Wanted: One (fake) boyfriend Practically perfect in every way
Luc O’Donnell is tangentially–and reluctantly–famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.
To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.
But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don’t ever want to let them go.
Ahhh this book was such a pleasure to read. I absolutely adored it. This right here is the fake dating trope at its best, also the enemies to lovers trope at its best. I haven’t burst out laughing so much reading a book in YEARS. Boyfriend Material is hilarious but don’t let that fool you because it will definitely also punch you in the feels.
The book starts off with Luc, son of famous musicians from the 80s, getting put on tabloids by the paparazzi when coming out of a party. Seeing this, his boss at his job told him he needed to fix his image, so why not find himself a respectable boyfriend?
The best thing about this book was by far the characters. Luc is an awesome mc. The epitome of a disaster gay and I was living for it. Oliver was also a pretty great love interest, and I just had so much fun reading their interactions. All the hilarity and fluff to my heart’s content.
The side characters were also phenomenal. I love the emphasis this book had on friendships and both Luc and Oliver’s friend groups have a big impact on their lives. The friendship dynamics feel authentic and real, I wanted to jump in the book and be their friend. Every scene with Luc’s coworkers also made me laugh out loud because the relationship dynamics are so hilarious.
Between the funny bits though, the book does handle a lot of heavy topics like homophobic microaggressions, queer communities, absent parents, anxiety, etc. But all of it is still handled with a little bit of humor (though I thought it was dealt with respectfully). My only qualm is that Luc’s boss is coded as autistic and it’s pretty stereotypical and the story never really calls that out.
Overall, I thought it was one of the best (if not the best) romcom I’ve read, books don’t usually manage to make me laugh so much. Highly recommend!
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life.
When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
“People don’t find it very sympathetic or endearing, a woman who puts herself first.”
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is one of those books that I don’t feel adept to write a review for because it is so brilliant and nothing I say will fully capture how much I loved it. But I guess I’ll attempt to write a review anyway.
Hollywood superstar Evelyn Hugo, best known for the seven husbands she had in her lifetime, recants her life. She chooses a magazine reporter named Monique, much to Monique’s own surprise, to write her biography.
And thus Evelyn Hugo’s story begins.
While watching Evelyn’s movies prior to the interview, Monique at one point thinks that “Evelyn always leaves you hoping you’ll get just a little bit more.” Taylor Jenkins Reid does something similar with Evelyn for the readers as well, reveals just enough to keep you guessing, just enough so you can’t look away.
“I was gorgeous, even at fourteen. Oh, I know the whole world prefers a woman who doesn’t know her own power. But I’m sick of that.”
The best way I can describe Evelyn is by her presence – her character fills up the book. She makes selfish and questionable decisions, many to further her own agenda, and she also makes plenty of good ones. You know from the get-go that Evelyn isn’t a “good” person in a black and white sense, she is flawed and human and incredibly compelling. She needed to survive in a deeply racist, sexist and homophobic society so she made decisions that would allow her to do so. I was honestly in awe, I thought Evelyn was one of the strongest characters I’ve ever read.
(Going into slightly spoiler territory now so if you want to read the book knowing nothing about it, don’t keep reading, just know that I could not recommend this book highly enough).
Evelyn has had to overcome so much. As a woman in a very male dominated society, as a Cuban woman in a very white Hollywood, and as a bisexual woman in an extremely homophobic time period. So she makes choices that she sometimes regrets but those are choices she’s had to make to come as far as she did. Hiding her heritage to pass off as white, using her body to capitalize on the misogyny thrown at her and hiding her sexuality because the world isn’t ready for it. Despite the hurdles, she stands back up every time.
The first time Monique asks Evelyn the question, “who was Evelyn Hugo’s great love?” she doesn’t answer. And it keeps you wondering too until the answer hits you.
“They are just husbands. I am Evelyn Hugo. And anyway, I think once people know the truth, they will be much more interested in my wife.”
Going into the book, I didn’t know the main love story was sapphic. A sapphic love story set in 1950’s Hollywood among the two biggest actresses in the United States?? Absolutely beautiful. Evelyn and Celia have quickly become one of my favorite fictional couples of all time. Neither one of them are perfect and neither of them love each other selflessly but they braved the world to be together and that’s so insanely powerful.
There were also some lines in the book that kind of wrecked me a little.
“You imagine a world where the two of you can go out to dinner together on a Saturday night and no one thinks twice about it. It makes you want to cry, the simplicity of it, the smallness of it. You have worked so hard for a life so grand. And now all you want are the smallest freedoms. The daily peace of loving plainly.“
I cried some really big tears reading this passage. The truth of it, the need to hide yourself from the world because it’s too much for some people, craving the small simplicities of being able to love someone freely. I found myself relating hard to this old woman with a seemingly glamorous past – a past that was actually riddled with heartbreak and doubt but also love and hope.
There’s so much more I want to say about this book and this character but I lack the language. I very highly recommend picking it up if you haven’t already.
