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2 Mini Reviews | Horrid & The Whale Library

Salutations everyone! I have missed you all, I have missed writing reviews, and just miss bookish things in general! I know it’s been a while. Actually, it’s been more than that, it’s been a darn hot minute since I’ve posted a review here. I hope everyone has been doing well, reading lots of things. I actually have quite the stock pile of reviews that haven’t been typed, drafted, etc… and I thought I’d quickly throw two of them together while I sort some of the other reviews out, in the meantime. 💚


Horrid by Katrina Leno

Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, loss of a parent, loss of loved ones, loss of a child, pica (xylophagia; books/paper, but mentions of hair and flowers), mentions of heart attack, grief, mentions on self-harm, mentions of hospitalization, mentions of suicide (of a minor character), intense scenes and depictions of anger issues, blood depictions, panic attacks, depictions of situations that could make one feel claustrophobic brief scene/mention of animal torture and death, murder, and a scene of under age drinking, child abuse in the past

“You be careful up there, in Bells Hollow. These old towns all have histories. Some darker than others.”

I’ll be honest, I’ve never read a Katrina Leno book before, but I’ve heard good things. However, I’d have to say I’m in the minority when it comes to how this book left me feeling after the book was closed and the dust had time to settle. What I will say, if you’re looking for a spooky book to chill you to the bones and perfect for the fall/winter season, then look no further.

After losing her father to a heart attack and finding themselves in a sticky situation, with no other options, Ruth and Jane find themselves starting life anew. Leaving California behind, Jane and Ruth find themselves relocating to Ruth’s hometown, in northern Maine, Bell’s Hollow. With the ache from the loss of a father/husband, Jane and Ruth will pick up the pieces of their life at North Manor. After leaving everything she knew behind, now Jane is faced with a family mystery and the big manor she now calls home.

I think the thing I fell in love with the most when it comes to this book is the amount of grief we see in this book. Wee not only see Jane’s side of grief, but we glimpses of Ruth and how much everything weighs on her shoulders. I love that we see both sides to grief. Truly, I wish books showed this kind of dynamic when grief is going to be laced into a storyline. Not only that, but we see people grieving about their pasts, about the unknown, about grief being the loudest thing in the room that it echoes for hours. it’s truly the strongest element in this entire book and at times it feels so intense. And truly, grief is an emotion that manifests in various ways and I love, with my whole chest, the way the author emphasized all elements that is grief. Grief isn’t just sadness and weeping, it’s violent and anger, coldness and at times, bitterness.

“Grief is different for everyone. There’s no right or wrong answer.”

While I loved the grief in this story, I really enjoyed how the narration from Jane felt… real. Though Jane isn’t the best of narrators or perspectives to get a story from, the way this book is written and through the perspective of Jane, everything thing almost feels real. You can practically feel the heaviness, the confusion, anger, and sadness that radiates off of Jane in waves. However, Jane doesn’t handle her triggers in the healthiest of ways. We also see mass flashbacks of things suppressed in Jane’s memory and even get moments of blacking out. With all of this into consideration, these are the things that make her an unreliable narrator. Yet, let me ask you this, how often do you get to read a book where the narrator is dealing with (or suffering) from mental health struggles? Not to often, I bet. Which is another reason why I liked have Jane as our narrator.

Speaking of Jane, every since Jane was a young girl, she’s struggled with her feelings especially anger. When she’d feel overwhelmed by these feelings, Jane would would seek out the comfort of eating pages from her books. She’d then replace the hollowed books with fresh, crisp pages that she could journal in. This is called Pica. Pica is a disorder where a person will consume items/objects that have no nutritional value. A person may due this for a number of reasons, and there are many layers to this disorder such as (sharp objects even poisonous things), this disorder can also overlap with other health conditions (OCD, anemia, or even schizophrenia), but in this story the main component for our main character is books. If you’re like me, this might be the first time you’ve every read a book that has Pica. And while I can only speak about my own personal experiences when I had Pica as a child, I can’t fully express how accurate other readers who have/had experienced Pica may feel about this representation.

“No, she couldn’t remember the first book she’d eaten, but she could remember the first book she’d eaten purposefully. And that was maybe more important.”

Though I feel this goes without saying, there’s a lot of discussion happening around mental health within this book especially when it comes to passing on mental health struggles, genetically. And how important it is for parents to recognize the signs and acknowledge their own mental health, to provide the help their children should they need it. I would be lying if I said this was an easy book to read because there were times where I felt like pieces of me were splitting from how much I felt seen, but also times where I had to set the book down due to it feeling hard, just really hard to read through. And I think anyone who reads this book, the feelings will expand over a vast amount of various emotions when it comes to a lot of the things addresses in this book. But I want to say as someone who has felt seen by this book, I want to say the relationship between Jane and Ruth feels very real and something that deserves to be talked about, from a plethora of perspectives. Depression, anger issues, loss and spiraling grief are a wild storm, a hell of a combination… but this is a reality for so many families, many people out there in the world and it deserves to be talked about, to be voiced.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering, “Malli, if you loved all of these things then why wasn’t this a five star read?” Well, to put it simply, the ending. I docked the ending two stars for two different reasons. The first reason, it felt unfinished. It’s done in a style that’s more open-ended, that allows the reader to decide how things truly ended. Personally, I’m not a fan of that styled ending. Things tend to feel more unfinished for me, where I’d prefer something that was more straightforward and clear as crystal. The other reason was Ruth. Things with Ruth felt so unfinished, so inconclusive and personally, I would have loved to have seen a little more of her. I think the other reason this book left me feeling so conflicted was the lack of a prologue. With the way it ended, I had hoped there would have been something to follow up, but… to my disappointment there wasn’t any. So the ending really left something to be desired, in my opinion. I think many readers will either love it or strongly dislike the ending.

“Something had happened in this house. She wasn’t sure where the thought came from, when exactly it had been born, but it arrived now like a force, like a storm.”

Overall, I truly stand by my statement that this is the perfect read for the fall/winter season. There’s many parts that chilled me, where it felt impossible to regain the warmth back into my body. But maybe that’s from my feeling that felt rattled by this book. Though this book has important themes, this book is beautifully written and spooky, nonetheless. Though this wasn’t a five star read for me, I still recommend it to those who are looking for a chilling thriller that will leave them feeling a little starstuck, a little breathless, and sparking discussions over a cup of hot cider!

