Blog Tour ~ Mini Review > ‘The Captivating Flames of Madness’ by Jeff Parsons

Hello, my angels ~

And welcome to another mini review!

Quick disclaimer before we get into this -> I am incredibly tired, I am incredibly stressed, and I’m getting to the point where everything I see is blending together and turning into this fun blob.

You know when you would paint as a kid and the water cup you would use to clean your brushes got to that gray color that looked disgusting? That’s my endgame, I feel like. Calling it now.

Oh! And a shoutout to Nikki for showing me the dope app that allowed me to make the fun picture you see above. She’s a real one for that.

Anyways, let’s get into a fun ramble and hope it’s coherent!

Today, I have a blog tour post for you guys — the same people (Blackthorn Book Tours) who sponsored this previous blog tour are also putting on a blog tour for The Captivating Flames of Madness by Jeff Parsons!

This book is comprised of 22 short stories that range from horrors to thrillers, based on everything from swimming ghosts to dystopian creepiness. It truly offers a wide scope of stories — there’s stories from the past, the present, and the future and stories that focus on literally everything your creepy little brains could imagine.

Dark magic?? We got you covered.

Classic homicidal maniacs?? Of course.

A dystopian world in which Germany won WW2?? Typing that gave me pause.

Basically, you have a lot of options.

“What would we say when we met our maker? That we were just following orders?

Hans, Lost Souls; page 12

But this isn’t just your classic “give me a scare and go” kind of book. A lot of these stories had quotes that made me stop and think and then go into an existential crisis over.

I feel like this is a good time to mention that during about half of this reading experience, I was reading to a uni friend of mine — who has a concussion.

(Don’t worry, besides dying of boredom, she’s okay).

But, please just imagine this scene — us lying in her bed, me repeating the same quote about 5 times, us staring at each other for a bit, and then her issuing the smallest shrug while I panic silently.

This happened a few times.

In conclusion (this is not an essay, Ash, why are you writing “in conclusion”), this book is perfect for those who want goosebumps while reading — and then decide if it’s because you’re scared, you’re about to get real philosophical about the structure of society and what it means to be a good person, or both.

I definitely recommend it if you’re still chasing the fading Halloween season or if you’re like me — and you live in it all year.

That’s all for me today, angels! Now, to finish my assignments and pray my professor emails me back.

Have a wonderful day/night and, until next time, don’t miss me too much ~

~ Ash

Mini Review > ‘The Vine Witch’ by Luanne G. Smith

Hello, my angels ~

Today, I come to you with the perfect quick October read!

The Vine Witch is about a woman in turn of the century France who aided her guardian in coaxing the vines at the Château Renard, specifically in the Chanceaux Valley, to make amazing wine. Until she’s cursed by a stranger and turned into a toad.

What a classic.

The novel begins with Elena Boureanu breaking her curse, which was such a badass opening scene, if I say so myself. I can’t/won’t give away the details of Elena breaking her curse but let’s just say that they’re pretty metal.

Moving on, something really interesting was that Smith combined two things that she was incredibly interested in, wine making and witches, to make something new and pretty unique. I’ve read books about witches with a variety of different disciplines and focuses, but never ones with witches who focus on wine and beer making.

As the novel progresses, Elena comes to know and help the man who has just bought the Château Renard (guess who the love interest is) while also trying to discover who cursed her and why. Throw all that together, add a bit of dead animals drained with blood, an ex-fiancé and his new wife, and things are bound to get a bit crazy.

There are two main “who done it” plot lines — one of them is pretty noticeable if you’re paying attention and the other one I didn’t see coming. So, I guess it kind of evens itself out?

At the end of the novel, a huge portion of Elena’s past is revealed and it made me super excited to read the next novel in this series because /damn/.

All in all, I think this is the perfect book to read in October — it’s witchy, historical, and an all-around good time.

If this sounds interesting to you, here are some links that may be of use ~

That’s all for me today, angels!

I hope you all have a wonderful day/night and until next time, don’t miss me too much ~

— Ash

Mini Review > ‘Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide’ by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Hello, my angels ~

And welcome to another mini review!

The book we have for today is a duel memoir written by two women who host the podcast, My Favorite Murder.

