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.

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: Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron

Series: Kingdom of Souls #2
Goodreads: Reaper of Souls
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: After so many years yearning for the gift of magic, Arrah has the one thing she’s always wanted—at a terrible price. Now the last surviving witchdoctor, she’s been left to pick up the shattered pieces of a family that betrayed her, a kingdom in shambles, and long-buried secrets about who she is.

Desperate not to repeat her mother’s mistakes, Arrah must return to the tribal lands to search for help from the remnants of her parents’ people. But the Demon King’s shadow looms closer than she thinks. And as Arrah struggles to unravel her connection to him, defeating him begins to seem more and more impossible—if it’s something she can bring herself to do at all.

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

So, when I got an email from HarperVoyager offering me an eARC of Reaper of Souls I swiftly broke my Netgalley ban so I could read it. I managed to win a physical ARC of Kingdom of Souls back in 2019 (you can read my review here), and it was a series that I definitely wanted to continue reading.

Reaper of Souls picks up pretty much where Kingdom of Souls left off, so just in case you hadn’t realised there’ll be spoilers for the first book ahead! Arrah is dealing with the fall-out after her families betrayal and attempt to free the Demon King, and with her role as the last remaining witchdoctor. In this book we also get a few other perspectives in the form of her love interest Rudjek and the Orisha Dimma’s memories, their perspectives are a great and necessary addition as Arrah and Rudjek split from each other and go on their own journeys.

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Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Goodreads: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Publisher: Titan Books
Book Depository
Synopsis: A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks Titan Books!

I don’t think I can express quite how happy I was to receive an eBook of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue back in August, and I devoured it as soon as I was approved. This book leapt high above my expectations, and this review is going to be more of an ode to V. E. Schwab and her writing.

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Review: The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen

Goodreads: The Dragon of Ynys
Publisher: Atthis Arts
Book Depository
Synopsis: Every time something goes missing from the village, Sir Violet, the local knight, makes his way to the dragon’s cave and negotiates the item’s return. It’s annoying, but at least the dragon is polite.

But when the dragon hoards a person, that’s a step too far. Sir Violet storms off to the mountainside to escort the baker home, only to find a more complex mystery—a quest that leads him far beyond the cave. Accompanied by the missing baker’s wife and the dragon himself, the dutiful village knight embarks on his greatest adventure yet.

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks Atthis Art!

This review is going to be rather short because, well, the book is also rather short but I really wanted to feature it on the blog! This is a lovely children’s story full of heart and acceptance and I just loved it.

The Dragon of Ynys does it’s job perfectly, which is why I made the decision to give it five stars. The book is ownvoices and features an aro-ace protagonist, an out and proud lesbian couple, and two trans characters. It also shows how easy it is to ask someones pronouns on meeting them and acknowledges non-binary identities in the process, it was just wonderful to read! The book highlights the importance of representation and seeing yourself within stories, in fact this is a central theme of the story and it’s much needed.

Due to the length of the novel there’s not a lot of nuance, but time is spent giving each character a distinct voice. It isn’t deep and there isn’t a whole heap of world building but I don’t think that’s the point, it’s lovely to see a fantasy that’s perfect for children who want better representation in the books they’re picking up.

This is a wholesome and soft short story that’s filled to the brim with love and acceptance, and I just loved how easy it was to read.

Recommend: If you have children this could be perfect, but it works well as a short story for adults too!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bimonthly Book Haul

I actually really enjoyed pulling together this post for June, and so, I figured I would do it again by combining July and August! Some of these you may have already seen (because I’ve already reviewed them), but I thought it would be fun to give you a sneak preview at some of my reading plans.

Bought

So after my thorough enjoyment of Boy Parts I desperately wanted to bring more literary fiction into my to be read, so I decided Breasts and Eggs would be next. I’m hoping to have the review for that & Midnight Sun up in the next few weeks!

