Author: Foz Meadows
Series:
Series #:
Genre: fantasy, romance, queer
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

Velasin vin Aaro never planned to marry at all, let alone a girl from neighboring Tithena. When an ugly confrontation reveals his preference for men, Vel fears he’s ruined the diplomatic union before it can even begin. But while his family is ready to disown him, the Tithenai envoy has a different solution: for Vel to marry his former intended’s brother instead.

Caethari Aeduria always knew he might end up in a political marriage, but his sudden betrothal to a man from Ralia, where such relationships are forbidden, comes as a shock.

With an unknown faction willing to kill to end their new alliance, Vel and Cae have no choice but to trust each other. Survival is one thing, but love—as both will learn—is quite another.

Byzantine politics, lush sexual energy, and a queer love story that is by turns sweet and sultry. A Strange and Stubborn Endurance is an exploration of gender, identity, and self-worth. It is a book that will live in your heart long after you turn the last page.


Review

WOW. What do I even say about this book? I don’t think it is at all possible to encompass how much I loved this book. I could not put it down. I may or may not have spilled enchiladas on my arc as I was reading it…

This is my first book by Meadow’s but I’m going to have to go back and find more of their work. Because it was stupendous. I mean, it was two things I love:

a) queer and

b) fantasy!

I mean…what could be better?

Enemies-friends-romance trope? Check.

Super inclusive? Check.

Witty banter? Check.

Great dialogue? Check.

Interesting supporting characters? Check.

Interesting plot? Check.

This book checks off all my wants and needs in a book. A Strange and Stubborn Endurance will not leave my brain. I can’t do anything but think about it. It is my new obsession. I just LOVED the characters in this book. I mean ughhhh. I cannot even think because this book just was amazing.

You know how hard it is to write a review and list everything a book has done that you loved? Yeah, that’s me right now. I need like thirty special editions of this book. SERIOUSLY.

Vel was the best.** I loved reading his POV. Cae was amazing too. Just, Vel I felt for him. I wanted to keep him safe. Hug him. Vel and Cae’s relationship? It was one of the best developed romances that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Meadows did a great job on that, and the balance she maintained between the romance and the plot? Excellent.

The plot was much more political intrigue and action than I expected. But it worked so well.

As mentioned this book is inclusive, and while one country feels very much like ours, the other is very open and accepting and normalizes being queer. We have relationships of all types, of all genders and it is incorporated seamlessly. There is also disability representation – one of the characters is mute! And the others learn sign language to communicate with him.

If you are looking for a queer fantasy? This is it. A huge round of applause for Foz Meadows because this book is going to be in the top of my top books of the year. I kinda want a sequel? Can I get a sequel? I mean I feel that the world building in this was such that there is so much to explore.

I will say that there are some content warnings to be aware of:

These include: rape, attempted rape, violence, gore, punishment, homophobia, suicide, suicidal ideation

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Author: A.C. Wise
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: retelling, fairytale, fantasy
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

Once invited, always welcome.
Once invited, never free.


Captain James Hook, the immortal pirate of Neverland, has died a thousand times. Drowned, stabbed by Peter Pan’s sword, eaten by the beast swimming below the depths, yet James was resurrected every time by one boy’s dark imagination. Until he found a door in the sky, an escape. And he took the chance no matter the cost.

Now in London twenty-two years later, Peter Pan’s monster has found Captain Hook again, intent on revenge. But a chance encounter leads James to another survivor of Neverland. Wendy Darling, now a grown woman, is the only one who knows how dark a shadow Neverland casts, no matter how far you run. To vanquish Pan’s monster once and for all, Hook must play the villain one last time… 


Review

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When I saw this book I got excited. I hadn’t read the book Wendy, Darling, but when I started this book I felt like it was a sequel to the other book and that I was missing something. I pretty quickly got into the book. 

