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Gotham high by Melissa de la Cruz ARC review

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.
Thank you DC for sending me a free copy of Gotham High!

THE PLOT

After being expelled from his boarding school, young Bruce returns to Gotham City and lives in his family house, with his uncle Alfred and his husband. But now everything is different. The sweet girl next door, his past friend, Selina, is burdened down by her father’s sickness and the inability to provide the best care for him. She and Jack Napier, the school clown, are involved in dangerous situations and when a kidnapping and poisoning occur, Bruce decides to investigate and to try to understand what is happening, if he was the real target. Or is he the pawn in this mysterious game?

MY THOUGHTS

Set in an unusual setting, the high school of Gotham City, Gotham High, this graphic novel is written by Melissa de la Cruz and illustrated by Thomas Pitilli and it focuses on Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle and Napier before they became Batman, Catwoman and the Joker. It was interesting seeing them as teenagers, dealing with school, crushes, love rivals, friendship and investigations.

The characters are interesting and well rounded and the story, if simple, is captivating.
Bruce, Selina and Jack have to deal with a difficult family situation. Bruce lost his parents years ago and he has to deal with the grief and living again in his family house, while Selina is unable to care for her father, she can’t pay for the best care for him, because can’t use her trust fund until she’s 21 years old and Jack’s family and life are burdened by alcoholic parents and a poor home.
The investigation, the introduction of Ivy, Bruce trying to protect Selina and discover who is behind the kidnapping was interesting and thrilling..

I really liked the diversity in this book. Bruce is half-Asian, Alfred is his uncle and he’s gay and married. It was a fresh perspective of our loved characters, seeing them so young,. I liked the characters and the dynamics between them, between love, jealousy, manipulation and friendship. Selina is an interesting, strong and complex character, ready to do anything to get what she wants and protects her loved one, even manipulating others.
Gotham high talks about important themes, like the wealth gap, the difficulty of getting a good healthcare, love and friendship.

OVERALL, I recommend Gotham high because the story provides a fresh view of loved characters, Batman, Catwoman, Joker and Poison Ivy too.
The illustrations are simply amazing, I loved the colours, the contrasts, the way the art conveyed emotions.

Here some imagery!

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Music from another world by Robin Talley ARC review

384 pages
Published March 31st 2020 by Inkyard Press

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.

TW:

homophobia, internalized homophobia, bullying

THE PLOT

Tammy Larson is unable to be herself anywhere, not at school, or with her friends, or in family dominated by her aunt Mandy and her anti-gay propaganda. She is a closeted lesbian and she’s always lived her life fearing for and unable to be herself and free.

Her only way to escape her strict and conservative Christian life in Orange County is her diary, where she writes to the gay civil rights activist, Harvey Milk, until the school starts a pen pal program and she meets Sharon.
Sharon Hawkins lives in San Francisco and right away she bonds with Tammy, sharing their love for punk music, feeling free to be themselves, their letter another way (except their diaries) to be absolutely (or at least trying to) honest with one other.

Sharon’s life in San Francisco, like Tammy’s in Ocean Valley, is full of secrets and lies.
She is struggling (at least in the beginning) to accept that her beloved brother, Peter, is gay and both of them are scared of their mother’s possibile reaction, should she discover it.
And in antigay fervor they fear for their lives. Both Tammy and Sharon finds in one other a true friend, starting to understand things about the world and each other.

MY THOUGHTS

I really, absolutely loved this book! It’s my first queer historical fiction and it was great! Set during a very complicated and awful time for queer people, the book is about this intense friendship (and more) between two young girls, their growth and how they will learn to fight for the freedom and right to love and stand up against injustice and hatred.

Told by two POVs, Tammy’s and Sharon’s, through their diaries’ entries and the letters they write to one other, in a very interesting and unique way, this book is moving, funny, heartbreaking and so, so important.

Reading Tammy’s POV was incredibly hard because I could feel her frustration, fear, her feeling trapped in her life, with conservative parents and relatives, homophobes, feeling scared all the time someone could see through her lies and hurt her. How she was forced to dress and wear her hair in a certain way, dominated by her cruel and hypocrite aunt and her whole community, politically active in their antigay propaganda, how she was forced to support that propaganda, because being out would mean changing everything.


Both Tammy and Sharon were taught to see being gay as a wrong and unnatural thing, something that should be corrected and pray away, but, Sharon thanks to her brother and Tammy thanks to her sexuality and feelings, learn to think with their own heads and to escape their conservative and homophobic world, finding a more friendly reality where they can be themselves.

It was interesting reading how Sharon starts to discover herself, through music shows, new friendships, opening her mind to a new world and identity.
Her bond with Peter is truly amazing and very realistic, down to their fights and misunderstandings. Reading about how she discovered her sexuality, her feelings was really fantastic, because, living in a community where people were antigay, in a school with nuns and homophobes, she, at first, struggle to accept her brother’s sexuality (it was incredibly cute readig how she decided to accept it, because she loves her brother very much) and then hers.

It was clear her confusion and frustration, finding difficult to understand what she should do or act.
Her relationship with Tammy is really intense, because, through their letters, they learn to be and questioning themselves, above all when Tammy comes to San Francisco.

Peter is another brilliant character. Seeing through Sharon’s and Tammy’s eyes, he’s a young man, sure of his sexuality, but fearing his mother’s reaction, fearing people would know the truth about him and hurt, since he was already bullied in the past. It was moving and empowering reading how, slowly, Peter becomes more sure of himself and his feeling for Dean, until he’s ready to move on and coming out, deciding to live according to his own rules, terms and feelings.

Absolutely intriguing the way the political and historical movement is both background and vital part of this book, how Tammy sees in Harvey Milk someone to look up to to gather the courage she needs to be herself.


I loved how Tammy, Peter and Sharon become politically involved, supporting Harvey Milk, propaganding against the Proposition 6, the Briggs Iniatiative, that wanted to ban gay teacher and whoever supported gay rights, helping in the bookstore, learning about civil rights and feminism.

It was interesting reading about political and historical figures, like Milk, Briggs and Bryant and how these young characters act in that movement. Cute the side characters, like Evelyn, Midge, Kevin and so on. Interesting and hypocritical aunt Mandy, with her being sanctimonious and weak and unable to reach out and change her opinion Sharon’s and Peter’s mother.


The adults in this novel fulfill, except Harvey Milk, the role of “villains”. Sanctimonious and hypocritical families, ready to do anything to have their perfect sons and daughters and refusing to see them for what they are, should they be different from their expectations and society’s “norm”.
Teenagers and young adults (Tammy’s friends and sisters, for example or Sharon’s classmates) are or molded according to their parents’, Church’s and society’s wishes and norms, or they represent a world where Tammy, Peter and Sharon can find haven, in Dean’s, Leonard’s, Evelyn’s, Alex’s (and so on) friendship and support.

I love how they managed to form a family, with their friends, how they support one other, helping each other finding a place to stay, a job, a way to start over, even with a broken heart.

It was hard to read how their families couldn’t, wouldn’t, accept their sexuality, how they, above all aunt Mandy, kept using God as an excuse of their awful behaviour. It shows the faults in the blind religion, using their Bible as a weapon to hurt and humiliate queer people. It was frustrating reading their rhetorics and false and hypocritical faith.