GUYS

I love this podcast so much. It was the first podcast I ever listened to, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

In the podcast itself, Georgia and Karen go back and forth each week, each telling the other their favorite murder of the week and cracking jokes along the way. During the course of the podcast, the pair have revealed past traumas from their life and how that has effected them to this day.

Needless to say, it’s a great time.

The novel itself combines elements of true crime and regular memoir things. Basically, the pair reveals bits and pieces of their past and tells the entire story behind the traumas they’ve hinted at, the entire time relating it back to how these things have shaped their mutual love of true crime.

I love this book so much, it’s unreal. I ended up bringing it to college with me and I have moments when I just open it up to the pages I tabbed, whether they were quotes or scenes, and read through them when they connect with my moods.

“She talked about female empowerment. That women were capable and deserving of so much more than the subservient mind-set we were taught to adopt. That if wanting and striving for more made you a “bitch,” then so be it. That feminism wasn’t a bad word; it was a vital pursuit and would be until girls were raised to believe in themselves and the importance of their contribution to the world the same way boys were.”

— Georgia Hardstark, page 34

I read Georgia’s introduction to the Riot Grrrl Movement when I’m feeling hyped from my gender studies classes and am blasting Bikini Kill in my dorm room. I read Karen talking about her mother when I need a reminder as to why I’m even here.  I read their stories in the times when my own words fail me, and I connect with their stories once I find my own again.

My mom’s life was a victory. She didn’t suffer fools. even when they were her own children, and she always questioned authority. She wasn’t aggressive or self-righteous; she was just a no-shit gal. She did what she thought was best. She was grateful every day for the life she built, and she tried to share that gratitude with others, in case they weren’t as lucky as she was. She knew how hard life could be, so she celebrated every good moment. And she always had a sparkle in her eye.”

[. . .]

We barely get any time on this planet. Do not spend it pleasing other people. Fuck politeness. Live life exactly how you want to live it so you can love the life you make for yourself. Make Pat proud.”

— Karen Kilgariff, page 60

I’ve been into true crime since I was 8 and found a book at Barnes and Noble with copies of the case files from the Jack the Ripper/Whitechapel Murders. But I’ve been a Murderino since last year, when I discovered a podcast that would forever change my life.

If you like true crime or listen to My Favorite Murder — read this book. But if you’re a recovering addict, someone recovering from a loss that has destroyed your world, or even someone who had a high school teacher change their life — read this book.

This book is for everyone who has ever felt wrong. Who has ever felt out of place.

Find your home. Whether it be in this blog, this book, or what have you. But I promise you, it’s out there.

And it’s waiting for you. Make your life a victory.

“We’re all crazy and scared and searching. No one gets to use that against you. It’s not proof you’re broken, it’s proof you’re human.

— Karen Kilgariff, page 103

If this book interests you, here are some links that may be helpful ~

Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Have a wonderful day/night and, until next time, don’t miss me too much ~

— Ash

Poetry Book Review > ‘Wild Embers: Poems About Rebellion, Fire, and Beauty’ by Nikita Gill

(This is an older review so the formatting is a bit different than normal and I’m too tired to re-format it OKAY GREAT BYE)

Wild Embers: Poems about Rebellion, Fire, and Beauty by Nikita Gill


Page Number 

150

Genre

Poetry Book; Retellings

Summary

you cannot burn away what has always been aflame

Wild Embers explores the fire that lies within every soul, weaving words around ideas of feeling at home in your own skin, allowing yourself to heal, and learning to embrace your uniqueness with love from the universe. 

Featuring rewritten fairytale heroines, goddess wisdom, and poetry that burns with revolution, this collection is an explosion of femininity, empowerment, and personal growth. 

Nikita Gill is a British-Indian writer and poet living in the south of England. With a huge online following, her words have entranced hearts and minds all over the world. 


Pre-Reading Notes

Ahhhh I’m so excited!! You guys may not know this, but Nikita Gill is my favorite poet and I am super excited to read this book and share her words with you. 

Without further ado, let’s get into it!


Post-Reading Notes

It’s beautiful . . . is anyone surprised???


