Novel Review > ‘Midnight at the Blackbird Café’ by Heather Webber

Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber


Page Number 

333

Genre

Adult Fiction > Contemporary; Magical Realism

Summary

Nestled in the mountains of Alabama lies the town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the popular Blackbird Café.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, but a provision in Zee’s will has Anna Kate staying put to run the café through the summer. Despite her best intentions to avoid estranged family or form lies with the quirky locals, Anna Kate finds herself drawn to this small Southern town and the mystery surrounded why her mother ran away so many years ago. 

As the truth of Anna Kate’s heritage slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decided if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly. 

Any Trigger Warnings?

Loss of a loved one and dealing with grief


Pre-Reading Notes

My first physical arc!! Well, one of the first. Technically I got three, but this is the first one I’m reading!

(Primarily because it’s being released soon and ya girl needs to get on it!)

A huge thank you goes out to Brianna from Wunderkind for sending me this book!


Thoughts While Reading

“I’ve never had blackbird pie”
“Oh boy”
“My grandma makes those!”
“Uh oh”
“Oh wow”
“Witches??”
“I’m sorry, what”
“Sure she did”
“Wait what the hell is going on”
“I would already die for her”
“. . . Cute”


Post-Reading Notes

That was just what I needed.


Favorite Quote(s) from the Novel

“That a person you love is never truly gone — they’re always there, whether it’s in a memory . . . or a dream. Or in a heart.”

— Summer Pavegeau, page 291

My Thoughts

Characters

Anna Kate (aka, the girl who is just trying to figure out what she wants and what the hell to put into the blackbird pie)

I really enjoyed Anna Kate’s character. She’s a young woman in her mid-twenties who dropped everything to move into her deceased grandmother’s apartment and run her bakery. But she’s also trying to figure out the truth behind what happened to her father that she never knew and how her mother may or may not play a roll in it, all while avoiding her father’s very prominent family — who didn’t even know she existed. 

I thought Anna Kate was a very endearing person. She was so quick to help the community and keep any promise she made. She’s so pure with a heart of gold. 

Natalie (aka, the girl who is also just trying to figure out her life, raise a kid, and not throw hands at her mom)

Natalie deserves a metal for all the bullshit she’s had to put up with. 

From her mother ignoring her for most of her life, to her husband’s death, and then to her having to deal with the gossip of Wicklow, Natalie has a lot on her plate and that doesn’t even include raising a daughter. 
Natalie is also a very sweet character. She’s learning to be more independent — to stand up for herself — and is trying to be the mother that her daughter, Ollie, deserves. 

As Natalie and Anna Kate’s relationship blossoms, it’s noticeable how different Natalie is from her mother and how imperative it was that Anna Kate and Natalie knew each other. 

Plot

Magical Realism !!!

This is actually my first book that qualifies as magical realism! And I didn’t even realize it until looking at the genres on Goodreads — like I always do because an irrational fear of mine is labelling a book as something that it’s not. I don’t know, guys, I’m weird. This book helped me discover that I really enjoy magical realism!

In this particular story, our magical element lies with blackbirds. Edgy. 
But! In this novel, a certain bloodline descended from the Celtics act as the guardians of the Land of the Dead. In the hours between midnight and one a.m., 24 blackbirds gather on two twin trees and sing their song. When these woman bake a certain pie, those that eat it will dream of messages from their loved ones from beyond the grave, at the same time at which the blackbirds sing.

And, of course, they have to eat a special recipe, with a secret ingredient, of blackbird pie. 

This magical portion of the story took this small town tale and turned it into something bigger and immensely enjoyable. 

It’s Just a Feel Good Story

This book was exactly what I needed. It was heartwarming and had a lot of really good messages.

My only complaint is that you knew what was going to happen before the end came, in regards to a certain situation. But, I do think that was necessary for a lot of character development, so honestly, don’t listen to me.

Stuff I Want to Scream About?

  1. I actually liked these character pretty much the same which is unusual for me. When I’m reading a book with multiple perspectives, I find that there’s usually one or two characters whose chapters I prefer over the others. But with this book, I looked forward to all of their chapters.
  2. The romances took a backset. It was solely about each of the main character’s growths as individuals and I truly appreciated that.
  3. Ollie was fricking adorable. Love that kid. 

Final Thoughts

This book was exactly what I was looking for this summer. Something that would make me think, but was also pretty light. Perfect for summer reading.

Would/Will I Continue the Series?

This is a standalone, and I think I’m good with this story. It would be cool for a book every generation though, but I’m just spitballing.

Who Should Read This Novel 

Those who are grieving. And those who want to see a little more magic in the world. 


Question Corner

What’s your favorite bird?

  • Crows (shocker) and ravens!!!

Novel Review > ‘The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World’ by Amy Reed

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

The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World by Amy Reed


Page Number 

335

Genre

YA > Contemporary

Summary

The Astonishing Color of After meets Eleanor & Park in this breathtaking and beautifully surreal story about a friendship between two teens that just might shake the earth around them or at the very least make them face some painful truths about the nature of what drives us apart . . . and what brings us together. 

Billy Sloat and Lydia Lemon don’t have much in common, unless you count growing up on the same (wrong) side of the tracks, the lack of a mother, and a persistent loneliness that has inspired creative coping mechanisms. 

When the lives of these two loners are thrust together, Lydia’s cynicism is met with Billy’s sincere optimism, and both begin to question their own outlook on life. On top of that, weird happenings including an impossible tornado and an all-consuming fog are cropping around them — maybe even because of them. And as the two grow closer and confront bigger truths about their past, they must also deal with such inconveniences as a narcissistic rock star, a war between unicorns and dragons, and eventually, of course, the apocalypse. 