Wise’s writing is great – there is very much a VE Schwab vibe to the writing and I very much enjoyed this writing style. There was something about it that made it feel that it was from 1939 when the book took place, or a more fantastical feel to when we got flashbacks to Neverland. 

The combination of that worked for me. The concept of the book worked for me. The overall plot of the book worked for me. However…I was a little stymied by the pacing of this book. There was nothing outrageously wrong with it. There was something about it though that didn’t sit perfectly with me. There were some moments I was like, “this is dragging on…when is this going to pickup?”

I wanted to get more out of this book, and I’m not sure what it was exactly that I was looking for that this book didn’t deliver. I think it was because I got 176 pages in and felt like nothing had happened. All the main characters had met, we’d gotten a brief history of what happened to various characters, but that’s it. So…I was asking myself where is the plot going to come in? What is going to happen? 

I will certainly give it to this book, there is a whole section of Wendy reflecting on what Peter did to her, and I LOVED that bit. It felt so real and wonderful, and I loved how Wise turned something that seemed okay into the reality that what he was doing wasn’t necessarily good. Wendy got more agency in this book. It was a nice change from her character who is always a “follower”. She got to be a bit of a leader in this book instead. 

As I mentioned I enjoyed the overall concept/plot of the book, I felt it lacked a bit in execution. 

The action came in the last 50 or so pages of the book. It felt a bit underwhelming I suppose, since the lead up I felt didn’t do it justice. 

Overall, I think the book was good, but it isn’t something I’d be keen to read again. This book wasn’t the perfect fit for me, but I definitely think it is one that a lot of people will really enjoy! Especially if they like fairytales or feminist retellings of classics. 

TW: emotional abuse, death, war, kidnapping

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Author: Kelly Devos
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: mystery, thriller, horror
Age Group: Young Adult
ARC?: Yes

For Dracula lovers and fans of Diana Urban’s All Your Twisted Secrets, this spine-tingling thriller follows seven horror buffs as their dream trip to a remote Romanian castle turns into a nightmare when they begin to be killed one by one.

Alex Rush is ready for the trip of a lifetime.

She and her friends have made some creepily awesome films together throughout high school, so with only a few months left before they go their separate ways for college, they’re determined to make the best one yet: an epic short film that reimagines the story of Dracula, filmed on location at a remote castle in Romania.

But when they get there, it’s not quite the majestic setting they planned for. Menacing weapons line the walls, the twisted halls are easy to get lost in, and with no connection to the outside world, the group is unexpectedly off the grid. After just a few hours spent under its roof, Alex and her friends have no trouble imagining how this dark, terrifying castle inspired one of the most enduring horror novels of all time.

Only soon they no longer have to use their imaginations to understand the location’s terrifying history—just as they get the film’s first shot rolling, one of Alex’s friends disappears, and she’s nearly certain she saw a cloaked stranger lurking in the shadows. As more members of the group begin to meet an untimely demise, Alex is desperate to stop the bloodshed, even if it means facing a monster she never thought would be let loose.


Review

Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

This book is going to be a huge draw for teen readers! It combines many things that are relatable: being an influencer, struggling with college decisions, getting rejections, dating, issues with parents and so on. To top it all off it is a murder mystery. A murder mystery in a Romanian castle that has to do with Dracula. Sounds intriguing right? And I think for teens it will be. In many ways the style of this book reminds me of Tom Ryan’s I Hope You’re Listening, Kit Frick’s I Killed Zoe Spanos, the Truly Devious series and the Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series. This is a YA book, however it does remind me some of Riley Sager’s adult books. For me it is almost the teen version of those. IIt goes back between present and the past (where the main events took place) and it is interspersed with Alex’s interviews with the police in the aftermath. 

I found 90% of the characters unlikeable, and I don’t know if that was intentional. I also think that they were supposed to represent real teens, teens who are flawed and are jealous, who are still learning about themselves and what they want from life. So to me, this was a realistic representation of them. Even if I didn’t like them, it wasn’t like they were written badly! 