Favorite Poem from the Piece

The Truth About Art

People don’t look at art because it’s perfect. People look at art because it’s extraordinary, strange, different, captivating, odd, unusual, they look at it because it stands out. Some artwork is so entrancing, people spend hours looking at it and in awe of its strangeness. Sometimes entire rooms are dedicated to one masterpiece so it is given its proper glory. Perfection is boring. It is stereotypical. It blends together and it’s easily forgotten.

What I’m trying to say is,

You can strive to be perfect.

Or you can strive to be art.


My Thoughts

We’re All Here

One of the things I love about Nikita Gill’s work is that it includes everyone. I will admit that I feel like she leans more toward female which isn’t shocking (because she is female) nor is it a bad thing. But even still, Nikita has something for everyone — and that includes in this piece. 

Other than the poems addressed to girls, which still have lessons in them for boys, all of these poems can be for anyone. Even more so, all of these poems feel like they are dedicated to anyone. Because even if you aren’t female, you know one (probably more) and vice versa for males. These poems are for anyone, as long as they’ll take the time to listen.

These poems are for everyone because everyone hurts. Everyone feels like nothing at times. Everyone feels lost and hopeless and weak and worn out. These poems are for them, and that them is everyone and anyone. 

If you are healing, read this. There will be something in there for you. 

Final Overall Review and Rating

4.5/5

I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it — it feels wrong judging poetry because it’s so personal. I cannot nor will I judge another person’s heart and soul, so this rating is instead, judging my own. 
It’s a beautiful piece with a message of healing, of uprising, and of standing up for what you believe to be right. What could possibly be more wondrous than that?

Who Should Read This Piece 

Like I said up top, anyone who is healing.

Mini Review > ‘Mooncakes’ by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

Hello, my angels ~

And happy publication day to Mooncakes!!!

I read this book back in July and knew I wanted to wait to review it in October — and then I forgot about it until literally the day before it’s about to come out.

Love this for me.

Even before its release, Mooncakes has already weaseled its way into the heart of so many readers, myself included. I remember having such a crappy day before reading this graphic novel but as I got to know Nova, Tam, and Nova’s grandmothers, I found that I was laughing along with the characters and feeling for them in their time of need, but also knowing that they were going to be just fine.

That notion, however small it was, projected itself onto me and helped my mood tremendously! And I think that’s what kind of novel this is — something to make the day a little brighter.

Along with making your heart feel all warm and fuzzy, the rep in this book is *chef’s kiss*

We have representation for ~

  • those with a hearing impairment
  • non-binary folks
  • lesbian folks
  • (if i forgot any, let me know in the comments pls :()

All in all, this graphic novel resembled a nice hug, and I highly recommend it if you’re touch starved (same) or just like hugs.

That’s all I have for now! Until next time, don’t miss me too much 😉

Bye, angels ~

~ A huge thank you goes out to NetGalley for providing me with this e-book. All opinions stated are mine and mine alone ~

The ‘I Should Have Read That Book’ Tag

Hello, my angels ~

And wow, I haven’t written a book tag in a while! Let’s see if I can remember how this works.

I was tagged by Nikki to do the “I Should Have Read That Book” Tag! And I don’t really know what I’m doing so I’m not going to even try to explain it. If you would like an explanation (or just want to have a fun time reading the words of a pure human), definitely check out Nikki’s post that will be linked above (and here)!

Alright, let’s get into it!

A Book That a Certain Friend is Always Telling You to Read

Oh, get a load of this shit.

Since the day that Luther and I became friends, he’s been bullying me for not having read Wuthering Heights.

When he hasn’t read The Picture of Dorian Gray even though he has it.

Oh and it gets better!

When I tried to read it from the library once I got to uni, he said that I couldn’t because I needed my own copy. And is now going to send me a copy.

But, I’m getting a free book out of all of this so I guess I can’t complain too much.


A Book that Has Been on Your TBR Forever and Yet, You Still Haven’t Picked it Up

Oh, wow, where to even begin.

After searching through my Goodreads “To Read” list, which is 350~ books strong (why am I like this), I’ve decided that the Splintered Trilogy by A. G. Howard is the series to go with because I’ve been wanting to read it for about 3 years.

