Where Love can Outdo Nature: Reviewing Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Hi everyone! There is nothing quite as satisfying as finally getting around to reading that one book that’s been on your TBR list for the longest time. It’s even more satisfying when you really enjoy said book. It was just the book I needed at this time with everything being considered. I don’t write this blog to be political, but it is unavoidable. So, with that vague statement, let’s talk about Her Body and Other Parties.

Carmen Maria Machado’s collection of eight short stories combines horror, a twisted sense of humor, dark fantasy, and psychological analyses to highlight the harsh reality faced by women.

I am going to give a disclaimer at the top of this review that these stories do discuss mature topics about trauma, abuse, and sexuality. Approach with some caution if you are not ready to read about such topics.

With that all being said, I was certainly impacted by these stories. I love the use of defamiliarization that Machado so cleverly uses to highlight the reality that women have to deal with. Machado does let the reader’s imagination run, while still having a clear message throughout. I personally always look forward to that one short story that is going to haunt me and Machado delivered eight of them. Two stories particularly stood out to me were “Inventory” and “Especially Heinous: 272 Views of Law and Order: SVU.” I do highly recommend this collection if you are looking for a book about feminism and queerness told in such a unique and dark voice.

There is no chaos – only harmony: Reviewing Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray

Hi everyone! I hope you are all enjoying this lovely summer weather. I may be in the middle of some life changes but have had just enough time to catch up on my TBR list. You’re all going to be seeing more Star Wars novel reviews from me in the future because I officially have a new obsession. Whether you’re on the light side or the dark, I hope you appreciate my review of Master and Apprentice.

It is the duty of the Jedi to train their Padawans to be fierce and just warriors. Qui – Gon Jinn, however, finds himself at odds with his pragmatic Padawan, Obi – Wan Kenobi. Their relationship is only strained further when Qui – Gon is offered a place of the Jedi Council. Before a decision can be made, the Master and Padawan are summoned to the planet of Pijal by a renegade Jedi, Rael Aveross. Jinn and Kenobi find themselves in the middle of political turmoil. When danger lurks around every corner, Jinn and Kenobi’s bond is put to the ultimate test.

This book was equal parts epic adventure and thoughtful character study, which is what I want in a Star Wars novel. Claudia Gray does and excellent job maintaining and expanding upon the characters of Obi – Wan Kenobi and Qui – Gon Jinn. Even the original characters in the novel are interesting in their own right. This imaginative addition to the Star Wars canon is definitely worth the read for both casual and long term fans alike.

This Ends in Roots and Bones: Reviewing For the Wolf (Book 1 of the Wilderwood series) by Hannah Whitten

Hi everyone! So, I’m a bit of a fast reader. When I get invested in a book, I have a hard time setting it aside. I get to a point in the book when I think to myself, “Whatever, I can finish it today.” Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I haven’t decided. I have, however, decided I needed to share this one with you all. Let’s talk about For the Wolf.

From the moment she was born, Red had a destiny to fulfill. As the Second Daughter, she was to be sacrificed to the Wolf who lives in the dangerous Wilderwood in the hopes that he will release the Five Kings. She is almost thankful to go in order to avoid hurting anyone with a magic that she doesn’t understand. She quickly learns that the Wolf is not a wolf, but a man trying to keep a dangerous power at bay. Red must learn to use her powers to defeat the dark magic that lies in the Wilderwood before it reaches and destroys her world and everything she loves.

Hannah Whitten cleverly combines elements of classic fairy tales in her own elaborate world to create this unputdownable fantasy. I saw slivers of tales like Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White all sprinkled throughout this story, but with a rather adult spin on them. The character shine on their own, though, with each defying their roles in epic ways. This novel is also a little sexy in the best ways. I don’t want to go on for too long because I don’t want to give away too much. If you are looking for a captivating fantasy novel, then I would highly suggest picking up For the Wolf as you will be transported into a magical but dark world that you won’t want to leave from.

One Match can Light up an Empire: Reviewing Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Hello everyone! Yet again, I find myself finishing a book at an ungodly hour and feeling the need to blog about it immediately after when I should just go to bed. This one, for me, couldn’t wait. I wanted to kick off Pride Month with an LGBTQ+ book review for all of you. I am in the process of moving right now (among other life events) so I don’t know how much time I’ll have to read this month. But nothing will ever truly get between me and my need to read every book I get my hands on. So, let’s discuss Winter’s Orbit.

Prince Kiem has built a reputation for himself as the “playboy prince of Iskat,” which puts him in the bad graces of the Emperor, his grandmother. His carefree life is turned upside down when the Emperor calls on him to enter a political marriage with the recently widowed Count Jainan. Neither wants to be married, but it is the only way to settle the disharmony rising up between their home planets. The couple soon find themselves wrapped up in a conspiracy that spreads across the galaxy and must work together to prevent a possible war.

