Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins | Chapter Breakdown Review with Spoilers

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1.) The Hunger Games ★★★★★
2.) Catching Fire ★★★★

Hello, I am here to finish off my breakdown reviews of The Hunger Games Trilogy! And ironically enough, Mockingjay was the last book I read in 2020! I will say, I feel like the series does get a little less enjoyable as I progressed through the trilogy all these years later, but I still think it is a solid series and I truly do think The Hunger Games itself is a masterpiece. But please use caution, because this breakdown will be filled with spoilers for each and every chapter of this book!

“What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.”

➽ Chapter One:
District 12 is gone, but Buttercup the cat is alive. Truly this opening chapter was so dark and really set the tone for this entire book, and Snow’s rose? Truly so scary and horrifying and a good reminder at how evil he actually is. Peeta is gone, and Katniss is officially with the previously thought dead District 13.

➽ Chapter Two:
Peeta is a guest being interviewed by Caesar for the world to see. And they are also showing the bombing of District 12 over and over to remind people what happens with you rebel against the capitol. We also get to see the hidden, unground District 13 base, and how they are very ready to rebel against the capitol and nothing will stop them. Katniss is going to officially be the Mockingjay to help rally as much support as they can get, while also trying to instill hope for a brighter future.

➽ Chapter Three:
We get to see what it is like to live in this new world that is the hidden District 13 and what is left of District 12, and we are easily seeing that things are very unfair here too.

➽ Chapter Four:
And Katniss is even starting to see how President Coin might not be too much different than President Snow, just a different guise for their evil.

➽ Chapter Five:
Katniss is getting fed up with always being used as a tool for someone else, but she finally has her bow back and is hoping the make the best of what she has left, even with Coin making her say lines to instill hope for the new war that is beginning.

➽ Chapter Six:
But it is getting harder and harder for Katniss to rally the districts without Peeta, because she has never been the best speaker, especially compared to him, and especially because him being held captive is impacting her so greatly. But truly, the foreshadowing in this chapter is very insane.

➽ Chapter Seven:
A hovercraft takes Katniss to see the sick people at a hospital, and the capitol bombs them immediately after. Gale and Katniss fight, and we start to see that they are believing two different stories, but Katniss and her anger at the capitol is growing and growing and because its on public display it is automatically rallying more and more people.

➽ Chapter Eight:
The Cinna mentions truly rip my heart out every time. But Katniss also is sneaking watching Peeta’s clips that the capitol is showing and the more and more distrust of District 13 is building and building.

➽ Chapter Nine:
The infamous hanging tree song, that still makes me a bit uncomfortable, but we get to really meet Katniss’ camera crew and see the torture they have also endured. Katniss and Gale reminisce about when they were kids, but Katniss is truly proving to the reader this was never a love triangle more and more because she deadass is like “I like that Gale likes to hunt” and it makes me truly giggle. Also, Peeta is getting tortured for information. :[

➽ Chapter Ten:
But Peeta still is able to warn District 13 of an incoming attack. So much foreshadowing with Prim, but Gale helps her find Buttercup and they make it safely to the evacuation zone before the first bomb hits. Katniss and Prim finally have a moment just for them and just between them and it really broke my heart because I have read this book before, hahaha! And Katniss and her trauma and anxiety making her feel like she is having a heart attack? Heartbreak again.

➽ Chapter Eleven:
More bombings are happening, but this time it is just to ensure that Katniss stays off television so she and her message will stop giving other rebels hope! Katniss and Finnick finally get to talk and Gale is annoyed with Finnick for no reason other than Gale is truly stupid and the bane of my existence. But Katniss leaves the bunker and Snow has left her more roses and every time it gives me goosebumps in the most disgusting way. Truly harrowing each time. But the resistance has decided they are going to do a rescue mission for Peeta and Annie! Also, let me just note that Katniss is mean to Buttercup in this chapter and it annoyed me too, lmaoooo!

➽ Chapter Twelve:
Finnick goes on the broadcast and talks about how he was sex trafficked as a child alongside many of the victors of the hunger games, and how Snow would kill their loved ones if they did not “willingly” participate. After, they are able to rescues Annie, Johanna, and Peeta. But… Peeta, because of the torture and brainwashing he has endured, tries to kill Katniss.