I ended up binge reading this entire series in the span of 4 days so the events of each book have blurred over for me. I will say that overall, this series was a solid five stars and has risen its way to become one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read. Easily Top 5. The writing is beautiful, the characters are very well developed and the world Chakraborty creates is fantastic (literally and figuratively).
Chakraborty has said that she wrote this series for her fellow Muslim fantasy geeks (hehe that’s me) and it shows. I think any fantasy lover would appreciate the world she crafted but it was extra special to me because of all the references to Islamic folklore. I grew up with djinn stories, passed down over generations from family members or through my own extensive research (sometimes to the point where I would scare myself to insomnia), so this world felt almost personal to me.
**I’m reviewing all three books here. If you haven’t read the first book and don’t want to be spoiled for the later ones, don’t read past the first review.
The City of Brass (Daevabad #1) by S.A Chakraborty
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.
After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…
“Greatness takes time, Banu Nahida. Often the mightiest things have the humblest beginnings.”
This is actually my second time reviewing this book because I had read an ARC of the first one before it released and I did not fully appreciated it then. If anyone cares to read my review from four years ago, here it is.
City of Brass starts off slow. Because the world itself is so intricate with so many tribes and centuries of history, sometimes it feels like it’s too much. I have had to read certain paragraphs of explanations multiple times because I couldn’t grasp the dumps of information. But after you get used to the general sense of the world, the history lessons feel less like history lessons and more like conversations that are meant to be there.
We’re introduced to Nahri, an Egyptian woman with the power of healing, a power she uses for her schemes as a thief and a con artist. It took me a long time to love Nahri, among the two POVs, hers was the weaker one for me. Nahri in the beginning almost acts as a stand in for the reader because she is also finding out about this djinn world with us, she’s reacting to the world instead of being a part of the world. The first couple of chapters with her is mostly Darayavahoush, the Daeva warrior she accidentally summoned, explaining the djinn world and the history to her.
And then we have Ali, our second POV. Ali is the prince of Daevabad, the second son of king Ghassan. He is a soldier and a scholar, self-righteous, pious, and wants things to be better for the kingdom’s shafit citizens (those who have both djinn and human blood). Through Ali, we get to know about the current state of politics in Daevabad, what the city is like now and how the citizens of the different tribes are treated. This, in a way, juxtaposes what Dara has been teaching Nahri about the history of Daevabad from his time centuries ago. With Ali, we’re also immediately thrust in the middle of action because the book starts with him smuggling money from the treasury to an underground shafit organization.
The book picks up once Nahri and Dara get to Daevabad. It’s not action packed but it’s not really supposed to be, there are a lot of action scenes, but it mostly shines in characterization and world building.
Something I really appreciate about these books is how prejudice is portrayed and how you can very slowly see the characters gradually shift their views. Ali being a pious Muslim man has a deep-seated distaste for the Daevas, the tribe of djinn who worship fire. Dara, who has been trained as a soldier for the Nahids (the most powerful Daeva family) to do their bidding holds an enormous hatred for shafits and for the other djinn tribes. Most djinn (Daevas included) think less of the shafit because of their human blood. These feelings don’t go away but we do get to witness small changes in the characters when they start to question these deep rooted beliefs they’ve held all their lives.
The Kingdom of Copper (Daevabad #2) by S.A Chakraborty
S. A. Chakraborty continues the sweeping adventure begun in The City of Brassconjuring a world where djinn summon flames with the snap of a finger and waters run deep with old magic; where blood can be dangerous as any spell, and a clever con artist from Cairo will alter the fate of a kingdom.
Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad—and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.
Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of a devastating battle, Nahri must forge a new path for herself. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family—and one misstep will doom her tribe..
Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid—the unpredictable water spirits—have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.
And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.
“I’m tired of everyone in this city feeding on vengeance. I’m tired of teaching our children to hate and fear other children because their parents are our enemies. And I’m sick and tired of acting like the only way to save our people is to cut down all who might oppose us, as if our enemies won’t return the favor the instant power shifts.”
As I’ve said earlier, the events of the books have kind of blurred for me. As far as middle books go, I thought Kingdom of Copper was fantastic in continuing the story from the first and setting up the events in the final. The book also did a great job expanding the universe from the first book.
The book takes place about five years after the events of the first one. Nahri is now married to Muntadhir, the future king of Daevabad. Ali is in exile but has found a djinn village to be a part of and they love him because wherever he goes, water springs mysteriously appear (a miracle to the formerly barren wastelands). And Dara, who everyone thought of as dead, was pulled back to life by Banu Manizheh. Although the five year time skip surprised me at first, it was a smart move since a) djinn have a longer lifespan anyway and b) it allowed for a lot of character growth and off the screen development so we could pretty much jump straight into action.
This was the book where Nahri won me over.She has been working as a healer for the past couple of years now. She’s a lot more sure of herself, more mature and a whole lot more powerful. She went from being my least favorite MC in the first book to my favorite character in this book. The least favorite character mantle was taken up by Dara who just frustrated me to the core in this one. I will say though that everything Dara did made sense from a character analysis perspective but frustrating nonetheless.