Buddy read with Destiny from Howling Libraries 💜


The Whale Library by Zidrou

Arc was given by Europe Comics & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Content/Trigger Warnings: Nudity, animal death, imagery of blood

“The sea, like the human heart, is full of secrets.”

This was a beautifully written, heart-breaking story to read. The writing style is so delicately and wondrously woven together that makes your heart weep for the characters and story. Not to mention, I almost cry so many times while reading this book. Though, I whole heartedly fell in love with everything that this book encompasses.

Though this book is laced with simplicity, this book truly is a master piece in itself. I couldn’t recommend a better book that holds a powerful, silent thunder that will stir your emotions and cause you to pause in your reading. As well as having imagery that compliments the dialogue quiet well. Truly, this is a graphic novel to add to your list of stories to read.

“We learn to tell stories for the same reason we learn to swim. To keep from drowning.”

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.


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Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

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ALC provided by Libro.fm and Simon Pulse in exchange for an honest review! 

Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexual assault, physical assault, trauma and PTSD, domestic violence, parental death, loss of a loved one (in the past), mentions of deportation, racism, mentions of a car accident, mentions of graphic injuries, harassment, bullying, sexism, mentions of human experimentations, stalking, sex

I had never heard of this release until Libro. fm. I haven’t heard a lot of readers talking about this book, but I did have two friends reading it at the same time as myself. When I saw readers listing this as sci-fi, I got really nervous and I didn’t know what to expect. But I’m so glad that I picked this book up and gave it a listen! This is probably one of the most interesting books I’ve read all year, so far and I hope you all give this book a chance!

Before I start, I just want to say how grateful I am that the author took the time to list content and trigger warnings at the beginning of the book. Not many authors do this, so I really wanted to make a space to show my appreciation and say how important this is. I do have a more thorough breakdown of content and trigger warnings listed above if you need specifics. But truly, this was one of the best things about this book!

Our story follows Sia Martinez, a Mexican-American teen, who’s still grieving the death of her mother, who was deported and died trying to make her way back to America from Mexico. Sia is constantly reminded of as she attends the same school with the son of the officer who deported her mother. She not only has the weight of the grief on her shoulders, but constantly deals with the bullying, racism, and harassment of her peers and the teachers at the school. Until Noah, the new kid, moves to school and suddenly the the things in Sia’s life start to change.

“My grandmother said there were countless worlds in addition to ours. The underworld, the ghost world, the world of beetles and bats and hummingbird moths. There’s a world for warlocks and brujas and one for coconut trees and even a world just for our dreams.”

I really appreciated Sia as our main character. For myself, personally, I think she was a perfect character to show a plethora of emotions and internal feelings in various situations. Most of the time, books don’t always show the full range of emotions teenagers and younger children can experience. Sia’s feelings are layered and deeply intertwined with one another, and I really loved that about her. However, I was hoping Sia would have been more vocal and stood up for herself more. The bond and routine Sia has with her father sort of builds up the idea that Sia would stand up for herself more often, challenge those who look down on her for who she is and her culture, and have a little more fight in her. However, I still enjoyed her character and really loved how we got to see the nerdy sides of her.

One of the biggest themes in this book is the friendship between Sia and Rose. They have been best friends for many years, but we see their friendship face hardships, independent struggles, and grow from those experiences. I find that it’s rare for books to show that friendships have many layers to them and they’re not always perfect. Their relationship felt so real and reminded me of one of my own friendships. With the conflict they encounter, it does take a bit, but eventually, Sia and Rose find their way back to one another and make amends. I also loved how we see the two of them navigate dating and trying to find a way to tell one another, balance time between each other and their relationships.

Speaking of dating, I didn’t read any of the blurbs or reviews for this book before listening to it, but when the SFF elements started appearing in this book, I was clutching my pearls. It made me so incredibly happy to see it. I think this is going to be an element that catches a lot of readers off-guard because it’s such a subtle element. However, I think it was beautifully established and I loved how it was woven into the story.

There’s also a beautiful theme of family throughout this entire book. I mentioned earlier that Sia and her father share a routine of practicing self-defense together. I really loved that little bit that shows that only only are they close, but Sia’s father wants her to be able to protect herself should anything happen when he’s not there. I really loved those moments with them and I loved how we get the widowed father household dynamic. I truly believe with my whole heart that single father households are very underrated in literature and don’t get the attention it truly deserves. So, I really appreciated seeing that element and seeing the bond these two characters have. Also, I really loved how we get constant references to Sia’s grandmother. I could feel the love radiate through the passages where Sia would reflect on something her grandmother said or had taught her. Those passages felt like a warm hug.

“And when we turn the lights out, I look at the stars out the window, wondering about how old they are. Do they fall in and out of love, do they tell stories? And which nebulae are their mothers, and do they long for their mothers so much, they feel like their hearts are breaking at every moment?”

Aside from all of this, the heart of this story is centered around the ways Mexican people view violent immigration and institutions. We also see the reality many immigrants face when someone they love is deported. We see the pain, the grief, and the loss that one experiences, but we also see the lengths someone would go to be reunited with those loved ones. I can’t speak any further on this because I’m not Mexican, Mexican-American, or an immigrant. However, I encourage you all to look at ownvoice reviewers and if you are an ownvoice reviewer, please link your review so I can help boost your voice!

I truly wish I could have given this a full five stars, but there was one thing that really shifted my feelings. This book is very much a genre-bending book! For the first half of this book, it reads like a contemporary book. The first half explores grief, trauma, love, and friendship. While the second half of this book has a lot of action and science fiction elements woven throughout the story. My real struggle was the sudden shift into the sci-fi elements. I’m not much of a sci-fi reader and when I do read sci-fi, it’s usually a struggle for a plethora of reasons. I wish this book would have stayed with the contemporary genre more than adding the sci-fi elements to it because I have no doubt I would have given this five stars. However, with the sci-fi elements, I felt like I was getting whiplash a few times and I started to lose interest in the characters. Whereas before, I was fully invested in the characters, the story line, and what would happen next. I also felt like certain details around the characters and story line got lost on me because of the sci-fi elements. However, I still enjoyed the story despite my conflict with the second half of this book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the themes in this book are so important. I truly feel this is an underrated book and not many people are talking about it. If you’re looking for a book that talks about grief, first love, friendships, strong family bonds, has short chapters, mixed with some sci-fi elements, then you should definitely pick this book up.

Read for Latinx Book Bingo 🧡

The quotes above were taken from an ALC and are subject to change upon publication.