➽ Chapter Thirteen:
We get to learn a bit more about Peeta’s torture and the tracker jacker venom they used to “highjack” his memories.

➽ Chapter Fourteen:
They send Katniss to District 2 and fake Gale love triangle angst ensues.

➽ Chapter Fifteen:
Rebels start fighting other rebels and Gale is just… stupid. And Katniss gets shot.

➽ Chapter Sixteen:
Katniss is healing up slowly after what happened in District 2, and she is helping Annie find a wedding dress with the things she still has of Cinna’s, so that she can get married to Finnick finally. Please, I am crying.

➽ Chapter Seventeen:
Katniss is getting stronger and stronger. This chapter really shows how different everyone lives and tries to heal after the hunger games they’ve been a part of. And Peeta just has so much anger in him still.

➽ Chapter Eighteen:
They are all fake practicing storming the capitol, with fake gas and everything. We get to learn how Johanna was tortured (with water) and how that has very much impacted every day of her life since. But they all realize that this will be their last arena ever, but it fills them with hope to storm the capitol for real.

➽ Chapter Nineteen:
Peeta’s memories are reconstructed and he goes with them to end this once and for all. But a bomb gets triggered once they are in the tunnel.

➽ Chapter Twenty:
An emergency broadcast announces to the world that Katniss, Peeta, Finnick, and everyone else are dead, and this could work in their advantage because Snow will not be expecting them, but they have to make it out of the tunnel with the mysterious black gel.

➽ Chapter Twenty-One:
They have their first death with Boggs :[ and they get to see this funeral for Katniss being broadcasted while they are all trapped and not trusting anyone.

➽ Chapter Twenty-Two:
Peeta is whispering “Katniss” all creepy-like, but they are able to break through this tunnel that they were trapped in with lizard-like people monsters. But… Finnick dies protecting them and it truly is the most sad and unnecessary death in this book and him and Cinna just deserved so much better. But Katniss kisses Peeta and I’m still giggling that people think this series has a believable love-triangle.

➽ Chapter Twenty-Three:
Katniss gives Gale stitches, and then Gale and Peeta have some sort of weird heart to heart together. This story really doesn’t have the “who will Katniss pick in the end” vibe so many people lead you to believe it does. We also meet the “tiger woman” and I was side eying a little while reading about her ten years later. But they are ready to finally go head to head with the capitol once and for all.

➽ Chapter Twenty-Four:
Listen, I don’t mean to laugh, but Gale trying to get Katniss to shoot him and her being like “no, you’ll be fine” and lets the capitol take him sent me a little bit, I am sorry. But we get to see how Snow has tried to protect himself by barricading the capitol with children, because he is banking on no one being cruel enough to kill them while trying to get him. But, parachutes come and… when I say this is the most harrowing and fucked up thing in this book… I mean it. The way these parachutes have been seen as a symbol of hope and healing for the recipients who get them in the hunger games, so the kids are happy to see them…. Only to have them explode and kill them, like… truly I don’t even have words for how heartbreaking that is to read and think about. But then, to add more heartbreak, Katniss sees a braid and a duck tail and… I truly am crying typing this. All this, everything, Katniss being selfless, Katniss willing to do everything to protect her sister, Katniss proving over and over she will do anything, only for the resistance to kill her so heartlessly. I truly weep. Prim’s death truly will always stick with me, and it is why I was impacted so viscerally when rereading The Hunger Games earlier this year and seeing the foreshadowing in that very first chapter.

➽ Chapter Twenty-Five:
Katniss is told that she is “lucky” to be alive after the bombs detonated, but she truly feels lost and that everything feels a little hopeless even now at the end of this war. Snow is to be executed, but Katniss visits him and she realizes that he is not the one who killed the children and Prim.

➽ Chapter Twenty-Six:
Katniss is questioning everything, including who chose to put a 13-year-old in combat. She goes to talk to Haymitch, but he is drunk. Katniss is stuck with her own thoughts, thinking about what life would have been like without the games, and if her and Gale ran away from District 12. She is also very much questioning if it was Gale’s bomb that killed Prim, and she knows she will question that for the rest of her life. But once she thinks at least everything is over, Coin states that she wants one last hunger games, for revenge, and it will star the kids of the people who were for the capitol. Katniss is supposed to be the one to finally execute Snow, but when her arrow flies, it flies straight into Coin, killing her and her idea for a new plan for evil.