I also loved the added layers to the side characters, especially Muntadhir, Jamshid and Zaynab.
The Empire of Gold (Daevabad #3) by S.A Chakraborty
The final chapter in the Daevabad Trilogy, in which a con-woman and an idealistic djinn prince join forces to save a magical kingdom from a devastating civil war.
Daevabad has fallen.
After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.
But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.
Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.
As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.
“If you rule by violence, you should expect to be removed by violence.”
The last book wasn’t really what I was expecting but it was a satisfying ending. I thought it ended well with the most immediate strings wrapped up but also a lot of room left up to interpretation. I don’t know if Chakraborty is ever planning on writing more stories in this world but if she did, there’s definitely a lot of room to explore more.
Like I said in the beginning, I read these books in about five days (that’s quick for me) so entertainment wise, they were gripping. I couldn’t put Empire of Gold down. I needed to know how the book was going to end, I needed to know what was going to happen to these characters. And because of that, I couldn’t give the book less than five stars despite some of my complaints about the ending.
I don’t really think I can review this one without spoilers. So the following will contain spoilers so be forewarned. Overall, it was a fantastic read and well worth my time and I highly recommend.
I’m gonna start by talking about what I think the book was lacking. After finishing the book, my first thoughts were that I wanted more. And yes that had to do with the fact that I just wanted to spend more time with these characters but also that, I think there should have been more. Especially more POVs. I think this book really missed out on showing a lot of the political intrigue that I loved in the first two books by a) having Ali not be in Daevabad when he was usually our window into the politics and b) by not having perspectives from any of the characters who were dealing with the politics (and the aftermath of what Manizheh had done when she invaded). Dara is the only one of the three POVs in Daevabad for a majority of the book and he’s not a politician so we don’t really get a lot of insight from him, only what he hears from Manizeh and Muntadhir. Not having more of an insight of Daevabad when it’s the conclusion of the Daevabad trilogy wasn’t what I wanted.
I wanted more of Daevabad, of how the Zaynab got the shafit and the djinn working together, of how Muntadhir was able to plan the attack against Kaveh, the inner conflict the Daevas must have felt when Manizheh – their beloved Banu Nahida – just slaughtered so many innocent Geziris for the throne. I wanted more.
But for the record, I lovedwhat we did get. Especially Nahri’s POV. Nahri shines in this book. Most of my favorite scenes were her scenes and I was rooting for her from start to finish.
More random thoughts:
Gotta say I wasn’t a huge fan of Ali’s subplot of going to the marids, marids just confused me in general
though Ali showing up with the hundreds of ships with the marid’s help was pretty frikkin cool
I liked how Ali was improving and questioning the prejudices he had though I do think he could have gone further with it
Zaynab and Aqisa were a team that I didn’t know I needed until it happened (also I ship them hard)
Jamshid and Muntadhir getting the happy ending they deserved!! But also, would’ve loved to see the whole “I killed your father because your parents invaded the kingdom and killed my dad along with hundreds of innocents” conversation between those two
The Egyptian shafit cook in the kitchen being Nahri’s grandfather made me BAWL
Also so happy to know Nahri is actually half-Egyptian since that was such a big part of her identity
Nahri made the peris mad, is this maybe a setup for a future book series??
Love the idea of Ali and Nahri making a new representative government from scratch
I actually really like Ali and Nahri as a couple, to me their relationship makes a lot more sense than Nahri’s and Dara’s did. Ali and Nahri are comfortable with each other, they both have a mutual thirst for knowledge and they are always trying to save other people
Dara’s whole character arc was beautifully done and I love that he was the one who ended up killing Manizheh
That ending with the Qahtani siblings gave me life!!
The fact that the book ended with “Nahri always smiled at her marks” had me smiling from ear to ear
I am sad to leave this world. And very excited to see the next world Chakraborty builds.
Is it too late to change my 2018 goals to one post a month because it seems like that’s the direction I’m heading in now. Anyway, on to the rant, I mean *ahem* review.
Victoria freaking Schwab destroyed me AGAIN. I am never trusting this woman again. Never! NEVER AGAIN!
*deep breath* You know I really need to take up a safer hobby, a less mentally exhausting one. BECAUSE THIS SERIES YOU GUYS OH MY GOSH
Okay, okay, deep breaths again. Whew.
All right, so I am reviewing both books in the Monsters of Verity duology at once because I read them together. Our Dark Duet review is going to have spoilers from This Savage Song so don’t read that one if you haven’t read the first one.
“You wanted to feel alive, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re monster or human. Living hurts.”
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
Victoria Schwab creates a world where every sin (murder) committed creates a monster. The more tragic the deaths, the more powerful the monsters. August is one of those said monsters, one of the most powerful ones, but all he wants is to be human. Kate’s dad is a ruthless businessman who keeps people safe by making deals with monsters. Kate wants to be just like her father, she wants to be feared and respected, (but she’s actually kind of a cinnamon bun?).
I LOVED this book, much more than I thought I would. This was a gripping and terrifying world. The imagery, the world development, the details were all spot on. Yes it’s a book about monsters but it’s believable.
