Review: Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

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Goodreads

Oh wow, I adored this book. I’ve been seeing this around on social media for a while, especially last year around it’s release date. I’ve been drawn to it for a while and I loved the cover, but I never knew how much I would really enjoy it.

Rosa is a girl who lives in a beautiful seaside town with her grandmother, who wants to know more about her Cuban heritage. She has a rocky relationship with her mother, and also with the sea, as she has been led to believe the women in her family are cursed when it comes to the sea, and especially the men who live and work on it. But when Rosa becomes attached to a boy who lives on the ocean, she has some answers to seek.

My first time in the sea felt like returning to something. I thought of my mother and abuela, the image of them sharp and sudden. I wanted to see what was on the other side.

This book was damn beautiful in so many ways. I adored the town, and the scenery was so well described. The relationships Rosa had with her friends and family were sometimes rocky but also beautiful and real. They all supported her so well. The writing was just delightful too, and some of the passages were heartbreaking, leaving me with tears in my eyes in parts.

The food was described in such detail, and was a big part of Rosa’s Cuban heritage. I can’t help but fall for books that describe food like this one did, which was so vivid, just like much of this book. It was absolutely beautiful, a love letter to family, food, Cuba and the sea. I was hooked.

I wanted to find what was lost. I wanted to know how to move forward… My only offering heart, humility, and these coins. My tongue was heavy with the wrong language.

The ending, although I enjoyed it, was the only thing that shocked me a little. It suddenly felt a little too mystical and out of reach, leaving me feeling a little detached from the final pages. Unfortunately it didn’t quite reach 5 stars for me because of that, but I absolutely loved this book all the same and would highly recommend it!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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BookTube: #BlackPublishingPower Haul

Hi lovelies! I haven’t been around for a while, and that’s because I’ve been busy again! Shops have reopened here in the UK, which means as of Monday I have been back at work in the bookstore I work in. I’ve also been able to see my boyfriend again which has been absolutely lovely! But in the mix, I managed to purchase a few books to get Black authors on the bestseller list, and today I’m here with a video to tell you about them!

Are you taking part in this? If so, which books are you buying?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Crow Rider (#1) by Kalyn Josephson

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Goodreads

Princess Thia, her allies, and her crow, Res, are planning a rebellion to defeat Queen Razel and Illucia once and for all. Thia must convince the neighboring kingdoms to come to her aid, and Res’s show of strength is the only thing that can help her.
But so many obstacles stand in her way. Res excels at his training, until he loses control of his magic, harming Thia in the process. She is also pursued by Prince Ericen, heir to the Illucian throne and the one person she can’t trust but can’t seem to stay away from.
As the rebel group prepares for war, Res’s magic grows more unstable. Thia has to decide if she can rely on herself and their bond enough to lead the rebellion and become the crow rider she was meant to be
.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I read the first book in this duology last year before it’s release, and I knew since then I wanted to pick up the next one. I adored the first book and found it such a lovely fantasy with a twist. The Crow Rider was no different, and I’m so glad I had a chance to read it!

It was so lovely to delve back into this beautiful world. Josephson does a brilliant job of describing the world and cities, honestly some of the passages describing the markets and cities took my breath away. I was immediately enveloped once again into this world of castles and beauty.

The writing was beautiful and I kept wanting to go back for more. Whenever I picked up this book I didn’t want to stop, there was a weird kind of comfort I remember from reading The Storm Crow that only comes with knowing how much you are going to enjoy a book. Another thing that came back was the openness when Josephson discusses grief and depression. I had forgotten how this was discussed and it impressed me over again, especially when I read a specific passage. Not enough fantasy talks about mental health and I admire how this one does.

The magic and crows were amazing as ever. I loved having Res as a full character, even though he is actually a crow. The way Thia communicates with him fascinated me, and every time anybody insulted him by calling him chicken or pigeon it made me chuckle.

The only complaint I had is I didn’t feel as much connection to the characters as I wanted to, and I felt confused by them. I didn’t know who was who, which made the war councils and politics difficult too and I mainly just skim read the political scenes. However, I think a lot of this was from the fact I read the first book almost a year ago, and I wouldn’t have felt so confused if I had only just read the first book.

Overall, this was a brilliant, emotional and utterly beautiful conclusion to this duology. I loved it and would definitely recommend the series!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Ninth House (#1) by Leigh Bardugo

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

It’s no secret that I love Leigh Bardugo. I’ve read most of her books (excluding the Grisha trilogy) and I adored them. But from the release of Ninth House, I knew it would be different. I heard how dark this book was, the reasons it was published as adult fiction rather than YA. But I heard Leigh talk about it a few times at signings and talks late last year, and I really, really wanted to pick it up. She drew me in.

