"What she needs are stories. Stories are a way to preserve one's self. To be remembered. And to forget. Stories come in so many forms: in charcoal, and in song, in paintings, poems, films. And books. Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives—or to find strength in a very long one.” The invisibile life of Addie LaRue
Hello and welcome to my stop for the Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan book tour, organized by TBR and Beyond Tours! Thank you so much for this chance!
Thank you, NetGalley, HarperCollins Children’s books and HarperTeen, for the chance to read and review this book in exchange of an honest review.
Set in an empire on the brink of war, where the socioeconomic differences between wealthy and poor is stronger than ever, Ahn and Altan find themselves on a path to change their country. Ahn is no one, she doesn’t remember her family and her past. Adopted by an older woman, now her adoptive grandmother she tries to survive in their poor city, without hopes, money and work. When something happens that changes forever her life, Ahn discovers a new world, secrets and truths about herself and the world around her. Altan is the lost heir of the empire, willing to do anything in his power to avenge his family and reclaiming his throne. When they meet, Ahn and Altan are forced to work together, to protect their country and empire, innocent people, while trying to understand their own magical abilities and their roles.
I really liked reading Jade Fire Gold. I was so curious to read this book and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a debut work and it’s very good. The writing style is brilliant, the plot captivating and I loved the worldbuilding. I was really interested in the magic system, the socioeconomic divisions and how the main characters face one other, both with their own agendas, fears, hopes and dreams. The story is told by two POVs, Ahn’s and Altan, weaving together, while trying to understand what they have to do, what they want to do and how much they are meaning for one other. The story is captivating, well written and I liked this book.
There are some things I didn’t like, though I wasn’t so impressed by the enemies to lovers romance, I couldn’t like them so much together. I also felt like the final 20% of the book and ending were a bit too rushed. I would have loved to know more about the magic system and more about the worldbuilding, but it’s more of a preference than a criticism. I loved the characterization, main and side characters, but I preferred Altan’s POV to Ahn’s. I liked her characters, but with everything she’s been through, I felt she was a bit more passive than him, while I appreciated more his drive and determination.
Overall, though, Jade Fire Gold is a strong debut, the worldbuilding is very fascinating, the writing is amazing and very captivating and I definitely recommend it.
“History is never written by its victims”
“Children are not born with the fear of falling. It is life that conditions them to be afraid.”
“Alway remember, the heart is not a weakness.”
“You may not be able to change the past, but with each action, you can change the future.”
“Life is but a dream, and death is returning home.”
“Forgiveness is not weakness.”
You can partecipate to the giveaway, too!
One winner will receive a finished copy of Jade Fire Gold. The giveaway starts on October 11th and ends on October 18th!
“Mystical, magical, and wildly original…If Alice Hoffman and Sara Addison Allen had a witchy love child, she would be Paige Crutcher. Do not miss this beautifully realized debut!”— JT Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of Her Dark Lies on The Orphan Witch.
A deeper magic. A stronger curse. A family lost…and found.
Persephone May has been alone her entire life. Abandoned as an infant and dragged through the foster care system, she wants nothing more than to belong somewhere. To someone. However, Persephone is as strange as she is lonely. Unexplainable things happen when she’s around—changes in weather, inanimate objects taking flight—and those who seek to bring her into their family quickly cast her out. To cope, she never gets attached, never makes friends. And she certainly never dates. Working odd jobs and always keeping her suitcases half-packed, Persephone is used to moving around, leaving one town for another when curiosity over her eccentric behavior inevitably draws unwanted attention.
After an accidental and very public display of power, Persephone knows it’s time to move on once again. It’s lucky, then, when she receives an email from the one friend she’s managed to keep, inviting her to the elusive Wile Isle. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. However, upon arrival, Persephone quickly discovers that Wile is no ordinary island. In fact, it just might hold the very things she’s been searching for her entire life.
Answers. Family. Home.
And some things she did not want. Like 100-year-old curses and an even older family feud. With the clock running out, love might be the magic that saves them all.
Thank you so much, NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and St. Martin’s Griffin, for the chance to read and review this book in exchange of an honest review.
Persephone May has been always alone. Abandoned as infant, grown up in foster care, strange things happen when she’s around, weather changes, things take flight and so on. So Persephone, to protect her heart and feelings, decides not to get attached, not to make friends or to date anyone, always ready to move from town to town. After another scary and accidental display of power, she’s ready to move again and she, luckily, gets a letter from the only friend she’s managed to get: Hyacinth, inviting her on Wile Isle. The timing is perfect, but as soon as she arrives Persephone understands the island isn’t an ordinary one. She can feel its power and mystery and Hyacinth and her sister Moira will open a brand new world for her, making her feel at home, accepted, loved and protected. But answers and family come with a price and Persephone finds herself involved into a 100-hundred-year-old curse, family feud, a Library of the Lost, a rude and fascinating librarian and, maybe, a way to save them all.
I really loved reading The orphan witch. It’s a brilliant fantasty story, captivating, the plot full of twists, secrets and discoveries and Persephone is a wonderful main character. She’s very realistic in her longing, pain and desires. She wants to belong to somewhere, to someone, she’s looking for answers about her past and family, finding more she was looking for, involved in a world full of magic, curses and so on. Persephone is dragged in a complex and scary reality, where she discovers her powers, where she belongs and her role in everything. The setting(s) are truly mystical and enchanting…and enchanted, too. The island is beautiful, rich and evocative and its description made me feel like I was there with Persephone, discovering it slowly, smelling the flowers and the sea, the herbs, learning magic and connections, falling in love and so much more. On the other side the library is another captivating setting, with the rude and mysterious Dorian, books and secrets, voices and clues, scattered everywhere.