If you’re a frequent angel,

  1. wow thank you for dealing with my rambling and all in all weirdness
  2. you probably know that I am partial to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

But this isn’t your classic Alice in Wonderland retelling — no, it’s a hell of a lot more brutal and bloody, which is something I just can’t say no to. A part of me feels like this is going to be the novel version of the video game Alice: Madness Returns — obviously not the actual novelization but has some of the same elements — and that has me even more hyped to get my hands on this series.


A Book in a Series You’ve Started, but Haven’t Gotten Around to Finishing Yet

So, uhm, funny story.

I’ve read the sixth book in this series . . . and that’s it.

I don’t know what possessed me to do this but it was also when I was 15-16 so can I really be blamed???

Yes? Alright, understandable.

But, back on topic, the sixth book offered me a lot of enjoyment and I hope I get around to reading the entire series sometime.


A Classic You’ve Always Liked the Sound Of, but Never Actually Read

:))))))))))

I’ve actually been wanting to read Wuthering Heights, but now it’s almost out of spite that I haven’t yet.

But I will sometime, don’t worry.


A Popular Book that it Seems Everyone but You Has Read

I jump on a lot of bandwagons, I’m going to have to think about this for a bit.

Ah, one bandwagon that I never got on.

I honestly don’t have much to say besides whoops??? I’m sorry I missed the craze and never read it??

Should I read it??? Is it worth it?? Please, someone tell me.


A Book that Inspired a Film/TV Adaptation that You Really Love, but You Just Haven’t Read it Yet 

If you’re a frequent angel (please see thank you above), you may also know that I am a huge true crime buff.

A murderino, if you will. (If you get that reference [not the Simpsons one], I love you)

When Mindhunter came out on Netflix, I was super hesitant because I didn’t know if I would actually like it or romanticize/glorify murder but when I actually watched it, I fell in love with it.

It was only after I started the show that I came to realize it was based off a book. So I should probably check up on that, huh?


A Book You See All Over Instagram but Haven’t Picked Up Yet

I’m stealing Nikki’s answer for this one because it’s so accurate.

I have been seeing Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin everywhere and at this point, I just need to read it to see what all the hype is about.

But besides that, the cover is so beautiful (even with the YA snake) and the summary does sound incredibly interesting . . .

So guess I’m jumping onto another bandwagon 🤪


And those are all of the questions!

I have no idea who to tag because I haven’t done a tag in so long so if you see this and want to do it, go off (and tag me so I can read your responses)! A huge thank you to Nikki again for tagging me . . .

and that’s all I have for today, angels!

Have an amazing day/night and until next time, don’t miss me too much ~

— Ash

Mini Review > ‘Smitty’s Calling Card’ by B. R. Stateham

Hello, my angels ~

And welcome to,,,, a new thing? Yes, a new thing.

I’ve been wanting to try out mini reviews for a while because sometimes, it’s hard to find the time/effort to flesh out extensive reviews, like I’d like to think I normally do. So! After seeing this done on Nikki’s blog (which you should totally check out because it’s so pretty and calming and I love it thanks bye), I immediately messaged her and told her how amazing it looked and then we got to talking, and after some encouragement, here I am!

So basically, if this ends up not being a total trainwreck, go thank Nikki 😉

What makes this mini review extra special is that this book is actually for a blog tour! This is my review for the Blackthorn Book Tour’s . . . tour of Smitty’s Calling Card — dubbed the Dark Retribution Tour.

That sounds so edgy and I love it.

But without any further ado, let’s get into it!

(Wow, it feels like I haven’t typed that in a while)

Smitty’s Calling Card is about a hitman named Smitty (shocking, I know) getting “hired” by a police officer to catch the town’s serial killer — a serial killer who is brutally murdering the local sex workers and everyone just wants it to stop.

Well, mostly everyone — but if I said anymore, that would be spoiling 😉

Let’s start with the characters. Smitty and Charlene were definitely my favorites. What can I say — I love deadly men and badass women.

Sue me.

(Please don’t I’m the definition of a broke uni student).

That being said, I wasn’t that attached to any of the characters. When one was threatened with death (or actually died), I really didn’t care that much. But, for a novel like this, I don’t think that was necessarily a bad thing.

What do you mean “a novel like this,” Ash?

Well, I’ll tell you, angel.