The writing style is easy to follow, and this book is a fairly quick read (for me). There is a lot of build up to the actual events at the castle. But there’s a lot of tension, not knowing how we get to the end. 

I guessed what was going on from the very beginning. There certainly were some red herrings thrown in, but overall I found it easy to guess. But the read itself was engaging and kept me entertained until I got to the end of the book. In some ways I wish that it had gone differently – that it hadn’t been as I expected. Alas. 

This book is going to be for anyone who enjoys slasher/final girl etc types of books and movies. It definitely lands more on the horror side of the mystery/thriller aspect, so just be aware of that. There isn’t anything overly descriptive in this book (or at least not too much), but more generalized descriptions. 

Overall, this book was a solid three star book for me. I enjoyed the book, but I think that teens (and tweens) will enjoy it far more than me! 

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Author: Ava Wilder
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: contemporary, romance
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

Grey Brooks is on a mission to keep her career afloat now that the end of her long-running teen soap has her (unsuccessfully) pounding the pavement again. With a life-changing role on the line, she’s finally desperate enough to agree to her publicist’s scheme… faking a love affair with a disgraced Hollywood heartthrob who needs the publicity, but for very different reasons.

Ethan Atkins just wants to be left alone. Between his high-profile divorce, his struggles with drinking, and his grief over the death of his longtime creative partner and best friend, he’s slowly let himself fade into the background. But if he ever wants to produce the last movie he and his partner wrote together, Ethan needs to clean up his reputation and step back into the spotlight. A gossip-inducing affair with a gorgeous actress might be just the ticket, even if it’s the last thing he wants to do.

Though their juicy public relationship is less than perfect behind the scenes, it doesn’t take long before Grey and Ethan’s sizzling chemistry starts to feel like more than just an act. But after decades in a ruthless industry that requires bulletproof emotional armor to survive, are they too used to faking it to open themselves up to the real thing?


Review

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review

I was expecting a pretty lighthearted book based on the cover and synopsis as well as the comp titles. What I got was something different than that. This book tackles issues (such as alcoholism, fatphobia, and death) in the overarching plot of the story. This book is a fake dating book – but they also do have an age gap, if that makes anyone uncomfortable. 

I enjoyed the writing style of this book as well as the pace. To me it read easily and with interest. Sometimes you get books that are hard to get through because of the writing style, but I quite enjoyed it. The style did feel light and airy, despite the fact that it dealt with some darker topics. 

There is quite a bit of will they won’t they in this book. At times I felt that there wasn’t chemistry between them, and at other times I did. I think that was partially because the characters themselves were trying to resist the romance between them. And then sometimes they just lacked chemistry together. I liked the banter Grey and Ethan had, I thought it was amusing at times. At others I felt it was a little forced. 

This book has some lighthearted moments, but it is a very angsty book. This isn’t a light fluffy book – but it still works. I don’t want people to go into this book unprepared; this is not one of your beach reads or rom-coms or light hearted, it is a much more intense romance. 

As far as being angsty goes; there are some scenes in this book that are just frustrating. I get that there are supposed to be obstacles, yet at times I felt like it was drawn out unnecessarily. 

I did like some of the side characters though. I enjoyed Nora and her relationship with Ethan, as well as Renata’s relationship with Grey. I liked seeing the differences between Ethan’s relationships vs the relationships that Grey has. 

The book is still good though. It flows well and tackles sensitive topics accordingly. I wasn’t as invested in this book as I wanted to be. At 56% I was wondering what else the author was going to throw at them – they’d hit obstacles, overcome them, and then???? More obstacles! I am not good with super angsty reads, and this one definitely was on the fence of being too angsty. 

In the end, I think the resolution was good. Overall, I’m not quite sure how I feel about this book. I wasn’t expecting it to be as angsty as it was. 

This book was 3.5 stars for me. 

