Review: The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

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

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

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

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks Bloomsbury.

The Other Black Girl is the first book since The Binding that I’ve desperately wanted a physical arc of, but just like with The Binding I ended up with a digital copy instead. The concept of the physical arc was just so beautifully executed, and when I found out that this was a thriller set in the publishing industry I knew I had to read this early.

This review is actually going to be kinda short because I don’t want to risk accidentally spoiling any part of this excellently constructed thriller. Zakiya Dalila Harris perfectly executes a slow-burn that leads to a deeply unsettling ending, and it’s worth mentioning that this book is much more like Get Out than The Devil Wears Prada; think insidious and dark thriller rather than seductive office drama. The Other Black Girl really is a slow-burn that favours a building sense of menace around Nella, Hazel, and their office rather than a fast-paced thriller and it works perfectly. Watching as Hazel invades Nella’s life, as she gets on better with her boss and friends at the company, and Nella’s reputation plummets as her paranoia rises. The rising sense of menace is so well executed that I was gripped despite not a whole lot actually happening, and I was desperate to uncover the mystery behind the arrival of Hazel.

The Other Black Girl also highlights the tokenism and microaggressions that Nella experiences at her all white office, but as one of those white girls in publishing I’m not going to comment on whether or not this was executed well. It did add to Nella’s feeling of “otherness” in the workplace, and threw a glaring light onto the continuing lack of diversity in the publishing industry.

Harris has constructed an excellent slow-burn thriller with a unique concept that had me rushing towards the end, The Other Black Girl is an uncomfortable read but it’s so worth it!

Recommend: If you’re a lover of slow-burn thriller with some excellent social commentary thrown in then this is worth the read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

May ’21 Wrap Up

It’s June and the weather is finally getting a little better and now I’m too hot, I’m nothing if not consistently British in my ability to complain about our weather. It’s been a weird month, we’ve gotten a whole heap of freedoms back but I find myself rather reluctant to do anything, but I did make it out on my roller skates a couple of times and my ice-skating past really did me a solid.

I read a whole heap of books this month too, or at least a heap for me, and I actually made it through half of the books I bought in a moment of mad kindle panic. It has been a little light on the posts this month though, and there are a few different reasons for that, but I’m going to attempt to bring you some publishing content this month!

April ’21 Wrap Up | Bimonthly Book Haul | Review: Rule of Wolves
Review: Threadneedle

What I read in May

I read a lot of really good books this month. I think at least four of these ended up being five star reads and I like to think I’m pretty picky, but it was lovely to dig into so many good stories across a range of genres.

The review for Blackheart Knights should come out shortly, and it’ll be no surprise that a girl that wrote her whole dissertation around Arthurian myth loved it. My review of the witchy fantasy Threadneedle is already up, and I think I’m going to attempt to combine my thoughts on the Feverwake duology so look forward to that!

Covers from left to right*
Idol by Kristen Callihan | The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang | Threadneedle by Cari Thomas | Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
| The Fever King by Victoria Lee | The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee | Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro | Blackheart Knights by Laure Eve

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Review: Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

Series: The Language of Magic #1
Goodreads: Threadneedle
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Buy: Bookshop.org UK 
Synopsis: Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.

Magic is the first sin. It must be bound.

Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly.

It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. She will join her aunt alongside the other Binders who believe magic is a sin not to be used, but denied. Only one more year and she will be free of the curse of magic, her aunt’s teachings and the disappointment of the little she is capable of.

Nothing – and no one – could change her mind before then. Could it?

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks HarperVoyager.

It’s so lovely when a publisher invites you to review a book that’s been on your to be read since they announced it, and ho boy was I excited to immerse myself in a modern witch aesthetic set in London. It’s also really rather nice when the book actually manages to live up to the pre-release hype, which for me Threadneedle managed to do.

Firstly, I think it should be mentioned that Threadneedle has the feel of a young adult novel rather than the adult fantasy it’s been marketed as; it is a first in series so maybe it’ll get more adult as it goes along, but for now, this book reads a little young to sit firmly in the adult fantasy category. That’s not to say that this detracted from the story, Threadneedle is excellent, but if you’re not a lover of a very teenage voice then it’s something to consider.

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Review: Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

Series: King of Scars #2
Goodreads: Rule of Wolves
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible. 

The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.

The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.

King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.

Review: Alright here we go, lets talk about the grand finale of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse or at least the final book for now. I couldn’t figure out how to do this without spoilers so there’ll be spoilers below for Rule of Wolves, King of Scars, and the other books that make up the Grishaverse.

The Nikolai duology and I have really not gotten on, and Rule of Wolves really does follow the same pattern unfortunately. This book feels almost like fan service, all your faves will appear here including The Darkling (he even gets his own pov chapters) after his revival in King of Scars, and if you love a story based around bringing together all the characters for one last hurrah then you’ll probably love this. I, unfortunately, loathed this feature because it meant that the book was stuffed so full that most plot points ended up being meaningless or forgotten after a few pages. In Rule of Wolves you’ll get, without adding in the huge spoiler plot points:

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Bimonthly Book Haul

Bi-monthly she said, well that didn’t happen did it. I went on a wildly unsuccessful book buying ban, and due to the country shutting down and my brush with Covid-19 I didn’t managed to read many books let alone buy ’em but now we’re back baby. This is going to be a bit of a long clean-up post so we can get back on track with this whole book haul thing, and so I can call myself out for buying books and then forgetting about them like a fool. There’ll also be no ARCs in this post because I did, somehow, manage to resist requesting advanced reader copies and I’m quite proud of myself!