With a unique mix of raw emotions, humor, and heart, the surreal plot line pulls readers through an epic exploration of how caring for others makes us vulnerable — and how utterly pointless life would be if we didn’t. 

Any Trigger Warnings?

Mentioned child abuse, mentioned drug abuse, bullying, stuff like that


Pre-Reading Notes

Guess who was supposed to read this for the Summerathon? Me.
Guess who bombed the Summerathon? Me. 
But also, GUESS WHAT BOOK JUST CAME OUT??? This one. 

Let’s do this. 


Thoughts While Reading

“What is happening?”
“That’s 15 kinds of messed up”
“I —“
“I would like some explanation”
“Me too and I concur”
“Oh god
“Y E S”
“It does sound vaguely threatening”
“You’re in a cult, call your dad”
“Hell yeah”
“I can’t tell if she’s kidding or not”
“Funnily enough, I do too”
“God I hate this feeling!”
“Me during summer”
“. . . Holy shit”
“Is Lydia . . . me?”
“HUH”
“I mean, I doubt it but I still support you”
“Me @ all of mu friends”
“I’m really like Lydia”
“. . . This game seems fun”
“👀👀👀”
“If cats DID come out of it, would that be so bad?”
“They both have their secrets”
“That’s sad”
“Very true”
“I concur to your ‘What the fuck’
“Hell no I hate spiders”
“. . . Aliens?”
“This is low-key giving me The Devouring Gray vibes”
“I should have guessed this”
“As someone who did ballet and showed horses (sports were you need both of these things), hairnets and bobby pins SUCK”
“Is this . . . the People’s Temple cult??? Where’s Jim Jones???”
“Yeah probably”
“Worked for me”
“That’s fucking beautiful”
“F U C K”
“. . . I don’t know what he did but I don’t think it’s going to end well”
“Fuck OFF, Mary”
“There has never been a truer statement”
“Billy, you fucking idiot”
“That’s just fucked up”
“I thought it was a car accident?”
“Poor baby :((“
“Maybe it is”
“That’s pretty sad, but also kind of funny”
“I’ll get emotional for you, it’s fine”
“That’s exactly it”
“I fucking love Ruth”


Post-Reading Notes

Holy shit.

@ the book and @ HOW MANY FRICKING THOUGHTS I HAD OMG


Favorite Quote(s) from the Novel

“I think that’s part of why she was so depressed and miserable all the time. She ran halfway across the world, but whatever she was running from was still inside her, and she refused to look at it.”

— Lydia Lemon, page 260

My Thoughts

Characters

Lydia Lemon (aka, the edgy™ ballerina who I would die for)

Oh Lydia, my sweet baby angel Lydia. 

Lydia is a high school senior who is half Filipino, half White, with a mother who is dead and a father who is doing his best but Lydia is angsty and doesn’t see it. Before she met Billy, she didn’t have any friends and used her makeshift dance studio in her garage as her escape. But that can only do so much, am I right? 

This girl reminded me of myself so much! I’m not great with new people — primarily because of my anxiety, but maybe not in the way you think. Socially, I’m fine. I can talk to pretty much anyone, I just don’t necessarily care to (giving me the label of shy — make sense?). But making friends and letting people close is were I struggle because my anxiety is rooted in the fear of being hurt (again) — making it pretty hard for me to make new friends and hope they don’t hurt me. 

And that’s what Lydia does. Because of her past, she has trouble opening up to people and she always feels like someone is just trying to take something from her and leave her broken. 

Lydia was hands-down my favorite character in this story and I think for people like her, and like me, this book could be really influential for them. 

(Oh! And she’s queer so that’s always welcomed ;))

Billy Sloat (aka, the boy who is riddled with self doubt and anxiety who makes me sad)

Oh, poor sweet Billy.

Billy is the definition of positivity, even when he has ever right to hate the world. Billy has no parents (his mother died and his father left him, I believe) and he lives with his grandmother, a piece of fricking WORK who I disdain with every fiber of by 5’8” being. He has an uncle who is a famous rockstar doing his eighth (?) stint in rehab. That’s a whole other part of the story though. 

Billy’s personality made me feel a lot of things because I also saw bits of myself in him, as well. Not as much as Lydia, but enough to where reading his parts before the climax of the story made me sad. I saw so much of the person that I used to be. If Lydia represents the exterior, parts of Billy represent my old interior. I was so scared all the time and all I wanted to do was make people happy, no matter what it did to me. I knew that that was harmful but I also knew that I didn’t know what else to do. I was stuck in this never ending loop and reading that happening to another character just made me sad. But Billy grows so much by the end and it’s such a nice change to see. 

Plot

I Honestly Don’t Know

​This book is so weird, but in the best way. These two towns are in this awful dispute because who the hell knows why (kidding you do find out why but it’s dumb lol I don’t get small towns and I’ve LIVED IN THEM MY ENTIRE LIFE) and as the story progresses, weird shit starts going on in Carthage and Rome. Like, buildings “talking” to kids and others seeing the ghosts of who they once were, but with a darker twists. But all of these things have a place. These weird occurrences all have such an important lesson and that is — 

*** SPOILERS BEGIN ***

To get the Hell out of there. A reoccurring thought that is plugged throughout this story is that everyone wants to leave this place, but it feels like no one can. Hell, even the town knows how toxic it is and it’s a TOWN. I.E. DOESN’T HAVE ANY THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS!!! But it still knows that it isn’t the best place to be. 

But by the end, our main characters realize this and after the town wiping itself clean, they get out or finally realize that they have the option to. That this is their live and they have every right to live it.