I love how Kate’s and August’s relationship developed. Keep in mind, this is not a romance, but rather a deep friendship. Unusual circumstances bring August and Kate together and they realize there is more to the other side than they thought. They’re reluctant partners in a quest to save their world but become so much for each other.
The book, like most of Schwab’s, question humanity and what it means to be human. What it means to be a good human. And whether or not some sins are more forgivable than others.
“I know it hurts,” she said. “So make it worth the pain.”
THE WORLD IS BREAKING. AND SO ARE THEY.
KATE HARKER isn’t afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she’s good at it.
AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.
THE WAR HAS BEGUN.
THE MONSTERS ARE WINNING.
Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims’ inner demons.
Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?
And there goes Victoria Schwab stealing my heart and soul once again. WHYYYY do I open myself up to such pain. Our Dark Duet was an epic conclusion to the duology, it was everything I expected and more.
The first third of the book, we see August and Kate going upon their lives. August has accepted his fate as the Sunai leader and captain of Henry’s FTF force. Kate has become a bad-ass monster hunter in another province but must return to Verity when her new target goes for her old hometown. The two MC’s have started to fulfill different roles and they’ve come a really long way since the beginning of the first book.
August no longer wants to be human. It seems like he was becoming his biggest fear. Kate was starting to figure out her niche in life, carving her own path instead of aspiring to be her father’s daughter.
The villains were all wonderful, some of them complex and some just monstrous because it’s what they are. Sloan just wants to rule all of Verity and want to defeat Henry at all costs. Alice wants to kill August and Kate for revenge. And the newest monster who both sides fear just feeds off of chaos and conflict.
The book is dark and compelling and keeps you at the edge of your seat at all times. Also deeply emotional and moving because you’re rooting for these characters from the beginning to the end.
Spoiler Alert! DON’T READ IF YOU HAVEN’T READ BOTH BOOKS
OH MY GOSH THAT ENDING! I wasn’t expecting it and it shook me up so hard I’m still thinking about it after a month. I was expecting Kate to be injured but live because I needed her and August to be together forever 😥 .
But the ending was poetic. Kate dies by killing the monstrous version of her, overcoming her inner conflict against herself. And August reaps her soul so she could always be a part of him, alive or not. Reading that scene broke my heart but it was also realistic in that situation. There was very little chance both main characters would’ve gotten out of there alive and though most YA MC’s always beat the odds, it’s refreshing to read another take. (Am I only saying this to reassure myself so I wouldn’t burst out crying? Who knows?).
And Ilsa’s death scene also killed me. I loved her! But I was expecting that so it didn’t take me by surprise.
All the side characters, new and old, were great. I loved August’s team because it was so clear they cared a lot about him. And Soro was a great addition to the family, I didn’t know how I felt about them until the end scene. But I can see that Soro is now trying to understand that sometimes people do desperate things for a good cause and that not all “sinners” need to die.
One thing I wanted more of is August’s scenes with his adoptive mother because they don’t interact much in the two books.
I’ve read all three of these books a while ago and didn’t want to write individual full reviews so mini reviews it is! All of these had been on my TBR list for a while and fortunately I loved all three of them!
“Warcross” by Marie Lu
“Every locked door has a key. Every problem has a solution.”
Oh wow, this was a good book. Marie Lu never disappoints! Warcross is the first virtual reality book I’ve read and I have to say, I am a fan. It doesn’t hurt that the protagonist Emika is a hacker and as someone who’s studying computer science, hacking has always been something I’m interested in.
If you’ve read Marie Lu’s Legends trilogy and remember Alaska in Champion, Warcross is an even grander version of that. I wanted her to do a spin-off of that book series just to get to know the Alaskan society more and Marie Lu has answered my calls.
Emika, after a little hack gone wrong, finds herself as a wildcard in this year’s Warcross games. The technology in this book is so well weaved into the story, I was impressed (and also very concerned about where our world is headed).
Emika and Hideo were the cutest together
There were two huge plot twists, I saw one coming but the second surprised me
Seriously, the technology, SO GOOD
Emika has rainbow colored hair and it’s mentioned one too many times
“The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” by Mackenzi Lee
“God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed from having words instead of friends.”
I loved this book but I was very conflicted while I was rating it. After I finished The Gentleman’s Guide, I just sat there and thought, what the heck did I just read? I went into the book expecting a historical contemporary and it was that but there were elements of other genres thrown in that I wasn’t expecting (like fantasy).
Monty was a complicated character, at times I loved him and at times I wanted to punch his guts. He is bisexual in a society where not being straight was absolutely unacceptable. He is in love with his best friend. He’s also irresponsible, takes his inheritance for granted and gets drunk for a living. He takes his white male privilege for granted, and at time his comments made me want to slap him. But Monty goes through a lot of character development in the book and he learns to get better at listening. He changes for the better and we get to see these changes unfold.
Felicity (Monty’s little sister) was my favorite! I loved that girl so much!
“You can’t live in fear. You make things happen or they happen to you.”