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The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Racism, xenophobia, homophobia, bullying, character being outed, mentions of divorce

“When matters of the heart are involved, it’s difficult to be careful.”

My heart it hurts, in all the best ways! I wasn’t expecting this book to hurt me the way that it did and I knew I would love this book from the start, but oh how I loved the experience of reading this book. This book is so beautifully written and it’s so much more than a cute romance of “enemies to lovers”. It’s so much more than that and it truly touched a piece of my heart.

We follow a Bengali girl named Nishat, who just came out to her parents and now feels the heavy weight of their rejection of her lesbian identity, and to prevent herself from crumbling in the process. On top of this harden silence, Nishat has to deal with the racism and homophobia at her school, while dealing with the culture appropriation happening during her business class’s competition by the girl she has a crush on.

I loved Nishat as our main character. She’s so unapologetically herself in a world that constantly tries to bend and break her. She’s fierce and she has no problem speaking her voice. I truly appreciate how the author took the time to pay attention to the little details with Nishat and her personality. The pay off is just beautiful, heartbreaking, and I think many readers are going to fall in love with her because of those details.

“What I want more than anything else in the world is to feel like being myself isn’t something that should be hidden and a secret.”

Throughout this book we see many relationship, many family dynamics. So let’s start with the family dynamics first. I loved Nishat’s family and how big it is. I love how we get moments with Nishat’s grandparents. I love seeing those bonds in book. We also have the family dynamic with Flávia. Flávia is from a single mother home and you know, I have a super soft spot for that family dynamic. Reading the experience Flávia’s mother went through made my heart turn to an absolute puddle.

As for the relationships, there’s two that really stuck out to me. The first relationship is between Nishat and her younger sister, Priti. I loved this sibling bond. You know I’m a soft heart for sibling relationships and the way these two love each other despite the hardships, just warmed my heart. This relationship spoke the loudest to throughout the whole book. There were times where the romance felt like it fell in the shadow of the sibling bond. The second relationship was between Flávia and Nishat. This romance was so precious and there were many times where I really wanted them to be together. There’s so many layers to their relationship and watching them come together was just a lovely experience.

However, this story is far from cute. If anything, the romance is cute, but this book deals with a lot of important topics. There’s a lot of talk of racism and homophobia laced throughout this book and all of it intertwines with Nishat’s culture, culture appropriation, and those making a profit off that cultural appropriation. Not only does the author handle this in many layers, but does it in a way where it gets the point across. The author also adds additional content to lighten the mood with lighthearted content and I really appreciated how well everything balanced out.

“Maybe… sometimes people don’t see the things they do as wrong, but they can see the wrong in what other people do – especially if it’s done to someone they care about.” I say “When it happens to someone else, it doesn’t feel as important as when it happens to someone we love.”

I can’t speak for the representation in this book, but I will link some reviews below that you should check out. What I can speak on is my own coming out. I was really blessed to not had a parent who was homophobic or reject my bisexuality in the way Nishat’s parents reject her. However, I’m Apache and coming out to my aunts and my uncle as two-spirited, it was something that still impacts me now. They still have a hard time processing that I like both men and women, they constantly have homophobic slip ups, and I constantly get questioned on my choice for not marrying someone who’s also Native. So seeing Nishat’s grief of having to hide who she is and feel her heartache echoing through these pages just rippled through my soul, and I could relate so much to Nishat in those moments.

I think the main reason why this wasn’t a full five stars was due to some missing details. I feel like we didn’t see enough of Nishat’s friends. I know they’re side characters, but I feel like there should have been more engagement in conversation between them than what we really got in this book. The other issue I had was how Nishat’s parents all of a sudden started to support Nishat and her lesbian identity. I think I just wanted more conversations to happen between Nishat and her parents, but I did appreciate that we see Nishat’s parents taking the time to try and learn.

Overall, I really loved this book and even though I only gave it four stars, it’s still getting placed on my top books for 2020. This book has so many important topics and they deserve to have the spotlight that they deserve. I loved how deep this story dived and I loved the growth of the relationships and connections throughout this book. And I’m not going to lie, finally seeing the racism being challenged in this book made my heart swell. I truly loved this book and I think many readers are going to fall in love with this book, see themselves within the pages of this book, and I can’t wait to see what else this author has in store for us.

Below are some reviews to take a look at, but you should uplift their voices and support them as well!

🏵️ Fanna’s Review

🏵️ Zaheerah’s Review

🏵️ CW’s Review

🏵️ Jaime’s Review

🏵️ Sabrien’s Review

Read for Dragons & Tea Book Club August 2020 Pick 💚

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Eat, and Love Yourself by Sweeney Boo, Lilian Klepakowsky

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ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchanged for an honest review.

This review is being published on the release date (April 21st, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Fat shaming/fat phobia, body dsymorphia, eating disorders, depression, anxiety

Dearest friends, let me start by saying that there will be many pieces in this review where I am speaking from my own experiences of eating disorders, body dsymorphia, and disordered eating, and that I strongly urge anyone who picks this graphic novel up to be in the right head space before reading. I will be addressing many things in this review and I think it’s important to state that everyone who reads this graphic novel will experience it differently than others will. I truly liked this graphic novel and I think many readers will like this graphic novel. However, this book did miss a few marks for me and I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little disappointed.

Our story follows our main character, Mindy who suffers from bulimia and body dsymorphia. One night when she goes grocery shopping, she discovers a candy bar she never heard of before and soon realizes this chocolate bar isn’t like all the others. This chocolate bar takes Mindy back to points in her life to teach her a lesson to hopefully bring her closer to loving herself and seeing the true value despite what others say.

For starters, the art work in this graphic novel is very beautiful and absolutely captivating. The coloring of each panels really helped set the tone and the experience for the readers. I also really enjoyed the way the chocolate bar was used as a way of flashing back to the past. I thought that was a really creative and unique way on the author’s part as well.

I also really appreciate the harsh reality of what eating disorders are like and the way various eating disorders were handled in this book. As someone who had bulimia nervosa from a very young age into pre-teens and is still dealing with disordered eating, the representation definitely landed all the hits. You can tell that the author truly understands eating disorders and is written by someone who lived it. I do have the content warnings listed above so please make sure you are practicing self-care when reading this graphic novel. There were some parts that definitely sparked some need for self-care with myself. So please make sure you’re in the right head space. I will say that this graphic novel is brutally honest at addressing fat shaming, fat phobia, and eating disorders especially due to a lot of scenes being from friend and family. However, even though these are people a person can care about, they can still find ways to hurt us by saying hurtful things and using “we only want what’s best for you” as a way of justifying their actions.