*** SPOILERS ENDS ***​

It’s So Weird it’s Funny

This book is pretty comical, in a self-deprecating kind of way and it’s kind of my favorite thing. 

That’s it. Send tweet. 

THE MAIN CHARACTERS DON’T END UP TOGETHER BUT INSTEAD LEARN THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP

About time, oh my goodness.

This was probably my favorite thing about this story. The main characters didn’t end up in a relationship together, but instead showed the reader that someone who you aren’t romantically attracted to could still teach you so much about love. It was such a beautiful aspect and I loved it so much. 

Stuff I Want to Scream About?

Have this List, I Guess

Here’s a list of spoilers so maybe don’t read this if you don’t want to be spoiled okay bye— 

  • THE MAIN CHARACTERS DON’T END UP TOGETHER BUT INSTEAD LEARN THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP 
    • Wait that’s really important I should write a paragraph on that. BRB lol
    • Okay I’m back
  • So much character growth that really shows that anyone can change
  • A very soft uncle and nephew relationship that needs a hell of a lot of mending but is also pretty soft
  • A mother and son relationship that is the perfect definition of why forgiveness is important
    • Complete with this quote

“It’s my intention to forgive you. But that doesn’t mean I’m every going to trust you again.” 

— page 308

Final Thoughts

HA You Thought

We’re trying something new, kids. I’m thinking I want to start writing my reviews with no rating. I’ll still give ratings probably on Goodreads and NetGalley. But here, I’m thinking I just want to talk about books. It is a book blog.

So. For a wrap up of this novel. It’s an incredibly interesting tale of two teenagers who are just trying to figure themselves out in a world that is, quite literally, falling apart. Take that however you may. 

Would/Will I Continue the Series?

A short story would be cool, but I’m content. 

Who Should Read This Novel 

​Every teenager who doesn’t know what the HELL THEIR DOING. 

Neither do I 🤪🤪


Question Corner

Do we like this new layout??

  • I think I do! I’ve been wanting to try out no rating reviews for a while and I quite enjoy it!

Novel Review > ‘All the Better Part of Me’ by Molly Ringle

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

All the Better Part of Me by Molly Ringle


Page Number 

288

Genre

Contemporary; LGBTQIA+

Summary

It’s an inconvenient time for Sinter Blackwell to realize he’s bisexual. He’s a 25-year-old American actor working in London, living far away from his disapproving parents in the Pacific Northwest, and enjoying a flirtation with his director Fiona. But he can’t deny that his favorite parts of each day are the messages from his gay best friend Andy in Seattle—whom Sinter once kissed when they were 15. Finally he decides to return to America to visit Andy and discover what’s between them, if anything. He isn’t seeking love, and definitely doesn’t want drama. But both love and drama seem determined to find him. Family complications soon force him into the most consequential decisions of his life, threatening all his most important relationships: with Andy, Fiona, his parents, and everyone else who’s counting on him. Choosing the right role to play has never been harder.

Any Trigger Warnings?

There’s a lot of homophobic behavior and ridicule :/


Pre-Reading Notes

This is my last book for the Reading it Queer Read-A-Thon. 

Let’s do this. 


Thoughts While Reading

“Yes you were omg :(((“
“Very true”
“That’s ughhhh cute!!”
“That’s a good idea”
“Literally /everyone/ knows what that means but whatever”
“I cackled”
“Oh shit”
“I /love/ that oh my god”
“He has a crush on her”
“Very true”
“I just /died/ oh my god”
“Is she going to die”
“Me too”
“So ya’ll WANT me to cry??”
“Oh shit”
“That’s adorable”


Post-Reading Notes

Uhm. Okay.


Favorite Quote(s) from the Novel

“Coming-outs could be achieved. Asshole family members could be written off. Babies could be taken to Tokyo for extended visits. Sneering naysayers could be ignored. Love could win.”

— Sinter Blackwell, page 223

My Thoughts

Uhm. Nope.

Do you guys ever just read a book and it seems pretty solid once you finish it, but then you start to think about it and you notice all of this problematic shit that happened??? Yeah, that’s how I feel. 

I did not like Andy. He was annoying while I was reading and he got worse when I was done because I realized how problematic he was. There’s this one scene where he is kind of guilt tripping Sinter to come out and I understand part of where Andy was coming from, because he didn’t want to out himself back in the closet, but there’s also the knowledge that everyone is going to come out at their own time and they shouldn’t be forced into it. 

Sinter eventually came out on his own terms, but that scene really cemented my dislike for Andy.

Everything else about the book was pretty average. I thought it was really cool including the single dad aspect to Sinter. 

But all in all, I didn’t really enjoy this book. 

Favorite Character

Verona

I don’t even like kids but this child was fricking adorable. 

Final Review and Rating

2/5

It just wasn’t for me. 

Would/Will I Continue the Series?

We got another stand-alone but if it was a series, no, I wouldn’t.

Who Should Read This Novel 

Uhm. Honestly, I think there are better books with better bisexual rep but if this does sound good to you, definitely give it a shot!


Question Corner

Do you like Shakespeare?

  • Nope. Nope. NOPE.

Graphic Novel Review > ‘Teen Titans: Raven’ by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo

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

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo


Page Number 

185

Genre

YA > Fantasy; Comics > Superheroes > DC Comics

Summary

When a tragic accident takes the life of seventeen-year-old Raven Roth’s foster mom — and Raven’s memory — she moves to New Orleans to live with her foster mother’s family and finish her senior year of high school.

Starting over isn’t easy. Raven remembers how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. When strange things start happening — impossible things — Raven starts to think it might be better not to know who she was in her previous life.