Tammy and Sharon fight against what people expected to be and to do, perfect daughters, straights daughters with boyfriends and a future with a family. In a climate of activism, for LGBT’s and women’s rights, they fights and understand themselves, their feelings and what people call friends and family.

Music from another world is beautifully and skillfully written and it’s a story about love and hope, hate and injustice, family and friendship and it’s more current than ever.

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Tigers, not daughers by Samantha Mabry Blog tour

WELCOME to my stop for the Tigers, not daughters blog tour!

First of all, I wanted to thank Algonquin & Algonquin Young Readers for the chance to be part of this tour and to read this amazing book.

TW

animal death, suicide, death, abuse (physical and psychological), depression

THE PLOT

The Torres sisters, Ana, Jessica, Iridian and Rosa, dream to escape from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of families that know everything about them and their family situation, away from their needy and oppressive father. The book starts during an attempted (and failed) escape. A year later, the older sister Ana is dead and the family is weighed down by grief, guilt, regrets and secrets.

Each sister is trying to deal in her own way with Ana’s loss and their broken dreams, when unusual things start to happen in the house. Walls with messages in Ana’s handwriting, mysterious hands, laughters and sounds. Is Ana? What is she trying to say? Why is she haunting them?

THE TITLE

Tigers, not daughters is a phrase from Shakespeare’s King Lear and, according to the author, “in the play, it’s used as an insult, hurled by Albany at Lear’s selfish and disobedient daughters.” So she decided to use this phrase in a positive way, like a praise to the strenght of the Torres sisters. The reader is able to get to know each sister and how each deals with her grief, wishes, dreams and regrets.

SPOILERS AHEAD

THE CHARACTERS

JESSICA works at the local pharmacy and, like Ana, dreams to get away, once her sisters and needy father are taken care of. Jessica, who wants to be like Ana, almost losing her own identity in the process, wanting her sister’s room, clothes, makeup, even her abusive boyfriend. She deals with her loss by trying to becoming Ana and she’s full of rage and grief.

IRIDIAN is the one who loses herself in her own world, made of writing romance, reading, who doesn’t go anywhere without her favourite book, notebook and pen and who is so struck down by her grief she can’t get out of the house, battling everyday with her fear and depression.

ROSA is the youngest, wisest and strangest sister, animal-lover, wandering during the night person, whose heart is purer that others’ (according to many). Rosa, who is special, different, fierce and loyal and who is convinced that the escaped hyena has something to do with her sister Ana, maybe it’s her reincarnation.

The protagonists are Latinx and, through the author’s writing, the reader can almost taste the air, see the oppressive neighborhood, they being stuck in it and feel the claustrophobic feeling they experience. They are trapped in their broken home, in an oppressive and repetitive enviroment, with their irresponsible, full of debts, hurtful and unable to take care of them father.

Motherless, fatherless, the Torres sisters lean on one other, protecting, supporting and loving each other with a fierceness that reminds the reader of, precisely, tigers.

THE STORY

The story is told by multiple POVs, from Jessica’s, Iridian’s, Rosa’s in third person and from a collective voice from the boys in the house across the Torres’. It’s through the boys’ perspective the reader and the Torres’ sisters can get more knowledge of Ana and what happened to her.

Told in a nonlinear way, with flashbacks and memories, by the multiple POVs, the story unfurls (expect for the flashbacks and the first chapter) from June 9th to June 17th, ending with a jump in July 7th.

Starting with the failed escape, the story begins one exact year after Ana’s death and the reader is able to see how the Torres’ routine is shocked and turned upside down by a series of paranormal events in the house and, for Rosa, by the escaped hyena.

THE WRITING STYLE

The way the characters are portrayed is acutely real, beautiful and they are really relatable. Mabry wrote characters brimming with life, love and loss able to pierce the pages. Her writing style is so evocative, lush, strong and intense it’s almost like the reader is there with Rosa, looking for her escaped hyena and holding Walter’s hand, or with Iridian, being scared and under the couch’s covers watching soap opera or with Jessica, talking with Peter and being angry and broken all the time.

In Tigers, not daughters, Jessica, Iridian and Rosa stick out as women, as sisters and as bonded by love, grief and loss. Through flashbacks and her sisters’ memories, Ana lives too, as a strong and stubborn girl, who gazed out of the window, dreaming of escape and better places, who took care of her family, almost embodying a mathernal figure. Role that Jessica tries to incarnate after her death.

Ana lives through her sisters, she’s the older one who was determined to protect and she helps them, pushing them together, encouraging them in discovering again their sisterly bond, even when she’s dead.

I found the element of magic realism, the supernatural moments really beautiful and skillfully written. Even though the sisters stand out in Tiger, not daughter, each character, the side ones too, are skillfully written.

Reading about the boys in the house across the street the reader can see their regrets and impotence, how they could have helped and talked and they didn’t.

How Rafe is broken by grief (his wife, dead right after Rosa’s birth and then Ana’s death, who wanted to get away from him and the neighborhood) and how he’s needy and hurtful and broken, ready to try to break and oppress his daughters and almost managing it with Iridian (saved by the love of her sisters).

How John is the oppressive, controlling and abusing boyfriend and how, even in this case, Jessica is saved by her sisters.

Jessica, Iridian and Rosa fight and rebel against the male figures in their lives, above all Rafe and John and even against those who watched without doing anything, like Hector and his friends. They fight against people’s indifference. They find strenght in one other, in their bond made of blood, love trust and loyalty.

One of the thing I loved the most in this characters driven plot is that each character is written as realistic as possible, with their bad moments and bad behaviour, hurtful phrases, regrets, bad thoughts and even who could be the best and wisest character, Rosa, can be driven by rage and think hurtful things.

Each character, above all the sisters, is human, real, complicated, messed up. They are free to act badly, say hurtful and mean things, hit people, rage, laugh hysterically and be absolutely and wonderfully humans.

I think that’s one of the beauty in this book, being able to recognize oneself in the characters, seeing that how they deal with their regrets, desires, wishes and losses is acutely real. It’s interesting and very realistic reading how, even though they all experience the same death, each character deals with grief in a very different way. It’s realistic because people don’t react in the same way and grief is dealt and processed differently.

Reading Tigers, not daughter it’s impossible not to think about The virgin suicides and Little women. Kind and stubborn Rosa recalls Beth, book-worm Iridian Jo, Jessica as the breadwinner and who takes care of her family as Meg. As the March sisters, the Torres have one other’s back everytime, ready to protect and defend each other, to support and love.

TO CONCLUDE

Tigers, not daughter is an intense story of love, loss, grief, with magic realism, ghosts and sisterly bond. Its characters are alive and strong and deal with important themes, like loss, death, depression, abusive relationships. I loved the message, that through love and hope it’s possible to reach out and be able to heal. It’s a story about grief and loss and dealing with them, dreams, regrets, wishes, desires, sisterhood, loyalty and love.

Tigers, not daughters is the kind of book that stays with you for a long time, able to grab the reader’s attention and feelings and it’s impossible not love these broken and strong characters, so real and humans.










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The electric heir by Victoria Lee ARC review

480 pages

Expected publication: March 17th 2020 by Skyscape

The electric heir is the sequel of the brilliant and amazing The fever king in the Feverwake duology.

SPOILERS AHEAD

TW

https://victorialeewrites.com/2019/10…

PLOT

The electric heir starts six months after the ending of The Fever King. After Noam helped overthrow the goverment of Carolinia, the Atlantians became citizens and Lehrer chancellor.

