve seen any characters–if any at all–who use multiple pronouns, like Izzy does, so that’s always a win!) Kisner also handled the subject of Millie’s abusive father well; those parts were certainly hard to read, but they were handled with aplomb and felt (disturbingly) authentic.
Unfortunately, it all went downhill from here…
First off, let’s talk about the writing. My main issue is that none of the teenagers read like authentic teenagers, and it mainly came down to the dialogue. Other than “I’m” and “I’ve,” there were almost no contractions to be found. Anywhere. As a result, the dialogue felt clunky and inauthentic. Additionally, many of the plot points that were built up for most of the books were rushed, and events that had been alluded to for a good chunk of the book were resolved in two pages or left, so I often found myself lost and thinking “wait, that already happened? That quickly?”
There’s also the issue of a main cast of six. Normally, I’m all for casts of this size–IF every single character is used equally. Millie and Raina were the only characters who narrated, but other than Grace, most of the characters were just…there. Izzy, Veronica, and Nikita didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose, other than diversity and positions in the mock trials. We had zero character development for any of them, and we have only the faintest idea of their personalities. Grace has slightly more of a purpose, at least, but I think that’s in part because she was in a relationship with Millie by the 75% mark.
But my main criticism of Six Angry Girls comes down to the depiction of feminism. I LOVE how Kisner tried to portray all of the feminism, patriarchy-smashing, and nonviolent protesting, but it all seemed…somewhat shallow. There were a variety of issues covered (sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.), but neither of them were discussed beyond the surface level, giving it an almost shallow appearance. The mock trial and knitting plots felt loosely tied together, and almost entirely unrelated, and I found myself wondering why the two plots existed. Raina’s and Millie’s stories could have frankly worked as two separate books, and that would have made for a lot less confusion.
And the motives behind most everything seemed to be revenge, which I really didn’t like as it related to feminism. For me, feminism is about seeing injustices and inequality within a community, and fighting back against it. Sure, some of it is about getting back at the oppressor, but ultimately, it’s about creating an equal playing field. In Six Angry Girls, most of the motivations behind all of the plot points were centered around revenge–against Brandon (Raina’s cheating ex), against the Drama Club, and against the Mock Trial team. I’m sure Kisner’s intentions were good, but having the feminist aspects of the book being portrayed as more of a revenge plot than anything else didn’t sit well with me.
All in all, a light and diverse feminist YA that suffered from stilted dialogue, characters without purposes, and a depiction of feminism that was full of holes. 2.5 stars.
Six Angry Girls is a standalone, but Adrienne Kisner is also the author of two other novels, Dear Rachel Maddow and The Confusion of Laurel Graham.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
A thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war with international bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders at the helm in her YA debut—think Star Wars meets Doctor Who, and buckle your seatbelts
Tina has always known her destiny is outside the norm—after all, she is the human clone of the most brilliant alien commander in all the galaxies (even if the rest of the world is still deciding whether aliens exist). But she is tired of waiting for her life to begin.
And then it does—and maybe Tina should have been more prepared. At least she has a crew around her that she can trust—and her best friend at her side. Now, they just have to save the world.
So why do I want to read this?
When I first found out about Victories, it didn’t have a cover…and now that it’s out, lemme just say…ISN’T IT THE DICTIONARY DEFINITION OF GORGEOUS? The faint star details on the sidelines, the beautiful shade of purple in the hair and the eyes, the art style, the…everything…
But beyond that, this sounds like an amazing premise! I’m always searching for quality YA sci-fi and space opera, and this looks like it might just satisfy. I love the concept of Tina being the clone of an infamous alien warlord, and that could certainly open up tons of interesting possibilities as far as the plot goes. (I’m just hoping said aliens aren’t…y’know, unnaturally attractive humans with unconventional eye colors. Just…stop…) And it’s shelved as LGBTQ+ on Goodreads, so that’s always a plus!
Chances are, this is going to be my first experience of Charlie Jane Anders’ writing, and I think this is her YA debut, too. (I also have The City in the Middle of the Night on my TBR). I always see her on the list of authors/artists/creators who almost always comes to the Denver Pop Culture Con (formerly Denver Comic Con), which is the closest thing I have to a local Comic Con, so it’d be cool if I enjoyed her books AND got to meet her in the next few years! Fingers crossed…I might just have to preorder this one sometime soon.
Victories Greater than Death comes out in April 2021, so I’ll see you all then…
That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I haven’t done a TBR clean-out session since August, so now that I have some extra time on my hands, I figured that I’d clear off the cobwebs. I picked one of the older shelves on my TBR (somehow, it’s from early 2019, and it’s 16/72 shelves), so we’ll see how it all goes down…
1. Go to your Goodreads To-Read shelf
2. Order on ascending date added.
3. Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by many rules, but chief among them is this: they do not allow men on board.