Despite these positive things, I definitely had some issues with this graphic novel. For starters, I felt very underwhelmed emotionally. I stated that I have lived with eating disorders almost my entire life now and it just didn’t pull on my heart strings the way it has for other readers. My experience with eating disorders has always been a very brutal relationship especially when it came to the loved ones around me and the things they would say. So when the scenes of conflict with the loved ones arose, it felt like things were swept under a rug and never truly explored in depth. I feel like an opportunity was missed on a proper conversation happening between Mindy and those loved ones. I would have loved to see her really sit down and have those conversations.

My other issue was the ending. By the time the ending rolled around, it should have felt like Mindy learned something. However, once again I felt very underwhelmed and feeling like Mindy learned nothing. It almost felt like the conclusion to the story was rushed. I also want to point out that there was never any true feeling of Mindy learning to love herself through this entire book. As we read through the book we see Mindy see how everything started to happen and she does acknowledge what is happening to her. However, we never get a true sense that Mindy fully understands what it means to love herself. All we have is the ending where she states that she’s going to do better by her body. That’s it, it’s no address in further detail or even concludes with bonus content with some time that has passed. We just have her saying she’s going to do right by her body. I really wish we would have gotten a couple more pages or even a more in depth look at how she’s going to start doing right by her body instead of the feeling that it did.

Overall, I did like this book and I think it’s a great message at addressing eating disorders in a more visual tone. However, I would have liked more from this graphic novel, in so many ways. I also would have liked bonus content ending on a more positive note of reclaiming her body and actually treating herself with more kindness. I think many readers will enjoy this book, connect with it, but for myself, I truly wish there had been more depth. The art work, however, is absolutely stunning and I think many will love it as much as I do.

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This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, depression, panic/anxiety attacks, death of a parent, grief, underage drinking

“Dreams don’t have to be realistic- that’s why they’re dreams. You have to work to make them happen. Or else they would be…realities”

I think Emma Mills might be a new favorite author! Wow, friends, just wow. This is only the second Emma Mills book that I’ve read and it seems like every book is just a piece of me. Foolish Hearts had so many pieces of me that I hold dear, but this book right here, the things our main character does, wow, hitting close to home with a mirror character.

This Adventure Ends features our main character, Sloane who is raw, complex, and has never had any real friends to call her own. We follow her as she ends up moving from New York to a small town in the southern states. When she attends a party one night, she finds herself sticking up for Gabe Fuller, twin brother to Vera, and best friend of Remy and Aubrey. Suddenly, Sloane is thrown into a world of having friends who have secret codes, broken souls, and spending her Friday nights with them. Without that single moment, this story wouldn’t have been possible.

Sloane has never had friend before and when she’s thrown into this group of broken souls, she never expected that she’d have texting buddies, study partners, and people who like her for her. For the first time, Sloane doesn’t feel so lonely anymore. She finally found a little space among these ride-or-die group of friends. Though she’s still figuring the whole friend out, she can’t imagine her world without them.

“The city pulses on around us, and I’m not sure which one of us is anchoring the others, but I’ve never felt less adrift.”

I love that this book talks about what it means to be lonely for a long time and then suddenly being thrown into a world where you finally feel anchored. This book is very much a love letter to all the lonely people who finally find the friendships they’ve been dreaming of. This book is very much centered around friendships which means we see a lot of loyalty: to friends, to family, the one dear memory. Loyalty plays a huge role in this book especially when Sloane teams up with Remy to track down a lost painting that was one of the last made by Vera and Gabe’s mother, or the moments Sloane has with her father’s fan fic even though she doesn’t understand it or want to, she keeps reading them.

And we have to talk about Frank! Frank is such a whirlwind of a character in this book and I love him for it! He is this character that’s like a sunbeam. You can’t help laughing or getting caught up in everything he does. Plus, that one scene with Sloane and Frank about the first kiss, holy cow, ten out of ten! Fully recommend having that kind of encounter at least once! I also really enjoyed Sloane’s father. He’s just one of those characters that you can’t help liking and you don’t know the reason to. Maybe it’s from showing his struggles so openly, maybe it’s his love of fan fiction, or maybe it was the way he indirectly dedicated characters in his books to the many sides of Sloane. He was just a character I couldn’t help liking.

I really loved Sloane and I really felt connected to her. I mentioned this before, but a lot of the things Sloane does hit really close to home. Standing up for people she doesn’t know, taking her friend to see her girlfriend because she’s really upset, and trying to help rekindle a lost love between friends, Sloane is my whole persona. Sloane loves so fiercely with her loyalty and she just hit really close to home. She made me feel so seen and reading about her was like staring at myself in the mirror, reading my own traits to myself. It was an emotional experience and I’m so grateful for Sloane existing, for this book existing.

“I think about that kind of love as we increase in altitude. How maybe it doesn’t just stand for romance—maybe it works for friendship, too. Maybe there’s a kind of friend love that opens you up… Maybe you didn’t have a place for it within you before, but once it finds you out, crawls inside, and makes space for itself, you can’t live without it ever again.”

Overall, there’s so many amazing themes in this book. From loyalty to discovering love, this book is everything. I think anyone who has found themselves in a friend group where it’s “I would kill someone for you” needs to read this book. I think this is one of the easiest five stars I’ve given. How could I not give this book five stars? It’s another book that has saw my many layers and completely unraveled me, in the best way possible. If you haven’t read any of Emma Mills work yet, do yourself a favor and pick one of her books up.

I read this for The Backlist Readathon 2020 💗

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Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

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Content/Trigger Warnings: High risk childbirth, panic/anxiety attacks, seizure mentions, talk of underage drinking, minor bullying

“When I’m with you, I can just exist”

Friends, this book touched so many parts of my soul. I laughed, I cried, I probably swooned multiple times while I read this book. This book was truly everything and touched every inch of my soul. Foolish Hearts is a piece of my soul now and I want to share that with all of you before I tell you the synopsis.

💘 Boy Bands & Video Games – If you have been following me, you probably already know that I’m a gamer and a LARPer. It has been a part of my life for the longest time and it’s a part of my soul that brings the happiest moments to my life. Add my never ending love for boy bands from Backstreet Boys and NSYNC all the way to K-Pop bands, they have always been there in my life. It’s not secret that I discovered BTS after a really bad accident and that band alone turned a dark, scary time in my life into something brighter and happier. Both of these things hold a large corner of my heart and there will never be words to say how grateful I am that I have them in my life.

