review

gay feminist snow white – Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust – Releases September 5th – 4 stars

As many of you may know, I’m a huge fan of subersive retellings. A retelling focusing on Snow White and her stepmother always sounded fabulous to me, especially with feminist themes.

And, thank goodness, it didn’t disappoint. This is really all I want out of fantasy; developed characters, interesting subversions of done-before tropes, and sapphic girls.

In terms of retellings, this is one of the more imaginative ones I’ve read. I can’t really spoil how!! But really, the new elements added were so delightful and creative, yet stick to the spirit of the tale. With one exception, obviously, for Mina and Lynet’s relationshhip.

This book’s chief strength is the character work. Mina’s character arc is extremely well-written and developed. Her character isn’t so much morally ambiguous as troubled and self-hating but I found her combination of self-hatred and confidence so realistic.

Lynet isn’t quite as fabulous a character, but she’s still easy to connect to and fun to see on page. I like her inner strength and bravery.

There are two romantic relationships here, one of which occurs between two girls. Their relationship was cute and not instalovey, which is awesome, but I unfortunately wasn’t totally blown away. While they’re cute, it takes a lot of character work for me to really get invested. The secondary relationship actually enticed me more, probably because I liked Mina more.

It’s not a new favorite book, sadly; despite my love for the characters, I found the actual plotline slightly underwhelming. I wanted something more, something darker. There’s not enough worldbuilding or real intrigue for my taste. This book might’ve been able to get deeper with a full series. Standalones just can’t get much deeper than this.

VERDICT: An interesting and engaging retelling of Snow White; definitely recommended for any retelling fans looking for something different.

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series I finished 2016-2017

This isn’t a full post – sorry to disappoint!! It’s more a list of every series I finished the last couple years and how I’d rate each one as whole. I’ve ranked it in order of enjoyment.

Mostly, I just want to see what you guys have read, and how many series I’ve actually read!! Have fun commenting.

The Series

The Tricks Duology by Ellen Hopkins – 3.5 stars.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – 3.5 stars.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Adhieh – 3.5 stars.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman – 4 stars.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow – 5 stars.

The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavick – 4 stars.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu – 4 stars.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – 4 stars.

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston – 4 stars. second didn’t need to exist.

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie – 4.5 stars.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – 5 stars.

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – 5 stars.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – 5 million stars. This is my all-time favorite series.

review

arc review: the new voices of fantasy anthology

The New Voices of Fantasy – 3 stars – releases August 8th 2017

I love anthologies because I get to review each story as a separate entity.

While I’ll be mentioning thoughts on each story separately, I would like to say a few words about the collection as a whole. First of all, this is more speculative fiction than fantasy. Barely any of these take place in a different world, and barely any have standard plots. Instead, with a few exceptions, most are brief ruminations on a certain topic. I have to admit, I found that element fairly boring. Many of these started fantastically and ended just blah.

However, I did find a few FANTASTIC stories in here. I’m an especially big fan of the weird-but-badass Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong, the eerie Jackalope Wives by Ursula Vernon, the probably-going-to-be-polarizing Tiger Baby by JY Yang, and the emotional & feminist The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Machado. If you’re looking for a place to read a few of my fav stories from this anthology, I’d recommend checking out Melanie’s review, in which she added links for every single short story she could find so you can read a few of my favs for free!!. This was so much extra effort and I appreciated it so much. If you want to check out her blog and follow her because she’s fantastic, she’s here!!

♔ Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong – ★★★★★
This one is basically terrifying. A girl uses Tinder to find dates and feed off their gross thoughts about her body. Yet on one date, she feasts off a murderer and becomes addicted. There’s also a maybe-romance between her and her best friend. I adored this story, although I felt that the end fizzled a little. The writing and atmosphere is pitch-perfect, I adored the characters… just great. Probably my favorite of all the stories.
You can read this here.

