Review: 27 Hours | Queer Teens Fighting Dragons in Space

I am well aware of the controversy surrounding this book. I’ve read a lot of negative reviews, but I also have read positive reviews. Still, I was really looking forward to reading this book and I am glad I did.

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27 Hours by Tristina Wright28526192

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.

Continue reading “Review: 27 Hours | Queer Teens Fighting Dragons in Space”

Review: Good Angel | A Cute story about Morally Grey Angels and Demons mixed with Diversity and Questions about Sexuality

Good Angel is a self-published book about angels and demons but it’s really different from any angel and demons book I’ve ever read.

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Good Angel by A.M. Blaushild35708483

Iofiel is an ideal candidate to become a guardian angel, and help steer humans away from sin: she’s helpful, cheery, and utterly loyal. And, as the ‘angel of beauty’, it’s not like she has anything better to do.

Heaven and Hell long ago ran out of space: there’s too many humans these days, so both have come to a shaky truce – one school sheltered in the forests of Canada, hidden from humanity, where their young can study.

All seems well for Iofiel’s first days at university – her Archangel roommate is a bit uptight, and dealing with demons feels weird– but when a picked on demon confesses he’s too nervous to pursue his true passion of soul stealing… Iofiel promises she’ll major in it with him!

So much for being a proper angel. Her helpful impulse has repercussions that shake the school, and may just change the world forever. Or just end it.

Because that’s a possibility too.

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I went into this book knowing close to nothing about it. I knew it was about angels and demons and that it had aro-ace representation. As someone who identifies as aro-ace, I was very excited to read an ownvoices book with that representation. I was so ready to finally read about that aro-ace character that I’ve been basically dreaming of, one that I could actually relate to. Sadly, that didn’t happen. More about that later.

Iofiel is a (new) angel and she’s a very naive, innocent character, I think those words describe her really well. She wants to help everyone and she apparently didn’t really need much of a reason to do so even if it made life for herself difficult. She becomes friends with demons who go to the same school as she does and basically does everything an angel shouldn’t do. Still, you cheer for her all the way to the end, because her innocence and sweet-heartedness make you fall a little in love with her.

“You don’t worship evil, you just pull it around on a leash a bit until it’s learned to do your bidding.”
“Remember when you were going to be a Guardian Angel, and really liked pancakes? Those were the good days. The golden days of, like, three weeks ago.”

I have this theory that every book has a strong point, or multiple ones. The more strong points it has, the better it is. These strong points can be the writing, the pacing, the tension, the characters, the dialogue, etc. I didn’t feel like this book had any outstanding points, it was good, but nothing was that good that it really stuck to me. The characters were really likeable, the dialogue was quite fun, the writing was okay, the story overall was interesting. But it wasn’t grabbing. It wasn’t as good as I would have loved it to be.

“When have I ever made someone see how beautiful something was, though? I don’t know if appreciating things really makes them… worthwhile. It’s about getting people to agree.”

So back to my original point. In the book, Iofiel is at first described as aromantic asexual, but to me, she doesn’t really seem to be either. Or maybe better said, she is really still questioning everything about her attraction. Though there is nothing wrong with that, I would have loved to see a bit more exploration on the topic of aromanticism and asexuality. I think now this book gives a bit of a wrong image of what aromanticism and asexuality are. I can’t really explain everything without spoiling anything so this’ll have to do.

Overall, I am giving this book 3.5 stars because it is fun, but not outstanding on any topic. Everything is really fun and interesting but it’s not really impressing me on any front. I did love that there was a lot of diversity in sexualities (bi, gay, agender, ace, and more) and skin-tones (since angels and demons don’t all look human they have skin-tones in all the colors of the rainbow). I loved that it explored topics of morality and how it crossed paths from good to evil and where to stand. I would really recommend this book if you like books about angels and morally gray characters. Overall this was a very cute book and a fun read!

Review: T is for Tree | So problematic, I don’t even want to start.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about this book for reasons I’ll mention soon. You might remember my discussion about problematic content, well, I thought this book was problematic.

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T is for Tree by Greg Fowler35700353

Eddy knows he’s not like other teenagers. He doesn’t look like them. He doesn’t think like them. He doesn’t go to school or have friends like they do. Eddy’s not even allowed to leave his bedroom – except on shower day of course. He doesn’t know why; all Eddy knows is that he’s different.