To me, at least, books like these are pretty quick for me.

Literally — I read this entire book yesterday in my two hour break between classes (which I didn’t know if I could do but hell yeah).

But — back to the point. Crime novels in general are pretty fast for me and I don’t find myself getting attached to the characters or completely invested, and I don’t really judge them based off of these factors. I more so judge them on if they held my interest and made for a good experience — which this one did.

My only complaint I would say was the language used at times. It just really disconnected me from the story and some of it left a bad taste in my mouth.

All in all though, it made for a pleasurable experience to pass the time in between classes, and I would consider reading more from this series, if I were in the right mood.

That’s all for this post, angels! I hope you guys have a wonderful day/night ❤

And, until next time, don’t miss me too much ~

— Ash

Blog Tour ~ Novel Review > ‘Six Goodbyes We Never Said’ by Candace Ganger

Page Number 

Once again — Goodreads says 320, but my ARC was 280 — believe what you will

Genre

YA > Contemporary

Summary

Two teens meet after tragedy and learn about love, loss, and letting go.

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.

Candace Ganger’s Six Goodbyes We Never Said is no love story. If you ask Naima, it’s not even a like story. But it is a story about love and fear and how sometimes you need a little help to be brave enough to say goodbye.

Any Trigger Warnings?

Talk of familial death and mental illness.


AHHH WE HAVE ANOTHER BLOG TOUR POST, ANGELS!!!!

This review is part of a blog tour being put on by Sarah Bonamino and it will run from late September to early October, with the book being released on September 24!!!


“Gonna store that info for later”
“YES FINALLY SOMEONE WHO GETS IT”
“Alright can the quote please stop”
“I’m very confused”
“I —“
“I think those bits of formatting would land more if this wasn’t an e-book”
“Yeah who is Julie”
“Listen, Dew, you seem cool but what the fuck are you talking about”
“Oh shit”
“Oh damn”
“Oh hell yeah Faith”
“He’s gonna buy her balloons, huh”
“Damn it, Naima >:(“
“What are in the letters!!!”
“Stop being such a fucking dick oh my god”
“Dew is fucking c*te”
“What the fuck”
“Oh, that’s fucking cute”
“Me too, man”


I’m feeling kind of conflicted — so let’s discuss


“He said she feels in color; when she’s angry the colors fade translucent. And despite her confidence, there’s a voice reminding her she doesn’t belong. So she’s always searching, she just isn’t sure for what. He described her as a paradox not meant to be solved, but one worth trying to.”

— Andrew Diaz-Brickman, page 64

Main Characters

Namia Rodriguez (aka, I get you’re hurting but stop being a dick)

I’m slightly conflicted with my feelings about Namia. 
On one hand, she’s going through so much in her life and I think she offers some great representation — but on the other hand, there’s times when she’s unnecessarily a huge asshole and that really disconnected me from her character.

I wanted to feel bad for her and grow an attachment to her character, but her being awful to her family and Dew bothered me and angered me beyond belief — so I just couldn’t do it.

Andrew “Dew” Diaz-Brickman (aka, the purest boy)

Oh, this sweet baby angel.

I didn’t know how I would feel about Dew once I was first introduced to him. I honestly can’t recall what exactly it was that kind of put me off about him, but then as I read more and more, I grew to look forward to his POV and come to love his character. 
I wouldn’t say he’s up there with my favorite characters of all time, but he was definitely a huge plus throughout the book.

Minor Characters 

Faith — Dew’s adoptive little sister; I love her and she’s probably my favorite character, after Dew

Violet — So cute! And very sweet.

JJ and Kam — They’re so pure and understanding and they make me soft!

Stella and Thomas — They, like JJ and Kam,  are so pure and very patient and understanding with their adoptive kids and they both just make me so happy — especially Stella.

Nell — She’s just doing her best, Namia!!!

Plot

She’s There​

​So, this book follows Namia and Dew, along with their respective families as they both navigate their own trauma. The book follows each teens relationship with themselves, their family, and eventually, each other. 

I would definitely say that the plot is pretty straightforward — the main conflicts are internal and the external factors of the story are kind of just there pushing the development for the eventual coping of the internal struggles.

Honestly, I Don’t Know​

I don’t really know where I stand with this book. 