If the setting is evocative and intense, so the characters. As I’ve already written, Persephone is brilliant and a very relatable character. She’s also brave and stubborn and she’s, as she will discover in time, surrounded by love and bonds. Except for Dorian, the book presents only female characters, wonderfully complex and intricate in their feelings, emotions, past traumas, connections and mistakes. The jovial Hyacinth and her struggles and pain, the strong and stubborn Moira, hiding her past and losses behind a facade, the mysterious and elusive Ariel and Ellison, the witches Amara and True, who started everything years and years ago. The side characters, as the main one, are brilliantly written, very relatable in their actions and feelings. The writing style is captivating, it was impossible not to feel Persephone’s feelings and longing, her desires and fears, her dreams, to be involved in her adventure, following her discovering herself, her strength, her family and her love. It’s an intense and magical fantasy with romance, action and sisterhood.
The orphan witch is a book about family and bonds, about belong to somewhere and someone, the sacrifices one would do for love and the right things, about being brave. It’s a wonderful, evocative, sometimes sad and others funny, fantasy story about sisterhood and love, action and magic, family and curses to be broken.
Paige Crutcher is a former Southern Correspondent for Publishers Weekly, an artist and yogi, and co-owner of the online marketing company Hatchery.
Salve e benvenut* alla mia tappa del review party dedicata a “L’impero del vampiro” di Jay Kristoff. Un grazie enorme ad Alessandra per aver organizzato l’evento e la Mondadori per la copia in anteprima. Le mie opinioni non sono state in alcun modo influenzate.
Prezzo: € 25,00
In vendita dal 14 settembre 2021
TW: sangue, violenza, tortura, omicidio, omofobia
Sono trascorsi ventisette anni dall’ultima alba e i vampiri hanno preso possesso del mondo, creando un vasto impero e distruggendo quello umano. Sono poche le luci che contrastano l’oscurità, come il sacro Ordine d’Argento, ma ora Gabriel de León è l’ultimo Santo. Imprigionato dai mostri che ha combattuto per decenni, è costretto a raccontare la sua storia allo storico, Jean-François della casata Chastain. Inizia così un epico racconto, di lotte, amori passionali, vendette, fede e morti.
Ho trovato molto difficile esprimere a parole ciò che mi ha trasmesso “L’impero del vampiro”. Mi ha coinvolta sin dall’inizio, travolgendomi emotivamente e spingendomi a divorarlo perché la storia è tremendamente avvincente e che mi ha lasciata con il desiderio di saperne di più, quindi…dov’è il secondo libro, Jay? Io ne ho bisogno!
Un romanzo complesso, stratificato, un racconto epico, di vampiri, ma anche di legami, d’amore e amicizia, di fede e la sua perdita, di speranza e lotta, di dipendenza e lutto. Non è semplicemente una storia di lotta contro il male e i mostri che popolano il mondo, non solo. Si tratta di un libro che affronta con delicatezza e arguzia temi come l’amore e l’amicizia, il sacrificio e la fede, la perdita della speranza e la lotta per ritrovarla, la dipendenza da qualcosa (droghe, alcool, ricordi…) e la depressione quando si ha perso ogni cosa. Lo stile è coinvolgente, la storia è ben scritta e i personaggi caratterizzati perfettamente. In un racconto di oltre 700 pagine è normale trovare momenti più lenti e altrettanti rocamboleschi e Jay Kristoff li dosa sapientemente.
Il worldbuilding è deliziosamente complesso e ho trovato molto affascinante il racconto delle varie casate di vampiri, i loro poteri e influenze, i loro schemi politici, il complicato mondo dell’Ordine d’Argento, con i loro riti e la loro fede, l’apprendistato di Gabriel, le lotte interne ed esterne e il contrasto socioeconomico che il protagonista si ritrova ad affrontare e subire nel corso della sua crescita. Jay Kristoff racconta di un mondo terrificante, popolato da diversi tipi di mostri e, soprattutto, da vampiri terribili e al tempo stesso affascinanti, in grado di donare vita eterna e poteri straordinari, un mondo dove non esiste alba, solo oscurità e semi-oscurità.
“Chi cazzo ti ha detto che ero un eroe?” esclama Gabriel, nel raccontare la sua storia a Jean-François, sottolineando quando i racconti su di lui appaiano distanti dalla realtà dei fatti. Non ci sono eroi in questa storia e il suo protagonista è decisamente particolare. Sagace, sboccato, drogato, deluso dal e arrabbiato con il mondo, senza fede, Gabriel mi ha colpito sin dall’inizio. Non è il cavaliere delle leggende. Certo, ha fatto (quasi) tutto ciò che viene raccontato su di lui, ma è amareggiato, ferito, tristemente e dolorosamente umano, pur non essendolo del tutto e conservando ancora la sua rabbia. Uno degli aspetti che spicca, sin dalle prime pagine, è il rapporto che si crea tra Gabriel e Jean-François. Da un lato un eroe in disgrazia, dall’altro uno storico vampiro, mandato lì per trascrivere il suo racconto e i loro battibecchi, le battute, gli scambi irritati, il continuo saltare da un tempo dall’altro per irritare il vampiro…sono tutti aspetti che ho trovato creativi e divertenti, soprattutto perché ho amato il modo in cui la storia viene narrata.
