Ripped Pages by M. Hollis
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (5/5)
Princess Valentina braves the unknown and escapes the tower her father locked her in. A sweet and adorable F/F retelling of Rapunzel. This short story has a lot of potential. I would have definitely loved to have read a full-length version of this where we follow Valentina from being forced into the tower by her abusive father, to her life growing up in solidarity, to then finally breaking free and finding her own space in the world. But M. Hollis does a very good job in condensing everything into such a short number of pages.
A very short but satisfying read.
sunfish by Shelby Eileen
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4/5)A short poetry collection exploring relationships, grief, and loss. Deeply moving pieces that were interesting to read.
in the absence of the sun by Emily Curtis
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ (3/5)
I read this and sunfish because I wanted to branch out what kind of books I was reading. I have a love/hate relationship with poetry, I don’t know where it stems from but slowly I’m more open to reading poetry than I had in my younger years. But this was a pretty good collection, very quick, very impactful. There isn’t much to say, for me, but I guess, it was an okay reading experience.
No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4/5)
*I received a copy via the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*
A really cool collection of fantasy short stories where transgender and non-binary characters take centre stage. No Man subverts gendered prophecies of tales that are old as time. There are pronunciation guides provided for each story. And that’s what I liked a lot since I follow Ana Mardoll on twitter, they’re very informative and a pretty interesting person. I was already aware of some nonbinary pronouns, but this book introduces me to some I wasn’t aware of.
My favourite of all the stories was either Tangled Nets or His Father’s Son. All are amazing but these two caught my eye the most and was most intriguing to read.
Soft on Soft by Em Ali
June Bana is a growing make up artist whose looks are gaining traction by the day on social media. But to June, the real her is a quiet homebody and lives a life less eventful than the pictures on her feed. Then she meets Selena Clarke, drop dead gorgeous model, who loves June for who she is.
A soft sweet tale of two women learning each other and falling in love. A rapid contemporary read with little to none conflict. This title is very fitting. Soft on Soft is precisely what you get. This story centres two women of colour falling in love. The writing is simple and easy to follow. Pop culture references abound!
Its uneventful plot makes a bit tricky to read since you can hardly tell what is going on at the moment. I don’t expect something tragic to happen to make it interesting, but something a little more eventful would’ve improved the pacing a lot.
Overall, there’s something to love in this. Em Ali has a bright future in of them. I know I’ll read more.
UPDATE: Purchase links for Soft on Soft are not currently available as the author has taken them offline for further edits. I will upload a longer review once it’s available.
Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism – Edited by Danielle Barnhart and Iris Mahan
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
when a girl pronounces her own name
there is glorywhen a woman tells her own life story
she lives forever
A feminist poetry collection that discusses race, gender identity and sexuality. I really enjoyed the variety of poetry styles that each contributor used. There’s a variety in content and form. I am not sure each piece is beautiful and exciting. The collection encompasses the works of a diverse range of poets who I’ll definitely want to check out. I don’t read that much poetry, but this collection of works from such inspiring people was indeed a hidden gem.
I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected by opinions of the book.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (2.5/5)
A group of friends retreat to a quiet hunting lodge for the new year. Each chapter is narrated from a different character going back and forth in time and then leading up and after the moment one of them is murdered. It follows in the vein of a true murder mystery where we are aware a murder has happened but we don’t know who is dead and who did, with one who is killed still speaking. I think I would’ve enjoyed this much more if the characters were more bearable to read about. The voices of each character were actually difficult to distinguish since they’re so similar. I rarely step out into mysteries and it’s a shame that I didn’t enjoy this as much I wanted to.
Amazon | Goodreads | Author
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
This book has been sliding up and down my TBR list for almost four years now. I guess I’m glad I finally sat down and read this book, so I could watch the Netflix film.
Contemporary rom-coms are a bit of a hit and miss for me. I feel like this was an almost hit. From an objective view, it was an endearing story about love and family and I understand the importance of the story about family and love.
