Book Tags

Book blogger confession tag!

My first ever book tag!

First ever” for many reasons: chief of which is the fact that I am actually two stacked sacks of potatoes wearing a trench coat and procrastinating as a performance art, and least of which is that every ounce of said procrastination has been jolted out by the fact that my first blog anniversary is in roughly three months (I think) and there was just no way for my mind to accept the possibility of not contributing at least one book tag.

This one seemed very agreeable and super fun so here we go! Continue reading “Book blogger confession tag!”

Reviews

Review: Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep #1) by Mira Grant

34523174SYNOPSIS:

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.


RATING: ☆★☆★☆

I would like to preface my review by stating outright: I fucking loved this book. Continue reading “Review: Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep #1) by Mira Grant”

Reviews

Review: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

35068705SYNOPSIS:

When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.


RATING: ☆★☆★☆

A really good book has a beginning, a middle, and then it absolutely ends you. The Poppy War is a really good book. Continue reading “Review: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang”

Reviews

Review: The Wicker King (The Wicker King #1) by K. Ancrum

33158541SYNOPSIS:

When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.


RATING: ☆★☆★☆

There is a unique sort of agony to this book that I can’t exactly describe. My heart feels both hollowed out and so heavy my chest could not hold it. The Wicker King beckoned me closer with delicate claws then sank its fangs into my heart and I think a part of me will never fully escape it.

See, there are books you like and then there are books you end up thinking about in the middle of the night with a cosmic ache in your chest, feeling like what still existed of you has been wrung out with all the things you want to say but can’t really articulate.

This book is one of them.

So, what’s this book about?

Jack and August’s lives should have shot out in different directions—Jack, the golden-haired varsity rugby player with the seemingly perfect life, and August, the poor kid who runs drugs in their high school to make extra money. Instead, they’ve emerged from the other side of their differences with the kind of relationship that is blinding, deafening, maddening—August pushing exactly as hard against Jack as he did against him, so that everything they had built would stay standing and if either let up or gave it more of his weight, it would fall and crumble.

When Jack’s hallucinations begin, as sharp as they are unknowable to anyone else, Jack settles into the unwavering conviction that he sees into a parallel world in need of rescuing. Helpless, August starts sustaining himself on the misplaced hope that if he humored Jack and helped him cope, Jack would lose the truth of himself a little more slowly.

But neither of them is a soft place the other could fall. Both victims of emotionally and physically neglectful parenting, Jack and August are all edges, trying to fill the empty spaces inside with each other. They have driven more miles than a lot of people do in a lifetime, and no matter how much August wanted to carry Jack’s luggage, the truth was that he could barely manage his own. They have spent so long building up their shared fortress and learning to tend it all by themselves, but what happens when those ramparts start resembling prison walls, high and barbed and near-impossible to cross? What happens when the demons they’ve barely kept barricaded away by an unhealthy codependency surface? When the dam they’ve built is no longer enough and the floodgates break open on a toy factory they set on fire?

The Wicker King is a brilliantly written and plotted novel, a miasma of wretchedness and pain, a book that I devoured but deeply, utterly abhorred.

Over the course of the story, the pages darken which I think effectively communicated the characters’ interior turmoil, heightening it to near-grotesque levels. I was literally holding my hand to my chest like it would keep my heart from breaking out of me. The plot is gripping, and the characters are powerfully drawn, but it’s the raw and unpolished look at mental illness, the repercussions of an indifferent, dismissive and neglectful parenting and the dynamics of a deeply unhealthy relationship that makes this a novel that will be hard for readers to forget.

This is a story that will bear so much aching familiarity to many of us—who are digging through the barren and rocky soil of life with the hollow echoing of an instinct we can no longer lean against, who harbor many vacant spaces inside without knowing what it is that carved out the absence, who can’t find a way to tell people closed to us the truth and make them understand it, who quickly find out that returning to a mental place you once knew as well as your own shadow isn’t the same as never leaving at all.

If you’re reading this, I hope you find the strength to get through whatever it is that’s causing you so much trouble or pain at the moment. I hope you know that your heart is built for something other than sorrow and that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. And I hope you feel safe and warm and content, like being wrapped up in a blanket by the fire while it storms outside.

“If you drop the weight you are carrying, it is okay. You can build yourself back up out of the pieces.”

CONTENT WARNING FOR: violence, parental neglect, abuse, mental-illness (degenerative hallucinatory disorder), codependency, anxiety, panic attacks.

Reviews

Review: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

16074758SYNOPSIS:

Elise is dead.
And someone must pay.

Anna, her boyfriend Tate, best friend Elise and a group of close friends set off on a debaucherous Spring Break trip to Aruba. But paradise soon turns into a living nightmare when Elise is brutally murdered.