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Author: Tiffany Meuret
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: dark fantasy, gothic, horror
Age Group: adult
ARC?: Yes

The skeletons in the closet have nothing on the one in your backyard.
Freshly divorced and grieving the death of her father, Josie Lauer has caged herself inside her home. To cope with her losses, Josie follows a strict daily routine of work, playing with her dog, Po, and trying to remember to eat a decent meal—and ending each night by drinking copious amounts of vodka. In other words, she is not coping at all.
Everything changes when Josie wakes to find a small shrub has sprouted in her otherwise dirt backyard the morning after yet another bender. Within hours, the vine-like plant is running amok—and it’s brought company. The appearance of the unwieldly growth has also heralded the arrival of a busybody new neighbor who insists on thrusting herself into Josie’s life. The neighbor Josie can deal with. The talking skeleton called Skelly that has perched itself in Josie’s backyard on a throne made of vines, however, is an entirely different matter.
As the strangely sentient plant continues to grow and twist its tendrils inside Josie’s suddenly complicated life, Josie begins to realize her new neighbor knows a lot more about the vines and her bizarre new visitor than she initially lets on. There’s a reason Skelly has chosen to appear in Josie’s suddenly-blooming backyard and insists on pulling her out of her carefully kept self-isolation. All Josie has to do is figure out what that reason is—and she has only a few days to do it, or else she might find herself on the wrong side of catastrophe.
LITTLE BIRD is a story about found family, no matter how bizarre. 


Review

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

First off, this book drew me in from the start. Meuret’s writing was excellent, and I loved how she framed Josie as a character. She felt so real – and so human. I liked that you could see the facets of her from the start, could actually believe she was sitting next to you. The way this was written felt like you were with a friend, or someone telling you a story. It was intimate in ways, close. 

This book was also atmospheric. I loved reading it because you could get lost in the book. There were some parts in this book that were darkly funny. And I loved that aspect of the book. Dark humor done right can be excellent, and I felt that it was done right here. I mean, if I saw/heard a talking skeleton I would be WAY freaked out about that. More So than Josie was. She relates herself to a sponge at one point. I liked that part immensely do to how it was written. 

“Only then did she lock eyesockets with the skeleton”. What a QUOTE. 

And the attitude. THE ATTITUDE. This had me chuckling to myself and grinning. Skelly made me laugh, I loved her. Josie also made me laugh, I loved her as a character and I was invested in her story. 

This book was weird, and it’s not an action packed book, but it is a good book. Its tone is very much the gothic horror of the modern persuasion. 

It was a weird and wonderful little book. It was short and not terribly long, but the paranormal was woven in with the mundane and that juxtaposition was done well. Overall this book is going to appeal to people who like a darker type of fantasy, gothic horror or creepy books. 

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Author: Lauren Belfer
Genre: mystery/thriller, historical fiction
Age Group: Adult
ARC?: Yes.

Soon after their arrival, ever-curious Nicky finds the skeletal remains of a woman walled into a forgotten part of the manor, and Hannah is pulled into an all-consuming quest for answers, Nicky close by her side. Working from clues in centuries-old ledgers showing what the woman’s household spent on everything from music to medicine; lists of books checked out of the library; and the troubling personal papers of the long-departed family, Hannah begins to recreate the Ashton Hall of the Elizabethan era in all its color and conflict. As the multilayered secrets of her own life begin to unravel, Hannah comes to realize that Ashton Hall’s women before her had lives not so different from her own, and she confronts what mothers throughout history have had to do to secure their independence and protect their children.


Review

Thank you to NG and the publisher for an e-arc of this in exchange for an honest review.

I love a good historical fiction book, especially one that has a mystery in the past that needs to be solved in the present. Susanna Kearsley is my go-to for that. Lauren Belfer has now made me want to go and read more of her works.

This book had me enthralled from the beginning. We have a murder mystery from the past and in the present Hannah is dealing with her own life situations. I rather liked the juxtaposition of the past and the present. While one didn’t have much to do with the other, in the end I think it worked well together.

