Adult, Adult Comtemporary, Black Authors, black mc, contemporaries, Diverse Reads, Favorite Books, gushes, LGBTQIA+, magical girls, new releases, POC Author, Reviews, romance

Book Review: A Prince On Paper by Alyssa Cole | ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Reluctant Royals series returns with a good girl searching for the life that’s not too big, and not too small, and the bad boy prince who might be just right for her…

Nya Jerami fled Thesolo for the glitz and glamour of NYC but discovered that her Prince Charming only exists in her virtual dating games. When Nya returns home for a royal wedding, she accidentally finds herself up close and personal—in bed—with the real-life celebrity prince who she loves to hate.

For Johan von Braustein, the red-headed step-prince of Liechtienbourg, acting as paparazzi bait is a ruse that protects his brother—the heir to the throne—and his own heart. When a royal referendum threatens his brother’s future, a fake engagement is the perfect way to keep the cameras on him.

Nya and Johan both have good reasons to avoid love, but as desires are laid bare behind palace doors, they must decide if their fake romance will lead to a happily-ever-after.

Title: A Prince on Paper
Author: Alyssa Cole
Published: April 30th, 2019
Pages: 384
Goodreads
Rating:

TW for homophobia, mentions of mental/emotional abuse, mentions of suicidal behavior.

Oh, Em, Goddess. This book. Okay, pause. Breath. FREAK OUT.

If you have read any of Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series, you know that you’re in for the best, awesome, sexy times ever. And this time it’s with Naledi’s cousin Nya and the disastrously handsome tabloid prince, Johan.

I love the way this book was written. Nya didn’t suddenly become able to overcome the years of emotional and mental abuse her father has put her through just by fake-dating Johan. (Did I not mention there’s FAKE DATING?!) Nya struggles with the fact that she is never asked what she wants, and that she can’t stay in her beloved country Thesolo after the events that happened in the first book. If there’s ever a character in this series I related to the most, it’s Nya. Once she becomes more confident in herself, she’s a kick-ass character. I love that Alyssa Cole has taken the time to really show us how Nya slowly gains confidence and is able to open up her feelings as well as Johan’s.

Now, Johan is my favorite simply because he’s a man who feels. He’s used to playing the bad-boy role so he can protect his younger sibling Lukas. I love the siblings’ relationship to one another. If this book were longer, I would’ve loved to see how the ending played out more after the referendum. Johan is so sensitive, and he closes himself off from everyone, even the one he claims to protect. Cole really made me fall for his quiet moments, and really fall for him during the intimate scenes with Nya.

The plot mainly revolves around Nya’s and Johan’s personal struggles. If anything, this book is more about how two characters are developed to have confidence in themselves and embrace confidence in others. I love how supportive Portia and Ledi are. Also, I am surprised at how much of a friendship Portia and Nya have, since she’s always mentioning Portia to Lukas. Also also, I love the cameos each couple makes throughout the series.

I probably could go on how emotional, wonderful, and never do this book the justice. Kow that y’all are in for some really steamy sexy times. Like, Johan is way more experience than Nya, but Nya knows what she likes and also works with Johan and asks him what he likes, too. (Which no other lover has done for Johan, and Nya never had a chance to really have lovers.)

Also also also, Johan is bisexual and his sibling Lukas is nonbinary. BECAUSE SEXUALITY ARE NOT SPOILERS.

This review may become a babble, but I really did enjoy A Prince on Paper to the fullest. Y’all, if you want your diverse romance, Alyssa Cole is your writer.

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abc challenge, Uncategorized, Weekly Tags

ABC Book Challenge – J 🃏

Hi y’all! Time for another ABC Book Challenge! The letter J is…pretty much not much! I have 3 books I read and 2 TBRs!

Onward!!

Memorable Reads

Jackass! by Scarlet Beriko
January First: A Child’s Descent into Madness and her father’s struggle to save her by Michael Scholfield (This was weird, don’t really recommend it)
Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen by Debbi Machiko Florence and Elizabet Vukovic

To-Be-Read

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabbi Rivera
Just For Clicks by Kara McDowell

Like I said, small. Hopefully there will be more J titles that I’ll read/add to my tbr!

Uncategorized, Weekly Tags, WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday 6/19/2019 | A bit of a cool-down

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words! All you have to do is answer the following three questions: 

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Hullo, right now I’m seriously all over the place in my reading. I’m halfway through the Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune, and halfway through A Prince on Paper. I want to start reading This Side of Home soon, though. These past two weeks have been slow after a sprint in the first week.

I mainly read light, while still chugging along with other books. I really am glad I read Our Dreams At Dusk and One Piece!

