Blog Tour + Review: Lot by Bryan Washington

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Goodreads | Waterstones

In the city of Houston – a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America – the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He’s working at his family’s restaurant, weathering his brother’s blows, resenting his older sister’s absence. And discovering he likes boys.
This boy and his family experience the tumult of living in the margins, the heartbreak of ghosts, and the braveries of the human heart. The stories of others living and thriving and dying across Houston’s myriad neighborhoods are woven throughout to reveal a young woman’s affair detonating across an apartment complex, a rag-tag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, and a reluctant chupacabra.

Thank you to Darkroom Tours and the publisher, Atlantic Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

What a poignant and raw, emotional collection of voices. Lot is a short story assembly championing Black and Latinx working class voices, discussing racism, poverty, family, friendship and relationships. The stories felt strong, powerful and honest, really packing a punch.

All of the narrators were men, which I found really interesting but I actually really enjoyed. I thought this was a great way to highlight toxic masculinity and the spotlight men can be put under in certain situations, and how harmful this can be. I felt really grateful for how this was portrayed in the narration.

Your eyes will show you what they want to

This book felt alive, the narrators were brutal and had me gasping at times, and I felt like I was breathing alongside the men I was reading about, living their stories alongside them. It really captured me. I liked the short story aspect, and the narrators changing occasionally kept me on my toes, however I did enjoy coming back to the same narrator. I thought it was really inventive to read about the same stories of people in the same neighbourhood.

My biggest problem with this book was the lack of connection to the narrators. I’m unsure whether this was due to the short stories meaning we spent a fairly short amount of time with them, or something to do with not knowing their names or a lot about their lives, only seeing rough snippets and not much more. But the lack of connection ended up meaning a lot to me and changed my viewpoint of the book a lot.

or whatever they think you should see.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this book despite feeling distant from the characters themselves. It felt hard hitting and important, and it was unfortunate I felt like I was almost listening to these stories underwater – I just wish I could have felt more connected to them.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Kingdom of Ash (#7) by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to assassin to queen reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world…
She has risked everything to save her people – but at a tremendous cost. Locked in an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will to endure the months of torture inflicted upon her. The knowledge that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, but her resolve is unravelling with each passing day…
With Aelin imprisoned, Aedion and Lysandra are the last line of defence keeping Terrasen from utter destruction. But even the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save the kingdom.
Scattered throughout the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian must forge their own paths to meet their destinies. And across the sea Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen – before she is lost to him. Some bonds will deepen and others be severed forever, but as the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight if they are to find salvation – and a better world.

Wow. Leaving this series behind after 8 books following this glorious cast of characters is going to be hard and leave a hole in my heart for a while. I can’t imagine not reading about them anymore!

This book has daunted me since it came out. In fact, I think it trumps Queen of Air and Darkness in being the longest book I’ve ever read. But it’s saying something that I really didn’t feel the length of this book at all, I never got bored and I left the book feeling like everything I needed answering had been answered. The pacing was just perfect for me. Reading this series with Alex has really helped me keep on top of reading them, but even when I fell behind in our schedule towards the end after a busy few days, I had no problem reading around 200 pages in a day to catch up with the schedule!

‘There are no gods left to watch, I’m afraid. And there are no gods left to help you now, Aelin Galathynius.’

I love the cast of characters we have followed over this series, and it was so satisfying to see them all reach different ends to their stories. Even though in some of the books I was more fixated on some characters than others, by the time we got to Kingdom of Ash, I just wanted to know about all of them. I never got bored or wanted to skip certain characters chapters, I wanted to know it all. I fell in love with all of them for their own reasons, and I truly felt like I was part of Aelin’s court myself and I never wanted to leave.

Despite this book being so long, I could definitely read more about these lovely characters if it was available to me, and I would totally lap up a novella like A Court of Frost and Starlight but for these characters. The only slight complaint I have that tainted the story for me was that everything felt a little too perfect. I just wish one or more of the characters could have been happy and badass on their own, and didn’t need to get married or have children in their future to be happy. Not that I didn’t ship everyone of course, it just made me almost roll my eyes sometimes!

Aelin smiled, and Goldryn burned brighter. ‘I am a god.’

I always said A Court of Thorns and Roses was my Sarah J Maas series, but you know, this one is up there. I can’t believe how much I adored this series and these characters and this world, and the battle scenes were immense. Thank you for another wonderful fantasy series, Sarah J Maas. Now I can’t wait for the next one!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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July Wrap Up + August TBR

Hi everyone! I’m here today with my July wrap up and August TBR. I read 5 books in July, which isn’t my best amount I’ve read in a month, but does include some super long one’s like Kingdom of Ash so I’m trying not to be too disappointed!

