Review: A Million Junes by Emily Henry


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Published: 16 May 2017

Publisher: Razorbill

Category: Young Adult/Fantasy/Contemporary

Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations.

In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

I really wanted to like this book. Romeo & Juliet is, sure, a book about idiot children and has a terrible ending, but re-tellings have the potential to make things better and iron out the actions of kids who knew each other for a matter of days before committing suicide because of “love”.

I started reading the book somewhat because I thought that aspect would be interesting but also because I remember thinking The Love That Split the World, Emily Henry’s previous book, was an interesting contribution to the magical realism genre. This, another foray into the same, could have been very good but it felt very disappointing and made me sad that I had wasted time on a story that had so much potential that went unfulfilled.

June was a confusing character in regards to her relations with Saul. Obviously there was supposed to be the family animosity, but if we’re going with the R&J set-up, then of course she’s going to fall in love with him. Even taking that inevitability into account, I couldn’t figure out why June thought Saul was cute or attractive or anything, really. In the beginning she had these strong emotional reactions to him, but there didn’t seem to be a reason. Not a physical “he’s super hot I feel attracted” or something similar; the initiation of their “relationship” felt very off and baseless.

The secondary characters, Hannah and Nate, were equal parts okay friends and annoying. Nate was barely there and we didn’t get a good feel for his friendship with Saul, though we do find out they are cousins, but that doesn’t mean much because cousins can be anything from super close to complete strangers. Hannah, on the other hand, was set up to be June’s number one best friend. If this were another kind of story, I think she would have been June’s love interest and I did get that vibe sometimes. However, her actions were conflicting at times and it was those times that annoyed me beyond reason.

Hannah has grown up with June and believes in ghosts. She believes in the stories of Five Fingers, their hometown, and all the magical things that go on there. However, toward the end of the book, she refuses to believe in June and Saul being forbidden from going to the Falls, a waterfall over a lake. June has told her how this has been a long standing rule, the rule in fact aside from never going near anyone from Saul’s family, but Hannah chooses this to be the one thing she doesn’t believe in. I couldn’t comprehend how she could flip flop between believing in the supernatural and then disregarding the importance of following long held rules.

There were also the multiple times throughout the novel when Hannah, colluding with Nate, tricked and forced June and Saul together. They would lie and send forwarded misleading text messages, that kind of thing. If Hannah were my friend pulling this, she’d be getting a stern talking to about how that kind of thing is NOT OKAY.

Saul, the other half of the main love story, felt like he could have been quite interesting, but he felt really flat. I never connected with him or his story, which might have had something to do with the story being told from June’s perspective. However, if this is being set up as a huge love story that is breaking the family tradition of hating each other’s families, then I would think that it’d be quite important to learn more about and be able to feel Saul. We learned facts about him, but that’s all they were: facts.

This actually brings up a point I had about many of the characters: we got facts about them. I never felt like there was that spark that makes them come alive and feel like real people. I found myself not really caring what happened to them more than once throughout the book and that’s a dangerous thing to happen when the book is mostly character driven. I think I would have preferred this book if it were about June finding out about Five Fingers and her family’s past and no romance whatsoever because it never felt like a good love story. The traveling into the past through memories was much more interesting that whatever forced relationship was being written between June and Saul.

There was one final thing that bothered me and felt really extraneous: the “conflict” between June and her creative writing teacher Ms. deGeest & then June, Saul, and Ms. deGeest (apparently a high school classmate of Saul’s). Before we even find out that Saul and Ms. deGeest know each other, there are the interactions at June’s creative writing classes. Whatever it is about June that is making her teacher bend over backwards and make all kinds of allowances based on minimal evidence, I wasn’t seeing it. It didn’t come through in the text, either through poor characterization or because we didn’t get to read any of June’s stories, only hear about tidbits. The whole future writing career that seemed to be offered as potential for June felt like it was shoehorned in for…what? Conflict? Word count? Whatever it was, it didn’t feel necessary and even when it continued to be a thing, it never really got resolved.

Then, after June and Saul begin researching the thin places (what is causing them to relive memories and journey to the past), they bump into Ms. deGeest at the library and it’s revealed she was a high school friend/3 time hookup of Saul’s. This felt like a soap opera plot device that never went anywhere and ultimately meant nothing. It falls under the same heading as the creative writing bit: conflict? Word count? I’m not really sure, but either way, unsatisfactory and taking up time that it didn’t really need to.

Ms. deGeest didn’t strike me as the best teacher, either, because one of the things she said when talking to Jack was:

Junior, your work is too good to grade generously. An inflated mark and words of praise are not what you need.

This quote bugged me because sounds like she is inflating the grades and being disingenuous with the other students. That’s pretty bad behavior for a teacher if you’re meant to be teaching them something.