I had high expectations going into this book after absolutely loving Wonder Woman’s movie and my expectations were met and then some. This was SO GOOD. Yes it has some clichés but it’s a superhero story retelling so it’s bound to have them. That’s not to say Bardugo didn’t put her own little twists and turns into the coming of age story of the infamous Diana Prince.
I’ve said this before but only Leigh Bardugo can introduce five new characters in a book and make me care about every one of them. Even though the book is about Diana growing into her Amazonian self, it’s also about friendship and dedication and doing what’s right. Also I LOVED the diverse casting, that’s not something I see often in superhero retellings (every main character but Diana was a POC).
The story picks up once Diana gets to New York with Alya. Diana starts to question a lot of the racism and prejudice that happens in society. I also love her cluelessness when it comes to technology and confusion to slang and modern film references.
Female superheroes are just empowering. In this book specifically, Diana is Wonder Woman but you have two other strong female characters. Alya is intelligent and brave and fierce. Her best friend Nim is hilarious and loyal and as fierce as Alya.
Also, FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS! GIMME MORE! Alya and Nim’s relationship is the sweetest!
Nim is a fat bisexual South-Asian character and I absolutely loved her!
Tyler is also a sweetheart
So usually I see plot twists coming but I did not see this one coming
This elegant young adult novel captures the immigrant experience for one Indian-American family with humor and heart.
Told in alternating teen voices across three generations, You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture – for better or worse.
From a grandmother worried that her children are losing their Indian identity to a daughter wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair to a granddaughter social-activist fighting to preserve Bengali tigers, award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together the threads of a family growing into an American identity.
Here is a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.
Hello everyone! I’m coming out of hiding to rave about this spectacular book that everyone should go read as soon as physically possible.
I LOVED this book so much! A book has never resonated so well with me; it’s been months since I read it and I still can’t stop thinking about You Bring the Distant Near. There’s FINALLY a book about Bengali girls, not one, not two but FIVE kickass Bengali girls/women who are awesome in their own imperfect ways.
You Bring the Distant Near follows five characters spanning three different generations, their struggles, their joys, their dreams and their failures. But most importantly, it’s about their relationships with each other and their identities as immigrants in America.
The highlight of the book for me was definitely all the characters. The characters all have their individual character arcs where they grow at their own pace but they’re also all skillfully woven together in the overall story arc. Perkins is an expert at developing and writing characters in a way that leave no doubts of their authenticity. All five of them go on their own individual journeys trying to find their niche in society as first and second generation immigrants. I also just really love following characters’ stories from childhood to adulthood to make sure I know how they turned out so this book was perfect for me.
The cultural representation is something else I adored. Seeing common mundane aspects of Bengali culture reflected in a book made me very happy because it’s so rare to find in the media. Things like the parents listening to Rabindranath Tagore songs while cleaning the house made the book feel special in a way no other book has.
The book also doesn’t sugarcoat the negative parts of South Asian culture but instead takes the challenge head on by having the characters deal with it. Racism, misogyny, colorism and feminism play big important roles in shaping the characters. There’s also an emphasis of the characters trying to balance the two cultures, deciding what parts of Bengali culture to hold on to and what to leave, figuring out what exactly makes them American. That’s a story most immigrants (myself included) know well so it hits close to home.
All in all, I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who likes a well written and well developed diverse contemporary. And also a huge shout out and thank you to Shenwei @ Reading (AS)(I)an (AM)erica for sending me a copy of this back in July.
Have you read this book? What book characters do you resonate with the most?
Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.
Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction, and the escape. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. She can’t see her future.
Henry’s future isn’t looking too promising, either. His girlfriend dumped him. The bookstore is slipping away. And his family is breaking apart.
As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.
“We are the books we read and the things we love.”
Wow. I am stunned.
From afar, Words in Deep Blue may look like yet another book about anonymous letter writing and people magically finding lost notes but Cath Crowley’s take on this trope was unique and perfect. She turned the concept into a beautiful and heartbreaking story. The book deals with depression, loss of a family member, and grief. But also of hope, love and friendship.
Rachel returns to the city she grew up in about a year after her brother Cal drowned in an accident. She is reacquainted with her old best friends (one of them being Henry, the guy she had a huge crush on) but she hasn’t told anyone her brother. Rachel starts to slowly ease back into the lives of her former friends. She has a lot of memories in the town of her brother and it takes her time to sort them out.
Henry is also in the middle of a family disaster. His girlfriend just dumped him again. And it also seems like his family would be losing their second hand bookstore: Henry’s favorite place in the world. Rachel starts to work at their store once she moves back into town and they start to mend their relationship little by little. I liked both Henry and Rachel and I was rooting for them.
The side characters were all great and never felt one-dimensional. Henry’s family members were all dynamic characters. Did I mention his parents are actually a present part of the plot? I know it’s rare but it happens. I hope we get more parental presence in YA books in the future. Henry’s sister was probably my favorite character. I loved how different the two of them were and yet always looked after each other.
