These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong | ARC Review

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ARC provided by Netgalley
Publication: November 17th, 2020

✨ Reviews you should check out: Xiran’s, Lili’s, CW’s 

“Anyone can be the master to a monster should their heart be wicked enough.”

These Violent Delights is an ownvoices story starring a Chinese heiress who recently moved back to Shanghai and is willing to do anything to prove to her father that she is ready to rule the Scarlet Gang. But in 1920s Shanghai, the city has many foreign occupiers from the British, to the French, to Americans, to Russians, etc (more about colonization later in the review). And the rival gang in the city is the White Flowers who are ruled by the Russians, and as of now the gangs ruthlessly kill each other while trying to assert dominance in their territories, but they might have to work together when a monster comes from the sea and attacks and kills anyone regardless of their hierarchies and districts. Oh, and it’s also a loose Romeo and Juliet retelling.

Remarkably interesting set up, true? I was so very intrigued, and I was not disappointed. I loved all the overarching important themes in this book and how this author unapologetically wrote about them. The monster might be a made up thing for this story, but the real monsters are the people who take land and culture while also trying to control every aspect of the people they are stealing from’s lives. And those are very much real and still thriving in 2020, and scarier than the scariest of book monsters. 

“You destroy me and then you kiss me. You give me reason to hate you and then you give me reason to love you. Is this a lie or the truth? Is this a ploy or your heart reaching for me?”

I really loved Juliet and I was always compelled to learn more and more about her and her family. The Romeo in the story is named Roma and he is also the heir to the White Flower throne, hopefully. Both of their fathers are not completely sold on their leadership, which is why they are both trying to prove so much. It is also why they have this common ground (and a common, but bloody, past) with each other. I think most of you will enjoy their dynamic, especially being rival heirs who once were maybe more. And I really enjoyed them dancing around each other, discovering clues, and just having to work together again before the city is completely destroyed.

“This place rumbles on Western idealism and Eastern labor…”

This book also very much talks about communism and how white people like to still romanticize the political theory. Meanwhile, so many countries have been completely torn apart by it. This book really shows how people will use communism to help them take over PoC’s land and cities in the name of equality when they are just stealing. The monster (and a contagious disease that people need a cure for) in the book very much plays a part in this. I will say too that this book was very unexpectedly gory. If you are a bit squeamish, you might want to take a bit of caution with this one, because the author does not pull back with incredibly detailed descriptions.

“They believed themselves the rulers of the world—on stolen land in America, on stolen land in Shanghai. Everywhere they went—entitlement.”

Okay, let’s talk about colonization. Seeing Juliet feel like a foreigner in her own country? Her feeling like she must be more Americanized for people to hear her and listen to her? Being sent away to America, “forced” to get an education in American, using the name Juliet, dressing more American, speaking English and with a minimal accent at that? Heartbreak, truly heartbreaking. But this is a reality that so many Asians are forced to live even in 2020 (even my biracial white passing self). The world has always tried to tell us that Westernized voices are the ones that get heard, and if you want people to listen to you then you have to at least appear to be a “model minority” from the East. But I don’t even have words for how extra heartbreaking that is in your own country.

This book also has some really good queer representation, with a brewing m/m romances between side characters that I think will be very much developed in the next book, but also with a trans girl side character who completely won me over. Obviously, it is ownvoices for the Chinese representation, and one half of the m/m relationship is Korean!

“Juliette Cai feared disapproval more than she feared grim on her soul.”

Overall (and again), I loved the themes of this book and I truly did love Juliet. I just felt like I didn’t love the plot with the actual monster in this book. I also felt like a lot plot points built up and just went nowhere, even though I’m sure they will be talked about in future books. I also didn’t love the romance, because I just didn’t love Roma. I think this book did a lot of talking, and not showing us, things about the characters. And the ending of this book really left me wanting so much more, but not necessarily in a good way. I still recommend this completely for the themes alone, and I think it is a very impressive debut. You can also tell that this story means a lot to the author, and her family and culture, and it is a tale that deserves to be read (and a history you shouldn’t let your Westernized education ignore). This is truly the highest of three stars from me, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Trigger and Content Warnings: lots of blood depiction, lots of gore, violence, death, murder, loss of a loved one, general plot around a disease that is contagious, talk of drug use and addiction, self-harm and suicide because of the “monster” in the book, colonization, racism (and lots of microaggressions), lots of talk of communism, brief mention of human trafficking and kidnapping, brief mention of loss of a pet, brief transphobia microaggression in the past (regarding choosing a name/identity), and just in general I think this book could be a tough read for you if you experience entomophobia (a fear of insects) so please use caution!