But as she grows closer to her foster sister, Max, her new friends, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she’s ready to face what’s buried in the past . . . and the darkness building inside her.


Pre-Reading Notes

Okay — story time.

I’ve been wanting to read this graphic novel since before it was released on NetGalley. So when I saw it on there, I had to take a good 5 minutes to scream — and then I requested it.

And I got it??? Which I was honestly kind of surprised about but I DID AND I’M SO EXCITED.


Post-Reading Notes

I’m doing a lot of screaming in this moment — and here’s why!

  • This graphic novel made my heart so happy (but we’ll get more into that below)
  • I was sent artwork from the novel to include in this review!!!! So that will be scattered around
  • And (most importantly) this graphic novel is being released today!!! 

My Thoughts

My Childhood Heart is THRIVING

Teen Titans was one of my FAVORITE shows when I was younger — and Raven was always my favorite character. Then, and even now, she reminds me so much of myself and it’s made me have this connection with her over the years. 

And when I saw that this book was going to be a thing, I fully lost it. 

And it was so much more than I ever could have imagine. 

I’m Just Going to Take a Moment to Talk About the Things that Made My Mouth Literally Hurt from Smiling So Much

OKAY SO! My main concern going into this was there wouldn’t be any of the Raven that I knew from Teen Titans. But after reading the author’s note on literally the first page, I knew that that wasn’t going to be the case. 

This story offers another take on Raven. If she hadn’t been raised to control her emotions and raised by Azar, but instead as a normal teenager, thinking that her mother had just given her up. But even with this huge difference, the character in this book is still Raven, but the Raven we don’t see that much of. The emotional Raven. The Raven who just wants to live. And that was something that was really nice to see.

Now, I just need to talk about Raven’s new foster family — 

*** SPOILERS BEGIN ***

HER AUNT IS THE FREAKING VOODOO PRIESTESS OF NEW ORLEANS!!!! WHAT A FRICKING LEGEND!!! And her cousin also has the ability to call on the spirits and just WOW OKAY. The inclusion of voodoo was just so wonderful and beautiful and it offered a way for Raven to get closure with her mother and I —

It was a very emotional time for me, okay?

*** SPOILERS END ***

I WANT MORE​

I honestly wish this graphic novel was 100 pages longer! I just want so much more from Raven and I wish there was more. BUT!! The next book is focused on Beast Boy and I’m almost positive that I know who Beast Boy is in this series and if so!!! Then hopefully his book will also feature more of Raven. 

Favorite Character

Raven

​Duh.

Final Review and Rating

4.5/5

This made my heart so happy and I hope it does the same for all of you. 

Would/Will I Continue the Series?

YES OH MY GOD.

Who Should Read This Graphic Novel? 

​Fans of Teen Titans/Raven, young and old. 

Novel Review > ‘Chasing Graves’ by Ben Galley

Chasing Graves by Ben Galley


Page Number 

391

Genre

Fantasy > Dark Fantasy

Summary

Welcome to Araxes, where getting murdered is just the start of your problems.

Meet Caltro Basalt. He’s a master locksmith, a selfish bastard, and as of his first night in Araxes, stone cold dead.

They call it the City of Countless Souls, the colossal jewel of the Arctian Empire, and all it takes to be its ruler is to own more ghosts than any other. For in Araxes, the dead do not rest in peace in the afterlife, but live on as slaves for the rich.

While Caltro struggles to survive, those around him strive for the emperor’s throne in Araxes’ cutthroat game of power. The dead gods whisper from corpses, a soulstealer seeks to make a name for himself with the help of an ancient cult, a princess plots to purge the emperor from his armoured Sanctuary, and a murderer drags a body across the desert, intent on reaching Araxes no matter the cost.

Only one thing is certain in Araxes: death is just the beginning.

From award-winning author Ben Galley comes a new dark fantasy trilogy. Inspired by Egyptian mythology and packed with dark humour, action, and intrigue, the Chasing Graves Trilogy is perfect for fans of Michael Moorcock, Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie.

Any Trigger Warnings?

​There is a scene where a woman almost gets raped but then she kicks the dude’ ass. Other than that, you guys should be good.

Besides the shit ton of death. 


Pre-Reading Notes

This novel is my post for the second TheWriteReads Blog Tour!!! 


Thoughts While Reading

“I’ve met a few people like that”
“Oh, that’s fun”
“Poor horse :(“
“Page two and we already got some ghosts”
“HERE WE GO, BOIS”
“1) damn I felt that”
“2) what the hell goes on”
“. . . what”
“I’m gonna need a bit more explanation”
“G o o d”
“Nice one”
“They BETTER”
“They were married??? But she killed him”
“Shit it’s someone else?? Maybe??”
“Me about most of my problems”
“I love that”
“What :(((“
“Sounds like a cult to me!!”
“What the hell is happening”
“I hate this so much”
“Sexyyy”
“Oh shit”
“What”
“What is happening”


Post-Reading Notes

Okay, that was cool. 


Favorite Quote(s) from the Novel

“You have forgotten who I am, and in doing so, you have underestimated me, and that was a dire mistake. You wanted a lesson, husband, and there it is. So please, threaten me some more. We’ll see how little of you makes it to the city.”

— Nilith, page 796

“This room might be for games, Serek, but this house — my house — is one of daggers.”

— Empress-In-Waiting Sisine, Loc. 2518

My Thoughts

Here’s Some Stuff I REALLY Enjoyed

First up, let’s talk about the multiple POVs. 

