Hello fellow bookworms 💕When it comes to Review I have decided in the last months to only post those on my blog that are either part of an eArc/Blogtour or 5 Star reads (rereads excluded), because everything else got overwhelming for me + I really wanted to put a lot of effort into sharing my favorites. But lately, I have also wanted to share the love for the 4 and 4.5 star books I loved, so here we are.
As I also love writing Reviews (even though I’m hopelessly behind), I’m introducing a new feature: the Review Compilation! This is exactly what it sounds like, which would be the following:
- A collection of Reviews that are 4 or 4.5 Stars (because I want to talk about all the books I like and not just 5 stars anymore)
- I’m trying to keep it at 4 books maximum, so the post not too long
- I might have to shorten the Reviews, so make sure to click the cover for my Goodreads Review!
- Mostly I’ll try to center them around a common theme e.g. for today this is diverse books I loved, but that are totally underrated
- I’ll do these post whenever I have enough books to talk about and want to share the love 💕
CW’s: Transphobia, Misgendering, Violence, Suicide, Bullying, Rape Attempt, Forced Outing
Rep: Trans MC, Bi Sidecharacter
“I have a past, okay? And you really don’t want to get involved with it.’
‘Everybody’s got a past,’ he said. ‘That doesn’t mean you can’t have a future.”
💕 Amanda is a great character. You really sympathize with her situation and want her to be okay. I was constantly afraid someone would hurt her at the new school she goes to, to escape all the bullying and abuse at her old one. Amanda is very kind and loving, which is incredible given how horrible people have treated her. This is a special kind of strength, to be kind when everyone has been cruel to you. Therefore, I loved Amanda. She’s trying her best to be a good friend and totally succeed. Amanda is the kind of friend who is always there for you in a crisis and would keep all of your secrets. I really liked reading from her perspective. We witness her childhood – what it means to grow up figuring out she is trans – and the following abuse and violence from her classmates, who of course are transphobic assholes. It broke my heart to see young Amanda getting hurt, because her father hated that she wasn’t the kid he wanted to have. The relationship with her parents was always very messy and this was explored very well. While her mom is very supportive, her father has a hard time coming around. In the book we see more of him and I have to admit that I sometimes wanted to shake him. I cannot speak about the trans representation, but it’s ownvoices and there is an author note explaining why Amanda has this specific experience. You should totally read it, as it explains things way better than I could.
💕 I loved seeing so many great friendships. Amanda immediately befriends a group of girls and I loved seeing their interactions. At first I was scared that this would turn out badly, that the girls were just toying with her, but no they were sincere. Nothing warms my heart more than girls immediately becoming friends and supporting each other. I loved their dynamic so much, these are the friends that you need in your life. I did find that it was a bit hard to keep them apart, as they weren’t as complex as they could have been, but I especially liked Virginia. She has grown up in a very religious family and is also hiding that she likes girls.
💕 The romance was surprisingly good. I had no expectations going into the book, but the relationship between Amanda and Grant was well written and shows a lot of respect and consent. I’m sad to say that this isn’t always the case in bookish relationships, so I was pleasantly surprised and very happy with their interactions. It also made it very easy to root for Grant, as he seemed like a genuinely nice guy unlike his horrible best friend. Grant is generally kind like Amanda, even though he’s also had a tough life, that we see more of during their time dating. How things end … that’s a bit more complicated, but totally realistic given the story.
IN CONCLUSION: If I was your Girl is a great emotional story about a trans girl trying to start fresh at a new school, after she was bullied and harassed at her old one. Amanda is a great protagonist that you can root for and there is a lot of focus on friendships and complex family dynamics, which I really liked. This is a definite must read for everyone who hasn’t read the book yet!
CW’s: Aphobic Comments (challenged)
Rep: Romantic Asexual MC
“I know what I want and what I don’t want. I’ve never wanted sex. Never. I’ve never understood why it has to be in every book and movie and television show ever made. I never figured out why porn is such a huge thing. I’ll be fine if no guy ever takes his shirt off for me. I’m not scared, I just don’t want it.”
💕 It was great to see Tash grow and learn. What I appreciated the most was that Tash had a great character Arc about learning what really was important in life. She didn’t have her priorities right in the beginning but the more time went on the more she realized what mattered for her and how she might have treated a lot of her friends/family like she took them for granted. Tash is a kind, passionate girl but she also makes mistakes and she can get too hung up on her project. In the end, however, she manages to find out what it is that she truly values!
➡ We also have a complicated sisters relationship and I really appreciated to see the ups and downs of Tash’s relationship with her sister Klaudie!
