Book Tag | The Recommendations Book Tag

Hello Readers! I hope you had a lovely time during Easter – that is, if you celebrate it. If not, I still hope you had a fantastic weekend. I was tagged by the lovely Lea @ Leaf Pages in this new book tag, which actually made me realise that this is the first time I was actually mentioned in one of those. Lol! Be sure to check out Lea’s blog, as she recently got back to reading and is doing an amazing job blogging about her book adventures.

Rules

  • Tag Ally @ Ally Writes Things
  • Give at least one recommendation for each of the prompts below
  • If you don’t have a recommendation, talk about a book you want to read
  • Tag your friends

A book about friendship

Though it’s been a while since I read it, I suppose I could recommend Summerlost by Ally Condie. It’s a Middle Grade book, but still extremely sweet, with a story about grief, family, and a summer Shakespeare festival. And there’s a mystery to be solved as well!

A translated book

Now that’s a tough question! It’s a shame, because I don’t really read translated books. As a native Polish speaker, I could definitely recommend the Witcher saga by Andrzej Sapkowski. It’s a must-read if you’re into the games and Netflix series, or if you’re just looking for something inspired by Slavic folklore.

A diverse romance

It’s not a book that specifically fits into the romance genre – I only occassionally dabble in such novels – but I’d go with Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas for this one, which I’m sure you’ve already heard of. While mostly dealing with the supernatural, it also includes a romance between a trans character and another boy, all the while his Latinx family struggles to accept his identity.

A fast-paced book

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell is an exciting read if you’re into high fantasy. Full of friendly bickering and all kinds of twists and turns, it’s nearly impossible to book this book down. Just when you think you’ll have a moment to catch your breath after a thrilling chapter, another surprising thing happens! You can read more about it in my review.

A nonfiction other than a memoir

I just have to recommend Fangirls by Hannah Ewens, especially if you’re interested in music and fan culture. Ewens describes different behaviours typically associated with fangirls and even provides interviews with girls taken at various concerts. The opposite of condescending, she challenges the notion that fangirls are “insane”. I definitely could see myself in some of those accounts; reading about the experienes at concerts put a huge smile on my face.

An underrated memoir

I think The Lonely City by Olivia Laing counts as a memoir…? Laing describes her experience of moving to a big city and being overwhelmed by the feeling of loneliness. She mixes this with the biographies of a couple of well-known artists – all of whom found themselves in similar circumstances at some point in their lives. As a person who has lived in the second largest city in the country for most of their life, I was touched by how relatable this book was.

A book with fewer than 10,000 ratings on Goodreads

The Visitors by Simon Sylvester, which I talked about here. I can’t believe how underrated this book is! If you love selkies and a story with a spooky, small-town mood – this is the perfect choice!

A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist

Recently I became obsessed with The Wicker King by K. Ancrum, for which I wrote a mini review. It’s a slow-burn friends-to-lovers story about two boys, one of which suffers from a hallucinatory discorder. There’s bisexual and… polyamorous representation! What makes this book even more unique is its intermedial nature – it’s a book that you need to read a physical copy of, as there are mixtapes, pictures, recipes, and notes written by the characters. Fantastic and criminally underrated.

A book by a trans or non-binary author

I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver is my pick for this. It’s a book about a nonbinary character written by a nonbinary author! I was over the moon when I discovered there’s actually a novel with a nonbinary protagonist. I think these type of characters are heavily underrepresented; if they appear at all, it’s usually as someone in the background. More reads like this, please!

A book with more than 500 pages

It’s probably a sort of classic in the book community, but The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. I’d even dare to recommend the entire Mistborn series, though I’m only at book #3 of the main trilogy myself. If you’re not scared of long reads and love insanely good worldbuilding with a complex magic system, this will be the perfect choice for you.

A short story collection

I rarely read short story collections, though there are a couple on my to-read list. The last one that I read was Vampires Never Get Old by Zoraida Córdova, which, as you might have guessed, is a collection of stories about vampires. There is a twist, though – they focus on types of characters that have never been associated with the vampire myth. The diversity is incredible: there’s LGBT representation, disability representation, POC representation… and more! Certainly a very unique collection.