I’ve always really enjoyed multiple perspectives when reading because I feel like it helps me get more involved and into the story. Nilith probably had my favorite perspective out of all of them though because she was just such a badass woman and the plot reveal near the end??? I lost it. Speaking of multiple POVs — let’s talk about the characters. Hands down, my favorite thing about them was that some of them were unlikely “heroes,” if you will. I haven’t read a book with a main character who was an older, but still badass, woman or one with a male main protagonist who wasn’t described as handsome once every chapter in a while and that was something I really liked. It was a physical representation of the underdogs coming to kick some ass.

Literally. 

Okay, can we talk about this world building???? Like damn okay I see you, Galley. Becoming immersed in a world like Araxes was so easy because of Ben Galley’s ability to completely transform wherever you’re reading to a roof in Araxes — a place where it’s so easy to see what’s happening in this city of literal murder and danger. It felt like I was there. 

My ONE Complaint

Pretty much the first 85% of this book felt so slow to me. It felt like it just droned on and on about things that weren’t really that important, threw in something important, and the cycle continued. But near the end, it felt like it was beginning to pick up. 

The pacing was just not my thing and it sometimes made the rest of the story hard to get through. 

Favorite Character

Nilith

You could probably already guess that, honestly. 

Final Review and Rating

3.5/5

Definitely a solid read and definitely a series that I plan on continuing.

Would/Will I Continue the Series?

I need to stop revealing this beforehand — but yes!

Who Should Read This Novel

Those who love some killer world building and those who prefer some unlikely heroes. 


Question Corner

If you could have one animal familiar, what animal would it be?

  • Probably a wolf. Fierce and edgy, like me. 

Novel Review > ‘Orpheus Girl’ by Brynne Rebele-Henry

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

Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry


Page Number 

176

Genre

YA > Contemporary; LGBTQIA+

Summary

In her debut novel, award–winning poet Brynne Rebele-Henry re-imagines the epic of Orpheus as a love story between two teen girls in rural Texas. 

Abandoned by a single mother she never knew, 16-year-old Raya—obsessed with ancient myths—lives with her grandmother in a small conservative Texas town. For years Raya has hidden her feelings for her best friend and true love, Sarah. When the two are caught in an intimate moment, they are sent to Friendly Saviors: a re-education camp meant to “fix” them and make them heterosexual. Upon arrival Raya vows to assume the mythic role of Orpheus to save them both and to return them to the world of the living, at any cost. 

In a haunting voice reminiscent of Sylvia Plath, with the contemporary lyricism of David Levithan, Orpheus Girl is a mythic story of dysfunctional families, first love, heartbreak—and the fierce adolescent resilience that has the power to triumph over darkness and ignorance.

Any Trigger Warnings?

Yes! Trigger warnings for homophobia, transphobia, dead naming, misogynistic dicks, conversion therapy, electro shock therapy, and forceable outing. 


Pre-Reading Notes

I honestly didn’t know if I would get this ARC and when I did — let me tell you — I fully screamed. 

I was in class. 


Thoughts While Reading

“That’s just messed up, grandma”
“Oh shut up”
“I’m already sad”
“Uhm . . . ew”
“Wow, they’re that school, huh”
“:((((“
“Oh no”
“I don’t trust this at all PLEASE DON’T GO”
“No oh my god please don’t”
“That’s so fucked up oh my god I want to cry”
“. . . what the hell”
“Hell yeah she is but I also want to cry oh my god”
“HELL YEAH YOU ARE”
“Holy shit”
“HELL YEAH YOU ARE, ANGEL”
“Oh no
“No oh my god I want to CRY”
“You’re right, sugar”
“. . . That’s weird as hell”
“HE’S A DUDE OH MY GOD”
“WHAT A LEGEND but also this isn’t going to end well”
“Oh my god, yes”
“:((((“
“Holy shit”


Post-Reading Notes

I have: goosebumps. 


Favorite Quote(s) from the Novel

“And that night, I realized it didn’t have to be holy for something to be beautiful, and that’s how I knew I could love you.”

— Sarah, page 123

“You know, the thing about family is that you can choose it. And I choose you.”

— Leon, page 159

My Thoughts

This Isn’t Meant to be Sweet

When I was trying to figure out my rating for this novel, I went over to this book’s page on Goodreads and read through some reviews — and there was a part of Malanie’s that I really agreed with. So, here’s a screenshot — 

Truly, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Because Malanie is completely right — this isn’t a fluffy and cute story. This is a novel that is meant to tear you apart and leave you like that, to remind you what it feels like to be broken and used, like these characters were. It’s a reminder to take care of each other. That being ourselves is completely valid and beautiful, but not always easy, especially for this community. 

We all have to be there for each other. To protect each other. There isn’t another option for us. 

I Love: Mythology

Something really cool that Rebele-Henry did was she made each character represent a different god or goddess (or just character) from Greek Mythology. This made each character go beyond just a name on a page, but instead gave them an entire new depth that the reader could explore. How they related to their Greek counterpart and what that meant to the future of the story an incredibly interesting aspect.

Pacing and Characterization 

This was my only true critique about this story — and sadly, it’s a pretty big one. The pacing of this book was just super off to me. It was only 176 pages, but it seemed like it was too slow in some parts, and way too fast in others. Also, it was really difficult for me to connect with these characters. They felt pretty one-dimensional to me and it was like we were either supposed to sympathize with some characters and dislike the rest when all of the main characters had the potential for so much more depth, it just wasn’t explore — which was pretty disappointing.

Favorite Character

Leon

Even though we really didn’t see that much of Leon, he was the character that was the most memorable to me and was just a pretty cool character. 

Final Review and Rating

3.5/5

All in all, I did enjoy this novel. 

Would/Will I Continue the Series?

This novel is a stand-alone, and I’m completely okay with that!

