The Liar’s Guide to the Night Sky by Brianna R. Shrum | Drumsofautumn ARC Review

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss
Publication: Nov 3rd, 2020 by Sky Pony Press

“It’s freezing and dark because this is how it is with us; this is how we connected, so it’s fitting that this is where we wind up, kissing each other like we are both hungry.”

The Liar’s Guide to the Night Sky is YA Survival Story that had some very promising aspects to it but ultimately ended up not delivering when it came to unpacking them.

The story starts with a group of teens, most of them cousins, who all got together because of a sickness in the family, sneaking out to an abandoned ski slope, when they get hit with a sudden mudslide and are stranded on this mountain with nobody knowing where they are.

Our main character Hallie decides that she doesn’t wanna sit around and wait for help but to go and search for it herself. Jonah, her cousin Jaxon’s best friend, joins her and we follow them on their survival journey but also them getting to know each other better.

I have read two other books by Brianna Shrum that I really loved, so I was very excited to pick this novel up, even if it was slightly out of my comfort zone, as I do not usually reach for (Contemporary) Survival stories. But I was excited by the diversity aspects in this story and my love for the author’s earlier books, so I wanted to give it a chance.

Sadly, I did not end up being very satisfied with this novel and the elements in it. I think that there are a lot of intriguing aspects to it but ultimately the things that I would’ve wanted to read more about were either not talked about enough or just didn’t get the on-page time they deserved.

“We touch each other, under the black sky and a million stars that shine a million miles away, stars that make up the backdrop of this crucial twenty-four hours, this life-altering turn of a night, and that do not give a single shit about us. We are not imprinted in the memory of the stars. Anyway, it’s the vastness of the black that’s imprinted in mine.”

One of the very promising aspects of this story are the complex family dynamics that are portrayed. Hallie lived away from the rest of her big family for a long time and feels out of place in between them, even when she wants to be part of this cousin group so very badly.

She struggles with not getting inside jokes and just feeling like she doesn’t know everyone as well as they all know each other. On top of that, whenever there were family gatherings in the past, it seemed like her parents wanted to mostly keep her away from the rest of the family and making her feel like they would have a bad influence on her.

One aspect that plays into this is racism, which absolutely did not get unpacked enough in regards to Hallie’s parents. We find out about a conversation between Hallie’s dad and his brother, that Hallie overheard when she was younger, where they are having a fight and Hallie’s uncle asks if this is about him being married to a Black woman. And in that moment Hallie even thinks to herself that her uncle is probably right.

But that is the most that this ever really gets talked about. I know that it can be hard to challenge your parents about their racism, especially when it has to do with family relationships and it being something that you think might be out of your lane.
But apart from the fact that Hallie is acknowledging this and being upset by it, this is never really brought up again, even by anybody else. And it is not like Hallie is the picture-perfect daughter in this novel who never says anything against her parents.. the fact that the racism is never brought up by her, was really disappointing.

It seemed like the author was making a point later on in the novel about how the main character in general didn’t seem to be super well informed about (anti-Black) racism, when she has a conversation about the racism in Denver and other “liberal-leaning” cities with Jaxon, who is Afro-Latinx and studies Political science.
And while that obviously would be a very valid point to make, especially considering Hallie’s parents, there was not enough substance to this conversation and, again, the topic is never really brought up again when it comes to her parents and the fact that they have basically completely separated themselves from the rest of the family due to racism.

Plus, the conversation ends with Hallie making heart eyes at Jason because he is so passionate about fighting racism… instead of her actually processing what he said. And the topic gets brought up again later, when Jaxon tells Hallie about his dad having been in jail for 10 years for smoking weed and how that is a systematic issue that many Black men have to face. All Hallie has to say about this is that it “fucking sucks”.

I am going to talk about the Black character doing all the explaining to the white character later in the review but the thing is that there is just such a wasted opportunity here. The least Hallie could’ve done is to really listen and learn and to later on confront her parents about their racism and how it kept her from being close to her family. It honestly feels like Hallie doesn’t take anything away from this conversation whatsoever.

“When he pulls me toward him with the smallest pressure in the tips of his fingers and kisses me. It is so slow that it fucking hurts. I think that maybe I’ve never kissed anyone in my life.”

Now while I don’t think that the racism was handled very well, I think that a lot of the representation was done much better. There is Hallie being Jewish (which is ownvoices) and I liked that this novel used lots of Jewish terms and talked about traditions, while also acknowledging that there is a lot of layers to being Jewish and practising (or not practising) Judaism.

