“In this epic sequel to Once & Future, to save the future, Ari and her Rainbow knights pull off a heist…thousands of years in the past. Ari Helix may have won her battle against the tyrannical Mercer corporation, but the larger war has just begun. Ari and her cursed wizard Merlin must travel back in time to the unenlightened Middle Ages and steal the King Arthur’s Grail—the very definition of impossible. It’s imperative that the time travelers not skew the timeline and alter the course of history. Coming face-to-face with the original Arthurian legend could produce a ripple effect that changes everything. Somehow Merlin forgot that the past can be even more dangerous than the future… “
I’m so in love with book. I loved the first book so much that I was kinda scared to fully read this one, but I am so full of love and hope. If you enjoyed the first book I’m sure you will love this one just as much. This book puts us back in the time of Medieval Europe which you would think would be a horrible time for our characters, but the authors are well aware of that and give us hope and very blunt conversations at times about gender and sexuality. This book is not subtle in its support of the lgbtq+ community and its disapproval of mass consumerism though that isn’t as much a focus of this book as it was in the last.
We have are beautiful characters back! Ari is still our headstrong hero, Gwen is still our beautiful strong queen, Merlin is still a bit of a mess and Lam and Val are still smart and as sexy as ever. In this different period we experience new yet similar problems with these characters as they grow. I just love them. I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s a ton of growth or change for Ari in this book, but we get a lot more of Merlin and where he comes from. We finally unravel the mystery of where exactly he came from. I must say that until they hinted at it I didn’t expect it at all. O.o
Not a ton of time is spent on flushing out the whole of medieval Europe, but there is still the new creation of Camelot and enough difference that I still got syfy feelings rather than historical drama feelings.
I would say this is a character driven story. Yes, there is a big corporation that must be stopped, but as with the first book we are really focused on the characters, their feelings, their pasts, and how that is all coming together to create this great story.
There is so much! We got our intersectionality! Ari is a gay woman of color, Lam is a nonbinary character of color. We have LGBT+ characters everywhere with some discussions of gender throughout. It’s good stuff. This story definitely focuses on the LGBTQ+ aspects rather than than the racial aspects, but we got hints. I love this book so much and while I should have read it earlier I think I needed it more now than I did before. If you want to read a queer Arthurian retelling full of characters of color and LGBTQ+ than I think you will fall in love with these characters as much as I did!
“Jake Hyde doesn’t swim — not since his father drowned. Luckily, he lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which is in the middle of the desert. Yet, he yearns for the ocean and is determined to leave his hometown for a college on the coast. But his best friend, Maria, wants nothing more than to make a home in the desert, and Jake’s mother encourages him to always play it safe. Yet there’s nothing “safe” about Jake’s future — not when he’s attracted to Kenny Liu, swim team captain and rebel against conformity. Jake’s life begins to outpace his small town’s namesake, which doesn’t make it any easier to come out to his mom, or Maria, or the world. Jake truly is a fish out of water.
While caught in a flash flood, Jake learns that his strange, glowing blue skin markings are tied to an ability to manipulate water. But his life is overflowing with secrets, and he hides his new superpower and his budding romance with Kenny from his family and friends. As Jake starts down a path of self-discovery, what powers will he find in the search for his identity? Will he turn his back to the current or dive headfirst into the waves?”
I received this advanced comic from DC through Netgalley free of charge for an honest review. This is a DC comic with the focus on Jake, and his coming of age story. This is the first book in the series. I requested this book, because the concept was interesting and this story has a host of diverse characters. Since its a comic rather than a novel like I’m use to it’s a little bit harder for me to give what I feel like is my best review, but I’ll do my best.
Characterization. I gave it a three because we get a lot of Jake’s back story which is pretty great, but I feel like we didn’t delve much into his character and who he is. I think that is mainly because this is the first in the series and as we will learn more about him as the series continues, but I still hoped for a little bit more. I’m a little irritated with Maria, Jake’s best friend. I don’t like how she’s so focused on her feelings, but I think that’s supposed to be the self-centered adolescent thing. Still not a fan of those scenes in many coming out stories.
World building. It’s set in the DC universe which is very similar to our current world. There wasn’t much difference at all, but I suppose that’s the point so in this case the lack of world building isn’t too big of a deal.
Diversity. It’s a fully diverse cast and we have intersectionality!!!! Kevin is a Chinese american gay man. Jake’s a black gay man and Maia is Hispanic. Kevin’s dad is in a wheelchair. It was great.