Who Should Read This Novel 

This one is for those who need a reminder that we’re all human. And we have to protect and be there for each other accordingly. 


Question Corner

What is your favorite Greek legend?

  • Hades and Persephone. The actual legend. 

Novel Review > ‘The Fever King’ by Victoria Lee

The Fever King by Victoria Lee


Page Number 

375

Genre

YA > Fantasy; Science Fiction; LGBTQIA+

Summary

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magic elite of the nation of Carolinia. 

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks — refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make chance, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son — cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful — and the way forward becomes less clear. 

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good. 


Pre-Reading Notes

I honestly don’t know how I’m going to feel about this novel but I’m still never excited to read it!


Thoughts While Reading

“That shit HURT”
“Do they mean /actual/ magic or like,,, airborne illnesses or something”
“I still need to read that”
“What! Is! Happening!”
“I’m so confused what the hell is happening”
“I have a strange feeling that that isn’t going to last”
“👀👀👀”
“Oh boy”
“WHAT HELLO”
“A prequel about these events would be sexy”
“Who’s she”
“. . . the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell . . . “
“Ayeeeee”
“no”
“No”
“NO”
“Holy shit what HAPPENED in that place?”
“HA”
“Damn”
“I’m going to hate this!”
“Okay I can’t decide if I trust this dude or not but either way, this is awful omg”
“No need to wider any longer! I am here to tell you that you are, indeed, being incredibly reckless!”
“HOLY CRAP M E”
“He’s SO going to kick your ass for this, man”
“Good job”
“. . . So had you but go off I guess”
“Honestly, what the hell goes on”
“I think I like this Wolf more than the other Wolf — if not that, then they’re pretty even”
“Same, Wolf”
“. . . Causal”
“. . . She’s gonna die, isn’t she?”
“I KNEW IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN AND I’M STILL /SAD/“
“He sounds like such a badass wow”
“What does it mean lajdfajdf”
“He’s the one who killed him, idiot”
“HUH HELLO”
“Oh HELL NO”
“Holy /fuck/“
“NO WHAT THE HELL I HATE THIS”
“Cute :(“
“HOLY SHIT THANK YOU”


Post-Reading Notes

I —

I’m feeling a lot of things. It’s also midnight I’m going to bed, I’ll articulate this in the morning. 


Favorite Quote from the Novel

”Finally, to those of you who survived, who are still surviving: I am you. I love you. And I see you.”

— Victoria Lee, page 375

My Thoughts

I Didn’t Care for Like — 150 Pages

It’s exactly like this title says — I just didn’t care for a pretty good amount of this novel. It wasn’t that it was slow or anything, I actually enjoyed the pacing pretty well — I just wasn’t that engaged in the story. That probably changed when the conflict (and relationship) between Noam and Dara started getting interesting

I don’t think this was the writing or the plot’s fault, I just think that dystopian-esc novels such as this one aren’t necessarily my cup of tea and it takes me a while to get immersed into this world. 

Noam and Dara

Hands down, their relationship was my favorite thing about this novel. Their relationship is so complicated and complex and it’s only near the ending where all of their differences and conflicts get pushed aside because this one detail is revealed when they are officially each other’s. 

And then that gets ruined. Twice. 

I’m still bitter on that. (Not really, I just need to read the second book because of it. So, good job, I guess).

Trigger Warning — Sexual Assault

Something I really appreciated about this novel is that it brought attention to male sexual assault and males being raped, which is something not many people (especially other men) accept as being “a thing” because you know, toxic masculinity. 

But it is a thing and it’s awful. Sexual assault and rape are two of the worst things that could possible happen to a human being — not just a woman, not just a man, not just a non-binary person — anyone. And the fact that this novel offered representation for it was very powerful. 

Favorite Character

Dara

I would die for him

He’s so incredibly complex! He’s one of those edgy, but sad characters and those are always by favorite to read about. But he’s also a soft boy for Noam and just wants to save the world, okay. He’s doing his best and I love him. 

Final Review and Rating

3.5/5

Definitely a good read, but I’m not that invested

Would/Will I Continue the Series?

. . . Yeah, I kind of need to because of Dara and Noam. 

Who Should Read This Novel 

​The dystopian lovers. And those who need the representation I talked about above — remember that you aren’t your trauma. And that none of it was your fault. 


Question Corner

If you could control anything, what would it be?

  • The elements! Or the dead — pull some The Bone Witch type stuff. 

Novel Review > ‘Something Like Gravity’ by Amber Smith

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

Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith


Page Number 

402

Genre

YA > Contemporary; LGBTQA+; Romance

Summary

For fans of Love, Simon and Eleanor and Park, a romantic and sweet novel about a transgender boy who falls in love for the first time—and how first love changes us all—from New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith.

Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.

A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her.

But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.

The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.

But would it be so bad if it happened anyway?


Pre-Reading Notes

I literally screamed on my twitter when I was approved for this ARC and I can’t think of a better novel to start the Reading it Queer read-a-thon with!


Thoughts While Reading

“Go dad”
“Maybe?”
“We like Aunt Isobel”
“I’m going to break whoever hurt him”
“Shut up oh my god”
“That’s funny as hell”
“Shut up Karen” (That’s not her name but you all know what I mean)
“OMG a novel taking place where I live??? Hello???”
“That’s tragic”
“I feel that so much”
“I hate this woman”
“That’s so sad okay cool thanks”
“OOF I’ve had that talk before”
“Good choice”
“I’m sorry, what”
“Oh no”
“I’m going
“Damn I FELT that”
“Oh shit
“Why is this creepily close to what and where my town is?”
“Is this how people in New York feel?”
“CUTE”
“OMG”
“CUTE”
“I hate him”
“I love that”
“Sold effort”
“I’m too stressed for this shit”
“SAY IT COWARD”
“GOOD”
“I am: stressed”
“Oh my god”


Post-Reading Notes

Mayhaps I teared up. 


