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My Heart Hurts- Girls of Storm and Shadow

Overall Enjoyment: 3/5

Characterization: 3/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 4/5

Goodreads Summary:

“In this mesmerizing sequel to the New York Times bestselling Girls of Paper and Fire, Lei and Wren have escaped their oppressive lives in the Hidden Palace, but soon learn that freedom comes with a terrible cost.

Lei, the naive country girl who became a royal courtesan, is now known as the Moonchosen, the commoner who managed to do what no one else could. But slaying the cruel Demon King wasn’t the end of the plan—it’s just the beginning. Now Lei and her warrior love Wren must travel the kingdom to gain support from the far-flung rebel clans. The journey is made even more treacherous thanks to a heavy bounty on Lei’s head, as well as insidious doubts that threaten to tear Lei and Wren apart from within.

Meanwhile, an evil plot to eliminate the rebel uprising is taking shape, fueled by dark magic and vengeance. Will Lei succeed in her quest to overthrow the monarchy and protect her love for Wren, or will she fall victim to the sinister magic that seeks to destroy her? “

Review

I received this ARC for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, I have so many mixed feelings!!!! So MANY!!!!! First, I was extremely honored and excited to receive this ARC. I really enjoy Natasha Ngan’s writing style and Girls of Paper and Fire was the first sapphic book that I actually felt a connection to which really gave this series a special place in my heart. However, reading this book was really tough for me. The first half was great, but as the book went along I increasingly struggled.

Lets talk characters. I will say that we are introduced to many new ones and I enjoyed the ones that I would consider the mains though as usual I wished we had more about them. I love my character development. You’ll see Merrin, the owl demon who rescued Lei and Wren at the end of Girls of Paper and Fire. You get leopard demon siblings, and a shaman as well, I will say that I think Lei is the most consistent and enjoyable character in this book. She does what needs to be done, but has the heart that make you fall in love with her. Wren though. This book was so hard for me mostly because of her. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but lets just say we learn a lot about her in this book and it was hard for me to swallow. We get some morally gray characters going on here which normally I honestly love, but I just felt angry honestly. I felt angry for the last half of this book and I wasn’t compelled by these characters’ arguments.

The world building was good. We get to explore more of the world that had been built with the first book. You get to see more of the country which is enjoyable in its geographical difference and you will notice that there are different cultures sprinkled throughout the book though they weren’t super developed I did enjoy them.

As for diversity this book does well. We get to meet a couple more lgbtq+ characters as well as Lei and Wren both being women of color as well as lesbians. There are also characters who are experiencing mental health disorders. A story with some good intersectionality.

Overall, I’m frustrated. I loved Lei and Wren, but this book was a tough read for me and left me on a note that was frustrating and dissatisfying. I believe there will be a 3rd book and I will read it just to see where this goes, but honestly I really considered just not reading anymore past this point. I’m writing this write after I finished the book so I’m definitely on an emotional high, but heck this book hurt.

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ARC Review- Blood of the Pack aka lesbian werewolves

Overall enjoyment: 2.5/5

Characterization: 2/5

Overall worldbuilding: 3/5

Diversity: 3/5

I was given a free advance copy of this book through Netgalley in return for an honest review. This book will be released on August 13th.

I wanted desperately to like this book more than I did. Lesbian werewolves?! I was so excited. I was pumped. I became very frustrated very quickly. First, I didn’t realize that this was part of a series. My fault I didn’t do the research and so some things were confusing but may have been explained in previous books of the series. This is book three. Some confusion though was not what truly frustrated me so much as the missed potential of this book. The premise of the book and most of the major plot points were amazing ideas! I could have easily fallen in love with this book if not for the writing style. Now, that may sound petty, but listen. Every problem that arose in this book was solved in what felt like five pages or less. Any part of the book that could have been a secret or big reveal to other characters was somehow discovered through the random senses of the characters. It made me want to scream.

The characters of this book were pretty lackluster. They had potential. A female alpha paired with a woman who has been abused by alphas? There was a lot of potential for long conversation, dates, mutual respect and honest. Beautiful character development. Did we get that? Nope, we got instant feelings and wolf senses. I’m not opposed to wolf senses. That’s one of parts of werewolf stories that I enjoy, but senses were used to replace any meaningful conversation and compromises.  

Worldbuilding: It seems to be set in modern times, but there was definitely an attempt to develop a history and culture. There was mention older wolf packs and battles. Kenrick had different bracelets that represented different things. I appreciated the attempt though I still felt a bit off put at time about the dominant and submissive roles. There may have been what I felt like a sexist line or two in there.

Diversity. This story had at least a bit of diversity. There are obviously lesbian women in this book which is refreshing for a change. There are hints that Zaria is a woman of color. There may also be a transgender character? I’m not quite sure if that’s the case or there is some added female alpha wolf anatomy happening.

Overall, if you don’t mind insta-feelings stories where the romance is mostly the focus you could enjoy this story. If you’re looking for something more in-depth with lots of fantasy action and a more slow build relationship this book is NOT for you. I wanted to like this book. I was so very excited about it, but it was just frustrating to read.


Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? What do you think?

lists, Uncategorized

Five Fantastic LGBTQ+ Authors You Should Read

So, it’s pride month and I thought it would be a great time to post about my favorite LGBTQ+ authors. We get a lot of straight people writing these stories and while I’m not opposed to that idea if the story is well written I think members of the community really deserve their time to shine. I must admit this is also a very limited list. I’ve only read a limited amount of #ownvoices lgbtq+ fiction, but that doesn’t make these authors any less fantastic.

  1. TJ Klune: a phenomenal author. I would say he has a great range of writing with numerous published novels. I really couldn’t recommend him enough. I especially enjoy his fantasy work. You can check him out here.


2. Victoria Lee: A newly published author, but I really enjoyed her first novel, Fever King. You can find her here.


3. Kayla Ancrum: This woman doesn’t play. Her book ,The Wicker King, takes a serious look at the effects mental illness can have on someone. Very friendly and willing to talk with fans. You can find her here.


4. Natasha Ngan: All I can say is that Girls of Paper and Fire is still my favorite f/f novel. It was really the first one that I could really connect with. Check out here twitter.


5. Amy Rose Capetta: She has written numerous books as well. I’m especially excited to read Once & Future. You can check her out here.


Have you heard of any of these authors? Do you have any new authors to recommend? I’d love to read more LGBTQ+ authors.

Uncategorized, wonder wednesday

Wonder Wednesday: Life Changing Books

Hello everyone, welcome to Wonder Wednesday! I hope you’re all staying nice and toasty in this very cold winter. Today I’d like to talk about life changing books. Now, perhaps life changing may seem like an extreme, but as a lover of books I feel like there are many books that have had a very powerful effect on me. Books have the power to make us question our assumptions, bias, and encourage us to consider ideas maybe we haven’t thought about before.

Do you have a book that you feel like has been life changing for you? How has it changed your perspective or affected you?

Do you feel like books have the power to create a deeper understanding for something in people or are they just for fun?


I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to comment below!

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Name Change Announcement

Hello everyone,

I’ve been giving some serious thought to where I would like the direction of this blog to go. I started this book blog a little over a week ago during my winter break off of work. I started with the idea of just doing this for fun, but I’ve fallen in love with the idea. I enjoy writing these book reviews, thinking of what other content people may enjoy reading next, and looking at books in terms of different aspects of diversity. I want to be a bit more serious when I’m working on this blog. Keeping that in mind, I’ve decided to change the name of this blog on Friday ( January 11th). I created the name Dragons and Other Worlds in a mad dash so that I could get started on writing this blog before I lost motivation. I want to be more mindful than that and I want people drawn to this blog who are actually looking for book reviews and other book- related content. Not just people looking up dragons. I have chosen the name Diverse Fantasy Reads. It’s simple and maybe not be the most original title that you’ve ever heard, but I think it does a better job encompassing what I really hope to make this blog about. That being said, I still currently own the Dragons and Other Worlds domain. I will be holding onto it until it expires, but it will simply direct you straight to Diverse Fantasy Reads until the year is up. There may also be some site design changes as I work out a design that is more visually appealing and readable. Thank you for your patience and thank you also to those who have already begun to follow me. It’s much appreciated!

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So, what’s the Point?

Now, if you’re reading this you might be wondering, what’s the point of this blog? Aren’t there already tons of book blogs out there?

And my answer to you would be yes! There most certainly tons of book blogs out there. What I hope to accomplish is to share my thoughts with you about the fantasy and paranormal books I read. Not just any thoughts though. I really want to look at certain aspects of these fantasy and paranormal books that I read particularly world building, characterization, and diversity. Now, I want to share these particular aspects with you because these are the parts of books that to me take a book from kinda just meh to being a really great novel worth sharing. Now, let me break down these three aspects down.

World building

This is a little bit more important in fantasy novels in my personal opinion, but is still helpful in a paranormal novel as well. When I purchase a fantasy novel I want to be swept away into a world unlike my own. I read as a form of escapism and so a new, well written world is paramount to my enjoyment. That means I want a world with its own history, it’s own culture, and even its own races. Paranormal is a little different for me since it really takes places in what is suppose to be our current world. So, the best thing a paranormal novel could do for me when it comes to reading is seamlessly add in supernatural elements and races in such a way that it seems totally possible they could have existed with us all along. Now, I’m sure there will always be excepts to everything I just listed, but this is my starting point.

Characterization 

The most important thing in any novel ever! If you don’t have great characters I don’t care if you have the best world ever or anything else really. I need great, well developed characters. I want back stories and flaws and struggle. I want to really get to know the characters in the book otherwise I just don’t care and I want them to be realistic. Insta-love and hand wavy explanations are cheap writing.

Diversity

We live in a diverse world full of diverse places and people. There is no reason for every fantasy novel to be set in what is basically medieval Europe with a completely white, completely hetero, gender binary, etc. characters. We’re better than that and people of all sorts deserve representation. Now, that’s not to say a book is awful if it’s set in medieval Europe with a completely stereotypical cast , but just that it’s not necessarily the most original idea.

If you’re interested in these aspects of books as well then stick around and join me on this crazy journey!