💘 Best Friends & Family/Siblings – I am always open about how much my family and my siblings mean to me. My family and siblings mean everything to me, they’re an important piece to have in my life, and I constantly miss them. Despite the calling my friends and family, despite texting and messaging one another, and despite all the video calls, I constantly miss them and feel homesick. They are my whole world, half of my heart, and I would an army to protect them.

Foolish Hearts is about our main character Claudia, who spends her time playing video games with her best friend and siblings, not really for any additional people to come into the mix. Until the end of summer comes along and she accidentally ends up overhearing two girl breaking up. Iris and Paige were the “it” couple at Claudia’s school, but now they’re broken up. While Paige still gets to be loved and popular, Iris gets cast as a villain for being heartless and mean. When Claudia and Iris are forced to work together, not just one, but twice in a row, they’ll each uncover things about each other and an unlikely friendship with grow.

“He is my small son.”

Let start by saying, I have always been a boy band lover and even more so of K-Pop. Without getting too personal, Kayla from Book and Blends is truly the one who brings out the best in me and constantly right there talking about K-Pop with me. Every day I’m so thankful because Kayla truly is my best friend and to have someone understand my deep love for K-Pop, but also be there for things outside of that is a true blessing. And reading about our two main characters, it reminded me so much of the conversations Kayla and I have had. It really melted my heart and made me feel very soft.

However, so many other things happen in this book! Maybe I was swooning a bit too much from Claudia finding someone who sees her for her and wants to know about the things she likes, maybe it was reading Claudia make outfits and teach others their lines, or maybe, just maybe it was all the gaming that was occurring that had me swooning because I’m super nerdy and a little gremlin when I game. I mean, the majority of this story revolves around a play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and that alone is enough to make me swoon. And the interactions during the play just felt so real, so natural, and how things truly are in drama class.

Of course, I have to talk about the family dynamic and the sibling relationships. It was the realest family dynamic that I have felt in a long time and I loved how it shows that no matter how good or bad things are, you can always be there for one another or fix things. I also really loved how this book wrote the expectations of siblings and how siblings can all be given fair chances, but if one siblings does better than the other, can be given more privilege. I also loved how the author thought to include what it’s like for the main character’s sibling and best friend to be dating. All the responses felt very natural and really felt like what it would be like to have that happen.

I also really fell in love with the love interest for Claudia. A lot of the things he says and does speaks to my heart and soul. They way he unapologetically loves so fiercely and cares about the people in his life. Even more so when he goes to such lengths to understand Claudia and really take part in the things she likes. I really loved his character and I loved how even in the serious scenes he was still a ray of sunshine. I just really appreciate his character and everything he represented in this book.

You can tell Emma Mills really understands fandom culture too. How sharing something with another person can be a truly magical experience and is a true gift. How many fandoms just want love, support and to bring happiness to the people who bring them happiness, but how many people can turn it into a fetish and how fetishizing is very real, very serious in many fandoms. The author truly understands on a deeper level and I wouldn’t be surprised if she even declared she was once a boy band fan.

“It’s like a snort,” I say. “Like a snort chortle. It’s a snortle.”

He moves a little closer. “Is that a Pokemon?”

Overall, this was such a an impactful read that touched my soul with everything I hold dear. I can’t believe no one told me about this book sooner. I can’t believe I waited so long to pick this book up because wow… the actual blessings this book exists. To have a book touch your soul on an intimate level, to feel like a book has literally read you and the things imprinted on your heart, it truly is an experience to have. This book is the biggest love letter to friendships, fandoms and boy band lovers, to the nerdy gamers, the dreamers who are just getting started, and the ones who are still trying to navigate life when things are constantly changing. It’s been a while since I’ve been so soft, wrapped up in my feelings, and feeling the happiest that I can be. This book is just a ray of sunshine and I hope that if you have read this review, you pick this book up and it brings you some of the joy that it brought to me.

I read this for The Backlist Readathon 2020 💗

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Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, panic/anxiety attacks, racist micro-aggression, toxic relationships, emotional abuse/manipulation, minor gaslighting, pseudocyesis (phantom pregnancy), talk of cheating, alcoholism, body shaming/body issues, talk of eating disorder, talk of rape, mentions of death and terminal illness, and mention of trypophobia

“I want to be with someone I can talk to. I want to be with someone who automatically has a fat folder on me. Someone who feels lucky when I tell them the most unflattering, scary stuff.”

Readers, let me start this off by saying I understand why many readers didn’t like this book or enjoy it. However, I couldn’t get enough of this story, of these characters, and I really loved the various elements this book has. It’s a story I enjoyed, I read this book within a day, and I’m still thinking about it after all this time. This book truly touched a soft spot in my heart.

Our story starts off by following Penny, an 18-year-old Korean-American girl, getting ready to start her first year at college in Austin, Texas. This story also follows our second main character Sam, a 21-year-old tattooed boy living above the coffee shop he works at. Though Sam really enjoys baking, he really wants to become a documentary director. Both of these characters come together when Penny’s roommate, Jude introduces Sam as her uncle. Though the first encounter is awkward, the second time these two characters meet is when Sam is having a panic attack and Penny is the one to find him. Penny is always prepared and after helping Sam work through his panic attack, they exchange numbers and become each other’s emergency contact.

For starters, I loved when Penny and Sam exchanged numbers to be each other’s emergency contact. I don’t think many readers realize how accurate the way the exchange and communication between Penny and Sam really was. Some of my strongest and most intimate friendships have been built through being an emergency contact. And though most of the time Penny and Sam communicate via text, there are times where they do call each other and very few times they meet face to face to talk. Being an emergency contact isn’t always when there’s a panic attack. Sometimes it’s just being a friend and having a normal conversation with them to prevent their stress from reaching a climax of developing into a panic attack. I truly loved that we really got to see that and how realistically it was shown in the texts.