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

Buddy read with Maëlys❤

Bookish and the Beast (Once Upon a Con #3) by Ashley Poston | Drumsofautumn ARC Review

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ARC provided by Netgalley
Publication: August 4th, 2020 by Quirk Books

1.) Geekerella ⭐⭐⭐⭐
2.) The Princess and the Fangirl ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Every place his lips touch – my mouth, my nose, my cheek, my neck – lights up like a star in a constellation for us.”

Bookish & the Beast was a very fun and enjoyable installment in the Once Upon a Con series, that to me sadly couldn’t live up to its predecessors.

I truly loved both Geekerella and The Princess & the Fangirl a lot and feel very invested in the Starfield world and storyline. I think where this book mostly fell flat for me was the element of fandom and especially spending time at a convention that I love so much about the other two books.

While this definitely tried a little bit of a new take on bringing the Starfield universe into this series, by talking about the book series and partly taking place in a library with special Collector’s Editions, it just didn’t give me enough of an emotional connection to the Starfield universe itself that I became so very attached to. I immensely enjoyed some of the snippets that we would get at the beginning of chapters but sadly there were only so few of them.

“Most of the time, I try not to think about it, but sometimes grief comes in waves. It laps against the sandy beach of your soul, again and again, soft and rushing and impossible to escape. She’s gone, but I miss her. She no longer exists, but the words she loved still do.”

While I enjoyed the characters, the one character that stood out the most to me was probably the female main character’s dad. I just found none of the characters to be very interesting or compelling. I didn’t dislike reading from their perspective or about them but I felt like they just weren’t all that exciting to read about either.
And again, Poston definitely tried to offer us a different take to the books before too, by introducing Vance, who is an actor for the Starfield series but currently taking a break from Hollywood. And while his character and journey was very different than anything we had seen before in this series, I just can’t say I found his journey to be very believable OR captivating. I just simply didn’t care. And the same goes for the female main character too. I feel like she put such emphasis on not just being “the girl with the dead mom” that she did end up being exactly that because I can’t point out many traits about her.

Again, none of these characters were dislikeable or not pleasant to read about, I just found them almost replaceable.
As for representation, both main characters read as queer (stating multiple gender attraction) but they don’t ever use labels. There is a non-binary side character that uses they/them pronouns and queer (one who is definitely bi) side characters. It seems like there is a Latinx side character too.. but that was never explicitly stated.

Just as the characters didn’t really stand out to me, the romance very much did not either and this was another really disappointing aspect for me with how much I squealed for the previous romances. Not only did I not really think the hate-to-love trope was well done but I also just found their entire development not very convincing just because I feel like we got too little of it. I barely felt chemistry, barely felt like they truly got to know about each other. We know they spend a lot of time with each other but I feel like we just didn’t really get to see that at all. Where was this entire process? There just wasn’t enough there for me personally.

When it comes to the retelling element of Beauty & the Beast, you could definitely see the elements but they didn’t stand out immensely. Some people might enjoy that, others not so much. As someone who is not a big fan of Beauty & the Beast I can’t say if that maybe affected my enjoyment of this story too? I normally never pick up retellings of the story cause I am just not interested in them or the original story but for me this was different, as I already felt invested in this universe.

At the end of the day I just don’t really think it worked all that well as the basis for a fluffy Contemporary story like this. But I also know that this was really the project of Poston’s heart and that does make me happy to know.

“With him, a little of her heart leaves, but it leaves room, too. For new people. For new loves. For new impossibilities.”

