Review: Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

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As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony in her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody’s mother, for her own ceremony– a celebration that ultimately never took place.

Unfurling the history of Melody’s parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they’ve paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives–even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.


RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Red at the Bone landed heavily within me, like a stone sinking in deep water, and the thought of it still makes my heart racket strangely in my chest. Now, I’m snatching at things to say, grasping for anything to make you want to read this book, and sentence by sentence it all evades me. I feel that with every word I put down, I’m writing myself further from what I meant to say. Continue reading “Review: Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson”

Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

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Survive the year.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.


RATING: 🌟🌟🌟

The Grace Year refused to dissipate and hung like a poisonous vapor long after I finished it, pervading every corner of my room like a simmering toxin. The feeling was a violent plunge encompassing revulsion and sorrow far beyond the personal: a sick, scorching nausea at humanity’s violence against itself since the dawn of time. And though the ending was more hopeful than grim, I felt my anger still brimming and unspent. Continue reading “Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett”

Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

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Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues — a bee, a key, and a sword — that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.

What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians — it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.

Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life.


RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

It’s a profoundly strange thing—to feel as though you are wading through mildly entertaining novels that pass through you like falling smoke, always searching for the one that reaches into the back alleys of your soul, and settles to the bottom of you like fallen leaves.

And then there it is, like a faint spark bobbing on a dark sea, calling you, beckoning. Continue reading “Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern”

Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

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SYNOPSIS:

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.


RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I dove over that unseen edge and plunged into the dark waters below, where the unreal became real, where the impossible swam by on glimmering fins, where I could believe it all.

I almost didn’t write this review.

I felt that to speak of this book would be to contain what it did to me, to diminish it somehow. And I didn’t want to do that. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is almost less a novel than an experience: never have I felt more like I was part of things, moved by the same current, like my soul had disconnected from my body and drifted among fictional souls in a mist somewhere between fantasy and reality. It seemed hardly credible when I finished reading that Continue reading “Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow”

Review: Crier’s War (Crier’s War #1) by Nina Varela

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After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.

Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.

Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.

Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.


RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Nothing gladdens my heart more than picking up an ardently anticipated new release with the stammering gaiety of stepping off the edge of a cliff in the tremulous faith that you’ll sprout wings halfway down, and for all your expectations to be met, the inexpressible sweetness of finding yourself hovering above the ground with rills of current flowing off the tips of your winged arms. Continue reading “Review: Crier’s War (Crier’s War #1) by Nina Varela”

Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

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The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.


RATING: 🌟🌟

What greater debt could be accrued than that of being brought up?” There’s an invisible collar rested around Gideon Nav’s throat, its leash leading back to the Ninth House, the claws of its heir fastened tight in her flesh. Continue reading “Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir”

10 August Book Releases For Your TBR

Hello, friends!

I can’t believe it’s August already. It feels like January was four years ago, June lasted a week and July has completely disengaged from linear time. I basically only know what day of the week it is because of highly-anticipated, buzzy book releases.

Here are the ones coming out this month that I’m really looking forward to. Read on! I hope this list introduced you to a new favorite! Continue reading “10 August Book Releases For Your TBR”