eARC Review: The Unbroken by C. L. Clark

The Unbroken by C. L. Clark

Genre: Fantasy

Published Date: March 23rd 2021

I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.

Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.

Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale. 

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eARC Rant Review: Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon (2 Stars)

Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

Categories: Romance

First Publication Date: February 2nd 2021 

I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Make Up Break Up (MUBU) is a romcom by the author of When Dimple Met Rishi (WDMR), and it’s Lily Menon’s first adult novel. It follows Annika, CEO of Make Up, an app developed to help people improve their relationships by finding a kinder way to talk to each other, and Hudson, CEO of Break Up, an app which does the exact opposite, helping people break up with each other with minimum to no emotional effort.

This is a romcom for fans of enemies-to-lovers, second chance and the very specific “love interest has a profession that goes against the main character’s moral code” trope. I am not a big fan of any of these, so maybe that made me enjoy this book less than I would have otherwise, but I was quite let down by this book. From the beginning I got the feeling that this would be a rather generic romance, with the usual Girl-Power-energy main character and the “sexy, rich bad boy who actually is really soft” and the two of them were just… meh. I did not feel the chemistry and frankly I was more curious about how the apps worked & how sustainable their businesses were (which we did not get as much as I wanted) than I was about any of them, or their relationship. This is similar to how I felt about WDMR, where I wanted so much more from the tech part of the book, but in WDMR at least there was so much fluff, summer-y vibes and the love interest was so adorable I could not help but grin all the time and cheer for them, overlooking any of my complaints. This was just not true for MUBU, where we got Dimple-but-adult and some bland white bad boy.

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Weekly Wrap Up 16-22 February: So many F/F Reads!

Hello readers!

It’s been another pretty busy week, but I managed to sneak in more reading than I expected – I’ve added audiobooks to my list again, which means I get to listen to books when I’d otherwise be doing chores listening to podcasts/music/Youtube. It also helped that I picked up 2 novellas to listen to, so I got through them pretty quickly.

Also – did you notice that the reusable blocks function from WordPress changed? It seems to me like you cannot separate the blocks you saved anymore, meaning every time you use a reusable block, you are effectively changing the block in every post you’ve used it. This change was introduced with NO warning, which is ironic after a year of letting us know they would change the classic WordPress to blocks and how useful they were. I’m honestly pretty pissed about this.

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My Top 10 Favorite SFF by Black Authors

Hello readers!

In case you don’t know, it’s Black History Month in the US, and there is an amazing Blackathon ongoing! If you are thinking of joining, there’s still time! Whether you join or not, if you are looking to add more Black-authored Science Fiction and Fantasy to your life, I can highly recommend all the books below. I love, love, love SFF: the magic, the high tech, the intrigue, the adventures, and I’m excited to share some of my favorites today!

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Weekly Wrap Up // 9 – 15 February: N. K. Jemisin has destroyed me

Hello readers!

This has been HELL of a week and I was incredibly, incredibly busy, but luckily still got some reading done. In times like these, reading is one of the few things keeping me sane! After two heavy reads I was craving something lighter, so I picked up a rom-com book, which I hope to get through rather quickly.

This week I received from Netgalley:

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Weekly Wrap Up

Ain’t I a Woman by bell hooks / 5 stars

This is such a powerful book and, although I’m not American, I still found this very relevant to understanding the reality of Black women where I live (Germany) and where I come from (Brazil). bell hooks makes very compelling arguments, even if (as she herself says in the introduction), a few of these points might be a bit outdated by now. The audiobook by amazing (Adenrele Ojo does a fantastic job) and I highly recommend it!

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin / 5 stars

I debated giving this 4 or 5 stars, but frankly this is such a great book and so incredibly, smartly, gorgeously written that 4 stars would be a disservice to it. This first book in the series builds a vivid, dark world in which orogenes are enslaved, turned into weapons and nothing more. On the first chapter, one of them causes the apocalypse, in order to finally be free. It’s an amazing book, even if I found the plot twists a bit too predictable, still the world, the writing style, the complex, flawed characters, the social commentary which brings this novel to the next level… it’s all just so mind-blowingly good.

Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

After two rather heavy readers, I am craving something lighter, so I just picked up Sandhya/Lily Menon’s first adult novel, a romance between two competing app-creators, and I’m having a really nice time with it! This was not on my TBR for February but frankly I need something light before delving into another dark fantasy!