La storia oscilla avanti e indietro, intrecciando tre sequenze temporali, che si incastrano sapientemente come pezzi di un puzzle. La prima è ambientata del presente e funge da cornice all’intero racconto. Al suo interno troviamo Gabriel che racconta la sua storia e Jean-François che la trascrive, abbellendola con disegni e interrogando il cavaliere. Uno degli aspetti che mi ha incuriosito della storia è come Jean-François sembri incarnare il lettore, fermando il racconto, chiedendo delucidazioni, invitando Gabriel a raccontare in modo più esaustivo la sua storia. Immaginando di consegnare la storia ai posteri e rivestendo i panni di chi non sa nulla di quel mondo, Jean-François sembra rappresentare chi sta leggendo, che è all’oscuro di tutto ed è quindi necessario essere più specifici possibile. In questo modo il lettore viene a conoscenza di un mondo popolato da mostri per un evento misterioso accaduto decenni addietro, dell’esistenza della progenie di vampiri ed esseri umani, i “sanguepallido”, alla cui categoria appartiene Gabriel, alla sua vocazione presso l’Ordine, cosa sia l’Ordine e via discorrendo.
Le successive due sequenze temporali si dividono in due diversi momenti del passato di Gabriel. In una Gabriel narra la sua infanzia, i legami con i genitori e le sorelle e gli eventi che cambiarono la sua esistenza, spingendolo nell’Ordine d’Argento, il suo apprendistato, le rivalità con gli altri giovani e via discorrendo. Presenta, quindi, al lettore un Gabriel curioso, disposto a tutto per provare le proprie capacità, per appartenere al complesso e stratificato mondo dell’Ordine d’Argento, un microcosmo di lotte e differenze socioeconomiche, dove il tipo di sangue rappresentava prestigio o scherno. Il lettore segue, quindi, Gabriel nella sua crescita, apprendendo i riti, le armi, facendo conoscenza con persone che gli cambieranno la vita. L’altra sequenza temporale, l’ultima, riguarda, invece, l’interesse principale di Jean-François: Il Santo Graal. Sono trascorsi molti anni dal Gabriel di Santa Michon, dall’apprendistato e Gabriel è ormai adulto, è cresciuto, disilluso, drogato e costretto/convinto a unirsi a un gruppo di fedeli alla ricerca di un modo per sconfiggere il sine die e portare la fine del mondo dei vampiri.
Gabriel è protagonista assoluto della storia, oscillando tra le sequenze temporali, interrompendo il racconto, fermandosi per riprendere fiato e trovare coraggio, bisticciando con Jean-François. Come scritto in precedenza, Gabriel è un personaggio particolare, arrabbiato, deluso e intrigante nel suo dolore e la sua rabbia. Il modo in cui narra la storia, fermandosi, andando avanti e indietro, da un lato irrita il lettore e lo stesso storico, dall’altro fa comprendere la difficoltà del protagonista di parlare di certi avvenimenti.
Se mi ha colpito Gabriel e il suo rapporto con Jean-François, rapporto che ho trovato stimolante e divertente, non sono da meno i personaggi secondari che riempiono il libro e le interazioni che Gabriel ha con essi, personaggi snob e antipatici, severi e litigiosi, pieni di rabbia e risentimento, tutti quanti ben scritti e caratterizzati e che accompagnano Gabriel nella sua crescita e vocazione. Anche in questo caso le differenti sequenze temporali presentano personaggi diversi l’una dall’altra, nonostante alcuni travalichino i decenni. Nel passato di Gabriel, incontriamo il maestro Manogrigia e il serafino Talon, il rivale Aaron de Coste, che si scontra più e più volte con Gabriel nel corso del loro apprendistato, ma il cui rapporto si approfondisce e cambia nel tempo, le ricerche con la sorella novizia Chloe Sauvage, ma soprattutto spicca Astrid Rennier, personaggio che cambierà la vita di Gabriel, la cui presenza indugia su di lui anche nel presente, durante il racconto con Jean-François. Nella timeline di Gabriel adulto troviamo, invece, nuovi e vecchi personaggi, ma a farla da padrone è Dior Lachance e il suo rapporto, sboccato, pieno di insulti e prese in giro, con Gabriel e la cui presenza cambierà ogni cosa.
La caratterizzazione dei personaggi è splendida. Se Gabriel spicca in quanto protagonista, gli altri non sono da meno e sono complessi nelle loro paure, desideri, nella loro fede e speranza, nei loro rapporti d’amore e d’amicizia. Sono, inoltre presenti, relazioni LGBTQIA+, che ho molto apprezzato, soprattutto una in particolare perché evidenzia e rimprovera l’omofobia presente in alcuni personaggi secondari e quanto l’amore venga visto come in contrasto con la fede e la missione, scoperchiando una complessa riflessione su Dio, le scritture, dovere verso se stessi e ciò a cui non si è disposti a sacrificare. La fede è un elemento ben presente all’interno del racconto, fede che aiuta e dona forza a coloro che appartengono all’Ordine d’Argento, ma anche, e si evince nel corso della storia, fede perduta, rabbia nei confronti di un Dio che sembra aver dimenticato ognuno di loro.