To sum up: I really wanted to like this novel because Emily Henry has the ability to write beautifully, but her story in this book felt like it got waylaid too many times by trying to be too many things at once. Her ideas of magical realism are interesting and have the potential to be really good, really classic adventures into the genre, but the execution of the ideas needs a lot of work on cohesion and the shedding of extraneous details before they can really explode into the awesome form I think they can become.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via First to Read in exchange for an honest review.
All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde


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Published: 14 March 2017

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Category: Young Adult/Contemporary/LGBT (Queer/Bisexual)

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.

Rating: 5 Stars

As someone that found a lot of comfort and some friends through anime, manga, and video games beginning in high school, I will almost always give any book regarding conventions and fans because they remind me of some of the best times of my life. For a period of about nine years I even attended a local anime convention until it moved locations, though I never had the opportunity to attend the San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC), which I’m confident the con in Queens of Geek is based upon.

Starting with the first steps of Charlie, Taylor, and Jamie into the hallowed halls of the con to beat all cons, SupaCon, I felt immediately welcomed home. There were references to all kinds of different books, movies, and games, most of which I understood. There were people whose names were dropped as being admired by one character or another (Felicia Day, for example, is mentioned more than once!). I hope and really think that all of these will make the work even more appealing to fellow fans because they will see their favorite series possible mentioned or even talked about in-depth.

Along with the wild enjoyment of con activities, Jen Wilde tackles multiple important subjects with relation to mental illness, sexual identity, etc. and of the examples, I liked the one where Taylor and Charlie confront Charlie’s (at the time) boyfriend Reese about his “belief” that bisexual people don’t exist. He claims to be for gay rights and marriage, but states that he doesn’t believe in bisexuality. Taylor, usually the quieter of the two friends, sees how much this bothers Charlie, a bisexual woman. Reese asks Charlie how she could know she was bisexual if she’d never been with a girl and Taylor stands up for her by asking Reese how he could know he was straight before he was with a girl. This highlights an excellent point: just because you haven’t had a sexual encounter doesn’t mean you can’t know your sexuality. Just because you’re with a man or woman at the time doesn’t negate your bisexuality if  that is who you are. This lead to a vital quote from Charlie:

“You can’t pick and choose whose equality you support. That’s not equality.”

I loved meeting Josie, a fellow Firestone book/movie lover that introduces Taylor to her comic books featuring as autistic superhero. It’s through their interactions that we learn that Taylor is on the autistic spectrum and what, with the interactions she’s had thus far that we’ve seen, this means for her in social situations and in her life in general. I was not aware when I started this book that one of the viewpoints was from an autistic character and I thought that this was interesting because recently I’ve been reading awkward, horrible representation of such characters. I didn’t find this here and actually found myself learning more about autism through Taylor’s experience.

Alyssa was another important character. A vlogger and actress like Charlie, it’s mentioned several times that she speaks a lot about topics such as diversity, intersectionality, and so on. As Charlie’s love interest, I’m glad that she had substance and wasn’t just the love interest. She might have more of a following on YouTube and more Hollywood star power, but she’s not a throwaway, she’s someone who spoke about important issues before becoming well known and continues to use her exposure to talk about them rather than, say, sacrifice them for what a studio might want her to do.

This book was a fun, fast, exciting read from Jen Wilde that makes me wonder what she will show us next. There was lightness in moments, but also strength in the characters and in the experiences they were going through: first love, societal pressure, heartbreak, personal expectations, and more.

I’ll be keeping an eye on Wilde’s future works, hoping for another excellent read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top 5 Wednesday: Authors You Want to Read More From


Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey from Gingerreadlainey.

This week’s topic is about authors I would love to read more from.

We all know writing is tough. There’s a lot that goes into it, some I’m sure we can imagine and even more that goes on behind the scenes that we can’t. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t love to see more work from these authors should they ever release another book!

Auto-buy authors aside, these are five authors that I would love to read more books from.


Evelyn Skye (The Crown’s Game, The Crown’s Fate)


Reading these magical books about a contest to become the Imperial Enchanter of all Russia was an amazing experience. Evelyn made each moment beautiful and her writing is as magical as one of Vika or Nikolai’s enchantments. The Crown’s Fate releases 16 May 2017 and after that, what? We’ll have to wait and see what’s next.


Karuna Riazi (The Gauntlet,  Toil & Trouble)


The Gauntlet has been one of my favorite books of the year so far. A stunning debut by an amazing author, I think Karuna Riazi has a terrific grasp on writing diverse adventure stories. Her next work is part of a collection of short stories all about witches, which I could not be more thrilled about. Witches were always my favorite thing to read about as a kid, so this collection and this author coming together? Yes please!