There’s a whole lot of good to this book and if you’re a bigger fan of contemporary YA then by no means, give this book a shot. It’s sweet and charming. The moments where Lara Jean is with her family is where the books were at its best. I actually saw myself a lot through her here. But I’m actually struggling to put to words why I just didn’t like this book. From my notes, everything seemed positive, aside from the whole pining after your sister’s ex and the other seemingly romantic aspects of this book, made this book a bit unbearable for me. Overall, this book wasn’t for me and I’m alright with that. I’m just glad this book’s finally off the TBR.
Amazon | Goodreads | Author
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)
* I received a copy of The Unit from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.
Set in future where the elderly become dispensable (women at 50, men at 60) and are placed into the Reserve Bank Unit where they’re expected to live the rest of their lives. They’re fed well, clothed and have access to many social activities. In return for the comfortable lifestyle, they must partake in medical trials and donate their organs when needed until the final one. The longer you contribute, the longer you live.
The Unit is quite sad since it asks the question of what makes a person indispensable? Why does someone’s life mean less because it doesn’t conform to what’s required? And the government in this book tries to cover it up by treating the people who enter the Unit well. There are a few sweet moments as Dorrit makes new friends and finds a love she never had outside and despite the circumstances, they have a place where they finally fit.
The Unit is an interesting idea but there were so many plot holes and moments of ambiguity that brought down the story a lot.
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
If One of Us is Lying was a tv show, everyone would’ve finished the entire series in a day. (Most likely would receive similar hype as Riverdale and 13RW) Five students enter detentions, but only four come out alive and become prime suspects for the death of the fifth person. Simon, the one who died, ran a blog that exposed everyone’s dirty secrets and had a secret for each suspect. McManus did a damn good job in this. Using very stereotypical aspects of a high school, she gave the characters more depth and substance than I had expected. McManus is very good at writing suspense and making the reader question everything. It’s sort of a mash up between The Breakfast Club, Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars.
But that’s all the good things I have to say about the series. The first half was thrilling and fun but towards the end it became so disappointing. Using someone’s sexuality and having them be outed against their will shouldn’t have been treated as a plot twist. Their sexuality shouldn’t be something shocking. Also, villainising mental illness was an instant no-no for me. (Trina @ Between Chapters has a more thorough review. There was another I had read but I’ll link once I find it again)
Content warning: a character being outed against their will, harmful rep of mental illness.
These are all reviews of books I had received during my semi-hiatus but I found it too late or not enough time to post a full review of them. (excluding WITCH because I’m not good at reviewing poetry so I kept it short and placed it in here)
I received an ARC of each book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The witch doesn’t burn in this one, Amanda Lovelace | a witchy poetry sequel – ★ ★ ★ – WITCH is the sequel to PRINCESS. It’s short, a little repetitive in my opinion, but very good. Although I’m no longer a fan of this poetry style and though I enjoyed the first collection more, WITCH is a decent second instalment with a newer empowering selection of poetry.
27 hours, Tristina Wright | distant sci-fi adventure where a group of teens have only hours to save their home – ★ ★ ★ – I’m quite in the middle with this book. There were select moments which were quite thrilling but then I found myself quite bored a lot of the time, especially with its world-building. Aimal says it much better than I could ever about its colonialism issue. (Also, I suggest you follow her – her blog is great) I don’t intend to read its sequel but its cliff-hanger ending that peaked my interest – will depend on future reviews of the sequel.
Love, hate and other filters, Samira Ahmed | an aspiring filmmaker faces conflicting choices in the face of a terror attack – ★ ★ ★ – An interesting read, I enjoyed the focus on her conflicting identity as Maya deals with family, education and her future. There’s important dialogue within the story, the romance is really cute but the plot didn’t grip me as much as I thought it would.
I Am Thunder, Mohammad Khan | A story of a young teen being pulled into extremism. – ★ ★ – The overall plot and concept were great. You witness how Muzna is swept along unknowingly into a dangerous lifestyle through manipulation and grooming. I just didn’t enjoy the character voice and the pacing was a bit off.
God, Reza Aslan | a human look of the account of God – ★ ★ ★ – Aslan studies the human development between of the relationship between God and man and it’s very fascinating. A non-scientific approach with an interesting analysis that actually made me want to learn more. I hope I find the chance to read on this later.