“Non chiedermi se Dio esiste, ma perché è così stronzo.”
Il romanzo inizia proprio in questo mondo e il contrasto tra la fede, l’orribile mondo che li circonda, l’amore e il desiderio e ciò che viene considerato peccato è ben presente in molti personaggi, come Gabriel, Astrid, Aaron, Baptiste.
“E se il tuo Dio definirebbe il mio amore un peccato, allora non è un Dio che conosco.”
In quanto figli del peccato e sanguepallido, Gabriel, Aaron, Baptiste si muovono in un mondo che non li accetta, pur servendosi di loro come paladini contro i mostri e l’oscurità. Questo continuo contrasto, tra il sangue che scorre nelle loro vene e l’umanità, tra la fede e il peccato (peccato secondo altri uomini, secondo scritture passate e regole), tra bene e male, spicca nel corso dell’intero romanzo. Come scritto in precedenza, nessuno dei personaggi è un eroe e tutti sono contraddistinti da rabbia, vendetta, desiderio, risentimento e amore.
Decido di concludere qui la mia recensione, altrimenti finirei per scrivere un romanzo sul romanzo e non posso non consigliare assolutamente “L’impero del vampiro” (pur facendo attenzione ai numerosi trigger warnings).
Date un’occhiata alle altre recensioni del review party! Ecco a voi il calendario:
Hello and welcome to my stop for Thing we couldn’t say by Jay Coles! Thank you, CP tour, for the chance to read this amazing book and for the free copy.
TW: racism, homophobia, parental abandonment, parental abuse, side character’s death, suicide (prior to the story), depression, trauma
I love reading Things we couldn’t say. With incredible sensitity, the author deals with themes like grief, parental abandoment, homophobia and racism, telling Gio’s story in his complexity, struggles and hopes. I loved the way the author talks about depression and anxiety, in a very relatable way and his writing style is absolutely amazing, I was really in love since the beginning.
The story is told by Gio’s POV and he’s a fantastic main character, complex and intricate, brave and scared, upset and willing to fight for himself, to be who he is. In his life there always have been an hole, ever since his birth mother left him, his bother and father, when he was nine years old. Gio struggled and struggles with depression, anxiety and, thanks to his therapy, is trying to get his life back together, when his mother suddenly came back, crashing into his life and upsetting everything and everyone. Things are even more complicated since the basketball team has a new member, Gio’s new neighbour, David and when they start to hang together, Gio is even more confused about his feelings, what he wants from life and for himself.
Things we couldn’t say is a powerful and moving book, written beautifully and I felt really involved in Gio’s story, following his struggles, fears, desires and hopes. He’s a very relatable character in his feelings, thoughts and actions and it was incredible following his journey towards accepting and loving himself, learning more about love, family and forgiviness.
Gio’s life isn’t easy. At home he struggles with his drinking and preacher father, who doesn’t want to accept his bisexuality and wants to impose his ideas and thoughts on Gio. He battles with his anxiety and depression, his feelings of unworthiness, ever since he was abandoned, fighting against nightmares and bad thoughts. His mother’s return upsets his already messy life, forcing him to deal with his feelings, fears and hopes. At the same time, while dealing with themes like abandoment, depression, homophobia and abuse, the story stands out for its hope and love, because it’s clear, right away, how Gio is surrounded by people who loves him, from the beautiful and strong bond with his best friends, Olly and Ayesha, his relationship with his brother Theo, with his stepmother Karina and, also, with David, his new friend and, maybe, something more.
I loved reading Gio’s journey, his friendship with Olly and Ayesha, the sweet and intense story with David, how they meet, fit together and love one other in a wonderful and brilliant relationship, made of love, understanding and support.
In Things we couldn’t say Gio tackles relationships and love, between friends, siblings, lovers and parents, grief, rage, identity, struggling to accept and love himself for who he is in all his parts, fighting against those who wants only some of him, learning what love and family means, learning to accept and forgive. It was moving and interesting reading how much Gio grows in this book, realizing how is worthy of love, what family means, the importance of being oneself in all his parts. I loved the importance of talking and therapy in this book, how much people can change and grow, how it’s vital to fight for one’s happiness and freedom.
I totally recommed this book to those who are looking for a cute love story, a journey to love and accept oneself and amazing friendships!
“Lately I’ve felt so much like all my emotions are exposed to the world and I feel like I’ve got no place to hide.”
“Loss fucks you up, but it doesn’t change who you are. I have to believe that. It forces you to be brave and strong so you can hold your life together, and the lives of the people you love together- the ones who are still here.”
“It’s like grief is a backpack we wear through life and we’re costantly putting hard things inside it. Not to ignore those things, but to carry them with us as we go on.”
“The most powerful and insanely beautiful thing you can be is yourself.”
“Memories can be recycled and forgotten, but feelings cannot.”
“When I look into your eyes, I see constellations.”
“You make me brave.”
“And I’m tired of feeling like a prisoner in my own body every damn day. I guess sometimes we meet people who remind us of all the reasons why we exist.”
“This world can be so dark and cold and cruel and lonely. I’m so glad that we can face it all together.”
Hello and welcome to my stop for Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim book tour! A huge thanks to Tbr and beyond tours for the chance to be part of it!
Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.
Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.
Thank you so much, NetGalley, Random House Children’s and Knopf Books For Young Readers, for the chance to read and review this book!