Review: The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Categories: Thriller, Horror

First Publication Date: June 1st 2021

I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career. 

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and after reading it I can say that it definitely belongs in the best-of-2021 category for me! I started it expecting it to be a thriller, but I think this book is better described as a slow-paced horror with thriller elements (mostly by the end of the book). We follow Nella, as she navigates the very white world of publishing on a meager salary, and is super excited when another black girl, Hazel, joins her team. But after some things happen, Nella starts suspecting this new girl might have an agenda. And when Nella starts receiving threatening notes on her desk, she thinks it definitely can’t be Hazel, can it?

The tension is high way before the notes even start coming in, with the microaggressions Nella suffers in the office and a vague hint at something having “happened” to a famous black editor decades ago at that same publishing house. The story also has the points-of-view of other characters who start explaining a bit of what is going on behind the scenes and the terrible things that Nella has no idea are coming. This juxtaposition meant that every time something, even small things, happened on Nella’s POV, I was super tense.

To be honest, I did not like these other points-of-view much, since they basically only served the purpose of filling the reader in bit by bit. It felt to me like it broke the narrative, and they also confused me a lot with half-information. I would have preferred to have only Nella as a narrator, or Nella and Kendra only.

And the plot twist is, whew, a wild ride! I was a bit skeptical at first, but eventually I was completely won over, because the implications of the twist are just so completely terrifying, and the parallels with what black people actually go through made this even more chilling. I also completely agree with the Get Out comparison, The Other Black Girl definitely gives Get Out vibes. I was completely hooked by this book and I think it’s a very strong debut! I very much look forward to what the author comes up with next.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review: Illusion by Paula Volsky

Illusion by Paula Volsky

Categories: Fantasy

First Publication Date: 1991

Synopsis: For two hundred years the Exalted classes have used their dazzling magical abilities to rule Vonahr. Now, their powers grown slack from disuse and their attention turned to decadent pleasures, they ignore the misery of the lower classes until the red tide of revolution sweeps across the land. Thrust into the center of the conflict is the beautiful Eliste vo Derrivalle, spirited daughter of a provincial landowner, who must now scramble for bread in the teeming streets of the capital. With the key to her magical abilities an elusive secret, she must suddenly find a way to survive in a world gone mad… with liberty.

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Underrated Sapphic SFF Books #FFFeb2021

Hello readers!

I love a good sci-fi and fantasy book, they compose a big chunk of what I read, and I’ve seen more than once the discourse (mostly on Twitter) about how there are no “good F/F books out there”, much less in SFF. Don’t fear, fellow Sapphic readers! I bring to you today my recent favorites!

Burning Roses by S. L. Huang was being talked about a bit around the time of its publication, but it’s fallen a bit under the radar since. This is a novella about two middle-aged warriors who are grumpy and powerful and must defeat an evil from the past of one of them together, facing their own histories and failures, and trying to find peace if not happiness. This has packs such a punch, the story brought elements of fairy tales, it’s Chinese-inspired and also has a Latina main character and a trans main character. It’s truly a gem!

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January Wrap Up + February TBR

Hello readers!

January is OVER I can hardly believe it oh my gosh. We waited for 2020 for like, 4 years, and now a whole month is gone already. All I did this month was eat, read and go back to work (which disrupted my reading, hmph!). Still, January was a really interesting reading month, since it’s the one time of the year when I have no TBR at ALL so I just read whatever, and clearly I was in a fantasy mood. It’s cold, snowy/rainy where I live, so I feel like reading fantasies are amazing for this kind of weather, when all you want to do is get under the covers and cuddle your cat (who is more or less voluntarily cuddling) and read for hours.

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Monthly Wrap Up

Books I read this month:

  1. Illusion by Paula Volsky (ongoing)
  2. Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson (ongoing)
  3. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (ongoing)
  4. You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman (2 stars)
  5. Long Bright River by Liz Moore (3 stars)
  6. Princesas, Bruxas e uma Sardinha na Brasa por Helena Gomes (4 stars)
  7. Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman (3 stars)
  8. Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (4 stars)
  9. The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell (4 stars)
  10. Ariel by Sylvia Plath (3 stars)
  11. A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne (3 stars)
  12. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (4 stars)
  13. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (4 stars)
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