Jonah and Hallie also have a really great conversation about romantic and sexual attraction. Hallie identifies as bisexual and Jonah identifies as pansexual and aromantic and the aromantic and bisexual representation is an ownvoices aspect. Now while I cannot speak for any of these identities, I liked that the author took the time for the characters to really have a conversation about this. This is one of the few novels that actually explains what pansexual means, while also acknowledging that sexuality is a spectrum, which made me really happy to read about.

Jonah also talks about being aromantic and what that means for him. There was definitely an emphasis put on the fact that it does not mean that he is broken or incapable of love, which is so very important to point out. Jonah also mentions that he is not monogamous and explains it to Hallie too because she basically immediately assumes what he means is cheating, when he is talking about consensual polygamy.

Now I am grateful for these barely represented identities to be so well-explained in a novel but especially as I was writing this review, I realized how much explaining there was within this novel and that most of it came from Jonah. He keeps educating Hallie about all of these different things and the author even makes a point for Hallie to point out that she would do research herself, if she had internet, but it is a really cheap excuse for the one, main person of colour in this story to do all of the explaining.

“I am absolutely suffocated by the fact that I seem to have changed utterly while my parents simply have not. Nothing else has. Nothing but me.”

Apart from all of those glaring issues with this book, I also just didn’t enjoy the Survival part of this story much. I will say that that very well might be a me-problem because I obviously didn’t really go into this novel because of that aspect but because I was interested in the author’s work in general and the character dynamics. But I just ended up being bored by the Survival aspect because, while the stakes were supposed to feel high, they never really did.

I also couldn’t handle the stupidity of the main character and her companion leaving the group in the first place. Throughout this story I kept thinking about there being a good chance that this group had already been found while these two people are still wandering around, with absolutely no indication of where they could be for any help on the way.

The really interesting aspect of this story could’ve been the aftermath of this traumatic event. The last part of this book was so fucking good because it dealt with the main character trying to live a normal life after her time hiking through these mountains, fearing for her life.
But sadly that was truly only on the last couple of pages. The main character very clearly suffers from PTSD and depression and it is so interesting to read her inner monologue and her not understanding how everybody else can just move on with their lives when she just has been through such a life-altering event. I absolutely wish that this aspect would’ve taken up so much more time of this novel.

Especially as this is also where the relationship between Hallie and Jonah truly becomes fascinating because they have been through this together and understand each other better than anybody else. This is where we could’ve really discovered the bond between them and if and how their relationships develops.

“I care that, for this second, all there is is me and Jonah and a hundred trees that have no opinion, a solid dark that surrounds us, that lets us both just exist in a way that is shockingly alive. Shockingly … connected.”

I will say that I liked the nature of their relationship a lot and it is something that we really do not get to see in Young Adult. They had a strong bond, were physically affectionate and had sex but this is not a Romance. I think it is so important to show that two people can have a genuine connection with each other and have a physical relationship too, without them having romantic interest in each other or falling in love.

Lastly I do want to say that Hallie is 17 and in high school and Jonah is almost 20 and in college. I feel like I have become very aware of age in YA relationships and do find it important to point it out, even though I struggle to talk about it, especially as someone who did not grow up or has ever lived in the US.
But I know that for a lot of people, while this age gap isn’t big, it makes a huge difference that one is in college and one is in high school. There is even a conversation in the beginning where Jaxon says to Jonah “stay away from the high schooler” and while I understand that this was more like some kind of protective older sibling joke, it immediately left a bad taste in my mouth about their relationship.

Overall, I finished this novel feeling disappointed and that is very much the lingering feeling after writing my review too. I feel like this had a lot of potential and I do believe that the author had good intentions but ultimately, this sadly missed a mark.. or many.

Trigger and Content Warnings for underage cannabis use and drinking, blood, injury, loved one with a terminal illness, PTSD, depression.

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✨ Lea posts a review on Meltotheany every Friday! Read more of her reviews HERE! ✨

Top Ten Tuesday | Books On My TBR Because My Friends Are Enablers With Taste

TopTenTuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

I’ve been getting so exciting picking out TBRs this last half of 2020, so I thought it would be cool to do a tiny spin on “Books I Read Because Someone Recommended Them to Me” and talk about the books that I look at on my shelves and smile because I want to pick them up because of my friends. 💕

The Fever King (Feverwake #1) by Victoria Lee
Maëlys ✨ (here are 10 more books I want to read because of her!)