Bought

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April ’21 Wrap Up

So here we are another month another wrap-up. Lock-down is lifting but I still find myself reluctant to leave the house, I’m not quite ready to test my rocky social skills on acquaintances and strangers, but this is causing a fair bit of fomo and I could really do without it. I did buy a pair of quad-rollerskates though in an effort to try and bring some sort of exercise back into my life, I wish I could bring back the head-space that had me loving the gym back in February 2020 but we’re going to try learning something new instead. I’ll keep you guys updated on my progress!

Post-wise I actually posted more than normal this month, hurrah for a busy month! I’ve updated the Publishing Work Experience Master Post, alongside all the loveliness below so don’t forget to take a look at that too.

March Wrap-up ’21 | Women’s Prize Book Haul | Review: A Touch of Darkness
Review: Gideon the Ninth | Review: King of Scars

What I read in April

Can you tell that Rule of Wolves and the Shadow and Bone Netflix series came out this month because I can. Basically, I put everything off and re-read the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Nikolai Duology, and if I’m honest I might get through the Six of Crows duology next month because who cares about my to be read. It’s been nice to be back in this world with some of my favourite characters and these books are just so easy to read.

The nice part is that I made it through both my currently reading books for this month! Detransition, Baby and A Dark and Hollow Star were two very different books and hopefully my reviews of each book with show up next month.

Continue reading “April ’21 Wrap Up”

Review: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Series: King of Scars #1
Goodreads: King of Scars
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war–and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

Review: So I finally sat down and read the Nikolai duology all in one go. I’d been saving it because I know Leigh is partial to a cliff-hanger and I wanted to avoid that whole experience, so I waited patiently for Rule of Wolves and now I’m going to release the reviews back to back too! There’ll be a few spoilers for other novels in the Grisha series below.

Right, first things first, this book was a surprisingly mediocre experience for me, just so we’re both on the same page before we get into things. King of Scars and I just did not click. I’d been really looking forward to a narrative based around Nikolai but I think he ended up getting the least amount of character development, and that’s not to say I didn’t love the addition of Zoya and Nina’s perspectives, it was just unexpected. In fact, Zoya completely steals the show from Nikolai and her story-line and characterization just feels better than his, to the point where I kind of wish this book was completely Zoya focused. Zoya is powerful, talented, and her snark with Nikolai was right up my street. I really feel like Bardugo excels when it comes to dialogue and relationships between characters, and it’s always a joy to read the characters interacting with each other.

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Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Series: The Locked Tomb #1
Goodreads: Gideon the Ninth
Publisher: Tor Books
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.
Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.
Of course, some things are better left dead.

Review: Gideon the Ninth has been on my to be read since its release back in 2019, I mean who can say no to lesbian space necromancers? not me. I’ll admit though that I found this harder to get into than I thought, but I think the fault lays entirely with my kindle and my goldfish sized brain. This book introduces so many new terms and characters, and if I’d picked up the hardback I would have easily been able to flick to the back and enlighten myself, but instead I was reading on my kindle and didn’t realize there was a glossary until I’d finished the whole thing. My single brain cell really let me down here so I’m not holding it against Gideon, and I really did love this book (to the point where I’m probably going to attempt a Harrow cosplay build).

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Review: A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

Series: Hades and Persephone #1
Goodreads: A Touch of Darkness
Publisher: Self Published
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.

Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible. After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever. The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows – and it’s forbidden.

Review: I’ve recently descended into booktok hell and alongside that swift descent I rekindled my love of Greek mythology, so when A Touch of Darkness popped up on my for you page it felt like fate. A spicy Hades and Persephone retelling while I’m gripped by Lore Olympus, yes please, but this book ended up being a major flop for me.

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Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist 2021: Book Haul

Recently I’ve been falling a little in love with literary fiction. I’m not usually the biggest fan, and I don’t normally review this genre on the blog, but lockdown has got me stepping outside my comfort zone. It all started with Boy Parts back in August (which I did review btw), then I went on to read Breasts and Eggs, and after the Women’s Prize for Fiction’s longlist was announced I figured I’d pick up a few of the nominated titles.

I decided I would pick the books based entirely on the blurbs, no reading other peoples reviews, so it would feel like I’d wandered into Waterstones and happened upon them. Is this the best way to buy books? maybe not, but it has made me really excited to sit down and fully immerse myself in their worlds. So, I figured I would make a little list of my purchases so you can see which blurbs ended up catching my eye, and what I’m planning on reading before they announce the winner in a few months. I may have already finished Luster and I’m about halfway through Detransition, Baby so I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to rise to this challenge!

Luster by Raven Leilani
White book cover with a picture of the lower half of a black woman's face, she is wearing read lipstick. 
White text reads: Luster
Orange text reads: Raven Leilani

Edie is just trying to survive. She’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all-white office, is sleeping with all the wrong men, and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. No one seems to care that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life beyond looking for her next hook-up. And then she meets Eric, a white, middle-aged archivist with a suburban family, including a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage and an adopted black daughter who doesn’t have a single person in her life who can show her how to do her hair. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscape of sexual and racial politics as a young black woman wasn’t already hard enough, with nowhere else left to go, Edie finds herself falling head-first into Eric’s home and family.

Goodreads: Luster by Raven Leilani

Continue reading “Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist 2021: Book Haul”