#DiversityBingo2017 update

Hello everyone! As you might know from another post of mine, I’m participating in #DiversityBingo2017. As I wrote in that post, Diversity Bingo is a challenge that inspires readers to read more diverse books by having 36 different squares, each one corresponding to a diverse book. I thought I’d post an update on how my Diversity Bingo reading is going by talking about the books I’ve read for the challenge so far. I have posted reviews for many of these books, so for those books I will simply leave a link to my review and give my star rating of the book. For those books that I haven’t reviewed, I will give a brief explanation of what I liked and disliked about the book.

Just for a reminder, the Diversity Bingo card looks like this:

c1uaiwfuuaaddty

Without further ado, let’s get onto the post.

So far I’ve filled 12 squares. Not a lot, I know but I have read other books not for the challenge. The squares I’ve filled so far are the Retelling with a Main Character Belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, Bisexual Main Character, Main Character of Color in SciFi/Fantasy, Free Choice, Biracial Main Character, Pansexual Main Character, Main Character on the Ace Spectrum, LGBTQIA+ Main Character of Color, Diverse Non-Fiction, Person of Color on the Cover, D/deaf/Hard of Hearing Main Character, and Immigrant or Refugee Main Character. Now on to the books I’ve read for those squares!

For a Retelling with a MC belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, I read Sappho’s Fables by Elora Bishop and Jennifer Diemer.  I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and would definitely recommend it.

For a book with a  Bisexual MC, I read Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars and would highly recommend it.

For a book with a MC of Color in SFF, I read The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars and would highly recommend it. I love everything about this book from the characters, to the world, to the beautiful writing. I can’t think of one thing I dislike about it.

For the Free Choice square, I read Huntress by Malinda Lo. I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars. I wouldn’t recommend it based on my own reading of it, but as I stated in my review, it wasn’t the book, it was me. The book simply wasn’t my thing. However, it isn’t a bad book by any means and I’m sure many people would love it.

For a book with a Biracial MC, I read Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn.  I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I would definitely recommend it.

For a book with a Pansexual MC, I read The Melody of You and Me by M. Hollis. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I would definitely recommend it. I love the romance. I love the main characters. I just love this book. I can’t remember anything in particular that I disliked about this book, but there must have been something since I didn’t rate it 5 stars.

For a book with a MC on the Ace Spectrum, I read We Awaken by Calista Lynne. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I would definitely recommend it. I love the romance. I love the characters. I love the magical elements. I didn’t give this book 5 stars only because I didn’t absolutely love it, but I did thoroughly enjoy it. I can’t remember anything particular I disliked about it.

For a book with an LGBTQIA+ MC of Color, I read Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend it.

For a Diverse Non-Fiction book, I read I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend it. I said in my review on Goodreads that I don’t have the words to express how wonderful and important this book is. That is still true. Just read it. You can thank me later. 😉

For a book with a POC on the cover, I read Always and Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend it, along with the rest of the series.

For a book with a D/deaf/Hard of Hearing MC, I read El Deafo by Cece Bell. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I definitely recommend it. I found it a fast and enjoyable read. Although the main character is far younger than I am, I found myself cheering her on throughout the story. However, I do feel like this book would be more enjoyable for younger readers and I found myself wanting a little something more from the story, which is why I rated it 4 stars instead of 5.

For a book with an Immigrant or Refugee MC, I read The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon.  I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend it.

Now that I’ve mentioned all of the books I’ve read so far for this challenge, I want to talk a bit about the challenge itself. I decided to participate in this challenge because I wanted to diversify my reading. Reading more diverse books had been a goal of mine for a while and I wanted to accomplish that goal. I am glad to say that I have read more diverse books this year than I have in the past. I also would like to say that reading more diverse books has improved my reading experience. So far, for Diversity Bingo, I have read mostly 4 and 5 star books, only one 3 star book and no 1 or 2 star books. Clearly diverse books are more enjoyable than non-diverse books.

How are you doing with your Diversity Bingo challenge? What is your favorite book you’ve read for the challenge so far? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

Advertisements

Always and Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han Review

51-harkntql-_sy344_bo1204203200_

Summary:

Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

(via Goodreads )

My rating: 4/5 stars

Pros: Good characters, good relationships, good writing, realistic, quick read

Cons: somewhat predictable but not too predictable

Before reading this review, check out my reviews of the first two books in the series.  As you will see, I gave both of those books 3/5 stars. While I thoroughly enjoyed them, I did find them a bit too predictable for my taste. Also, I felt that the second book in the series, PS. I Still Love You, had too much drama. While the drama was realistic and not over the top, it was not fun to read about for me. However, the final book in the series, Always and Forever Lara Jean, did not have similar pitfalls and earned 4/5 stars from me. To explain why, I’m going to start, as I usually do, with the pros.

The characters in this book are amazing. Lara Jean continues to be a wonderful main character. She is, understandably, feeling nostalgic as her high school years come to a close. While I’m not that much like Lara Jean (though I wish I was, she’s pretty cool!) both of us share a wariness of change and a hopeless romantic sensibility. Both of these characteristics of Lara Jean’s are shown throughout the story, as they are in the first two books. I love how Lara Jean grows throughout this book. How she begins to follow her own path, to embrace change. I hope that I can do the same in my life. I also love that her newfound maturity does not cause her to lose her romantic side. Another thing I would like to emulate in my own life. Basically, Lara Jean is one of my favorite main characters ever. And that’s saying something. I love how I can relate to her. I love how thoughtful she is, how caring, how loyal. I love how she’s innocent yet mature at the same time. I love how she’s a work in progress, how she doesn’t have everything figured out–nor does she think she does. I love how she loves everyone in her life with all of her heart. I love how realistic a character she is. I love how well-written and three-dimensional she is. However, Lara Jean isn’t the only character I love in this book, though she is my favorite. I love all of the characters. I love Peter for his kindness and loyalty. I love Kitty for her mischievousness and caring side. I love Margot for her confidence and maturity. I love Mr. (Song-) Covey for his nerdiness and kindness. I love Trina (Rothschild) for her confidence and her fun nature. I love all the characters in this book so much and could go on and on about them but I won’t.