Winterkeep (Graceling Realm #4) by Kristin Cashore
Lea

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
Romie

Warcross by Marie Lu
Amy

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
Michelle

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse
Petrik

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
May

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry
Riley

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
Destiny

The Sword of Kaigen (Theonite) by M.L. Wang
Eon



I’ve always been fascinated with the way that certain books can make you think of certain people, even without reading them. I always wonder what books people correlate with me, and it always makes me happy when they tell me. Ahhh, I don’t want to get sappy, but this post was a lot of fun. There are honestly so many more books on my TBR that I see and just instantly think of so many other loved ones. But I feel very blessed for these ten books, and these ten people, and I can’t wait to hopefully love all of these! 💗

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This Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi | Drumsofautumn ARC Review

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

“She felt new, fresh. She felt cleansed. From all the loathing that had been welling up inside of her. From the slow creep into the darkness. Wild Nights had saved her. Again.”

This Is All Your Fault is a YA Contemporary with a really refreshing storyline, unpacking a whole bunch of different themes and topics.

At the centre of this story is the indie bookstore, Wild Nights, and all the characters trying to save the store from being closed. The story starts with a bit of a wild attempt by one of the employees, Eli, to invest a whole bunch of money by buying and re-selling Jordans.. but things just get worse from there.

The story is told from three point of views. We have Daniella, who is very much the employee with the most responsibility in the bookstore and can come across quite bossy. She writes poetry and publishes it on a anonymous Instagram account.
Then there is Imogen, who starts this story out by shaving her head and is clearly going through some stuff. She has a Middle-Eastern heritage and is queer and while she is not diagnosed within this story, probably has depression.
Finally we have Rinn, who has a super bubbly and happy exterior and makes bookish content online. She is biracial (Mexican-American and German) and has anxiety.

“We pay attention to tons of things we don’t realize at the time. But they become the voices in our head anyway.”

When I realized that this story was actually going to take place over the course of one day and only in this book store, I definitely felt a little bit apprehensive. I thought that it would probably make it hard to get attached to the characters and to really feel invested in their storylines.

But ultimately, while reading this story, I realized that the way it is written works really well for it. You are just invested enough in the individual characters and their issues but the aspect that keeps you captivated is all these storylines coming together to tell the story of this closing bookstore.

And I absolutely loved the setting of the bookstore. I think that the author did an amazing job at truly making this bookstore come to life. It was almost like it was its own character and I loved the fact that we had all of these very different characters who came together to tell its story.
After reading this novel I really wish that this was an actual read bookstore that I could visit.

“And when Rinn had an idea, nothing could stop her, come hell or high water—that much had always been apparent about Rinn Olivera.”

One of my favourite aspects of the story is Rinn and the fact that she has a pretty huge social media platform talking about books. I feel like we have gotten so many YA stories about characters who love books and/or who are writers but I cannot remember ever reading about someone who is a “bookish influencer”. It was genuinely SO MUCH FUN to read about Rinn and her creative process for making content.

But this also highlighted some of the darker aspects of the bookish and author community in general. There is a storyline with a popular male author who sexually harasses one of the girls in the bookstore and we find out about him having shown behaviour like that for many years.

This is of course in general an incredibly timely topic in our society but especially something that keeps coming up in the bookish sphere and I really loved that Aminah Mae Safi made this a theme in the novel because it is a very realistic, sadly all too common thing that might get talked about a lot in certain social media circles, but other than that is often an aspect that gets ignored.

“The vulnerable risk everything. The powerful can just point at everything that they have amassed, as though that’s an argument against potential injustice and misbehavior.”

There is also all the mental health issues that the characters deal with. Apart from the storyline of the closing bookstore, this is truly the main theme of this story for me. I personally really liked the portrayal of these issues because they showed how different things can manifest in people and how different situations can trigger people.

There were some situations where the characters messed up and didn’t treat people well because of their bad mental health, which should obviously never be an excused, but it all gets unpacked and talked about and I very much enjoyed that.

In general while I truly didn’t feel very attached to these character because of the nature of this story and the short time span, I just genuinely adored the way these characters were portrayed as flawed but willing to learn and grow. Some of these characters are truly unlikeable but it doesn’t make them any less enjoyable to read about.