Overall, I’m struggling with how short this first comic was. It’s always been my problem with comics because I always want more. This comic does have amazing potential though to be full of love and amazing. I will definitely be keeping my eye on it and if you are a comic fan I recommend give it a look! It is available for purchase today!
One Page Preview
Below is a single page preview for your enjoyment in case (like me) you wonder more about the drawing style.
“Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.
If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.”
This is a novella that I picked up at the library. It’s a multiple award-winning book and I was excited to give it a read. This book is part one of a three book series. I’m not a huge fan generally of novellas or sci-fi, but I enjoyed this book.
The novella is focused on a character called Binti. She is a member of the Himba people and is SUPER smart. The characterization done in this novel was my favorite part of this novella. We learn so much about Binti through her thoughts and interactions. I love the culture and history that is added to her. She’s truly what I would consider a rounded character.
I also enjoyed the world building. Most of the really interesting bits are at the beginning, but there are different species of beings in space, there is a living spaceship, and there’s a really interesting concept of math being the language of magic. I’d love to learn more about it in the next books.
I’ve started talking about plot versus character driven stories. I would say this is more character driven simply because we just experience so much of who Binti is, but the plot is also moved along at a steady pace. I feel like this novella is fairly balanced between the two. I do feel like there are some pretty powerful themes in this book about belonging and staying the same versus growing into someone new. I feel like to truly appreciate this novella you’d want to read it more than once and give it some thought.
Diversity. This book’s diversity is mainly based in Binti being a woman of color. There are different groupings of people and beings, but there’s not much description of them and because they’re mostly fictional beings I wouldn’t say the differences in this book represent more diversity outside of Binti herself. She’s a compassionate and smart woman and I’m excited to read more of her it in the future.
Overall, I would say this is an enjoyable novella. The introduction of the Meduse seemed a little contrived to me but given the short length and focus on Binti I can easily overlook it and enjoy the book fully. If you enjoy Sci-fi and want to read a quick, but well written novella I think you’d really enjoy this story.
“In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air–in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.
But Creeper also has a secret herself: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head, and may have her own ulterior motivations.
Soon, Creeper, Oya, and the crew of the Midnight Robber are pulled into a perilous mission aimed to stop the Black God’s Drums from being unleashed and wiping out the entirety of New Orleans.”
This book popped up in the suggestions for another book I was looking at. The summary had me interested, but I’m not a huge fan of science fiction or novellas. However, as you can tell by ratings above this story really blew me out of the water! I tend not to like novella because I feel like a lot is left out and the story is annoyingly bare bones because its so short. The Black God’s Drum puts all those fears to rest and more
There are two main characters is this story. The first character you meet goes by Creeper. You don’t even learn her name until later in the book, but she paints us an immersive picture of what life is like for her in New Orleans. She’s a strong, street savy girl that knows the community around her. She is paired with the Orisha goddess, Oya, who has been with her since she was born. Then, you have a character that goes mainly by Captain. She’s a captain of an airship and pairs up with Creeper when they are after similar goals. Both characters get chunks of personal history throughout the book that creates well rounded, interesting characters. Very lovely characters for a novella.
The world building threw me off at first, but I acclimated to it within the first 20 pages. The world is set in what I would consider an alternate New Orleans during the civil war period with steampunk elements, mainly, air ships. The main world building that happens in this novel is setting up what would happen if civil war ended differently or at least was a tentative truce. The amount of history put in this novella without info dumping is truly skillful. There’s even some writing done about the African gods and how the drums work that I really enjoyed.
The diversity in this book was great. There were a host of diverse characters in the background, but I tend not to count them since they don’t get much attention. Creeper is a young black girl. Captain is where the real diversity is at. I’ve been disappointed by the general lack of intersectionality in most characters I’ve been reading, but Captain is a strong black, bisexual woman who also has a metal leg. Wow. I’m in love with her.
Overall, if you’re looking for a well written, but quick read with some great, intersectionality I couldn’t recommend this book to you more.
Hello lovely readers, I toyed with the idea of doing some posts about mood reading for awhile now. I definitely go through stages throughout the year of what type of books I’m interested in reading and figured there were other readers out there who are similar. In these mood reading posts I will provide a list of books that are based on a certain theme. This posts theme is obviously love. Below, I have listed a variety of book based on the type of love you’re interested in. Each title has a Goodreads link if you want to learn more about the book.
“While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.
Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.
Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.
As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.
Welcome to the Sixth World.”