Since I love the characters in this book, I obviously love their relationships with each other. Let’s start with the obvious one of Lara Jean and Peter. While I enjoyed their romance in the first two books, I feel like it reached a new level in this book. Lara Jean and Peter are growing up, after all. They’re going off to college and are getting closer to adulthood. This shows in how they work so well as a team and truly understand each other. However, their relationship never loses its admirable innocence. Even as Lara Jean and Peter mature, as their relationship matures, it still remains adorable and innocent, which I quite like. Lara Jean and Peter are not perfect either as characters or in a relationship. They have their ups and downs. Yet through it all, their romance remains one that the reader truly roots for. Along with Lara Jean and Peter, there’s Lara Jean’s relationships with her family: with her father, with Kitty, with Margot. First of all, I love Lara Jean’s father. He’s one of my favorite book parents. I love how he truly loves and cherishes his three daughters. He never seems to complain that he’s surrounded by girls. In fact, he loves it! He also ensures that his daughters remain connected to their Korean heritage, which I believe the characters and readers appreciate. In this book, he and Lara Jean continue to have a strong relationship based on mutual trust and love. There are some growing pains as Lara Jean becomes more independent but both characters handle them well and there is–luckily for me–no drama. Lara Jean and Kitty continue to have a typical older sister/younger sister dynamic that I absolutely love reading about. Kitty continues to be adorable–and adorably annoying. I love how Lara Jean tries to include Kitty in her life as much as possible. I love how Peter has a bond with Kitty as well. One of my favorite moments in the book is when Lara Jean, Kitty, and Peter are hiding behind a tree together. (I won’t tell you why, you’ll just have to read the book!)  I also love Lara Jean and Margot’s dynamic. It’s also a very typical older sister/younger sister one, except in this case Lara Jean is the younger sister. I love how Lara Jean leans on Margot and always asks her advice. I love how their bond is just as strong as ever, despite how much time Margot spends away from home. I loved seeing more of Margot and her relationships with Lara Jean and the rest of her family in this book. Finally, I love Lara Jean’s relationship with Ms. Rothschild–oh, sorry, Trina. I love how Lara Jean grows closer to Trina throughout the book and in the end asks her for advice as she would with Margot. Although Trina will never replace Lara Jean’s mother, I do like that they can have a good relationship and that they get along as stepmother and stepdaughter.

One thing that I must mention in this review is the writing. While I liked the writing in the first two books, it was not the type of writing that stayed with me or blew me away. However, that was not the case in this book. This writing absolutely stayed with me. It made me smile, made me laugh, made me cry, made me think. There are lines in this book that I absolutely love. I’m going to quote a couple of them here. The first one is:

“Is this how it goes? You fall in love, and nothing seems truly scary anymore, and life is one big possibility?” (p. 61)

I like this line because it shows Lara Jean’s hopeless romantic side. Something I can definitely relate to. Unlike Lara Jean, I’ve never been in a relationship but I imagine if I was, I would feel the same as Lara Jean does. I would feel as if life was “one big possibility” The second line that I absolutely love is:

“Why not take a chance and bet on happiness?”  (p. 205)

I like this line because it makes me think. It makes me think of times in life when I’ve been unsure of my decisions. Of times when I wanted to make one decision but was unsure of what the result would be. I knew that making the decision would make me happy, but I couldn’t help worrying about what would happen on the other side of the decision-making process. This line reminds me to not be afraid to take chances. To make decisions that will make me happy. To try my best to always “bet on happiness.”

With all of this in mind, you may be wondering why I didn’t give this book five stars. To that I will say that the book had some predictable moments, as most contemporary books do. However, it was nowhere near as predictable as the first two books which is why I only took off 1 star for it instead of 2. Genuinely, while reading this book I felt as if I was going on the journey with Lara Jean and although sometimes I knew where the path would lead, I usually didn’t. Jenny Han managed to keep me on my toes and that’s hard to do for a contemporary. Especially for me, someone who’s not the hugest fan of the genre. It’s books like this one that make me reconsider that position. So don’t take my lack of a five star rating as anything against this amazing book.

Overall, I loved this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a good romance and a good coming-of-age story. (But make sure to read the first two first.)

What is an ending to a series that you enjoyed more than the other books in the series? Tell me in the comments!

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

I read this book for #DiversityBingo2017.

It’s Not You, It’s Me: Huntress by Malinda Lo Review

9415946

Summary:

Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people’s survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls’ destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.

The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo’s highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and romance.

(via Goodreads)

My rating: 3/5 stars

Pros: Good characters, interesting world

Cons: Slow pace, characters somewhat hard to reach, POV makes characters hard to reach, confusing POV changes, abrupt ending to story (and romance!)

Before I start my review, I would like to say that I know it’s been a long time since I wrote one. Sorry about that. I’ve been in a bit of a reading and blogging slump. But I’m back! And determined to be better than ever! Without further ado, let’s get on to the review.

I’d like to start out by saying that I like this book. Really. I just don’t love it. And to be perfectly honest, I’m surprised that I don’t. I mean, on paper it seems like the perfect book for me. It’s a fantasy book–my favorite genre–featuring a relationship between two women. What’s not to love? Unfortunately, for me, this book’s cons outweighed its pros which is why in this review I’m going to start with the cons.

First of all, the pace of this book is very slow. It reminds me of Lord of the Rings in that way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the awesomeness factor that Lord of the Rings has to keep me loving it. Though I would also say, in defense of Huntress, that Lord of the Rings also already had my love because of the movies. Huntress does not have the example of some of my favorite movies to lean on. And with the slow pacing, this book really could use the help. The action starts late in the story, around 3/4 of the way through the book. This would not normally be a problem for me. I’m not really a huge fan of action scenes in the first place. However, this book’s description promised me an epic quest and what I got was…well….not epic. Usually in these situations, my love for the characters would get me through the story. However, as much as I adore Malinda Lo’s characters, there’s something stopping me from fully connecting with them.