I am really curious what kind of full length book she’ll write afterwards, though. Maybe 2018 will be the year to let us know, but I won’t rush. The anticipation is part of the buildup to excitement for the book release.


Tiffany D. Jackson (Allegedly)


When I got Allegedly, I did not know what was in store for me. It’s a book all about justice and perception and allegations, but the writing took it to a whole other level. I think this was one of the first books I read this year that I read in one sitting. That’s saying something, because these days my attention span is getting pulled in a dozen different directions.

With her deft handling of the subject matter and the twists she was able to weave into her story, I’m very curious what kind of book Tiffany D. Jackson will write next. Will it be another contemporary or will she try her hand at another genre? I haven’t heard any plans about future works yet, so this is one instance of having to wait and see.


Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)


I have been wondering, ever since I read The Night Circus, what Erin Morgenstern was going to write next. Another tale set in the world of Le Cirque de Reves? Another story entirely? What is going to happen? It’s been six years since the release of her debut novel and I’m still waiting, but I will keep waiting because her book, while a bit long at times, was filled with all kinds of enchanting and mystifying writing that made it a special book to be shared far and wide.


Jen Wilde (Queens of Geek)


Queens of Geek made me so happy because it was chock full of fandom culture, convention aesthetic, and brilliant characters. I wish Jen Wilde could write a whole series based around conventions, but in the meantime I’d love to read more books from her. I know she has a zombie Apocalypse series out that I haven’t gotten to yet, but I have since downloaded the first book and will get to it. But, seriously…more SupaCon books please! 😀

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh


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Published: 16 May 2017

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Category: Fantasy/Young Adult/Retellings

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

Rating: 4 Stars

Renee Ahdieh impressed me with The Wrath & the Dawn and The Rose & the Dagger, so when I saw an advertisement for her new series, one touted as a mashup of Mulan and 47 Ronin, I knew that I would want to read it at the first opportunity.

When I began to read it, I noticed that the characters were very individual, even those that were members of the Black Clan, a group of shadowy men that are purported to be nothing more than liars and thieves, two words that are the nicest of ones attributed to them.

Mariko, the main character and the one whom we experience most of the story through, began the tale as thinking quite highly of herself, which seemed to carry her for a good portion of the story, though I wasn’t sure how. This isn’t to say she wasn’t intelligent or crafty, given her incognito predicament, but she engaged in a forward trajectory  as though it was impossible for anyone to see beyond her disguise or her spying at the local, well known Black Clan watering hole. How she manages to fool all of these people for a month, I’m not sure, especially since her early behavior wasn’t as careful as she thought it was.

Kenshin, Mariko’s twin brother and another point of view that we see in the book, was an interesting counterpoint to his sister. We are subtly introduced to his strength (his weapons, his steed), but also to his power and how ably he could command his men if he so chose, even in Jukai Forest, a place all of them are superstitious of. There was an air about his character, even early on that, that made me cautious about him. While Kenshin seems to be the dutiful son and brother, looking for his missing sister, there was a brief moment of darkness at the conclusion of his first chapter that makes me suspect him. The identity of Mariko’s attackers is unknown until the end of the novel and no one should be given a 100% clear bill of innocence.

There is some hints that Kenshin is not all honor, not all the person that his father wants him to be, especially when he interacts with Amaya, the son of his father’s metalsmith. It is clear that he loves her and even knowing that he is expected to marry well, which a marriage to Amaya would not be, he is fighting against this destiny. He is conflicted character, something evident in this small way early on and only growing larger the further the book continues.

The members of the Black Clan served both as background characters and one, even, as the primary love interest. In the moment I felt very real emotions for the ones that were named, especially Ren and Yoshi. There are two more, Ranmaru and Okami, who introduce a whole lot of confusion in regards to their own histories and their interactions with Mariko. It was a bit hard to get a real feel for how large the Black Clan really way, but the sense of camaraderie they had was evident whenever they went on a trip to Inako or when they were getting ready for battle.

Ahdieh’s powers of description are well used, not only to describe the forest of Jukai and the luxury Mariko grew up in, but when the imperial city of Inako comes to life. She utilized her words well and crafted a scene that was appealing not only to my imagination, but to my palate as well. Mariko, coming into town with members of the Black Clan, sees beautiful things like “vividly dyed paper lanterns” and “bolts of lustrous silk”, but she also smells the “marinated squid sizzling over an open flame”. I want to see this place, not just picture it. As well as Renee put the fear of Jukai Forest into us by describing the various ghosts and supernatural creatures that people suspect run about, not to mention the life sucking tree vines, that was how well she soothed us with the city of Inako and it’s fabled district, Hanami.

The ending came up quick and I had to check before I realized that this would not be the end. There will be more to come in this series, whether it is a duology as Ahdieh’s previous works were or whether it is a longer series. One of the only things I didn’t like about the conclusion of Flame in the Mist was that, as things were beginning to be tied up (however loosely for book one), a whole lot more story threads were introduced in the last couple of chapters. It made things much muddier for me and flattened some of the enthusiasm I’d built up over Mariko’s adventure.

The other thing is, a lot of people are comparing this book to Mulan, which I mentioned in my introduction as one of the reasons that I picked this book up in the first place. I have to say that I think this comparison is unfair as the only thing that Mulan and Flame in the Mist have in common is that they both feature a female who crossdresses. The motives are different, the settings are different, etc. Flame in the Mist shares a lot more in common with 47 Ronin, a movie which was an epic piece of cinema.

It was a great pleasure to have the chance to read an early copy of this book and I look forward to receiving my final copy once it is published next month. If you’ve enjoyed Renee Ahdieh’s works in the past, or if you enjoy tales that take place in Japan, or just because I say so, keep this book in mind. It will be a great new story to read.


I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House’s First to Read in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top 10 Tuesday: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want To Read or Continue Reading A Book


Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find the prompts here.

If you were around these parts last week, you’ll remember my post on things that will instantly make me want to read a book. Well, it’s time to flip that coin and see what’s on the other side. Yup, that’s right, it’s time for the things that will make me instantly NOT want to read a book.

Some of these examples are ones that will put me off right away, others are ones that will instantly make me want to put the book down or throw it out the window.


These are in no particular order but they all bug me to a certain degree. It’s sad because I try to enjoy as many books as possible, but sometimes, you just have to grit your teeth and let them go. Also, of note: please realize that these are my opinions. If you happen to like some of these examples, or some of these might by your automatically want to read topics, please don’t hate me! They just aren’t right for me.

Awkward Cheesy Covers

These are the ones that look like bad colored pencil drawings or terrible clip art mock-ups, covers so bad I’m not sure how they ended up as paper covers in the first place.

Traditional Romance Covers

I don’t know what it is about these, but covers like these automatically turn me off. I feel like I can’t take them seriously. The plots are usually quite thin if they’re existent at all, the characters are stereotypical on purpose. I mean, what is there to like about them? The best examples? Each and every cover that looks like Fabio is or should be on it.

If The Goodreads Rating Is Under 3 Stars

This one is kind of grain-of-salt territory, especially these days when people are moving against authors by rating their books 1 star even if they haven’t read them yet (ex. when neo-Nazis flooded Lauren Silverman’s Girl Out of Water Goodreads page and low rated it). I will say that if the rating is under 3 stars, I’ll probably be way more cautious about reading it unless I know there are mitigating circumstances surrounding the book.

Plots Where Nothing Happens


This book is a perfect example. Hated it, hated it, HATED it. Books like this where pretty much nothing happens are books that I just can’t stand and if I hear reviews about a book to this effect? Yeah, I will probably never pick it up.

Mind-numbingly Slow Writing


This book I finished because it was for a review, but had it not been I would have discarded it so much sooner. The first 40% was incredibly painful because of the writing style. I was severely disappointed because the book had been comped to Love, Actually, one of my favorite Christmas movies.

If the writing is so slow that basically nothing is happening within the first third of the book, how does that look for the rest of the book? I’d expect something to be going on, some kind of plot of character development to  be happening by then. If not, out it goes.

Graphic Novels That Use A Famous Name As The “Author” But Don’t Credit The Actual Writer or Artists


Username: Evie was the book that made me much more cautious about graphic novels that only have one name on the cover because Joe Sugg? Yeah, he didn’t write or draw or anything like that. He consulted on the idea and maybe came up with the initial concept, but the actual writers and artists? No credit on the cover AT ALL. That made me angrier than the fact that the book was crap.

From now on I check and if the book is hiding the artists or writers? Yeah, no. That’s not cool and I won’t be participating in it.

Poor Representation

These two books are personal examples of books that have horrible representation, one for eating disorders and the other for eating disorders/grief/depression. Mental health representation is so important, especially when we’re talking about young adult books. How many young adults look to books for advice, for support? If the books they get have such “shining” examples, what are they to make of them? Books go buh-bye, thanks.

Overly Religious Plot

I don’t care for books that are essentially proselytizing in book form. This is different from books that are allegories, like The Chronicles of Narnia. The former are books where the plot is constantly shoving religion in your face with no real purpose other than to seemingly convert the person reading it.  You can’t always tell from the summary, so finding that out after I’ve picked the book up is sure to get it set aside.