I also fell in love with the way the relationship between Penny and Sam was blooming. Even though each character had their own things happening that they were trying to navigate, they truly felt like two realistic young adults. We really see how they struggle with wanting to be more than “online friends” and what it really means to put yourself out there, whether or not it will mess up the friendship, and questioning if that’s truly what they want. I think many readers will be able to relate to these characters and how they feel especially with how natural it is nowadays to find your friends online, meet your romantic partner online, or even date online. We see how both characters struggle to talk about their feelings face to face. The way they text is the way they can openly share their thoughts and emotions without risking a panic attack and I don’t understand how some can read this only to say that it’s not realistic. Some of the strongest foundations in a friendship are built through emails, letters, or texts and I have experienced that to the fullest over the years of my life. Also, the way they build their friendship before they fully realize they each have romantic feelings for one another was fantastic. The friendship became a larger focus instead of the romance and I really liked how we still got the romance, but it wasn’t snuffing out the friendship. It was a beautifully crafted relationship with so many layers and every time I think about it I fall in love with them all over again.

“Loving someone was traumatizing. You never knew what would happen to them out there in the world. Everything precious was also vulnerable.”

And you know I have to talk about the family dynamics in this book. What a hard hit to home! I say it all the time that I come from a single parent home and how odd my own family dynamic is. To see Penny who comes from a single parent household with an actively dating parent hit me right in the feels. Then to read about Sam’s family dynamic hit me just as hard. I can relate to both of these characters and the struggles they faced with their families. However, it just goes to show how meaningful and how important it is to show diverse families in books. It makes the characters more relatable and it really allows the readers to feel closer to those characters. It just hits a certain kind of way and I really appreciate that the author included the family dynamics in this book.

However, I truly wish I could have given this book a full five stars. There were two things that stuck with me that even now I wish I could remove from my memory. The first thing I had issues with was the false pregnancy. While I understand why it was written the way it was and the part it played for the development of a certain character, it didn’t sit right with me. I’m not going to go into details on why it didn’t sit right with me. However, I will say for those who have fertility issues, those who struggle with becoming pregnant, for those who want a child more than anything else in the world, this may be triggering for you. I wish someone would have told me about this before I started reading this book.

The final thing I want to address was the opportunity that was missed between Penny and her mother. While I understand why Penny revealed what happened to her with Sam, I definitely feel an opportunity was missed. Penny’s mother ends up driving to her dorm and they have a discussion. I feel like somewhere within that discussion Penny could have addressed certain things, but I understand why they weren’t. However, I really wish they had been talked about or addressed it.

Overall, I loved this book and these characters. They felt very realistic and there were so many things in this book that were so relatable. I definitely hope more readers give this book a chance and pick this one up. I think there will be many readers who will fall in love just as much as I did. I have no idea why I let all the hype and negative reviews stop me from reading this book before, but I’m so glad that I picked it up now!

“And for all the people waiting for permission to level up enough before they start working on something big and scary–just go in. Don’t be like me.”

I read this for The Backlist Readathon 2020 💗

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Blog Tour | Wicked As You Wish (A Hundred Names for Magic #1) by Rin Chupeco

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, homophobia, minor hate crime, death of a parent, loss of a loved one, grief, talk of doxxing, talk of human trafficking, talk of child abuse, talk of slavery, police brutality, death, murder, anxiety, scenes of graphic violence (with ice wolves and the Snow Queen)

ARC was given by a dear friend.

This review is being published after the release date (March 3rd, 2020)

GoodReads Synopsis
Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left desolate and encased in ice when the evil Snow Queen waged war on the powerful country. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.

Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is in hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them. Tala doesn’t mind—she has secrets of her own. Namely, that she’s a spellbreaker, someone who negates magic.

Then hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, and Avalon’s most powerful weapon, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.


Fellow readers, I find myself in the minority who have read this book and actually really liked it. I truly enjoyed many elements that this book gives and it was so easy to get sucked into the banter of the characters. And let me just say, if you’re a fan of Once Upon A Time or the graphic novel series, Fables then you’re going to find many elements that you love and enjoy in this book!

Our story follows our main characters Alex, the prince of Avalon, and his best friend Tala Warnock who team up with a group of friends to save Avalon from the forces of the Snow Queen and her relentless ways. Together they will travel through portals, defend against ogres and ice maidens, build their friendships, learn of an ever unfolding prophecy, and face off with the Snow Queen! And of course, with a cheeky firebird tagging along for the ride. Though the journey ahead will be rough, they will stop at nothing to free the kingdom of Avalon.

First thing you should know, there is a lot happening in this book especially in the first couple of chapters in this book. From family shenanigans all the way to trying to fend off ICE agents, the first handful of chapters will be the biggest part many readers might struggle through. This book is set in our modern day world, only with a twist, and you really see a lot of political issues happening in the news today such as addressing treatment of immigrants and subtle nods towards endangered species and poaching. There’s also a lot of references to events in history such as the colonization of the United States. While we have the modern day element, we also see many beloved fairytales and folklore being twisted into the modern day element. I’m talking constant references to Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat, King Arthur and the sword in the stone, talk of Briar Rose and the sleeping needle, or even Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf are all made as real people only they have a character or plot twist that is different from the many tales we all know them from. And if there’s one thing I’m hoping for, it’s maps in the final copy. I love maps and I think the idea of the author creating her own map to really help give the reader a better world view, not only of Avalon, but all the other realms stated in this book would be really amazing to see!

“Every encounter I’ve ever had with them has been less than cordial. Their objectives are anathema to Avalonian values. We have always opened our arms to the defenseless; it is not their crime to have been born in dangerous places.”

With all of that being said, the world building is thrown into a lot of information dumping which may also hinder a reader’s ability to read this book. My biggest struggle with the world building was understanding how the spelltech worked. Glyphs were also introduced into the world building as well, but that seemed easier to understand compared to spelltech, how spelltach works and what the main purpose of spelltech is supposed to be. There’s also threat level for the magic and spells which I thought was really interesting and that breakdown really puts into perspective how the magic can be handled or used. We also get an introduction to the nine types of magic and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was over excited about that part.

We also have a lot of characters and character introductions in this book. Of course we know about Tala, Tala’s family, and Alex, but we also have the Bandersnatchers group sent to protect Alex and we also have Lola Urduja and the Katipuneros. Every single one of them is unique and brings their own personality to the table. I mostly loved everyone that was introduced especially the Bandersnatches. The banter was fantastic and you really got the sense of a found family among all of them. Throughout the book we learn bits and pieces of them including more bits on Tala’s father, Kay. What I really wanted was more Cole Nottingham, but for now I’m satisfied with the details that slowly unravel. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t secretly shipping Cole and Zoe together. They just have an electric connection that I just can’t get over.