♔ Selkie Stories are for Losers by Sofia Samatar – ★★★
This follows– um, I’m not quite sure, because this really didn’t feel resolved or completed. I liked the writing and the atmosphere, but the execution of the storyline was mediocre. Also appreciate that both of the first two stories were both a little gay.

♔ Tornado’s Siren by Brooke Bolander – ★★★
This follows a girl in love with a tornado. It’s… weird. I love the idea, but I didn’t emotionally connect with anything here. The magical realism feel is nice, at least.

♔ Left the Century to Sit Unmoved by Sarah Pinsker – ★★★★
This is a slice-of-life about people living near a pond in their small town. I LOVED the beginning. Absolutely adored the writing, loved the themes, was so excited to see what the solution is. I thought this would blow my mind. It unfortunately didn’t. These open endings have got to go.

♔ A Kiss with Teeth by Max Gladstone – ★★★
It’s a coming of age story, but with a really old vampire instead of a teen. I was honestly kind of surprised I enjoyed this, after I found the beginning badly written and slightly stalker-ish. But this quickly turned into an interesting story about accepting faults in love. I especially loved reading about Vlad and Sarah’s little family.

♔ Jackalope Wives by Ursula Vernon – ★★★★★
This is a story about wanting what you can’t have and having what you can’t want. It’s… eerie. I feel like this will be polarizing, but I loved it. And yes, it is about jackalope wives. Go figure.

♔ The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu – ★★★
I don’t think I understood this? The themes about human empowerment are clear, but there’s no thesis to it, I guess. It is very well-written.

♔ The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate by A. C. Wise – ★★
Meh. I think I have to agree with Melanie when I say this was kind of pointless. It’s a guide for witches building houses.

♔ The Tallest Doll in New York City by Maria Dahvana Headley – ★★★★
This was so weird but so creative and atmospheric. It follows a group of buildings that are dating. I said weird, don’t blame me. I don’t even know if I understood all of it; is it time neutral or something? Yet I ended the story with happiness rather than with a desire for more.

♔ The Haunting of Apollo A7LB by Hannu Rajaniemi – ★★★★
The first line of this story is freaking amazing; I actually planned to take a break from this collection until I saw the first line. And thankfully I really enjoyed this!! It’s a story of lost love and dreams. Be warned it’s far less creepy than its blurb.

♔ Here Be Dragons by Chris Tarry – ★★
This follows a man who is always leaving his parents to make money off townspeople via slaying fraudulent dragons. I thought this was going to be some story of redemption after being a terrible father, but it’s so… ugh. There’s this vibe of “women are the right parents for children and men pitching in is just a bonus” which… no. I kind of enjoyed the middle of this story, but the end ruined it for me by going back on all the potential for character development.

♔ The One They Took Before by Kelly Sandoval – ★★★
Maybe more of a 2.5, because I legitimately have no fucking clue what this is about. Nice writing though.

♔ Tiger Baby by JY Yang – ★★★★★
This was so weird, and yet here I am with your latest five-star review. Maybe a 4.5 in reality, but this fucked with my mind. This follows a girl who believes she is truly a tiger. The ending is just as odd as the rest, but I really enjoyed something about it. I’d like to analyze this one. I feel as if it will be quite hit-or-miss. And this will sound odd, but I appreciate the amount of stories in this collection with badass gay Asian girls as protagonists.

♔ The Duck by Ben Loory – ★★★
This follows a duck who falls in love with a rock. I know what you’re thinking – he’s weird. An odd duck, if you will. But truly, that’s the point. This story is truly about accepting your friends for who they are. It’s a sweet theme and a sweet story. Unfortunately, I found this a bit lacking. The themes lacked the depth of development I wanted, due to the ridiculously short length.

♔ Wing by Amal El-Mohtar – ★★★★
This is a story about how love should be accepting. Following a girl with a book around her neck, a girl with a secret, we see how love should come about. It’s quite short, but I enjoyed this a lot. There are some fabulous and quotable lines in here.