But Noam remembers everything Lehrer did, with the magic, to Dara and he’s ready to do anything to bring him down, even playing the double agent, tricking Lehrer to think he’s on his side. When Dara, who Noam thought dead, returns to Carolinia, without his magic, stripped away by the same vaccine it saved his life, both of them are forced to play a dangerous game to bring Lehrer to justice and save their country.

And themselves.

MY THOUGHTS

This book is raw and brutal and so hard to read. Victoria Lee poured her heart in this duology, talking about suffering, abuse and survivors. It’s a book about survivors and surviving.
Dara and Noam’s abuser is charismatic and powerful, persuasive and sick and it was so painful to read how Noam struggled to see what is happening to him as an abuse, as a violence.

He’s so manipulate by Lehrer, so involved into this big game he has trouble realizing he’s a victim. Both Noam and Dara fight to recover and call things by their name, during the book and after.
It was hard to read both of them feeling shame and guilt and blaming theirselves for others’ sins and I love how Ames was such an amazing friend, ready to open their eyes and pushing them to see the truth.

In The electric heir Lehrer’s policy is still brutal and Noam and Dara chose to fight with the Black Magnolia, a rebellion movement, looking for a way to kill an immortal human being, while Lehrer continued his power climbing, using the IV teenager as weapons, Noam included.

Noam found himself playing a double role, a spy for the resistance, living with Lehrer, faking it to be still under his persuasion (the Faraday cage helped him to protect himself and to remember everything Lehrer did to Carolinia, the virus and to Dara) and aiding the resistance.


It was hard to think about how was hurt and manipulated by Lehrer, how twisted Lehrer’s mind could be, forcing Noam into a parody of a couple, when Noam is seventeen and under his power. It was difficult to read, too, when Dara confessed to Ames that Lehrer first and then Ames’ father raped him, when he still thought and yearned for Lehrer’s affection, before he realized the truth.
Reading about Noam trapped in this big scheme was absolutely chilling, how determined he was, despite the dangers how being there with Lehrer, to destroy him, to find a solution against him, to avenge Dara.

In The electric heir we have two POVs, reading Dara’s for the first time. I loved his POV’s, it was brilliant and interesting reading about his thoughts and feelings.
Like in The fever king, Victoria Lee’s writing style is intense and powerful, so captivating I could feel Dara’s anxiety, his feeling powerless without his power, forced to hiding because Lehrer was looking for him and his being worried for Noam.

The relationship between Noam and Dara is incredibly complex in The electric heir. They are both victim, both struggling with the notion of abuse and powerlessness. I loved how Dara decided, thanks to the QZ, to stop drinking and I was so anguished to read how him and Ames were so self-destructive, trying to feel the hollowness and pain with booze, drugs and sex.
In Dara’s and Noam’s relationship there is hurt, betrayal, resentment and so much love and affection. During the book they still want and love each other and Dara hated seeing Noam with Lehrer, so in danger to be hurt, raped or killed. Reading about Dara and Noam being raped and hit was so awful.

I felt so involved, my heart was beating so fast, screaming against the brutality, the unfairness.
It was painful reading how both Dara and Noam thought they wanted to have sex with Lehrer, to consent to that, craving for his attention, manipulated by him.


Before meeting Dara again at the gala, Noam felt guilty because he abandoned him and he spent six months thinking he was dead. His pain, his guilt and anguish were incredibly written. He got close to Lehrer for this reason, too and only after talking with Dara, Noam realized Lehrer had his eyes on him since the beginning.

It was awful, heartbreaking to read how Noam was stressed and tense, refusing to have sex with Lehrer, starting to realized their relationship, since Dara is back. Difficult to read his denial, almost until the end, when Lehrer almost killed him because he refused him.

I really loved this book, it was a difficult read because it’s impossible not to love these characters (Except Lehrer, even though he is a complex character and not the usual flat villain of the story).

I loved the way the author talked about surviving and survivors, calling things by their names, talking about rape. Both Noam and Dara are survivors and they experience lots of feelings, like shame, guilt, powerlessness, denial. The reader is able to follow them struggling with their feelings and, above all Noam, realizing what is happening to them.

Both Dara and Noam are abused by the same man, Lehrer, but they experience and react to the abuse in a different way. Dara was abused, physically, sexually, psychologically by his adoptive father, while Noam was involved, coerced, manipulated into an abusive relationship, a parody of a couple. Dara reacts in a self-destructive way, drinking, partying, having sex with strangers, Noam, at least in the beginning, can’t see or don’t want to realize what is happening to him as an abuse.

Both of them has to come to term with their abuse, they went through hell, feeling shame, guilt and powerlessness, and it was great and moving reading about their friends, new and old, supporting and helping them. I loved Ames, Bethany and Taye (I’d love more Taye scenes since he’s really cool), their friendships, their wanting to protect each other.

THE WRITING


This book made my heart beat faster in more than one occasion, I have to say. Victoria Lee’s writing style is powerful and intense. Her characters are complex, real, authentic and the story is gripping and it leave you bleeding, in a very good way. They are brimming with life, anger, love, hope, rage and reading about them being hurt and scared was a punch in the gut.


I was so involved, I felt everything. I was scared, I was angry, I felt Noam’s and Dara’s pain, shame, love, guilt, hope, rage.
It was emotional, raw and it wrecked me completely.
I was so captivated, so caught in the story I couldn’t stop reading and hoping for the best. It’s full of angst, revelations, truths and plot twists and I absolutely loved the final chapter, when everything comes to an end in a perfect way.

It’s not saying they will never have nightmares and traumas, but it’s saying it’s possible to heal and move on. I loved seeing Dara and Noam together after all the things they have been through, living together, helping each other through the bad times, Dara cooking and showing Noam the constellations.
Beautiful book, raw, painful and so necessary.

I don’t think I will stop freaking out about this book, because I’ve been obsessed about it for months, since October. And about The Fever king since March, so…TOMORROW IS THE BIG DAY! The electric heir will come out to the world and you shouldn’t miss this amazing and intense book!

https://www.bookdepository.com/Electric-Heir-Victoria-Lee/9781542005081

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My dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell ARC review

368 pages
Published TODAY
March 10th 2020 by Fourth Estate

I received this copy from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review and I thank you, 4th Estate and William Collins for accepting my request for this amazing book.

Here’s my review for this amazing book that comes out today!

Before reading it, though, here they are the trigger warnings.

TW:

rape, abuse, manipulation, suicide, victim blaming

PLOT



My dark Vanessa is an intense, heartbreaking and important book. It tells the story of Vanessa, a young woman who was abused by her English teacher at fifteen years old and the aftermath of her rape and their relationship.

The book is built in a peculiar way, swinging from 2001/2002, 2006 and 2017, between past and present, constructing the whole story. We get to know Vanessa as teenager, friendless and lonely in a boarding school, after losing her previous best friend and who finds herself attracted to and coerced by her new teacher, Jacob Strane into a sexual relationship.

MY THOUGHTS

Kate Elizabeth Russell wrote about this intense relationship between Vanessa and Strane that spanned years, decades, to the 2017, when a young woman accused Strane of abusing her, pushing and trying to get Vanessa involved. The involment of a journalist threaten to uncover the truth Vanessa is trying to deny and hide to herself.