However, with every group of characters, there will always be that one jerk who everyone ends up disliking and I hate to say that I really, really disliked Alex. That’s right, the Prince of Avalon is my most disliked character throughout this entire book. In the beginning Alex comes off as very caring and really listens to Tala, but once the firebird comes, he changes completely. Once the group is in Avalon, the entire time Alex is being rude, keeping secrets and giving everyone the cold shoulder, trying to put everyone’s safety (including his) and well being in jeopardy, he constantly lets his anger and frustration get the better of him to the point of him going off on all his travel companions and leaving Tala to clean up the aftermath or apologize in his stead, and so much more! Honestly, he has no redeeming moments and we never once see him actually take the time and effort to truly apologize to everyone.

“I don’t know if his attempts at redemption will ever outweigh his crimes. But I decided in the end he should at least be given the chance to… I think everyone deserves that much.”

And before I forget, the ending of this book… How dare the author give us an ending like that?! The ending of this book was everything that I was hoping for. There was something about it that blew me out of the water. Maybe it was Tala defending her da or maybe it was seeing the firebird and Tala’s connection to one another, or maybe, just maybe the very last page had my eye bulging out of my head and looking around for the next book. Whatever the case, the nail was hit on the head with that ending.

Overall, I am pleasantly surprised with how much I adored this book. I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous on how I was going to feel about this book. The beginning was really rough for me, but despite that, I loved so many elements from this book. I have said this a few times on social media, but this has a lot of vibes of Once Upon A Time and Fables. I definitely recommend checking those out if you really loved a lot of the elements from this book. I can’t wait to see what book two will have waiting for us!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Rin Chupeco has written obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and done many other terrible things. She now writes about ghosts and fantastic worlds but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. She is the author of The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, and the Bone Witch trilogy.

Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.

Find out more about Rin over on: websiteGoodreadsInstagramPintrest and Twitter!


PRE-ORDER PROMO 1: If you pre-order WICKED AS YOU WISH on or before March 1, 2020 you will receive a character card of Tala and an enamel Order of the Bandersnatch firebird pin!

PRE-ORDER PROMO 2: From March 3rd – 31st 2020Rin Chupeco will be hosting an Instagram giveaway for WICKED AS YOU WISH! Just post a photo of the book with the hashtag #PRETTYWICKEDASYOUWISH and every participant will receive book swag (which will only be available during promos and not for the pre-orders)!

GIVEAWAY: The publishing house is offering 4 WICKED AS YOU WISH bundles. Open internationally.

Enter the Giveaway HERE

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Heartstopper: Volume Three (Heartstopper, #3) by Alice Oseman

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, homophobia, guilt, talk of self-harm, eating disorder/disordered eating, scene of underage drinking

💕 Vol. One – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

💕 Vol. Two – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“There’s this idea that if you’re not straight, you HAVE to tell all your family and friends immediately, like you owe it to them. But you don’t. You don’t have to do anything until you’re ready.”

How to make me smile, cry, rip my heart to pieces and put it back together in one sitting? Hand me a volume of Heartstopper. This series is everything and it hits super close to home. It turns my heart into a puddle every time I read it and it keeps getting better. I’m just sitting here patiently waiting for 2021 to come and deliver Vol. Four into my mailbox already!

As I always say, if you haven’t started this series yet, what are you even doing! Go start it before you decide to read this. Unless you’re someone who wants to spoil, even though I do try to keep this a spoiler free zone. Go check it out, you can read this comic for free HERE!

Volume Three is a bit of a divided comic. Half of this comic takes place near the end of the school year and then the other half is spent on a school trip to Paris. In this first half we see how Charlie and Nick go about handling their relationship while also being at school. But there’s also many things Nick and Charlie tackle separately from each other. Nick ends up dealing with some homophobia inside his home and learning how to live with an un-accepting family member. Also, Nick reconnects with some friends that he closed out of his life and we see him struggling with coming out to them. Then we have Charlie who finally told his parents about his relationship with Nick. However, we also see him suffering from great deals of stress school wise and relationship wise. Charlie starts to show signs of burn out and mental strain which lead into a lot of other things coming to light later on in the book. Charlie also finds out one of his friends may have been the cause of his outing at school and how he’s trying to mentally process this information before leaving on the school trip.

However, the majority of this book takes place during the school trip to Paris! This is where things start to get really heavy. This volume is centered very heavily around mental health. Please make sure you practice self-care while reading into this section. Even for me, I struggled reading through some of this because of my own coming out and mental health struggles. So definitely take care of yourself, fellow readers! During the whole trip Charlie, Nick, and the whole gang have a series of cute moments. From stealing kisses to their playful ways of trying to stay in, everyone gets up to some really adorable shenanigans. However, we see Nick struggle with trying to meet up with his father and we see his growing concern for Charlie. Charlie, on the other hand, is struggling a lot while in Paris and it really starts to show leading to concern from Nick. Charlie also confronts his friend and we see how both of them handle everything in the moment. There’s also a really great moment shared between Charlie and Tara. We learn more about Tara and how she came out, we see how she and Darcy handled any homophobic backlash, and Tara starts to see how stressed Charlie is and offers some really good wisdom. The rest of this book as a whole was an intense wild ride packed with many emotions, feelings, and surprises.

Also, I have to talk about the teachers in this graphic novel because they deserve a spin-off series! We have Mr. Ajayi, the art teacher and Mr. Farouk, the science teacher. They had so many great moments in this book and I wish we hand more! Thankfully, Oseman thought of this and provided a mini comic for my two new favorite beans! I really loved the conversation both of them had at the vending machine and how sometimes you don’t figure out your sexuality until later in life, when you’re out of school, and much older. I think that’s going to hit the mark for anyone who has had that experience and I hope this is the ground work for authors to bring this up in future books. I also liked how the mini comic also goes into further detail and builds off what we learn about Mr. Ajayi and Mr. Farouk in this book. I just need more from these characters and I hope we start seeing them a little more in this series!

Overall, I love this series and I love these characters! Oseman hits the nail on the head every time she releases a new panel or a new volume. I can’t wait for the next volume to come out even if we do have to wait till 2021 for it to release. And hopefully we will get more mini comics because the cuteness overload is too much! And if you haven’t started this series yet, definitely give it a try. These characters will have you falling in love and swooning over the whole series!

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Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying/cyber bullying, sexism, racism, harassment, assault, stalking, doxing, trauma/PTSD, toxic relationships, anxiety, guilt, implications of cheating.