➽ Chapter Twenty-Seven:
Katniss is captured and thinking of suicide. She learns that the people “crushed” Snow to death, and maybe not ripped him apart like in the movie. But we get to see Katniss grieving and finally feeling like she can grieve unapologetically for everyone she has lost, Prim, Rue, Cinna, Finnick, everyone. We also learn that Annie and Finnick got pregnant before he passed away, and maybe that is a new symbol of hope.

➽ Epilogue:
Katniss and Peeta have two kids, and it took Katniss a very long time to actually have them, even though Peeta really wanted them from the start. The games are still over, but we see the grief and PTSD will always be in their lives. And even though they are trying to do the best for their kids, it haunts them that they are playing on a graveyard they will never fully understand.

Truly, this series is haunting and there are a lot of parallels that can easily and obviously be made to the world we are living in 2020. My heart does go out to Katniss and I do really like her as a character. I do feel like the series got a little less and less enjoyable as they went on, but the basic premise is just so unique and solid and really helped start the dystopian (and YA) surge. And Katniss and Prim’s relationship just really settles heavy in my heart, and it truly makes you think about a lot of things you’d be willing to do for the people you love. I do still giggle at the people who ship Katniss and Gale, because they must really like eating crumbs and my heart goes out to them too. But Finnick and Cinna are truly the brightest shining lights for me, and I’m so sad Suzanne Collins didn’t give us a proper spinoff of their past! But maybe one day.

3

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Trigger and Content Warnings: torture, death, murder, war themes, blood depiction, talk of (fake) miscarriage, bombings, anxiety depiction, ptsd depiction, loss of a loved one, forced drugging, thoughts of suicide, talk of alcoholism, talk of rape in the past, talk of pedophilia in the past, talk of sex trafficking in the past, and slavery.

Buddy read with Lea! ❤

Favorite Sapphic Stories of 2020

Hello friends! I hope you enjoyed My 2020 Reading Year in Review, but I just wanted to give a little bit more love and celebration to a few books that mean the whole world to me! I read so many amazing queer books in 2020, but since few things make me happier than all things sapphic, I thought I’d narrow down my list to my five favorite f/f stories of the year! 🌈

➽ 5.) Always Human by Ari North 

“When I see you the universe comes into focus.”

This webtoon truly blew me and my expectations away! And my heart was so warm reading about these soft lil gays and their future world where you can perform modifications to yourself. It’s just such a pure and realistic feeling story about getting a girlfriend, discovering what you want, learning what works for both of you, and I just loved it with my whole heart. Read For Free HERE!

➽ 4.) The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska 

“Witches. Murderers. Queens who chained boys to stone pillars and drowned them on full-moon nights.”

This was such an atmospheric sapphic read that had me begging and yearning for more. This book just had so many keywords and themes that worked for me and I truly had an amazing time while turning every page. Oh, this book also has a really cute sea monster who loves dance, and it made my heart very happy, too.

➽ 3.) The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar 

“What I want more than anything else in the world is to feel like being myself isn’t something that should be hidden and a secret.”

This book was everything and had so many perfect layers, from seeing this main character unapologetically talking about their diaspora experiences, from the real truth about fetishization, from cultural appropriation and how it is never okay, and how westerners treat Asians, but south Asians in particular. But also, this book had the perfect sapphic romance interlaced throughout, where real learning (and unlearning) happened so beautifully. 

➽ 2.) You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

“This is real. We finally made it to this place and it’s better than any fairytale. Because I’m done letting people stop me. Because here, always, we deserve this good thing.”

The debut of 2020 debuts, one of the best contemporaries I’ve ever read, the true power this book holds. The rep in this book is amazing with race, sexuality, anxiety, and chronic illness. Lots of different discussion on privilege and the opportunities that are more easily and readily available to kids with them. From different family dynamics, to all the different unconditional loves, to friendships and how they can be so very messy at times. Plus the ending of this book was the sapphic story I wish I had when I was in high school. This book had everything, and gave me so many goosebumps throughout. This book truly just left me feeling such a sense of hope and love, and I wish everyone could experience this story. 