So, I found this book at a Barnes & Noble months ago. I was interested in it though the vague mention of zombies made me skeptical. I don’t like zombie story lines generally. However, I read this during the Indigathon reading challenge and I fell in love with it. If you’re looking for diverse, adult fantasy then this is for you!
Let’s start with the world building simply because I was so taken with it. It’s set in a post Apocalyptic United States after some major environmental catastrophes. The whole book is set on Navajo land that was spared most of the natural disasters. Now, Roanhorse does an excellent job describing what life might be like if such events occur, but she also weaves in idea of clan powers as well as Navajo gods and spirits. They weave together so seamlessly I just feel in love with how it all fit together.
The characters are also great. Maggie, our main character and monster slayer, has had a rough go. She’s definitely experienced some trauma that she is still working through. Actually, all of the characters you encounter have had a rough go. Maggie is tough with a no nonsense attitude, but isn’t as heartless as other would assume. Then, Kai. Oh my goodness this boy. He’s the perfect counterpoint to Maggie. Charming and a healer. He’s experienced so trauma of his own, but where it has made Maggie standoffish it has made Kai pull people close.There are of course other characters, but the main story focuses on these two. I would say that this book is truly Maggie’s story though. We get parts of Kai and they’re glorious, but this is a book about a badass indigenous woman and Roanhorse doesn’t let you forget that.
This book is fairly diverse. You have Maggie and Kai who are both indigenous. You have Clive and Rissa who are biracial. I believe Clive is gay or bi. It’s a good mixture.
Overall, I fell in love with these characters. Everyone has a story and is struggling to make it through what they’ve seen and had to do. If you would like to read about complex, diverse characters who are set in a world full of Navajo deities and spirits I think you’ll be hooked. There’s already a sequel out! I’ve already read that too so look for the review soon!
Have you read Trail of Lightning? Is it on your TBR? Let me know what you think!
So, November is over and so is Indigathon. This posting is way later than I wanted it to be and I didn’t participate much on twitter due to trying to also complete nanowrimo. I loved these books and I think I am better for having read them. Below is my board as well as the books I read to complete each one. I have checked off more boxes than the categories I have below my board. Many of these books check multiple boxes and so I have decided to be kind to myself by checking all the boxes that are elements in the stories I’ve read. I have placed a Goodreads link on the title if there was one available so that you can look into the books if they’re of interest to you.
The group read: The Break by Katherena Vermette. This was a hard book for to me read. These women have obviously been through a lot. The whole book was based around the investigation of a raped young girl, but also the stories of the women of the family. This is not what I would call a happy book, but a real book that discusses the hardships of life and how a family can help you find the strength to get through it all.
SF/F: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. I loved this book. I love when you take bits of beliefs and put them into a story. It was so beautifully done. I love Maggie and Kai. You should definitely read this book! There’s even a sequel already!
Other than 5 CT: The Beadworkers stories by Beth Piatote. I struggled reading this book. I enjoyed reading the different types of writing in this book. I think it’s an interesting and unique way to put a book together, but I was just kinda bored the whole time and parts of it were hard for me to fully understand.
Books that were on my TBR
I truly wanted to get to these books and I am definitely still going to read them, but I just could get to them in November.
Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson. The summary kinda of gives me an indigenous percy jackson vibe only cooler. I’m excited to read it, but I couldn’t get my hands on a copy of it
Pemmican Wars (A girl called Echo #1) by Katherena Vermette and Scott B. Henderson. This is a comic book where a girl is transported into the past. I’m generally a sucker for time travel stories and the drawing looks beautiful.
I’m not sure if anyone has participated in the IndigAThon, but if so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Even if you didn’t participate did any of these books sound appealing to you?
“I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.
Now I’m done hiding.
My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.
When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.
No pressure. “
First off, I’ve been waiting for this book since I first heard about it. I’m not really a SyFy fan, but this was a retelling that I just couldn’t ignore. I haven’t read a ton of King Arthur stories recently, but I remember a bit about them from when I had to read them in school. This book has so many elements that I enjoyed.
First, let talk about the characters. There’s Ari who is an action first, think later kind of girl. She’s an orphan refugee that was taken in my two women and has grown up under the radar. She’s a fighter with the quest of returning to her planet and freeing her people. She’s skeptical and brash and I really enjoyed it. Now, there can of course be no Arthur without a Merlin. I’m going to be honest and say that Merlin is probably my favorite character. He’s just as much as a main character as Ari in this story. What really drew me in was his past though and his memory and relationship with all the past Arthur-s. It hurts to read sometimes, but I think it just added such a great, new element to the typical Arthurian legend that I was completely taken with him. Honestly, I’m taken with all of the characters. They’re so diverse and each of them has at least a little bit of backstory and history all that are new, but also tied to past King Arthur stories. Loved it.