“It was understanding what sadness was—sometimes more than a feeling—and that it was a thing she could almost taste, could almost touch at times, it was so real.”

I will say that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the relationships between the characters and how they developed. This was genuinely the weakest aspect of this story for me and I think that this is definitely an aspect that suffers if you write a story that just takes place over the course of one day.

Especially when you think about the fact that these characters have known each other and worked together for a while, a lot of the development that happened in this story just seemed like a very quick change of heart. It definitely makes sense that a huge event like a bookstore closing would bring people closer together but it still seemed quite a lot for just one day. I think that you have to suspend your disbelief a little bit with the relationships in this book.

“Off camera, three girls were burying their secrets. Maybe one day they’d dig them up. Maybe they wouldn’t. But the city would guard their memories, regardless. Waiting, until they were ready.”

Overall, I had a really good time reading this story. I don’t think it is anything that will stay with me for a long time but there is also nothing that I actively disliked about it.
I definitely recommend it if you want to read a novel that is set in a bookstore.

Trigger and Content Warnings for sexual harassment, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, smoking (vape).

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✨ Lea posts a review on Meltotheany every Friday! Read more of her reviews HERE! ✨

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco | ARC Review

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ARC provided by Netgalley
Publication: October 27th, 2020

“In the end, the monster we feared didn’t come from Hell. He came from privilege.”

Oh, this review is going to be a wild ride. The range of things I feel for this book is very unreal. Listen, the atmosphere of this? The settings? The premise? I couldn’t get enough. Dare I even say close to perfect? And the plot had me so very invested in every single way. But this actual story and the plot conveniences, the characters and their lack of critical thinking, the obvious plot twists? The Lord might be testing me. The whiplash I felt while reading this was a full experience and deserves a star rating of its own, truly.

When you open this book for the first time, the prologue will transport you to a stormy night in 19th century Italy, where two little twin girls are being gifted very special necklaces while slowly learning their witch powers and history from their grandmother. There are seven demon princes but only 4 the witches should fear, but somehow their necklaces will keep them safe, even though they are instructed to never place them together.

“One will crave your blood. One will capture your heart. One will steal your soul. And one will take your life.”

Then the story actually takes place ten years in the future, where Emilia and Vittoria are now eighteen-years-old, but we see how that night has shaped their lives for the last decade in so many different ways, but for sure centering on those necklaces that were entrusted to them. Both girls are trying to help their family with their restaurant, find and follow their dreams, and lead normal lives, but they soon find out that normal and safe and happy was never in the cards for them.

Again, I do not want to give much away, because I think I very much benefited from not reading the synopsis of this story. But the gates of hell are weakening, and their city and family are no longer safe. Not only do they have to worry about hiding the fact that they are witches, but now they have to worry about demon princes, witch hunters, and other creatures that go bump in the night! But Emilia is thrust in the heart of it all, with her witchcraft on full display, when she makes a deal with a demon when she is most desperate.

Together, Emilia and Wrath (be still, my BDB heart) are forced to work together to investigate brutal and mysterious murders that are happening, but they are both looking for clues for very different reasons. My favorite part of this book was truly going alongside Emilia and seeing all these different settings. From secret casinos, to her family’s kitchen, surprise palaces, spooky beaches, to the scary and dark corridors within the church, I couldn’t get enough of all the different adventures in all the different places.

“Grief carved me in half. And fury honed the pieces into a weapon.”

I really loved the depiction of grief and depression in this book, too. How the weight of sadness can be unbearable, especially alone, when your world and future are taken from you right before your eyes. I also think Kerri Maniscalco did a really good job portraying not only the different stages that can be held within grief, but to also tell the reader that there is truly no wrong way to grieve. Heartbreak can be sadness and pain, but it can also be anger and revenge.

I also did really enjoy the romance and I think if you are looking to indulge in a new OTP that will remind you of 2015 then you are in luck with this one! I did enjoy Wrath a lot more than Emilia for the most part, but I feel like the plot convenience (and Emilia acting stupid) was the downfall of this book. I am not good at unraveling mysteries, but I truly unraveled this one instantly, I only wish Emilia could have a little sooner and it made the reading experience a bit annoying. Also, she gets upset at the strangest things, and wholeheartedly accepts the wildest things for no reason. I truly feel like her character was mostly used to move the book along conveniently instead of actually making her feel like a main character with depth and identity.