Series With No End In Sight

This doesn’t mean I won’t pick them up eventually, but I’m much less likely to. I understand that it takes times to write a book, but I don’t really want to start a series, get intensely invested in the characters, and then face an even longer wait than those fans that have already suffered for years. The last Game of Thrones book was published in 2011, so that’s six years they’ve already got under their belt. The Archived series should have book three, The Returned, someday, but there’s no knowing when exactly because V.E. Schwab has/had two other series that’s she was busy with (Shades of Magic/Monsters of Verity). I’m sure I’ll love both of these, eventually, when I do decide to take the plunge.

Books With Multiple P.O.V.s That Don’t Have Distinct Voices

Luckily this doesn’t happen too often, but when I get a book and it has multiple points of view, I expect to be able to tell the difference between once character and the next, especially if the points of view are told in first person. There are times when the shifting p.o.v.s are in first/third person, which makes it a bit easier, but if you’ve got two or more p.o.v.s that are too similar and you can’t tell who is who, you have to keep rereading a chapter just to keep it all straight, then clearly something went wrong in the telling of the story.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas


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Tarun Shaker’s Website  –  Kelly Zekas’ Website

Published: 14 March 2017

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Category: Young Adult/Fantasy/Historical Fiction

England, 1883. Still recovering from a devastating loss, Evelyn is determined to use her powers to save other gifted people from those who would harm them. But when her rescue of a young telekinetic girl goes terribly wrong, Evelyn finds herself indebted to a secret society devoted to recruiting and protecting people like Evelyn and her friends.

As she follows the Society’s orders, healing the sick and embarking on perilous recruitment missions, Evelyn sees her problems disappear. Her reputation is repaired, her friends are provided for, and her parents are newly wealthy. She reunites with the dashing Mr. Kent and recovers the reclusive Mr. Braddock (who has much less to brood over now that the Society can help him to control his dangerous power). But Evelyn can’t help fearing the Society is more sinister than it appears…

Rating: 3 Stars

One thing that I’ve noticed with trilogies is that second books tend to disappoint me. They might not be terrible books, but after an excellent first run, they lack the energy and surprise of the first book. These Ruthless Deeds seems to have escaped this trend and for that I’m thankful.

In the late 1800’s, Evelyn is fresh of a sad ending and struggling to find her footing. This is when a new opportunity is presented to her in the form of the Society of Aberrations, a group that seems to be the answer to a whole host of problems for a young woman of her station in that time period. However, nothing is ever as good as it seems, as Evelyn quickly finds out.

The book started out with a dilemma and threw Evelyn right into trouble. These problems that she confronts highlights what is to like and to dislike about Evelyn. She’s a smart girl with a sarcastic wit, but sometimes she’s impulsive and that comes back to bite her. Her methodology for planning isn’t the worst I’ve seen, nor is it the best. She’s easy to understand and luckily it doesn’t turn into my hating her for being completely stupid, which is one of the biggest problems I have with heroines (sheer idiocy with no plausible source).

The variety of powers continued to remind me, as others have mentioned, of a Victorian era X-men. Watching these abilities interact in an era where it’s more difficult to hide them was interesting because while in modern day time you might be able to pass certain things off as street magic, abilities like telekinesis will land you in an insane asylum. I’m not sure if you know much about asylums in general, but the ones of the Victorian era and up until modern times were pretty awful.

Another thing that pleased me about this book, aside from the continuing quality, was that I found the pacing to be superior in this book than its predecessor These Vicious Masks. That book took a bit of doing to get into, whereas reading These Ruthless Deeds went by like no time at all.

If you’re looking for a fast read, one that has magical elements, historical settings, and a good dash of romantic intrigue, I hope you’ll continue with the These Vicious Masks trilogy. If you’ve yet to start it, here’s to starting a new series that already has two books out so you won’t have to wait to get more material to gobble up.


I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: You Can’t Win Them All, Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister


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Author’s Website

A brand new title in the bestselling Rainbow Fish series!

Everyone loses once in a while. But being a good sport when you lose isn’t always easy—not even for Rainbow Fish. A lighthearted look at accepting loss without losing your sparkle!

Rating: 4 Stars

The latest addition to the bestselling Rainbow Fish series, You Can’t Win Them All, Rainbow Fish teaches a good lesson with the right balance of fun, bright artwork and seriousness.

Rainbow Fish is playing a game of hide and seek with some friends, some of which are different than he is (one is bright red, one quite a bit smaller), and while they’re playing he learns that, sometimes, you can’t win every game. Some days are better than others and, while you might be the best hide and seeker there is, even the best have off days.

This was an easy introduction to a lesson that is important for children to learn. It’s all to easy for them, in these days of instant gratification and idolization, to become quite spoiled and self indulgent. Learning that things don’t always go their way, but that you can have fun despite that is a valuable lesson and skill that will serve them well.

This is the first Rainbow Fish title I’ve read, so I can’t compare it to its predecessors in terms of quality. I will say that I did like the watercolor style of the images. I think that, were this a physical book rather than an eARC, I might have gotten a bit more of Rainbow Fish’s shimmer. There are tones in the fish’s scales that looks silvery that I think would benefit from being printed.