While I would have liked more after the end, the final, extra chapter definitely gave me some of the answers that I was seeking.

The book was a slow paced book, but it wasn’t bad because it was engrossing. There were quite a few plot strands going on all at once, but it was interesting to see how they unfolded throughout the book. Nothing went as I expected it to.

Overall, this book was enjoyable!

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Author: Lana Harper
Series: The Witches of Thistle Grove
Series #: 2
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Age Group: Adult
ARC?: Yes

Wild child Isidora Avramov is a thrill chaser, adept demon summoner, and—despite the whole sexy-evil-sorceress vibe—also a cuddly animal lover. When she’s not designing costumes and new storylines for the Arcane Emporium’s haunted house, Issa’s nursing a secret, conflicted dream of ditching her family’s witchy business to become an indie fashion designer in her own right.

But when someone starts sabotaging the celebrations leading up to this year’s Beltane festival with dark, dangerous magic, a member of the rival Thorn family gets badly hurt—throwing immediate suspicion on the Avramovs. To clear the Avramov name and step up for her family when they need her the most, Issa agrees to serve as a co-investigator, helping none other than Rowan Thorn get to the bottom of things.

Rowan is the very definition of lawful good, so tragically noble and by-the-book he makes Issa’s teeth hurt. In accordance with their families’ complicated history, he and Issa have been archenemies for years and have grown to heartily loathe each other. But as the unlikely duo follow a perplexing trail of clues to a stunning conclusion, Issa and Rowan discover how little they really know each other… and stumble upon a maddening attraction that becomes harder to ignore by the day.


Review

It was a huge surprise for me! I enjoyed this book so much. There was just something about it that worked for me; but hadn’t quite worked for me in the first book. Maybe this is a sign I need to go back and try the first book again! 

Issa was a brilliant character and I LOVED everything about her. She was such a nuanced character, and one that I think people will relate to. (Even if we don’t have any witchy powers, sadly). Issa and her relationship with her family was lovely. The way Harper played out her sisters and her relationship, as well as the relationship with her mother was so well done. I loved that side plot and how it contributed to the book. 

And Rowan was SO SO adorable. I loved when he was being so gentle and caring. It made me melt. We didn’t get as much relationship with Rowan and his family, but I like how Harper showed that Issa and Rowan had good, but different, relationships with their parents. 

Oh, did I mention that this was an enemies to lovers romance? No? It is. And it is well done. One thing I really appreciated about this book is that miscommunication isn’t a huge trope, but done here, it was  done right. I was very impressed with Harper for that. 

This isn’t what I would call a super spicy book, it has a few spicy scenes, but by and large the book is focused on the mystery and the relationships between the characters. There are a few plot points that made me laugh, and I just loved how it was opposites attract romance too. Rival families…it pretty much hit on all the things I love. 

Harper is also a great writer. It’s bliss to read this book, because the cadence and the pace of the book. Also, there is an atmosphere to this book. It reminds me of a cozy mystery, but with witches. And diversity. 

There were a few important conversations had in this book regarding racism and prejudice (Rowan is a Black man). 

Talia and Emmy were back (briefly) in this one, so we heard how much they were into each other. It was adorable! (I really do plan to go back and read the first book…) 

I will say, Issa felt like such a strong character, but she hits a point in this book where she becomes overwhelmed. I loved the representation of anxiety and trying to deal with it on your own because you’re supposed to be “strong”. 

Overall, this was a fantastic read and I highly recommend that you add it to your shelves! I know I want to! 

P.S. the title is so cute too. I totally forgot I had DNF’d Paybacks a Witch until I requested this ARC, got approved and went to look. This is what happens when pretty covers and cool descriptions are briefly looked at, and not read all the way through. I guess I didn’t realize this was a sequel. 🙈

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Author: Jessica S. Olson
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: fantasy
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

Myra Whitlock has a gift. One many would kill for.