Which brings me to my next point. The characters in this book are somewhat hard to reach. Perhaps it’s the POV it’s written in. Perhaps it’s the author’s writing style. Perhaps it’s just the personalities of the characters themselves. Whatever the case may be, I find Taisin and Kaede both difficult to connect with. Taisin is a very private, reserved person. So in her case it is expected. Yet Kaede, the more open of the two, is still hard to connect with for me as a reader. Both main characters seem somewhat untouchable, hard to relate to. Taisin is almost too private, too closed-off. Even when the reader sees things from her point of view, it seems as if there is a wall up. However, that is her personality. Kaede, however, is different. While I adore her character–in fact, she is my favorite–I still find her somewhat difficult to connect to. Especially during her time after running into the childlike creature in the village on the way to the Fairy Queen, as well as after she completes her task for the Fairy Queen. Both of these events are significant for Kaede and change her as a person. Perhaps that is it. Perhaps these events change Kaede so much that they make her hard to recognize for the reader. Or, at least, for me. I have also thought of another reason that the characters are hard to connect to: the point of view.

This book is written in third-person point of view. That is not normally an issue for me. However, I believe in this case the point of view makes the characters hard to connect with. There are also somewhat confusing point of view changes, sometimes in the middle of a chapter. These are not a huge issue for me, so I won’t spend much time on them in this review. I will just say that they are somewhat confusing and that the POV in general makes it harder–for me, at least–to connect to the characters.

Speaking of characters, I feel that the ending of the story happens abruptly for all of the characters. It’s like taking a long leisurely walk through a park, only to have to run to your car. The walking, while not always enjoyable, was full of beautiful sights and serenity. The running, however, is not so peaceful and feels too fast after the beautiful walk. That is how I feel about the ending of this book: it’s too fast. Everything happens too fast. The plot is resolved too fast. The romance between the two main characters ends too fast. Two secondary characters reunite too fast. It’s all too fast.

As I said in the beginning of this review, I like this book. But Annie, you say, you’ve just spent paragraphs explaining all the things you didn’t like about it. I know. But I can explain. You see, this book is probably the best case of it’s not you it’s me I’ve ever seen. It’s probably a great book–just not for me. I truly believe that just as the wand chooses the wizard in Harry Potter, books are meant for their readers. And this book is just not meant for me. However, I did enjoy certain things about it.

As I mentioned before, I do like the characters. Taisin is intelligent, caring, capable, and brave. Kaede is caring, loyal, adventurous, and brave. Con is funny, intelligent, caring, and brave. Shae is intelligent, determined, adventurous, and brave. Noticing a pattern here? Anyone know if Malinda Lo is a Gryffindor? Cause her characters are all pretty brave if you ask me. Though I guess you’d have to be to go on a quest like this one. All of the characters are interesting to read about, even if they can be difficult to connect to at times. I found myself especially enjoying reading about Kaede and Con.

In addition to the characters, I also enjoy the world in this book. Worldbuilding is important in fantasy and Malinda Lo definitely does it well.  The world of the Kingdom, of the Academy, of Taninli is so well-written. It is easy for the reader to imagine him, her, or themself in such a world. My favorite part is probably a tie between The Wood and Taninli. I’d love to visit both of those places if I could. And that’s a worldbuilding win in my book. If you can make me want to visit your fictional world, you’ve created a good one.

Overall, I liked this book but did not love it. However, I’d recommend it for those who love fantasy, good f/f relationships, and don’t mind a slow pace and characters that are occasionally hard to connect to.

What is a book you expected to love but didn’t? Tell me in the comments!

Goodreads Link / Amazon Link  / Barnes & Noble Link 

I read this book for #DiversityBingo2017.

Anonymous Bookaholics Tag

Hello everyone! I would like to thank Diana Prince Reviews  for tagging me. Without any further ado, let’s get into the tag, shall we?

What do you like about new books? 

Besides reading them? I love holding them and flipping through the pages.

How often do you buy new books?

As often as I can. Whenever I have some money saved up, usually.

Bookstore or online shopping, which do you prefer?

Bookstore. There’s something special about walking through a bookstore and picking out the books you want to buy. Also, when I buy books in a bookstore I don’t have to wait for them to arrive, I can take them home with me right away.

Do you have a favorite bookshop? 

Barnes & Noble. There’s a pretty cool one near me.

Do you pre-order books? 

Not often. Only if I’m really excited for it and even then I prefer to just buy it in a bookstore once it’s released. It’s more fun that way.

Do you have a monthly book buying limit? 

Nope, but I wouldn’t say I buy books every month.

Book buying bans, are they for you? 

I’ve never actually gone on an official book buying ban so I guess not. Perhaps I’ll try it some time.

How big is your wishlist? 

My Amazon one has quite a few books on it. And my TBR is as big as any avid reader’s.

Which three books from your wishlist do you wish you owned right now? 

51-harkntql-_sx327_bo1204203200_28526192monstress_vol1-1

I Tag:

Taryn at Novel Paradise

Sinead at Huntress of Diverse Books

CW at Read, Think, Ponder

AJ at Lacy Literacy

and YOU if you want to do this tag!

 

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde Review

28245707

Summary:

When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

(via Goodreads)

My rating: 5/5 stars

Pros: Good characters, Great relationships, Good writing, Unapologetic nerdiness, Good representation of bisexuality and anxiety

Cons: Would’ve preferred a slightly slower burn romance for Charlie & Alyssa

I’m really starting to rethink my position on the contemporary genre. I’ll always prefer fantasy/paranormal but I’ve been reading so many great contemporaries lately that I think I’m starting to think of the genre as higher on my priority list than it once was. Books like The Sun Is Also A Star and Queens of Geek make me excited about the genre in a way I never used to be. Perhaps it’s the fact that both of those books include actual diversity. Maybe the reason I’ve always been bored by contemporary books is because they’re always just about white cishet ablebodied neurotypical non-mentally ill people. That is definitely not the case with Queens of Geek. Charlie is a bisexual Chinese-Australian woman. Taylor is an autistic woman with anxiety. The diversity of this book is amazing and I love it but I’ll talk more about that later on in my review.

