Mini-reviews: Something Beautiful & Chasing Eveline

I won both these books in a giveaway hosted by Armchair BEA a while ago, so now I’m going to do a mini-review for both of them!

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Something Beautiful by Amanda Gernentz Hanson

Cordelia and Declan have been best friends since they were three years old. By the time they hit middle school, Cordelia—Cord, to Declan—is already feeling the blackness in her life as depression takes hold. Their mutual attraction to each other leads to a serious high school relationship, one with their foundation of friendship at the forefront. Cordelia seems to have her mental health under control. All appears to be well.However, when Declan starts to accept his own fluid sexuality, it sets something in motion in their lives that is both beautiful and tragic as they learn to love each other for who they are.
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Review: The Butterfly On Fire: both contemporary and fantasy at the same time

E.L. Croucher, the author of The Butterfly on Fire, reached out to me to do a review on her book. The Butterfly on Fire is a seemingly strange mix of contemporary and fantasy, the story lines do however fit together. I think I would consider this a New Adult book, since the characters are in their twenties.

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The Butterfly on Fire is the story of three different lives, each linked together by a tragic, unchanging truth.

Eric is growing up and realizing how different he is to those around him. How much longer can he hide from himself?

Beam is trying to balance work and romance like everyone else living in London. When embarking on such a journey, anything could happen.

Fubuki is Queen of a magnificent world known as Macha Land, but finds herself struggling to maintain the peace after an innocent man mysteriously dies at one of her Songshows. Will her utopia last with death at her doorstep?

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Review: Fallen Flame: a bit flat and unoriginal but a decent start for a series

Fallen Flame by J.M. Miller is an action-packed YA fantasy story about a girl with magic, in a world without magic. The premise sounds a little unoriginal and now that I think back of it, the whole story isn’t really that original, it is a fun book though.

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34209180Fallen Flame by J.M. Miller

Nineteen years ago, on the island kingdom of Garlin, a girl was born. With charred skin as rough as rock, Vala was instantly feared. For how could one be scorched by magic when it had perished ages before?
Recognizing an asset, the royal family welcomed her on their Guard. Her detail: the prince.
To watch. To protect. She has grown with him, lives her life for him.
When the high kingdom’s princess comes to assess the prince, assassins of rival courtiers come to claim his life. One nearly succeeds in his mission. But with shadowy movements and charred skin like her own, Vala knows he is not like the rest.
As threats to the prince continue and questions about Vala’s life begin to rise, she faces a fear worse than fire or water, worse even than losing him.
She fears finding out who she truly is.

Continue reading “Review: Fallen Flame: a bit flat and unoriginal but a decent start for a series”

Review: On The Spectrum: Romance and Diversity in Paris

As I barely remember any of my opinions and I read it a month ago, I’m going to keep this short and sweet.

General rating: ★★★☆
Diversity rating: ★★ (POC, disability)

On The Spectrum by Jennifer Gold34415919

Growing up in the shadow of a famous mother, Clara has never felt good about her body. Now, at sixteen, she has an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. After a social media disaster, she decides to escape for the summer to Paris to stay with her estranged dad and her six-year-old brother, Alastair, who is on the autism spectrum. Charged with his care, Clara and Alastair set out to explore the city. Paris teaches Clara about first love and gives her a new love of food. And Alastair teaches Clara about patience, trust and the beauty of loving without judgment.

What I really liked about this book was the diversity and representation in it. Clara is orthorexia, which is basically anorexia but then with a focus on healthy eating. I really enjoyed this, because I hadn’t heard about it before and I learned a lot about it. Clara’s mother has a large influence on how she became to be. Clara doesn’t know her little brother, who now lives with her dad in Paris. Her little brother has autism spectrum disorder.

Her reasons for running to Paris after a debacle on social media, was a bit strange to me. I didn’t really understand why it was such a big deal. Clara and her friend act a bit spoiled, and I didn’t really like them, but during the book, Clara changes a lot and there is a lot of character development.

The love interest in this book is absolutely the perfect, cute, boy-next-door type of guy. He tries to help Clara get better. He works at a bakery and has a hard time understanding why Clara has such a difficult time eating, though he tries very hard to be supportive. This book is about food and how Clara learns to love food. Though the romance was cute, it was not really necessary for the story, and because I’m not usually a big fan of romance in books, I again felt not really that engaged in their relationship.

The joy of this book came from Alastair, the little brother. He is very cute and has a hard time functioning in the world. Clara helps him to fit better in his class. He is very straight-forward, like children with ASD usually are. He is a sweet boy, and I really enjoyed watching Clara and him build a real brother-sister relationship.