Books I Read in July

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Goodreads | Waterstones

They never should have met…The comet’s arrival is imminent, and Taki puts his plan into action to save Mitsuha and the people he has come to care for during his time in her body. Convincing a whole town of skeptics that the sky is falling will take some doing – and a little delinquency – but if Taki wants any hope of a future with Mitsuha, they will have to save the town in the here and now…!

I finally decided to pick up the third manga in this series, and I loved it of course. It was so lovely and felt like a re-read as I have read the light novel and seen the movie a number of times!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Twenty-nine year old Roberta has spent her whole life hungry – until the day she invents Supper Club.
Supper Club is a secret society for hungry women. Women who are sick of bad men and bad sex, of hinted expectations to talk less, take less, be less. So they gather after dark and feast until they are sick. They drink and dance and roar. And, month by month, their bodies expand.
At the centre of the Supper Club stands Roberta – cynical yet anxious, precocious and lost. She is seeking the answer to a simple question: if you feed a starving woman, what will she grow into?

I was on the blog tour for this book and it turned out to be super interesting!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Chaol Westfall and Nesryn Faliq have arrived in the shining city of Antica to forge an alliance with the Khagan of the Southern Continent, whose vast armies are Erilea’s last hope. But they have also come to Antica for another purpose: to seek healing at the famed Torre Cesme for the wounds Chaol received in Rifthold.
After enduring unspeakable horrors as a child, Yrene Towers has no desire to help the young lord from Adarlan, let alone heal him. Yet she has sworn an oath to assist those in need—and will honor it. But Lord Westfall carries shadows from his own past, and Yrene soon comes to realize they could engulf them both.

Tower of Dawn ended up being my favourite book in the Throne of Glass series, I adored it.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy–he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?
Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.

This book was definitely my most disappointing of the month, and I didn’t enjoy it much unfortunately!

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…
With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.
And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

I just finished Kingdom of Ash, but as I read it mostly in July I’m counting it in my July wrap up! It’s also the longest book I’ve ever read, clocking in at 980 pages.

My favourite book of the month was Tower of Dawn, and my least favourite was unsurprisingly How It All Blew Up.

Books I Want to Read in August

Lot – Bryan Washington
Far From Perfect – Holly Smale
The Black Kids – Christina Hammonds Reed
Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo
Siege and Storm – Leigh Bardugo
Ruin and Rising – Leigh Bardugo

I have a few ARC books I need to read this month and I definitely want to finally read the Grisha trilogy which I’ve promised to read now I’m done with Throne of Glass!

What did you read in July and what do you want to read in August?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #22

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought or received this week. Find out more and join in here!

Hi all! This week I received a few books for bookstagram tours I am taking part in with Kaleidoscopic Bookstagram Tours, and I thought I’d share them with you.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

In the city of Houston – a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America – the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He’s working at his family’s restaurant, weathering his brother’s blows, resenting his older sister’s absence. And discovering he likes boys.
This boy and his family experience the tumult of living in the margins, the heartbreak of ghosts, and the braveries of the human heart. The stories of others living and thriving and dying across Houston’s myriad neighborhoods are woven throughout to reveal a young woman’s affair detonating across an apartment complex, a rag-tag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, and a reluctant chupacabra.

The first book is Lot by Bryan Washington! This sounds really interesting and hard hitting and I can’t wait to read it.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Faith Valentine has it all – fame, money and extraordinary beauty. But what she wants more than anything is a quiet life away from the cameras. Except nobody ever asks Faith what she wants, and her family’s expectations are crushing her.
The world thinks she’s perfect, but is there is more to perfection than meets the eye?

I’ve never read any Holly Smale books, but this one sounds like it will be hard to put down.

What did you buy this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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The Animal Crossing Book Tag

I’ve recently been tagged by Alex to do the Animal Crossing book tag! I’ve been playing Animal Crossing since 2005/2006 (I was 6 years old) so of course I’ve been loving New Horizons and I’ve wanted to do this tag for a while. I’ll also be doing a video version of it on Wednesday for you to look out for!

Past Villager – Who is a character you found when you were younger that still has a place in your heart?

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Growing up, I adored Cathy Cassidy books. I think the one I loved just a little more than the others was Angel Cake, I read it so many times and the main character still has a place in my heart!

Blather’s Blatherings – Recommend a historical fiction book that you think everybody should read

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I really don’t usually enjoy historical fiction, so reading this was a shock. But it is also fantasy, which is maybe why I enjoyed it!

Celeste’s Wish – What is a future book release you wish you could read now?

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I’m so, so excited for this book! I adored The Language of Thorns and this sounds similar.

Timmy & Tommy – What is your favourite sibling relationship in a book?

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I adore the Song-Covey sisters! They have such a cute relationship and I love them all for different reasons and their different personalities.