So all in all, while I enjoyed reading another installment in this series, it also just didn’t have the same magic as the other two for me personally. Nothing about this book set it apart from any other YA Contemporary, sadly, and that was a very different experience for me with the first two books. If you’re a fan of the series, it’s a fun reading experience, especially with other character’s cameos too, but it is really not a must-read at all.

3

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

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April 2019 Book Haul

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Hey, friends! I am officially in Hawaii as you are reading this! I had such a busy April, but my mail-person also had a very busy April, too! I am so privileged and so honored to haul so many of these books! And if you can’t tell by my ebook purchases, I am very much ready to read all things romance on the beach during this vacation!


PURCHASED BOOKS:

The Strangers
Wicked Saints – ★★★★★
The Goal – ★
The Red Scrolls of Magic – ★★★★★
Descendant of the Crane
Normal People


PURCHASED EBOOKS:


A Lesson in Thorns
Enthralled
Arranged


PHYSICAL ARCS FROM PUBLISHERS (and friends):


Red, White & Royal Blue – ★★★★★
City of Bones (Lily, I love you so much) – ★★★
The Monster of Elendhaven
The Unhoneymooners – ★★★★
Well Met
Say You Still Love Me
Serious Moonlight
Heirs of Fate (Thank you, Bethany!)
Sorcery of Thorns – ★★★★



Okay, friends! I think that’s everything! I truly had such an amazing book haul this month! And I will be forever thankful! I hope you’re all having an amazing end to this April, and I hope you’re having the happiest of reading! 💖

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March 2019 Book Haul

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Hey friends! I hope you all are having an amazing end to March! Even though I’m not sure how we are even at the end of March… but regardless, I got some pretty cool books this month! And publishers (especially romance publishers) were too dang kind to me, and I truly am going to be living my bookish romance dream life this Spring!💖


PURCHASED BOOKS:

The Weight of the Stars | Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Near Witch
The Shadowglass | Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Steel Prince, Vol. 1 | Review: ⭐⭐⭐
The Priory of the Orange Tree


EARCS FROM PUBLISHERS:

Aurora Rising
The Right Swipe
The Dragon Republic


PHYSICAL ARCS FROM PUBLISHERS:

You Must Not Miss (Thank you Kayla!)
Wilder Girls (Thank you McKinlay!)
The Wedding Party
Girls with Sharp Sticks
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune
Waiting for Tom Hanks
The Red Scrolls of Magic | Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Thank you Heather!)
Mrs. Everything
Swipe Right for Murder
Holy Sister | Currently Reading



And that’s all of them! Holy moly, this was a much bigger haul than I anticipated! But I am so thankful and so privileged. I hope you all are having an amazing day, and let me know a few bookish acquisitions you got this month! Happy reading, loves! 💖

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January 2019 Book Haul

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Hey, loves! I can’t believe it is already the end of the month! Like, how? Honestly? But here we are, and here is another book haul! But this book haul is a little special, because I bought 102 copies of The Wicked King! 💖


➽ PURCHASED BOOKS:

Fence, Vol. 2
Truly Devious (ilysm, Taylor) | Review: ★★★
The Hod King | Review: ★★★★★
The Last of August
The Case for Jamie
In An Absent Dream | Review: ★★★★★
Song of the Dead | Review: ★★★★
The Winter of the Witch | Review: ★★★★★
The Wicked King | Review: ★★★★★
The Wicked King | Review: ★★★★★
The Wicked King | Review: ★★★★★
The Winter of the Witch | Review: ★★★★★
(Del Rey actually sent me this last one, but I accidentally kept it in this stack!) 


➽ PURCHASED EBOOKS:

The Girl with the Red Balloon
Start Here
The Kiss Thief
The Legend of the Golden Raven (free on Amazon US as of today!)