The relationship between Vanessa and Strane is never romanticized and it’s really complex, because Strane manipulated Vanessa for years, blaming, threating and harassing her, above all when he feared she could tell someone the truth about what happened. The book is astounding and delicate and it’s clearly visible all the aftermath the abuse inflicted on Vanessa, who is in denial and almost until the end she refused to see herself as a victim of rape and to call the abuse rape.

The allegations against Strane in 2017 pushed her to revisit her life and childhood, her relationships with her parents and friends, her loneliness, her depression, and seeing and talking with her terapist and to the young woman who accused Strane helped her see the abuse in a new way.

During all her life, after the abuse, Vanessa is still attached to Strane, convincing herself to believe him, to consider all that as a love story, to having being loved and cherished. For years Vanessa talked and saw Strane, even after the boarding school, all the time him manipulating and using her, in a abusive and suffocating relationship. On point and hard to read her metaphors of being drowned and disconnected from her body, when he abused her.



“I just really need it to be a love story. You know? I really, really need it to be that.”
“I know.” she says.
“Because if it isn’t a love story, then what is it?” […] “It’s my life.” I say. “This has been my whole life”



It’s heartbreaking and interesting reading about Vanessa’s life and process to accept what happened to her and calling its true name, battling against her guilt and shame because she didn’t tell about him, didn’t stop him from hurting other girls. It’s fascinating seeing how Vanessa and Taylor saw the abuse, the first denying it and fooling herself for years, listening to her rapist and refusing to denouncing him and the latter seeing right away the man for what is was and denouncing him to the school, two times. It was difficult for Vanessa, because all her life, for years, Strane became a part of herself, almost infecting her.

“Ruby says it will take a while to truly changed, that I need to give myself a chance to see more of the world without him behind my eyes”

This book is really well written and I was heartbroken in so many parts, raging against Strane, wanting to shake Vanessa and so enraged when the school didn’t believe her, didn’t support Taylor, choosing not to pursue a true investigation, when in 2001 rumours about Strane and Vanessa circulated. It was incredibly frustrating reading about teachers and administration refusing to see the truth and to protect their students.


I will stop now my ranting, because I wanted to write and comment every pages, but I won’t. I’ll just say this book is a gem and it carries so many important message, like the relevance of therapy, of healing, of denouncing.

A solid 5 stars.

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Wicked as you wish

ARC REVIEW

432 pages

Published March 3rd 2020 by Sourcebooks Fire

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. A huge thanks to SOURCEBOOKS fire for this!

TW:

Rin Chupeco’s book deals with issues like homophobia (against Alex and Loki’s fathers), racism, child abuse, abuse, bigotry, poltical stance on immigration, police (ICE agents) abuse of power.

THE PLOT

Tala Warnock is the descendant of Maria Makiling, a Filipine heroine able to negate spells and she lives in a world where magic is strictly controlled, a modern world where magic and techonology are both present and connected.

In Invierno, a boring town in Arizona, magic rarely works and thanks to her family’s ties to the country of Avalon (unreachable, frozen and bespelled for almost 12 years) they are chosen to protect and guard the heir of Avalon, Alexei, taking care of him against people and countries who want to exploit his kingdom’s magic for their cruel ends.

While both Tala and Alex try to have a normal life, going to school, to parties, trying to have boyfriends, their life are abruptly changed when the firebird, one of the Avalon’s deadliest weapon, appears to Alex and the Snow Queen, presumed dead, attacks him. They are forced to run, leaving the town, helped by Tala’s family, by the Bandersnatchers, a contingent of young people, teenagers, tasked to protect their heir.

On the run, in a kingdom she thought lost, Tala is confronted with family’s secrets, magic and the need and desire to protect her best friend and understand her own powers and story.

MY THOUGHTS

I really liked Wicked as you wish. In the beginning, to be honest, I found the worldbuilding a bit confusing, but while reading everything clicked and I found myself involved in this amazing story.

Set on a Earth where fairytales’ characters like Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat, Arthur Pendragon and so on and where places like Avalon, Wonderland and Beira, the Snow Queen’s kingdom are real, the reader is pushed right away in a complex and captivating world.

It’s almost possible to divide the book in two parts, the first one, set in Invierno and the other one in Avalon. In the first part, the reader get to know Tala and Alex, their secrets, Tala’s being a spellbreaker, Alex being gay and closeted and the Avalon’s heir in a world not so different from our own, except for the magic.

The firebird, the Bandersnatchers, the Snow Queen change everything and Tala is separated from her family, with a friend to protect and she’s is forced to rely on herself and her new friends, in their attempt to reach Maidenkeep and to try to save their kingdom, but their trip is full of surprises. Ice wolves, secrets, frog marsh king, profecies, dooms and fights.

During the trip the reader, through Tala, get to know the Bandersnatchers, their bonds, friendship, families, powers and weapons and Avalon’s story. One of the things I loved the most are the characters. I loved the diversity in this book. Tala is biracial Filipino, Alex is gay, Loki is non-binary, Chinese-Canadian and was adopted by two men, Ken is from Japan.

Tala is smart, brilliant and determined and in a situation where she’s utterly unprepared, but where she’s eager to learn and fight. Betrayed, full of question, she’s focused on their mission, willing to do anything to protect her best friend and save Avalon.

The Bandersnatchers are amazing, I loved them so much. Zoe, who is the leader of the mission, is brilliant, sensible and weighed down by the responsiblity of protecting a stubborn and with attitude heir. West, whose family is naturalist, so doesn’t know many modern things, is funny, cute in his questions and he’s a Roughskin, a shapeshifter. (I laughed so much while reading him shredding his clothes and Zoe complaining about him being naked.)

Ken,with his magical swords and their hidden powers, is playful and funny. Loki, with their magical staff, is a ranger, resourceful and without them and their sense of direction, they would have been stuck in the forest forever. Cole with his scary scythe, his attitute and his secrets is the brooding type, but with his heart in the right place (I hope). And Nya, the latest addiction, full of surprise and ready to be part of their group and adventure. I want to know more about them, from Zoe and her boyfriend (and his bond with Alex), West’s shapeshifting, Ken’s explanations and joke, Loki and their fathers’ love and their powers.

I LOVED the firebird. Like the bantering between the Bandersnatchers, the firebird was unbelievably funny and I laughed so much reading the scene with it in it, like when he blew raspberry or rolled his eyes.

Alex is another interesting character, with a painful past. When he was five years old he saw his parents being killed and was saved and taken away from Avalon, before the frost hit the kingdom. He spent all his life hiding, running for his life, shuttled from one family to the other, until Tala’s family, who was forced, with the firebird’s arrival, to leave Invierno and run away. Coming back in his kingdom, destroyed, frozen and hurt by the Snow Queen and her vendetta is painful and for most of the book, in Avalon, Alex is rude, hurtful and full of lies and secrets, keeping himself away from Tala and the others. I hope he and Tala will find a way to be more honest around one other in the next book.

Complex are the “villains” in the story, like the Snow Queen, her story and past really interesting, like her vendetta and obsession and Ryker, who is a intruing character, his past and his reasons for his loyalty painful and raw to read. I liked Ryker, a lot, and I can’t wait to know more about them, their full and bigger plan.

Amazing are the side characters, like Tala’s family, Lumina and Kay, their love and relationship strong and inspiring, and Lola Urduja and Katipuneros, a group of old warriors, unbelievably tenacious and ready to do anything to protect their families and heir and the Cheshire, a mastermind.