Also, I’m just going to say it, the grandmother in this book is one of the most infuriating characters I’ve read about all 2020. Like, regardless of prophecies, how are you going to be this mysterious with eight-year-old little girls and then really not fill them in on any blanks for the next ten years of their lives too? The grandma is really written to look like this cool and wise character who helps save the day, but I truly could not stand her or her shocked reaction when things would fall apart around her.

On top of the mysteries in this book being a bit of a letdown, I will also say that I felt like so many big events in this book kind of happened just for (hopefully) set ups for the next installment. I’m all for setting up things in early books, but it just kind of feels bad when absolutely nothing happens regarding these big chapters after the scene has ended. I feel like if this book felt more cohesive throughout, instead of just setting up for what is to come, I would have gotten so much of a higher rating from me, but I have to rate and review off the material that is given to me and it made for a bit of an infuriating reading experience.

“Man had a funny way of blaming the devil for things he didn’t like.”

Overall, I couldn’t put this book down. Truly. And I would bet you a great sum of money that I will also pick up the next one, because this book ended on a very perfect cliffhanger set up that I greedily want to know everything about. This book really did give me nostalgic feels for some reason, it made me very hungry most of the time, and it made me truly never want to put it down. The writing is so easily consumable, and I really did fall in love with the setting and plot set up. I only wish it felt a little bit more like a full story and not just a set up book. I still predict that this book will do really well, and I think most people will have a very good reading experience with this with.

Trigger and Content Warnings: gore, violence, blood depiction, self-harm to get blood for spells, loss of a loved one, grief depiction, murder, death, brief mention of unwanted touching, and magical compulsion.

3
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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with Maëlys & Lea! ❤

Park Jimin Book Recommendations

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Today is Jimin’s birthday here in my time zone and I couldn’t not make some sort of blog post celebrating it. I know a lot of people joke about their “emotional support kpop boy” but oh my word has Jimin made 2019 and 2020 so much brighter for me. His words, his presence, his voice has gotten me through so much, and I truly don’t even have the words to tell you all how much he means to me. He makes me so proud, and feel so seen, and so very inspired on so many levels, and I really so aspire to be as kind and loving and supportive as he is to his loved ones. But before I make a full on thesis statement about my love for him and everything he has done for me, let me just give you some book recommendations based on his solo songs. 💜


LIE

“Please bring back my smile”

Lie is Jimin’s very first solo! My interpretation of Lie is about all of the lies we tell ourselves. I personally think this is both ends of the spectrum where we lie about being happy when we aren’t, but also the lies about ourselves that encroach our thoughts when we are actually happy. For me, this song is very much about mental health, and I think Jimin is really brave to have this song, because you can see how much it impacts, and has impacted him. So were are three books about mental health that made me feel very seen, and that I think could be very healing about all those littles lies. 


SERENDIPITY

“we bloom painfully beautifully

Serendipity if my favorite song probably ever, so this one is extra close to my heart. My interpretation of Serendipity is that it is all about growth, and healing, and finding happiness in so many different places. The word “serendipity” means to be happy due to chance, and what is more serendipitous than true love, for yourself and/or for others. To truly see another person completely, and to love them wholeheartedly flaws and all, and unconditionally choose them over and over. It is a very powerful thing, and a very vulnerable thing, and something that we are never quite ready for. But this song is so powerful, so vulnerable, and so… romantic with all the differently types of love we are able to have in this life! So here are three of my favorite books about love, both for ourselves and for others.


FILTER

“For you, I will be new every day”

Filter is Jimin’s most recent solo that we just got to see finally performed last weekend (I am sorry for this video quality, lol). My interpretation of Filter is a little darker, so I am sorry for that. But Jimin is obviously a very successful human and I think this song is about how he can slip into many roles to please different people, and the expectations they place on him. I also obviously think Jimin is a very genuine person, and he loves his fans more than anything and he shows that unapologetically, but I also think he is aware of the different masks (and egos) that he is able to put on for BTS and just in general from being in the most successful kpop group ever which makes his life constantly scrutinize because he is always in the public eye. So here are three books where the main character changes a lot based on the circumstances life has placed on them. 