Sometimes I fall in love with characters, sometimes the plot, rarely the setting. But I have to say, if I could live in a book, I would choose this one solely because of the precious book store. The way the bookstore is described is every reader’s dreamland. The idea of the Letter Library especially was brilliant. (The Letter Library is a section of the store dedicated to people leaving letters for each other in the books). I loved reading the letters the characters would write to each other, the little highlighted quotes and passages. Years and years of people’s history on the margins of second hand books is a lovely concept to think about.
“Sometimes science isn’t enough. Sometimes you need the poets.”
I also fell in love with Crowley’s beautiful writing. She puts an emphasis on the power of words in the story and her writing is fully up to par with her theme. The book is just so quotable but never seems like it’s trying too hard.
Because I don’t want this review to have half the book written on it, I will refrain from writing down my favorite quotes (which basically consists of half the book). All in all, Words in Deep Blue made me cry (a lot) and it also made me laugh quite a bit and that’s the best reaction a book can give you.
Warning: the following contains spoilers for previous books of Cassandra Clare including The Mortal Instruments series, The Infernal Devices trilogy, all the short stories, and Lady Midnight.
Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?
A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.
Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?
Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.
When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.
“The bad things can’t matter more than the good things”
I CAN’T I CAN’T HOW DO I MOVE ON I CANNOT EVEN THIS WAS FANTASTIC OH MY GOSH!! This book is all I talked about for five days with one my best friends who I was reading this with (she’s over @ Empire of Starlight. I’m mentioning her because some of the points I made in the review are because of our conversations).
*deep breath* *deep breath* How do I write reviews again?
Cassandra Clare books get better and better with each installment and I didn’t think it was possible after the wonder that was Lady Midnight but this BLEW ME AWAY. So many things happened! The plot was intricate and complex and engaging from beginning to end. And Clare once again delivers a book with eight thousand main characters all of whom I loved and cared about. Very few authors can pull of multiple main characters with such ease.
The book starts off a few days after the events of Lady Midnight. Emma and Mark are now pretending to be dating because Emma found out about the parabatai curse. Cristina is back together with perfect Diego. Julian is being a trooper with the Mark and Emma thing because he thinks they truly care about each other. Kit is trying to adjust to living at the Institute and still isn’t sure if he wants to be a Shadowhunter.
Meanwhile, there are Centurions coming to the Los Angeles Institute because of a sea demon uprising after Malcolm Fade died. Some of the Centurions you’ll recognize if you’ve read Tales from the Shadowhunters Academy.
The plot is so interconnected, it is hard not to give away anything. It was an incredible ride. The characters all grow as people. What surprised me most was how much I came to care about Kieran. And Kit, Ty, and Livvy are a great trio and I loved their chapters the most. All the Blackthorn children are just precious and perfect little gems.
Julian, oh Julian. He is a Slytherin perfectly disguised as a Hufflepuff. He really does have a ruthless heart and you get to see that side more and more in this book. He will do anything for his family and when I say anything, I do mean anything. The world and everyone else can burn to the ground if it means his family and Emma are safe. He doesn’t understand that there are some lines you cannot cross.
There are of course mentions of other characters from the other series. Four of them make pretty big cameos and I loved every moment.
SPOILERS SPOILERS LOTS OF SPOILERS Don’t read past this if you haven’t the book!
AGAIN OH MY GOSH I CANNOT PROCESS THIS BOOK. A bunch of random thoughts coming your way.
Okay, the very first death of the book: Jon Cartwright. I know he wasn’t a big part of this one but I loved him in Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy! Well, I hated him at first but then I grew to love him just like Simon did. And I felt so so bad! Poor Marisol.
The fairy land was cool. I always love it when the characters go into any of the fairy courts because they look so different and eerily beautiful. This time when going in to save Kieran, we get to see the more run down fairy places.
“I’ve always needed you so much, I never had a chance to think about whether we were good for each other or not.”
Okay, I understand Mark is trying to figure out what he actually wants out of a romantic partner, BUT I feel so bad for Kieran. Kieran loves Mark wholeheartedly. I was never mad at him in Lady Midnight for doing what he did because I knew he thought he was helping. And I still don’t understand why Mark was lying to him for half of the book. He could’ve just told him the truth and it’s not like Kieran had many other options anyway. He would’ve testified either way. Mark just needs to get himself together and him and Cristina need to stop having feelings for each other. It’s only making things more complicated.
“I would that you would meet me, formally, that I might court you,” said Gwyn.
Gwyn and Diana are the couple I didn’t think I needed until it happened. I didn’t think much of Gwyn in the first book, he just seemed like this unfeeling Fairy warrior with his own agenda. Seeing him with Diana humanized him. And the scene when Diana revealed she is transgender was a beautiful and heartbreaking moment.
Kit and Jessamine are kind of friends now and it’s great!
My poor Drusilla. I was hoping we would get more of her in this book since she was barely there in Lady Midnight and we did. She’s the Blackthorn child who gets overlooked the most. I’ve declared her my favorite Blackthorn because that girl just needs a friend. The older kids think she’s too young to be with them, and Dru is too old to always be with Tavvy and not feel lonely. Even in all the scenes with the whole family, it’s usually her sitting alone quietly.