Abandoned by his mother and kept locked away by his grandmother, Eddy must spend his life watching the world go by from his bedroom window. Until Reagan Crowe moves in next door and everything starts to change. She’s kind, funny, beautiful, and most importantly, she’s Eddy’s first friend. Over time, Reagan introduces Eddy to the strange and wonderful world outside his bedroom: maths, jam, love.

But growing up isn’t that simple for either of them. And Eddy has a secret. The tree that’s slowly creeping in through his window from the garden is no ordinary tree. But then again, Eddy’s no ordinary boy. He’s special…

Set over the course of five years, T is for Tree is moving, life-affirming, and shows that we can all find greatness in the small things.

Continue reading “Review: T is for Tree | So problematic, I don’t even want to start.”

Review: City of Strife & City of Betrayal: diverse fantasy about politics and friendship

I had the opportunity to read the two first books in the Isandor / City of Spires series by Claudie Arsenault (you might remember her from her guest post a while ago). As I am completely into diverse fantasy right now (and probably until the end of the world tbh), I was really glad to have gotten the opportunity!

I will mostly mix my opinions of both the books, since they were both quite similar in build-up and characters and things like that. So this is a double-review! There will be no spoilers!

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30977572A hundred and thirty years have passed since Arathiel last set foot in his home city. Isandor hasn’t changed—bickering merchant families still vie for power through eccentric shows of wealth—but he has. His family is long dead, a magical trap has dulled his senses, and he returns seeking a sense of belonging now long lost.

Arathiel hides in the Lower City, piecing together a new life among in a shelter dedicated to the homeless and the poor, befriending an uncommon trio: the Shelter’s rageful owner, Larryn, his dark elven friend Hasryan, and Cal the cheese-loving halfling. When Hasryan is accused of Isandor’s most infamous assassination of the last decade, what little peace Arathiel has managed to find for himself is shattered. Hasryan is innocent… he thinks. In order to save him, Arathiel may have to shatter the shreds of home he’d managed to build for himself.

Arathiel could appeal to the Dathirii—a noble elven family who knew him before he disappeared—but he would have to stop hiding, and they have battles of their own to fight. The idealistic Lord Dathirii is waging a battle of honour and justice against the cruel Myrian Empire, objecting to their slavery, their magics, and inhumane treatment of their apprentices. One he could win, if only he could convince Isandor’s rulers to stop courting Myrian’s favours for profit.

In the ripples that follow Diel’s opposition, friendships shatter and alliances crumble. Arathiel, the Dathirii, and everyone in Isandor fights to preserve their homes, even if the struggle changes them irrevocably.

(this is the synopsis of the first book, not the second)
City of Strife is the first installment of the City of Spires trilogy, a multi-layered political fantasy led by an all LGBTQIAP+ cast. Fans of complex storylines criss-crossing one another, elves and magic, and strong friendships and found families will find everything they need within these pages.

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It took me a while to really get into the first book. This book features a lot of perspectives and for me, that was quite hard. In the first part of the book you get constantly introduced to new people and keeping up with everything was a bit of a struggle. Sadly, that also slowed down the story overall. However, after the beginning, it did pick up and a lot of things started happening. To my tastes, it could have been a little more fast-paced but that’s just a personal preference. In the second book, I did not have that problem, because I already knew all the characters, so therefore I enjoyed the second book more from the start.

“He found reasons to grin even when there were none, in defiance of the never-ending hardships and the world beating down on him. Maybe if he smiled enough, the happiness he projected would stop being a lie and coalesce into the truth.” – City of Strife

The story is about a city (duh) and the city is lead by a group of noble families. Some of the characters are part of this family and some aren’t and you can get to see the situation from many eyes. There is danger and intrigue, but this story is mainly about family and friendship. The characters form strong bonds and care so much about each other. I loved seeing them come together and especially in the second book, where almost all the characters get to know each other. In those final hundred pages of the second book, I have laughed with them and cried with them. They were amazing.

There are a lot of characters in this book, and I could write pages and pages about all of them, so I will only focus on my favourites. My favourites are definitely Cal and Arathiel. Cal is aromantic and he is just very sweet and kind and caring. He loves his friends and would do anything for them. Arathiel is the outsider in the story. He is strange, mysterious, quiet but also very caring. Besides these characters there were plenty more amazing ones. Hasryan and Vellien would get a shared third place on my favourites ranking, because they deserve to be mentioned. I could relate to so many of the characters in very different ways and I loved that they were all so different from each other.