These are some of my recent purchases, so I hope to read this soon >_<

Has your reading week been kind?

Lists, Top ten Tuesdays, Uncategorized, Weekly Tags

Top Ten Tuesday – 10 Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the Second Half of 2019

This Top Ten Tuesday weekly post is apart of That Artsy Reader Girl’s 10 Ten Tuesday. Each week yields a new topic!

The topic today focuses on the 10 most anticipated books releasing for the second part of 2019. I’m bad at tracking release dates for books unless I’m super obsess, so let’s see what’s coming out!

Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Zim (July 9, 2019)

The Rise of Kyoshi by F C Lee (July 16, 2019)

The Dragon Republic by R F Kuang (August 6, 2019)

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal (August 6, 2019)

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Cobert (August 20, 2019)

Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson (September 3, 2019)

Stargazing by Jen Wang (September 10, 2019)

The Fountain of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (October 1, 2019)

Tristan Strong Punches a Hold in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia (October 15, 2019)

The Starless Sky by Erin Morgenstern (November 5th, 2019)

So many wonderfully amazing books! And this was hard, as there are so many more books I want to read!! I’m super excited for a new Watson and Sepetys book c:

Are any of my anticipated reads yours?

contemporaries, Diverse Reads, Favorite Books, First Impressions, LGBTQIA+, Manga, manga monday, new releases, queer books, recently read, Recommendations, Reviews, Uncategorized, ya contemporary, YARC2019, young adult

Manga Monday: Our Dreams At Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare by Yuhki Kamatani | First Impressions

Not only is high schooler Tasuku Kaname the new kid in town, he’s also terrified that he’s been outed as gay. Just as he’s contemplating doing the unthinkable, Tasuku meets a mysterious woman who leads him to a group of people dealing with problems not so different from his own. In this realistic, heartfelt depiction of LGBT+ characters from different backgrounds finding their place in the world, a search for inner peace proves to be the most universal experience of all.

Title: Our Dreams At Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare
Author: Yuhki Kamatani
Published: May 7th, 2019
Publisher: Seven Seas Manga
Goodreads

Hey y’all, it’s been a while since I’ve done a Manga Monday. Today, I want to share my first impression on the new manga making waves in the LGBTQ+ community.

I like this manga for it’s unreliable narrative, at least how it feels for me. Tasuku is a gay teen that has been dealing with some major anxiety after his classmates find gay images on his phone. I like Tasuka because he’s so raw. He fights himself by denying to his friends that he’s not gay, constantly worried that the guy he has a crush on will find out that he’s attracted to him. I like that his experiences are like these little fracture moments, especially when he meets Someone-san.

Someone-san is this quiet, almost detached woman, who offers a ear but isn’t really listening. The encounters between Someone-san and Tasuku is interesting and offer a bit of unreliability to the story, as his interactions with her have seen almost…magical realism is a sense. I’m curious to see how Someone-san will expand in the future volumes, because their story has intrigued me.

Like I said, there’s some almost magical realism moments happening around Tasuku and his fellow Drop In Center companions. I like the moments of Tasuku’s desires coming to view. They’re so pleasing to look at. (look at the image below, simply striking!)

I love how each of the panels look so gorgeous and beautiful. I highly suggest y’all to go look at the images on Google/whatever because Kamatani-sensei knows what they’re doing! Manga is as much the story as it is the visuals, and these visuals are kicking ass.

So far, only one volume has been available in English. I’ve seen some spoilers from the later volumes, and I promise, it offers heart-wrenching queer views like The Wandering Son or My Brother’s Husband. I really just want everyone to read this book and continue the series because I cannot explain coherently why this book rattled me so much.

Is Our Dreams At Dusk on your TBR?

Adult, Favorite Books, historical fiction, Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris | ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions. 

Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Author: Heather Morris
Published: September 4th, 2018
Pages: 262
Goodreads
Rating:

If y’all don’t know, I do love me some great historical fiction. WWII fiction is my kryptonite and lately, I’ve been craving any historical fiction. This book has been on my radar for the past few months, thanks to seeing it every day on the returns/holds list at work. Not doing any more research outside of knowing that the main character is the one that tattoos the people that are brought it, I read this is three days. What surprised me is that this book is a fictional work based on the true testimony of the real Lale. Reading that author note at the end shook me (which shouldn’t because it’s on the cover that it’s based on true events, baka!).

The writing felt jumbled up as the reader is transported through jumps in time between the springs, winter, and snippets of the past through Lale’s eyes. There are moments, merely paragraphs, of Gita and another female prisoner, but mostly has to do with Lale’s experience in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps. The story is also told in third person, which I found both interesting and easy to read. Most historical fictions I’ve read are third person, which begs to ask, why? But for another time.