You clearly know I love this book but you’re probably wondering why. So here goes.

Firstly, the characters. All of them are so well-written and well-developed. Charlie is so independent and confident but she also cares what people think, perhaps too much. Taylor is so caring and passionate and amazing but she has difficulty navigating the world due to her anxiety and her autism. (I can relate. Well, to the anxiety part anyway.) Jamie is confident and intelligent and kind but has his insecurities like everyone does. Alyssa is talented and creative and confident but has gone through things in her past that deeply affected her. None of the characters are too perfect or too typical. They all have flaws or insecurities or just plain obstacles to overcome, making all of them realistic. I love them. I love Charlie’s confidence. I love Taylor’s passion. I love Jamie’s kindness. I love Alyssa’s down-to-earth nature. I love all of them. Charlie is independent, confident, determined, caring, loyal, intelligent and creative. Taylor is caring, loyal, intelligent, creative, passionate, funny, and so incredibly strong. Jamie is kind, caring, loyal, intelligent, funny, determined, and down-to-earth. Alyssa is caring, loyal, down-to-earth, passionate,intelligent, creative, and confident.  I love all of these characters and can relate to all of them so much, especially Charlie and Taylor. I can relate to Charlie’s desire to please others as well as her bisexuality (which I will get more into later when I talk about representation). I  can relate to Taylor’s passion about the people and things she loves as well as her struggles with her anxiety (which I will also get more into later). I can relate to all of the main characters’ unapologetic nerdiness.

These amazing characters also engage in great relationships with each other. I love Charlie, Jamie, and Taylor’s friendship. I love Charlie and Alyssa’s romantic relationship. I love Jamie and Taylor’s romantic relationship. I love Taylor’s friendships with Brianna and Josie. Charlie, Jamie, and Taylor are the perfect nerdy friend group. I love how they support each other unconditionally and nerd out together. I love how Charlie and Alyssa are there for each other as well as how their personalities work together. I love how Jamie and Taylor complement each other as well as how sweet and adorably dorky they are. (Also I’m a sucker for a good friends to lovers trope.)  I love how Brianna and Josie support and care about Taylor. The relationships, romantic and platonic, in this book are amazing and beautiful and definitely all added to my enjoyment of this wonderful book. No relationship felt forced or simply added to the story for no good reason. I understood why each character in a romantic relationship loved their love interest–which is very important to me, as you’ll know if you read my Heroine Complex review–as well as why two characters worked as friends. It’s simply amazing.

The writing in this book is equally amazing. Jen Wilde’s writing style is not especially poetic but it is no less beautiful for its simplicity. I put so many post it notes on different quotes because of how I related to them and/or how beautiful they were. This book includes so many lines that express a profound point in a simple way. It’s simply beautiful.

As I mentioned before, all of the main characters–and secondary characters as well–in this book are unapologetically nerdy, as is the book itself. I loved the Orphan Black and Doctor Who references. I love the discussion of fandom as a place where people can find friends and feel at home in a way that they can’t always in the outside world. As a member of many fandoms, I can definitely relate to that. I love that this is a book where being nerdy is not simply a quirky character trait but is a big part of the character’s lives. How the main characters embrace their nerdiness and don’t hide it to be more socially acceptable. This book made me feel so comfortable and happy, both because of its unapologetic nerdiness and because of its wonderful bisexual and anxiety representation.

The goal of representation is–or at least should be–to make members of the groups being represented feel seen and understood in a way that they often are not in both the media and society. Queens of Geek, for me, definitely accomplished that goal. I felt seen and understood in Taylor’s anxiety and in Charlie’s bisexuality. As you can probably tell if you were reading along with my Twitter thread  , I relate to Taylor the most out of all of the characters in the book. Not only do I relate to her personality-wise but I also relate to her struggles with anxiety. I relate to how she sees other people interacting socially and wonders how they do it with such ease. I relate to how she feels less “normal” because of the ease with which most people seem to live life, to do things that I can barely imagine doing or that I at least would be nervous about. I relate to how confusing and scary she finds the world at times. I relate to how she’s “scared, but keeps fighting.” I relate to how she expresses herself better in writing because of the lack of anxiety when writing compared to when speaking. I relate to how her anxiety is a constant part of her life. How she’s been without panic attacks for a while but that does not make her anxiety any less present. I relate to how everything feels so intense for her. I relate to how she sometimes feels “allergic to the world…allergic to [her] own species.” I relate to how she worries about if people are mad at her, even if they’ve really done nothing to make her think they are. I relate to how her anxiety is a constant fight and how sometimes you lose and the anxiety wins. I relate to how she keeps fighting anyway, despite how difficult it can be. I relate to how she stays in her comfort zone, yet wants to get out of it. I relate to how one mistake–or possible mistake–can send her into an anxiety spiral. I relate to how she feels as if “nothing is ever stable.” I relate to how she doesn’t want to bother people with her problems, how she doesn’t want those she cares about to think less of her. I relate to how she has done things that make her anxious and survived them. (Though that doesn’t mean she’ll never be anxious again. But it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself of those things.) I relate to Taylor’s idea that “new experiences are always scary, but they aren’t always bad.” I relate to how Taylor can overcome her anxiety, can recover, can get back up. I relate so much to Taylor and I love her so much.  I also relate to Charlie’s bisexuality. I relate to how she’s never been with/flirted with a girl yet really wants to. (Though I’ve never been with/flirted with anyone.) I relate to how she easily found the label to fit her sexuality. (Though for me accepting my sexuality was far more complicated than it was for Charlie.) I don’t have much more to add to this section because I don’t relate to Charlie as much as I relate to Taylor, probably because we’re quite different personality-wise. Yet I truly think that Charlie is great bi representation, just as Taylor is great anxiety representation. Both characters make me feel seen and understood in a way that I rarely do and I’d like to thank Jen Wilde for creating them.

As was the case with The Sun Is Also A Star, I had trouble thinking of things that I disliked in this amazing book. The only thing I could think of is less a dislike and more a personal preference. As you may know if you’ve read my blog for a while, I’m a fan of a good slow burn romance. I like really seeing characters get to know each other well and then falling in love at a slower pace. Therefore, I would have preferred if Charlie and Alyssa’s romance had moved a bit slower. However, since the two characters did get to know each other, I did enjoy their romance (a lot, actually!) and did not find their relationship instalove at all.