Soon Anna finds herself trapped in a foreign country and fighting for her freedom. As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone is questioning her innocence. To the rest of the world, Anna isn’t just guilty, but dangerous. As the court case unfolds the truth is about to come out, and it’s more shocking than you could ever imagine…


RATING: ☆★☆★

I’ve regretted every display of emotion I had throughout this book about two minutes after it was over, because I had barely taken into myself the knowledge that I’ve reached the last page before I realized that this book had a knife so deep in my side I didn’t feel it until it twisted. Continue reading “Review: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas”

Reviews

Review: When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

28220826SYNOPSIS:

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.


Anna-Marie Mclemore’s books are vulnerable, hauntingly beautiful patchwork quilt of thoughts and emotions that leave your heart held tight and wishing you could transcend into their level of beauty and tenderness and be rid of all your feelings except for your love for them.

When The Moon Was Ours was no exception.

So what’s this book about?

When The Moon Was Ours sweeps you into a treacherous and romantic world that takes center stage in this story of Miel, a petaled girl spilled out from a water tower who grew roses out of her wrist and Samir, who painted a hundred bright moons and hung them anywhere he could get away with. Miel and Sam housed entire armies of information about each other – Miel knew how Sam would never feel like himself inside the name he was given at birth and how he wanted nothing more than to be a boy who grew into a man, and Sam knew how much the roses woven into her veins weighted on Miel and the truth about her guardian, Aracely, who pulled lovesickness from weary hearts.

But there were many secrets neither of them was ready to give up just yet – secrets the gorgeous haughty Bonner sisters, who’ve always seemed less like siblings and more like a force, gathered enough of to compel Miel into obediance, because they believed that the roses coming through her skin had the strength the rumors said: the power to earn them the love of any boy and any heart they failed in winning.


Anna-Marie Mclemore’s writing sings—each sentence, each paragraph marvelously wrought, and the plush, sensuous prose unspools the story with delicious languor. Add in the author’s ability to always breathe into existence fully-realized characters that you’ll want to live with long after you turn the last page and you’ve got a story very few writers could conjure in their wildest imaginings and only McLemore could make into something so wondrously, palpably real.

Miel and Samir’s story is an elegantly crafted paean to the cleansing power of living your truth and the indiscriminate power of love. A story that will carry a dizzying sense of familiarity for a lot of us—made palpable in Sam and his complicated longing to settle an argument that waged deep inside himself, Sam who’s always exuded an aura of calm yet his insides resemble quicksand, Sam who wanted to carve a space for him in the world but felt like the world was a heavy backpack and he was carrying it through space, Sam who was caught in the thorn bush of who he was and was so sure that settling into his truth would be painful that he doubted any path that didn’t come with agony.

“It was his. All of it was his. His body, refusing to match his life. His heart, bitter and worn. His love for Miel, even if it had nowhere to go, even if he didn’t know how to love a girl who kept herself as distant from him as an unnamed constellation.”

Miel who never gave herself enough credit for overcoming things and getting better or celebrated her strength, Miel who’s convinced herself that loving her isn’t easy because of her sharp edges and missing parts, whose problem was never the lack of love but the inability to understand why anyone in their right mind would want to love her.

Miel and Sam who have always known the tide and undertow of each other’s feelings, their hurts, both small and large, both voiced and unvoiced, for most of their lives, yet being the object of so much tenderness and devotion loomed like a scary specter because they didn’t think they deserved it. But they do. They do. And seeing them eventually embrace it with open arms and let it all wash over them was so beautiful. I honestly love both of them so much – they’re so radiant that they probably give goosebumps to the earth’s surface with every light angelic step they take.

“When they both realized they were heartbroken enough to want the love torn from their rib cages, they touched each other with their hands and their mouths, and they forgot they wanted to be cured.” 

Lastly, no review of McLemore’s books would be complete without discussing diversity and representation. This is a beautiful love story between a Latina girl and an Italian-Pakistani trans boy woven with an authenticity that stems from the author’s own first-love-turned-marriage with a trans man. And here the author not only infuses her Latinx culture into every nook and cranny of this book (such as including the legend of La Llorona – The Weeping Woman) but she also delves deep into the Pakistani tradition of Bacha Posh a fascinating practice where fathers and mothers dress their daughters as boys until they grow up to be women. This isn’t surface-level diversity. It’s not just the inclusion of Spanish words and Afghani customs. It’s a way of interpreting the world, of making choices, of navigating life. So not only does it make for a culturally vibrant story, but an eye-opening and educational experience as well.

This isn’t surface-level, checking-off-items-on-a-list diversity. It’s not just the inclusion of Spanish words and Afghani customs. It’s a way of interpreting the world, of making choices, of navigating life. So not only does it make for a culturally vibrant story, but an eye-opening and educational experience as well.


Highly recommended!

Reviews

Review: Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

31351689SYNOPSIS:

Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her ex-girlfriend and best friend since childhood, Charlie.

As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.


RATING: ☆★☆★☆

Continue reading “Review: Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake”