Over Raging Tides // Female Pirates Kicking Ass

Author: Jennifer Ellision
Genre: Fantasy // Pirates!! //  YA
Series: Lady Pirates #1
Goodreads rating: 3.66
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by many rules, but chief among them is this: they do not allow men on board.

That’s a rule that quartermaster Grace Porter is willing to break when a shipwrecked young nobleman offers her information of an omniscient map, stolen from his warship by an enemy vessel. Until now, the map was only the stuff of legend… but with its help, Grace may finally be able to hunt down the Mordgris, the sea monsters who stole her mother away from her.

Unfortunately, some members of her crew have other plans…

To find the map and face the Mordgris, Grace will have to confront her past, put the Luck between warring nations, and uncover treachery aboard the ship. And ultimately, her revenge and the destruction of the Mordgris will come at a hefty price: the betrayal of her crew.

Grace promised them they wouldn’t regret this.

She just isn’t sure that she won’t.Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book by the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review

This one was certainly fun! I mean an all-girls pirate crew? Yes please! If this had been developed a bit more it would have been a new favourite. Let’s break this down in some✨ lists ✨

What I liked

💛 Female pirates who are pirates in every sense of the word! They are ruthless, they steal, they murder, they are crude, they love their rum… They were nothing different from their male counterparts, except they also had to fight against sexism

”It is a fool who underestimates a woman because of her sex, Mr. Wesson,” I say, hearing a slight tremble in my rage. ”And an ungrateful one who forgets who just saved his life.”

💛 The relationships between the pirates – they were very much a family, even if not all of them got along. I wish we had seen more of this to be honest

💛 Gracie was a delightful protagonist, although I do feel like she was a bit flat. But we’ll get to that! She’s set on avenging her mom (though hopeful that she’d find her alive), but she’s still loyal to her crew and would never want to hurt her. While she’s a pirate in every way, she’d never kill someone purely out of bloodlust.

💛 The relationship between Gracie and Captain Ilene: Ilene is her stepmother/second mother, as she and Gracie’s mom fell in love (!!) years ago when Ilene infiltrated Gracie’s father’s ship. Ilene didn’t just teach her the way of a pirate, but also made sure she was very educated in other aspects (like knowing an ancient language). It was clear that they loved and cared for each other, which was great to see

💛 The friendship between Gracie and Sam. While it wasn’t said that they were best friends, it did seem that way as they would do anything for each other. I can’t wait to see more of their friendship in the sequel

💛 The fact that not all of the pirates are straight! I don’t know about Gracie (seems straight so far, but I might have missed something?) but Gracie says that some of her crew were off to ‘find themselves a man or woman for a few hours’ when they were on land, and Sam definitely is bi.

What I didn’t like

💛 I’m confused about the worldbuilding? There are countries at war, but we don’t know anything about these countries or why they’re at war. Outside of that war, it was hard to picture the world this was set in. There are apparently Eleven Seas and a few port towns are mentioned, but it was very vague.

💛 The plot was a bit rushed, which also left us with characters and relationships that felt a bit underdeveloped. Like I said, Gracie felt a bit flat to me, even though I loved her, and so did the other characters. The relationship between Gracie and Ilene is the only one that I felt was truly developed. The romance was… Okay? I felt very neutral about it, but I think I could’ve liked it if it wasn’t rushed and underdeveloped. It’s not that the relationship itself was rushed per se, but because the plot is, the relationship just went with it. There wasn’t really a gradual change in their relationship for me, all of a sudden they were on friendly terms and at some point he even takes huge risks that would not only endanger him, but would leave his little brother all by himself. I just missed the build up to this, which made this feel a bit unrealistic. I wouldn’t call this insta-love though.

💛 I wish we learned more about the Mordgris, but that may be something left for book 2? I hope so, because they were fascinating but I didn’t really fear them? Even though they were clearly creepy

All in all Over Raging Tide was a fun read about female pirates who’d die for each other (and for treasure and glory and all that – they want to be Pirate Queens lads!), but I just wish it had been developed a bit more. I have high hopes for the sequel!

And it had turned out my father was right. Women are terrible luck. At least, for anyone who crosses us.

Have you read Over Raging Tides? Or another (female) pirates book? Any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

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Starfish // The Best Anxiety Rep I’ve Ever Read


Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman
Genre: Contemporary //  YA
Goodreads rating: 4.12
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

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

A luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.Disclaimer: I was given an copy of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

Where do I even start? Starfish has been one of my most anticipated reads for a while now, and boy it did not disappoint in the slightest. In fact I think it went beyond my expectations.

I’ve been having trouble writing this post for weeks now, because putting my love for this book into words?

It’s been a while since I read a book that I loved this much, plus a lot of it hit me personally, making it even harder to write this review. While I haven’t gone through exactly the same thing as Kiko, her relationship with her mother really reminded me of mine with my father, something I haven’t really talked about on here. While of course there are differences between Kiko’s mom and my father, there were a lot of similarities and I’m just so happy to see this represented to well in ya fiction. Because I’m lucky to know that things weren’t okay, so I know that it’s okay to choose to not have a relationship with my father now, but there are so many kids and teens out there that don’t, that think they just have to accept the way it is because they’re family. 

She can’t be the villain if she’s the victim.

Starfish shows us that it’s not okay, not in the slightest, and never tries to normalise her mom’s behaviour or get us to symphatise with her.

One quote that hit me really hard, because I’ve heard pretty much the exact words (except in Dutch of course) were: ”I’m not some evil dictator.” Her mom constantly played the victim, made it all about herself, constantly looked down on Kiko, and meanwhile Kiko badly tries to be perfect as to please her mom. I still have issues trying to do everything perfectly because of my father, so I related to Kiko so much.

Kiko’s anxiety definitely stems from her mother’s abuse, but it also stems from (TRIGGER WARNING: sexual abuse. Yes, this is a spoiler, but I want to mention this so that people know what to expect going in) her uncle sexually abusing her when she was a kid. This only made her mother’s abuse worse, as she doesn’t believe her. Thankfully I haven’t experienced any sexual abuse, but I definitely got my anxiety from my father’s abuse, making me feel a lot more represented in this book than others that deal with anxiety.

That’s not to say that other books I’ve read don’t have great anxiety rep! One of the reasons I loved Queens of Geek and The Upside of Unrequited so much is because of their great anxiety rep, but Starfish? Starfish is so on point. It touched upon things that I haven’t seen before in YA (that’s not to say it isn’t there! I just personally haven’t read it or my memory is failing me once again) and it made me think about my own WIP, as these things Kiko felt and experienced are just so normal to me that I didn’t even think about including them in my own WIP that also deals with anxiety.

I loved the inclusions of what Kiko actually wanted to say, and what she really ended up saying, because same? Not being good at talking to people, hating parties and loud music*, not being able to have fun when there are people you don’t feel comfortable around**, needing someone to hide behind/to talk for you/just be there with you in new situations, quickly worrying that you said the wrong thing and upset someone just because they’re not immediately responding… and just so much more. Starfish captured anxiety so well – anxiety is different for everyone, so there were differences between me and Taylor (Queens of Geek) and Molly (The Upside of Unrequited), but Starfish is the first book that when it came to my anxiety I just felt fully represented in.

Normal people don’t need to prepare for social interactions. Normal people don’t panic at the sight of strangers. Normal people don’t want to cry because the plan they’ve processed in their head is suddenly not the plan that’s going to happen.

* Fun fact: when I was still in my mother’s womb and my mother would go somewhere with loud music I would protest by moving around and kicking until she left lmao sorry mom so yeah that’s something I probably wouldn’t like even if I didn’t end up with anxiety, but now it can be really hard for me to handle?
** Like it didn’t matter I had my friends at school parties I did NOT feel comfortable at all with all the other people around. During our senior trip in Barcelona our teachers surprised us by going to a club hahahaha thanks mates couldn’t you have warned a girl I had a panic attack :) bless the club for having wifi though so I could talk to my mom all evening

I loved how at the end of each chapter Kiko would describe what she drew or painted that day, which always reflected something she went through, felt or experienced during that chapter, and to see how she’d turn that into art. Sometimes it was heartbreaking, sometimes heartwarming, but it was always beautiful. The way Kiko’s written as an artist is something I aspire to write as one of my character is an artist as well. Plus as an art lover it was just fun to read about an artist!

I draw a woman wearing an elaborate dress, twirling like she’s made of light and sun. And then I draw a shriveled girl trapped within her shadow. She doesn’t want the light – she just wants her mom.

One of my favourite things in this book is her relationship with the artist Hiroshi, who doesn’t just take her under his wings as an apprentice, but welcomes her into his family. He gives her so much wisdom, love and kindess, and so did the rest of his family. I also loved that this way Kiko could reconnect to her Japanese roots, which is something she was missing. Speaking of the Japanese rep, I’m not Japanese, so I can’t speak for it, nor can I speak for her experience of looking Asian in a white society, as while I’m part Indonesian I’m very whitepassing. So far I have only seen positive reviews from Asian bloggers, but if there’s anything incorrect about the rep that you’ve mentioned in your review, please let me know so I can link to it!

Kiko’s development is incredible. In the beginning she can barely go out by herself (same girl), but in the end she does things outside of her comfort zone, despite her anxiety. She isn’t magically cured, she still suffers from her anxiety, but she learns how to live with it. And that my friends? Is the message I really needed right now as my anxiety has been pretty bad lately.

Starfish is an incredible read, and definitely my favourite of 2018. Of course it’s only May, but I just don’t see anything surpassing it. It has a great balance between heavy and light, but never downplaying the heavy elements. It tackles racism, abuse, family, belonging and so much more.

If you haven’t picked this up yet, I highly recommend it.

Have you read Starfish yet? What did you think? Any other great anxiety YA books you’d recommend? What’s your favourite read of 2018 so far? Let me know in the comments!

My Name Is Victoria // Two Victoria’s, One Queen, An Alternative History

Author: Lucy Worsley
Genre: Historical //  YA
Goodreads rating: 3.85
My rating: ⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

 

Miss V. Conroy is good at keeping secrets. She likes to sit as quiet as a mouse, neat and discreet. But when her father sends her to Kensington Palace to become the companion to Princess Victoria, Miss V soon finds that she can no longer remain in the shadows. Her father is Sir John Conroy, confidant and financial advisor to Victoria’s mother, and he has devised a strict set of rules for the young princess that he calls the Kensington System. It governs Princess Victoria’s behavior and keeps her locked away from the world. Sir John says it’s for the princess’s safety, but Victoria herself is convinced that it’s to keep her lonely and unhappy. Torn between loyalty to her father and her growing friendship with the willful and passionate princess, Miss V has a decision to make: continue in silence or speak out.Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

This one was a bit disappointing to me. Last month I read a similar book from Worsley, but about Queen Mary, which I had (mostly) the same problems with as this one, so I guess Worsley’s books are just not for me? Because I love lists* let’s sum up these problems

* And I’m too exhausted to write a full review lmao stayed up too long because I was on a Eurovision high and then found out that B99 is cancelled hahahaha everything is garbage 🙃

💛 Not much happens?? This is the biggest problem with both this one and Lady Mary: there isn’t much of a plot. I mean, there technically is, but it doesn’t feel like it because barely anything happens. There’s just,, a lot of talking?

💛 Because of this it’s just,, a bit boring? I feel like this book could’ve been so much more interesting given the concept and the historical people it focues on. I mean there’s so much political intrigue, but because we see everything through the eyes Miss V. we barely know anything about it

💛 That plot twist was,,, not to my liking. This is a very personal thing which led to my two star rating instead of three, and shouldn’t keep you from not reading this book. The plot twist itself was well-written as there were enough hints for it to not be entirely out of the blue, but not that many that it was predictable (though I did see it coming) and Worsley explains that this is an alternative history, just her exploring a ‘what if’, it’s not some conspiracy theory haha, I just personally didn’t like it?

💛 I feel like the characters were just not that interesting either? Worsley knows her stuff, especially when it comes to Queen Victoria, so it’s not a lack of research, but the characters were kinda flat and while we follow both girls through childhood to their teenage years, I just don’t feel they changed much? Also Miss V.’s voice was just,,, so lack-luster?

But!! There were definitely things I liked. Like I said, if it weren’t for the plot twist I would’ve given this three stars*

💛 The friendship between the girls!! They were probably not such great friends in reality, but Worsley wanted to explore this what if and honestly it was lovely. At first they didn’t really know what to make of each other of course, but in the end they love and support each other, want what’s best for the other, would risk anything and everything, know each other like the back of their hand, were willing to give up their own happiness for the other’s… It was so great to see, even though Queen Victoria probably hated Miss V. in reality lmao

💛 Despite not much happening and the characters feeling a bit flat, it’s clear that Worsley knows what she’s talking about. It really does feel like you’re transferred to the 1800s

💛 While Miss. V didn’t change that much, I do like how she eventually stood up to her father

💛 Queen Victoria’s support system! Of course she was isolated, but she still had a small group (including Miss V.) that would do anything for her and loved her with all their heart

💛 Not much is known about Miss V. Conroy, so it’s nice to see more about her

💛 Dash!!

* Honestly me not liking the plot twist probably has to do with the tv show and maaaybe with my crush on Jenna Coleman but,,

Gently, but inescapably, she pulled me nearer until our foreheads touched. ”You are my sister now,” she said quietly and and solemnly. ”Never forget it. I love you like my sister, and you are my only friend in all the world.”

I don’t think Worsley’s books are for me, but if you love historical fiction than I do recommend checking them out. There’s a good chance you won’t have these problems after all!

Have you read My Name is Victoria, or one of Worsley’s other books? What did you think? Do you like historical fiction? What’s your favourite? And do you watch Victoria? (if so I haven’t seen season 2 yet please don’t spoil!) Let me know in the comments!

Sugar Lump // A Disappointing, Over The Top ‘Mystery’

Author: Megan Gaudino
Genre: Contemporary // Mystery //  YA
Goodreads rating: 4.07
My rating: ⭐

 

 

 

 

 

Seventeen-year-old travel blogger CC is stuck on a never-ending road trip with her wanderlust-addicted father. When her dad lands the job of his dreams in Sugar Lump—wedding capital of the world—CC finally finds a place to call home. Complete with two quirky best friends and a quixotic guy to crush on, Sugar Lump is more shades of perfect than she can possibly count.

But when CC accidentally overhears the mayor complaining that she has to “take out” a rogue employee for not fulfilling the terms of his contract, the idyllic town’s facade crumbles. Devastated by the possibility of having to move yet again, CC discovers everyone has been keeping a massive secret from her—including her own father.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

I’m sorry but this was just,, not great. The writing wasn’t very good and the telling instead of showing started to drive me crazy, especially because a lot of it felt like it had already been said a bunch of times. The characters were flat and stereotypical (token gay friend who I found very over the top, brooding love interest), there are a lot of things left unresolved and the mystery? SUCH a let down.

There were quite a few characters, most of which I had no idea who they were except for the main ones. I almost actually screamed ‘WHO ARE YOU’ multiple times because?? Confusion?? I have the memory of a goldfish so if it had taken me a while to read this I would’ve blamed in on myself, but it was only a few days.

I really liked that CC was a travel blogger, but we never actually see her blog? She’s just taking pictures all the time, and at first that was fine, because she had just moved to a new town, but as us bloggers know, blogging takes up a lot of our time and we constantly think about it. Considering she has a huge following, surely it’s a big part time of CC’s life too? So why don’t we see that?

I loved the relationship between CC and her dad – pretty much the only saving grace of this book, but the ‘mystery’ completely ruined it as her dad just went along with it and didn’t tell her about it.  It’s such a shame too because her dad was such a sweetheart and they had such fun interactions? Like when Thorn, the love interest, is there to pick her up and asks if she’s ready, he accidentally says that she’s been sitting ready for forty-five minutes waiting for him:

Dad came through the living room with an expression on his face that matched my insides.
”I’m sorry I said that.” He crouched next to me on the floor like we were both hiding from Thorn. ”What do we do now?” he whispered.

And then when Thorn asks if she can go to the lake:

”She can’t.” Dad clutched my elbow and pulled me closer. ”CC’s grounded for… for… knocking over a licquor store.”
I shook my elbow free. ”Are you having a stroke?”
Dad laughed in a totally fake way then pulled me in close again. ”I don’t know if you want to go with him or not, and I wanted to say you did something cool to make up for before.”

SEE? Such a nice dad I loved him. But the mystery bnfshdg Okay we’ll get there, let’s get to the romance first. The love interest is of course a broody bad boy, who everyone is telling CC to stay away from but she’s immediately intrigued and wants to ‘tame the wild beast’ I shit you not. She constantly refers to him as a ‘wild beast’ like???

It’s also insta-love and honestly was very annoying to read about.

And now, finally, the mystery. Like I said, it was SUCH a let down. It was ridiculous and over the top and just… Not realistic? This a big spoiler but I need to rant about it, so open at your own risk:

 

 

Spoiler!

The big secret that everyone is keeping is that everyone is signing contracts to not get a divorce. The mayor is offering them a huge sum of money in return, because she wants to keep up the zero divorce rate of the town to attract more people to get married there. Because of these contracts people are getting married to someone they have a good platonic relationship with, and then just cheat on them with someone they love akndgjhs The mayor even offers CC, a 17-year old, a million dollars or something to marry her son Thorn, give birth to his children and become the next mayor. Oh and when people want to get divorced or just don’t want to live there anymore, they have to either pay back the money or fake their death and start a new life as someone else jghjsfgb CC’s dad knew about all of this before they moved there and though he doesn’t want to cheat on his future wife, he’s just?? A-okay with all of this?? Plus he never tells CC about it, even when she’s getting really worried that something weird is going on. The ending just makes this whole thing worse, because CC and Thorn solve everything by blackmailing the mayor into resigning and helping Thorn, who hasn’t even graduated high school yet, become mayor instead even though he has no skills or qualifications to be a good mayor dkngsjh And then they just ride off into the sunset singing Kumbaya. This whole thing is just so ridiculous and weird and over the top to me. It makes no sense?? The author made it sound like something terrible was going on and then I got this instead.

 

 

The writing and characters weren’t that great, so finding out what was going on was the only thing that kept me going. To say I was disappointed is an understatement.

Have you read Sugar Lump? What did you think? Any good YA small town mysteries you’d recommend to me? If you read the spoiler, what do you think about the mystery? Let me know in the comments!

The Radical Element // Twelve Stories About Badass Girls

Author: Twelve different authors
Genre: Historical //  YA
Series: A Tyranny of Petticoats #2
Goodreads rating: 3.77
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 

 

In an anthology of revolution and resistance, a sisterhood of YA writers shines a light on a century and a half of heroines on the margins and in the intersections.

To respect yourself, to love yourself—should not have to be a radical decision. And yet it remains as challenging for an American girl to make today as it was in 1927 on the steps of the Supreme Court. It’s a decision that must be faced whether you’re balancing on the tightrope of neurodivergence, finding your way as a second-generation immigrant, or facing down American racism even while loving America. And it’s the only decision when you’ve weighed society’s expectations and found them wanting. In The Radical Element, twelve of the most talented writers working in young adult literature today tell the stories of the girls of all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs—whether that means secretly learning Hebrew in early Savannah, using the family magic to pass as white in 1920s Hollywood, or singing in a feminist punk band in 1980s Boston. And they’re asking you to join them.Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

I HATE rating and reviewing anthologies – some of these stories were amazing and I would’ve loved to see them as an actual book, others not so much. So while some of these are solid four or even five star reads, I ended up rating it three stars. I’m happy that there’s diversity not just among the stories and their protagonists, but also among the writers themselves, which means we also have some own-voices stories. All of the women featured in this book are incredibly empowering and inspiring. Even if the short story they appeared in didn’t really capture me, they certainly did. I am disappointed that there were no f/f romances though, even though one of the protagonists liked girls.

💛 Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler ⭐⭐⭐ // This one tells the story of Rebecca Gratz, a woman who really existed and was an advocate for Jewish women and economic equality. Daughter of the Book shows her as a young girl with a thirst for knowledge of her religion, culture and history. I really liked how determined Rebecca was and how it focuses on how important Jewish women were. I do feel like it was more of a set up though, but it did make me really interested in finding out more about her!

”What do I say when they want to know how you could leave them behind?”
”Tell them I’m Jewish first.”

💛 You’re a Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee ⭐⭐⭐ // My expectations were really high for this one, as I absolutely loved The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. This one fell a bit short for me, as I felt like not much really happened. I still ended up giving it three stars because I love Lee’s writing style and I really liked the message of it:

”Finding things that give you hope, and make you want to do good things for others. And if Joseph’s words do that” – she pats the Book of Commandments manuscript – ”then that seems fine to me. Seems like a thing that people could need.”

💛 The Magician by Erin Bowman ⭐⭐⭐⭐ // I didn’t expect to love this one as much as I did! Ray has a reputation as an unbeatable poker player and calls herself a ‘magician’ rather than a cheat. Pretending to be a boy so she could earn more money, she agrees on going on an expedition, which of course could mean having her secret exposed. Besides Ray being a badass, her relationship with Mrs. Lowry, the woman who took her in and raised her, was my favourite aspect of this story. Despite this relationship, she is still desperate to find her biological family and find out more about who she is. While I wasn’t blown away by Bowman’s writing in Vengeance Road, I absolutely loved it in The Magician.

She was tired of pretending, and here along the river, she was a mystery even to herself. She was a boy and she was a girl. She was motherless and she was someone’s child. She was a soul wanting to belong and a soul desperate to escape.

💛 Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepherd ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ // Two girls, one of which black, the other in a wheelchair, being spies against the South during the Civil War, blowing things up and fighting against slavery as a masked hero? Yes please. I would love to read more about these badass girls and their beautiful relationship.

Pauline and she, they were more than coconspirators. They were more than Lord Firebrand. They’d be there for each other in hard times and in good times, no matter the danger, always trusting in each other’s strong heart.

💛 Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood ⭐⭐⭐ // Ruby wants nothing more than to escape her abusive uncle and become a part of the circus and their family. I would’ve loved to see more of her relationship with the people at the circus over the years, as that would’ve made the story a lot more heartwarming. Although her uncle treats her horribly and her mother turns a blind eye, Ruby does have a good relationship with her sister Pearl, which of course I loved because sisters!! While they loved each other, Pearl understood Ruby’s dream and supported her in any way she could.

”You looked after me the whole time we were growing up. It’s time for me to look after myself now.”

💛 Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ // This one too I need as a full book it was so beautifully written and magical and just dsjgh It made me super excited to read Wild Beauty wich I finally can now that I’m back home. Glamour follows Graciela who uses ‘glamour’ to make herself look white and works in Hollywood as Grace, and Sawyer, a disabled transgender boy. According to McLemore this story is her ‘wish to give Graciela, a daughter of Mexican-American farmers, and Sawyer, a transgender boy living with a disability, the space that history would have tried to deny them.’ And she definitely did. I just want more haha. The way it was written felt very real, and despite being a short story Graciela and Sawyer were very well-developed. Just,,, give me a full book please

She had told no one why she wanted to become Grace Moran: because the world left so little room for Graciela Morena

💛 Better For All The World by Marieke Nijkamp ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ // Oh my goodness this one was so good. I need to read more by Marieke Nijkamp, something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time now, but especially after reading this. Short stories often feel underdeveloped to me, but this one was truly perfect as a short story. It’s an own voices about an autistic girl, following the trial of Carrie Buck (who really existed), another autistic girl who’s fighting in court for her bodily autonomy as the state wants to sterilize her. It’s an incredibly powerful and important story.

”Carrie Buck is a girl like me. Despite everyone telling her that she didn’t matter, she came here to fight for her choices. She has the inalienable right to do so. But instead of recognising that, we assign vallue to her, to each other, to ourselves. We tell her she isn’t competend enough. She isn’t fit enough. She isn’t equal enough. Do you know what would be better for all the world? If instead of fighting to limit her rights – our constitutional rights, our fundamentally human rights – we fought to embrace them and strengthen them. If we limit equality, we can never be truly equal.”

💛 When the Moonlight Isn’t Enough by Dhonielle Clayton ⭐⭐ // This one was just a bit eh for me. The main character and her parents drink moonlight in order to stay immortal, but this was never really touched upon. It just left me with a lot of questions and I was bored. Nothing really stayed with me and I didn’t hightlight anything. It doesn’t help that it’s been a while since I read this either.

💛 The Belle of the Ball by Sarvenaz Tash ⭐⭐⭐ // This one was fun! The protagonist wants to be a comedy writer, which of course wasn’t easy for a woman back then. It was a fun and interesting read, but it just didn’t blow me away.