The world of this story is set far in the future and it takes an interesting look on what could happen to not only our world, but our whole universe if we let our love of capitalism go too far. Corporations especially Mercer are out of control in this novel and it shows through how the planets are designed, built, and controlled. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it dystopian, but if you’re worried about the power of consumerism it could maybe feel that way.
The diversity in this book flourishes all over its pages and it didn’t feel like fan service! These characters got enough love and attention that they all seemed well entrenched and important to the story. Most of our characters are characters of color as well as lgbtq+. We even have a character that I really enjoy that is nonbinary. I love these characters.
Overall, I loved this book. As I mentioned, I was really pulled in by the summary and I wasn’t disappointed.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Is it on your TBR?
Hello my lovely readers, welcome to a stop on the Kingdom Cold Blog tour. I’m excited to share this with you! I hope all this information may pique your interest!
Q: What inspired you to write Kingdom Cold?
A: It started as a Wattpad story I was messing around with. I wanted to do an arranged marriage princess book and the story got really popular, so I decided to take it off of Wattpad, edit, and publish it.
Q: Did you do any research before or during writing Kingdom Cold?
A: I researched King Arthur a lot and details from the time period. About halfway through each book, I go brain dead and I find myself looking up basic words like “chair” or “map”.
Q: Currently, #ownvoices is an important movement in the book community, did you use any of your own personal experience(s) to shape Charlotte or any other characters in your book?
A: I put a lot of my own experiences into Kingdom Cold, specifically the subtly of certain racially charged situations. Being an African American girl living in South Korea, I found myself trying to include as much of the cultural confusion as I could slip in, because that’s what I experience day to day.
Q: Kingdom Cold is a book containing diverse, multicultural characters. As an author, how important is diverse representation in books to you?
A: I think it’s essential. There are heroes from every culture, customs worth exploring, and battles worth facing–ones that have yet to see the light of day. At times, the world feels so divided and unfair but fiction can be whatever we want it to be. Why not diverse?
Q: If there was one thing you wanted readers to know about Kingdom Cold, what would it be?
A: Kingdom Cold has no heroes and no villains.
Kingdom Come Excerpt
The moment I saw Young, all the power I’d felt moments ago melted away. I was a blood-spattered princess standing amidst a murder scene, one I’d starred in. My gaze met his, and I searched for the horror I felt, in his dark eyes, but couldn’t find it. I glanced over the gentle lines of his expression and drank in the easiness of his parted lips. He exhaled relief and I felt the sudden pull of my body towards him as I breathed it in. I couldn’t discern how he could look upon me, with such reprieve, then I took a step forward. And another. He was my cage, my captor, the death of my freedom, but in one kind glance, in my darkest hour, he granted me a modicum of comfort. I ran to him and threw myself into his arms. I didn’t care that he didn’t embrace me. I didn’t care that his body tightened with discomfort. He was alive and, to me, that meant that my father could be too. “Milly’s over here,” I sniffed as I motioned to the door. I felt the pulse of my hand as I released the fire poker from my finger-numbing grip. It fell to the floor with a clang and I stared at my hands as they shook. Blood was everywhere. It dripped from my fingertips and pooled on the stone floor. As the adrenaline waned, the horror of what I’d just done sunk in. I bit back the urge to scream. I backed away. “Hey,” Young called, dragging my attention back to him. He shook his head. “Look at me.” My heart pounded as my mind slipped back towards the lifeless heaps on the floor, dragging my gaze to them. “Charlotte,” Young called, but he was a distant voice floating negligibly through the back of my mind. Young stepped in front of me, blocking my view of the corpses. He took a firm grip of my wrist as if to hold me to the earth. I felt the warmth of his breath on my forehead, and the steady beat of his heart as his chest pressed against mine. My body numbed. My gaze crept up to his chin and stopped at his lips. My breath synchronized with his. I lifted my chin, my gaze meeting his. His dark eyes peered down at me, black as a moonless night with just as many stars. I searched them for clues, but if he felt something, he showed nothing at all. Feeling rushed back to my body all at once. I reached for my wrist and pried it out of