Overall, I absolutely adored this book. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. I’d especially recommend it to anyone who’s looking for good bisexual and/or anxiety representation and/or is a huge nerd.

What book made you feel represented for the first time? Tell me in the comments!

Goodreads Link/Amazon Link

I read this book for #DiversityBingo2017.

 

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn Review

dteoagwyauxfjhd45lsn

Summary: Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder.

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss’s epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.

Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.

But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right… or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.

(via Goodreads)

My rating: 4/5 stars

Pros: Good characters, Interesting plot, Good worldbuilding

Cons: Evie/Nate instalove, Nate’s instacharacterdevelopment, Twist about [Redacted] was almost too unexpected

If you’ve read my review for Not Your Sidekick, you know I love that book. Heroine Complex is not Not Your Sidekick, but it is a wonderful book as well. I believe, though, that when I first started reading it, I started comparing it in my head to Not Your Sidekick, which somewhat ruined my enjoyment of the book. So if you’ve read Not Your Sidekick and want to read Heroine Complex, please don’t make the same mistake I did and compare the two books. They’re both wonderful books in their own right and shouldn’t be compared to each other. (Even if they are both about superheroes 🙂  )

Now that I’ve gotten that little disclaimer out of the way, let me tell you why I loved this book.

First of all, the characters. I love good characters, as you know if you’ve read my reviews before. (If not, welcome. Enjoy your stay on my blog.) Evie is a great main character, even if I sometimes wanted to shake her and say “You have a superpower! That is awesome! Embrace it!” (Though I did understand her reasons for being reluctant to do so.) Evie is caring, passionate, loyal, intelligent, and always willing to stand up for what–and who–she believes in. Aveda is a great secondary character, though she has her annoying moments. Still, her flaws just make her realistic and she’s also caring, passionate, loyal, and intelligent, and always willing to stand up for what–or who–she believes in just like Evie. I adore Lucy. She’s sweet, funny, caring, loyal, and badass. Scott is great. He’s sweet, intelligent, caring, and loyal. Bea also has her moments but overall she’s cool. She’s intelligent, determined, sensitive, and caring. You may have noticed I didn’t mention Nate yet but I do like him. He’s a sweet guy (eventually) and is obviously intelligent and caring (eventually). He’s just not my favorite, sorry. I’ll get into the reasons why later on in this review. In general, I adore the characters in this book and love reading about them.

Second of all, the plot. The plot is fast-paced but not too fast-paced. It’s great reading about Evie-as-Aveda’s superhero shenanigans as well as the ongoing mystery of the humanoid demons and the stones with messages on them. The ending to that mystery is a bit sudden for my taste but I’ll get into that later. Overall, I really enjoy the plot of this book and it is definitely never boring.

Thirdly, the worldbuilding. I like how the superpowers are explained as well as the demons. I feel like this version of San Francisco felt so real and realistic, despite all the superpowers and demons running around. Sarah Kuhn manages to integrate all the non-realistic elements in a realistic way and I love it.

Now, for the cons. Before I get into this section, I just want to say that I love this book. I think it’s great. I would definitely recommend it. So don’t let my cons section convince you otherwise. There are obviously things I dislike about the book but no book is perfect and the things I dislike do not mean I dislike the book itself. I love it.

Ok, so here we go.

First thing I did not like about the book: Evie & Nate’s relationship. Let me explain why. Firstly, as I mentioned in my The Sun Is Also A Star review, I am not a fan of instalove. Evie and Nate fit the definition of instalove (in my opinion) very well. They get together and fall “in love” without really getting to know each other. They get to know each other–a little–after they get together but not much before. In one scene, Nate says something that hurts Evie. He apologizes (which is good) and Evie goes from being mad at him for being a jerk to almost having sex with him in a closet. That’s just moving too fast for my taste. Afterwards they start a sexual relationship that eventually turns romantic. Even though time passes before their relationship is fully romantic, I do not feel like Evie and Nate got to know each other on any deep level during that time. I do not feel like Evie and Nate get to know each other on any deep level even by the end of the book. Basically, their relationship feels unromantic to me because I do not believe they even know each other or have any reason to be in love with each other. Obviously love isn’t exactly a rational thing but usually when characters fall in love, I can understand why because of the way the relationship develops. This is not the case at all with Evie and Nate. I still don’t know why they’re together besides the fact that Nate is single, straight, male, and not Scott (who Evie seems to view kind of as a brother figure). Their relationship eventually grew on me a little so I went from hating it to tolerating it to occasionally finding them cute. Overall, though, it isn’t a relationship I really love. I found myself shipping Evie & Aveda and Evie & Lucy far more than Evie & Nate. And it wasn’t just because they’re both ff ships either. It was because Evie dating either Aveda or Lucy would have made far more sense to me than her dating Nate because Evie actually knows Aveda/Lucy (especially Aveda) and therefore I could understand how she could have feelings for either of them. Also, I care far more about Lucy’s love life than Evie’s since Lucy seems to have better taste in partners and I mean a cute ff relationship seems far more appealing to me than the Instalovey Straights. Then again I’m biased. (Get it, BIased?)

On a related note, Nate’s character development also went too quickly for my liking. I’m a big fan of character development and I’m glad for Nate’s sake (and Evie’s) that he did develop. However, I don’t believe his development happened naturally or at a pace that made sense. In the scene I mentioned before with him and Evie (the almost closet sex scene), he went from being a jerk in the previous scene to apologizing (which is, again, good), yet I, as a reader, was left wondering why. That’s the word that sums up Nate’s character development for me. “Why?” Why does he develop from being annoying to being nice? Why does he have feelings for Evie? Why? Just why. I feel like I don’t know Nate much as a character in general. I don’t know why he was a jerk in the beginning. I don’t know why he stopped being a jerk. I don’t know. And that really bothers me.