ARC was given by Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published after the release date (January 28th, 2020)

“This is why you don’t read the comments!”

Oh wow, this book came at me hard and fast. Readers, I went into this book with no expectations and only the knowledge that the main character is a gamer girl who has to deal with cyber bullying and harassment, but I wasn’t expecting this book to take it to a whole other level. It made my soul quake and it touched topics that hit very close to home. How could I not love this? How could I not shout about this book at the top of my lungs when this touches on so many topics that I have personally experienced and witnessed that aren’t vocalized enough? This book means so much and our main female heroine means so much to me.

Don’t Read the Comments follows our main character Divya who is best known in the gamin world as popular streaming gamer D1V. Her main platform is Glitch where she constantly streams gaming of Reclaim the Sun which is the year’s hottest game! But while her virtual reality is very glamorous, in the real world she’s using every sponsorship and selling every piece of equipment to help out her single mother. And then one fateful night she meets Aaron. A fellow gamer who has zero interest in following the path of his mother to become a doctor and instead wants to follow his dream of writing video games. Together, these two will discover planets in the infinite world of Reclaim the Sun. However, things aren’t that peaceful as Divya battles for everything thing she loves and has worked hard for as an online group known as The Vox Populi threatens to destroy it all.

I loved Divya as one of our main characters. She is unrelenting force, a candles that refuses to go out, and I love her fighting spirit. She faces so many hardships and struggles (you can tell she carries the weight of the world on her shoulders), but despite it all she never gives up and keeps pushing forward. I also really loved the reason behind her streaming and how much she was willing to do for her mother. As a person who cares very deeply for my family, this hit all the right spots and I couldn’t help getting soft with how fiercely she loves her family and best friend. I felt like she did make some questionable choices especially when it came to withholding information that was vital to her and her loved ones’ safety, but despite that I still enjoyed her character.

I definitely had issues warming up to Aaron. Despite him being more soft spoken, more quirky, I didn’t warm up to him until I starting noticing his character development. However, the little sibling element definitely helped with liking Aaron’s character. I’m always here for sibling relationships and seeing Aaron interact with his younger sister especially while he was gaming just hit in all the right spots. And I have to mention Aaron definitely has some questionable actions and thoughts. I think without the author including his best friend in the mix to keep Aaron’s character in check, it would be very easy to dislike Aaron or even cringe at some of the moments in this book. He also never speaks up for himself until the last third of the book. And any time he does speak up, he never has a plan and he clearly hasn’t thought things through. So also contributed to why it more of a challenge to connect with him and full warm up to him.

Can I take a moment to appreciate all the head nods to all the thing geeky in this book?! I can’t even express how much screeching I did when I saw the slight nod towards Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Elder Scrolls, The Dead Poets Society, bookstagram, Adventure Time, and so much more! It warmed my heart so much and I felt so seen as geeky, nerdy, girl gamer who gets full enjoyment out of this. And speaking of gaming, when Divya is streaming and exploring the world of Reclaim the Sun, the way the world is described will make any gamer who plays a lot of space games fall in love all over with those games. The detail was so beautiful and it truly felt like you were right there experiencing it. It was all so vivid and I feel like I keep saying this, but it truly touched so many of the right spots of my soul and personal passions.

“I don’t need to see you, to see you. I see you. I see all of you. With or without a headset.”

But my most favorite part about this whole book is that it addresses such an important and consistent theme of the sexism in the gaming community, constantly bring up privilege whether in the virtual world or the real one, showing the real threats and possibilities of becoming a content creator, and also showing what you allow into your space, your safe spaces. These are all things that exist, but aren’t often talked about or even properly addressed and when they are they’re brushed off like nothing will really come of it. I can honestly say that I’m glad to see more books like Don’t Read the Comments or Slay by Brittney Morris being released to speak about these important topics because these are very real and they impact so many.

My only real criticism with this book is two main things. The first thing being there was never any indication of taking proper time to self care or take extra precautions to protecting oneself. I mentioned before that I had some issues with a lot of choices Divya made and even though I still love Divya’s character, self care and protection are thrown to the wind and that just didn’t sit right with me. There are many reoccurring moments throughout this book where Rebekah tries to tell Divya take time away, the beginning of the book and near the end of the book Divya’s mother states multiple times how she’s worried and she wants Divya to be safe, and there are even moments the detective should have been made aware of information or the detective has told Divya to do something and it gets brushed off to the side. All of this didn’t sit right with me and I understand a lot of this was to help further the story-line in some way, but it doesn’t make up the fact that it can be triggering or even stressful just reading it especially if you have anxiety because you can tell there will be consequences. And it also sends the wrong kind of message as well because in these circumstances, yes you want to fight back, but you also need to take care of yourself as well as making sure you and your loved ones are protected. If you don’t have any representation of that and you have this constant theme of brushing the important stuff to the side, anyone who reads this and is going through something similar or has the potential to go through it, there’s that message of self-care needs to take the back burner or safety and protection aren’t that important, and that’s not the kind of message that you want to be stated especially under the circumstances in this book.

My other criticism is there were a lot of things happening in this book. There are a lot of subplots that never get resolved or explored. For example, there were multiple incidents where Rebekah and Aaron clash especially when Rebekah calls Aaron out on his privilege which is then followed up with Aaron retorting some really bad answers that cause offense. This never gets properly addressed or even resolved. We’re just given a statement of “well be more mindful” or “that means she likes you,” but these aren’t anything that address or challenge what Aaron said. We also get a lot of moments with Divya’s mother saying how she doesn’t approve of Divya’s streaming. Divya constantly plays it off, tells her mother she’s worrying to much, or she straight out lies to her mother instead of actually having a discussion with her mother. Once again, there’s two other moments in this story with her mother and still, this never get resolved of properly addressed.

Honestly, if these were never going to be addressed or challenged then I would have liked to see more game play, a deeper dive into the important topics being discussed, or more background detail with our main characters. I just wasn’t a fan of the subplots and I think they could have really made a difference if they were handled a bit better or even sacrificed for something else instead.

Overall, this was a really great book and I so glad I got an advance copy! I think this is going to be a book every content creator out there needs to read and I’m hoping this book will start so many discussions. I truly believe this book took a piece of my heart and if there’s anything you take away from this, it’s that this book is something ever content creator needs to read because the important topics are just that, important and we all need to take care of our spaces! I just can’t recommend this book enough!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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