I found this book really tough to read but so alluring. I will warn you now, it is incredibly difficult to read in a lot of ways. Some of the scenes shocked me and disturbed me, and definitely need a warning. This book was not without gruesome scenes that really grossed me out.

Peace was like any high. It couldn’t last. 

But unfortunately it wasn’t just the gruesome scenes that made it difficult for me. I cannot hide the fact that I was just…confused. I don’t think the non-linear timeline and flitting points of view helped at all, I never quite knew what was happening or could grasp enough about the story to feel like I could completely understand.

Despite finding the story confusing, I couldn’t deny the writing was spectacular as always. I liked the pacing, which was slow but some of the fast paced scenes made up for it, gripping me on the edge of my seat in those occasional moments. I also loved the setting, which reminded me slightly of The Starless Sea. Having known Leigh Bardugo went to Yale herself, I could tell the passion she felt using her own University to set Ninth House in.

I loved Alex and the cast of characters in general. Darlington was great too and I really liked Alex’s friends and roommates as secondary characters. Bardugo does a great job of describing the way some rich white males feel in relation to privilege and power, and how they can use their privileges to whatever they feel entitled to, however soul-curdling those things may be. Bardugo does not hold back on these issues, and for that I appreciated her writing.

It was an illusion, something that could be interrupted in a moment and lost forever.

I did enjoy this book, but I also felt a disconnection from it that I wish I didn’t feel. Maybe I had too high expectations. Maybe I just prefer her YA fantasy. However I will definitely be reading the next book in the series, and I’ll be interested to see what my opinions of this book are when I reread it in future.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #17

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 treated myself to something a little different – a manga book. I never really buy myself manga, and the only one’s I actually own are the Your Name mangas. If you know me you’ll know how much I adore Makoto Shinkai’s films, and I also own the light novels. I had the first two already but not the third, so I finally picked it up!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

What did you buy this week? 

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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May Wrap Up

Hi all! I’m here today with my May Wrap Up. I only read 6 books in May unfortunately, mainly due to finding it hard to read alongside Throne of Glass. I also read The Empress of Salt and Fortune in the last day of April, which is why it missed the list and ended up on this one!

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Review | Goodreads

A young royal from the far north, is sent south for a political marriage in an empire reminiscent of imperial China. Her brothers are dead, her armies and their war mammoths long defeated and caged behind their borders. Alone and sometimes reviled, she must choose her allies carefully.
Rabbit, a handmaiden, sold by her parents to the palace for the lack of five baskets of dye, befriends the emperor’s lonely new wife and gets more than she bargained for.
At once feminist high fantasy and an indictment of monarchy, this evocative debut follows the rise of the empress In-yo, who has few resources and fewer friends. She’s a northern daughter in a mage-made summer exile, but she will bend history to her will and bring down her enemies, piece by piece.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Everyone at Fairvale Academy knows Bryson Keller, the super-hot soccer captain who doesn’t believe in high-school relationships. They also know about the dare Bryson accepted – each week he has to date the first person who asks him out.
A single school week is all anyone gets. There have been no exceptions to this. None.
Until me, that is.
Because brilliant Bryson Keller forgot one thing. He never said it could only be girls . . .

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Meet Celaena Sardothien. Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness. In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught. Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament – fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. She’s at last returned to rescue her once glorious kingdom to confront the shadows of her past, but before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight. She will fight for her cousin. She will fight for her friend. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal King and awaiting their lost Queen’s triumphant return. 

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

 The New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series reaches new heights in this action-packed, heart-wrenching and fantastically addictive sequel to Sarah J. Maas’s epic debut Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her. Love or loathe Celaena, she will slice open your heart with her dagger and leave you bleeding long after the last page of this New York Times bestselling sequel, in what is undeniably THE hottest new fantasy series.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

A sublimely twisty LGBTQ+ thriller that subverts expectations at every turn, Hideous Beauty probes the hidden secrets that haunt a seemingly perfect relationship in the wake of a terrible tragedy. Compulsively readable and engaging, Hussey’s YA spine-tingler is a future classic of the genre. Dylan is forced to come out after his secret relationship with Ellis is exposed on social media, but to his surprise, everyone is really supportive – or appears to be. But Dylan’s and El’s happiness is short-lived, and following a tragic accident, Dylan begins to realize how little he knows about the boy he loves…or those closest to him.

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can’t bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She must fight back…
The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the king – for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her?