Malec as parents is the greatest thing ever! The scene when Magnus starts singing a Spanish lullaby to Rafe? It was adorable.
“And I will be a uniquely lucky person, because there will be someone who always remembers me. Who will always love me.”
Can you imagine Alec Lightwood from City of Fallen Angels say this? Alec has come to terms with Magnus’ immortality and the fact that he will most likely die long before Magnus does. And he is okay with it. Just seeing Alec grow so much in the past five or so years is so lovely.
That last scene I did NOT see coming. So far, all the deaths in the Clare books have been people I don’t care for much so I was starting to think I was safe. And then this happens!! And Robert dying now begs the question who the new Inquisitor would be. I guess we can assume that he or she will not be as kind and lenient. I guess it was too much to ask that both the Inquisitor and the Consul be people we actually like. And now that Robert’s gone, Emma will no longer be able to be exiled and their parabatai bond will remain strong as ever. It took a lot of trust for them to go to Robert even when Magnus vouched for him, they wouldn’t want to do that again with someone they don’t trust.
LIVVY MY POOR BABY!! I loved her! She was the only person Ty understood. And when you look back to how upset Ty was when she was injured in battle, what will happen to him now?? They’re twins! They were together every step of their life. And now she’s gone. This isn’t fair.
I’m also really scared of what Julian will do now. We all know he will doanything to keep his family together. I have a feeling he might want to use the Black Book to raise Livvy. Because, like I said, he doesn’t realize there are lines he cannot cross. I mean, the boy is thinking about breaking all the parabatai bonds in the world just so he and Emma can be together. They are not that important, he needs to chill out. Even Emma admits that Julian scares her sometimes because of how far he’ll go to get what he wants. This is how villains start.
And the whole thing with Dru and how she ended up in fairy when she touched the strange fairy object thing that Jaime left behind? I don’t even know what I’m supposed to think of that.
I have so many theories about the next book. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WAIT TWO YEARS?
Have you read this? Are you going to? Who is your favorite character in this series?
Oh. My. Gosh. I finally FINALLY read these and this series is freakin’ fantastic! I was going to start beating myself up for reading the trilogy so late but then, I think I did myself a favor since I was able to read all three in a row instead of having to wait years. The Shades of Magic trilogy is everything I hoped: intriguing, complex and simply magical.
I fell in love with this world (or rather, worlds). The concept that there are four different worlds all connected by the constant city of London. And more than that, I adored the characters. This series has both a plot driven and character driven story.
This was also my first attempt at a V.E Schwab book and I’m a fan. Her writing is descriptive without being monotone and she has the perfect balance of show vs tell.
On to the reviews! The later books will have spoilers for the previous one so if you haven’t read the entire series, feel free to skip the later books.
“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”
A Darker Shade of Magic was a thrilling introduction in this fantastic journey. Here, we meet Kell, an Antari – the only one in his world who can travel between the three Londons. He’s the adoptive son of the King and Queen of Red London and brother to prince Rhy. And we also meet Delilah (Lila) Bard, a wanted thief with too many knives and a seeker of adventure.
Schwab is a pro at world building, she doesn’t shove this new world down our throats but transitions us slowly.
My favorite thing about this book is the witty banter between Kell and Lila. I love humor and action in my Fantasy books and this one delivers. I also love a slow romance, no insta love and no love triangles. Their relationship isn’t really a romance, they’re just two people who have crossed each other’s paths and decided to go on a journey together. I appreciated their bond, their friendship.
Rhy, even thought he was absent most of the book, was by far my favorite character. We mostly see him through Kell’s eyes but even then, it’s obvious he is a kind and genuine person.
My favorite out the three books, A Gathering of Shadows is the perfect sequel. You know what I love best in Fantasy books? Epic magic duels. I LOVE super powers and I love it even more when we get to see people fight with said super powers. Most of A Gathering of Shadows revolves around the Element Games, a tournament where the best magicians of the three kingdoms come together and the best magician earns the glory of the championship.
Kell and Lila are separated during most of the book and I absolutely loved it. I loved seeing them grow as characters. Kell is having to deal with a level of distrust from the King and Queen because of his previous smuggling habit as well as the knowledge of what he did to Rhy. Lila is getting used to living in a world full of magic and new rules.
All the new characters who were introduced are lovely additions, Alucard especially. He’s hilarious! If I thought I liked Lila and Kell’s banter, I love hers and Alucard’s even more.
“Life isn’t made of choices, it’s made of trades. Some are good, some are bad, but they all have a cost.”
I was a pile of crumbling mess after finishing this book. How am I expected to move on now? This one broke my heart and then tried to piece it back together but it was too late because my heart was already shattered, just whyyy.
The plot was on point. The characters were all present and perfect in their own imperfect ways. The fights were wonderful as usual. It was action packed with the occasional humor thrown in.
If you haven’t read the conclusion yet, just know that it’s fantastic and skip these later paragraphs.