She’s an artist whose portraits alter people’s real-life bodies, a talent she must hide from those who would kidnap, blackmail, and worse in order to control it. Guarding that secret is the only way to keep her younger sister safe now that their parents are gone.

But one frigid night, the governor’s wife discovers the truth and threatens to expose Myra if she does not complete a special portrait that would resurrect the governor’s dead son. Desperate, Myra ventures to his legendary stone mansion.

Once she arrives, however, it becomes clear the boy’s death was no accident. Someone dangerous lurks within these glittering halls. Someone harboring a disturbing obsession with portrait magic.

Myra cannot do the painting until she knows what really happened, so she turns to the governor’s older son, a captivating redheaded poet. Together, they delve into the family’s most shadowed affairs, racing to uncover the truth before the secret Myra spent her life concealing makes her the killer’s next victim.


Review

When I guessed what Owlcrate’s March pick would be, I was excited. I was very much looking forward to this book. Let me preface this by saying I think the book was good, but it wasn’t blow me away good. This is a book that was a solid three stars; neither bad nor super good. If I’d read this before buying it, it wouldn’t have been a book I bought. Checked out from the library, for sure! So…where did this book go wrong? 

The inspiration for this book was clearly Dorian Gray. I mean magic portraits that fix people? But I did love the interpretation of that into magic for this book. What I would have liked more of is worldbuilding. My mind bounced between this being a real world with magic, or a fantasy world. I would have liked a better setting to set the tone and to understand the world a bit better. 

I liked Lucy and Myra’s relationship throughout the book, I thought it was one of the more powerful components of the book. I also felt August’s anxiety intensely, and when they were talking about Lucy’s chronic illness, I understood that too. So there was some excellent representation in this book. (I really kind of want to know what Lucy’s illness actually was – it sounds a lot like my Crohn’s Disease). 

What I didn’t love was the romance in this book. It felt underdeveloped to me compared to the sisterly and family relationships. I could have lived without it, as I didn’t feel that August and Myra had any chemistry whatsoever. And that weird love triangle? Messy! And definitely did not enjoy that part of the book. 

Maybe it’s because I’m an adult, I had pretty much figured out what was going on from the start. Which isn’t always a bad thing; however in this case there wasn’t enough depth to the other parts of the book to make me think that it was a great book. 

Finally, I found the writing clunky. It did not flow smoothly to me, and I felt that we were ricocheted around. The writing was stilted to me. Overall, I just felt that the writing didn’t work. 

This book was not a bad book, but it also isn’t one I’d be desperate to read again. This book will be enjoyed by people who are fond of gothic mysteries, as well as fantasy.  

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Author: Alice Oseman
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: romance, LGBTQ+
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

This is the funny, honest, messy, completely relatable story of Georgia, who doesn’t understand why she can’t crush and kiss and make out like her friends do. She’s surrounded by the narrative that dating + sex = love. It’s not until she gets to college that she discovers the A range of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum — coming to understand herself as asexual/aromantic. Disrupting the narrative that she’s been told since birth isn’t easy — there are many mistakes along the way to inviting people into a newly found articulation of an always-known part of your identity. But Georgia’s determined to get her life right, with the help of (and despite the major drama of) her friends. 


Review

First off, this is the first novel by Alice Oseman I’ve read. I’ve been reading her Heartstopper for years now. This book called to me because it had ace rep, and I’ve yet to find a book that does ace rep right. Or the learning about themselves right. Especially since so many of them are set in high school, and I didn’t find that relatable at all. This one did.

I’m ace – and I used to say biromantic. But after this book it has me questioning my own identity – am I actually aro too? 