My least favourite book of the month was The Empress of Salt and Fortune (including it as it made the list), and my favourite was Crown of Midnight! I can’t wait to see how the rest of the Throne of Glass books live up to that one.

I have a few more books than this on my June TBR, so I’m hoping I can push myself to read a little more!

What did you read in May?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Heir of Fire (#3) by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can’t bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She must fight back…
The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the king – for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her?

After I loved Crown of Midnight so much, I had pretty high expectations for Heir of Fire. And I have to admit, this book did not quite live up to those high expectations. I didn’t feel as invested in this book, I found some of it quite predictable, some slow, and some I just couldn’t bring myself to be interested in at all.

I think a lot of my difficulties stemmed from the fact Celena was suddenly away from the castle and with new characters for new reasons. I missed the connections and conversations between her, Dorian and Chaol. Rowan made for a good substitute in some ways, even though I found him and Celena’s…friendship a little strange and uncomfortable at times.

“Because I am lost,” she whispered onto the earth.

I enjoyed Celena’s chapters quite a lot and I was still intrigued by her journey. The side characters were enjoyable to read about too, and I had a soft spot for those she worked with in the kitchen. I enjoyed the chapters back in the castle too, even though they felt like they were missing something without Celena. Sorscha was sweet and I liked the introduction of her character. Manon’s chapters was where I hit a real problem. I was confused by what was happening and I never had enough time to really sympathise with her at all.

Maas’ writing has definitely improved during these books and the world building is incredible. The pacing was pretty consistent and the fast-paced, action-packed scenes got me pretty invested in the story. The ending was especially brilliant, and made me remember how amazing these books can be.

“And I do not know the way.”

Overall, this was unfortunately my least favourite of the series so far, even though I did enjoy it, it was still disappointing compared to how much I adored Crown of Midnight.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Hideous Beauty by William Hussey

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Goodreads | Waterstones

When Dylan and Ellis’s secret relationship is exposed on social media, Dylan is forced to come out. To Dylan’s surprise they are met with support and congratulations, and an amazing reception at their highschool dance. Perhaps people aren’t as narrow-minded as he thought?
But Dylan’s happiness is short-lived. Ellis suddenly becomes angry, withdrawn, and as they drive home from the dance, he loses control of the car, sending it plunging into Hunter’s Lake. Barely conscious, Dylan is pulled free of the wreck, while Ellis is left to drown.
Grief-stricken, Dylan vows to discover what happened to Ellis that night and piece together the last months of his boyfriend’s life – and realises just how little he knew about the boy he loved.

Thank you to the publisher for an ARC copy!

I won this book at YALC last year in a competition and I was super excited. I’ve felt drawn to it for a while and I kept seeing amazing things about it online. And those thoughts were definitely not wrong, this book really impressed me!

The first thing I noticed was wow, this book is dark. I read the first 50 pages one night in one go and it was harrowing. I did not expect this to be so dark and truly upsetting, but it was also so downright beautiful. Dylan, Ellis and Mike were all such great characters. I felt so sympathetic towards sweet, emotional, sensitive Dylan and everything he had to go through. Although Ellis was up and down with the story, his charm and confidence made me chuckle. Mike and his family were downright some of my favourite characters, and the scenes with them touched my heart.

The mystery aspect of this novel was so compelling and made the pages fly. Once I got passed halfway I read the rest of the book in one night, I just didn’t want to stop and I was so drawn into the book and finding out what happened to Ellis and Dylan on that fateful night. I didn’t manage to pick this up often as I was reading it alongside the Throne of Glass books, but when I did, I didn’t want to stop.

The last part of the book left me with tears in my eyes. It was beautifully written, and really burrowed into my heart and made me feel so sad but hopeful. I think the best books leave you with that, a little bright ember of hope.

The book was written in a non-linear timeline, flicking between ‘then’ and ‘now’. This kept the pace so quick and the plot flying, and I always felt so intrigued to find out what was going to happen when we flicked back or forwards. But even though this book was most definitely plot-driven, it also showed the characters in a depth I really admired. I love how it didn’t shy away from Dylan’s difficult coming-out story, and his friend Mike’s difficult situation.

Overall, this book was a beautifully written, harrowing and poignant mystery with a great cast of characters.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #16

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! It’s time for a Stacking the Shelves Saturday and here’s another book I have picked up recently. Being at home a lot has made me reflect on the books I want to pick up, and I realised I had the Aurora Rising in hardback and even though I haven’t read it yet, felt compelled to pick up Aurora Burning in hardback too to match.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

I’m really excited but nervous to read these as I had mixed opinions about the Illuminae trilogy, but I’m excited to see how these two write together in a novel format!

What did you buy this week? 

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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