➽ 1.) Night Shine by Tessa Gratton 

“I would destroy a thousand heart to find you, again and again.”

Sapphic enemies to lovers romance, queer bodyguard and royalty romance, dark fairytale setting! Magic, gender and sexual fluidity, yearning! Demons, dragons, unicorns, lots of cute tiny creatures to love! Atmospheric, lush, purple prose perfection! This book was nothing short of a masterpiece and it was not only my favorite sapphic read of the year, it is also just my favorite book of 2020.


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Top Ten Tuesday | Most Anticipated Releases for January, February, March 2021

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!

Oh hello! Can you believe, it’s the first Top Ten Tuesday of the new year? It truly does not feel real. But I am excited for a lot of new content on the blog! Especially content that talks about books I’m very excited for! Also, these are all books that I do not have ARCs of! Next week, you will see a post about the ARCs I do have (and have read and plan on reading)! 💕

➽ January 5th, 2021 | ROMAN AND JEWEL BY DANA L. DAVIS
➽ January 5th, 2021 | LORE BY ALEXANDRA BRACKEN
➽ January 12th 2021 | CONCRETE ROSE BY ANGIE THOMAS
➽ January 19, 2021 | WINTERKEEP BY KRISTIN CASHORE
➽ January 26, 2021 | THE MASK FALLING BY SAMANTHA SHANNON
➽ February 16, 2021 | A COURT OF SILVER FLAMES BY SARAH J. MAAS
➽ February 23, 2021 | KINGDOM OF SHADOW AND LIGHT BY KAREN MARIE MONING
➽ March 2, 2021 | CHAIN OF IRON BY CASSANDRA CLARE
➽ March 4, 2021 | A TRIAL OF SORCERERS BY ELISE KOVA
➽ March 30, 2021 | RULE OF WOLVES BY LEIGH BARDUGO

Whew, okay! I am very confident I won’t get to all of these right upon their release, but I am very excited to hopefully get to them all throughout the year! But I will 100% read Chain of Iron right at that midnight release because I truly feel like I already can’t wait a second longer! Which 2021 release during these first three months is your most anticipated? And I hope you all are having a good and safe start to the new year! I love you! 💕

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Favorite Asian Books of 2020

Hello friends! I hope you enjoyed My 2020 Reading Year in Review, but I just wanted to give a little bit more love and celebration to a few books that mean the whole world to me! Growing up, I couldn’t even dream that I would be able to pick from so many books from Asian authors, featuring Asian main characters, with Asian families, and just celebrating Asian lives. I truly feel more and more blessed every year, because I feel like every year this list gets harder and harder to make because we are getting more and more ownvoices stories that are going to make it easier and easier for kids to see themselves completely whole, not just bits and pieces. (Obviously publishing has SO MUCH work to do, but I can’t help but smile when looking at this list and how much overflowing love I have for these stories!) But here are my five favorite books written by Asian authors in 2020. 💕

➽ 5.) Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe 

“Sometimes all you need is a pinch of magic…”

Japanese influences + Kiki’s Delivery Service inspirations + the power of friendship and having people who will unconditionally love and support you = perfection. This was truly the perfect middle-grade for me, and one that will be in my heart forever. 

➽ 4.) The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire, #1) by Andrea Stewart

“A made thing could grow and change beyond its original purposes. I would show the Emperor: I’d grown beyond mine.”

Every pov, every storyline, every plot twist, every companion, perfection. I am still so blown away by the debut novel, the magic system, and how the last page left me feeling. I am absolutely begging for book two and more of this Asian inspired kingdom! (and more of my favorite crustaceans love story sapphics!)

➽ 3.) The Wolf of Oren-Yaro (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen #1) by K.S. Villoso

“They called me the Bitch Queen, the she-wolf, because I murdered a man and exiled my king the night before they crowned me.”

This so beautifully (and sometimes heartbreakingly) incorporated Filipino culture, I was completely immersed and utterly captivated on every page. I truly inhale read this in 48 hours and I could not be bothered to tear myself away for anything besides work. This book truly reminded me of that magical feeling that reading can give you, especially when you feel safe and seen and so in love. 