Book you want everyone to read

Has everyone read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo yet? No? Well, what are you waiting for?!


Thanks so much to Lea for tagging me in this fun bookish tag!

I’m tagging J @ Midnight Book Blog / Julie @ One Book More / Asha @ A Cat, A Book, and A Cup of Tea / Amanda @ Bookish Brews / Elaine Howlin

Of course, no pressure! Also, please do this even if you’re not tagged. I’ll be happy to see your recommendations!

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Blog Tour | Sisterhood and Symbolism in Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry

288 pages / Published by Algonquin Young Readers / Young adult, contemporary, magical realism

Expected publication: March 30, 2021 (Paperback)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ll be honest – usually I’m quite wary about comparing new releases to other books, especially well-known books or ones that I particularly love. Far too many times I’ve been disappointed that I’ve been “catfished”, because the comparison turned out to be completely inaccurate. But whoever said that Tiger, Not Daughters is like Little Women couldn’t be more right. Of course, it’s not a retelling, but the essence of Little Women is there – female empowerment, girlhood, and sibling relationships – all placed within a magical realism setting.

Via Goodreads: “The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.”

I can’t believe this was the first time I read something by Samantha Mabry! It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with the author’s beautiful words as she thrusts you into this story of grief, identity, and human relationships. Though I couldn’t relate to some of the things the characters were going through, Mabry’s writing style – the lyricism and flow of it – certainly tugged at my hearstrings. It’s easy to immerse yourself in this book and feel all of the emotions pouring out of it.

I really enjoyed the clever use of different points of view in the novel. Each chapter begins with a recollection of some moment in the Torres sisters’ lives, but as it was seen by their neighbours – Hector and his friends – through a collective “we” narration. The story then returns to the present, with Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa as the main narrators.

Iridian didn’t want to be nothing, and when she heard her father say that to her, she exploded like a star.

Each of the three sisters has a unique personality, and each of them faces a different personal struggle – though ultimately, the thing that seems to connect them is Ana’s death. They are raw and far from being perfect girls and daughters. They are ruled by a range of emotions – anger, indifference, confusion, innocence, curiosity – which I think perfectly captures the idea of girlhood. And they all cope with loss differently, which seems to make them drift apart. Throughout the story, the Torres sisters go through a metaphorical journey of self-discovery, overcoming grief and rediscovering the meaning of sisterhood.

Animals play an important role in Tigers, Not Daughters and I could help but do a little research on the potential symbolic meaning of them. Though not explicitly mentioned in the book, tigers are (quite obviously) commonly associated with strength and courage – and there is no doubt as to how this animal relates to the Torres sisters.

Human hearts are very complicated. They can pull a person this way, then that. They can convince someone easy things are hard, or cloudy things are clear.”

A more interesting case is the escaped hyena that roams Southtown and spreads fear in the community. I don’t think any of us have good associations with hyenas – they indeed seem very cunning and frightening. In reality, hyenas are strong individuals who still value pack life. Hyenas can also symbolise the search for undiscovered potential. Could the hyena in the story be a representation of Ana – the most independent of the sisters – trying to get her siblings back together and make them realise who they are? Maybe I’m reaching, maybe I’m overinterpreting things, but I think this perspective is quite interesting.

Tigers, Not Daughters is a stunning novel that will stay with me for a long time. It successfully deals with many tough topics and underlines the importance of sisterhood. I honestly can’t wait to read more from Samantha Mabry!

Special thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for the opportunity to participate in the blog tour!

The paperback edition of Tigers, Not Daughters comes out on March 30. (That’s tomorrow!)


Samantha Mabry credits her tendency toward magical thinking to her Grandmother Garcia, who would wash money in the kitchen sink to rinse off any bad spirits. She teaches writing and Latino literature at a community college in Dallas, where she lives with her husband, a historian, and a cat named Mouse. She is the author of A Fierce and Subtle Poison and All the Wind in the World. Visit her online at samanthamabry.com or on Twitter: @samanthamabry.