♔ The Philosophers by Adam Ehrlich Sachs – ★★★
This is a series of vignettes about fathers and sons. And no, there aren’t any girl characters. Go figure. The first story is about generations trying to communicate and bad translating methods. The second story is about recognizing parental faults and hats. The last story isn’t about fathers at all, it’s about creating paradoxes through assassinating your relatives. But it was probably my favorite of all these.

♔ My Time Among the Bridge Blowers by Eugene Fischer – ★★★★
This is a story about colonialism. Readers will be drawn to the themes and message of this, as well as the complex and intriguing worldbuilding. Why couldn’t this be a full book?

♔ The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Machado – ★★★★★
I read this earlier due to Melanie‘s awesome recommendation. This is a story about being consumed by men and losing your own agency. It’s a story about how much you can give before you break. And that’s all I’m really going to say about it. This is one you really have to experience on your own. One thing is clear, though; it’s worth the read. There were a few metaphors here I only understood on the second go due to sheer exhaustion, which is really upsetting – I feel like this would be my fave rather than my second fave otherwise.
You can read this story here.

♔ The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman T. Malik – ★
I’m going to be totally honest here – I hated this. It’s really well-written, and I’m sure many will appreciate it if they “get it”. But I could not get past the length. This takes up an entire 25% of the story collection. Twenty. Five. Percent. That’s not short. That’s a 75 page story. And it didn’t need to be so long!! This easily could’ve been twenty pages and fantastic, if a little confusing. Confusing short stories are fun and make you think. Confusing long stories are annoying. This was the latter. It’s an overwritten mess that keeps touching on cosmology but doesn’t make any sense.

Comment below if you had any similar thoughts on these stories, or different ones!!

hauls

books I got in August

It’s time for yet another “books I got / received this month” post. I’ve decided to start keeping track of how long books are on my shelf so we don’t repeat that situation with the Diviners. (Which I still haven’t read, by the way. I’m a failure.) Again, books that I’ve read are linked to their reviews.

books I bought and have read

  • This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales – A used-but-perfect-condition buy. (It was even in the pretty cover edition!!) I read this in November 2015, as a matter of fact. This is a fantastic contemporary about depression and I’ve somehow never owned a copy. I’m actually considering a reread??
  • Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios – This wasn’t on discount!! Just a normal copy!! I’m surprised too!! I started reading this at a bookstore and immediately bought it because holy shit, was it fantastic. I’m actually around halfway through reading it as I write this five hours later, and I’m really glad I bought it instead of struggling through the arc copy on my kindle. My review will definitely be positive.
  • Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz – another damaged copy that… isn’t… damaged?? Well, it is a little. But barely. It’s not even noticeable. And I loved this book when I read an arc earlier this year, to the point where I seriously considered a reread right away. That link leads to my gush review!!

books I bought and have yet to read

  • Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler – $1.99 for a kindle edition all of August!! Go, go, go!! Anyway, this is an f/f romance that I’ve been looking to read for around a year now. When I saw the price I decided it was time to actually buy a copy.
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff – I bought this due to a friend’s recommendation. I’m going to be totally honest and say it was mostly because the protagonist is apparently bi?? Your girl is Here for that!!
  • Fingersmith by Sarah Waters – One dollar at Friends of the Library!!! Give me those historical fiction mystery lesbians. Come on.
  • The Girl On the Train by Paula Hawkins – Another one dollar buy!!! I’m kinda mixed on whether I’ll like this, but it’s such a classic that I don’t think I’ll ever avoid putting it on my tbr. Why not.
  • Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley Doyle – Oh man, I got three books that weren’t on any discount besides my employee discount?? Three?? Your eyes do not deceive you, lovely followers. I keep calling this the bi witches book and honestly? Big mood. I’m writing this really early in the month and am hoping to read this by the end, just because all my friends keep saying I need to read it and I loved the author’s first book and I’m basically desperate to read this.