If a fast paced fictional retelling of true events during WWII is your style, please read The Tattooist of Auschwitz. The ending made me cry, the epilogue is brutal, and the companion novel is coming out later this year and I cannot wait to read more about our second female POV.

Do you read historical fiction? Any that you love? Any that you feel really changed the way you see those events/history? Please share!

contemporaries, Diverse Reads, Graphic Novels, LGBTQIA+, magical girls, mental health books, new releases, Reviews, romance, Uncategorized, We Need Diverse Books, ya contemporary, YARC2019, young adult

Graphic Novel Review: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell | ⭐⭐⭐.5

Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend.

Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. But Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem. Maybe it’s Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.

Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell bring to life a sweet and spirited tale of young love that asks us to consider what happens when we ditch the toxic relationships we crave to embrace the healthy ones we need.

Title: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me
Author: Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Published: May 7th, 2019
Pages: 304
Goodreads
Rating:

Please don’t hate me, but other than the great exploration of how harmful toxic relationships are, I didn’t really care for this book. The art was fun, the friends were great, Freddy exploring her sexuality was wonderful, but something about this book just didn’t work for me.

I think the jumble mess of the story is what I really struggled with. The story is told through letters Freddy writes to a fictionalize version of Dear Abby. I liked those portions enough, but everything else felt…disjointed.

When Doodle shares their secret with Freddy about why they needed her support and friendship so much, that was an extremely raw showing of exactly what teens experience. Doodle needed Freddy to be there for them as they’re best friends and nothing should hinder that. Doodle shuts themselves off from Freddy because Freddy often chose Laura Dean over everyone in her life. And that action shows how toxic her relationship with Laura Dean truly is.

Laura Dean keeps Freddy separated form her friends, Freddy ignore her friends in exchange for Laura Dean’s company, and Laura Dean always expects Freddy to take their flirtatious/cheating ways without getting upset. I felt true frustration with Freddy for not leaving Laura Dean as they continued their destructive behaviors.

If not for the beautiful art, limited color palette, and the friendships Freddy creates without Laura Dean, I probably would’ve rated this book even lower. But somehow, the story just felt jumbled, messy, and confusing. Freddy only shared marginal interest in her friend’s lives, and even though I know this book is about the toxic relationship, I cannot help hoping for more from the wonderful side-characters.

Disagree? Share with me how y’all felt this book.

contemporaries, Diverse Reads, Favorite Books, gushes, LGBTQIA+, magical girls, Middle Grade, queer books, Reviews, Uncategorized, We Need Diverse Books

Book Review: Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter To The World by Ashley Herring Blake | ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐| GUSH

When a tornado rips through town, twelve-year-old Ivy Aberdeen’s house is destroyed and her family of five is displaced. Ivy feels invisible and ignored in the aftermath of the storm–and what’s worse, her notebook filled with secret drawings of girls holding hands has gone missing.

Mysteriously, Ivy’s drawings begin to reappear in her locker with notes from someone telling her to open up about her identity. Ivy thinks–and hopes–that this someone might be her classmate, another girl for whom Ivy has begun to develop a crush. Will Ivy find the strength and courage to follow her true feelings?

Title: Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World
Author: Ashley Herring Blake
Published: March 6th, 2018
Pages: 309
Goodreads
Rating:

Y’all. I went into this book for the love and discovery and broken family. And…I cried many buckets of tears. If my tears could be money, I’d be pretty set for a feast at the local fast food joint.

Ivy is surrounded by family, with the new arrivals of her twin brothers and is suffering a secret betrayal from her older sister. I love Ivy. She’s talented, loves creating, but is also selfish at times. She loves her brothers but wishes for a time when her family remembers her. She often left behind or sometimes even forgotten. Let me tell y’all, that scene with Ivy showing her mother the family portrait without her AND HER MOTHER SAYS IT’S PERFECT?!!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?! Those buckets sure were handy!

I love Ivy’s friend, whose name I cannot remember, but her BFF that she has the pondering thoughts thing with. I really liked her character for whom she was, even after the identity of the picture-messenger is revealed. I love that Ivy is vocal with her towards the end, letting her know that while she really hurt her and broke her trust, she was willing to at least become better friends to each other.

June is a fun character. She’s full of life, always loves to talk a thousand-miles a minute, and has a secret that makes her mother super protective of her. I think the way Blake handle’s Ivy’s crush on June and June’s reaction was brilliant. There were hurt feelings, but acceptance and understanding at times. I wish we could’ve seen how June’s art project, and Ivy’s, looked, because the descriptions alone were enough but I wish I had visual.