Looking back, I understand what the book was trying to achieve, and I believe that it achieved that — I just don’t think that I connected with it, per se. 

I think a lot of other people who have had different experiences than I have will feel more from this book than I did, if that makes any sense. 

Stuff I Want to Scream About?/Anything Else?​

I think I’m good, chief. Thanks though.

This novel is a stand-alone! But if it were part of a series, I don’t think I would continue it.

​People who have a connection with the representation given. And those who want a a nice story, no strings attached. 


What’s the most memorable thing you and your best friend have done?

  • Oh, where do I begin — 
    • Cherry and I have bought full size pizzas for ourselves and then sat in the parking lot, in the trunk of my car eating them before a movie 
    • Catboy, Jared, and I have gone with Jared to get a tattoo, decided we were hungry, got Subway in a Walmart, decided during Subway that we wanted to make nachos and meatballs, went grocery shopping for ingredients in said Walmart, drove back to my place while blaring Lewis Capaldi, and Jared and I made nachos and meatballs, while Catboy filmed it. The video involves Jared eating a lot of olives, my aunt’s dog growling at Catboy and him being frightened, Jared eating bubbles, and me chasing Catboy out of the kitchen with a wooden spatula because he kept fucking with the food. 
  • I HAVE MORE
    • Instead of going to a party the night we graduated high school, Catboy, Jared, and I played soccer in the rain turned thunderstorm, in the clothes we graduated in, until 11pm
    • We’ll end on Catboy and Jared driving 9 hours to visit me once I moved and us going cave-exploring, getting weird looks in an Amish market, antiquing, risking out friendship during a Monopoly game (I won 🤪🤪🤪), and watching vampire mockumentaries. 
    • I’m going to stop now. 

That’s all for me today, angels!

Until next time, don’t miss me too much ~

Novel Review > ‘Rebel Girls’ by Elizabeth Keenan

Rebel Girls by Elizabeth Keenan

Page Number 

Listen, Goodreads says it’s 384 but the ARC was 418, so believe what you will 

Genre

YA > Contemporary; Historical Fiction; Feminism

Summary

It’s 1992, and there’s a rumor spreading in Baton Rouge…

When it comes to being social, Athena Graves is far more comfortable creating a mixtape playlist than she is talking to cute boys—or anyone, for that matter. Plus her staunchly feminist views and love of punk rock aren’t exactly mainstream at St. Ann’s, her conservative Catholic high school.
Then a malicious rumor starts spreading through the halls…a rumor that her popular, pretty, pro-life sister had an abortion over the summer. A rumor that has the power to not only hurt Helen, but possibly see her expelled.

Despite their wildly contrasting views, Athena, Helen and their friends must find a way to convince the student body and the administration that it doesn’t matter what Helen did or didn’t do…even if their riot grrrl protests result in the expulsion of their entire rebel girl gang.

Any Trigger Warnings?

Abortion.


Pre-Reading Notes

I’m so excited that I finally have time to read this oh my GOD.


Thoughts While Reading

“I cackled”
“She’s Rustyn”
“OF COURSE”
“. . . yes”
“Hell yea, Melissa”
“Melissa is a fucking legend”
“Is this,,,, Luther?”
“>:(“
“I hated when teachers did this!!”
“He most likely was but go off”
“ME”
“Same”
“Sean, you seemed cool but now you’re kind of being a dick”
“Shut up, lady”
“Jesus CHRIST”
“Oh fuck off, man”
“DAMN”
“Side note: I don’t trust Kyle”
“Hell yeah!!!”
“Fuck yeah, Sara”
“Trip is a pure boy”
“Oh sweetie”
“Trip is a pure boy” (This is not a typo. I thought this two separate times and I’m kind of dying over it)
“I’m shaking in my boots”


Post-Reading Notes

Hell yeah women!!!!


Favorite Quote(s) from the Novel

“Support girls around you. Don’t be jealous of other girls. Avoid competition with them. Being loud and crying in public were valid ways of being a girl. Being a girl didn’t mean being weak or bad. Claiming your sexuality, no matter what that meant to you, was a good thing. And the revolution was open to anyone.”