Everina Maxwell does an excellent job balancing a compelling plot and slow burn romance in this exciting sci-fi novel. The pacing was steady and allows for the reader to fully absorb the vast galaxy that Maxwell carefully crafts. The romance between Kiem and Jainan is sweet, awkward, and passionate in all of the best ways. It is definitely more of a character driven novel overall, which I appreciate in this instance. With sci-fi novels, it sometimes feels as though I either get to know the setting or the characters well but rarely both. In this instance, I felt as though both were equally fleshed out through the writing. I am absolutely going to recommend this novel if you are looking for a sci-fi adventure with romance to read this summer.

Knowledge is Carnage: Reviewing The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Hello everyone! It is a beautiful day to stay inside and read some book that the internet told you to read. While I’m happy to have access to such wonderful recommendations, I also feel that “Book Tok” is getting out of hand. Recently, I purchased a book that had a “Seen on Book Tok” (or something like that) sticker on it and I honestly wanted to gag. Ok, that’s the end of my tangent. Let’s get into The Atlas Six.

The Society only recruits the most powerful magic users into its mysterious and elite depths. Every decade, six of the most talented individuals are selected to join the Society. In order to do so, they must pass a series of tests to prove that they are worthy. The six newest recruits quickly find themselves making allies, or enemies, in order to get to the top. The stakes are even higher when they realize that one among them will not survive the initiation into the Society.

I went in wanting to like this book as I was given the impression it was like The Secret History but with magic. Despite Olivie Blake having a fully fleshed out magical world, there really wasn’t a lot of magic actually being done in the book. If I’m being honest, I was rather bored at times as there were long stretches of the book that were just characters having drawn out conversations, or having long internal monologues. As much as I enjoy introspection, when you promise me magic then I want some magic. I am not going to tell anyone to not read this book. I will be nice and say that I did enjoy the characters quite a bit. I also liked how well Blake captures the spirit of dark academia in the book. There is still plenty to like, but it just didn’t transcend my expectations or thrill me in the way other magic – based novels have.

All the ghosts were home too: Reviewing Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. The weather is finally nice and seem to realize how much more productive I feel during the warmer times of the year. Why do I open up my posts with comments about the weather? I’m bad at conversation, even on the internet. But I don’t let the warm weather stop me from enjoying the thrills and chills that come with a good horror novel. I do have some reviews for longer books in the near future, but I thought I would give you this novella review in the meanwhile. With that being said, let’s talk about Nothing but Blackened Teeth.

A group of young, thrill – seeking friends decided to stay the night at a crumbling Japanese manor. The manor is haunted by a ghost bride and girls sacrificed to keep her company. It’s the perfect place for a wedding. After a night of drinking and eating, nightmarish figures begin to appear, including the ghost bride and she is tired of. being alone…

This was a fairly short novel with just over one hundred pages, but that doesn’t make it any less creepy. Khaw doesn’t hold back on any of the gruesome details that comes with the traditional Japanese folklore in this novella. There is a self – reflective element of this novel that I particularly appreciate when it comes to the horror genre. I do have a particular love for Japanese folklore and wish I could properly pronounce everything in this novel. Even if you don’t know anything about Japanese horror, there are plenty of this in this novel to research. If you are looking for a quick, biting, and exciting horror novel, then I will go ahead and give you my recommendation for this delightfully nightmarish read.

Do you want to drown the world in blood?: Reviewing The Tower of Swallows (Book Four of the Witcher Series) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I’ve fallen a little behind in my TBR but you can blame that on a sudden windfall of good streaming content. Does anyone else notice that there are either a ton of good shows out or there’s absolutely nothing good out? Maybe I just watch too many shows, but that is beside the point. I am still determined to read this whole series and my committment has not been shaken. So, let’s talk about the fourth book in The Witcher series.

Despite Geralt’s best efforts, Ciri has seemingly completely vanished. Unbeknowst to Geralt, though, Ciri continues to hone her strength and finds several odd allies along the way. With his own group of allies, Geralt continues to search for Ciri but has his own threats following close behind. He must travel through the Tower of Swallows, where he finds that the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

The problem with high fantasy novels, in my opinion, is that sometimes the world in the novel just gets too weighed down by an excess of characters. That was my main issue with this particular book in the series. When the book was focused on Geralt, Ciri, or Yennefer, it was at its strongest. I do enjoy how Sapkowski crafts these strong action sequences. The world building is truly interesting, but like I said, the pacing is pretty slow at points. So far, this is not my favorite book in The Witcher series but I am still going to dilligently finish this series for my followers.