➽ 2.) The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar 

“What I want more than anything else in the world is to feel like being myself isn’t something that should be hidden and a secret.”

This book was everything and had so many perfect layers, from seeing this main character unapologetically talking about their diaspora experiences, from the real truth about fetishization, from cultural appropriation and how it is never okay, and how westerners treat Asians, but south Asians in particular. But also, this book had the perfect sapphic romance interlaced throughout, where real learning (and unlearning) happened so beautifully. 

➽ 1.) The Burning God (The Poppy War, #3) by R.F. Kuang 

“Rin had spent so long hating how she felt when she burned, hating her fire and her god. Not anymore.”

The Poppy War trilogy is truly once in a lifetime and this conclusion was honestly a work of art all itself. This series is a military epic fantasy that is ownvoices and inspired from the authors family history and the stories she learned from them. Heavy themes of war, colonization, racism, colorism, genocide, cycles of abuse, and so many different types of trauma are never shied away from. I’ve read and reviewed many books these last six years of my life, and I’m not sure a series has impacted me more than this one. Every sentence has meaning, every chapter is so well planned, every event conveys layers and layers of thoughts and feelings. History is truly created by the victors mostly with the most blood on their hands, and the stories that get told are mostly through a white and colonized lens. R.F. Kuang has done so much with these three books and they mean so much to so many Asian readers. 

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My 2020 Reading Year in Review

2020 is finally over, and somehow the year felt like it lasted a decade and a month at the very same time. I just want to wish you all (and all your families) the best in 2021, and I hope it is filled with love and happiness and good health and opportunities. I know 2020 was not only a hard year, but maybe the hardest year for a lot of us, and I will keep telling you that I love you, and that I see you, and that I’m proud of you. I promise, better days will come. But in the meantime, we can escape into some books, and blog posts, and reading statistics! 


Thanks to the amazing Brock at Let’s Read, here are some 2020 reading statistics that I was able to gather from his amazing spreadsheet that I use every single year:

━━━★ in 2019 contemporary was catching up, but 2020 fully said “never again”
━━━★ this chart truly looks close to this every year lol
━━━★ i have NEVER read this many audiobooks in my entire life
━━━★ i had a hard time with anthologies this year, sadly
━━━★ i feel like if you read mostly SFF, this chart will just automatically look like this too
━━━★ 1.) i didn’t leave my house 2.) audiobooks
━━━★ i forever will be very aware of the privilege that comes from being a US book reviewer
━━━★ that 27% purchase is mostly audiobooks !! and very thankful for my loved ones, edelweiss, & comfort rereads
━━━★ again, edelweiss & those comfort rereads (and cursed audible)
━━━★ hachette & penguin are the pub houses that were kindest to me this year, so i am very surprised by this graph. but i think in 2021 i’m going to focus on the publishing houses that want to work with me, instead of me begging for earcs that non-ownvoices booktubers get and don’t even read (fully looking at harper and macmillan lol). not being paid is fine, but not being appreciated or seen? i’m over it in 2021 fully and completely.
━━━★ why does this make me laugh? i truly couldn’t be bothered to read one classic this year? okay
━━━★ i truly found a sweet spot, i guess
━━━★ may was the 2nd worst month of my life and december was the busiest month of 2020 for me so math checks out, but can we bring july melanie back for all of 2021 please? i am begging

My Top Ten Favorite 2019 Publications:
➽ 10.) How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black
➽ 9.) The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
➽ 8.) Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch (Eva Evergreen #1) by Julie Abe
➽ 7.) The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
➽ 6.) Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1) by Cassandra Clare
➽ 5.) The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
➽ 4.) Rhythm of War (The Stormlight Archive #4) by Brandon Sanderson
➽ 3.) You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
➽ 2.) Night Shine (Night Shine #1) by Tessa Gratton
➽ 1.) The Burning God (The Poppy War #3) by R.F. Kuang


God, 2020 was such a weird year for my reading (and for falling in love with the publications from that year), but I am very thankful for this list, and these ten books, and the love and healing they made me feel for very different reasons at very different times throughout this year. I hope in 2021 I can be more confident and more unapologetic (with the book community and with other aspectS of my life) and I hope that I have an overflowing list of new favorite stories to pick from while I’m compiling that Year in Review blog post. What was your favorite read of the year? I feel like I switched between #1 and #2 many times before finally going with what felt more right. Okay friends, I’m sending each and everyone of you my whole heart and I hope 2021 feels lighter and brighter for you. I love you.