Interesting and unique is the use of profecies and dooms, so important in this world that a certain kind of doom can get some priviliges. It was amazing trying to decode the Dame’s and the priestess’ predictions, while reading! Fascinating the magic and the concept it comes with a price, usually a physical one. Brilliant and funny are the chapter titles, like (In wich government agents are assholes, but what else is new or In which Loki uses a toothpick and Ken loses a fight with a library)!

TO SUM UP

Above all, I really loved this book. I loved how the author deals with important themes, like abuse, homophobia, racism in Wicked as you wish, talking about the political tension in their world, the power abuse, the countries’ stance on immigration and so on. At the same time it’s a journey of discovery, of trying to do the right thing, of protecting others, of taking back a kingdom, of learning things about others and oneself.

The characters are amazing, the story is full of mysteries, plot twists, fairytales characters and this mix of modern world and fairytales was amazing and funny. I can’t wait to know what will happen next.

from google images

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As Travars-Recensioni

Loki. Il giovane dio dell’inganno

ARC RECENSIONE

Loki. Il giovane dio dell’inganno

396 pagine

Uscita: 3 Marzo 2020 per Oscar Fantastica

Non è ancora giunto il momento di misurarsi con gli Avengers: per ora il giovane Loki è impegnato al massimo delle sue forze per dimostrarsi eroico, mentre tutti intorno a lui lo ritengono inadeguato.

Tutti tranne Amora, l’apprendista maga, che sente Loki come uno spirito affine e riesce a vedere la sua parte migliore. È l’unica che apprezzi la magia e la conoscenza. Un giorno però Loki e Amora causano la distruzione di uno degli oggetti magici più potenti conservati ad Asgard e lei viene esiliata su un pianeta dove i suoi poteri svaniscono.

Privato dell’unica persona che abbia visto la sua magia come un dono piuttosto che una minaccia, Loki scivola sempre più nell’ombra di suo fratello Thor. Ma quando tracce di magia vengono ritrovate sulla Terra e messe in relazione con alcuni omicidi, Odino manderà proprio Loki a scoprire cos’è successo.

Mentre si infiltra nella Londra del diciannovesimo secolo, la città di Jack lo Squartatore, Loki intraprenderà una ricerca che va oltre la caccia a un assassino. E finirà per scoprire la fonte del proprio potere e quale sarà il suo destino. (da Goodreads)

Prima di tutto, vorrei ringraziare ancora Oscar Mondadori per avermi spedito una copia cartacea di questo straordinario libro. Mackenzi Lee, già autrice della saga dei Montague Siblings, The gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue, The lady’s guide to petticoat and piracy e The gentleman’s guide to getting lucky, esplora il personaggio di Loki, un giovanissimo dio dell’inganno disperato perché sente il bisogno di dimostrare ad Asgard e a suo padre Odino il proprio valore. Loki combatte contro qualcosa che sembra già scritto in precedenza, contro un destino, ponendosi la domanda che tutti quanti si sono posti: è possibile cambiare il proprio destino?

Lo stile di scrittura è scorrevole ed evocativo. Basta leggere poche frasi e immediatamente si ha l’impressione di essere con Loki al banchetto, a complottare con Amora, a camminare per Asgard o la Londra del diciannovesimo secolo insieme a Loki, ammirando i palazzi e i giardini, osservando i morti viventi e chiacchierando con Theo e gli altri personaggi.

Narrato dal punto di vista di Loki, è quasi impossibile (o almeno, lo è stato per me) non provare empatia per lui e comprendere il perché dei suoi gesti e scelte. Vissuto all’ombra di suo fratello Thor, nei confronti del quale (come per tutti i rapporti tra fratelli) nutre un sentimento di amore/odio, Loki non si è mai sentito accettato ad Asgard.

Genderfluid, con stivali con il tacco, smalto nero, Loki vive in un mondo di guerrieri, ma, per quanto si sforzi di provarci, di allenarsi, non lo è. Lui è uno stregone. La sua magia, però, è sempre stata vista con paura e sospetto da tutti, soprattutto da Odino che non riesce a comprendere il proprio figlio e sembra determinato a vederlo come lo vedono gli altri, come inadeguato, sbagliato. In particolar modo quando giunge il momento di decidere chi sarà l’erede di Asgard tra lui e Thor.

Evidente e sottolineata in più occasioni è la rivalità tra i due fratelli, specialmente perché Loki sembra combattere contro un sistema che è determinato a vederlo in un certo modo. Per quanto provi a comportarsi correttamente si ritrova contro un mondo che già l’ha etichettato, in particolar modo quando giunge sulla Terra (chiamata Midgard) e scopre ciò che è stato scritto su di lui. Esemplare nel modo in cui i due fratelli sono trattati in modo diverso è la missione diplomatica ad Alfheim, quando Loki, pur avendo imparato il protocollo da usare a corte, viene messo in ombra da Thor che, nonostante avesse completamente ignorato regole e protocolli, è visto di buon occhio.

Interessante e intenso è il legame che si crea tra Loki e Amora, l’unica, tralasciando Frigga (che spesso e volentieri deve obbedire al volere del marito sulle faccende della magia), che è in grado di vedere i suoi poteri come un dono e non una minaccia. In compagnia di Amora, Loki è libero di essere ed esprimere se stesso, imparando la magia, facendo scherzi magici, avventure. Quando la giovane, per proteggerlo, si addossa la colpa della distruzione di un prezioso oggetto e viene mandata in esilio, Loki si ritrova da solo in un posto dove non viene accettato e compreso. Incontrarla dopo spinge Loki a dover decidere di chi fidarsi e a chi essere leale.

Ho trovato estremamente interessante l’ambientazione di Londra. Quando Loki (per missione o punizione) viene mandato nella Londra del diciannovesimo secolo, si ritrova a collaborare (più o meno volentieri) con la SHARP society, e indagare su una serie di omicidi che sembrano recare tracce di magia. Nella Londra di Jack lo Squartatore, sono evidenti delle grandi differenze rispetto ad Asgard.

Tramite la signora Sharp e le sue difficoltà, Loki viene a conoscenza di quanto sia difficile, per una donna di quel periodo, affermarsi in un campo professionale e soprattutto in uno che molti credono non esista. Viene sottolineato un sessismo presente all’epoca e Asgard viene visto come un luogo quasi idilliaco a confronto.

La cosa che mi ha colpito di più è stato il parallelismo tra Loki e Theo.

«Le donne non possono votare su Midgard?» chiese Loki.
La signora S. lo fissò, come cercando di capire se fosse serio, poi disse: «Theo è un ragazzo a cui piacciono i ragazzi. Non esclusivamente i ragazzi, almeno credo. Non ne abbiamo mai parlato a lungo. Ma è un reato penale nel nostro regno. Avere relazioni intime tra due uomini».


«Oh.» Loki non sapeva cosa dire. Sapeva cosa significasse essere scacciati, indesiderati e scherniti per come si è fatti. Voler trovare la forza e l’orgoglio nelle cose che ti rendono te stesso, nonostante il mondo ti dica di nasconderle. È una dissonanza difficile da cogliere finché non ti risuona nelle orecchie.
(Pagina 216)

Sia Loki che Theo faticano ad essere accettati nei rispettivi mondi. Nasce tra loro un’intensa amicizia, che però sarà ostacolata dalla presenza della prima fiamma di Loki, dalla sua necessità di proteggere il proprio cuore e di dover tornare a casa, seguire il suo piano per dimostrare il proprio valore.