— Athena Graves, page 19

My Thoughts

Main Characters

Athena Graves (aka, our main main character and a shy feminist)

When I say shy feminist, I mean that she is shy and a feminist, not shy about being a feminist. 

She’s not, with the only exception being around her Catholic teachers (which is understandable).

Athena is such a pure and important character. Throughout the novel, she struggles with feeling like a “real feminist” and, in general, she struggles with speaking her mind. Both of those things are struggles that a lot of people have and I think having that growth shown through Athena was very influential and valid!!!

By the end of the book, Athena is a lot more comfortable with who she is as a person and she is much quicker to speak her thoughts to anyone and everyone and watching that growth progress made my heart very happy!

But I think the main lesson that can be learned from Athena is that even if you don’t go to the rallies or volunteer at an abortion clinic, that doesn’t make you less of a feminist! As long as you support and live by those concepts and thoughts, you’re a feminist. 

Hell yeah, equality. 

Melissa (aka, our feminist extraordinaire)

Truly a legend.

Melissa is like the Kathleen Hanna of this story, almost. She, along with Athena, pioneer the protest on Helen’s behalf. She also has so problem with sharing her opinions and sharing what she does outside of school (like volunteering at abortion clinics and dating as many guys as she wants because it doesn’t matter DON’T SLUTSHAME).

Melissa’s the outspoken feminist who won’t take your shit and the audience has decided to stan.

Helen Graves (aka, the pro-life little sister who may/may not have had an abortion) (you don’t know yet and this is a spoiler free society) (unless I say otherwise)

Listen, I KNOW what you all are thinking and — don’t worry — I will answer your question right now.

I have no idea what Helen’s title has become, but we’re just going to roll with it.

I have conflicted feelings about Helen. I think her character was constructed well and all of that, but her opinions on women just annoyed me and angered me. 

But by the end, after going through the course of the rumor and the protest, she’s a lot more open and I think that’s also important to touch on because that’s just how it works sometimes. Sometimes you won’t change someone’s mind and even if you do, the process of doing that can take an incredibly long time, but it’s still worth it, and it’s still possible

Minor Characters 

Sara — #1 of Helen’s friends; is a pure bean; her speaking her true opinions/changing her opinions at the end made me LOSE IT I was so proud!!!

Jennifer — #2 of Helen’s friends; she’s very loyal and that’s kind of all I know about her

Sean — Eh 🤷🏻‍♀️

Jamie Taylor — an incredible and strong human being whom I would lay my life on the line for

Leah — I wish she would shut up

Leah’s Sidekick — I don’t remember her name off the top of my head and she’s awful so I’m not going to look it up 🤪

Kyle — I’m sorry, who?

Plot

I Wish it Was Just About the Rumor, Bros

Alright, listen. I didn’t really give a shit about the romance. 

I fully believe that the same resolution and the same overall message could’ve been portrayed by Athena simply . . . not dating anyone.
I understand why this portion of the plot was included but I just . . . I don’t think it necessarily gave anything to the story besides Athena’s outlook on dating, which could have been achieved in much simpler ways, ways that would have left more to the rumor and mini revolution . . .

With that Being Said, the Feminist Take? Showstopping

. . . because that was, hands down, my favorite thing about this series!

I’m taking two different gender studies classes this semester and they’re making me really analyze my relationship with feminism and how my identity and expression function while also being a feminist and basically, they’re just feeding my SOUL!

So for me to then read a book that takes all of these things I’m learning about in class and put them in a YA contemporary lens was so . . . amazing and wonderful to experience.  

I really connected with Athena as a character and watching her journey while also being able to spot the similarities with mine was a very validating experience. 

I also think that this novel provides an interesting “instructional manual” on feminism because it does show different identities within feminism and the process of education and people changing their views, or simply being able to give their views a term. 

It was just wholesome and nice, okay??? (Wholesome is an odd term to use right now but that’s fine, I’m too overwhelmed with Uni to think of anything else 🤪🤪)

Stuff I Want to Scream About?/Anything Else?

  • This book has me listening to Riot Grrrl bands again and I am: thriving — why did I ever stop???

Would/Will I Continue the Series?

Rebel Girls is a stand-alone novel and I’m perfectly happy with that! 