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➽ My 2019 Reading Challenge
➽ My 2018 Reading Challenge
➽ My 2017 Reading Challenge
➽ My 2016 Reading Challenge
➽ My 2015 Reading Challenge

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air #3.5) by Holly Black

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1.) The Cruel Prince ★★★★★
1.5) The Lost Sisters ★★★★★
2.) The Wicked King ★★★★★
3.) The Queen of Nothing ★★★★★

“Hate that was so bright and hot that it was the first thing that truly warmed him.”

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is an illustrated novella following Cardan Greenbriar, during many different stages in his life, while we slowly see all the different things that shaped him cruelly. The sound that left me when I opened this book and realized we were going to get present day with Jude from Cardan’s POV… be still, my hopes and dreams and heart.

Rovina Cai’s art is truly so beautiful that it renders me speechless. I was already in love with her and her art because of her work with The Wayward Children series, but this entire book feels like am immersive work of art. From the perfect color palette, to the most perfect details, she executes the vibe of Cardan and his story in a way that I don’t think another artist could.

In this story, Cardan’s life is very much impacted by a troll named Aslong who was wronged by Cardan’s father. She tells a story about a boy with a heart of stone, who finds himself in a predicament with a monster girl who won’t scare him away, until his heart starts beating again. And then all throughout his life, she tells his alternate versions of this same story, each version with a new meaning for a new version of Cardan himself.

“She was the only real thing in a land of ghosts.”

We also get to see so much of Cardan’s perspective during The Cruel Prince, much like we did with Tarryn in The Lost Sisters, and it was everything. Nicasia and Locke have much wanted character development in this book, too, and I am literally on my knees begging for Holly to just give us the trilogy in Cardan’s complete point of view. But we see Nicasia being fostered on the land because her mother, Orlagh, Queen of the Undersea, wants to start putting pieces in motion. We get to see Locke, and his empty house and even emptier heart, teach Cardan the word “cruel” on every page. And these two, in addition to a prophecy looming over this young prince, are truly the first catalysts to this story and I was so in love seeing behind the scenes. And when Holly gives us Locke’s perspective one of these years…

“Playing the villain was the only thing he’d ever really excelled at.”

Each part, each mini story, we get to see Cardan questioning who he is and who he wants to be. Not to make this too deep, but Cardan very slowly realizes that he is not responsible for the terrible acts his family committed; both to him and to the people they ruled over. He struggles with his identity of a prince who should feel like he has everything, and a boy who feels like he has nothing. But seeing him finally understand that he deserves not only love but unconditional love? Him slowly appreciating that his heart can be warm and beat unapologetically? Truly some powerful stuff.

On a personal note, I think most of you know that Holly Black is an author who means a lot to me. Her fae stories are what first got me into YA when I was young, and it really changed me as a reader and probably a human as well. I know most of you know that 2020 has been a hard year for everyone and everything, very much including my reading, so being able to curl up and read about my emotional support fae, from my emotional support author, just meant a lot to me. I truly think reading this book a day before release (bless you Waterstones and my mail person) was the best reading experience I’ve had all year, and for that alone this book was probably the easiest five star I’ve given in a year of not a lot of five star reads.

“Feels as though she has to earn the crown on her head over and over again.”

Overall, this felt like the fairytale of my dreams. Cardan is my favorite character in The Cruel Prince series (or any of Holly’s books, I think) and this truly was such a magical, wonderous, unforgettable addition to this world. I am incredibly biased over this series because so much of my heart and nostalgia are wrapped up within this world, but I honestly think there is just so much to love on every page of this book. I feel blessed to read about each time Holly gives us a new book, and this will for sure be a favorite of mine for all of 2020. Lastly, I cannot believe we really got to read about Cardan going out for boba.

Content & Trigger Warnings: abandonment, bullying, abuse, mention of drug use, humiliation, talk of cheating, and a lot of drinking.