Shiori’anma is the only princess of Kiata and she has a secret. She has magic, forbidden magic. Usually she’s able to conceal it, but on the morning of her betrothal cerimony, she loses control and the wedding, a wedding she never wanted, is forestalled. Her mistake also catches her stepmother’s, Raikama, attention. The woman is a powerful sorceress and she banishes the young princess, turning her six brothers in cranes and warning Shiori that she mustn’t speak, for with every word she says, one of her brother will die.
Alone, penniless, voiceless, Shiori is determined to find her brothers and break the curse and in her journey she discovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. In order to prevent it, she places her trust in her magic paper crane, Kiki, a mercurial dragon, in her brothers and in the same young man she didn’t want to marry. That also means facing and embracing her own powers. Six crimson cranes is a spellbinding fairytale, narrated by Shiori’s POV, full of intriguing characters, thrilling story and fascinating worldbuilding, where reality, gods and myths are woven together.
Drawing inspirations from “The wild swans” and East Asian folklore, this fantasy is original and really well written, focusing on Shiori’s journey, both physical and psychological in finding her brothers, breaking the curse and saving her kingdom. Shiori is a very complex main character and the reader follows her growth, from a young and careless princess, protected and loved by her father and brothers, to a strong and able woman, willing to do anything in order to protect her family and those she loves.
Her journey is intense and Shiori finds herself without money, voice and family, but she’s brilliant and resourceful and won’t let anything stop her. If the main character captures the reader’s attention right away, the side characters are also wonderfully written. Shiori’s brothers, Takkan, Seryu, Megari, Raikama, Zairena, Hasege add layers to the story, each of them complex and with their own stories and motives and intricacies.
I really enjoyed reading Shiori’s relationship with her brothers, because it’s wonderfully strong and moving. Also reading how slowly she gets along with, love and trust Seryu, Megari and Takkan, even though very different from one other, was so lovely to read. The worldbuilding is interesting and fascinating, with talking dragons, princes turned into cranes, gods and magic, demons and curses and in this world Shiori faces adventures after adventures, finding, in her quest, also romance and love.
The storytelling is absolutely brilliant and I devoured this book, because I couldn’t stop reading it and it was so compelling. Shiori, Seryu and Takkan are awesome characters and I can’t wait to know more about this world.
Here’s the tour schedule! Go check the others’ amazing posts!
Hello and welcome to my stop for “May the best man win” by Z.R. Ellor, organized by Turn the page tours! I’m so excited to be part of this tour, because this book was one of my most anticipated read of 2021 and I’m really happy to recommend it with all my heart!
Thank you so much, NetGalley, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Roaring Brook Press, for the chance to read and review one of my most anticipated books of 2021!
Jeremy Harkiss is the cheer captain and student body president and he won’t let his coming out as trangender boy define him and ruin his senior year. He’s determined to be seen as he is, a boy and he’s ready to battle against bigots and the outdated school administration, so he decides to run as Homecoming King, challenging his ex Lukas for the title. Lukas is a football start and head of the Homecoming Commitee and he’s struggling to put order in his life after being dumped by his long-term girlfriend, who turned out to be a boy and his own family falling apart and he won’t let Jeremy steal his crown, after having broken his heart. So they start an intense battle, made of sabotage, cheating, involving their friends and, soon, the whole school, in their rivarly, while struggling with their own fears, doubts and wounds. But when they are forced to work together in order to save Homecoming, Jeremy and Lukas have to face the hurt they are hiding and their mutual attraction.
May the best man win is such an amazing novel and I loved everything about it. Told by two POVs, Jeremy’s and Lukas’, the stoy is intense, wonderful and heartwrenching, tackling important themes as transphobia and homophobia, misgendering, deadnaming, violence, aggression and so much more. The story focuses on Jeremy and Lukas and their complicated and intense journey in finding themselves and one other, their places and community, facing family’s, school’s and society’s expectations.
Jeremy is struggling with the bigots at school, a complicated relationship with his mother, dysphoria and the desire to be finally seen as he is: a boy. Not Lukas’ ex girlfriend, not a lesbian, not a pretender, but himself, but he’s forced to face constant transphobia at school, above all from his ex friend Philip and to fight against the school administration, who doesn’t want to do anything in order to protect him, not wanting to jeopardize Philip’s father money donations. His decision to run as Homecoming King is strongly connected with his desire to be seen as he is. At the same time Jeremy is acutely aware of how little the school is doing in order to protected the marginalized community and he’s determined to change things. His battle with Lukas is also complicated by unresolved feelings, painful and intense past and their profound wounds and bonds.
Lukas’ life is falling apart around him, since his older (and cruel) brother died and his family changed, stopping talking to one other. He wants to fix everything, to put order in his messy life and becoming a Homecoming King is the only way he’s seeing to attract college’s attentions and making his family proud of him, struggling to be seen by them. Lukas is autistic, even though few know about it and he’s under the costant pressure of being the perfect football player, the perfect son, the perfect student, carrying his family’s, his school’s expectations on his shoulder. The author wrote skillfully his complicated relationship with his family and brother, the pain of losing him, but also the relief of not being hurt by him anymore, his need to salvage what he can and to keep his family together. His painful breakup with Jeremy, the pain of having lost him, after years and years together, the knowledge of not knowing exactly why it happened weighs down on him, filling both of them with anger and pain, pushing them in all-out war, threatening to burn down everything and everyone around them.