Finally, I felt like the twist about who the real demon threat is happened almost too quickly. I would have appreciated some foreshadowing or at least some hints earlier in the story that would make sense to the reader after knowing the ending. I did not personally feel like that happened. However, this is not really a big deal to me. In the end, Evie/Nate’s instalove and Nate’s far too quick and confusing character development are more important.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, despite my long and rambly cons section. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good superhero story.

Goodreads Link/Amazon Link

I read this book for #DiversityBingo2017.

 

 

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon Review

Summary: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

(via Goodreads)

My rating: 5/5 stars

Pros: Good characters, Beautiful relationships,  Beautiful writing, Dealt with important topics, Made me think, Made me feel

Cons: Multiple POV occasionally confusing

This review is long overdue. Probably the reason it’s taken so long is because I don’t have the words to describe how amazing this book was. Words are inadequate. This book was that good. It left me speechless.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m not the hugest fan of the contemporary genre. Books about normal people living their normal lives just don’t excite me the way fantasy/paranormal/sci fi books do. The Sun Is Also A Star is definitely an exception to that rule. I absolutely loved it. It blew me away.

Firstly, the characters. Natasha and Daniel are both well-written, well-developed main characters. Natasha is a lover of science and can be a bit cynical, in short everything I usually dislike in a character. However, I love Natasha. Her love for her family, her passion for music, her kindness, her determination to stand up for her rights, and her openmindedness to Daniel’s suggestion even when she thought it was silly all came together to make me love her. She’s a wonderful character, as is Daniel. Daniel. He’s a total hopeless romantic, a dreamer, a guy with a voice that is easy to relate to and a good sense of humor. I love him. Honestly, I could go on and on about these characters but I don’t want to take up the entire review.

Secondly, the relationships. Natasha and Daniel’s relationship, if it was in any other book, if it was written in any other way, by any other author, would be dismissed by me as instalove. However, it wasn’t. It really wasn’t. They met and fell in love in a day, sure. But it wasn’t the typical *guy/girl spots guy/girl and falls in love instantly* situation. It was more of a Daniel sees Natasha, thinks she seems cool and feels like he could fall in love with her, they get to know each other and fall in love once they do. That is the important part: they get to know each other. My problem with instalove is not that the characters fall in love quickly. Everyone falls in love at different speeds. No, my problem with instalove is that characters fall in love without truly getting to know each other. That is not the case with Natasha and Daniel. Natasha and Daniel’s relationship develops at a perfect pace and in the perfect way for both characters.Natasha and Daniel’s relationship, however, is not the only relationship in the story. Natasha’s relationships with her family and friends as well as Daniel’s relationships with his family are written equally well. It’s simply beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful, the writing in this book is amazing. It’s poetic. It’s full of quotable lines. It’s just wonderful. While reading, I was blown away by Nicola Yoon’s ability to state the most simple ideas in beautiful ways. I don’t have words for the beauty of this writing. I’m in awe of it.

This book also deals with important topics such as deportation, immigration, racism, family dynamics and expectations, and more in sensitive, realistic, and eye-opening ways. None of these topics are exploited for shock value nor do they solely define the characters. This book is just amazing.

This book made me think. It made me feel every emotion from elation to despair. This book took me on a physical, mental, and emotional journey. One that I would love to go on over and over due to the skill with which this journey was written, the wonderful characters and relationships in the story, and the important topics dealt with.

The only negative I can find in this amazing book is that the multiple points of view are occasionally confusing. I can always tell Natasha and Daniel’s voices apart but the other characters who occasionally get point of view chapters are not as distinctive. I also find the ending confusing. While reading, I wasn’t sure if the ending was meant to describe what is actually going to happen in the future or what would have happened if X event had happened. I choose to believe it’s the former but I’m still not quite sure.

In general, I absolutely loved this book. I would definitely recommend it to anyone, even those (like me) who are not the hugest fans of contemporary books. This book is just that good. If you’re a fan of well-written characters, adorable romances, beautiful writing and important topics dealt with respectfully I would definitely recommend this book.

Goodreads Link/Amazon Link

I read this book for #DiversityBingo2017.

 

 

Lovely Recommendations for Valentine’s Day

2000px-love_heart_svg-svg

Hello everyone! Valentine’s Day is around the corner and you know what that means…it’s time to celebrate all kinds of love: platonic, romantic, familial. Because, really, why should romantic relationships get all the spotlight? I mean, they’re cool but so are friends and family. So this post is going to highlight books that I enjoy featuring good relationships of all kinds: friendships, family relationships, and romantic relationships.

Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee (Goodreads link / link to my review) : romantic interracial ff relationship, awesome friendship between Jess, Emma, and Bells , Jess also has a great relationship with her parents

The Wrath and the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh (Goodreads link to first book/ Goodreads link to second book/ Link to my review of first book) : romantic mf relationship between two POC, awesome family relationships: Shahrzad and her family, Kalid & Jalal, awesome friendships: Shahrzad & Despina, Tariq & Rahim

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (Goodreads link/ link to my review) : romantic interracial ff relationship between two POC, great relationship between Alex & her family

The Princess Affair by Nell Stark (Goodreads link) (warning: nsfw): romantic ff relationship, great mf & ff friendships

The Diplomat by Sophia French (Goodreads link/link to my review) (warning: nsfw): romantic ff relationship, great sibling relationship between Loric & Elise, great family relationship between Elise & her mother, great friendship between Elise & Yorin and Rema & Yorin, great friendship between Rema & Alys, great friendship between Elise & Muhan and Rema & Muhan, great friendship/past romantic relationship between Rema & Jalaya, great friendship between Elise & Jalaya

Behind the Scenes & Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler (Goodreads link to first book/ Goodreads link to second book,   Link to review of both books) : (warning: somewhat nsfw) :

Behind the Scenes: romantic mf relationship, great friendship between Ally & Vanessa, great relationship between Ally and her family

Under the Lights: romantic interracial ff relationship, great friendship between Ally & Vanessa, great friendship between Vanessa & Josh

We Awaken by Calista Lynne (Goodreads link/review coming soon!) : romantic interracial ff relationship (and both characters are asexual as well!), great relationship between Victoria & her brother

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (Goodreads link) : romantic mf & mm relationships, great sibling relationship between Jude & Noah

Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour (Goodreads link) : romantic interracial ff relationship, great friendship between Emi & Charlotte

The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan (Goodreads link to the first book/ Video review of the first book): good friendship between all the main characters, romantic interracial mf relationships

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before/PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han (Goodreads link to TATBILB, Goodreads link to PSISLY/ link to my review of both books) : romantic interracial mf relationship, great relationship between Lara Jean & her family

And that’s it (for now). Sorry I couldn’t think of any books without romance at all. If you know of any, let me know.