➡ Tash also talks about her sexuality and I appreciated that while this was partly about her coming out to a few people (she kind of came out to her friends), it didn’t take up her entire character Arc. It was just really great to see an asexual main character in a YA book, because we still don’t get that as often as we should!
💕 I really loved the web show & Tolstoy themes! Tash and her friends are doing a web show about Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, as he’s her favorite author and I absolutely loved that aspect! Especially when their show breaks out when it gets mentioned by someone popular, so they get a lot more traffic and attention from the internet. The book also explores the downsides of that aka trolls and people who are very harsh and ranting about how much they hate the show. It’s becoming a test for Tash to manage the exploding social media/interaction with the new fans and I liked that it was discussed how quickly a mean comment can completely eat you up and make you obsessed over everything and doubt your ability. Tash and her crew are all doing the show with their limited budget and in their free time, so it’s hard to have something you are passionate about torn down. Of course Tolstoy is also her favorite author, so we see Tash talk about her passions for his work and life as well!
💕 The friendship between Tash, Jack and Paul is amazing! They have been friends since childhood and have always lived close by, so these three are as close as it gets. Jack and Paul are siblings, while Tash and Jack are best friends and co-creators of their own web show. Jack is a very interesting character, as she’s pretty much the opposite of Tash: very cool, calculated, realistic and literally the calm voice of reason. She’s also pretty spontaneous were Tash loves to plan and is often very emotional and open. I loved that both girls have such an opposite attract friendship, because it was really cool to see how they fit so well together despite their differences. Tash and Paul also have a close friendships and Paul … omg he’s such a precious cinnamon roll, I LOVE HIM. I love all three of them, but he’s so kind to Tash!
IN CONCLUSION: You should totally read Tash Hearts Tolstoy as it has great friendships, a super sweet romance and an asexual main character who is passionate about her own web show and grows a lot during the book.
CW’s: Animal death, descriptions of physical abuse, self-harm
Rep: Bisexual Latina MC, f/f couple
“We all get scared and want to turn away, but it isn’t always strength that makes you stay. Strength is also making the decision to change your destiny.”
💕 Alex’s struggle with being the chosen one was interesting to watch. She really hates having a magical powers and constantly rejects her family heritage. Instead of being extasic about being a bruja like her sisters, she wants nothing to do with it and prays her magic won’t even show up. When it does, Alex shuts it down, causing all sorts of problems, as her spell to rid herself of the power backfires and makes her family vanish. Her character Arc is about accepting her power, growing into it and getting her family back, who she is changing her perception about. Alex is trying her hardest and it was great watching her grow over the course of her journey to get back her family. There is a lot of guilt in her and a lot of fear about her abilities.
💕 I actually liked both love interests: Rishi & Nova. Rishi is the super kind friend of Alex, who is one of her only real friend at school. She is literally like the sun, good, light, friendly and concerned for others. Rishi is easy to like, as she has a natural charm about her and looks out for her friend. I wish we saw more of facets of her. Nova is the mysterious brooding bay boy, but somehow I liked him. He is up to no good, sarcastic, but something is endearing about him too, so I ended up being interested to learn more about him.
💕 In a surprising turn of events, I liked the love triangle. I usually dislike this trope, as I never root for both love interests and end up getting annoyed at the jealousy and drama. However, here I liked both love interests and while there was a bit of jealousy I could root for both of them and their relationship with Alex. I also liked that Rishi and Nova kind of ended up teasing each other and being kind of frenemies – what always works best for me is when the love interests at least are connected and share some kind of deeper dynamic instead of just being rivals. I liked the three of them working together a lot.
💕 The worldbuilding was right up my alley. I loved the concept of the brujas and how their powers worked. Each power had a drawback and there was a lot of emphasis on spells, herbs and potions, which gave me the perfect urban fantasy witchy feeling, that I always love. I would have liked to see even more of the worldbuilding explore, but I liked what I saw and the Los Lagos was also a very interesting place to visit. Overall, I enjoyed the setting a lot, it’s what I have always loved and reached for when it comes to books. I also just love witches.
➡ This book had all the potential to be more in all aspects. The reason why I didn’t give this a higher rating, despite enjoying it so thoroughly, is because the book could have been developed a bit more in all aspects. The plot was good, made for an enjoyable reading experience, but it could have done with more surprising twists and turns. The worldbuilding was interesting, but could have offered even more depth and insight into the witches and their world. Meanwhile the characters spoke to me and I liked them, but all of them could have had more depth as well. Alex had the most depth, as she is the main character, but the love interests could have been more developed. We see a lot more of Nova, but even he could have had more characteristics that separates him from similar character types in other books. While Rishi was so sympathetic and kind, she also could have had different sides of her character shown, that would have given her an even more pronounced character.