This gets a definite recommendation from me. I will be looking into more books from the Rainbow Fish series to see if they have the same quality of message and art.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Promdi Heart – Hometown Love Stories by Georgette S. Gonzales, Agay Llanera, Chris Mariano, C.P. Santi , Jay E. Tria, and Ines Bautista-Yao


Amazon (Kindle)  –  Goodreads

Published: 29 March 2017

Category: Romance

Take a quick tour of the Philippines with six hometown love stories.

Visit Jimenez, Misamis Occidental where a priest might just set you up with a man whose dimples are to die for.

Visit Silay, Negros Occidental and get on a horse alongside hunky, hazel-eyed Negrense royalty.

Visit Kalibo, Aklan and find yourself in the arms of a cute drummer boy who just happens to be your kuya’s BFF.

Visit Hagonoy, Bulacan and spend All Saint’s Day next to a distracting boy who promises to write you a song.

Visit Vigan, Ilocos Sur and meet the hot man you used to bully when he was a shy, chubby boy.

Visit Pundaquit, Zambales and find love in a bronzed fisherman whose eyes hold depths you’ll want to explore.

Rating: 2 Stars

This book brings together six authors to write about hometowns in the Philippines, each with their own take on stories bringing tow young lovers together. A chance Twitter encounter brought this book across my Kindle and today I’m sharing my thoughts on this collection.

Only the Beginning by C.P. Santi

I did not enjoy this story for a few reasons, primary of which is that I couldn’t get into the story. The action didn’t seem to have a clear pace. The characters, especially the main one (Andrea), were confusing. Andrea starts the story objecting to a project, vehemently speaking out against it at a meeting, but this objection seems to slide to the side because someone close to her is actually in charge and gets her a job involved in the project.

The “chapters” were cut off seemingly at random and quite abruptly, another thing that bugged me. The timing was another matter that made the story difficult to process; it jumped from saying a couple days later, a couple days later, etc. It felt weird and like saying dates or even specifying the times would’ve flowed better.

The basis of the story sounded like it could have been really interesting. Gathering the stories of the community, learning things about them, could have been a great way to share details with the reading audience, but I never got that sense of community from this particular story. The romance itself never felt real, either, whether it was because of the jolting nature of the storytelling or because there simply wasn’t enough time to develop the relationship, I’m not sure. In either matter, this was not my favorite story of the collection.

Letters About a Boy by Ines Bautista Yao

Told in a series of letters from Tin-tin to her friend/cousin Annette, this story shared the trait of odd timing with Only the Beginning. Since these are letters, dates would’ve made infinitely more sense rather than “end of summer” or “a few weeks into high school year”.

Tin-tin herself was not a sympathetic character. She came across as a bit whiny and more than a little petulant. She’s pining over a boy, Nicholas, who gives her mixed signals about his interest. Over the years he dates, but never gets over Regina, a girl he was interested in at the beginning. Tin-tin is quoted as saying:

My god, Annette, it’s been so freaking long. Why can’t he get over this girl?

That is a classic pot calling the kettle black situation if I ever heard one. It didn’t help that in the next paragraph she started tearing Regina apart, wondering why Nicholas liked her because Tin-tin doesn’t think she looks like anything spectacular.

I really didn’t like the relationship that “developed” between Tin-tin and Nicholas. She really did end up pining after him all these years, he made excuses for why he didn’t “see” her sooner, and everything wrapped up far too nearly too quickly. They may have know each other for a long time as friends, but that’s different than being in a romantic relationship. These two seem to have skipped several steps in between, making the finale a letdown.

Drummer Boy by Chris Mariano

This was the most visually appealing story of the novel. Taking place during the Ati-atihan Festival, the description of a party in the street, full of bright colors and loud music gave the piece a jubilant air.

I liked the familial relationship between Reina and Dex more so than the romantic one between Reina and Ben. Though brief, I got a real sense of caring from Dex. He was the annoying big brother, sure, but he was also helpful to Reina when he realized that she liked Ben (which he found out when he elbowed his way into their first “date”, but that’s a whole other thing). It was a weird situation to come to terms with in his mind, but he knew it was his sister’s decision, would make her happy, and what he could do was support her (and take her side in any fights she and Ben might have 😉).

While there was still an insta-love feel to the relationship, it didn’t feel quite as strong as some of the other stories. Reina and Ben have loosely known each other 8 years, but their interest is thrown into overdrive at the commencement of this tale. A little drama and it ends at a decent place: not solved, not a huge cliffhanger; just right for a short story.