I am giving this book 3.5 stars because it was a cute and romantic read, with lots of diversity. The story was fun and interesting, with great character development. Though, I did not enjoy it as much as I would have liked, for no obvious reason. I would recommend this book if you like contemporary books that are short, sweet and diverse.

The Thieves of Nottica: Lovely Diverse Fantasy & A GIVEAWAY (whoohoo)

When I was contacted by the author to review this book I was immediately intrigued, it is namely not only a fantasy book, but it is also very diverse. Diverse fantasy is very rare and I love it. I’m really into diverse fantasy lately, I love it that often, compared to diverse contemporary books, it is not really about the things that makes it diverse, while it is often the main focus in contemporary (there’s nothing wrong with that, I love those books too).

The Thieves of Nottica by Ash Gray34092357

In a world where humans are evil, invading aliens, Rigg is the youngest member of the Keymasters, a band of professional thieves who use their skills to defy an overbearing government known as the Hand. It is a world full of pollution, intrusive surveillance cameras, and injustice, where any who “give the finger to the Hand” are punished with death. The Keymasters are hired to steal a highly sought after treasure, but when one of their number is lost during the job, they find themselves the tools in a power play for said treasure — a mysterious lockbox that no one can open. To ultimately survive in the end, the Keymasters must battle their way through mechanical monsters, airships, and politics, literally going through shit (they travel through a sewage pipe) to make it out alive.

The book is about a group of thieves called the Keymasters, they are three women who are demons. They are not exactly demons, but that is what they were called by the humans. The story takes place in a futuristic but steampunk-ish world where the demons are oppressed by the humans that one took over their world. There are also automatons/humanoids and cyborgs, which is pretty cool. I really liked the worldbuilding in this book, there is this whole background about the world and the characters, which was very cleverly made. 

The characters themselves were great. I loved especially Hari and Rigg a lot, and Lisa was just so sweet and naive, I adored them. Morganith is a badass woman who really speaks her opinion and I can always appreciate a character like that in a book. The relationships between the characters felt really mature, they had a long background together and you could really see that in the way they acted around each other. Lisa is the new addition to their crew but I loved how, once she gained her trust, she was completely accepted as one of theirs. I also loved the love story which was not a large part of the book, but added a lot to the story.

“I solemnly swear that every word I utter is a lie,” whispered Rigg unhappily.
Lisa tilted her head. “What was that?”
Hari glanced at Lisa with hesitation. “It’s the Keymaster oath,” she said with a sad smile. “Nell, Arda and me made it up when we first formed the group. See, the Keymasters aren’t just a bunch of wild bandits. We’ve got rules.”

What made this book stand out, for me, was the huge representation of diversity. All of the characters are in a way diverse. All of them had to deal with oppression, due to their physical attributions (being a demon and all :P), but they were also black, had varied sexual orientations and Morganith is disabled. There was representation of lesbian, asexual, intersexual and bisexual characters. This was actually the very first time I read about an asexual character in a book so I was super excited! (I identify as aromantic-asexual so YAYY)

“No matter how much you loved and respected me, it wouldn’t change society. You cannot change the world for me, Rigg.”
“I can sure as hell try.”

I am giving this book 4.25 stars (I’m breaking my own rules here, I only give half stars but oh well) because it was a lot of fun to read. One minor point was that due to the large amount of information you got in the beginning of the book it was a little hard to come into but once I did, I loved it. The characters and world were great and I loved the diversity!

The Giveaway

The writer was so kind as to allow me to have a giveaway for this book. It’ll be an ebook, which I will send to you. It is a MOBI file which you can open on your Kindle but also on the free Kindle app, which means you can also read it on your phone or laptop or pretty much any device. If you’re interested in the book, enter below!

Enter the giveaway here!

The giveaway will end on Monday July 3rd (and is obviously international :P)

Would you be interested in this book? Have you entered the giveaway?

Review: The Agony Of Bun O’Keefe: Very Diverse Middle Grade about Very Heavy Topics

General rating: ★★★☆
Diversity rating: ★★★★ (POC, LGBT+: gay, drag queen (does that count??), minority: native American, disability/disorder: OCD)

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather Smith is, I believe, a middle grade contemporary. It tells the story of fourteen-year-old Bun, who is one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever read about. The book is not only really good, it’s also very diverse.

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather Smith51il7haa5pl

Set in 1980s Newfoundland, The Agony of Bun O’Keefe is the story of a 14-year-old girl who runs away to the city and is taken in by a street musician who lives with an eclectic cast of characters: a pot smoking dishwasher with culinary dreams; a drag queen with a tragic past; a Catholic school girl desperately trying to reinvent herself; and a man who Bun is told to avoid at all cost.