💛 Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee ⭐⭐⭐ // I would’ve loved to have rated this higher, but it fell a bit short to me, as if not much happened. Lana wants to become the face of Miss Sugar Maiden, because ‘maybe it was time for a nonwhite on the box. Sugar Maiden’s product comes direct from Hawaii, born of the sweat of thousands of islanders – Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, and Filipinos – yet the girls on the boxes have always been as snowy as its contents.’ The story also focuses on the discrimination her parents as half-Japanese and Chinese faced and another important aspect is Lana’s love for her family, which keeps her going. It just left me with a ‘that’s it?’ feeling, which is why I ended up rating it three stars, but I really loved Lana and her story.

💛 The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina ⭐⭐⭐ // As mentioned before, it’s been a while since I read this and well… I don’t really remember this one? It wasn’t badly written, but it wasn’t very memorable either. Susana’s grandparents are finally coming from Cuba to live with her and her parents, which she is very nervous about because she doesn’t remember them. I wish the story would’ve focused more on that and that we had seen her grandparents more.

💛 Take me With U by Sara Farizan ⭐⭐⭐.5 // This one was a lot of fun! Soheila has fled from the war in Iran to live with her uncle, aunt and little cousin, who is her only friend. Until she meets Mai that is. Mai introduces her to pop culture, especially music and eventually Soheila becomes a part of Mai’s band. I really liked how Mai became a big sister to Soheila, Soheila discovering American pop culture and the band aspect. Plus of course how Soheila (and Mai!) hung out with her little cousin. He was adorable.

During that set, I was free to be whoever I wanted to be. Not Apollonia, not Amir’s babysitter, not a self-conscious girl. I was bitchin’ and so was my band.

All in all this is a fun, inspiring and empowering anthology that I definitely recommend.

Have you read The Radical Element? Or another cool anthology like this? Let me know in the comments!

Lady Mary // An Interesting Look At Queen Mary I

Author: Lucy Worsley
Genre: Historical //  YA
Goodreads rating: 3.63
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 

By turns thrilling, dramatic and touching, this is the story of Henry the Eighth and Catherine of Aragon’s divorce as you’ve never heard it before – from the eyes of their daughter, Princess Mary.

More than anything Mary just wants her family to stay together; for her mother and her father – and for her – to all be in the same place at once. But when her father announces that his marriage to her mother was void and by turns that Mary doesn’t really count as his child, she realises things will never be as she hoped.

Things only get worse when her father marries again. Separated from her mother and forced to work as a servant for her new sister, Mary must dig deep to find the strength to stand up against those who wish to bring her down. Despite what anyone says, she will always be a princess. She has the blood of a princess and she is ready to fight for what is rightfully hers.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

For someone who claims to love history I don’t read enough historical fiction. So when I saw this title on Netgalley I just had to request it*

* Plus that cover?? SO PRETTY

Going in I didn’t know anything about Mary, so learning about her was definitely interesting, though I was bored quite a bit, because for most of the book I felt like not much was happening. Just when things were starting to get interesting, it was over. I think I would’ve liked a little less detail on her childhood and teenage years, and a little bit more on her return to court. Not that her childhood and teenage years weren’t interesting, but most of the time there just wasn’t much happening? I don’t know if that’s because of a lack of sources on what was happening during that time, or a choice of the author. Maybe I would’ve felt different about this if I had connected with the writing style better, which is my next point.

The writing style was a bit too simple for me – it might be aimed at younger readers, but I don’t think writing for younger teens/kids has to be simple. Just look at Harry Potter and Percy Jackson for example, both books read and loved by those older than the main younger audience. I also found it a bit weird how naive fifteen year old Anne was. Sometimes it felt like she still didn’t understand how things at court worked, which I found a bit unrealistic. Not to mention that I even forgot that she was supposed to be fifteen at that point. She did grow a lot through the book as she grew older and she really stood up for herself, which was nice to see. I’m not going to call her an ‘inspiration’ or anything like that, as older Mary is responsible for putting a lot of Protestants to death. Just like her father and sister Elizabeth I put Catholics to death, as the author rightfully points out in her afterword. It’s interesting, as she points out, that Mary has been quite vilified for doing something her father and sister did as well, just because Protestant historians told her story and she got the nickname ‘Bloody Mary’. Of course all three of them were horrible for what they did, but it was interesting to read about Mary and find out what kind of person she was. And to see the affair between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn from her eyes.

Also if you ever thought Henry VIII was awful,, well boy are you in for a ride! The things Mary went through were inhumane and he didn’t even acknowledge it for the most part? Or really apologise?