One Certain Day by Jay E. Tria

I enjoyed the writing at the beginning of this story more than the previous stories and thought that it spoke of a turnaround for the collection as a whole. While it turned out that story’s quality didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, the quality of telling it was good enough that I’d considered trying this author again in the future. This story in and of itself could have blossomed into a longer piece, I think, and been a contemporary YA novel. Things felt too rushed, too shoved into a too-small space.

There were some things that didn’t make sense to me, such as Alice’s interest in being an actress being mentioned offhand at one point. She mentions a part she gets called back for, but someone else is up for it so she’s not sure she’ll get this coveted role. Until then I’d had no idea what really spoke to her in terms of interests, other than All Saint’s Day and Son’s writing a song for her.

I’m glad they were able to reconcile their feelings and be friends at the end, even though Alice had hoped it would be different. Alice and Son, close as their are, do seem like they could be best friends. Things may change in the future, they may not, but the note they ended on was a decent one, if not wholly exuberant.

Once Upon a Bully by Georgette S. Gonzales

This story was a bit of a conundrum for me. The writing was decent, the characterization good (even if I didn’t like the characters, the way they were written certainly managed to evoke specific emotions), but there were elements of the tale itself that did not make sense.

Bridgette has spent the last decade of her life somewhere, in stasis, but where? Her family is a bit far flung (Germany, Ontario) and remaining in the Philippines  was her choice, though I’m unsure why. She says she’s never lived away from her family, claims to be living alone, but it sounds like the place she’s moved into on page one is an apartment/glorified room in a compound of her aunt’s. Does this really count as living on her own?

This got relegated to the background of my mind when we were introduced to how she treated Miguel, her new neighbor and former childhood classmate, when they were children. It was abominable behavior and made me dislike her for the rest of the story. She seemed to show some guilt, but I have to wonder whether that guilt was tainted by her childhood fear of getting into trouble for torturing a fellow person.

I’m not sure if it was a cultural difference, Miguel’s handling of the bullying. Perhaps a fellow reader could clear this up for me. He says:

…he didn’t hate or dislike her. He was not brought up that way. He tolerated her bullying because his mother told him to never tease girls nor strike back and hurt them.

I’m not sure I could agree fully with his assessment that harboring ill feelings was pointless. Maybe you could move on from someone making your life horrible for months on end as a child, but would you really grow up to fall in love with them? That whole aspect of this story felt disingenuous and had me pulling faces the further I read.

Of course, just because he said there was no reason to be nasty, it meant she was absolved from her bitchiness. Or maybe she was absolved from that but not from apologizing.

This passage further highlighted something that Bridgette interpreted from her interaction with Miguel that I couldn’t understand. I’m “glad” she feels she’s been absolved of her bullying past, but that kind of past speaks to her character. She never really faced consequences for her actions; a slight embarrassment, maybe, but nothing that was anywhere near what she put Miguel through. This goes back to my wondering whether it’s a cultural handling of bullying, but are things different in the Philippines than in the US? Was there any consideration for what bullied children actually go through and what it’s like to see a story in which a bullied child enters a romantic relationship with their tormentor?

Back to the Stars by Agay Llanera

This story was by far my favorite because, while there were some parts that were not as fleshed out as I’d have liked, it felt like there was a good, solid story. There was conflict, happiness, and I could follow along on the action, the most important thing of all.

Leah’s conflict between two love interests had me a bit unsteady at first, but when she and her work group (love interest #1 included) went to her beach house for the weekend, we got a peek at her life growing up. Wency (love interest #2) was there waiting for her, a summer time childhood friend, and we learned more about Leah, about what her hesitation regarding the past really meant for her, what it meant for her future. This story had the most heart of the collection, to me, and the least amount of difficulties.


I had some difficulty enjoying this book because I was out of my depth with the culture and the terms that were being used. I spent a lot of time having to look up terms that, while I could get the general context of, made it difficult to sort out who was related to who, or what their exact relationship was. The constant going to Google kept taking me out of the story, preventing me from really settling in to any one of them.

The stories were about 50/50. Three I liked fairly well, the other three I did not like much at all. With short story collections from different authors, or even from collections by the same author, this kind of  thing is bound to happen. The ones I liked, I’d recommend seeing if you can find more from those authors and trying their longer fiction out. At the conclusion of the book is a brief bit on each author, including previous titles.

Also after reading this book, a fun bonus is this quiz that will tell you what your ideal Promdi vacation would be: Promdi Vacation Quiz. My personal result?

Soaking up the summer sun in Pundaquit, Zambales!



I received a copy of this book from Agay Llanera, one of the authors, in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads


Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey from Gingerreadlainey.

This week’s topic is all about featuring my favorite LGBTQ+ reads. I’ve read some really good ones this year and if you haven’t read them yet, I hope this post will inspire you to add them to your TBR.


Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

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.

I know I’ve featured this book on a couple of lists lately, but it bears repeating: I loved this book. Charlie, one of the main characters and one of two points of view we read, is a bisexual woman who’s had to deal not only with her sexuality, but with the film industry wanting her to suppress it “for the good of her film” and with fans that ship her and her ex, the star of the film that brought her into the world wide cinematic arena.


The Search for Aveline: Sink or Swim #1

by Stephanie Rabig and Angie Bee

Captain Harriet “Harry” Roberts and the daring crew of The Sappho are not for the faint of heart. A ship of strays unlike any other, they’re not afraid to face whatever the world throws at them—be it mermaids, kidnappings, sirens, plague, clashes with their mortal enemy Captain Wrath Drew of The Charon, a handsome merman, or good old-fashioned love.

This book has a whole host of relationships in the LGBTQ+ spectrum and I love how they’re all treated well. Things aren’t always easy for these characters; there is, alas, tragedy for more than one, but the book is overall one of acceptance.


George by Alex Gino

BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not….

I finally got to read this year and was surprised by how much emotion I felt while reading it. I’d heard about George, a transgender girl, before, but never much about how the book handled her story. It’s a middle grade book that is very respectful of it’s subject, probably helped by the fact that this book is #ownvoices.


Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

This has been one of the view books that has made me cry so far this year. The writing really gets into not only your head, but also your heart. Peter’s journey between England and Neverland, between his life as Wendy and his life as Peter, is one told in snippets and flashbacks while Peter comes back to Neverland as a young adult, having grown up despite his claim to never be able to do so. The M/M relationship is one I never realized would work so well either between well known and loved characters from the Peter Pan legend.


More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again—but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

I never saw the end of this book coming.

I’m a sucker for any book that takes place in New York City, so point one to this book. When I got it in an OwlCrate, point two. The characters were fleshed out so well I could picture them as people I actually knew, which added to the heartbreak I suffered when the book was coming to its conclusion. I wish this weren’t a standalone because I have so many questions about where life will go for Aaron.


All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top 10 Tuesday: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book


Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find the prompts here.

This week’s topic is about the Top 10 7 Things about a book that make it much more likely for me to at least check it out, though there are a couple on this list that make it an almost 100% certainty that I’ll just buy the book and enjoy it later.

Auto-buy Authors 

There are a lot of authors that I’m intrigued by and will most likely look into their books when I hear about them, but there are two that, without a doubt, I will buy books published by. If it’s by J.K Rowling (or her nom de plume Robert Galbraith) or Neil Gaiman, I will without question be buying that book.

Audiobooks Narrated by Their Authors


Neil Gaiman falls under this category too, but my most recent acquisition because of an author reading their own story is Lauren Graham’s Talking As Fast As I Can. I feel like the author, assuming they’re also a good narrator as those I’ve come across have been, can give the story a bit more nuance that a narrator that’s not personally invested in the story. They understand what parts might need a little something extra, that sort of thing.

If It’s Recommend By Cait aka PaperFury


Cait has an unfailing great sense of humor and can make any book sound amazing. While I might not end up sharing the same opinion on the book in question, if she recommends it, I’m probably going to pick it up, 9 times out of 10. Check out her blog at

If It Takes Place At a Convention

Some of my happiest times have been spent at anime conventions, especially Anime Next before it moved locations to Atlantic City last year. If a book takes place at a convention, I’m more likely to pick it up because it allows me to relive some of these great times and immerse myself in geeky culture. It’s even better if the conventions are based on actual ones that I can picture more accurately (Queens of Geeks = SDCC, The Four-Day Weekend = Otakon).

If the Main Character is a Book Nerd/Fangirl/Etc.

These are the kinds of characters that I relate to the best, so if a book has one of them as the main character I’m more likely to want to read it.

Comic Collections/Manga

Manga was a bit part of my life starting in high school and has remained a constant ever since. I’ve begun to appreciate comics outside of the manga forum in recent years, especially if they’re funny and/or slice-of-life social commentary types, like Sarah’s ScribblesR.O.D.: Read or Dream actually encompasses two of my Top 10 reasons (manga & book nerds).

The Book Is Related to Knitting/Crocheting in Some Way

The Blossom Street series is one of my favorites because it starts off a series of strong female friendships that begin because of interactions around A Good Yarn, the titular shop on Blossom Street. Each book features a project and the pattern is included at the beginning of the book so you can follow along if you like. Debbie Macomber is a strong crafting and charity advocate, so I loved getting further into this series.

I would like to see more books with crafters in them, especially written by people that know what they’re talking about. While I’m more likely to pick up a book if it mentions a knitter or crocheter, I’m also likely to be more critical of their use of terminology. If you get that wrong, what was the point of including that characteristic?


All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.