Who Should Read This Novel 

Feminists!!! 


Question Corner

What was your high school experience like?

  • I — 
    • It was an experience.
      • (This answer is so vague and I know that but this is fully the only way to describe it without getting too personal, because, you know, the whole fiercely private thing)

Novel Review > ‘Queen of Hearts’ by Colleen Oakes

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oaks


Page Number 

306

Genre

YA > Fantasy; Retellings

Summary

Only Queens with Hearts can Bleed.

This is not the story of the Wonderland we know. Alice has not fallen down a rabbit hole. There is no all-knowing cat with a taunting smile. This is a Wonderland where beneath each smile lies a secret, each tart comes with a demand, and only prisoners tell the truth.

Dinah is the princess who will one day reign over Wonderland. She has not yet seen the dark depths of her kingdom; she longs only for her father’s approval and a future with the boy she loves. But when a betrayal breaks her heart and threatens her throne, she is launched into Wonderland’s dangerous political game. Dinah must stay one step ahead of her cunning enemies or she’ll lose not just the crown but her head.

Evil is brewing in Wonderland and maybe, most frighteningly, in Dinah herself. 

The first novel in Colleen Oakes epic, imaginative series proves heroes can become villains and fairy tales can become nightmares. 

This is not a story of happily ever after. 

This is the story of the Queen of Hearts. 

Any Trigger Warnings?

Mentions of death and descriptions of murder crime scenes. 


Pre-Reading Notes

We got another reread up in here, bois


Thoughts While Reading

“Hello, Mr. Rabbit”
“Sounds fake but okay”
“Oh damn”
“Oh, this is bad”
“. . . Fuck off???”
“I don’t like that much”
“I don’t like him >:(“
“Cute :((((“
“Oh, give me a break
“You idiot
“Oh, worm?”
“She’s her mother . . . right?”
Sure it is”
“Oh boy”
“Oh fuck OFF”


Post-Reading Notes

I mean, alright. 


Favorite Quote(s) from the Novel

How fine you look when dressed with rage.”

— Cheshire, page 306

My Thoughts

Main Characters

Dinah, Princess of Wonderland (aka, when she gets off her high horse, she’s chill and I like her)

My relationship with Dinah as of this moment is complicated. 

Because, you see, I’ve already read the second book and I’m rereading the series in preparation for the third book — because I don’t remember much (surprising, I know. 

But! I remember I really enjoyed the second book, specifically Dinah’s transformation. 

So my stance on Dinah is —    

I don’t like naive Princess of Wonderland Dinah because she’s annoying and entitled, but as we start to see more of her badass side, I begin to stan harder. 

Wardley (aka, only here for the forbidden romance arc)

UGH.

Listen, I don’t know if you could’ve already guessed, but I don’t like this dude. I don’t trust him, and I’m waiting for him to fully transform into a butthead.

Minor Characters

King of Hearts: A certified DOUCHE who I don’t like!!!

Charles: Dinah’s brother whom I would DIE for.

Vittiore: Definitely more to her than meets the eye; I’m curious to see her role in the story as it progresses.

Cheshire: Probably more important than previously alluded to; I enjoy him

Harris: A pure man!

Plot

. . . It’s Alice in Wonderland . . . 

If you’re new here, then you probably don’t know that I love Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with my whole being and I am completely weak against any retelling. I just have to read it. 

This retelling in particular seems like it’s a slow burn transformation, if you will, meaning that it’s only at the end of the first book where we begin to see Dinah transform out of a spoiled princess. 

Those kind of transformations aren’t always my favorite because, the majority of the time, I find myself disliking/getting annoyed with the main character throughout the first portion — 

Sound familiar?

Stuff I Want to Scream About?/Anything Else?

  • I hope we find out why exactly Dinah’s father hates her because if it’s for a dumb reason,,,,,, I’m going to have to sue
    • I’m kidding please no one sue me I am suing NO ONE

Would/Will I Continue the Series?

LOL, yeah. 

Who Should Read This Novel 

People like me, who are defenseless against Alice in Wonderland retellings.


Question Corner

Favorite retelling you’ve read?

  • Probably Hunted by Meagan Spooner. It’s so underrated!!! You guys should check it out 🥺🥺