 

 

Spoiler

He did finally see it at the end of the book, apologises and finally gives her the status she deserves, though I don’t know if that actually happened and I’m too lazy to find out haha. The author is a historian though, so maybe it did happen?

 

 

While reading the book I couldn’t help but read up a bit more about Mary, since I’m curious like that, and Lady Mary seems like a very accurate portrayal.If you have an interest in the Tudors, or just in history in general, I say give this a go! It’s definitely an interesting read and liking the writing style or not is very subjective.

Lady Mary is out today!

Have you read Lady Mary, or are you planning to? Do you like historical fiction? What are some of your favourites? Let me know in the comments!

Nothing But Sky // It FELL A Bit Short For Me Haha See What I Did There

Author: Amy Trueblood
Genre: Historical //  YA
Goodreads rating: 4.23
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

 

Grace Lafferty only feels alive when she’s dangling 500 feet above ground. As a post-World War I wing walker, Grace is determined to get to the World Aviation Expo, proving her team’s worth against flashier competitors and earning a coveted Hollywood contract.

No one’s ever questioned Grace’s ambition until Henry Patton, a mechanic with plenty of scars from the battlefield, joins her barnstorming team. With each new death-defying trick, Henry pushes Grace to consider her reasons for being a daredevil. Annoyed with Henry’s constant interference, and her growing attraction to him, Grace continues to test the powers of the sky.

After one of her risky maneuvers saves a pilot’s life, a Hollywood studio offers Grace a chance to perform at the Expo. She jumps at the opportunity to secure her future. But when a stunt goes wrong, Grace must decide whether Henry, and her life, are worth risking for one final trick.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher (thank you!) in return for an honest review

really wanted to love this one, but alas, it fell a bit short for me. There are a lot of things to like about this book, but I didn’t really enjoy the writing and I found the characters a bit flat. There are two guys on Grace’s crew who I couldn’t tell apart until the end, nor did I have any clue who was who when it came to her two best friends. At some point I didn’t even remember a character when they showed up again. In the end, I just didn’t find the characters that memorable. As for the writing, there was way too much telling. At first I didn’t mind, but at some point I got so frustrated that I just left a note for myself saying ‘stoppppp’. So much was spelled out for the reader. It just felt pointless to me – there was no need to tell us, since the dialogue or the scene just showed it to us perfectly fine.

Because of the flat characters and the writing style I got bored at some point, and when things got tense I didn’t really care since 1) I didn’t care for the characters and 2) I knew everything was going to be fine anyway, so I even started to skim read. That said, I did enjoy it at first, and there are a lot of good things about this book!

💛 While I found Grace a bit flat like the other characters, I did like how fierce she was, that she stood up for herself and how determined she was to keep her family together
💛 Grace fought sexism throughout the book
💛 Henry’s portrayal of PTSD was really well done! And something we don’t get to see too often
💛 I may not have really known the difference between like,, half of the crew,, I still liked how much they cared for each other. The two guys* were like big brothers to Grace, and I liked how they helped Henry cope with his PTSD
💛 They are all just so proud of Grace??
💛 I did like that Grace had two best female friends who just looked out for her, though I wish they had played a bigger part in the book. They barely appeared and while they sort of had an arc of their own, they were mostly just there to help Grace**
💛 I liked reading about … wing … walking …? Is that what it’s called? I don’t remember I am terrible adsgh But yeah it was interesting! I’ve never read about it before but it was a really cool setting, especially seeing a girl in that profession.

* I don’t remember their names dsjhdg I didn’t even know which one was which for most of the book and now I don’t even remember their names I don’t know if it’s the books fault or mine because I have the memory of a goldfish
** I’m WHEEZING I have two notes on my Kindle App during the first scene they appear: ‘Gay???’ and ‘??? Gay???’ I’m still disappointed that those girls didn’t get together sdjgh

My biggest problems with this book are the writing and finding the characters a bit meh, but those are very much ‘it’s not you it’s me’ things. I can definitely see a lot of people loving this one (and they already are! The ratings on Goodreads are good) so definitely don’t let me stop you from picking this one up!

Nothing But Sky comes out March 27!

Have you read Nothing But Sky, or are you planning on it? What are some great historical YA you’ve read? Let me know in the comments!