After the mother of the main character Bun tells her to leave, she does. She ends up on the streets, meeting an older boy, who she calls Busker Boy. They become friends and she moves in with him. She gets to know the other people who live in his home, including a drag queen, a cook and a girl she names Big Eyes. Over the book the friendship between these people grows and Bun is taken in like a little sister.

Although this book is marketed as middle grade (or isn’t it?), the topics that this book covers are way heavier than the average middle-grade book. This book covers topics varying from loss, underweight and even sexual assault and abuse. I am not sure whether I would recommend this book to any 12-ish year olds, since these topics are not really pre-teen friendly.

“Do you really not have any goals?” he asked.
“Not that I can think of.”
“I thought everyone had goals, even if it was just to get through the day.”
“That’s not a goal,” I said. “It’s an inevitability. Unless you get hit by a car or something.”

Bun has always lived with her obsessive compulsive hoarder mother, but after her dad left, she stopped feeling. She became distant from all emotions. She didn’t go to school and all she knows is from books and movies. She is surprisingly smart, that is, she knows a lot, but socially her skills are less good. As the characters in the book fell in love with her, I did too. She takes everything literally and doesn’t understand jokes or metaphors. During the book, there is a large character development going on. Bun learns about her own emotions and learns to function socially. But like the characters in this book would say, Bun shouldn’t change herself, because she is perfect the way she is.

“Don’t ever apologize to me for sharing the thoughts that you have in your head. They’re honest and real and, more importantly, they’re you.”

The writing style was quite confusing sometimes. I don’t know if it’s because of my edition, but there often was no line break between different characters talking and often I didn’t know who was speaking.

“We’re all damaged in a way. But it’s nothing that can’t be fixed. You just have to kick out the dents from the inside.”

I am giving this book 3.5 stars because it was very interesting to read about such a character and about all the troubles she uncovered. The book was very diverse, had great main and side characters, showed amazing friendships and felt very real. I’m not giving it 4 stars because it lacked a feeling I can’t really describe, I missed the feeling of being dragged into the story. I really liked it, but I didn’t love it. Overall I would recommend this book to 14+ year old readers who want to read more diverse books and are interested in reading about quirky characters in a setting that is different from any other.

Finding The Phoenix: Dark, Magical & (too?) Complex

Finding The Phoenix is the first book in The Celestial Talisman series, which is a dark adult (urban) fantasy series. I did not know it was an adult series, but I think it is a good read for YA fans as well.

Finding The Phoenix by Caitlin O’Conner29904031

Heaven has no memory of dying, except the experience of death itself. It’s that memory, of a place called ‘The Between’, that convinces her the man claiming to be her Guardian might not be crazy. Besides, even crazy is better than the life she’s leaving behind to be the Circle’s Wielder of Spirit. All she has to worry about now is her training, and figuring out how to fit in with the Awakened.

But the Circle isn’t the haven she thought it might be. The fanatic Handmaidens of the Skaath Diurga are gathering strength and only the Awakened can keep the shadow creatures at bay. When one of the Guardians is killed, ulterior motives thrust Heaven into the middle of the Circle’s quest for justice. She’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for the people she’s come to care about.

The story starts with our main character, who goes by many names in this book, waking up in the morgue. Her past is dark and complex and she is confused about where she now ended up. The guy she finds when she wakes up tells mysterious tales of dark forces, magical orders, and battles. In this story, we meet several characters, and I really liked every single one of them. They were all complex, flawed, had backgrounds that haunted them and their interactions were a joy to read.

“I assure you, we’re the good guys.”
“There aren’t any good guys, just better or worse guys.”

The character development was really well done. The main character Heaven is very closed off at the beginning and is afraid of many things, during the book, however, she starts to open up to people and you can see how near the end she starts to shine.

“I don’t know what to make of you sometimes,” he told her in a low voice.
“It’s simple,” she smiles. “I’m messed up.”

It is quite mysterious and dark, and to be honest the worldbuilding just didn’t work for me. After reading about half the book, I took a break (because I got really into another book I was reading at the moment) but when I got back I had forgotten all about how the world worked and what everything meant. The basics were clear to me, but beside that, I really don’t know. I don’t think I’m one to judge because I really didn’t understand it. There were many names and references and it was hard to keep up.

The diversity was really interesting as well. In the beginning, we see Heaven struggle with anxiety and her abusive past. The book also covers topics such as loss. The book is set in South Africa, and though it did not play a major role in the book, it was really interesting to read about.

Overall, I am giving this book 3 stars, because though I loved the characters and the development, the world building really didn’t do it for me. Probably, if I had read this at another time, I might have loved it a lot more. I would definitely recommend this book if you’re interested in trying to read more adult fantasy, since this book really bridges between YA and adult fantasy. I can definitely see why other people enjoyed this book a lot more than I did, but I just think it might not have been for me.