Hot, Hungry, and Haunting: Reviewing Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I am coming to you, yet again, writing a review instead of sleeping. I can either read a book in a month or in a day; there is no in-between. I am not sure if I have ever said this before but I am a fan of American Gothic/Southern Gothic literature. It is a very underrated genre, in my personal opinion. When I found Summer Sons while browsing Amazon, I quickly saved it to my list. Now that I have finished the book, it’s time to get spooky (yet again) and talk about it.

Andrew’s life is turned upside down by the apparent suicide of his closest friend, Eddie. Having known each other since childhood, Andrew thought he knew everything about him. That is until Eddie left him abruptly to attend graduate school. Now, Andrew must sift through the remains of his dearest friend’s life, only to discover a horrifying phantom that latches onto him. Desperate to be free of this curse, Andrew recruits Eddie’s enigmatic friends to help him discover the truth behind his death and lay him to rest once and for all.

If you are looking for a book that is part Southern Gothic horror with a touch of dark academia, then look no further than Summer Sons. Maybe I am a bit biased towards this novel because it reminds me of the early seasons of Supernatural (which Mandelo lovingly references), but I loved the way that Mandelo captures the atmosphere and aesthetic that is so crucial to crafting a Southern Gothic novel. Some people may find the attention to detail to be a bit too much, but I enjoyed how visceral this particular version of a haunting was in the novel. What I particularly liked was the way that Mandelo blends together the human elements with interesting drama and the inherent tension of a lurking supernatural threat. I personally would recommend this book if you are looking for a fresh take on the Southern Gothic genre with the welcome addition of LGBTQ+ representation.

Intimacy is About Truth: Reviewing The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. This review is a bit of a departure for me as this book is typically within my favorite genre, but sometimes you just need to embrace the impulse. Many of you are probably aware that this book has become a darling on BookTok so I will now offer my review of it. Let’s get into The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Monique Grant is stuck. Between her stagnant writing career and divorce, she is looking for something pull her out of her slump. Out of the blue, she is approached by the glamorous and enigmatic Evelyn Hugo to write her biography. Together, the two women explore Evelyn’s complicated love life and storied career in Hollywood. It becomes clear to Monique that her and Evelyn’s stories are tied in ways she couldn’t imagine and that this woman will change her life forever.

This was a suprising novel to me for many reasons. First of all, I was expecting something rather explicing and scandalous. Reid, however, takes an honest and emotional look at the complicated lives of celebrities. Evelyn Hugo is a fascinating character to study who is as multi-faceted as a gem. While Monique is mostly in the background, she does bridge the gap between the Golden Age of Hollywood and the world of modern fame. Most importantly, this novel has wonderful LGBTQ+ representation as it explores the complicated lives of those forced to hide their love from the public eye. I was truly captivated by this book. In my opinion, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo defies expectations, which is essential to the overall theme of the book.

Our Kingdom, Our Throne: Reviewing Neon Gods by Katee Robert

Hello everyone! It is allergy season, which means I won’t be able to breathe properly for the next couple of days. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good book (and a spicy one at that). Before I even begin this review, I want to give a heads up that this is a very adult book. If you are under the age of 18, please keep scrolling. I won’t be going into graphic detail, but this book does indeed have rather graphic detail. Now that my PSA is done, let’s get a little spicy and a little mythical with Neon Gods.

Persephone Dimitrou has always been the good girl, Demeter’s obedient daughter. She has always done her best to keep out of the spotlight in the turbulent high society of Olympus. She is thrust into the spotlight when Zeus, the most powerful and dangerous man in Olympus, proposes to her out of nowhere. Fearing for her safety, she flees across the River Styx and right into the arms of Hades, who isn’t supposed to even exist. Wanting to escape her life in Olympus, Persephone and Hades strike a deal with each other to get revenge on Zeus. Soon, the two begin to fall for each other and realize that there is nothing they won’t do to be together, even if it means destroying Olympus itself.

If you are looking for a faithful retelling of the myth of Persephone and Hades, then this might not be the novel for you. Katee Robert does take some creative liberties with Greek mythology in general and, while it initially deterred me a bit, I quickly realized that I actually liked the restructuring that Robert does. Most importantly, I really liked the way that she portrayed Hades and Persephone. I liked the way that their relationship developed into love and trust. It was genuinely sweet. This genuine relationship, plus the spicy love scenes, made them a fantastic couple. I also appreciated that they had healthy communication, which you don’t get much of in adult romance books. If you are looking for something dark, sexy, and rather sweet, (and you are an adult) then definitely read Neon Gods.

Side note: Katee Robert just released the second book in this series that is a retelling of Eros and Psyche. I was initially iffy about the premise but I think I will be giving it a shot now.