What are your favorite books that showcase love of all kinds?

Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee Review

81vl4z7n7il

Summary: Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

(via Goodreads)

My rating: 5/5 stars

Pros: Good characters, interesting plot, good worldbuilding, adorable romance

Cons: occasional typos

This book is amazing. I don’t know if I’ll be able to adequately express all of the reasons why in my review but I will try my best. I would like to start out by saying, though, that this book is just amazing. It’s hopeful without being unrealistic. It’s suspenseful without being too dramatic. It’s adorable without being too cutesy. It mentions important social issues in a way that doesn’t feel forced. This book is just amazing. If I could read nothing but this book for the rest of my life, I’d be happy. It’s amazing.

First of all, the characters. Jess is such a likable protagonist. She isn’t larger than life like some YA protagonists. Although I love Harry and Katniss as much as the next person, it’s nice to see a protagonist that I could imagine being like. She is admirable and heroic but she’s also a real person. She isn’t the perfect heroic archetype. And that’s what makes her even more heroic. She’s real. She’s flawed. She’s an average person, powers or no powers. And I think it’s so inspiring to show that average people can be heroes too. Jess is such a genuinely sweet person as well. She’s kind, she’s caring, she’s (in my opinion) far more intelligent than she gives herself credit for. She’s loyal to her friends. She stands up for what she believes in. I just…gah, I just love her so much. I could go on forever but I don’t want to take up the entire review talking about Jess. Though, believe me, I could. Now on to Abby. In the beginning I wasn’t sure about her as Jess’ love interest because she seemed to be the stereotypical popular girl. However, she is a far more interesting character than that. She’s intelligent, she’s caring, she’s dedicated, she stands up for what she believes in. She’s a great character and I love her and she’s definitely a fitting love interest for Jess. Jess’ friends Emma and Bells are also wonderful characters. I have to say I find Bells more interesting than Emma, though that may be because he’s a more prominent character in the story and therefore the reader has more time to get to know him.  I can’t wait for the next book in his perspective.

Secondly, the plot. It moves along at a perfect pace, not too fast not too slow. The plot moves slowly enough to allow for character development yet quickly enough so that the reader doesn’t get bored. Especially near the end. The ending of the book is action packed. I couldn’t put the book down while reading the ending.

Thirdly, worldbuilding. The world that is created in this book is extremely interesting. In my Goodreads review I compared this book to a cross between Sky High and The Hunger Games and I think that comparison stands. The book has the super powers being genetic like in Sky High and a dystopian society like in The Hunger Games yet it also has its own elements as well. I don’t want to spoil anyone but let’s just say it isn’t as simple as that. It has some differences, of course, as well as some plot twists that take the story down interesting turns.

Now for the romance. Jess and Abby’s romance develops at a perfect pace. It doesn’t move too quickly, leaving the reader wondering when exactly they were supposed to have fallen in love. It also doesn’t move too slowly, making the reader want to shake the characters and get them together already. The romance is also just a very sweet and adorable one. Jess and Abby have good chemistry and a solid foundation of friendship to build their romance on. They have physical chemistry too but that chemistry is not built through angsty tension as it sometimes is in other stories and I have to say it’s a nice change. Jess and Abby seem to have better communication skills than many YA couples and I am thankful for that. Because a relationship can be passionate and romantic without one person treating the other person badly/refusing to communicate. Jess and Abby are just great together. They’re the ff couple I’ve always wanted but never knew I needed. I can’t wait to see more of them as the series goes on.

The only “con” in this book is that there are occasional typos (at least in my copy of the book), words put in sentences where they don’t belong. Honestly, this isn’t a big deal. It doesn’t happen often and isn’t important enough to significantly impact my enjoyment of the book. The fact is, this book is simply amazing. So amazing, in fact, that the only thing I can think of to mention in the cons section has nothing to do  with the actual story.

In case it isn’t obvious from this glowing review, this book is amazing, wonderful, excellent, brilliant, awesome, and all the other good words in the world. If you’re a fan of superheroes, standing up for what’s right, and adorable romances, I’d definitely recommend this book. Even if you’re not usually a superhero person, I’d recommend giving this book a try. It’s just that good.

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link 

I read this book for #DiversityBingo2017.

Sappho’s Fables Volume 1 by Elora Bishop & Jennifer Diemer Review

14964319

Summary: The Sappho’s Fables series takes well-known, beloved fairy tales and retells them from a lesbian perspective. Volume One contains the first three novellas in the series: SEVEN (Snow White), BRAIDED (Rapunzel) and CRUMBS (Hansel and Gretel), compiled together in an enchanting omnibus edition.

* SEVEN: A Lesbian Snow White
The strange witch girl Neve has skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and a dark secret. Her father Lexander, an alchemist, harbors an evil obsession, and Catalina, his newest bride, made the grave mistake of becoming his wife. When Catalina finds herself falling in love with his daughter, Neve, instead, the deepening bond between the women sets in motion the final chapter of a story that began long ago, with a desperate longing and a handful of apple seeds. Together, Neve and Catalina must venture into the Huntsman’s haunted forest to undo what has been done and set themselves free.

* BRAIDED: A Lesbian Rapunzel
Zelda is cursed to spend her days on a platform in an ancient, holy tree, growing her hair long enough to touch the ground. But it wasn’t her curse to bear: Gray, the witch’s daughter, was meant for that lonely fate. Gray visits Zelda each day, mourning their switched fates, and falling deeper in love with the cursed girl, until one night, at the Not-There Fair, an extraordinary creature outlines a magical plan that could set both of them free. Will Gray’s love for Zelda be strong enough to survive the strange dream world of Chimera, or will Zelda remain a prisoner of the curse forever?