his hand just in time to feel the bile rise from my stomach. I doubled over and vomited an acid more bitter than the emotions that caused it. When I caught my breath, I stood, feeling a sense of frailty in my legs that wasn’t there before. I looked up at Young. “Where’s—” “He’s still out there,” Young replied, his voice so even and smooth it sounded like a lie. A voice shot out from behind Young. “Prince Young, you found the princess.” A brown-haired boy in a soldier’s uniform approached. He couldn’t have been older than me. He had a baby face, softly curved features, and not a bit of hair on his chin. He looked more like a boy in costume than a warrior. “Leon,” Young said as he walked over to shake his hand. “Yeah, thanks to you.” Young turned to me. “Charlotte, grab Milly. I’m going to… uh,” he tucked his dark hair behind his ear, “clean up.” I nodded and returned to the dining room where I knew Milly was hidden. “Milly, it’s me,” I looked around. “It’s safe.” I said the words, but I wasn’t sure how true they were. Milly crawled out from behind a sofa. Her eyes widened. “You’re covered in blood.” She lifted her arms in front of her body and clutched the hand-carved cross hanging from her neck. “No, it’s okay. I’m fine,” I said, moving toward her. She backed away, terror still in her eyes. “You killed them?” I shook my head. “N-no. I saved us. If I hadn’t done that, they would have—” Blood. So much blood. I shivered. “Passed by,” she whispered. “Milly…” Guilt seared my skin. It was the last emotion in the world I could stomach in this situation. I clenched my jaw with rage. They’d invaded my home, they might have killed my father, they could have killed us. I’d acted in the way that I thought was right, but looking into Milly’s eyes, it was obvious she felt different. Doubt started to creep in. The guilt slithered down my spine as Milly backed away. She thought I was a monster and maybe she was right. The door swung open and Leon and Young hustled in. “Leon has a plan,” Young said. He paused, noticing the tension in the room. His gaze moved from Milly to me. His eyebrow raised and he spoke, “That was a brave thing you did to save your friend, Charlotte.” He turned to Milly, his jaw clenched. “Let’s go.” I felt a warm vibration of gratitude pulse inside me. Before I could give it another thought, Young and Leon ushered Milly and myself out of the room and down the hallway. They carefully checked each corner before moving us along. I stared at Milly’s back and bit down hard on my bottom lip. I wanted to reach out to Milly to tell her it was okay—to let her know we were in this together—but she wouldn’t look at me. I saw the queasy look on her face when she’d seen the bodies of the two Drethen soldiers slumped into the corner in the hallway. It could take a while, but I’d get her back somehow—she was all I had left. We rounded the corner to the staircase in the east tower. The stone platforms wrapped around the tower led up to several bedrooms, one of which I had used to shoot an arrow at the prince when he arrived, and another down to a tunnel below the castle that exited a mile in the opposite direction. If we could make it out, we’d have a decent chance of escaping. I whispered, “I think they’re getting in this way.” Leon nodded and took the lead, followed by Milly, me, and Young just behind me. We descended the stairs into the poorly torch-lit tunnel. We paused at the entrance to listen for the enemy, but all we heard was the occasional drip of something leaking and the distant sounds of battle. We hustled through, still on our guard. The darkness reminded me of the fear I’d felt as a child. My mind always twisted the shadows into monsters. Now, as I trudged along, the monsters took a new form. Did my mother make it out? Was my father really dead? I reached out for Milly’s hair for comfort as it shone in the torchlight as we passed, but I stopped myself as I remembered Young was behind me. We walked single-file in a tense, uninterrupted silence the entire mile, expecting to hear someone shout. As we shuffled through the darkness, I picked at my hands, trying to focus on the faint light at the end as it grew nearer. We stepped out into the sunshine. My eyes locked onto two men in blue standing nearby.
Overall Enjoyment: 3/5
I was lucky enough to receive this series free of charge as a participant in the Kingdom Cold book tour. Princess Charlotte’s disinterest in marry was the first part of this series that drew me in before I had read anything, but these books are fast-paced with multiple POVs that really draw you in and keep you paying attention.
This book is in fictional, medieval countries that take inspiration from our own countries. It’s not fantasy so there’s not tons of world building in this series, but there are definitely different countries that have their own cultures and norms. It comes through more in the characters we are introduced to then written description.