That’s a rule that quartermaster Grace Porter is willing to break when a shipwrecked young nobleman offers her information of an omniscient map, stolen from his warship by an enemy vessel. Until now, the map was only the stuff of legend… but with its help, Grace may finally be able to hunt down the Mordgris, the sea monsters who stole her mother away from her.
Unfortunately, some members of her crew have other plans…
To find the map and face the Mordgris, Grace will have to confront her past, put the Luck between warring nations, and uncover treachery aboard the ship. And ultimately, her revenge and the destruction of the Mordgris will come at a hefty price: the betrayal of her crew.
Grace promised them they wouldn’t regret this.
She just isn’t sure that she won’t.
Hmm…I like most of the premise (because who would say no to an all-girl crew of pirates?), but I’m smelling an unfortunate romantic subplot between Grace and this…[ahem] “shipwrecked young nobleman…” Not that I’m against romantic subplots, per se, but this one seems shoehorned in to appease the teen audience.
The massive labyrinth was built to protect Zadie Kalver’s isolated desert town. Unfortunately, living in the maze’s shadow makes her feel anything but safe. Even without its enchanted deathtraps and illusions, a mysterious killer named Dex lurks in its corridors, terrorizing anyone in his path.
But when Zadie’s best friend vanishes into the labyrinth-and everyone mysteriously forgets he exists- completing the maze becomes her only hope of saving him. In desperation, Zadie bribes the only person who knows the safe path through-Dex-into forming a tenuous alliance.
Navigating a deadly garden, a lethal blood-filled hourglass, and other traps-with an untrustworthy murderer for her guide-Zadie’s one wrong step from certain death. But with time running out before her friend (and secret crush) is lost forever, Zadie must reach the exit and find him. If Dex and the labyrinth don’t kill her first.
Well, I sort of like the labyrinth aspect, but other than that, there isn’t much about this one that seems different from a good 50% of the dystopian YA that’s emerged from the last decade…
Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population — except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.
But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.
Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences.
Wait…Silk Road? [VERY RECENT AP WORLD FLASHBACKS INTENSIFY]
Most of the time, I don’t readily reach for historical fiction, but The Candle in the Flame sounds like a fascinating blend of that and fantasy! Plus, that cover is gorgeous…
When genderqueer fourteen-year-old Z Chilworth wakes from death after a car crash that killed their parents and sisters, they have to adjust quickly to their new status as a zombie. Always a talented witch, Z can now barely perform magic and is rapidly decaying. Faced with rejection from their remaining family members and old friends, Z moves in with Mrs. Dunnigan, an elderly witch, and befriends Aysel, a loud would-be-goth classmate who is, like Z, a loner. As Z struggles to find a way to repair the broken magical seal holding their body together, Aysel fears that her classmates will discover her status as an unregistered werewolf. When a local psychiatrist is murdered in an apparent werewolf attack, the town of Salem, Oregon, becomes even more hostile to monsters, and Z and Aysel are driven together in an attempt to survive a place where most people wish that neither of them existed.
Ooh…zombies, witches, AND genderqueer representation? SIGN ME UP!
In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.
Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.
But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.
Okay, the main reason I put this one on my TBR was because of how good The Disasters was. But even with that aside, I LOVE the sound of this one–magical heists featuring a bunch of chaotic misfits? OF COURSE I want to read it! It has a lowish rating on Goodreads at the moment (3.55), but that’s not stopping me. Plus, that cover…
Lost to time, Tuck Morgan and his crew have slept in stasis aboard the USS John Muir for centuries. Their ship harbors a chunk of Earth, which unbeknownst to them, is the last hope for the failing human race.
Laura Cruz is a shipraider searching the galaxy for the history that was scattered to the stars. Once her family locates the John Muir and its precious cargo, they are certain human civilization is saved.
When Tuck’s and Laura’s worlds collide―literally―the two teens must outwit their enemies, evade brutal monsters that kill with sound, and work together to save the John Muir . . . and the whole human race.
Aside from the fact that they basically stole the first part of the tagline from Alien, I’m totally on board with this kind of sci-fi thriller!
In Saskia’s world, bones are the source of all power. They tell the future, reveal the past, and expose secrets in the present. Each village has a designated seer who performs readings for the townsfolk, and in Midwood, the Bone Charmer is Saskia’s mother.
On the day of her kenning—a special bone reading that determines the apprenticeships of all seventeen-year-olds—Saskia’s worst fears come true. She receives an assignment to train as a Bone Charmer, like her mother, and even worse, a match-making reading that pairs her with Bram—a boy who has suspicious tattoos that hint of violence.