ARC’s

I got approved for some really exciting books over the past few weeks, most of them I’ll be reading closer to their pub dates but holy moly am I excited. I may have already read Addie LaRue, but the review won’t come out until September, and if you had any doubts about pre-ordering you shouldn’t, the book is incredible.

Well that’s all for now folks! Take care of yourselves out there ❤

Review: Seven Devils by Elizabeth May & Laura Lam

Series: Seven Devils #1
Goodreads: Seven Devils
Publisher: Gollancz
Book Depository
Synopsis: When Eris faked her death, she thought she had left her old life as the heir to the galaxy’s most ruthless empire behind. But her recruitment by the Novantaen Resistance, an organization opposed to the empire’s voracious expansion, throws her right back into the fray.

Eris has been assigned a new mission: to infiltrate a spaceship ferrying deadly cargo and return the intelligence gathered to the Resistance. But her partner for the mission, mechanic and hotshot pilot Cloelia, bears an old grudge against Eris, making an already difficult infiltration even more complicated.

When they find the ship, they discover more than they bargained for: three fugitives with firsthand knowledge of the corrupt empire’s inner workings.

Together, these women possess the knowledge and capabilities to bring the empire to its knees. But the clock is ticking: the new heir to the empire plans to disrupt a peace summit with the only remaining alien empire, ensuring the empire’s continued expansion. If they can find a way to stop him, they will save the galaxy. If they can’t, millions may die.

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks Gollancz!

This book’s being described as a feminist space opera with Mad Max: Fury Road vibes, and as a lover of both of those things I knew I had to get my grubby hands on a copy.

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Review: The Story of Silence by Alex Myers

Goodreads: The Story of Silence
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Book Depository
Synopsis: There was once, long ago, a foolish king who decreed that women should not, and would not, inherit. Thus when a girl-child was born to Lord Cador – Merlin-enchanted fighter of dragons and Earl of Cornwall – he secreted her away: to be raised a boy so that the family land and honour would remain intact.

That child’s name was Silence.

Silence must find their own place in a medieval world that is determined to place the many restrictions of gender and class upon them. With dreams of knighthood and a lonely heart to answer, Silence sets out to define themselves.

Soon their silence will be ended.

What follows is a tale of knights and dragons, of bards, legends and dashing strangers with hidden secrets.

Review: I received a digital copy in exchange for an honest review, Thanks Harper Voyager!

I’m a sucker for a good Arthurian legend, especially the courtly romances that appeared in the 12th and 13th centuries! The Story of Silence is based around one of those romances, Le Roman de Silence if you want to get specific; but admittedly this was not one I had read before or one I included in my dissertation so I was excited to pick up this modern retelling.

This book is so so easy to read, and wholly enjoyable. It’s so lyrical and smooth that I would love to hear it as an audiobook, and the writing style feels like a bardic tale rather than a modern novel. I also thoroughly enjoyed the pacing, its admittedly rather slow and not a lot happens, but it was paced so well that this didn’t bother me too much.

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Review: Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Goodreads: Descendant of the Crane
Publisher: Titan Books
Book Depository
Synopsis: Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review!

Hello I have just now discovered that this is a stand-alone title, and I’m opening this review with a uh what the heck!! That ending, no sequel, what the heck am I going to do?? This blog is mostly spoiler free so no details, but ho boy am I disappointed there won’t be another book coming my way!

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Review: The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

Series: The Beautiful #1
Goodreads: The Beautiful
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Book Depository
Synopsis: In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

Review: Cleaning up my book backlog from a rather bad reading slump means that this technically an e-arc, so thank you Hodder & Stoughton for giving me the ebook version!

I love vampires, stupid twilight dragged me in, and now I’ll consume most media where these monsters feature. Admittedly, now, I prefer my vampires darker rather than sparkly vegetarians, but I was really excited to pick up The Beautiful. This is also my first Renée Ahdieh book, although Flame in the Mist had been on my tbr for a while, and I’d heard so many good things about her writing that I was really excited to pick it up.

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