The Easter Bunny – A popular book character that you’re not a big fan of

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Goodreads | Waterstones

It took me a while to decide this, but I’m going to have to say Peeta! I just didn’t click with him like everybody else seemed to.

Nook’s Loans – An author you’d give all your money to

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I love Nina LaCour’s work and I would give all my money to her for new work!

The Sisters Able – What is your favourite fictional family (found or otherwise)?

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I feel strange including this one as I haven’t read the book, but I saw the movie four times in cinema and I adore the relationship in this family!

It’s a C+  – What is a book trope you don’t like that keeps popping up?

Love triangles. Aside from a few rare circumstances, I really don’t like love triangles. I just find them frustrating and annoying!

The Wandering Camel – What is your favourite book set in a land far away from yours?

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The first world that came to mind was definitely Caraval! The world in this series is just enchanting.

What Would Dodos Do?  – A fictional land you wish you could fly away to at any moment?

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I adored this novella for the beautiful world and city that was finally at peace. I wish I could wander it’s streets!

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #21

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought or received this week. Find out more and join in here!

Hi everyone! Today’s stacking the shelves post comes with me realising I haven’t posted about this book yet and it’s been a while since I received it. I came home to a parcel and a gift a while ago and found this inside! I’ve been wanting to read it for a long time now, and found out Faye had gifted it to me! Thank you so much Faye!

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I’ve been looking for this for a while and I’m so excited to read it. Thank you again Faye!

What did you buy this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Tower of Dawn (#6) by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Chaol Westfall and Nesryn Faliq have arrived in the shining city of Antica to forge an alliance with the Khagan of the Southern Continent, whose vast armies are Erilea’s last hope. But they have also come to Antica for another purpose: to seek healing at the famed Torre Cesme for the wounds Chaol received in Rifthold.
After enduring unspeakable horrors as a child, Yrene Towers has no desire to help the young lord from Adarlan, let alone heal him. Yet she has sworn an oath to assist those in need—and will honor it. But Lord Westfall carries shadows from his own past, and Yrene soon comes to realize they could engulf them both.

This book was exactly what I’ve been waiting for throughout this entire series. It was everything I wanted and more. Ever since Crown of Midnight, I’d felt disappointed that every single Throne of Glass book since just didn’t capture my love for the world and characters like that one did. I didn’t expect Tower of Dawn to be that book, but I’m ever so glad it was.

Ever since knowing Tower of Dawn was set on a different continent in a parallel timeline to Empire of Storms, I was unsure what to think. But while reading the fifth book and beginning to guess who it would be following, I knew I was going to like it, I just never guessed how much.

I will cherish it always.
No matter what may befall the world.

Tower of Dawn feels like the calm before the storm. It was much calmer and slower than the previous books, instead becoming much more character based, which I adored. It felt like such a breath of fresh air, a new look at the world with different eyes. Following Chaol, who is struggling with being in a wheelchair following an accident, Maas begins to tackle disability. I really enjoyed reading about Chaol’s inner battle with his new situation, it felt authentic and real, and it didn’t shy away from the embarrassment he felt.

A new setting and new characters also meant new cultures, which I loved. Maas does an absolutely wonderful job at creating lush and beautiful cities, in fact I think it’s one of the things she does best, and Tower of Dawn was no different. I relished the scenes that would give me more views of the city, the torre, the palace and the world around. It was breathtaking.

No matter the oceans, or mountains, or forests in the way.

The characters we come across are vibrant and wonderful. Yrene is a delightful edition, a young woman you may remember from The Assassin’s Blade, with a temper and strength I admire greatly. I loved Nesryn, even though her and Chaol’s relationship was frustrating at points. The side characters, such as the royals, healers and Nesryn’s family, all held their own roles and added to the story.

Overall, I can see why this book isn’t for some readers. But it was definitely for me. The study of characters, the focus on the relationships and inner battles, was exactly what I enjoy reading about. I felt close to the world and characters because of it. It was beautiful, and my favourite so far in the Throne of Glass series!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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BookTube: 5 Series I Want to Read by the End of the Year

Hello again everyone! I’m back with a big commitment – 5 series I want to read by the end of the year. This feels like a lot, but I know I will fly through some of these books and I only need to read a series a month to finish them!

Watch the video below to see which series I chose!

-Beth

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ARC Review: How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy–he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?
Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I unfortunately went into this book with an already negative viewpoint as the author had twisted the words of a reviewer I personally know and attacked them on social media. However, I decided to push on anyway and pick this one up, more out of curiosity than anything.

The story follows Amir, who is 18 years old and earns money by writing Wiki articles for payment. When he is blackmailed with a photo of him kissing another boy, he uses his money to escape to Italy, where he befriends a group of older, gay men. This in itself felt problematic and somewhat predator-ish, how he was very quickly taken under the wing of these men, even living with one of them for a while and being made to feel uncomfortable by another, which appears to not change how his friends feel about this man at all, and has no negative impact on him. Even any other side characters were one-dimensional and unimaginative.