“Arathiel is a warm blanket: simple, reliable, soft. He’s the friend you kind of forget, but when it really matters he’s there. Leaping of bridges to save your neck from the noose, even though you expect nothing of him.” – City of Betrayal

I cannot end this review before discussing the amazing diverse representation in these books. There were characters of almost every sexual orientation you can imagine and there were characters of different descents and different skin colors. I loved in particularly, Cal’s aromanticism because usually aro characters are described as unfeeling or cold and Cal was the absolute opposite. I also really enjoyed the non-binary/enby representation (because whenever I read about one of those characters I just can’t help but love them).

“You can’t always choose your fights. Some battles need to be fought, whether you want to or not — whether they can be won or not.” – City of Betrayal

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For the first book, my rating is 3,5 stars. But after writing this review, I am really tempted to move up my rating for the second book from 3,5 to 4 stars but I think I’m going to just leave it in the middle: 3,75 stars! What I loved most about these two books was the representation of diverse characters and the characters in general. The only thing that could have been improved, to my opinion, was the pacing of the first book. It took me a long time to get into the story (mainly because I struggled with the many perspectives), but after that it was great. I would definitely recommend these books if you like political fantasy, I don’t know if that is a genre but oh well

Review: Girls Made of Snow And Glass: an Enchanting Retelling of Snow White

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust is a retelling of Snow White. It is a YA fantasy story about Lynet and her stepmother Mina with magic and is about friendship and family and love and it’s just amazing.

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32768509Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairy tale

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.
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Review Starfish: relatable and perfect

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman has a cover that makes you want to go out and buy it immediately, but please just wait a few minutes because after this review you’ll want to read it even more 🙂

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Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

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This is a story about friendship, about family, about love and about choosing for yourself. It’s a wonderful book and basically incorporated everything I look for in a book. I love books about friends and families. I love books that are set in the last year of high school, before life really starts and you need to decide your future.

Kiko is such a relatable character. She has social anxiety and is extremely socially awkward. Her relationship with her family is distant. Her mother is pretty much the most annoying person ever (my words, not hers, but I’m pretty sure she’d agree). She’s tortured by childhood trauma. Her escape is art, she draws and paints and when she doesn’t get accepted to the art school she has always dreamed of going her life suddenly got another turn.

I loved reading from Kiko’s perspective. I found an endless number of situations I recognized myself in, from the way her relationship with her brothers is distant, to how socially awkward she is in conversations. She often doesn’t say what she wants to say and I really liked the way that was described in the book. I also loved the way in which her art was incorporated in the book. At the end of almost every chapter, there is a short description of something she draws/paints.

“I don’t know the right words to say to sound cool, because “being cool” does not fall within my skill set.”

Kiko is half-Japanese (or half-white depending on how you see it) and I found it incredibly interesting to read about how it is to grow up as mixed-race. Kiko wasn’t raised with Japanese culture but throughout the story, she learns more about her roots. I think the book really captured this really well, the author is also mixed-race and her experiences really shine through in the book.

“Fixing me isn’t like fixing a loose screw or a little bit of rust. I’m like a giant mess of problems, all linked together and tracing back to my childhood. Back to when things got so complicated.”

I want to mention the love story, even though it is not a major part of the story. It was really cute, and I found the way Kiko dealt with it very realistic. I loved that she didn’t just let herself “be saved” by someone else, she wanted to be able to stand on her own two feet. I loved that the message wasn’t that you need love to fix yourself. I feel that is often the case in similar coming-of-age contemporaries dealing with issues like is. I’m a huge advocate of the idea that you don’t need a boy to save you. (who run the world?)

“I don’t want to need anymore. I want to stand on my own two feet. I want to control of my own life and my own emotions. I don’t want to be a branch in someone else’s life anymore — I want to be the tree on my own.”

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I am giving this book 5 stars because it was all I hoped this book would give me. I loved Kiko and Jamie basically everything. I literally can’t think of anything that might have made this book even better (well maybe except having Kiko’s actual art in the book but that’s not a possibility I think). It was emotional, funny, relatable, and the writing style was wonderful.  I will definitely recommend this book if you like contemporaries!

I would like to thank Akemi for providing me with a copy of this wonderful book!

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman will come out in September of 2017.

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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