arcs I got and read

  • Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp – my kink is creepy ambiguously queer suspense books set in Alaska. I feel like that’s just… my genre. Unfortunately, I kind of despised this book. Review is linked.

arcs I got and have yet to read

  • Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston – SPACE. ANASTASIA. HOLY SHIT. This is the author of Geekerella, which I’ve heard good to mixed things about.
  • Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurt – This is about dragons and bisexuality. Is that the only reason I picked up a copy? Yup.
  • An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson – People will not stop recommending this to me and it was on edelweiss so HERE I AM. This is about fairies and magical realism.
  • Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff – Netgalley treats me better than any man ever could. I’m reading Nevernight right now!!
review

arc review: The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz – 4 stars!! – releases October 10th

I’m going to be honest and say I picked this up almost exclusively because of the bi main character. And I am so, so glad I did. This book is freaking amazing and REALLY underrated.

Gallery of Unfinished Girls is an intensely beautiful magical realism story: not at all what I expected, but somehow everything I needed. Karcz manages to pull together themes about growing up, moving on, and being an artist into the same book. And it works perfectly. The message of the book develops over time and the writing builds.

Don’t expect a romance here; this is more of a coming-of-age story. Honestly, the lack of romance was probably my least favorite part. I know that sounds ridiculous and out-of-character for me, but it’s true. I wished for more of a love story to bring the book together. Yes, the lack of actual romance is realistic, given the situation: no, I still don’t particularly like it.

The characters of this beautiful little book are going to stay with me for a long time. Mercedes’ arc is subtly built and has a stunning conclusion. Karcz doesn’t neglect her side characters, though. Angela, Vic, and Lillia were all layered and multifaceted.

Everything about this book was great, really. There’s an emphasis on friendship and family in a very mature sense. There’s this emotional quality to the writing that made me feel. I don’t know how to quantify emotion or tell you why I felt that way, but I got Mercedes. We’re not similar, yet I connected to her in such a real way. She felt like a real person.

I cannot be stopped in the beginning of everything. I cannot hide forever.

The writing style in general is just gorgeous, especially impressive considering Lauren Karcz is a debut author. I’ll be reading all her books from now on. I did have one nitpick here; she could have used more contractions, especially when they helped sentences flow better. A few stray sentences came across as fairly abrupt or out of place due to this issue.

VERDICT: All in all, Gallery of Unfinished Girls was a great look at art with magical realism and interesting characters. Can’t recommend enough!!

tbrs

series I haven’t finished but plan to

Most of these are books in which the later books aren’t out yet, but in any case, here’s a list of all the series I haven’t finished yet and what books I need to read in each one.

Sequels I’m Literally Dying To Read

  • Untitled by Kiersten White – no offense but I’d like to thank Kiersten White for my life and Radu had better end up happy or I will Come For Her
  • Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – No offense but let Ella Malikova live. everyone else can die and I honestly won’t care too much just let her live
  • Monstress vol. 3 by Marjorie M Liu and Sana Takeda – wow I love morally ambiguous lesbians with gorgeous art.
    and yes I know this doesn’t link to vol 3 – it’s not up on GR yet 🙂
  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers – I don’t know why I haven’t read this yet!! I think I’m saving it for a time when I’m not reading much, because I want to savor it. anyway I’d die for Becky Chambers
  • Untitled by Maggie Stiefvater – wow I can’t wait to start sobbing every single time Ronan and Adam interact for five seconds that sounds fun :))
  • Vengeful by V.E. Schwab – ID DIE FOR SYNDEY AND ID DIE FOR VICTOR THAT’S ALL I WANTED TO SAY
  • Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor – please publish this immediately let Sarai and Lazlo be happy
  • The Wicked King by Holly Black – h o l y s h i t thanks @ Holly Black for my life book one was!! so great!!
  • The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzie Lee – I’m reading everything she ever writes now. i’ve read both her pubbed books and all her others look so fantastic!! and I can’t wait for more Felicity.
  • Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray – I honestly didn’t expect to like book one but it was so iconic and fabulous?? so I’m going to read this in one day when it comes out
  • Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman – WOW Scythe was really great and I want to continue on. and I loved the ending of Scythe it’s straight up one of the most iconic endings of all time
  • Wires and Nerve vol. 2 by Marissa Meyer – book one wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad and it’ll take me like. an hour to read
  • There Will Be Other Summers by Benjamin Alire Saenz – I don’t know if this is necessary but I want to read it :/