I wish Ivy could’ve gotten her romantic happily ever after, but her family happy ever after is just enough. I want to touch on the time Ivy and the hotel manager began to bond over Ivy’s crush and Ivy’s questions about the manager’s own lover, which is another female. I love those moments, and towards the end as Ivy is suffering more and more, I love that she had that supportive adult that wasn’t going to lie and tell her everything will work out the way Ivy wants it. They were the support Ivy needed when her parents try to distant Icy from the family, thinking that would make Ivy happier, when Ivy only wants to be closer with her parents, like it was before the Twins and her sister’s reaction to her best friend being gay.

I could discuss so much about this book, I loved it so much. If you want tears, happiness, and a good coming out that doesn’t threaten the main character’s home life, I would check out Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World.

contemporaries, Diverse Reads, LGBTQIA+, mental health books, mental illness, POC Author, Reviews, We Need Diverse Books, ya contemporary, YARC2019

Book Review: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram | ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

Title: Darius The Great is Not Okay
Author: Adib Khorram
Published: August 28th, 2018
Pages: 316
Goodreads
Rating:

Want a book to make you cry? HERE’S A BOOK TO MAKE YOU CRY ALL THE TEARS!

Darius–or Darioush–is a teen dealing with the bullying of classmates, the feeling of otherness, and his constant companions of depression and lack of self-esteem. I loved Darioush, he’s funny, really loves his little sister, and has a hard time dealing with the men of his life. His mother never taught him Farsi well, and his father tries to alter Darioush’s entire being by nit-picking what he eats, how he looks, and what he does. Only when he meets the squinting smiling Sohrab does Darioush really come into his character. He tries to make connections with his dying grandfather and grandmother. I love that by the end of the book, Darioush is slowly getting to be his own character, and that he’s slowly attracting other friends into his circle, thanks to the welcoming of Sohrab.

*deep breathe* Sorry, that totally became ranty, but I really love Darioush (yes, I will use his Persian name because I love it *-* ). I really love Sohrab and how his friendship wasn’t easy. I love how Adib Khorram created the atmosphere of Persia with Darioush being there for the first time and coming to love the little things. I love that Khorram didn’t shy from the talk of cultural stigmas on mental health. And how mental health can be hereditary, and not something to be ashamed of.

While this book is often on many LGBTQIAP+ recommendation lists, Dairoush never comes out and confirms that he is any label, just that he feels deep love for Sohrab. I wish there was more time with them, because they were A+ bromance.

What killed me with this was the ending, with Sohrab and with the departure of the group from Darioush’s grandparent’s house. No dry tears, no happy tears until the very end. Just so much sadness. So, yeah, if you like your contemporaries with some tears on the side, Darius The Great is Not Okay is prefect for you.

contemporaries, Diverse Reads, LGBTQIA+, new releases, POC Author, queer books, Reviews, romance, Uncategorized, ya contemporary, YARC2019, young adult

Book Review: The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan | ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

Title: The Love and Lies and Rukhsana Ali
Author: Sabina Khan
Published: January 29, 2019
Pages: 326
Goodreads
Rating:

I have no idea how to really review this book. I really loved the characters, the story, and the atmosphere of the Bengali community. But I really hated how it ended, and felt that the characters reactions were…kind of unbelievable when it came to a character death.

First, I love Rukhsana. She’s not afraid to question why her friends seem to forget how strict her parents are, and even though she sometimes forgets how hard it is for her girlfriend, isn’t afraid to challenge her girlfriend on tough topics, like her relationship between her parents and her culture. Her relationship with her brother is one of my favorite sibling bonds so far this year. I wish there were more moments between the two.

Ariana was okay for me. I felt irritated at her for not being compassionate to Rukhsana, and trying to make Rukhsana do things that would be easier for a person not of the Bengali community to do. I liked her okay, but after the last fight between them, I didn’t know if I could trust her again.

Rukhsana’s parents were interesting to me. The diary of the grandmother, highlighting why the mother reacts the way she does, was different and yet illuminating. The ending was different than what I expected, and I’m glad that it ended that way, concerning the parents.

BUT. That ending, with the big character’s gruesome death? Yeah, not a fan of that at all! First, I have fallen for this character, and was rooting for them. And then to have them killed like that?! And then no one really mourns the death?! That killed my excitement for the book, which is why I knocked a star off. Petty, probably, but I loved them and was so sad that they were never really mentioned again. T_T

Have you read The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali? Feel free to share your thoughts!