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Book Tag | The Twenty Questions Book Tag

I recently saw Etta @Chonky Books doing this tag and really liked the questions, so I decided to join the fun! After all, it’s been aaages since my last book tag, so it’s high time I share some facts about my reading preferences. I hope you enjoy it!


1. How many books are too many books in a series?

3-4 books is usually the perfect amount for me. I’m likely to be sceptical about a 5-book series, but I will give it a shot, especially if the plot and worldbuilding are convincing. I tend to stray from anything over five books; the writer must be particularly skilled to keep the reader’s attention and start lacking ideas. Personally, I’d rather if the author divided their novels into smaller series within a certain universe – especially if they can take a break in-between to recharge.

2. How do you feel about cliff-hangers?

A well-executed cliff-hanger is frustrating – in a good way! I very much prefer them when we can expect some sort of continuation, though. In this way, the book community can come together and speculate what comes next, and then compare theories to how the author resolved the cliff-hanger in the sequel.

3. Hardback or Paperback?

I feel like I’m in the minority because I’m really not the biggest fan of hardbacks. Sure, often the covers look a lot prettier, but I love the slightly worn look of paperbacks after you finish reading them. Plus, paperbacks are so much more comfortable to hold!

4. Favourite book?

There are so many – I definitely don’t have an all-time-favourite book! Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is my comfort read; Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is one on my fave classics; and I was obsessed with Eragon by Christopher Paolini as a child,

(The way these covers match is pure coincidence!)

5. Least favourite book?

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi and Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat are on my no-no list.

6. Love triangles, yes or no?

On the whole, I’d say no. I mostly have negative connotations with love triangles; I feel like the media always try to exploit them and put the female protagonist in a very unfortunate place, making women appear relationship-obsessed (which is not a bad thing, but it shouldn’t be a character trait). However, I’d be interested in reading a book where the love triangle actually serves a purpose.

7. The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. This book was affecting my mental health in a very bad way and I just didn’t see the point in doing this to myself. I have some issues with this novel and I’ve been thinking of writing a post about it.

8. A book you’re currently reading?

At the moment I’m making my way through three books: Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry, The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard, and Averno by Louise Glück. I’m also listening to an audiobook of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which is my assigned reading for class.

9. Last book you recommended to someone?

I’m pretty sure it was The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht. I got my friend into Christina Henry’s novels and thought she would enjoy this one as well.

10. Oldest book you’ve read?

It’s a tough question, because I had to read a lot of classics for class and I don’t really keep track. Though not a book (as in written in prose), Beowulf is definitely one of the oldest texts I’ve read.

11. Newest book you’ve read?

The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. by Colleen Nelson – to be published on April 13th, 2021 – which I reviewed in January. When it comes to a book that has already been released, it would by The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. As you can see I don’t read books immediately on their release date… Unless I’m really looking forward to a particular title.

12. Favourite author?

I’m pretty biased towards Leigh Bardugo and will read anything she releases!

13. Buying books or borrowing books?

When I was younger, I’d go through times where I’d have read every book (targeted towards my age group) available in my local library. Since then, I stopped reading in my native language. Libraries don’t really offer books in English, so I have to buy my own copies or read digitally. However, I do think that if I lived in and English-speaking country, I still would have ended up buying books – simply because I love to see how my bookshelf slowly fills up.

14. A book you dislike that everyone else seems to love?

Red, White & Royal Blue was a miss for me, but I’m still willing to give Casey McQuiston another chance.

15. Bookmarks or dog-ears?

If it’s a used book that went through a lot I might consider bookmarking with dog-ears. Other than that, bookmarks all the way!

16. A book you can always reread?

Do I really have to answer this question…? We all know the answer is going to be Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Lol.

17. Can you read while listening to music?

At home, I need to read in complete silence – even my mum talking on the phone is distracting to me. But when I’m on the bus, I don’t mind listening to music when I read. I even can listen to non-instrumentals!

18. One POV or multiple POVs?

I like to alternate between the two and don’t really have a preference.