PROMISE

“I want you to be your light”

Promise is Jimin’s only and first actual solo work, the other three have been on BTS albums where the other members also have solos, so Promise is a little different and very special. Oh, and the meaning actually makes me weep! But my interpretation of Promise is that sometimes loving yourself is a lot harder than loving others. Yet, seeing how far you’ve came, and knowing how far you have to go, can be comforting, especially if you make promises along the way. Again, this is very much a song about mental health, to me, and how you are worthy of being here, and worthy of love, and worthy of kindness, both from others and yourself. So here are three books all about growth and journeys and how we all deserve happy endings. 



Oh, and all of these books are my favorites of all time! Jimin really does deserve the entire world. He is just the embodiment of love and healing and growth and I always feel so honored to call him my ult bias. Thank you all for being supportive of this other love of mine, and being able to pair it with books always makes my heart so very happy! Do you like kpop? Tell me your fave groups and biases, if so! And I hope you’re having happy listening and reading! 💜

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September 2020 Wrap Up

WrapUp9
Hey friends! I know we are almost midway through October, but it has been such a busy month for me (and hopefully you’ve been enjoying the other content on the blog)! But September was a bit of a mixed reading month for me! I was able to read ten things, but not a single one earned five stars from me! 🍁

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Such a beautiful story about culture and identity and loving all parts of yourself and your heritage. I also loved the themes of healing and art, too. Truly this was such a good read and an amazing way to start my month!

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong ⭐⭐⭐
Publication: November 17th 2020
A Romeo & Juliet loose retelling set in historical Shanghai? Whew, that premise! I wish I loved this one as much as most of my friends, but it was still a fun read with lots of discussions about colonization and microaggressions and Western lenses that PoC have to face even in their own Eastern countries

The Lost Book of the White by Cassandra Clare & Wesley Chu ⭐⭐⭐
A fun addition to the Shadowhunter world, but I truly didn’t love this nearly as much as the first book! But being back with the original gang always feels good and makes me happy. Also, domestic Magnus and Alec make my heart burst.

Beach Read by Emily Henry ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I couldn’t believe how much I loved this, and how much this cover and synopsis really leads you to believe this story will be something different. This dealt with important themes of grief and healing, and truly was a book about writers block and how sometimes things in life will uproot everything.

Vampires of Portlandia by Jason Tanamor ⭐⭐⭐
I truly wanted to love this so much more than I did, but I was still so very happy to be on an ownvoices blog tour celebrating Filipino mythos and culture. Sadly, I’ve just had some not amazing experiences with the vampire resurgence this year!

Dragon Unleashed (Fallen Empire #2) by Grace Draven ⭐⭐
Whew, I cannot believe how much this let me down. This book was truly ungodly boring, which was so surprising because the first book was so action packed! Hopefully I will learn my lesson and DNF books that can’t hold my interest, even if I loved a previous book in the series!

Nocturna (A Forgery of Magic #1) by Maya Motayne ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was the Dragons and Tea September pick and I really loved this one! This is a magical story all about identity and language and… colonization (truly a theme of books I keep picking up)! I thought this book was so very beautiful, and the grief and abuse depictions were very heartbreakingly raw.

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Sapphic witch queen must fall in love with the girl she is forced to sacrifice to save all her people? The angst, the yearning, the hunger of my dreams. I really loved this one and again, the grief and abuse depictions were important and also very raw and unapologetic.

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This book was my favorite of the month! From a girl who can’t remember all her memories after being sick, to a man who will stop at nothing to find his love (while also picking up the cutest companion of all companions), and two sapphics again winning me and my heart completely over. This book was everything and I promise a full review soon!

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco ⭐⭐⭐
Publication: October 27th, 2020 
This was the hardest book for me to rate. The range of things I feel for this book is very unreal. Listen, the atmosphere of this? The settings? The premise? I couldn’t get enough. Dare I even say close to perfect? And the plot had me so very invested in every single way. But this actual story and the plot conveniences, the characters and their lack of critical thinking, the obvious plot twists? The Lord might be testing me. The whiplash I felt while reading this was a full experience and deserves a star rating of its own, truly.


What was your favorite book of September? Or even so far in October? I hope you all are having happy reading, and I hope we both have a lot more five star reads for our October reading! 🎃

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Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon | Drumsofautumn Backlist Review

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“He has a part of me, and I’m the one with a gaping hole that can’t be fixed.”

Our Year of Maybe is an incredibly well done book about unrequited love and friendship break-ups, a topic that I think way too little YA books focus on.