Favorite Quote from the Novel

Well, everything is perfect. It’s all orchestrated in this total balance of creation and destruction. I mean, the scale of the cosmos is so vast that we’re not even evolved enough to comprehend it. But when you think about the beginning, and how much has had to happen for us to be here — how the universe had to evolve, and how our galaxy is just one tiny part, and our solar system is an even smaller part, and Earth is minuscule in comparison — it’s incredible that somehow life evolved on this planet. All the comets and asteroids that had to collide with Earth to give us the oceans and gases and metals and everything we would need. It seems like chaos but it’s not at all. Us sitting here in this car having this conversation has been like thirteen billion years in the making. And when things are working like that, then it makes me feel like everything else in my life is going to work out too.”

— Chris, page 157-158

My Thoughts

Just a Note Before You Continue

I’m reviewing this book on how I felt while reading this novel (as usual) but that is especially important with this novel because I am a cis female. I don’t know what it’s like being trans and so I miss a part of this story. If you’re trans, you may see this novel differently from what I did and that’s completely fine. I would definitely like to hear your thoughts so I can review mine accordingly. 

Basically what I’m trying to say is that because I’m cis, this novel truly isn’t meant for me. I don’t have the right to say if the representation is accurate or not because I wouldn’t know. I would like to hear the opinions of this novel from someone who is transgender and see how it does in their eyes. If this novel does something wrong or comes up short, I want to know about it. I don’t want to harm any of you guys. I hope this little note makes sense. Love you, angels ❤

You Can Connect to Something

Something I noticed immediately while reading was that I understood parts of what each character was going through. Not all of it, obviously, but there were still significant parts from both Chris and Maia that I related to and could understand. That being said, there’s also a lot that is touched on in this novel — from the obvious LGBTQA+ themes to the death of someone close to you to divorce in a household. There’s something for everyone to relate to in this book and I definitely enjoyed that.

Chris (and his relationship with Maia)

So, if you didn’t know, Chris is a trans male. Dope, cool. But Maia doesn’t know that, until she snoops and finds out (which is something in and of itself but don’t even get me started). That’s not really a spoiler, I promise. But I liked how Maia reacted to finding out unexpectedly — she didn’t treat Chris any differently nor did she tell him that she knew. She let him tell her at his own pace because she knew that was better than the alternative. 

I digress. But something I enjoyed immensely in this novel is that the entire plot and conflict wasn’t about Chris being trans. Yes, of course there was internal struggle and talk about it because it does play a huge part in how Chris has come to North Carolina and why he is the way he is, but there was also a lot more to the story. I think it was the author’s way of saying that, “yes, this is a part of you, but it is not the defining part, unless you want it to be. You can be whoever you want and define as who or whatever you want. There is more to your story and who you are than being trans” and I really liked that. 

Now, Let’s Talk about Maia

I said above that Maia found out about Chris before he told her. That shouldn’t have happened. Maia is a pathological liar and needs to figure her own stuff out before anything else. I didn’t really feel for her character and didn’t really care about her chapters that much.

Now That We Say Goodbye

I’m really struggling to think of new titles for times when I talk about endings. But I tried, so it’s fine.

Now, about this ending. 

Wait, let me spoiler warning this real fast.

*** SPOILERS BEGIN ***

Ah, better. So! At the end of this book, there is a pretty big falling out between Chris and Maia. This causes Chris to go back to his home and eventually make up (kind of ) with his mother, who has basically been his personal antagonist throughout the entire story. But Chris and Maia do see each other one last time when Maia drives up to New York to see him, but they don’t get back together. 

And I liked that. It reminds the reader that there are going to be incredibly important people in your life, but just because they’re important, doesn’t mean they’re meant to stick around. Chris taught Maia a lot, and vice versa, and the author left it at that, as people should as well. 

*** SPOILERS END ***

Favorite Character

Chris!!!

I loved him so much. From his fascination with space to him blushing when he thought about holding Maia’s hand to how strong his was/is to face what happened to him in those woods — ugh, I just love him. 

Final Review and Rating

4/5

I really enjoyed this story.

Would/Will I Continue the Series?

This is a stand alone novel, and I’m definitely good with that. The true ending was solid, but the “after ending” is left a mystery, and it works great with this story.  

Who Should Read This Novel 

I don’t do this often, but I think this is a novel that everyone should read, because like I said above, it touches on a bit of everything. But I definitely recommend it to those who are in similar situations or feel similar to our main characters. 


Question Corner

What’s your favorite planet?

  • My cousin helped me with this question (Hi, E!), so I thought he should answer this question as well. He said Jupiter because he liked the storms on it. Valid point, E.
  • Mine is Pluto. And yes, I know Pluto isn’t technically a planet anymore but I don’t care. No part of me cares. So ha. 

Novel Review > ‘Queen of the Warrior Bees’ by Jean Gill

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

Queen of the Warrior Bees by Jean Gill


Page Number 

4164 Kindle Pages 

Genre

YA > Fantasy

Summary

One misfit girl and 50,000 bees. Together they must change the world. As the Mages of the Citadel fight amongst themselves and prepare for war against the Forest, Mielitta, a despised servant, has her own battle to face. Bastien and Jannlou, the boys who terrorized her as a child, have grown into their status as Mages and she cannot escape them forever. 

In desperation, she flees to the forbidden Forest and its dangerous attractions. Her scent angers thousands of bees and, although she survives their attack, she has changed. A strange bee symbol glows on her thigh and her senses are altered. She learns that her connection with bees enables her to summon their aid and gives her the power to shift shape.