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

It really depends. Usually, either because I’m busy or my poor attention span gets in the way, it takes me a couple of days to finish a book. But even if the story is extremely engaging, I prefer to give it more than a day, so that I don’t have to part with it too fast!

20. Who do you tag?

I tag Meg @ Meg’s Magical Musings / LeafPages / Max @ Maxxesbooktopia.


I hope you enjoy my silly ramblings on all stuff bookish. And if I you’re not mentioned in the last question and would like to complete this tag, consider yourself TAGGED!

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International Women’s Day | My Fave Female Characters

Happy International Women’s Day! I am (once again) not sticking to the #5OnMyTBR schedule – which, unluckily, occurs every Monday – because what better day to post about your favourite female characters than today? I am so glad we have moved on from the mopey and all-too-perfect Bellas to powerful and complex Katnisses in YA fiction. (Mind you, powerful doesn’t mean flawless or indestructible!) Though there is still a long way to go in terms of inclusivity, I’m very happy that in recent years I have encountered a wide variety of interesting female characters in books. Well done!

This list is just a taste of the female characters that I like. I narrowed it down to a couple that have stuck with me the most during my reading journey. I’m also actively looking for books that include more diverse heroines of different backgrounds and sexualities. It’s a slow process but I’m getting there!


Lucy Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis)

Annabeth Chase (Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan)

Zoya Nazyalensky (The Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo)

Lila Bard (Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab)

Inej Ghafa (The Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo)

Blue Sargent (The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater)


I hope you enjoyed this post, even though it was more visual than descriptive. (I do love art a lot, so treat this as a little shoutout to some extremely talented artists) What are your favourite female characters? Let me know in the comments!

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#5OnMyTBR: Retelling

I was going to begin with saying that I’m not really big on modern retellings of well-known stories, and to some extent it’s true. I don’t rush to pick them up and they rarely find their way to my to-read list these days. But as I was browsing my TBR in search for books to include in this post, I was surprised at the number (and variety) of retellings I came across! Granted, most of them were added years ago – which proves my point that reading them is not my priority – but it still was totally unexpected.

Mostly I’m a big fan of Alice Henry and her dark takes on stories such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan or Little Red Riding Hood. I’ve followed her since her first release, and though I’m not totally up-to-date with her novels, I’m absolutely fascinated by her twisted versions of classic fairytales.

(On a side note, I just realised how many mermaid-related books are on my to-read list. I haven’t read a single mermaid book in my life and The Little Mermaid isn’t even my favourite story. Where did this come from?!)

#5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook and you can learn about it here or in the post announcing it. It occurs every Monday when we post about 5 books on our TBR.

Drown by Esther Dalseno

Via Goodreads: “Belonging to a race that is mostly animal with little humanity, a world obsessed with beauty where morality holds no sway, a little mermaid escapes to the ocean’s surface. Discovering music, a magnificent palace of glass and limestone, and a troubled human prince, she is driven by love to consult the elusive sea-witch who secretly dominates the entire species of merfolk. Upon paying an enormous price for her humanity, the little mermaid begins a new life, uncovering secrets of sexuality and the Immortal Soul. As a deadly virus threatens to contaminate the bloodstreams of the whole merfolk race, the little mermaid must choose between the lives of her people, the man she loves, or herself.

A complete reinvention of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale, this is a magical-realist fable that captures the essence of sacrifice and the price of humanity.”

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

Via Goodreads: “When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of the Aladdin story from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.”

His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler

Via Goodreads: “Thirteen of YA’s most celebrated names reimagine Edgar Allan Poe’s most surprising, unsettling, and popular tales for a new generation.

Edgar Allan Poe may be a hundred and fifty years beyond this world, but the themes of his beloved works have much in common with modern young adult fiction. Whether the stories are familiar to readers or discovered for the first time, readers will revel in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales, and how they’ve been brought to life in 13 unique and unforgettable ways.”

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

Via Goodreads: “It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.

There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined.

Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods…”

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Via Goodreads: “Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

What is your favourite retelling? Let me know!

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