IN CONCLUSION: Labyrinth Lost was a quick entertaining read about witches (or brujas) that I thoroughly enjoyed. I liked the main character’s struggle with her own powers she doesn’t want, the focus on the family and the love triangle which was surprisingly good. However, I wish the book had used its potential more.
CW’s: Emotional Abuse, Violence, Drug Addiction, Racism
Rep: Half-Chinese MC, Persian Love Interest, African Lesbian Sidecharacter
“The age of exploration is long over, amira. Now it’s the age of globalization. And once everyone agrees something is one way, all the other ways it could have been disappear.”
💕 Nix is having a rough time, but she is a very strong character. I felt profoundly sorry for her all the time, because her father was treating her absolutely horrible. I have no idea how she could manage to hold it together, knowing that every day could be her last. She was forced to help her own demise, help her father to get to the year in order to save her mother with a huge possibility that she would cease to exist as he literally changed time. It was horrible to watch her feel guilty about wanting to live and being unable to get out of this toxic situation, where she was never truly safe. Still she is trying to do her best and hold on, trying to find her purpose and explore her roots.
💕 Kashmir was an absolute sweetheart. He’s so easy to like and honestly one charming boy. Kashmir is one of the highlights of the book and if you’ve read it, you might understand why I was confused as to why I should ever root for the second love interest. Kashmir has a natural charm about him, he is always in a good mood, acting very carefree even in the face of danger. His optimism and sympathetic nature is very hard to resist, especially as he also has a good heart. Kashmir grew up very poor and only when he was rescued by the crew and joined them did he escape that fate. He is a talented thief, a natural charmer, but he can also get jealous and of course he is not exempt from feeling hurt. There is a lot of potential with him and I can honestly say that he is one of the best love interests that I have read about this year. Kashmir is so obviously kind, despite people calling him a thief, someone only up to mischief.
💕 The dynamic between Kashmir and Nix was incredibly well written. What I love most about them, is that they start out as friends and their friendship is a huge focus of the book. You can definitely see the teasing and the flirting in between, but it’s very subtle and never overrides the great relationship they have to begin with. They were so easy-going around each other and the little glances and flirtations fit perfectly into their dynamic – it’s what made them so interesting to watch. This is the kind of perfect slowburn I’m always here for, as it was still obvious that both cared about each other a lot, but also in a romantic way, which neither of them did admit in the beginning. Kashmir is truly the greatest friend you can have. He is loyal to the end and never leaves you alone. No matter what happens he always tries to cheer Nix up and that warmed my heart a lot.
💕 I really liked the concept of time travel this book had. To be fair I would have liked a bit more of an explanation of how this works (even though, Nix is purposefully kept in the dark by her father), so maybe in the next book. But what I did like was that we had such a unique concept. I always love time travel books, especially seeing how the author is exploring the topic. In this book one can travel through time by using maps with the year you want to go to. It has to be a good map though, as the quality determines if you actually get to where you want to. There are no limits though, as it’s also possible to go to mystical lands and get magical artifacts if you have the right map. Furthermore, there is a mention of possibly multiple timelines existing, as maps slightly differ. Overall, this whole concept had me intrigued and personally I think that this ability to navigate must be genetic.
❌ The Love Triangle was so unnecessary. Like why? I ask myself this quite a few times every book that throws in this trope for no apparent reason, but here it was even more obvious that a second love interest was absolutely not needed. We’re introduced early to the first love interest, but the second one only comes later when I was pretty sure we would finally have a book without a love triangle. Blake just pales in comparison to Kashmir and I never really got what Nix saw in him.
❌ I had a lot of problems with Nix father. There was definitely undertones of emotional abuse when it came to him and that’s something that I always have trouble reading about. In the end he seemed to be so quickly forgiven and I couldn’t buy how he was suddenly sorry and said he cared about his daughter, when he clearly didn’t. I’m not even going to go into all the horrible things he did, from downplaying Nix fears and feelings about literally ceasing to exist because he cared more about trying to undo her mother’s death to blackmailing and guilting her into helping him by threatening people she loves. I just wish the book would have acknowledged his manipulative behavior more.
IN CONCLUSION: The Girl from Everywhere had a lot of potential and convinced me with the interesting concept of time travel and most of the characters, especially Kashmir and Nix herself. There was a lot of found family in the book, which was ten times better than Nix horrible father, who’s sudden change of heart in the end was completely unbelievable.
What are your favorite underrated diverse books? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What did you think about them? 💕