This book has many layers to it. One of the core events of it is Sophie donating her kidney to her best friend Peter, who she is also in love with. They grew up together and are basically each other’s only friends, but we realize throughout the book that their friendship is not perfect and both of them struggle with what they give and want out of it.

Sophie is dyslexic and Jewish. Peter’s dad is Jewish and Peter is trying to connect more with Judaism. He is also bisexual and chronically ill.

“Our lives have revolved around Peter always. He is the earth, and I am the moon. There was never enough I could do to get him to love me the way I wanted, to see me as more than just a moon. I have never been enough, and he has always been too much.”

I was first and foremost interested in this book because I really enjoy books that focus on music and so having a main character who plays piano and another who is a dancer was an incredibly intriguing concept to me.

But as I was getting into this book, I absolutely stayed for the friendship dynamic. While I wouldn’t necessarily say the music aspect fell flat, it completely took a backseat with all of the other stuff going on in this novel.

“And that’s the horrible truth of it all, isn’t it? Peter could slash me open and steal my other kidney, and I would let him. If it would keep him alive, I’d dig it out for him myself.”

The feelings both of these characters have for each other are messy and I loved every second of reading about them trying to figure things out. What really works about this book is that both fuck up and both say mean things to each other. But it doesn’t feel wrong but more like everything they say and do is inevitable and rather like something that needed to be said for a long time, even if it might hurt.
Especially Sophie’s thoughts were always brutally honest and it was so interesting to see her grapple with the hopes she had of the kidney donation bringing her closer to Peter.

Sophie’s unrequited love was unbelievably well written and it really made me question if I have ever read it as such a main theme in a book. While I love romances in books, my own teenage experience came far closer to what Sophie was experiencing and I know that this is a book that I absolutely would’ve needed.
I definitely wish that this was something that would become much more common in YA.

“I love you,” I whisper to him before we’re taken into the operating room. “Me too,” he whispers back, and my last thought before I surrender to the anesthesia is: You have no idea how much.”

But this book is not only about how the relationship between them changes but also them reflecting on their friendship in general, and recognizing that it hasn’t been very healthy for a long time.
They realize how they depended on only each other for so long, that they never looked outside to see if there are other people they wanna be close with. Both Sophie and Peter come out of their shell with other friend groups and it is great to see them develop and really understand themselves for the first time.

There was also a very cute m/m romance in Peter’s storyline. While the relationship between Sophie and Peter is definitely the main focus of this book, the romance between Peter and his other love interest was super well developed and very lovely to read about.
And for anyone that is now wondering – no, this book has no cheating! There is definitely some slightly questionable behaviour but for me personally everything got talked about and resolved in such a way, that it made sense for the story line.

“That’s why uncertainty is so safe: I can wrap myself in this potentially unrequited love and never risk getting shut down.”

I feel like YA is more and more featuring sex scenes that are not fade-to-black and still manage to be absolutely YA appropriate and I think that this book knocked it out of the park with that.
It had a male/female and a male/male sex scene and in both consent was a really important factor and especially in the male/female sex scene there was a focus on asking your partner what they enjoy.

It also talked about the female main character owning a vibrator and masturbating AND the male main character masturbating and how this had previously been affected by him being chronically ill. I was truly impressed by these aspects being included as I find it really important to normalize these things.

“It’s easy to fall in love with someone who’s a master of their craft. Peter at the piano has an intensity I’ve always admired. An electricity, like if I touched him in the middle of a Rufus Wainwright song, he’d burn my hand.”

We also have Sophie’s sister, who is a teen mum and not only did I enjoy her as a character a lot, it was also great to see her relationship with Sophie and how they grew much closer and understood that they both individually have completely different struggles to deal with that are each valid in their own right.
In general both Sophie and Peter had super interesting family dynamics as well and the parents were very present in both of their point of views.

“He didn’t owe me his love, and I didn’t deserve it because of the sacrifices I made. That’s not a friendship. Peter and I were unbalanced for a long time.”

Overall, I am so very happy that this book exists and I definitely would want more recommendations for these kinds of stories.
This book portrays a super messy and unbalanced relationship but the issue is talked about and resolved in a way that does not make it questionable or problematic but simply an important addition to all the Contemporary Happily Ever Afters out there.

I definitely highly recommend this for anyone that loves strong relationship, friendship and family dynamics!

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✨ Lea posts a review on Meltotheany every Friday! Read more of her reviews HERE! ✨