The Diviners (The Diviners #1) by Libba Bray

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“The Diviners must stand, or all shall fall.”

The Diviners is a historical, paranormal fantasy set in 1920s New York City! And in this alternative history, there are people called Diviners who have magical abilities that are hidden from the world. And these powers will come in handy as a demon like being who was summoned from a Ouija board starts ritualistically killing people, while also bringing upon the apocalypse.

Evie O’Neill – Sent to NY to stay with her uncle after causing too much of a scene back home. And she has the magical ability to read objects.

Memphis Campell – Black, extremely charming and good looking, taking care of his little brother with his aunt after the loss of his mother, and in the past he had a healing ability.

Sam Lloyd – Rakish Russian Pickpocket who can make it so others do not notice him, but he is looking for answers about what happened to his mother and the project she was working on.

Theta Knight – A Dancer who ran away from a terrible past and is trying to make a new life for herself were she is in charge of her own fate.

Henry DeBois – Theta’s roommate, queer, and a musician. Henry has the magical ability to dream walk, but you do not learn a lot about it in this book.

Mabel Rose – Evie’s best friend and pen pal, who has the biggest of all crushes.

Jericho Jones – Works for Evie’s uncle Will, but may be keeping a big secret of his own.

Naughty John – Does his work with the apron on. I’ll see myself out, bye.

But we follow all of these characters, while they are slowing pieces together the clues about Naughty John’s killing, while also trying to figure everything out before it is too late. And friends? I’m going to be straight up with you, this book was pretty scary. Full disclosure, I am a big baby, but I legit read this book with the light on, during the daytime, every single day. But following along and trying to figure out what is happening, while also trying to learn about these characters and what they are able to do? It surely made for a fun reading experience.

I really loved the cast completely. All of them, truly. But Memphis really won me over very early on. First off, I am such a sucker for anything with healing powers, so he and his mystery just stole my heart. Also, he is such a good brother, and seeing him protect Isaiah really was everything to me. Also, Isaiah having the wildest powers of them all? Yeah, that’s a thing. Also, I really loved his development with Theta. We stan a power couple in this house, always and forever.

Besides the characters, I think the thing I liked most about reading The Diviners, as sad and heartbreaking as it is to say, is that we are almost in the year 2020 and not a lot has changed. From racism, and people hiding their hateful ideas behind the cover of God, to sexism, and the idea that a silent woman is the only women worth hearing, to being pure, and the pedestal that white men are willing to put their bloodline on, this is all very much a thing in 2020, even if it is not as loud. I think Libba Bray really did something so impressive with this story, and even though this book is almost a decade old and the parallels are still rampant, I still really respect her putting so much into this book.

Overall, this really did blow me away. I had my doubts going in that I wouldn’t like it, or that it wouldn’t hold up, but it truly did, and it truly made for an amazing reading experience. I can’t wait to see what the next book has in store, and I can’t wait to meet a character named Ling Chan that everyone promises me I’m going to fall in love with.

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Content and Trigger Warnings: brief animal cruelty and death, talk of domestic abuse and sexual assault in the past, abortion, loss of a loved one in the past, drugging, grief depiction, abandonment, talk of slavery, racism (always in a negative light), slaughter house setting/scene, death, murder, and ritualistic killings.

Buddy read with MadalynJane, & Chelsea! ❤


A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1) by Libba Bray

 Buddy Read with some amazing ladies and a traveling book, hosted by Julie over at Pages and Pens! ❤

A Great and Terrible Beauty is exactly why I am scared to read earlier decade(s) published novels that I remember were super hyped and popular. This also reads just like an early 2000s novel, with all the problematic content being there.

The basic premise of this book is a young girl named Gemma Doyle, is whisked away to a London boarding school after the death of her mother. Before her mother’s death, she is given a necklace and she is forced to realize that she is way more important and special than she ever thought! She’s the hero that can heal the realms and save the world!

Then, at the boarding school that is meant to turn these girls into desirable young ladies to be married off, Gemma falls into a group with three other girls. Basically, the four girls start out like the cast of Mean Girls (Gemma = Cady, Felicity = Regina, Pippa = Gretchen, Ann = Karen) and events quickly escalate to them becoming the cast of The Craft (Gemma = Sarah, Felicity = Nancy, Pippa = Rochelle, Ann = Bonnie). Also, let the record state that I absolutely love Mean Girls and The Craft and this book is lesser in every single aspect, but the parallels are there.

This book is extremely racist and homophobic, but it’s painted in a way that says, “This is just how it was back in 1895!” and it feels extremely bad to read. And even though this is supposed to be a book about four friends coming together and forming a secret order, I feel like the term friends should be used very loosely. There is so much catty girl hate in this book, that I truly believe my younger self would have hated this just as much in 2005 if I read it.

And the fat shaming is constant. It actually grosses me out to think about how many people read this book, read all these terrible and hurtful passages vilifying girls because they aren’t stick thin, and thought this book was okay. And how this book handles self-harm is always disgusting.

Also, to touch upon the racism more, the male love interest is from India and is constantly fetishized for being not white. His exoticness is constantly brought up and Gemma is shamed by herself and her peers for liking him. Also, the word G*psy is used constantly, and the Romani people in general are one big stereotype that is painful to read.

There are also a ton of misogynistic comments, but the book tries to battle those a bit. I’ve had many people tell me that Libba Bray is a feminist writer, but this is the perfect example of what white feminism looks like. Like, this was a fucking mess. And a late 1800s setting doesn’t excuse it.

Trigger warnings for self-harm, suicide, murder, animal cruelty, substance abuse and everything offensive under the sun.

As for positive things I can say, I will say that this was an extremely fast read! Even with this being 400 pages, I read this quickly within two days. And each chapter does end in a way that makes you want to read more.

I also really enjoyed the atmosphere of this book, especially during the Halloween season. It’s a super old and creepy boarding school, with mysteries and magic surrounding it constantly! I mean, the setting was eerie and amazing. And even though nothing much happens until the last 100 pages, this book still feels spooky.

This is just my personal opinion, and I hope you all will respect that. Also, if this is one of your favorite books then I am happy you found enjoyment from it. Overall, for me, I was super disappointed to read this. Especially because this was my first time participating in a traveling book club! But it is what it is, and I will never support a book with this much problematic and offensive content, regardless the year it was published.

This book should just be renamed to A Terrible Gemma Doyle.

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