Saskia knows her mother saw multiple paths for her, yet chose one she knew Saskia wouldn’t want. Their argument leads to a fracture in one of the bones. Broken bones are always bad luck, but this particular set of bones have been infused with extra magic, and so the break has devastating consequences—Saskia’s future has split as well. Now she will live her two potential paths simultaneously. Only one future can survive. And Saskia’s life is in danger in both.
In the abstract, deriving magic from bones sounds like an inventive idea–and if well-executed, it’s a lot of fun. But it’s been done several times before, and I can’t seem to find where The Bone Charmer has its original twists on it…
Ashton Hamid knows everything about gaming. His D&D battles are epic; the video game tournaments he organizes, multi-day tests of endurance with players around the world. Real life, however, is a different matter. So when he and his best friend—outspoken “A” student (and social outcast) Vale Shumway—head out on a camping trip to Waterton Lakes National Park with their Phys. Ed. class, Ash figures it’ll be two days of bug bites, bad food, and inside jokes.
Instead, the two friends find themselves in a fight for survival.
An unexpected October snowstorm separates Ash and Vale from the rest of their class. By the time the teens realize they’ve missed the trail, they have wandered deep into the Canadian Rockies. Lost in the wilderness and hunted by deadly predators, their only hope is to work together. But with Vale’s limited supplies and Ash’s inexperience, can the best friends stay alive long enough to find their way back to civilization?
I think the only reason I picked this one up was because of the aro-ace rep (Vale). I don’t read much survival fiction, but I feel like the characters would get on my nerves too. Meh.
Cottonwood Hollow, Kansas, is a strange place. For the past century, every girl has been born with a special talent, like the ability to Fix any object, Heal any wound, or Find what is missing.
Best friends Rome, Lux, and Mercy all have similar talents, but to them, their abilities often feel like a curse. Rome may be able to Fix anything she touches, but that won’t help her mom pay rent or make it any easier to confide in Lux and Mercy about what’s going on at home. And Rome isn’t the only one. Lux has been hiding bigger, more dangerous secrets.
As Rome struggles to keep her friendships close, she discovers the truth about life in Cottonwood Hollow—that friends are stronger than curses, that trust is worth the risk, and sometimes, what you’ve been looking for has been under your feet the whole time.
Well…I like the cover, but I don’t think the magical realism part of this is quite strong enough…it’s just not compelling to me anymore.
VERDICT: LET GO
Cons? Same results as last time. Pros? Last time was my most successful TBR clean-out yet! I was able to weed out a lot of books, and I found some that I kept that I need to check out at the library soon. Good job, self!
Why yes, I HAVE been thinking about the new episode of Fargo all week, why do you ask?
That’s it for this Down the TBR Hole! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Ever since I read and adored On a Sunbeam back in August, I’ve had all the Tillie Walden I can get my hands on put on my holds or for later shelf at the library. I figured I needed some more Walden in my life for Thanksgiving Break, so I checked this one out. Even though it only clocks in at about 68 pages, I love this part is filled with so much raw emotion and heart.
Two girls, unnamed in a rural town, realize that they have a shared love of music. They gravitate towards each other, and slowly but surely, their friendship develops into something more. But when their relationship begins to crack, they drift apart–but it may be the thing that brought them together that might mend their relationship once more.
Now that I’ve read four of Walden’s graphic novels, I can say with certainty that there hasn’t been a single miss in her catalogue so far. I love this part is no exception–it’s not every day that so much authentic love and emotion can fit perfectly in the span of only 68 pages.
Walden’s art is always stunning; normally, I usually don’t gravitate towards styles that are more simplistic, but she proves time and again that facial detail isn’t always necessary to convey a wide range of emotion. Her use of color was what stood out to me most in I love this part. Most of the graphic novel is rendered in black and white, but splashed with purple. What stood out about it, though, was that the purple was almost symbolic; in the times that the girls were in love, the purple was present, and when they fell out of love, it disappeared, fading to black and white. But even in the black and white panels, there were still hints of purple, if you looked closely–hinting their love never truly died.
Beyond that, I love this part maps out every aspect of falling in love–the joy, the fear, the heartbreak, the yearning. It’s the kind of book that makes you mourn relationships you’ve never even had, but in the best way possible. It’s raw, it’s honest, and it’s vulnerable, but it also brims with hope and love. And at the center of it all, to have a multiracial, sapphic couple in the starring roles? True beauty.
My only complaint? It was too short.
All in all, a triumphant and vulnerable tale of queer joy, love, and heartbreak that resonated on levels that I didn’t even know were possible. Five stars!
I love this part is a standalone, but Tillie Walden has several other graphic novels out, including On a Sunbeam, Are You Listening?, A City Inside, The End of Summer, and her graphic memoir, Spinning.