This new-found bond works both ways and the bees need Mielitta’s help as the rift widens between Forest and Citadel. Can one girl and a colony of bees reunite Man and Nature, or is the split irreversible?
Block Nature out and she’ll force a way in. 


Pre-Reading Notes

Honestly, the bio had me at bees. 


Thoughts While Reading

“That’s ominous”
“I love that”
“THAT’S SO COOL”
“HUH”
“Your life?”
“Don’t eat the leaves”
“Well that’s not great, huh”
“Is she resurrecting bees?”
“SAVE THE BEES”
“. . . wait a minute”
“This is so badass”
“Oh my god I hate men so much”
“NO OMG ARE YOU DUMB”
“That seems interesting”
“Don’t male bees die after mating or am I pulling that our of my ass”
“Future ash — Look that up so I don’t sound dumb” (I’m right 🤪)
“I never thought I’d read that sentence”
“Alexa — play careless whisper”
“WHAT THE HELL MAN”
“Oh shit not him”
“I feel like that’s a mistake but okay go off I guess”
“Of course it’s just women’s mental health problems”
“You know what? Nope”
“I love her”
“You’re doing amazing sweetie”
“That seems like it’ll be important later”
“Called it”
“That’s adorable”
“Shut the hell up oh my god”
“What the hell is going to go down”
“Oh my goodness I hate this man”
“SHUT UP OH MY GOD”
“You barely knew him but go off I guess”
“I’m sorry what”
“Holy mother”
“I’m going to end you slowly”
“That’s creepy”
“I DON’T KNOW HOW THIS IS HAPPENING BUT HELL YEAH”
“. . . or was it Declan?”
“I’m going to throw up”
“You’d think they’d have changed the password by now”
“HUH”
“What the hell goes on”
“If one more man says ‘like a woman,’ I’m going to lose it”
“When the hell did this turn into a love triangle”


Post-Reading Notes

I have never read anything like this and I — I don’t have words. 


Favorite Quote from the Novel

“You can’t choose only what is gentle. You let all the wilderness in or you keep it all out.”

— Jean Gill, Loc. 2236

My Thoughts

Save the Bees!!!

Hands down, my favorite thing about this book was the “hell yeah nature!” aspect of it. This novel is incredibly environmental friendly and definitely highlights why we need to focus on the planet and take steps to start backtracking our damage before it’s too late.

The novel gives the reader an inside look into what a world without nature would be like — everything would be manmade and when that happens, it takes away an aspect of imagination because then, you stop wondering how these wondrous things were created. And that is detrimental to the imagination. 

I Really Don’t Know What’s Happening

​Now, about basically everything else. 

What?

I was extremely puzzled most of the time. I wasn’t really invested in any other characters and their “development” was really lackluster and also confusing to me. I didn’t understand virtually anything about what was happening or how we ended up in a certain situation, and the motivations behind some of the characters was just completely lost on me. 

A love triangle also pops up out of no where and I just — 

I don’t understand what’s going on.

Favorite Character

You See . . . 

​I’m going to be real with you guys — none of the characters really resonated with me, or were characters whose futures I was invested in. 

So, as for favorite character, I don’t have one. 

Final Review and Rating

2/5

The bees really carried this book.

Would/Will I Continue the Series?

Truly, I don’t know. Much like how I felt about reading this book in general — I don’t know. 

Who Should Read This Novel 

​People who love the environment and a dystopian world. 


Question Corner

Favorite animal?

  • Land animal is a wolf and water animal is a dolphin!

Novel Review > ‘Warrior of the Wild’ by Tricia Levenseller

Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller


Page Number 

330

Genre

YA > Fantasy; Romance

Summary

How Do You 
Kill A God?

As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: To win back her honor, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year — or die trying.


Pre-Reading Notes

I received this book in my last Unplugged Book Box and I’m super excited to finally give it a read! I’d been hearing amazing things about it after it’s release, so let’s get into it!


Thoughts While Reading

“I love that”
“It’s official — I don’t trust him”
“I’m sorry what”
“Oh no”
“Ha, you’re screwed”
“I freaking knew it”
“Sure, sweetie”
“Oof, too soon”
“Cute omg”
“I’ll cry, it’s fine”
“Hell yeah”
“They’re so cute”
“I feel that”
“They’re so cute I’m angry”


Post-Reading Notes

Well that was fun.


Favorite Quote from the Novel

“You may have helped shape me, but I made myself. I’ve become what I wanted.”

— Rasmira Bendrauggo, page 324

My Thoughts

This Was Fun

That’s basically how I feel about this book.

This novel was a pretty quick read for me. It kept me engaged the entire time, though I was pretty sure I knew what was going to happen most of the time (but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing). The elements of equality between genders really appealed to me, that probably being my favorite part about this novel.

I just really enjoyed it as a whole, though it didn’t really hit me, you know? 

Favorite Character

Soren

He’s just a good, sweet boy and he makes me smile. 

Final Review and Rating

3/5

Okay, this may seem like a low rating but 3/5 is an average rating and for me, this was an average book. It was good and I enjoyed it, but it does’t really have “favorite potential”, you know?
Please don’t bully me. 

Would/Will I Continue the Series?

This is a stand-alone novel and I’m pretty chill with that. I liked how this ended and I’m happy with the story. 

Who Should Read This Novel 

Those who are in a reading slump! And those who feel like they can’t do something because of something about them. 


Question Corner

Who’s your favorite female warrior ever?

  • This is a hard one for me. So hard that I actually don’t have an answer. Oh, boy.