The characters are what really keep this book moving. They’re all unique with very distinctive voices that definitely give them some depth. I think the alternating POVs is my favorite aspect of this book. You really get a large picture of what is happening and everyone’s motivations. Charlotte’s personality is a bit hot and cold for me at times, but I think that really highlights how young she and sheltered she’s really been. I’m not a huge fan of her and her mom’s dynamic. There’s a bitterness that I just don’t enjoy. I need moms empowering daughters, not dragging them down. Something that did also bother me was the general portrayal of men in these books. Unless there’s a specific reason otherwise all the men in these books are shallow and petty. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a spin-off of Arthurian stories and that was just a general vibe they gave off, but I’m disappointed in the men’s lack of depth. Very one dimensional.
This book is culturally and racially diverse. Charlotte is a character of color as well as Young with both of them being from their own cultures. There are also other characters of color throughout the books. There are also some minor gay characters though nothing really happens with them except period typical homophobia which I wasn’t a huge fan of and some minor mentions of them maybe getting together.
Overall, this series was pretty enjoyable. I think I most enjoyed the first book. The characters have distinctive voices and there’s a bit of internal conflict that made the characters interesting to read. I felt kind meh about the second book in this series. It introduced a lot of new characters and set the scene which was interesting, but it really felt like the book was just to set the stage for the third and final book. The third and final book is where the story starts to really amp up. It’s the climax of the series after all. There are dragons, mages, and the dreaded love triangle. If you like Arthurian spin-offs with a diverse cast then this could be the series for you.
Want to know more?! Check out the other tour stops!
“Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.
But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.
Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?”
I started this book think while there might be a little teenage hardship in this book it would be a fairly light read. I was WRONG!!!! Normally I don’t give book warnings since everyone has their own personal triggers and opinions, but this one got unexpectedly dark. There were definitely times were I almost put this book down. Maybe it was because it hit a bit too close to home for me, but there’s some serious homophobia in this book. If you’re sensitive to that I would encourage you to read with caution. This book starts out light with normal teenage concerns and then hits on some serious topics.
The characters. Rukshana herself was an interesting character and I love that we were introduced to some of her Bangladesh culture and how that affects her as someone who is a first-generation teenager living in the US. I think it also was very open and honest about the different cultural pressures some girls with more traditional family may experience. There are of course other characters, but they seemed pretty shallow to me. I would say Rukshana’s family gets a little depth especially her grandmother, but I was left wanting more especially about Rukshana’s girlfriend.
World building was minor in that it takes places in the
modern world, but there’s so much cultural bits in this book that I feel I was
given a look into another experience of what life could be had I been born into
a different family. I very much enjoyed it.
Diversity. This book was focused on Rukshana, a Desi
lesbian. It also includes other LGBTQ+ characters as well as her family which
is as mentioned originally from Bangladesh. Definitely a diverse read!
Overall, I AM GOING TO GIVE SPOILERS! PLEASE SKIP IF WANT TO AVOID!!!!!
I loved the cultural elements of this book and I was really excited to read it, but how the LGBTQ+ elements were handled in this book made it almost impossible for me to enjoy. First, there is really no meaningful relationship between Rukshana and Ariana in my opinion. They’re together in the book, but we never learn how they met or really why Rukshana even loves Ariana so much. They’re either making out, arguing, or apologizing. It was flat for me and really disappointing. Once the mother catches the two girls together Rukshana is tricked into going to Bangladesh with her parents where they hire someone who basically tells the family that Rukshana is controlled by a jinn and they need to do and exorcism. Now, while this was horrifying to read I understand that there can be some importance to having this experience in the novel. I’m not sure if this is being practiced in any part of Bangladesh or anywhere today, but if so then I would want people to know about it and understand what experience men and women from these areas may be having. What I didn’t appreciate was that once Rukshana’s parents realize they were wrong the follow through of regaining trust, apologizing, etc. seemed too brief and easy to me. I wanted more conversation and depth, but it sped all too quickly for me. I also had mixed feelings about the death of Sohail, a closested gay man that Rukshana’s parents want her to marry. I think the author was maybe trying to open our eyes to the struggles of LGBTQ+ youth in Bangladesh and if this character had been more of a focal point with more backstory maybe it would have felt more powerful to me, but I felt like Sohail was only in the books so that his death could make Rukshana’s parents realize how awful it would be if their daughter was murdered. This then makes them realize that they’d rather accept her rather than see her killed. He was a plot point and I have a hard time with that. So, maybe I’m still too raw and emotional about this book to see it objectively. If you see it from a different angle I wouldn’t mind hearing your thoughts and maybe discussing it. I want to like this book and I do love the cultural aspects, but the rest is hard to swallow.
What do you think about the book? Did you enjoy it? Is it on
your TBR? I’d love to hear what you think!