Happy Halloween, bibliophiles! 🎃 Since 2020 derailed my original halloween plans (I was going to be Rogue from X-Men, but I’ll probably save that for next year), I just slapped on some dark eyeshadow and drew bats on my face with eyeliner, because why not. We’re carving pumpkins later (I’m gonna try and do the Fargo logo, I’m probably gonna screw it up but it’ll still be fun), and we’re watching The Nightmare Before Christmas and Beetlejuice later!
It’s time for another Top 5 Saturday! This was originally started by Devouring Books, and it sounded like such a fun post to take part in. Today’s topic is vampire books, just in time for Halloween! I haven’t read much vampire literature (and let it be known that I will never touch anything related to Twilight with a ten foot stake pole), but I have some on my TBR, so except for one book, this is all from my TBR.
This one’s a collection of short stories! I’ve read novels by a few of these authors, but I’m especially excited for what Heidi Heilig has to over. I have this one on hold at the library, and it looks like it’ll be coming soon!
Whew, my week went from “relaxing snow day” to “dear god I have at least 4 different tests and projects due next week” in the span of 24 hours…it’s only Tuesday, have mercy on my poor soul…
Hence why I’m writing this review a little later than usual. I’ll probably be a bit less frequent with my posting in the upcoming weeks, but I can do the usual memes and reviews, at the very least. ✌️
Anyway, I preordered this book back in July, mostly just on the basis of a) Amie Kaufman and b) THAT PRETTY COVER. It came in the mail with Skyhunter a few weeks back, and I’m pleased to say that The Other Side of the Sky was a genre-bending success!
North and Nimhara are from worlds that couldn’t be more different than each other. But a twist of fate will bring them together, with possibly disastrous consequences…
North is the prince of his domain in the sky, a floating city fueled by advanced technology. A tragic accident with his aircraft causes him to crash, thrusting him into the world below. The world that, legend has it, is uninhabitable.
The legends were wrong.
In the lands below lives Nimhara, anointed at a young age as the living vessel of the divine. But her people are suspicious of her–every god and goddess has a unique aspect. Nimhara has yet to summon hers.
North’s crash landing thrusts them both headfirst into the words of an ancient prophecy, once that may spell the end of both of their worlds. Will Nimh and North be able to join forces and save their homes?
Melding opposing worlds of science in magic is uncommon in literature, and it may be for good reason. Both of the times I’ve read books with such concepts (see The Wrinkled Crown, Story Thieves), it’s fallen disappointingly flat. But never fear–The Other Side of the Sky is the shining exception to that rule! Though most of the book is set in Nimh’s terrestrial, magic-oriented home, the fantasy and science worlds both felt seamlessly fleshed out–and packed with lovely imagery, at that.
Going off of that…this is honestly worldbuilding that I could–and want to–lose myself in. Every inch of this fantastical realm felt so lived-in and authentic, and there wasn’t any instances where I felt like information was being unceremoniously dumped over my head. The imagery only accentuated the fact–rich, vivid, and immersive, it made reading this novel not just a way to take a break from my (overwhelming) reality, but an experience in and of itself.
And the characters! I really haven’t read much by Meagan Spooner (save for These Broken Stars and Unearthed, which are others that she co-wrote with Kaufman), but Amie Kaufman (or, at least *partially* Amie Kaufman) never misses the mark with every aspect of the characters, from their individual personalities to their chemistry. Nimh was not only intelligent and resourceful, but she had an authentic vulnerability to her as well. Anyone with a big responsibility on their shoulders (even though I don’t know anybody who’s actually a living/god/goddess/goddexx…hello?) will absolutely relate to her. North was similarly cunning, but it was kind of funny to see how bumbling he first was upon landing in Nimh’s world and seeing how he coped with knowing nothing at all about his surroundings. Made for some great character development, too.
Oh, and the representation! Both Nimh and North are implied to be POC, and North not only has two moms, but was in a polyamorous relationship with a girl and another boy, so he’s poly and bi (or pan or omni? not entirely sure, but I’m here for it either way)! 🙂 (Sidenote…I kind of imagined North like Hunter from Raised by Wolves…random, but I thought it was worth noting…)
(EDIT: Amie Kaufman just confirmed that North is bi! 💗💜💙)
All in all, a vividly designed and lushly written melding of science fiction and fantasy. 4 stars!
The Other Side of the Sky is the first in a duology, followed by an untitled second book set to be released next year (2021). Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner together are also the authors of the Starbound Trilogy and the Unearthed duology. Kaufman and Spooner have also written several series on their own, including the Elementals trilogy (Kaufman), the Illuminae Files (Kaufman, cowritten with Jay Kristoff), the Aurora Cycle (Kaufman, cowritten with Jay Kristoff), the Skylark trilogy (Spooner), Hunted (Spooner), and Sherwood (Spooner).
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
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!
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
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.
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.
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!
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?
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!