Quasi è possibile dividere il romanzo in più parti, la prima ambientata ad Asgard, la visita sulla Terra e la parte finale. Nel romanzo sono numerosi i temi trattati. Tramite la signora Sharp viene reso esplicito il sessismo dell’epoca. Venendo a conoscenza del passato di Theo e di come viene attualmente trattato, soprattutto dalla polizia, è palese l’omofobia e la difficoltà del giovane di trovare un posto dove sentirsi accettato, al punto da chiedere a Loki di portarlo con sè ad Asgard.

La difficoltà di Loki di legarsi, di sentirsi libero di essere se stesso è evidente. Si protegge con il suo sarcasmo, con le sue occhiatacce, con il suo non volersi affezionare.

Loki decise che non si sarebbe mai più affezionato a nessuno. Era uno sforzo eccessivo per il suo cuore. (Pagina 377)

Lui si ritrova a dover lottare contro i propri sentimenti e il suo piano e ambizioni. Mi è molto piaciuto il personaggio di Theo, che, nonostante la sua ferita e le condizioni in cui vive, è straordinario, leale, testardo e sarcastico. Amo il rapporto che crea con Loki. Un rapporto che, a causa delle storie che Theo legge su Loki, è sospettoso, almeno all’inizio, ma poi lentamente i due iniziano a fidarsi l’uno dell’altro. Anche se era scontato che finisse in quel modo, mi è dispiaciuto leggere della loro separazione e di come avviene.

Intensa e particolare è la relazione con Amora, poiché la giovane rappresenta, nel passato qualcuno con cui Loki poteva essere se stesso e nel presente il “nemico” da sconfiggere, affamata di potere e incurante delle conseguenze. Tra Loki, Amora e Theo si va a creare una sorta di triangolo amoroso, che poi non viene successivamente sviluppato a fondo, ma serve per rendere conflittuali i pensieri e la lealtà di Loki.

Interessanti sono i personaggi secondari, come Gem, che, contrariamente al resto del popolo londinese, è in grado di avere una mentalità aperta sia nei confronti dell’orientamento sessuale di Theo sia per quanto riguarda la magia e la SHARP society. Mi è anche piaciuta la caratterizzazione di Thor, in quanto appare come il gigante buono e biondo, che è legato a Loki, rispettoso delle regole e leggermente ingenuo, chiassoso e esuberante, che si mette in netto contrasto con la mente, la tranquillità e i piani del fratello.

Mi sono piaciuti anche i riferimenti allo SHIELD e al personaggio di Stark.

Il finale.

Non so esattamente come dovrei sentirmi nei confronti del finale, perché di primo acchito mi ha delusa, perché sembrava come se Loki si fosse arreso dinanzi a un destino che già era stato scritto, come sui libri che Theo aveva letto su di lui.

Rileggendo e riflettendoci, però, mi sono resa conto che Loki COMPIE una scelta. Lui non si arrende al destino, bensì SCEGLIE volontariamente di essere uno stregone, di approfondire la sua conoscenza. Un finale che, però, lascia con l’amaro in bocca.

In conclusione, Loki. Il giovane dio dell’inganno è un bellissimo libro, pieno di personaggi interessanti proprio nelle loro sfaccettature e ambiguità.

Consiglio a tutti coloro che amano il personaggio di Loki, ma anche a chi ama la mitologia, un’indagine ambientata in una Londra del diciannovesimo secolo, misteri e intrighi, di correre in libreria domani a comprarlo.

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Book preview

Docile by K.M. Szpara ARC review

480 pages

Expected publication: March 3rd 2020 by Tor.com

SPOILERS AHEAD

There is no consent under capitalism

TW: rape, dubious consent, sexual harassment, drugs, forced drugging, attempted suicide, suicidal thoughts, violence, torture, bdsm

PLOT

In a dystopic society, thanks to the Next of Kin law, people inherit their parents’ debts (if they are married) and they are forced to interact with the Office of Debt Resolution and sell themselves to work their debts. The ODR works with the Dociline, a drug that “helps” debtors to be docile and compliant while working and to erase their memory when under the drug. The Bishops invented the Dociline and the whole debtors’ system use it. In a world where the consent is “optional” and where trillionaires control, through Dociline and the ODR, the life of others, Elisha and Alex struggle to be themself and maintain their soul.

Elisha Wilder’s family is ruined by debt and his mother is under a Dociline state after spending 10 years paying part of her debts. To save his thirteen years old sister from the ODR, from selling herself (usually trillionaries seeks Dociles for sex), Elisha tricks his parents and he registers himself to the ODR, hoping to choose a kind Patron and a short term.

Alexander Bishop the Third works for his family company and he’s forced by his father and the Board to look for a Docile, since he pushed away their choice for him. After refusing the choices prescreened by his father and the Board, Alex is attracted by Elisha and decides to be his Patron, offering him a monthly salary for his family and a full life term. Alex feels the pressure of the society, of his father and his role as CEO and the creation of a new version of Dociline, that he wants to test on Elisha. But when Elisha uses one of the seven Docile rights, refusing to take the drug, Alex is put in a difficult position and he’s forced to show his father, the Board and his influential friends he can train an off-med Docile.

They begin, this way, a complex relationship, where Alex enforces rules upon rules on Elisha, telling him how, when and where to stand and sit, not to ask questions, not to be curious, how to dress, how to eat, molding him into a perfect Docile. And disciplining him with cruel punishments, like putting his knees on rice, when he misbehaves. Slowly, forced to obey because he fears Alex could stop paying his family the salary decided in the contract, Elisha lets him changing him, shaping him into a perfect Docile, making him taking cooking, piano, language lessons and so on.

Bit by bit, in six months, Alex erases his personality, his being Elisha, until Elisha can’t function by himself anymore, doesn’t how how to act or sit or dress and only wants only to please Alex, to make him happy, Elisha suffers from a kind of Stockholm Syndrome.

But Alex’s plan to change Elisha goes both way. When a cruel incident forces him to realize he’s falling in love with him and that he’s hurting him, Alex’s only choice is to get Elisha far away from him, to save him, to let him heal with his family and friends.

But at this stage, their relationship, their bond is too strong and complex. Their feelings, their heartstrings and the consequences of their actions get Alex’s company, his friends, his convictions involved, changing his perception of his world and reality.

Abused, changed and broken Elisha is forced to slowly heal himself, to live his life without Alex, forcing to accept the truth about their relationship, while fighting against a trillionaire system that wants to hurt him and his family, his feelings for Alex and how to be his own person again. Raw and moving is realizing how Elisha was so deep in their relationship, so coerced and controlled he couldn’t recognize the abuse.

Important in the life of Elisha and Alex are the Empower Maryland, an organization that helps poor people, assisting them, providing food and clothes, tutors and school, that fights against the Docile and debtors’ system. They contacts Elisha, when he becomes Alex’s Docile, to help them fight the Bishops’s Dociline. And then, when Alex’s family files a lawsuit against Elisha and his family, they helped him fight and get better.