* CRUMBS: A Lesbian Hansel and Gretel
Greta’s never ventured beyond the refuge of the Heap. Outside, the Ragers lurk, ever hungry and hunting. But Greta and her brother, half-starved and now alone, must risk death for the dream of safety they hope to find within the metal forest. Once there, nothing is as it seems: in the confines of a crumbling old candy factory, the woman who rescues them with sweet words and sweeter treats harbors a dangerous secret

(Summary via Goodreads )

My rating for Seven: 4 (more like 4.5 now that I’m thinking of it)/5 stars

My rating for Braided: 4/5 stars

My rating for Crumbs: 4/5 stars

My rating for the book as a whole: 4/5 stars

Pros: Good characters, interesting plots, inventive twists on classic fairytales

Cons: Ableist language in Seven (See my Twitter thread here for more information), The sci fi elements in Crumbs were not my cup of tea

For those of you who don’t know, fantasy is my favorite genre. That also includes fairytales. Though I don’t love classic fairytales the way I love fantasy stories like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, they do still have a special place in my heart. So of course fairytale retellings are right up my alley. Even better if they’re fairytale retellings with LGBT main characters, like the three novellas in Sappho’s Fables are.

I thoroughly enjoyed all three novellas, though I have to say that Seven is probably my favorite (minus the ableist language which I speak more in depth about in the Twitter thread linked above). All three novellas have good characters, interesting plots, and inventive twists on classic fairytales. The characters in each novella are three dimensional and usually far more interesting than their fairytale counterparts. The plot for each novella is not just a straightforward retelling plot but keeps the reader guessing and on the edge of their seat. These novellas are all inventive twists on the original fairytales. Some include plot points from other fairytales such as Seven, while others include elements of other genres, such as Crumbs. However the fairytales are changed, the changes make the stories far more interesting to read than they would be if they were simply straightforward fairytale retellings. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fairytales (as long as they’re ok with the stories being vastly different from, though still recognizable as, the fairytales they are based on) and a good retelling.

I’d like to speak about each novella separately since I believe that’s the best way to review them. I’ll go in the order that they’re printed in the book.

First of all, Seven. This novella was definitely a good way to start off the book (minus the ableist language which I discuss here ) and is, in fact, my favorite of the three novellas. In the beginning I found myself confused as to what was going on. Catalina is a step mother yet she is the main character, which made me believe she was supposed to be Snow White. Neve, however, is described like Snow White. That confusion passed soon enough, though, and I found myself getting swept up in the magic of the story. I liked how the author changed the whole “wicked witch” thing around. If anyone’s a wicked witch in this story, it’s Lexander, Catalina’s cruel husband. Changing the gender of the wicked witch as well as making it clear that the magic is not what causes the evil, it is the person, is something I definitely enjoyed. Maybe it’s the Harry Potter fan in me but I find it hard to enjoy fairytales where the only people with magical powers are evil. It just doesn’t seem fair; the good people should have powers too.

This story, as I mentioned before, combines elements of other fairytales. I’m not going to say which one(s) because doing so might be a bit of a spoiler. I will say, though, that the combination of tales only served to add to the story and make it more interesting. The story is complex without being confusing, as fairytales should be. The characters are also as interesting as the plot. Catalina, Neve, and even the other wives and the Huntsman are all three dimensional characters. Catalina is absolutely not the stereotypical mean stepmother from fairytales. She is kind, caring, intelligent, giving, and powerful. Neve, the Snow White character, is far more interesting than her fairytale counterpart. She’s intelligent, determined, loyal, caring, and powerful. Catalina and Neve’s relationship develops beautifully. It does not move too fast or too slow, given the length of the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed Seven. Now on to Braided. This is another really inventive story. I never would have thought of this twist on the classic Rapunzel story. The idea of Rapunzel being someone who is fated to guard a holy site and that fate being able to pass from person to person is something that is original and unique. Fate is a common theme in fairytales and classical mythology. The conflict between wanting to change your fate and accepting it is one that is always interesting to read about and this story is no exception.

The characters in this story are also amazing. I really love Gray and especially Zelda. Perhaps it’s because the story is told from Gray’s point of view but I felt that by the end of it, I fell in love with Zelda too. Her selflessness and calm nature really won me over. Gray’s loyalty is also an attractive quality, though I do feel her personality could have been expanded upon more. Gray and Zelda’s relationship develops beautifully and at a perfect pace for both characters. The fact that both had unrequited feelings for each other does not feel weird or gimmicky. It fits the characters and makes sense given what we know of their backstory together.

Overall, Braided is a good story and an enjoyable one. Last but not least, Crumbs. This story is probably my least favorite of the three stories in this book, solely because of the scifi elements. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sci fi story, yet the sci fi elements in this story just are not my cup of tea. Zombies creep me out far too much and personally I don’t expect fairytales to creep me out. So those elements ruined my enjoyment of the story a little bit. Though I will admit that the scifi elements also made this retelling a unique one. However, I personally could have done without them and would have preferred a story without zombies and deserted cities.

The characters really saved this story for me. I couldn’t help but feel for Greta and her brother throughout the story. Though Greta’s brother is described as annoying in the beginning of the story, I still felt for him while reading. Greta herself is a character I find it easy to relate to. Her life is a hard one, which leads to her being quite an anxious person at times. (Did you mean: my life? Well, the anxiety part anyway. I don’t have a brother to worry about. Or zombies.) She also deeply cares about her brother and Sabine. She’s kind and open-minded but not too trusting, which makes sense given what she’s been through and the world she lives in. Sabine, Greta’s love interest, is a kind-hearted, genuine person who also has a bit of an edge. The two of them balance each other out perfectly and their romance is really sweet, if a bit too fast moving given the circumstances.

Overall, I enjoyed these stories and would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves fairytales and cute love stories.

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link

I read this book for #DiversityBingo2017.