5

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Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera | Drumsofautumn ARC Review

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ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley

“Reading will make you brilliant but writing will make you infinite.”

Juliet Takes a Breath is a graphic novel adaptation of the novel with the same title and unpacks so many different themes, from white feminism and intersectionality to finding your place in queer spaces, heartbreak and coming out.

At the center of this story is Juliet, who moves from the Bronx to Portland, Oregon, to start an internship with a feminist author called Harlowe Brisbane. During this internship she gets introduced to a super diverse group of queer people and finds a queer space to belong for the first time.

As time goes on, Juliet becomes more comfortable within queer spaces but also learns that Harlowe Brisbane is not everything that she had hoped she would be and represent for her.

“They didn’t even know me and it was like they loved me. I almost couldn’t accept it. Like the ache of Lainie had me numb way deep in my spirit too.”

There is truly so much to say about Juliet Takes a Breath because it unpacked so many different themes but I thought it was all done incredibly well. I haven’t read the original novel but this graphic novel had me so hooked and so in love, that it made me want to read it, even though I now obviously know the basic storyline.

But it just made me so intriguied to see how the novel unpacks all of these issues because if the graphic novel already did it so well in such a small amount of pages, then surely the novel will be doing an ever greater job at it!

I also just adored all the characters in this novel so much and I would want to read more about them. This novel features an incredibly diverse cast of characters! Most of them are queer and/or genderqueer, we have Black characters, Latinx characters and a biracial (White & Korean) love interest.
Juliet herself is Puerto Rican, fat and a lesbian. She also has asthma and is shown using her inhaler on page.

“And you get to decide what you believe and how you worship yourself.”

Even though Juliet has known for a long time that she is gay and feels quite comfortable and confident in that identity, and even has been in a relationship for a year, she hasn’t really been part of any queer community and she really finds a wonderful support system with these people.

The story actually starts with Juliet coming out as a lesbian to her family and while a lot of the members of her family are dismissive at first, most of them are accepting. But Juliet’s mother does not accept her sexuality and calls it “just a phase” and thinks that Juliet just needs to find the right guy. It was a storyline that obviously many queer people can relate to and that I thought was well done overall.

I really loved Juliet’s relationship with her brother, even though we only got to read about it briefly and later on in the novel we meet Juliet’s cousin and aunt who live in Miami, who were also such wonderful characters to read about and had a big impact on Juliet’s journey too.

“Juliet Milagro Palante. I love you like the seas love the moon. Whatever you are, whoever you love, I’m here.”

One of the biggest themes of this graphic novel was white feminism and the saviour complex that white people have. This is definitely a story that is not always a fun and happy read, it can be quite uncomfortable at times. But it shows a reality of our world and I really appreciated that the author was so blunt about it.

This graphic novel talks about casual racism, it talks about how reverse racism doesn’t exist, it’s about how white people will so often overstep and speak over people of colour when they are trying to help. And it’s also about holding people accountable.
All those aspects, while brief, due to the nature of this format, were so well done and surely very eye-opening for many people.

On top of all that, Juliet Takes a Breath also has themes of different kinds of romantic relationships and how self-love plays an important role in that. We see that the relationship that Juliet is in in the beginning of the story does not seem very healthy and it shows just how important communication is in a relationship.

But within the course of this novel, Juliet starts dating someone else and it is a really beautiful development. There is also a great f/f sex scene with a big emphasis on consent and masturbation is also explored in this graphcic novel. Neither of thoses scenes are explicit but make it very clear what’s happening.

“Kira felt like home. Like a million street bikes zipping down the bronx river parkway and popping endos under the elevated trains. Dinosaur-sized butterflies fluttered in my stomach.”

And of course there is the beautiful art style, that I truly loved and that only added so much love for this graphic novel for me. I loved the line art and how much very clear body diversity there was with these characters. It also has a very warm and pleasant colour palette, that just made it a very pleasing reading experience.

“Gender is a trip. Limitless like the universe.”

Overall, as you might be able to tell from this review, I truly loved this graphic novel and cannot wait to dive into the novel soon because I am just that in love with the characters and themes in this story!

Trigger and Content Warnings for homophobia, racism, fatshaming, sexual harassment, smoking (weed), use of d-slur (in a reclaiming nature).

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