MY THOUGHTS

Docile is a book full of intense and incredibly complex characters, written skillfully and set in a dystopian society. It’s a story about abuse, power, love, need and desire. Told by two POVs, Elisha’s and Alex’s Docile follows their relationship, how they change and grow up. It’s a book about relationships, how to be true to himself, how to maintain his own personality in a world where debts and need want to change you.

Elisa is one of the most relisient and stubborn characters I’ve ever read. He loves deeply and it’s his love for his family that pushes him to sign the contract with Alex. It’s chilling getting to know him and his personality and seeing it being chipped away by Alex’s rules and impositions.
Elisha is forced by need and fear for his family to sign his contract with Alex and even though there is an undeniable attraction between them, his relationship with Alex is not consensual. He’s expected to have sex with him, he loses his virginity with Alex the first night, to satisfy his desires, sexual or not.

In Elisha’s society Dociles are seen like things and in the upper class society, the trillionaire’s one, with Alex’s friends like Mariah and Dutch, they are sexual doll. During one of the first society events Elisha is raped by Dutch and drugged to have sex with another Docile, and that was completely normal for them.

That Alex has feelings for Elisha, that he cares for him, more that he should have (according to the society’s way), is right away seen as weird, dangerous, not socially acceptable. Elisha is forced to be Alex’s perfect Docile, dressed like Alex says, doing whatever he wanted him to do. Elisha slowly changes, until his family, above all his father, can’t recognize him anymore, can’t believe he’s his own person.
It is moving and awful reading how Elisha loses himself and struggles with rules and feelings, not knowing what he did wrong or how to function without Alex.

When Alex realized how much he hurts Elisha and lets him go to his family, Elisha’s world is destroyed, without him and he has to go through a painful process of reasserting himself, learning again how to ask things, how to like things without Alex’s brainwashing. Reading about this was so raw and moving, how he was helped by the Empower Maryland, by his family and friends.

Alex’s character, as Elisha’s, is complex and intriguing. Pressured by his family, the whole city to prove the effectivness of Dociline, he’s torn between his growing feelings for Elisha and his loyalty to his father, Board and legacy.

For me, it wasn’t easy to see Alex as a villain in Docile. He was shaped by the world he lives in, Alex is the product of a society where Dociles are seen as things and where he, as Bishop, has to act and be a certain way.

But Alex’s action are not justified by his being grown up in a certain way. Throughout the whole book Alex is forced to open his eyes and recognize his mistakes and actions.

While reading Docile it’s impossible not to compare both of them, to see Alex as the villain and Elisha as the victim, the abuser and the abused, the rapist and the raped. But they are so much complex that that. In a game of seduction, love, violence and hurt, they move and they live in a society that shapes them and wants to mold them in certain ways.
Thanks to his relationship with Elisha, Alex begins to understand how his POV was biased, how his being rich and spoiled prevented him to see the truth, even when it regarded his closest friends. Jess and Dutch are Alex’s best friends, they work for the Bishop Labs and both of them were under Dociline, when kids.

Discovering Dutch’s and his Docile Onyx’s true nature and intentions was a surprise for me, so it was reading them helping Elisha get back on his own feet and forcing Alex to see what his family company did to debtors in general and Elisha and his mother in particular, pushing him to open his eyes and recognize his feeling and what he should do. Jess is another complex character, her expertise in Dociline helping Alex and Elisha, her friendship with them and Dylan sweet and sure.

THE RELATIONSHIPS

I love how the characters grow in this book. Alex, from rich and spoiled and blind to others’ suffering and feelings, becomes a more mature version of himself, deciding to free himself from his father’s and the company’s clutches and owning the truth about what he did to Elisha, how he hurt and broke him.
Reading how Alex sees that and at the same time that is ready to make amends, helping him and his mother, denouncing his family’s company was incredible.


Reading about Elisha’s depersonalization was awful and raw, so like reading his slow reasserting his own identity and personality, his indecision, his pain, his attempted suicide, his healing, helped by his family and friends. Every character is complex, flawed and utterly human in his faults, desires and needs. None of them is completely bad or good, but they are in the gray area of humanity, pushed and manipulated by a society and system that want to mold them, where debts create slaves and riches. Alex and Elisha change one other and, above all, Alex’s world and convictions are upturned.

The lawsuit was a brilliant way to force the characters to realize and talk about their own feelings and faults.
I love reading how Dutch tells the truths about Docile, how the trial showed the fault in the Docile’s system and the debtor’s reality, how Elisha decides to own his own truths, admitting to himself and other to have been raped and brainwashedand how Alex realizes his faults and tries to fix it, testing himself with drugs and trying to find an antidote for Elisha’s mother.
I was unbelievably proud when Elisha breaks up with Alex and they both realize it’s the right thing to do in that moment, because they need to heal and fix their relationship. I was proud of both of them owning their truths.
I love reading how Abby, Elisha’s sister is supportive and how Nora, Dylan’s mother and David, Elisha’s father are so close to him, even after the first fights because Elisha couldn’t realize he’s changed.
It was fun and interesting reading about the sex scenes, about the BDSM, about the poliamorous relationships.

I loved reading how Elisha and Alex change during the whole book, how they become different people, owning their own truths and faults. Their relationship is incredibly complex. Their love, born in a not consensual relationship, change both of them. Pushed Alex to realized how much he’s hurting Elisha and to letting him go to his family, understanding how, living with him, wouldn’t help. Elisha, after all he’s been through, still have feelings for Alex, strong ones.

After being so dependent in Alex, reading how Elisha reasserts himself, making his own decisions, asking his own questions, was absolutely amazing. So was reading how Alex owns his mistakes, his faults, his guilt, deciding to give Elisha space, to letting him heal, piece by piece. Their relationship change a lot throughout the book, from owner and owned, abuser and abused, from Elisha being dependent on Alex, to be his own person, again and starts a new relationship with him, without disparities, helping each other and seeing one other as how they really are, without pressures and social impositions.

I loved the ending. It was hopeful and sweet, social justice aside. I loved reading how both Elisha and Alex still have feeling for each other and they are willing to give each other space and time, while deciding to work together and be together.

QUOTES

“I want to be with you- want to be around you without the pressure”

“He kissed me again, and again, parting so slowly I feel dazed. Heady. Elisha leans his forehead against the base of my neck and I rest my chin on his head, the hood long fallen off. When he finally looks at me, he says “I’m not giving up on you, Alexander Bishop.” I don’t answer him, because I want him to feel like he can go on without me if he needs to. He’ll see me soon, anyway. We’re neighbours, now, and I think I promised to open a clinic with him. This isn’t a goodbye. It’s a beginning- one we’ve agreed on. Together.”

CONCLUSION

Docile left me breathless and full of things to say and write. I loved the plot, the characters, the themes. I loved Elisha and Alex and the ending left me so hopeful for them, showing how it’s possible to heal and starts love again even after awful experiences. How it’s important to be true to oneself and do the right thing, how it’s right to fight for what it’s right. Docile is a book with intense and skillfully written themes like abuse, power, consent and love. It’s raw, beautiful, heartbreaking and sexy. It’s impossible not to love Elisha and Alex.

Let me now what do you think! Will you read Docile? Are you excited as I am to have this book in your hands? Comment this post and share your thoughts.