Their journey is messy and complicated by intrusive thoughts, like feeling unwanted and unloved, heartwrenching past and interactions, bad days. Both Jeremy and Lukas show the world a front, what people want to see, a fake Jeremy and a fake Lukas, in order to be accepted, loved and included, at school and at home. But slowly the pressure of not being themselves threatens to destroy them both and Jeremy and Lukas have to face themselves and one other and be finally honest and happy. Both of them feel unwanted and unloved and keep thinking everything (family’s and their own’s expectations) will be solved with the crown, while the whole world is crashing around them. Slowly they are forced to accept the reality and start loving themselves for who they are and not what the others want them to be, realizing the love and support from their friends and family members. On this note, I have to say I loved the side characters, above all Sol and their constant energy and jokes and Ben and Naomi, with their support and love, even though they all were “forced” in the middle of Jeremy’s and Lukas’ breakup, aftermath and fights.
Jeremy and Lukas are intense, complex and amazing main characters. They are teenagers, they are messed up, desperate, filled with anger and pain. They make mistakes, hurt people, apologize, struggle to be better, to be and find themselves in a world, often, bent into put people in labeled boxes and in smothering them.
I loved how the author talked about Jeremy’s anger and fire and the wonderful and supportive queer community he finally finds, where he can fit and be himself, how Lukas, after struggling for so long under the pressure of being someone he wasn’t, learns to embrace and be himself.
Jeremy’s and Lukas’ relationship is truly intense, moving and heartwrenching, made of still open wounds, unresolved tension and questions, pain and desires. While facing one other in the battle for the Homecoming King, while struggling with their own problems at home and school, between lessons and friends and fights, Jeremy and Lukas slowly realize how much they still care and love about one other, under all the pain and misunderstandings. It was really beautiful reading how they fit, how much they are still in love and how to move from there.
“We fit together like puzzle pieces, my fire and his reason, my energy and his comfortable arms.” (quote from the earc, so it can be subject to change)
May the best man win also tackles how often the powers, as the school administration, can turn a blind eye only for monetary gain, refusing to acknowledge and listen to victims denouncing harassments, sexual, physical, hate speech and so on, leaving more often than not people alone and afraid to speak, because they are afraid they won’t get their justice. Even though it doesn’t solve the problem with the whole school system at Jeremy’s and Lukas’ school, I was really moved and impressed by the community’s support and love in defending their classmates and in their desire to change things for the better.
The novel also talks about stereotypical thoughts about being gay, trans and female, about what it means “being a man”, misogyny and harmful behaviour.
I really loved reading May the best man win. The story is amazing, brilliant and I enjoyed so much reading about Jeremy’s and Lukas’ journey and their incredible and intense bond.
There’s also a giveaway!
Up for grabs, we have ONE (1) copy of May the Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run from May 16th to May 23rd at 12 AM CST. No giveaway accounts allowed.
Hello and welcome to my stop for “Follow your arrow” by Jessica Verdi book tour, organized by Tbr and Beyond Tours! A huge thanks to Tbr and Beyond Tours, Edelweiss and the publisher for the chance to read and review this book!
For fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, this is a riveting and irresistible take on love, life, and identity — both online and off.
CeCe Ross is kind of a big deal. She and her girlfriend, Silvie, are social media influencers with zillions of fans and followers, known for their cute outfits and being #relationshipgoals.
So when Silvie breaks up with her, CeCe is devastated. She’s lost her first love, and now she can’t help but wonder if she’ll lose her followers as well.
Things get even messier when CeCe meets Josh, a new boy in town who is very much Not Online. CeCe isn’t surprised to be falling for a guy; she’s always known she’s bi. And Josh is sweet and smart and has excellent taste in donuts… but he has no idea that CeCe is internet-famous. And CeCe sort of wants to keep it that way.
But when CeCe’s secrets catch up to her, she finds herself in the middle of an online storm, where she’ll have to confront the blurriness of public vs. private life, and figure out what it really means to speak her truth.
CeCe and her girlfriend, Sylvie, are social media influencer, with millions of fans and followers and partnerships, but when Sylvie breaks up with her, CeCe loses a piece of her. And she’s afraid to lose her followers, too, so invested in their relationship, so much they created an hastag with their names combined: Cevie. CeCe is forced to figure out who is she without Sylvie and CeCe, while navigating her heartbreak and keeping up her profile. Meeting Josh, funny, smart and Not Online isn’t something she was expecting, but slowly CeCe starts to have feelings for him, determined to keep him away from knowing how famous she is. But when secrets are revealed, CeCe has to face an online and personal crisis and she will have to decide who she wants to be. If she wants to speak her truth or keep the facade on and off line.
Follow your arrow is a captivating and interesting story, with a compelling main character. CeCe is both an Influencer, with an apparently perfect life on social medias, and a teenager, dealing with friends, relationships, romantic and familial, school and so on. Told in first person by CeCe, the story follows her through heartbreak, new relationships, friends, both on and off line, her thoughts, her rage, fears, pain and memories. The reader gets to know a brilliant main character, weighed down by her complex and painful relationship with her conservative father, her passion for politics and queer rights, the enviroment and, at the same time, her fear of being herself, of losing followers, of being forgotten if she decided to be outspoken and truthful to her beliefs. Through CeCe’s eyes, the reader is able to see how dangerous and obsessive social medias can be, how fake is the life many show the world, how difficult and draining can be keeping up a facade in front of everything. At the same time, though, the author shows how important Internet can be, the support and love and understanding people can get through it, the bonds it can create, the news it can share.