(This is not going to be very coherent, I’ll just warn you now)/
AHHHHHH, all these deaths, I CANNOT EVEN! Every side character I loved died?? And I loved all the side characters and they’re all pretty much dead. And the characters who survived are left damaged and heart-broken and it HURTS.
Kell and Rhy’s relationship is so nice! I love their brotherly duo and for a while, it almost seemed like they would beat Heronstairs which is high praise! (They didn’t but almost).
Rhy and Alucard are so darn adorable! The way Alucard stayed with Rhy when he “died” and then Rhy stayed with Luc when he was almost possessed! Their relationship is so nice and I’m so very glad Luc didn’t die on that ship. My poor Rhy has lost enough people.
I also just love all the little character interactions between everyone. How Lila was basically the first person to trust Rhy on his own. How Kell and Alucard have finally agreed to not hate each other after Alucard told Kell the real reason he left. How Holland was the one to save Lila and while that wasn’t enough for her to like him, she at least tolerated him from there on. Hastra and Kell’s conversations and how he seemed so eager to show Kell how he can grow a plant. Lenox and Lila and how he finally seemed to be comfortable around her. ALL THESE CHARACTERS ARE JUST SO BRILLIANT.
HOLLAND NOOOO! I was so hoping he would end up surviving, that poor man has gone through so much! And he still had the strength and the courage to keep going and fight against evil even though he had so many reasons not to.
The last scene with King Maxim and his iron soldiers was awesome. He literally created his own army just so he wouldn’t have to ask his people to sacrifice themselves. I’m still angry at him for blaming Kell for so long but I have to admire his strength.
Can we have a slow clap for the wonder that is Tieran? That man is the Dumbledore of this trilogy except much more helpful and is actually there for the main characters when they need him.
I so wanted to give this book five stars except it left some unanswered questions that I thought would be resolved by the last book. Schwab was probably just wanting to leave some things ambiguous but I really like closure.
Things I needed in this book:
Kell’s parents!! I NEEDED to know even though apparently Kell didn’t. I need to know who his parents were, why they left him, or whether or not he was kidnapped. Does he have any siblings? Is he even from Red London? Why are his memories erased? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED?
Lila’s past! What happened to her eye? Did her parents know what she was and had gotten rid of it? When did it happen? Who are her parents? WHAT IF HER AND KELL ARE SIBLINGS?! Not likely at all, I know, but can we be certain if we don’t know who their parents are?
The king’s letters. He wrote letters to Emira, Kell and Rhy because he knew he was going to die. I wanted to know what was in them. Did he finally apologize to Kell for blaming him for the dark magic stuff? Does he tell Kell what really happened with his parents?
Queen Emira and Kell. I really liked her POV chapters and that she cared about Kell but didn’t know how to express herself but I wanted her to! I know they have the brief scene where she gives Kell the kerchief with the initials KM but I wanted MORE. I wanted a scene where she calls him her son and then they hug it out like the mother/son duo they were always meant to be and life would’ve been perfect!
Have you read this series? Are you planning to? What other Victoria Schwab book would you recommend?
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.
When books like this come along, I realize how incredibly inept I am at reviewing books. I’m sure everyone has either read this book or has at-least heard of it. It’s pretty much everywhere now and the hype is very well deserved. It’s been about a month since I read this and I’ve been putting off writing a review for it because nothing I say will justify how great of a book this is.
The Hate U Give is perfect. I was laughing and crying and was happy and heart-broken. If you are to read one book this year, this should be it. Thisis the epitome of an important book.
The Hate U Give is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. It has really opened my eyes on a lot of issues that I was aware of but not to the degree in which they exist. This novel touches on police brutality, racism and racial profiling, micro-agression, etc. The fact that there are parents in the world who need to sit their children down and talk to them about how to protect themselves from the police if they are ever pulled over? That’s APPALLING to me. But THUG also depicts the good side of cops through Starr’s uncle who is like a father to her. Not all cops are racist and discriminatory and the story shows both sides.
Even though THUG portrays so many contemporary societal problems, it never seems like the author is shoving her opinions down her readers. The issues are all wonderfully crafted into the characters’ lives and we see how it affects them on a daily basis.
Starr is a great main character. She is strong, funny and utterly relatable. She lives in two different worlds (as she would say). The neighborhood she lives in is impoverished, a little run down and crime ridden but she goes to a private school with wealthier kids that’s about an hour from her house. Because she is a part of both worlds, she also doesn’t think she can be wholly herself in either places. She struggles with finding her place in both her home community and her school.
There were quite a few funny scenes too. Lots of references to Harry Potter, High School Musical, Tumblr, and Starr’s favorite show of all time: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Another wonderful aspect of the book is the importance of family to the story line. Starr’s parents are straight up awesome. They are supportive, encouraging but also stern. Starr has a great relationship with both her mother and father which can be hard to find in YA. Her older half-brother Seven is great: he is very protective of Starr and his two other half sisters. And Starr’s little brother Sekani is just an adorable cutie.
Like I said before, I cannot stress enough how good this book is. EVERYONE needs to read it.