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As Travars-Recensioni

Asperfell by Jamie Thomas

ARC review

430 pages
Expected publication: TODAY! February 18th 2020 by Uproar Books, LLC

I received this book from netgalley in exchange of an honest review.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD

I really loved reading Asperfell, this book is peculiar and the characters are intriguing and interesting.
Set in a world called Tiralaen, a sort of medioeval one, where magic is real and people who possessed it are called Mages, the story starts when the main character, Briony, is only eight years old. When the king is killed by his heir Elyan, a potent Mage, able to siphon other’s magic and use it, he’s condemned to walk through the Gate, a passage into another world and to be exiled in the Asperfell prison.


The Asperfell is an ancient prison, created hundreds of years ago, the only one capable to hold the Mages’ magic. With the king’s death and the new one’s growing paranoia about and violence against who possesses magic, the world of Tiralaen is turn upside down and where reigned violence, suspicion and deaths.

Briony’s life, a young and stubborn daughter from a prestigious and influential family is sheltered and she lived with her family, her sister Livia, parents and uncle in the capital, Iluviel, at the court, her days spent learning how to curtsy, to sew and to do the things women are supposed to learn. When she survived a bad illness, Briony and Livia are are sent away to their aunt. Kept safely away from the capital, where her parents and uncle advised their mad and violent king, Briony’s world is changed another time 10 years later, when soldiers accused her to be a Mage, bringing her to the capital and sentencing her to death. Helped to escape into the Asperfell world, Briony promised her friend Cyprias to bring back the only hope for her country: prince Elyan, sentenced there thirteen years ago.


Asperfell is not what she could have ever imagined, though and the prison, full of true criminals and of innocent people alike, is awash with secrets, about itself, Briony and the whole world too.

I loved reading about Briony. She’s such a strong and brave main character. Unlike her sister and the women of their time and world, Briony is wild, curious, brilliant and she refused to be a pretty wife or to gossip at court or to learn how to be a housewife, how to sew and so on. I admired her curiosity, her drive to know more about everything, her refusing to be passive and remissive. I liked her friendship with Cyprias’, her father’s spy and how she kept herself informed while with her aunt.

Briony is resilient. When she is saved and pushed in Asperfell her promise to save her kingdom and country is strong and even in a different and peculiar world, surrounded by dangers and criminals, she learned how to adapt and how to discover more about her power and the prison’s secrets. It was really interesting reading about all the kind of Mages and their magic, about Briony’s power, so peculiar. Her eagerness, her curiosity, her need to learn more about her magic, to compensate and balance from her being untrained collided with the person she’s sent to save and free, prince Elyan, who is rude, cynical and a really powerful Mage.

I love their interaction, how Briony is not a simpering subject and she stood her own ground against him, pushing him to not giving up hope for their freedom.
Elyan is a peculiar character, not the spoiled royal one could think he is. He’s rude and sarcastic and insufferable, irritating Briony with his attitude, but he’s a complex character, full of grief, pain and regret and, after being in that prison for so many years, his cynical side was brought forward. Briony’s eagerness and her scheming and plans overwhelmed him, crushing his reservations, or, at least, involving him into hoping for more. I really like their relationship, it’s really complex and not granted.


This book is full of interesting characters, like the Steward of Asperfell, Philomena and its Master Tiberius, Yralis, Phyra and Thaniel, who become Briony’s friends while she adapted and learned to care about her new home. I liked the riddles and mysteries of Asperfell and how some things were connected since the very beginning, with mulpiple twists and magical beings. It was really amazing learning everything about Briony’s world’s magic through her eyes and to follow her in her quest and journey.


Asperfell itself is an interesting place, where people learned to life, surrendering themselves to this exile, creating relationships and so on. It was peculiar reading about the Melancholy Revels, where past nobility is still grabbing at their illusion of power, even in prison and in exile. It was interesting reading about the power system, fueled by violence and power. I liked reading about Thaniel’s knights and the lower levels, too, the Sentinels and basically everything in this book.

In the author’s biography she says she wants “to smash the patriarchy one novel at a time, creating characters and worlds that inspire, empower and elevate women” and I have to say she’s done it really well with Asperfell.

The first book is amazing and Briony is an unconventional heroine, unconventional because as a woman, in her time, she did the opposite the world expected from her and it’s amazing and really inspiring.
I can’t wait to read more about her, Elyan, Phyra and the others and their journey towards home and country.

Let me know what do you think about my blog and reviews in the comment!

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Victim 2117 by Jussi Adler-Olsen Arc review

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.

I’m a huge fan of Jussi Adler-Olsen and the Department Q’s investigations, so I was thrilled to read an earc of this new installment.

Everything starts with a dead body, named Victim 2117, the two thousand seventeen refugee to die in the Mediterranean Sea. Her death starts a huge plot, an international investigation and secrets long buried.

Connected to three different people, Victim 2117 is:

For Assad, ia link to his past and a way to tell the truth about himself, his family and his real name.

For Ghaalib, a cruel tormentor, the start of an awful terroristic plot.

For a troubled Danish teen, she represents everything he resents and a way to start to plot his murderous revenge against humanity.

Told by multiple POVs (Joan’s, Carl’s, Assad’s, Rose’s, Gordon’s, Alexander’s, Ghalib’s) the story is full of mysteries and plot twists.

Starting with the discovery of Victim 2117, the reader follows Joan, a depressed and unlucky journalist, who tries to discover what happened to the old woman and finds himself involved into a bigger plot, threatened, hurt and taken hostage by a dangerous and deranged group.

It’s through flashbacks the reader learns about Assad’s story, his relationship with Ghaalib and the family he thought he lost for good. In a race against time, Assad and Carl go to Berlin and, following clues and taunts, they try to stop Ghaalib, his plans, and to save Assad’s family and innocent lives, cooperating with the local police.

It’s thanks to Assad, Rose managed to starts to work again with the Department Q, after two years spent in her apartment, shocked by what happened to her in the last “adventure”. Her friendship with Assad pushed her to go out again and be involved into two different cases, Assad’s and Gordon’s unknown and dangerous caller.

While dealing with personal news about his love life and friends, Carl follows and help Assad in Germany, while the troubled teen, Alexander, torments Gordon, taunting him and revealing his plans by phone, Gordon and Rose starts an investigation to discover who he is and stop him before it’s too late.

Victim 2117 is a complex and intriguing book. Even though we have multiple POVs and storyline, the story is captivating and the reader can easily follow the double investigations and what happens in each character’s lives.

Carl with Mona and the coming back of Marcus, his former boss, as chief of homicide, Rose’s trauma, Assad’s wish for revenge and his desire to find his family safe and sound, away from Ghaalib’s clutches, Gordon’s involvement with the teen and his race against time to find him, Joan’s depression and the event that turned his world upside down.

It was interesting reading the POVs of the “villains” in this book, too, to see their reasons and their desires. The reader can follow Alexander’s deranged plan and see how he was tormented, beaten and abused by his father, how the indifference of his parents and the world pushed him to close in on himself and in his room, obsessed with death and revenge.

Ghaalib’s character is despicable and I couldn’t understand his POV or sympathize with his thoughts and plans, his obsession and revenge.

It was amazing reading again about the Department Q’s investigations. I missed Rose being sassy, Carl being determined and loyal, Assad’s wrongs sayings and his camels, Gordon’s awkwardness.

The book is beautiful and deals with important issues, like terrorism, fundamentalism, refugees’, their conditions, war, tortures, death, rape, threats and so on, while narrating a story of friendships, love and new beginnings too.