➽ PHYSICAL ARCS FROM PUBLISHERS:

99 Percent Mine | Review: ★★★
The Bride Test
Holy Sister
(Thank you so much, Alexa!)


➽ NETGALLEY ARCS:

The Devouring Gray
Spin the Dawn
Red, White & Royal Blue
Blood Heir


➽ THE WICKED KING:


Just because I’m trash & love this picture



Okay, my loves! There is my first book haul of 2019! I hope you enjoyed! And I hope I enjoy all of the ones that I haven’t read yet! Which one of these are you most excited for? I’m still in disbelief that I have The Bride Test in my hands! It’s going to be so amazing! I can’t wait for Contemporaryathon to actually start it! Ahhhh! Happy reading, friends! 💖

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November 2018 Book Haul

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Hey, friends! I’m not sure how it is already the end of the month, and already time for another book haul, but here we are! I was so blessed to get some amazing ARCS from publishers who always make my mailbox feel like it is Christmas! And I was also very privileged to pick up a few very anticipated releases! 💙


PURCHASED BOOKS:


The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Wundersmith
Heartstopper
Skyward | Review: ★★★★
Girls of Paper and Fire | Review: ★★★★★
The Diviners
Lord of Shadows | Review: ★★★★
The Monster Baru Cormorant
Kingdom of Ash | Review: ★★★


PURCHASED EBOOKS:


Merry Inkmas (Free on Amazon US as of today!)


PHYSICAL ARCS FROM PUBLISHERS:


Miranda in Milan
My Favorite Half-Night Stand | Review: ★★★
The Weight of the Stars
The Hod King
The Binding
A Curse so Dark and Lonely | Review: ★★★


NETGALLEY ARCS:


One Word Kill


EDELWEISS ARCS:


The Beholder
With the Fire on High
The Wise and the Wicked
Descendant of the Crane


CATCH UP ON CLASSICS:


Rebecca
Wuthering Heights
A Study in Scarlet
Sense and Sensibility
Anna Karenina
Something Wicked This Way Comes


SUBSCRIPTION BOXES:


BOTM | A Ladder to the Sky


Owlcrate | Girls of Paper and Fire | Review: ★★★★★


Whew! I think that’s everything! Man oh man, did Edelweiss come through for me! So many good books! And I feel so very blessed that I was able to add all of these to my personal library! I hope you all are having a wonderful end of November, and I hope it is filled with amazing books for you, too! Happy reading, loves! ❄⛄

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October 2018 Book Haul

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Hey, friends! Okay, so October was the book release month of 2018, apparently! Also, I was so very privileged and fortunate to receive so many amazing ARCs from publishers this month, too, which I am forever thankful for. And I for sure spent the last of my birthday money on Muse of Nightmares subscription boxes! (Yikes!) But I hope you all enjoy this (not so) little haul! 🎃🍂✨

 


PURCHASED BOOKS:


Small Spaces | Review: ★★★★★
Shadow of the Fox | Review: ★★★★★
Aquicorn Cove | Review: ★★★★
Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy | Review: ★★★
The Bane Chronicles | Review: ★★★
Soulbinder
Six of Crows | Review: ★★★★
Strange Grace (That you, Taylor, I love you!) | Review: ★★★★★
Blanca y Roja | Review: ★★★★★
What If It’s Us | Review: ★★★★★
Sawkill Girls | Review: ★★★★
Sadie


Muse of Nightmares:


Muse of Nightmares | Review: ★★★★★


PURCHASED EBOOKS:

 

The Lost Sisters | Review: ★★★★★
Kingdom of Ash | Review: ★★★


PHYSICAL BOOKS FROM PUBLISHERS:


The Beasts Heart
Middlegame
Wicked Saints
Gates of Stone
The Matchmaker’s List
Once & Future
A Brightness Long Ago
The Winter of the Witch (That you, Lilly, I love you!)
The Girl He Used to Know
Enchantée
The Women’s War


NETGALLEY ARCS:


The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees


EDELWEISS ARCS:

 

A Place For Wolves by Kosoko Jackson
The Queen’s Resistance (The Queen’s Rising #2) by Rebecca Ross


SUBSCRIPTION BOXES:

BOTM | An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, Winter in Paradise, & The Lies we Told

Owlcrate| Pride & Shadow of the Fox

LitJoy 

Illumicrate (Still in stock as of 10/28!)

Candles in Bookland


Okay, friends! That is everything. This is the biggest haul I’ve had all of 2018, and I can’t see November or December beating it! But tell me your favorite book that you hauled this month; purchase, arc, or borrow! I’d love it hear it! And I hope you all are having an amazing end of October! Happy reading, friends! 🎃🍁✨

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