Between social media posts, messages and emoticons, partnerships posts, the reader follows CeCe in her journey and growth into being more confident of herself, her beliefs and identity, realizing the importance of being surrounded by people who loves her exactly for what and who she is and not from what other see on social medias.
I really appreciated how the author tackles the complexity of social medias, Internet hate and bullying and the conversation and definition of being bisexual, how CeCe isn’t less bisexual or queer if she dates a cisgender male, how there are infinite choice and not just two, how:
“Yes,” I say, turning another page “the labels, the letters in the initialism- LBTQIAP- are important. Owning your identity is powerful, and something to be proud of. But sometimes the letters also box people in, put margins and rules on what does and doesn’t qualify, and who is and isn’t welcome, and what someone who IDs a certain way is and isn’t allowed to do.” (quotes from the earc, so they can be subject to changes)
I really enjoyed reading this book. There were some predictable moments, but the story is very captivating, the characters are well written and relatable and I loved realizing how much CeCe grew through the story, becoming more confident, stronger and less focused on what other people think.
I definitely recommend this book. It’s funny, it tackles many important themes, like sexuality, being oneself, bullying, the good and bad part of social media, love, family and frienships.
Jessica Verdi is an author of books for kids and teens about identity, family, acceptance, and love.
Though she’s always been a bookworm (her childhood was basically defined by the philosophy that working your way through giant stacks of library books is far superior to playing outside), she remained convinced throughout high school and college that theatre and music were meant to be her creative outlets. After nearly ten years in the NYC theatre world, she got an idea for a novel. While that first attempt at a “book” will never see the light of day—nope, don’t ask—it was the book that started her love affair with writing. Now she can’t imagine doing anything else.
Jess received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School and is a freelance editor of romance and women’s fiction. She lives in New York with her family.
Hello and welcome to my stop for This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria book tour, organized by Tbr and Beyond tours! Thank you so much for this opportunity!
Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away. But family bonds don’t matter to the Scriptorium, whose sole focus is unlocking the magic of an ancient automaton army.
In her search for her brother, Karis does the seemingly impossible—she awakens a hidden automaton. Intelligent, with a conscience of his own, Alix has no idea why he was made. Or why his father—their nation’s greatest traitor—once tried to destroy the automatons.
Suddenly, the Scriptorium isn’t just trying to control Karis; it’s hunting her. Together with Alix, Karis must find her brother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.
Thank you so much, Netgalley and Inkyard Press, for the chance to read and review this book!
Karis is an orphan and she’s forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, but she wants to find her brother, who was taken away from her years ago. But the Scriptorium doesn’t care about bonds and family, its only goal is to discover the magic of the automaton army. When Karis manages to awake a hidden automaton, intelligent and conscious of himself, Alix, both of them are forced to flee, because the Scriptorium is hunting them. Helped by Dane, Karis’ best friend, pirates and rebels, Karis and Alix fight to find her brother, uncover the truth and for freedom.
This Golden Flame is a thrilling and brilliant standalone fantasy. The worldbuilding is intriguing and captivating and the story is told by two POVs, Karis’ and Alix’s and it was really interesting reading about their journey, both physical, from their little island through oceans and psychological. Karis is a stubborn and brilliant character, made cynical by the brutal world she was forced to grow in and she’s determined to find her brother and to be free with him. It was amazing reading about her journey, both physical and psychological and her growth. She was taken by the Scriptorium and forced to work for them, but managed to defy their rules, teaching herself the language of runes, curious about the world and fighting to find her lost brother. Alix, on the other hand, is a peculiar automaton, woken up after centuries, finding everything he’s ever known dead or lost, like his home and memories. Sensitive, intelligent and stubborn, he’s a great character. His relationship with Karis is complex and truly beautiful, if wary at the very beginning. Karis and Alix grow so much in The Golden Flame, through their experience and their relationships with other characters. Karis’ relationship with her best friend Dane is intricate and I love how much they help, support and rely on one other, growing up in the Scriptorium and then, when they are forced to flee and make choices, choosing to fight for the freedom and their future and for the truth about their country. It was interesting realizing, through Alix and his memories and the present, how much the story was written by winners and how much the ruling group is hurting people.
I really loved reading this book, not only for the amazing worldbuilding, but also for the characterization. The characters are complex and well written, relatable in their fears, desires and mistakes. Karis, Alix, Dane and Zara are such brilliant characters, it’s impossible not to love them. Like Zara. I love her so much. She’s a great character, sassy and brave and I love reading about her ship, her crew and their fight and rebellion. I loved that Karis was aromantic and asexual (it’s so rare reading books with aro characters) and I love her growth and her relationship with Alix, Dane and the others. I’ve also loved the cute and romantic moments between side characters. I’ve also loved Matthias with his low vision and cane, his disability never a hinder to his stubborness, bravery and fight.
It’s a story about freedom and the fight for it, about the strength in be oneself and the importance of family and relationships.
Emily Victoria is a Canadian prairie girl who writes young adult science fiction and fantasy. When not word-smithing, she likes walking her over-excitable dog, drinking far too much tea, and crocheting things she no longer has the space to store.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer for basically as long as I can remember. When I was really young, my elder sister would write these fairy stories and I was always so amazed of what, at the time, seemed like her stunning writing talent. So as soon as I was old enough, I started writing stories too and I never really stopped.