Georgia was a relatable character for me. Like her, I was into the idea of romance/love/sex – but not necessarily featuring me. It was interesting that that was incorporated into the book because I felt that in my bones. I was like yes, this is me. Then the aspects of “friends” or family questioning if just because you haven’t experienced something yet, how do you know if you don’t want it? Georgia says she feels it, which I do too. For me, her realization that there was a sexuality beyond LGBT was important. I didn’t discover ace until college. It wasn’t even on my radar. But once I learned about it and researched it, like Georgia, I couldn’t believe it was true…that I could be this. Wasn’t there something wrong with me? I loved that Sunil was there to support Georgia; I loved that he helped her and wasn’t condescending. 

This book also brings up the important topic of denying ace and aro people space in queer spaces. Sunil’s passion about it was important to me. The thought of never belonging is terrifying. 

I also appreciated how Oseman worked in friendship. Because friendships are so important, and I loved that Georgia realized her friendships could be just as satisfying as romance. For anyone that should be important. 

I enjoyed Oseman’s relatable writing and the book flowed well for me. The chapters were short and self-contained which made the pace of the book go by quickly. 

I loved all the characters in this book. I wanted to cuddle them all and tell them I loved them. I wish more books depicted being ace like this. 

And as I mentioned in the beginning of the review, it’s made me rethink who I am now…and how variable being ace/aro is. 

Loveless was a wonderful book and I would absolutely recommend it to everyone. 

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Author: Jennifer Saint
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: fantasy, mythology
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra
The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them, and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassandra
Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

Elektra
The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But, can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?


BLOG TOUR!

I’m so delighted to bring you my review of Elektra by Jennifer Saint! Thank you so much to Flatiron Books for inviting me on the tour! Ariadne was one of my favorite retellings — so I was beyond delighted to be offered this chance. As some of you may know I got my undergrad degree in Classics and History. I focused a lot on women in history as well as queerness. This book was such a perfect rendition of taking a new perspective on the classic myths that we all know (and may or may not love). Without further ado, I bring to you my review of Elektra.


Review

Elektra is the stunning story of three women – Clytemnestra, Elektra and Cassandra. Saint takes the stories and myths about these women and brings them to life. She gives them agency in a way that the myths never did. They become real to the imagination, and you can feel for them. It is an intense book in many ways. 

If you’re familiar with Greek mythology you know about the Trojan War, and you know about Agamemnon. You know what happens to all the characters in the book. Still, reading it from a different perspective, of what was happening while the men were away was amazing. 

Saint infused her characters with so much life and personality they come off the page. In the Greek stories they often depict the women as one of two ways: traitorous or the perfect woman. There is no inbetween. And more often than not, even if the woman is perfect there is still some issue; that she is betrayed by the men. 

Notably, both Helen (who is in this book) and Clytemnestra who are sisters are perceived as betrayers in Greek myth. Which is interesting when you compare it to what Agamemnon and Menelaus did. 

This book had so much heart in it. There is one part that absolutely shredded me; I had to go get a tissue and take a deep breath before I continued reading the book. It was impactful in a way I think it wasn’t in the original myth. 

Just for some background in this book Elektra is devoted to her father. Clytemnestra hates Agamemnon for what he did. Had started hating him even before. And Cassandra is just doing her own thing. The relationship between Clytemnestra and Elektra is fascinating. I felt that Elektra was supposed to stand for how people were supposed to perceive Agamemnon, and Clytemnestra was supposed to be how he really was. Cassandra is seeing the war firsthand, and we get her perspective, a woman’s perspective on the war. 

Saint’s writing is amazing. I was lulled into this story, and it reads with such a cadence. There is no wasted part of the story. I felt every piece included was intentional. Saint deftly weaves in the relationships and family relationships with the myths they come from. She manages to explain how Helen and Clytemnestra are related to Penelope, Odysseus’ wife. She does this with other characters throughout the book. 

Placed together, it is visually stunning to read. It is feminist, as it takes myths written and retold by men and gives women their agency and their strength back. It gives them their own stories beyond just being the “betrayer” or the “woman waiting”. This book was about family, about grief and about love. 

I absolutely loved this book, even if it tore my heart out. 

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