I wish I could say I enjoyed it other than that, but I’m far from done yet. As pointed out by other reviewers, this book does not take the opportunity to fully represent and discuss Muslim culture. Although the main character is Muslim himself, and makes it very plain that his sexuality would be a problem for his family due to their religion, this is the point in which the discussion of religion stops. Rather than feeling like I learned more about Muslim culture, I was left questioning whether Amir or his family even followed any Muslim practices as they are not at all mentioned in the narrative.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of the problems for me. Although I adored the setting in Italy, Italian culture was very much stereotyped, full of pizza, pasta and Vespas. I’ve not visited Italy myself, but I’m damn sure there is more to it than that. I also want to bring up the subject of how panic attacks were represented, which, having suffered from panic attacks myself luckily only a couple of times in my life, felt completely unrealistic to me. Amir had a seemingly normal conversation with a guy in a bookshop, in which he seemed perhaps a little lovestruck. He then went back to his apartment and lay down, in which I thought ‘oh, he’s tired/going to have a nap’, and then proceeded to say how bad his panic attack had been. Now, I completely understand how different people experience panic attacks differently, but I was so disappointed by how this was represented. I had no idea Amir had had a panic attack, because he displayed no common symptoms. It felt like a missed chance to explain to the reader how a panic attack may feel, completely missing the mark for me.

That being said, I was intrigued by this book and absolutely sped through it, wanting to know what would happen next. Despite Italy being stereotypical, it made for a beautiful setting and I enjoyed the descriptions of the architecture and surroundings. Other than finding him vulnerable and frustrating, I liked Amir as a main character and sympathised with him. If this book didn’t have so many damn problems, I even might have enjoyed it. *sigh*

★★
2 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Blog Tour + Review: Supper Club by Lara Williams

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Twenty-nine year old Roberta has spent her whole life hungry – until the day she invents Supper Club.
Supper Club is a secret society for hungry women. Women who are sick of bad men and bad sex, of hinted expectations to talk less, take less, be less. So they gather after dark and feast until they are sick. They drink and dance and roar. And, month by month, their bodies expand.
At the centre of the Supper Club stands Roberta – cynical yet anxious, precocious and lost. She is seeking the answer to a simple question: if you feed a starving woman, what will she grow into?
This is a story about the hunger that never goes away. And it is a story about the people who make us what we are – who lead us astray and ultimately save us. You look hungry. Join the club.

Thank you to Penguin for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

This book was not what I was expecting at all. It was raw, honest and in-your-face. It is full of rage and passion and hunger. It is disturbing and kind of brilliant, all at once. It reflects a starvation I think all women feel at some point or another in their lives – the need to fill a space we are made to feel we are not allowed to fill.

But in the way that hunger is presented, it transcends into darkness I was not prepared for. It is written full of anger, bluntly discussing rape, self harm and abuse in a way that made me feel almost repulsed. In the middle of a conversation it will bring in the most point blank feelings and thoughts that will jar you out of any sense of connection with the book.

The line between pleasure and revulsion can seem so very thin,

Supper Club follows Roberta through her life at university and 10 years later in an unsatisfying office job with an intern, Stevie. Stevie and Roberta end up living together and start supper club, an answer to their feelings as women of being made to feel small and non-threatening to the world around them. Supper club begins as a gathering of women, and evolves into something bigger and more criminal, with dumpster diving and breaking into venues. These are all an assertion of anger, a way to stand up and say women can take over whatever space they believe they can.

The book is peppered with descriptions of food. Even though these threw me a little when they spoke about meat in a certain way (as a vegan, this became jarring in itself), they were all around beautiful and they reflected the story quite well in the sense of growth, of ever changing and becoming something beautiful.

The plot was interesting and I thought it was paced well, the flashbacks between university and current day were long enough to not confuse the reader, and explained what had made Roberta so angry, the relationships and interactions that left imprints on her for the rest of her life.

Despite this, I still didn’t quite click with Roberta as a main character. Sometimes I related to her, and other times she came across as a selfish brat. I felt like the men in her later life were often dismissed and not sympathised with because of the men she had dealt with in her university years. It almost felt like a pure hate-letter to men in general at points, which just plainly goes against any moral feelings I have. What I felt was missing in Supper Club was the realisation that in fact Roberta and these women were fighting problems they had with society, and not with men.

if it even exists at all.

The problems I had with the book stemmed mainly from being shocked by the content, so if you are deciding to pick it up, I would recommend it with a harsh warning of the jarring scenes. The execution was actually, I found, quite excellent, the writing passionate and beautiful. Just be prepared to be disturbed, forced to be introspective and constantly question your role as a woman in the modern age.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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