What inspired you to write This Golden Flame?
For me, it really started with the world and the characters. I knew that I wanted my next novel to be set roughly in Ancient Greece and I had this idea where one character was going to be human and the other wasn’t, and they were going to have to figure out how to work together and to trust each other.
Could you tell us your writing routine and where and how do you prefer to write? Do you use pens, pencils or pc writing programs?
So I am definitely a morning/afternoon writer. As soon as it gets towards evening, I have a lot harder of a time concentrating on writing, so I do try to write as early in the day as possible. I also like setting aside a solid block of time to write. I’m not really a person who thrives when I can only steal 10 or 15 minutes at a time.
I used to write all of my first drafts longhand in a notebook, but that was just so slow I eventually started writing them on the computer (a fact which I still mourn, because I did love notebook writing). I usually use Scrivener, since I like the way I can subdivide my manuscript into different scenes.
Do you like writing while listening to music? If so, do you have a playlist for This Golden Flame?
I do like listening to music while writing. That being said, I listen almost exclusively to instrumental music. I just find that if the music has words, it distracts me while I’m trying to write. So it’s a lot of movie soundtracks (most recently the instrumental tracks from Frozen 2) as well as Lindsey Stirling, because her music is awesome.
What character was the most challenging to write and why?
I’m going to say Alix, just because it was really quite challenging writing a nonhuman character. I’m so used to being able to use bodily sensations to describe things. For example, things like noting how the character’s heart pounds when they’re nervous or having their palms go sweaty. And Alix didn’t have any of that. So I had to get a lot more creative when showing his emotions and what he was feeling.
You answered a question on Goodreads about the main character being aromantic. Do you have any books or movies or TV series recommendations with aro characters?
You know, I don’t actually know any movies or TV series with aro characters (they’re probably out there—I’m just not aware of them). Even in books, I feel like it is somewhat of a rare thing still. But there are some books out there like Loveless and Tarnished are the Stars.
What are you favorite writers and books?
This one’s always so hard to answer! I love basically anything by Victoria Schwab and when I was young, Tamora Pierce was a huge influence for me. Some recent books that I have loved are Belle Révolte and Elatsoe. Both of those books were just so amazing!
Could you tell us if you have more books planned in the future and what are you working on?
So my next book coming up is Silver in the Mist and it’s another standalone. It’s set on a divided continent with dying magic and a malevolent force called the Mists. The main character is a spy and she is sent across the border to capture the most powerful magical caster that is left. But things do not go as planned.
Content warning: Some magic in the book involves self-harm.
A funny, fiercely feminist YA epic fantasy—following the adventures of a tavern wench
Tanya has worked at her tavern since she was able to see over the bar. She broke up her first fight at 11. By the time she was a teenager she knew everything about the place, and she could run it with her eyes closed. She’d never let anyone—whether it be a drunkard or a captain of the queen’s guard—take advantage of her. But when her guardian dies, she might lose it all: the bar, her home, her purpose in life. So she heads out on a quest to petition the queen to keep the tavern in her name—dodging unscrupulous guards, a band of thieves, and a powerful, enchanted feather that seems drawn to her. Fast-paced, magical, and unapologetically feminist, Wench is epic fantasy like you’ve never seen it before.
“Wench” was an absolutely pleasure to read! Set in a world where magic exists, but only few are able to use it without crazy incidents, the main character is Tanya, who has worked at her tavern since she was a little girl. When her guardian dies and she risks losing everything she’s ever known, she’s determined to do do anything in her power to get her home back. That means travelling to the Capital and petitioning to the King and Queen. Her whole world expands, not only geographically, but also personally, including meetings with unscrupolous and peculiar guards with unknown business, guild of thieves, magicians and a magic feather drawn to her.
This book was so funny and incredible. It’s fast paced and it was so amazing reading about Tanya, whose life was confined to the tavern, adapting and adjusting to everything this crazy journey throws at her. Tanya is a brilliant main character. She learned how to read people, how to use everything for her advantage, how to adapt and when her life is turned upside down, Tanya is unbelievably stubborn and resourceful. Magic and adventure, kidnappings and breathtaking escapes, indipendent mare and feather, this epic fantasy is funny, brilliant and wonderfully written. The characterization is one of the things I loved the most in this book and Tanya is a genuine heroine with her stubborness, smart retorts and abilities. I loved reading about her interactions with…well, basically, everyone, because this book is full of funny and intriguing moments, like the bond between Tanya and Jana, or between Tanya and Rollo and so on. I love Jana and Riley, they are really complex and amazing, Rollo is a captivating character and Greer too.
It’s really amazing reading about a main character so relatable and lifelike and the story is full of plot twists, peculiar magic and many adventures. So I definitely recommend this book to those who love a good epic fantasy with great characters.
Maxine Kaplan was born in Washington, DC. She and her twin sister spent their early childhoods trotting behind their journalist parents as they traveled around the world, eventually settling in Brooklyn, NY. Maxine graduated from Oberlin College in 2007. Following a long stint in the world of publishing, she has worked as a private investigator since 2009. She lives in her adopted hometown of Brooklyn, NY, with her dimwitted, but soulful cat.
Her first novel The Accidental Bad Girl received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and will be available in paperback January 5, 2021. Her sophomore novel, Wench, is coming in January 19, 2021.