Sequels I’ll Maybe Read

  • Caraval #2 by Stephanie Garber – you know, Caraval was really well plotted, but do I actually need to read the sequel? isn’t it somewhat um… not necessary?? isn’t there a chance I’m going to fucking hate it bc there were so many elements of Caraval I hated?? maybe
  • Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor – I was honestly not much a fan of book one bc it was too short, but I’ve had good luck with  novella sequels in the past 🙂
  • Ruse by Cindy Pon – uhhhhhhhhh I don’t know if I actually care enough about Want to read this?? I thought it was kind of mediocre
  • The Last Beginning by Lauren James – I wasn’t going to read this companion novel but apparently it’s got… lesbians
    am I going to read Gay Time Travel book? duh
  • Blood of a Thousand Stars by Rhoda Belleza – listen book one was kind of mediocre but it had a lot of potential so I’m just going to wait for reviews of book two and maybe try it out
  • Someday by David Levithan – if this were published the year after book two, like it was SUPPOSED to be, I’d have read it. but honestly do I care anymore? meh
review

new release: bad romance by heather demetrios

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios – Releases June 13th – 5 stars!!

Each lie is something that’s mine, that my mom and The Giant can’t take away from me. Each lie reminds me I’m an actual person with rights and desires and the ability to make choices on my own. Each lie is power- control over my life.

This book is really fucking triggering. I’m going to say that first, because it’s both the worst and best part of the book. This book brought back some shit for me. It was actually incredibly difficult to read some of the scenes because I knewthose feelings. It was just… it was a lot.

I’ve run out of things to say, and we’re only on paragraph two. I can’t put this book into words. Bad Romance is so incredibly real and realistic. I wish it didn’t. I almost wish it hadn’t. All I can say is that reading this book was such an emotionally cathartic experience. And I think it will be if you’ve ever been through abuse, either parental or spousal. This is a story about getting out.

I guess I’m going to talk now about portrayal of abuse in media and how this book got it right, at least for me.

It’s not bad one hundred percent of the time, but if anything good happens, there are always strings attached.

➽ I loved that emotional abuse was given the same weight as physical abuse. Because abuse is not not about the actual physical acts – it’s about the fear, the feeling of pain and worry and like only one person in the world loves you but do they? do they really?

➽ I loved that friendship is what pulls Grace out of her tailspin. Nat and Lys were seriously the greatest characters, both hilarious and kind and funny but also complicated. The support group they formed was so good.

➽ Adding on to that, I’m happy it wasn’t about a romance pulling her out. There is a sort-of-romance which was sweet, but it was more playing into Grace’s character development than anything else.

➽ I loved the way Grace’s treatment by her parents played into her later relationship. As I’ve already said, I loved the portrayal of her mother as both a sympathetic figure and an abusive mother. I loved how nuanced her character was without being forgiven by her daughter. Usually, books either want to make the abuser full-on terrible or full-on redeemable and I hate that trend. More nuance without forgiving abuse because they had your best interests at hearts, please.

Her inner monologue. God, Grace’s inner monologue around her parents was so fucking relatable at points that I couldn’t deal with it.

I don’t know how to sum up my whole feelings about this book, but damn it, y’all need to read this.

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